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Unbound Words

Hello World – Idyllic Blog Post

I started writing on the Internet back when free web space didn’t exactly mean you were going to be mined for personal data or be a content creating laborer for a giant multinational. For those with the adequate devices and Internet services, there was welcome space to test out writing skills, upload pictures or experiment with HTML and CSS. Using the services was often coupled with learning about them, and the bar for becoming proficient wasn’t too high (creating static pages is still not that tricky in 2019, and it’s a skill worth maintaining). Actual computer ownership still excluded many people from engaging, but, once you had the tools and a short education, you were a cyber citizen. I saw it all as a peaceful civil space akin to the one John Perry Barlow demanded to keep free from tyrannical governments in “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”.

I’m not sure where we’re at now with freedom of self-expression and censorship, but I feel settled about posting on hosting that I set up myself, that I purchase with my own money, that I can monitor easily. I had always been comfortable with WordPress, having maintained a blog for years though letting its hosting lapse in 2016. I’m using that platform here and re-acquainting with its place in open software and online publishing.

So, once again, “Hello, world!”

Categories
Unbound Words

All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go…

We could change the world using communication technology. We could change our communities for the better. We have all the tools that activist Fred Moore might have sought (for instance, Meetup provides groups and common interests a place to accumulate members, LinkedIn provides people a place to connect professionally across careers and interests, blogs are a platform for anyone and any collective entity to express themselves, reddit, craigslist, etc.), but they don’t take most of us very far. What’s missing?

We have many tools at our hands to wrangle a list of contacts for any sort of discussion or event or ongoing group we might like. We’re all dressed up in the latest social networking tools, but going next to nowhere. Many of us use the prescribed methods of connecting with people online, but go no further. We post, tweet, poke, up-vote, follow, and crowdfund, but those things alone don’t create a deep abiding relationship or community. I find that when things do take off, they seem to be a flash in the pan. Popular until another trend wipes clean the collective awareness.

So what would bring us the connection and movement that Fred Moore sought? Perhaps we need the perspective to see that Moore was seeking to use lists and connections as tools to foster experiences and relationships with people in the real world. He sought to organize and advocate for peace. Are the present means suited to that end, or do we need to use different tools?

Categories
Unbound Words

Logging Out Of Facebook

I’ve tried this once before with less resolve. But I’m closing my Facebook account in late November.

I believe that technology is a tool, and this tool no longer works for me. The first time I resolved to close my Facebook account, it was after I graduated from college. Facebook emerged on some college campuses during my freshman year of college. Students could create profiles using a school email address to log-in. Each college was somewhat insular, but students could communicate between schools as well. As time went on and Facebook gained users, it eventually opened up to work places and high schools. In 2010, corporations and other entities have Facebook profiles. It’s making a lot more money these days than it was at first. Taking a casual view of the public around me, it seems that Facebook gets nearer to being a ubiquitous extension of social life every month.

Facebook’s near ubiquity is one thing that made me reconsider my use of this online social networking tool. It brings four questions to the forefront of my mind. I share them with you because I think they are useful for any user of Facebook to ask.

  • Why are some people not using it, even though it is nearly ubiquitous?
  • Why are other individuals using it?
  • Why are there so many users and what does this large membership mean for our lives?
  • Are my reasons for using this worthwhile?

There are many nearly ubiquitous technological tools that most of us have come to accept without questions. I think this is a dangerous way to live our lives. Have we asked ourselves enough questions about cars or cell phones to feel reconciled with all of the changes that they have brought? For the next few weeks, I plan to explore my questions about Facebook on this blog. I want to hear your answers to the questions and share mine. (Aside: this was originally posted on a previous version of my blog & the comments did not get transferred. Apologies to all who had commented there!)

And by late November 2010, I plan to log out of Facebook.