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Why Is Everyone Calling Out Facebook and Twitter?
openweb currentevents politics WWW
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I'm not so sure I agree with making social media networks the problem when it comes to such shannanigans as apparently played by the Russians. It's more of a manipulation of advertising services than "Facebook" when it comes to the Russians buying ads. It's more of a manipulation of the population than it is of Twitter's "user base".

Screen capture of a tweet by CBS News incriminating social media

Hey CBS, how many times were you played by companies manipulating people to spend money on cars and toilet paper?

Before the Internet people bought ads on TV and radio. And before Facebook and Twitter people bought display ads on the raw WWW, if they did not outright build websites themselves (for younger visitors, a "website" is similar to a "Facebook Page").

I am not sure why the drum beat is to corner Twitter and Facebook into "doing something" to somehow screen the communication of digital humanity taking place in their 'hoods unless it is purposeful pressure to apply yet a little more control and containment of free interaction in general.

The mainstream media, I've theorized for some time, is poised to begin taking pot shots at social media giants whenever it can with the hopes of bogging down their economics and reputation. Making them the focal point in the Russian propaganda campaign strikes me as just one example.

Avoiding the Truth About Russia's Tactics
politics trump passingthought
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Okay I totally get that there was "no collusion" announced between Russia and the Trump administration when the FBI indicted 13 of them for influencing the election. Maybe they'll announce some finding of direct collusion later as the result of a different investigative thread but for now, nothing about the FBI's work presented today bears any such thing. Fine.

But running and clinging to a point nobody was making in the first place is in my opinion a way to avoid the real questions about what was discovered. Simply put the question really is and remains what did and does Russia see in Donald Trump to make him worth funding a million dollar effort to buzz into office any way they might-could?

I believe analysts within each of our own intelligence agencies figure the tactics to undermine our country are part and parcel of a more dire enemy perspective. My bet is they understand something else about them and are too embarrassed (for the country and perhaps for counter-strategic reasons) to fess up. They may even be too afraid.

Afraid because I suspect that what they and the Russians, and any foreign adversary/competitor can objectively explore and in turn seek to exploit, is a decline in both an educated American populace if not merely a less intellectual one, and a common platform of ideology and principle that is beginning to buckle under America's "only me" or "only the 'right' people" mentality. Trump is just a convenient caricature for both.

He is a strong blustery man, but in the broader sense, the one that counts in the game of competing civilizations, he is a weak one. Or more precisely, a naive one. Yet probably an inconsequential one to the aim of undermining the United States. Russia doesn't want him so much as they want his followers. It is his followers that they want to reproduce ideologically. With Trump as a sitting president he is a great growth agent for the thinking style the Russians would love to strangle us with.

Our intelligence agencies most certainly assess this or something darn close along these lines. But what can they do? Their insights and suspicions cannot insult the very people they serve; the very country they protect. I would guess that they tailor a response in kind in as little a directly documented process as possible, whatever such a response could be. For now, they seem to be resorting to warning against falling for the discourse rather than openly examining how people might have gotten so susceptible to it in the first place.

Trump and the rest of the country can bury the deeper questions by satisfying everyone that no polls were directly manipulated (though, make no mistake, the psy-op nonetheless most certainly affected tens of thousands of free-will executions at them) or that the Russians also fostered discord against Trump after the election, either loosely by interpretation or in my suspicion, as a way to obfuscate the actual and more potent goal of Trump-ifying America, as some kind of an insurance action. They did not fail to account for the possibility they would be "caught".

After all they don't think our CIA or FBI are stupid, they just count on the idea that we are.

Showing Off Your Rocks Online Gets Harder
openweb
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Graphic depicting https with an arrow over it.

Showing your junk, rocks, car, beany baby collection -- whatever -- on your own terms is now going to be harder to do without shame.

Google is going to begin hardwiring a warning to all non-https websites in Chrome.

Obviously this is good for a broader and more secure web (and Google Chrome may not even be the only one doing this), but it bothers me that it also pushes up the cost of publishing an information-only website or even a single web page. Nobody is talking about the other side of the coin which is that it further diminishes the capacity for independent web publishing.

Security certificates that are responsible for making a website work with and display "https" cost about 50 dollars per year. If you're a person who just wants to show off your rock collection without any need for authentication or e-commerce activity, your little website will now spook visitors into thinking you're up to something unless you pay up.

The choice for an info-only webmaster looking to avoid the stigma of illegitimacy is to simply pay the 50 or whatever bucks and then of course engage in the sometimes complex process of making the security certificate work. They must also then be sure to keep up with its subscription (those things expire). It's basically a yearly tax expense on top of everything else an independent web publisher pays for.

But of course most will think this line of concern folly. Why wouldn't an avid rock collector eager to show off his rocks simply post them on Facebook or Instagram? After all, isn't that how people share on the web?

Yes, it's how people "share on the web" because of crap like stigmatizing and complicating open web publishing. A true purist is equally interested in controlling all rights to their exhibition as well as any data from traffic he or she may be concerned about. They don't want to put their rock collection in a place dead smack in the middle of a presentation they don't fundamentally control.

So the end result with this move is either pay more money, loosen one's attachment to independent web publishing yet more (the continued process of turning the current web into the new dark web), or shrug shoulders hoping that the fact that your website screams an ominous warning to users doesn't scare them away.

Onlookers Flip Out Over Accident
video lol
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-- Yeah, so people are pretty mellow in Buffalo. I believe it is because we live so close to Canada and I for one have deemed it the "Canadian Field".

We Have Cool Cats
video personal
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Our cats (my roommate is careful to correct "her cats") were featured on America's Funniest Home Videos last Sunday night. That was pretty fun! I've had the video of "our" two cats playing around Christmas fixin's for about three years now andI've long since posted it to YouTube and Facebook.

Still, with the idea of maybe winning some $$$, about four months ago, I took a few minutes to upload the video to the AFV website. Last week the producers called to let me know they would be featuring it on Sunday's airing.

We didn't win any money, established ahead of time on the notification call, but also because I had not to that moment been jetted out to Hollywood the week of the show's taping. But I am getting a t-shirt out of the deal and it made for great Facebook feed fodder.

Speaking of which I created a new meme to reflect the excitement of receiving external validation from Facebook friends about our lives.

Cats and red dots human and red dots meme.

Virtual Bonanza
currentevents
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I originally wrote and posted the following story in 2008 but am re-posting it now after encountering the news piece by CBS News, Communities Fighting Back Against Congestion-Causing Traffic Apps. Yes, fiction comes to life nine years later!

Virtual Bonanza

"I was in here four years ago Bob, what on earth did you do?"

Chet was talking about the diner's jumping patronage. Just about every booth in the place was filled with people, more than a few with what appeared to be entire families. The grill bar was lined with an assortment of men and the occasional wary woman, some talking with their neighbor, others trying to avoid them. The clattering and general climate of a busy but well organized carnival gave the impression that the three or four waitresses shooting about were not quite enough.

Waving instructions and handing off checks to one of them, Bob stopped to give Chet the story.

"It's a miracle," he poured. "When you were here last, I was 6 months from closing up. I didn't even have regular help coming in on most days."

"What happened then?" Chet innocently demanded.

[ More ]

Trying Something Different
blogging lol periscope video
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Okay, let's try this.

In 2018 I am going to try summarizing my previous week's web activities here at my personal blog. This is part of my quest to understand where blogs can matter any more, if they can at all.

Here's the idea: My digital life is spent generating spurious spot content on Twitter, Facebook, and in countless discussion forums online. There's a ribbon above with icons that link back to my profiles on these forums -- it is in those places where I am actually digitally active each day, not here on the blog.

In some cases my comments at those sites read like full-fledged blog posts which are not, for some reason, posted here at the blog.

I know the reason of course. A large part of it is that I want the instant reaction in an active traffic stream (the forum I'm posting in) because narcissism, a want of validation and attention, a need to be seen and heard, like anyone. If I'm on stage with a comedy act and there's nobody in the audience, there's nothing in it for me. No reward, no dopamine release.

There's no audience here at the blog. I might be polite to myself and say "there's no audience like the audience at those places", but no, there's literally nobody hitting this blog on a daily basis for weeks or even months at a time.

So maybe the blog still has relevance in the context of an expression vehicle as a sort of "home base" to all that other stuff I'm putting out there, in a role that doesn't fan for attention, but rather, exists as a node for discovery among the interested. Who would "the interested" be? You can never tell. Old friends, new friends, potential clients and employers, the media, researchers, who knows really. But as this roadmap or archive of things I'm doing to keep the open web alive as just one person, it's important that I find out and keep tweaking to find where it matters.

Those facing the same internal question and struggle, keep an eye on this effort to see if it pans out.

Blogging Versus Facebook

With that being established, here's an embed response to a comment I just posted while searching for insight on the question of blogging versus "Facebooking". The search took me to this 2015 piece by Mitch Joel, The End of Blogging, and one commentator of the dozens and dozens hit the nail on the head insofar as I was concerned.

Here you go:

House Fire Down the Street

Early this afternoon a house caught fire down the street. When I'm at home I keep a police scanner running nearly all times. I'm keenly aware of what's happening in Buffalo at any given moment. It's a life long habit wherever I'm living.

Periscope Capture of Fire on Amherst Street

Today the call went out about the fire just a block or three up from me. Fullfilling my duty as a "content journalist" (known pre-web as "fucking nerd with a scanner showing up and getting in the goddamned way") for my BuffaloScan Twitter feed, I raced to the scene and began broadcasting.

Here's a link to the BuffaloScan Periscope "Fire Amherst Street Live".

Doing Education "As You Go"

In Disqus I waded into a thread with my recounting of how I managed to earn a college degree with very little, easily paid-back-within-a-few-years, debt. If you don't look too closely at what I've done with my college education, the achievement itself is one of my life's pride points. You can digest it here.

The gist otherwise:

So, I don't know how people get themselves into a situation where they wind up owing tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars unless they literally believe that living responsibly to pay rent and to buy toilet paper, must somehow be a separate endeavor from living in a dorm for four years doing nothing but going to classes. To me anyone's post-graduation loan situation can be dramatically improved if they don't mandate a quick classical 4-year graduation timeline (one downside to my experience, but more because I'm a bit "slow" than anything, is that it takes longer to get a degree) for themselves and instead patiently pay for it bit by bit with current earnings and maybe a few short-term textbook loans as they go

I really believe in this college stuff mostly because if an actual idiot like myself can pull it off on the cheap, anyone can. What fundamentally spurred me to elevate myself this way back in my 20s? You'll just have to read that long-ass post in its entirety.

Fist Bump to the Online Slut I Admire

This one kind of hurts. There's this woman online I started following maybe a year or go or so on Twitter - @NYorNothing.

I followed her because she's "into" her life in New York City, something that sits well with my own experience and future aspiration to one day return. She totally gets it and embraces the awe and achievement of existing there day by day.

But it turned out, in time, that that wasn't the half of her online schtick. Turns out that embedded in her adorations of Gotham living she cranks out off-colored remarks about her sex life and retweets others doing the same. I mean, it's totally like I hit another kindered spirit kind of thing but, like, she has actual talent or something while keeping her nose to the grindstone on the docks of New York City of all places -- and if you take her tweets literally, maybe other places. I'm totally out on both - I left the city when I quit my boring desk job, and comedy did not save me! So yeah, I totally came to admire her rants.

Anyway, she's a slut humorist. Not that she is a slut (I mean, she could be, that material probably comes from somewhere though when it comes to comedy it's usually supposed to be a place of pain). What I meant was that there is a topic field of sluttiness, and she is a comedian in that field,apparently and effectively. Like Joan Rivers on steroids.

Anyway, on some impulse of affection and general pathetic-ness I begged her for Twitter re-tweet love and baited her by calling her -- a slut humorist.

I just wanted to join the fun!

She got it -- yeah she actually did! And I knew that she would. And she did re-tweet my remark which reached her audience who got it...not so much.

So I got a lot of flack for it. The only other time I had to endure Internet hate was when budgeteers (parakeet enthusiasts) lambasted me for running a webcam back in the 90s on two of my parakeets in a cage they noted was too small for them. I fixed it with a mammoth cage, and they were happy. In this case, I kind of apologized to her but figured I'll just leave the audience remarks alone. Internet hate is a lot more vicious in 2017 than it was in 1999.

Tweetdeck capture of my remark to Twitter comedian.

Tweetdeck capture of apology to @NYorNothing

So that's my digital week in review.

Somewhat to a lesser extent, you might be interested to know that I touched up WBRAIL and Tampa Rail too a bit.

If I can keep this theme up I'm changing the tagline to something like "A Blog About Me Talking About the Things I Talk About Online".

Total narcissism.

The UN is Just About Money?
politics trump
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Make no mistake, I appreciate Haley's remarks to the UN and her style of delivery of them. Sharp and competent, this one (and I am not being sarcastic). It's incredible she takes the career hit risk that she does having anything to do with Trump.

But her statement makes it sound like the important thing is the perceived persecution of the United States, not the question of security. What does what the US does or doesn't do for the UN have to do with whether or not it is more or less secure for Trump to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel's capital?

It sounds like by Haley's own remarks that the US only regards the UN as a vector to financially influence the world. If that's what the UN is all about to us, that's a huge revelation.

I am not even judging the merit of Trump's decision. It might or might not be a good idea, time will tell. I'm more in angst over the bothersome idea that the UN can't debate a point and express an opinion contrary to US policy without us crying how persecuted we are and then more or less threatening to hit back with money.

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