The Micro.blog experience and a few thoughts on the open web (Beardy Guy Musings)

I write this and mull it over from the perspective of a creator and as a longer-term user of the “old web”. I have, at least, a basic grasp of the ideal (and importance of) the open web, ownership and access. I write it as someone frustrated with the nastiness of the business practices of the corporate entities that own the big social media as well as the lack of moderation on those sites making them potentially dangerous places. But even amongst the relatively tech fluent (and likely, financially affluent) community of tech/apple oriented users that I follow on Twitter, there is little impulse to move to alternatives such as Micro.blog or Mastodon. I’ve seen evidence of an almost complete lack of interest.

As one of those "old web" guys who has been blogging for almost two decades, I understand this anguish over the open web. I've seen the rise and fall of alternative like app.net and despite what others may think, micro.blog's success isn't ensured. The lack of diversity, both cultural and economic, is perhaps why the "relatively tech fluent (and likely, financially affluent) community of tech/apple oriented users" ignore micro.blog. It's one of the reasons why, despite having backed the Kickstarter project, I chose to let my hosted micro.blog lapse and use micro.blog more like Twitter. Both are free but Twitter is less of an echo chamber.

I visit micro.blog only a few times a month now. The discovery feed is boring.

I've documented my issues with micro.blog in several blog posts. I don't expect anything to change in the near term.

Others have voiced similar complaints.

I prefer the approach advocated by the IndieWeb and have also written about the issue of discovery for independent blogs who don't use social media.

Feed reader revolution (Chris Aldrich | BoffoSocko)

It's time to embrace open & disrupt social media

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If you want to read content in Facebook, you have to log in and have an account and participate there directly, you cannot just subscribe to five peoples’ content via RSS and read it anywhere you want. This monopolistic behavior is exactly the reason we call them silos. Content goes in but doesn’t come back out. Like the early days of AOL, some people now think that Facebook is the internet. Once you’re inside and using their system, they literally do everything they can to keep you from escaping including framing external content within their app so that you can more easily go straight back to their addictive Facebook stream.

But let’s ask us an important question: Where exactly is all this content on Facebook, Twitter, et al. coming from? While a significant portion is coming from individual users whose entire online presence and identities are on these platforms, a relatively large part of it is being pumped into these silos via API or similar access from blogs and other websites in an attempt to increase their reach and interaction.

Just think for a minute about how close the New York Times and other news outlets have come in the past several years to potentially shutting down their own websites to push all of their content delivery into the capable hands of Facebook? Or how many magazine outlets transitioned from other platforms like WordPress and even Tumblr to Medium just before Medium made their recent pivot and let go of a major part of their staff? Can you imagine how troublesome or even catastrophic things would have been or would be if sites like Medium or Facebook went down, got bought out, or disappeared altogether–potentially taking all their data with them? Or what happens weeks, months, or even years later if those social silos change their minds?

So if we go back to our first paragraph and think about what we’ve just covered, we might consider the fact that most traditional feed readers have simply become middle-man software for feeding data into social silos while extracting little, if any data, back out. This is a lopsided bargain and is, in large part, what is inexorably killing the traditional feed readers’ business model.

Preach it!

Chris is working on a book; a sort of users manual to creating more open spaces. I can't wait to read it.

I wrote or linked to a number of articles in 2014 and 2016 about the downsides to social media and my attempts to free myself from Google and Facebook's experiments. I no longer spend any significant time on either platform but I am quite excited to have found the tribe that understands the vulnerabilities these entities present to an open web.

Back in 2012, I read John Battelle's responses1 to Facebook's change in terms of service:

As the years have progressed the web has gotten a lot more social, and it makes more sense to have our own brand and site. We can still be ‘on’ Facebook in the sense that we plug into News Feed and fan pages, but having our own brand gives us full, top to bottom control over the product experience, something that we think is critical for building the best tool possible for organizers to create campaigns for social change.

Montgomery Township, New Jersey, United States of America

Reuben Jackson (ReadWrite)

The minute we opened the doors to advertising to pay for our online world, we didn't merely grudgingly give up our privacy. We sold it. Willingly. And we shouldn't therefore be surprised that governments have eagerly been supping at the honeypots we've eagerly enabled to entrap ourselves.

Yep.

Montgomery Township, New Jersey, United States of America