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My Facebook Groups Are Fried
facebook wbrail tamparail
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I finally went nuclear and let Facebook delete my account completely (e.g., I opted to delete rather than deactivate and 14 days has since passed). I then created another account under a variation of my real name, to keep with its TOS, and now use it solely to administer my groups and subscribe to the commercial feeds of businesses and brands. I find a company's Facebook page often "better" than their WWW pages because they can't ruin the presentation with monetization techniques or a futile effort to make their content work on PCs and mobile devices -- which usually dooms them on the PC. I maintain zero friend connections and don't use it for keeping connected.

Capture of empty WB Rail Facebook group.

Empty WBRAIL Facebook Group

The tragedy however is that my groups were all essentially reset in terms of content. Since they largely contained content posted from my now deleted account, including the logo art, it has all been deleted as well. They look barren and empty. I'm a little upset because over time I had collected a great deal of worthy commentary and link pointers to various articles and artificats of progress in each topic area. Now it's all been wiped out.

I'm debating whether to re-post what I can of it all, or, just abandon the Facebook groups altogether. I can restore a lot of of the links and commentary, I suspect, because I have my Facebook archive downloaded and would find little trouble in manually re-posting every entry since each group began. However, the whole thing has turned me off from using FB as any kind of a content management system because now it appears you have to keep an account alive forever to develop any meaningful history on it.

Each campaign, WBRAIL, Tampa Rail, BuffaloScan, all still live as Twitter accounts and the respective web pages here at DWG. And most of the links here were the same that appeared in the FB groups. I think for the foreseeable future this is how I prefer to keep things.

Fighting the Attempted Murder of the Web
openweb announce facebook WWW twitter
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My revolt against the dominance of social media and an institutional attempt to kill off the world wide web begins today. Granted the fight is in my own comfortable way, but still, maybe I'll inspire others.

Simply put I have removed the sharing functionality to Facebook and Twitter from my Battle Blog entries. From now on, in place of where those icons would appear at the end of each article when viewed as a comment or permalink, visitors will see the following tagline:

Status quo institutions are attempting to kill the hyperlink and relegate you to social media. Resist by sharing this content's hyperlink. To share this content copy the URL below to your clipboard and paste it to the medium of your choice. Never let the world forget about the World Wide Web.

That (valid and spot on) hyperbole will be followed by a pre-filled text field with the URL of the current article and a simple javascript button to copy that URL to your clipboard.

Seeing where things are going, it's safe to assume that ultimately the large browser producers will one day inhibit the easy copy/pasting of URLs as part of the appreciated effort to further stamp out the web. But for now it works, at least in Chrome. If it doesn't work for you then do it the old fashioned way by copying right from the URL bar, at least until the day URLs no longer appear in the said URL bar because, again, everyone wants the hyperlink dead and buried. It will one day be obfuscated or removed altogether.

My fight is not to kill social media. After all, the very invite to copy the URL suggests that you can then paste it to the "medium of your choice" which includes Facebook or Twitter or whatever the next big atrocity happens to be. I myself love and use Twitter and paste hyperlinks there all the time. Though, speaking of which in the context of this entry, I did recently quit Facebook as yet another stab in the fight, among other reasons.

Live Video Searches
livestreaming facebook periscope
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Struggling to search Facebook Live this morning left me wondering if the pattern of a social media company providing a live streaming platform while simultaneously not providing a way to search for videos in progress is reflective of difficult technical logistics or a deliberate attempt to avoid providing a profitless dumb pipe.

Capture of Facebook live map.

Facebook will give you this somewhat inefficient map to "find" videos in progress, if you like.

Dumb pipe services like e-mail are why companies like Google with GMAIL deliberately invent a need to "make e-mail easier to use" over and over again, to the point of almost making it unusable. If all GMAIL did was send and receive messages there would be no gateways to monetization. I recall it is specifically this article that woke me up the concept.

So likewise, by making sure people can't actually search for live videos efficiently and straightforwardly, Facebook, to use an example, can build a better monetization apparatus (more clicking around to accomplish something equals more $$$).

If so it would be just another example of having evolved to a great power as a humanity, only to have it trashed or set back that much more by pure profit engineering.

People Never Cared About the Web
openweb facebook
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What I've come to understand about the collapse of the web is that web users never existed in the first place. They "existed" insofar as they did only because for a time the web as hosted by a person's personal computer was the only instrument to connect electronically. Nobody wanted to be a publisher. It's just that once they were there, they did publish.

Using CB radio of the 70s as an analogy, people wanted a new way to communicate while on the road or just for the wild fun of it. CB radio was the one instrument that allowed for that so when people discovered it they amassed themselves on the open airwaves by the millions. As a side effect everyone became a broadcaster yet nobody actually wanted to broadcast, they only wanted to communicate. When cell phones came along CB radio use plummeted. Nobody hung on to being a broadcaster because "broadcasting was just so cool" or something.

People did enjoy putting up home pages, having their own domains, their own art and presentations, their own sense of hyperlink power, and their own place of expression, but this was all incidental. The computer with an Internet connection was mainly about getting work done. While a few stayed behind, like yours truly, to continue enjoying that power, most happily ceded it all when mobile apps and Facebook allowed for the more efficient and focused functionality of the online things they really needed to do.

Otherwise, nobody was in love with being a powerful far-reaching publisher. Nobody cared or thought much about who owned or controlled their online content whether it was themselves or some guy called Zuck.

If Facebook allows for easier interaction between people or the posting of posts ... like this very one ... nobody cares that every interaction is monetized, or that, as a single system of place that everyone agrees on, it is easier to control and censor communication. Ask the average citizen in China if their own Facebook Firewall - the "Great Firewall of China", state run rather than privately run, bothers their day to day online activities and I'd gamble hardly.

It is no longer right to say that people forgot about the freedom of the open web. Rather, it is more absolute to say most people never appreciated it in the first place.

Linkage

Workplace Window View
facebook
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You Can Still Download AOL Desktop
aol facebook
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I was surprised to discover that you can still download the classic AOL desktop software. It's fundamentally the same software that drove dialup modem connections in the 90s (and the "bring your own" TCP/IP connection later) except that now, as you might imagine, just about any "service" you click on simply opens an internal web browser and lands you at some HTML iteration of it. It's basically an elaborate client-heavy web browser now.

Still it's a nostalgic look back at how the web was introduced to millions of people, and of course, before they forgot about the web. If you're a hard core AOL e-mail user it's probably even an attractive de facto native e-mail client to manipulate your messages through.

Capture of AOL from inside its classic interface.

The classic AOL e-mail composition window still works.

Capture of the chat room listing directory.

Capture of AOL chat room.

AOL Chat';s 'Town Square' still has chatters, albeit just 3 of them. And one is named Gooey Pimple Pus. That';s about right for most abandoned Town Squares that I know of.

My little tour through the AOL software got me thinking that, in light of the fact that the WWW is quickly vanishing as everyone pools up inside Facebook, why doesn't Facebook push out a client-like software package of its own now? Just like AOL of the 90s before it ceded to the web it could be one that completely leaves behind web browsers altogether and which contains users inside a Facebook walled-gardened experience.

Unlike the trend of AOL's day, to its misfortune, where people were clammoring to venture out into the independently-produced web, resenting AOL for pricing what appeared so "free and vast" on the "real" Interwebs, people today are really doing the exact opposite. They're shutting down trust in hyperlinks and web pages and clutching to their Zucker-buttered newsfeeds with little interest in stumbling over www dot whatevers.

I'm being a little sardonic of course, Facebook has rolled out a walled garden experience which is broadly defined as its Facebook mobile app. The mobile app forgets the web and only begrudgingly links users to external destinations after first attempting to render them inside its own engine. Pretty much like all apps in fact.

What I'm really feeling is a little ironic pity for 90s AOL since it turns out that at the end of the day their model of the online universe is what people wound up taking to after all, more or less. If they had just gotten to the concept of a social media newsfeed first it might have anchored their relevance long enough for people to wind through the WWW fad and come back to them.

Facebook Notes Is Now Facebook Blogging Engine
facebook blogging
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Behold the below. It's what appears to be a completely independent blog post generated by Facebook Notes and subsequently embedded here at my blog as an entry.

Taking an evident page from Medium's style of rendering, Facebook has gone all the way with providing people a way to blog directly on Facebook and even to share entries via embed, turning the tables on the conventional path of generating content on the web and sharing it to Facebook.

I honestly don't know how long this has been in place on Facebook, maybe I'm late on getting the memo (I'll be doing some Googling after I post this, and return with an update on this question to this very entry), but the ease by which it is to use its system means this will turn into another chunk of lost life on the "real" web.

Update: I did the Google. Facebook's transformation from the little-used 'Notes' to a true blogging platform apparently showed up on the radar in the Fall of last year (2015). Here's the Verge article about it.

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