It could be the parts of the web where I roam, but I’ve been reading a lot more about privacy, whether it’s Apple’s recent efforts to make their iOS more inherently private (see pieces in Bloomberg and The Verge) or the growing rumblings of government regulation (see pieces in CNBC and in Recode/Vox).
By virtue of simply being online, all of us have been inducted into one or more Big Data Mining ecosystems whereby not only the tech giants like Apple, Facebook, and Google mine away at our identities, but a lot of third-party marketers do too. Many of you probably know about “cookies” in general, but I would guess few of us understand their scope, and not unrelated revenue, to entities like Google.
I am not the biggest gamer nor the biggest technology maven, but even so, one sees news about how much more all content is being pushed online, how more companies are trying to have consumers access things by apps, and how controlling access –to the internet and apps– is key to many corporations making money.
They’re are longer reads, but I found them worthwhile to better understand Apple’s app store business model, how cloud gaming services mess with their collection of coin, and many of the potential paradigm shifts at play.
So many industries are being shaken by the coronavirus pandemic, the retail section overall is suffering, but specifically, small retail businesses are hurting.
What with coming from a family of librarians and book-lovers, I’m especially keen to see independent book shops weather this latest storm, so I was happy to see an article earlier this month about how one online outfit, Bookshop.org is helping brick-and-mortar operations have an online footprint too.
My “unread” bookshelf is now too crowded for me to ignore, so I won’t be availing myself of them just yet, but soon! So very soon…
I’ve found the article bears repeat reading, because there’s so many different ideas it raises and so much that you, personally, need to reflect on.
And yes, I mean need. At its core, and related to my Wednesday post (which was mainly for creative folk looking for fans) this article raises questions about you define your boundaries with engaging online. Being a luddite is probably not the answer for most people, though ignoring whole swaths of the Internet might be.
In other words, it’s about you taking agency for how you define “getting real.”
I’m working on some other posts related to fandom. One is a follow-up in the Crisis of Infinite Star Treks series (where I talk about fan involvement with Star Trek throughout, but specifically go into more here and here.) I’m also working on a longer piece about getting one’s own creative work out there and developing fans oneself.
One struggle I’ve had of late has been how much the Internet thrives on hate and outrage. I don’t just mean comments at the bottoms of articles which, by and large, are probably better left unread. I don’t even mean how social media discussion threads can go horribly hateful, though that’s certainly something to always be wary. I’m thinking more along the lines of every fun Internet series like Honest Trailers, there’s a more bile-infested series along the lines “Everything wrong with [Movie]” or “Why [Movie] Really Sucks” or so on. Pair that with all the ‘clickbaity’ article headlines of the “[Thing] will complete shock you” variety and, well, guess why some of those social media threads devolve?
I realize this is neither a new nor uniquely groundbreaking observation, but it’s been on my mind given the pieces I’ve been working on, with two articles particularly making me think about the course of events.
Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic back in January about how the Internet has eroded the ability for people to, well, essentially, curate their identity in different places. You still can, but the unification of self everywhere on every channel is problematic. The fact that this erosion is fueled by outrage does not help matters.
I guess I just don’t want anyone to feed the trolls even if they think they know how to use the trolls for their own ends. Don’t we have countless cautionary tales about how well that sort of thing turns out?
I mean, it’s not that it’s a huge surprise that the Internet is full of automation to simulate traffic for ad revenue purposes, engage people for some Machiavellian monetization motives, or otherwise amplify some ill-conceived echo chambers…
But it’s depressing to have it validated to such a hefty degree.
Perhaps you, like me, remember those days pre-Netscape Navigator, exploring the Internet universe via Gopher and the like. The possibilities seemed as vast as Pangea, which is an accurate extrapolation of how long ago it was in Internet terms.
Will we survive an inversion when ‘bots outnumber us all? I don’t know. I just know that, Even now, spam bots are getting ready to comment on this post.
Not unlike business plans, it seems like one needs to have a “social media plan” these days. In the past year, many people I know have abandoned Twitter or left Facebook or joined Instagram. And I seem to be in the midst of that periodic flurry of people following me on Twitter or giving me a long treatise about why they want to connect with me on LinkedIn.
So for future edification, but mainly for my own amusement, here is my criteria for connecting with people on social media:
Facebook: I know who you are in the real world, either from schools or elsewhere, and want to keep up with your personal and professional exploits.
LinkedIn: I actually know who you are in the real world –even if only in passing– and also wouldn’t mind keeping up with your professional exploits.
Twitter: I may or may not know you in the real world, but I like the cut of your jib.
Google+: I can put you in one or more categories.
Instagram: I know it exists, but do not use it.
Tumblr: I know it still exists, and still do not use it.
Ello: I don’t know why it exists.
Pinterest: Who knows? I have insufficient pinterest.
Stage32: Meh, whatever. Sure.
If this does not make at least one social media maven’s head explode because of my lack of commitment to networking at all costs, I will be very disappointed.
Update: To answer some people’s angsty offline questions, no this isn’t a ranking of how great particular social media is or how valuable anyone and everyone might find it. Stage 32 has some great classes attached to it (seriously, if you’re a filmmaker, check some of their stuff out), but I see no need to curate my contacts to the same degree like I do on other sites. For example, on LinkedIn some recruiters clearly feel simply knowing your name is sufficient to connect… yet that connection is not valuable to me.
Okay, this is old news for most of you. It should be noted that –despite what I’m sure at some point were Adobe’s (and Macromedia’s) intentions– Flash was never going to be the savior of the Internet universe.