My profile states that I’m a hyperdimensional writer and maker. I write and make things. Sometimes in the process of making things, I make radical changes. I experiment, I tinker and blow up things. If you’ve been following my blogs for a while, you’ll notice that I tend to move content management systems (CMS) a lot.
This is because I’m always looking for a CMS that aligns best with how I want to write. It’s not that I get distracted by the latest shiny thing but I try to make my writing and hosting as frictionless as possible.
Although I have a civil relationship with WordPress. It’s the backend I use to serve my neuralmarkettrends.com and thomasott.io sites. Because of SEO purposes, both sites will stay there for a while. I’ve stripped it down to as few plugins as possible and I’m keeping it as lean as possible.
The fewer buttons and plugins I have to worry about the better. The faster and cheaper my site can serve my words and photos, the better. The faster and easier I can sit in my chair, write, and publish, the better.
This is why I use iAWriter for my writing, it’s frictionless and easy. Nothing stands in the way of writing, except my time and commitments.
When I’m done with my treatise, I hit “publish draft” and send my draft post to my WordPress or Medium blog. Then I spent time formatting and tweaking the final post and hit “schedule post.”
That’s all easy-peasy and I love it. It’s been working that way for the past few years.
The one thing that’s been a true love-hate relationship has been with content mills like Medium and other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. They’ve become good at luring us in with slick interfaces, and social connectivity, and showing us what we want to see in exchange for our data.
They made it frictionless to write, post, and share our data which they monetize and make billions of dollars. Sure, we get a few bucks back from sites like Medium, but from other sites, we get back a nice user experience.
They’ve been successful at this and all the activity has migrated to those siloed stacks. If you want to be a successful writer, photographer, or artist, you’re going to have to post to these social media sites. No matter how slimy it feels to post on social media, it’s where your audience is and you’ll need “eyeballs” to see your work.
It’s a “don’t hate the player, hate the game” problem, and the game is the engagement algorithms these social media sites use.
Engagement algorithms work because they drive more traffic to interesting content. Conversely, the “double edge” is that engagement algorithms create echo chambers and can enrage people.
The state of social media has taken a dark turn since 2016. It’s been exploited by nation-states and political parties to “drive” a narrative in their favor. Every political party has weaponized social media and engagement algorithms to build a larger audience than its opponent.
We’re all unwitting pawns in their game for power and control.
The Twitter exodus
I was addicted to Twitter. I was one of the early adopters of it 15 years ago. I built up a small following and made a lot of friends there. I watched with concern with Elon Musk took it private in November of 2022.
I watched in horror as he slashed, fired, and belittled people on there. How he let nazis back on the platform and trolled a disabled Twitter employee. He’s not the savior many people believe he is, he’s a disgusting human being that has a lot of money.
My Twitter universe began to crumble and people started fleeing to a Twitter alternative called Mastodon. I had signed up to mastdon.social a while back but found it to be hard to figure out. It looked like Twitter but I had to learn about picking a server, the Fediverse, and decentralization.
I had experimented in the past with a Facebook alternative called Diaspora, but at the time I was looking at Mastodon it was a system used by privacy advocates and hackers, a fringe group of the population.
That is until Musk exposed the dirty laundry of social media. In a matter of a few months, a migration from Twitter began. Mastodon servers all around the world got hammered with people fleeing Twitter. There was confusion from fleeing users as to what server to use and how to do it.
Despite all the confusion, Mastodon servers doubled in size to about 7 million users in October 2022, and the migration is not slowing down.
That migration has not escaped the “old dogs” of the Internet. They smell opportunity on the Fediverse. They just need to create a beachhead first. They need to build a server to attract the fleeing social media users and trap them again. It’s an open season and the dogs are hunting, for you.
I applaud Medium for creating and running its own Mastodon server. They opened it up for Medium users, which means your $5 a month fee is paying for access in a roundabout way.
I don’t have a problem with that level of access because every Mastodon server can control who they want to let in or not. It’s a strategic move because a Mastodon server is another channel for them to distribute content to their users and others.
Medium users have access to a Mastodon server built for them and they get to access all other content on the Fediverse. Medium has to abide by the open source license, which is considered to be very open source.
If Medium decides to build an engagement algorithm here, it will have to make that code available to the public as part of the open source license.
What’s the stop them from scraping the Fediverse content, running an engagement algorithm offline, and then boosting that content on me.dm? Nothing at all and I expect this to happen.
I expect them to start selling ads on their Mastodon or Fediverse powered instances. Hell, Meta (Facebook) is getting in on the action.
I expect the same bullshit to follow us to Fediverse if we let it happen.
The Fediverse land grab is happening and we have to stop it. We have to fight it tooth and nail if we want to prevent the dark side of social media from rearing its ugly head again.
I stepped up and created a small #writefreely instance at deoxy.xyz. It’s open for signups and it’s a site that lets you write missives in a micro-publishing way. Once you hit publish it generates a post to the fediverse where you can see it and follow it.
Yes, your post gets dropped into the entire crazy Fediverse, one post amongst thousands, but you know what? That’s ok. Let the good stuff bubble to the top organically instead of being amped up by the nefarious powers that be.
They have one reason and one reason alone to amp up certain posts: money.
Yes, building an audience might be easier on sites with an engagement algorithm, but it feels fickle. It begs us to ask the question, is this method better than organic discovery? Is it better to have posts recommended to you that isolate you from a specific point of view? To keep your echo chamber…echoing?
The answer is no, it’s better. This siloing of thought, ideas, and data has led us to a more divisive society and world. It’s a “divide and conquer” strategy with the ultimate goal to make money.
You are nothing but a labor unit, a consumption unit, an organic life form with money.
The Fediverse is the last chance for us to push back but who am I kidding? We’ll wait for social media giants to make signups to their decentralized servers frictionless and we’ll slide right into their DMs.
Money talks and bullshit walks.
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