Quote - Mon, Feb 17, 2020

Today, I saw this story at Mediagazer. I don't fully understand it.

https://mediagazer.com/200216/p6#a200216p6

Death of ex-Love Island presenter Caroline Flack re-focuses attention on British tabloids, amid calls for a “Caroline's law” against excessive media intrusion

The above Mediagazer headline pointed to this story.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/feb/16/caroline-flack-death-turns-spotlight-on-tabloids-once-again

Attached to the Mediagazer discussion area for that story, I saw this post.

https://hightea.substack.com/p/cancel-culture-is-cancelled

Make no mistake, this is media manslaughter, distributed in equal part by the press that hounded Flack taking pleasure and revenue in her downfall, and the anonymous echo chambers of social media, where death and rape threats can be found hiding in plain sight behind anonymous accounts.

Social media or primarily Twitter?

From the Guardian story:

Within hours of the announcement, hundreds of celebrities and members of the public had backed calls for a “Caroline’s law” against excessive media intrusion while Laura Whitmore, who succeeded Flack as host of Love Island for the current series, suggested media coverage contributed to her friend’s death.

“To the press, the newspapers, who create clickbait, who demonise and tear down success, we’ve had enough,” said Whitmore in an impassioned speech on her weekly BBC Radio 5 live show.

“I’ve seen journalists and Twitter warriors talk of this tragedy and they themselves twisted what the truth is … Your words affect people. To paparazzi and tabloids looking for a cheap sell, to trolls hiding behind a keyboard, enough.”

I'm going to wild-guess and say that most of the vileness came from Twitter, the cesspool of the internet. But as long as Twitter's earnings reports satisfy Wall Street, and as long as people, such as journalists, continue to use Twitter, then the cesspool will not change. I believe that Twitter may be the worst thing to exist on the internet.

But Twitter is functioning exactly as it was designed. Twitter's toxicity is a feature and not a bug.

Sane people who use Twitter contribute to Twitter's toxicity because their engagement, even if it's positive engagement, helps Twitter succeed as a business and gives Twitter no incentive to change for the better.

From the hightea.substack.com post:

Block Party: taking back control

Tracy Chou knows the effects of trolling only too well. 10 years ago, a newly qualified computer science grad, Chou was the creator of Quora’s first block button: something which was needed even at that early stage of the platform.

Don’t get us wrong, we know the positives of these platforms. Social media was for us, and is still to some extent today, our primary way to communicate with the world and navigate through it, giving us the opportunity to be creative beyond our physical and to challenge our inherited perspectives and learn positively from others. As late Zs, early millennials, we grew up with Bebo, MSN and later FB + Insta, it’s quite frankly, all we’ve ever known. We can unashamedly say, we’d be lost without it.

That's sad and maybe a little pathetic too. Implying that creativity can only occur on the silos may exemplify a lack of creativity. Creating content to please others rather than self demonstrates a lack of individuality. The social media silo content creators seem to be more interested in viewing their narcissistic stats, such as likes, shares, followers, etc, instead of being unique.

"Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self." - Cyril Connolly

People were creative on the web back in the mid to late 1990s too. That creativity continued into the aughts before Facebook began in 2004.

In my opinion, the web between 1995 and 2005 contained more fascinating creativity, individuality, and uniqueness because it was a little harder for content creators to setup their own spaces on the web, and it was harder to share content, comment on content, and follow content.

Those technical barriers also offered more freedom because it permitted people to create a myriad of ways to make the web work for themselves. One such open tool created that is still used today was RSS.

Early, funky, quirky personal websites led to blogging and to programs to make it easier for people to maintain their personal websites. But the blogging tool, such as Blogger, Greymatter, Xanga, Moveable Type, and WordPress were options and not requirements. People could still create weird HTML pages and interesting content by hand and uploading their pages to a shared server via FTP.

The alleged technical barriers or limitations of the late 90s and early aughts, along with dial-up modems for home internet access, enabled a Slow Web. Not slow as in internet access speeds, but slow as in it was harder to spend all day rapidly firing off short comments to every topic that bubbled up.

We had to wait until we arrived home from work to use our own desktop or laptop computers to read and create content and to comment on content. Sharing content usually meant a blogger creating a web post that contained a link to another website's post. Discovery was also "slower" or more organic. Some people relied on feeds and feed readers to share and consume content and to follow content creators.

The technical barriers or lack of easy-to-use options in the late 90s and early aughts probably kept the content-creation audience smaller, compared to today, but in my opinion, with time, that would have changed as more people would have chosen to take the leap into managing a personal website.

Multiple tech changes, however, occurred in the mid to late aughts. Home internet access switched from primarily dial-up in the early aughts to broadband access by the mid aughts. Facebook opened up to everyone in September 2006. Twitter became popular in 2007. Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, but in reality, smartphone adoption took off two to four years later.

The change over from the Slow Web Movement to the rapid-fire, streaming flood of info occurred in the early to mid teens. Around 2015, most web reading occurred on mobile devices and not on desktop/laptop computers. In the early teens, the large silo services promoted their native mobile apps over their websites.

Widespread WiFi, decent cellular speeds, smartphones, and native mobile apps enabled the big silos to grow dramatically. Many small local businesses that opened in the teens did not create their own websites. These new business owners only maintained social media presences. In the teens decade, many artists, crafters, and makers stopped using their personal blog sites and focused only on their social media presences.

The network effect meant that the places "to be" were Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Facebook's Groups and Reddit's Subreddits became the new platforms to host community sites (message boards).

The unique, open web took a big hit in the decade of the teens because the silo services made it super easy for people to create, consume, and share content. It's not the silos' fault for creating easy-to-use services that people enjoy. The open web will never be as easy to use as the silos. But in my opinion, the open web, or the open internet, since email is a separate application from the web, equals more individual freedom.

Even if the open web is "harder" to use in terms of creating, sharing, and consuming content, I prefer it over the walled gardens. The open web is not a company, trading on the stock market, like Facebook and Twitter.

Leasing a domain name means that currently, I host my web content at Digital Ocean and my email through Fastmail. But I can switch to a different web hosting provider and carry all of my web content with me. Readers see no difference. I can switch email hosting providers, but others still use my same email address.

Using the open web, however, means that users will have to incur an "admin tax" of varying degrees. Leasing a domain name may be too much trouble for most people, especially when those users will need to map their domain names to wherever they are hosting their websites.

The silos remove the admin tax, making it everything super easy. But easy is not always a good thing. Barriers can lead to better quality. On this issue, I will be in the minority and probably on the losing end, but that's okay. I'll go down my way and not based upon how a walled garden decides.

This part of the hightea.substack.com post seems ... well, confusing.

Chou is one to watch. Not to sit back and watch while journalists, comedians, developers, activists, presenters et al, get cruelly jostled between online trolls, her new startup Block Party seeks to give back control to victims, in an extreme move to prioritise mental health online.

This appears to be an interesting and useful tool.

Excerpt from https://www.blockpartyapp.com:

Blocking people sometimes escalates the harassment, while muting and pretending that content doesn’t exist can be dangerous when there are real physical threats. Filing reports against abusive accounts typically either results in silence or an infuriatingly condescending return message that there is no violation of terms of service so no action will be taken.

Back to the hightea.substack.com post:

Rather than blocking out trolling altogether, Chou is building something revolutionary. Block Party seeks to provide a way for Twitter users to manage their mentions and notifications so they can enjoy freedom of speech without fearing for their psychological and personal safety.

What the hell. If Twitter is that much of a personal danger or health issue, then maybe the real solution is to STOP using Twitter.

Tony Rizzo's January 2020 quote:

You know what the problem is with Twitter? You're on it. If you are not on Twitter, then it's not a problem.

I'll never understand what makes Twitter so damn important that people must continue to use Twitter despite Twitter's cesspool feature? People managed to understand the world and make connections and enjoy life BEFORE Twitter began in 2006.

If Twitter is this bad, then it should be Twitter's responsibility to fix its problems. But Twitter won't do anything because Twitter makes a profit.

Twitter won't do anything positive for its service because such changes could lessen engagement, which could decrease revenue, which could hurt profits, which could upset Wall Street.

If enough people, especially journalists, stopped using Twitter, then that might get the attention of Twitter's management. But since Twitter is nearly 14-years-old, then the better solution is for people to stop using Twitter.

We can unashamedly say, we’d be lost without it.

Instead of managing a symptom by using Block Party, maybe the people who feel the need to interact with others online should delete their Twitter accounts and explore https://micro.blog and the https://indieweb.org.

https://blockparty.substack.com/p/coming-soon

My primary platform for activism work is Twitter, but the abuse follows me wherever I go.

Like many others in a world that is relentlessly digital, I can’t just opt out. To do my work, to maintain my professional profile, to stay up-to-date with news and connections, I have to be online. I also want to be online.

But using Twitter is not required "to be online." And in my opinion, Twitter should never be a resource for staying up-to-date with news, unless consuming misinformation is a desire. Better options exist for being online and for getting current news.

I wish that more young talented engineers like Chou devoted some time developing for or advocating for the IndieWeb.


The story around Caroline Flack was complicated. It was a volatile mix of tabloid gossip media, reality TV, and the deranged mob on social media.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/17/media/caroline-flack-death-reaction-scli-gbr-intl/

But in death, as in life, fascination about Flack has given rise to plenty of speculation -- and it's highlighting the relentless industry of outrage that has both aided the rise of reality television personalities and swarmed them in their lowest moments.

And the perfect flammable liquid for the relentless industry of outrage is Twitter.

More from the CNN story:

Is social media fueling the fire?

Obsessive media coverage of celebrities is nothing new in Britain, a country whose tabloids are known for their relentless and unwavering pursuit of scandal.

But on social media and in the streets, the dissection was often harsher still -- and Flack had spoken about the difficulties of living in the public eye.

"People say you have to expect that kind of scrutiny because you work in television. Really? Why? Who says so?" Flack wrote in her 2015 autobiography.

"Perhaps the worst was Twitter," she wrote. "However vile they are, newspapers have to be careful because of libel and privacy. But Twitter is different. nobody censors that." CNN has contacted Twitter for comment.

Twitter is worse than vile.

This is hard to grasp, but it's so Twitter. The media and deranged Twitter users attack people. And then when something bad occurs, other deranged Twitter people attack the media. ?!?!

Outrage at several targets

The media hasn't been the only target of anger over Flack's death.

Even as the related hashtag #BeKind was trending, several Twitter users displayed their anger by sending abuse to the reporter who wrote a story in The Sun -- headlined "Brutal Caroline Flack Valentine's Day card cruelly mocks troubled star with 'I'll f***ing lamp you' message" -- that was published hours before she died.

Mmmm.

In one segment of each series, contestants are read mocking tweets posted by members of the public. A handful of its stars have discussed receiving online criticism after leaving the show.

What if things were dialed back a generation or two? If critics wanted to spout directly at the celebrities, then the mob would have to write and send a snail-mail letter to a P.O. box. How many people would take the time to do that compared to the number of people who send screeds on Twitter?

For people who maintain a Twitter account, it's easy, I think, for the mob to send toxic comments directly to other users.

Relying on snail-mailing is a barrier that would probably slow down nearly all of the deranged mob. How many people even have stamps on hand? I think that we do. For the rare time that I need to snail-mail something, I can stamp the envelope at home and leave the letter sticking out of our mailbox for the mail carrier to retrieve and pass on, relieving me of the job of finding a mailbox or going to the post office to mail the letter.

https://www.pressgazette.co.uk/journalists-face-abuse-after-caroline-flack-death-sparks-anger-at-tabloid-coverage/

Again, in olden days, even only 20 years ago, when people took issue with a journalist's writing, then the public had to snail-mail a letter to the editor. If the newspaper chose to publish the critique, the newspaper would also publish the name and location of the letter writer, minus the house address. It might say Sylvania, Ohio or West Toledo, along with the person's name. Twitter permits pseudonyms.

I would say only 15 years ago, 2005, that if people wanted to criticize journalists, snail-mail letter writing was required. Most of the journalists joined Twitter by early last decade. Now critics have direct access to journalists.

15 to 25 years ago, if the journalists' email address, like reportname@toledoblade.com, was included in the web stories or even in the print versions of the stories, then critics had a direct means to contact journalists.

I don't know when the Blade started publishing the reporters' email addresses at toledoblade.com, and I don't know if the Blade prints the reporters' email addresses in the print product.

Before Twitter's popularity exploded among journalists 10 to 12 years, ago, critics may have been able to email journalists. But tweets are public whereas emails are private, unless the sender or the receiver chooses to publish the emails.

From the pressgazette.co.uk story:

Already journalists are facing online abuse over Flack’s death, with Mirror, Express and Star publisher Reach offering guidance to staff, including offering to remove links to their Twitter accounts in bylines.

But journalists will continue to use Twitter, and they will create lame reasons to justify their Twitter usage. Indirectly, the journalists are fostering an environment of hate by using the service.

A mass exodus of Twitter by journalists for an indefinite period, maybe permanently, would shock the technology, culture, and media industries. This action would do more to improve Twitter and humanity than most activities.


Also today, Feb 17, 2020, I saw this thread at Hacker News.

"18-year-old personal website, built with Frontpage and still updated (fmboschetto.it)"

http://www.fmboschetto.it

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22326339 - over 460 comments

The HN thread discusses software durability and web content durability.

Thread also mentioned some personal websites that have been around, since the 1990s, such as this one.

http://www.burger.com

I like the simple design of this website, mentioned in that same HN thread.

https://dwheeler.com

And someone mentioned this December 2019 post that I read weeks ago.

https://jeffhuang.com/designed_to_last

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