Welcome to this blog

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Plenty of people start the new year with a New Year’s resolution. I’m planning to sort of do the same. I’m gonna start blogging again. Why again? Well, I have blogged in some form or another for some time, and then I didn’t get around to it anymore, or I stopped blogging, and so forth. Often, it was when I was spending time abroad to share pictures with my family or something similar. It was a great way to share, and it was a great way to stay in contact.

The advent of social media

Not to sound too much like an old person, but the advent of social media changed all this. Instead of having a colorful website where we put our stuff, we went to the closed silos and started using them more intensely. I used to share images on Instagram and use LinkedIn for all the job-related things, and whatever we were all doing on Twitter, I was doing this as well. It was fun, quick, and, most importantly, it also allowed people to participate who did not have the technical knowledge to run their own web server or strange other service.

And I admit, for a while, it was fun. You could follow1 people all around the world, see what they were sharing, and react to them. It really allowed us to feel connected to people all around the world. I’m not sure when this started happening, but at some point the algorithmic feeds started to crop up and destroy, at least for me, most of the fun.

Social media was supposed to be a way to feel good and to enjoy having and making connections with people all around the world. With those algorithms, it appears to be starting to focus more on getting people to stay on the applications for as long as possible. This is not what I wanted, and I never became friends with the algorithmic feeds2.

And when Twitter died, I decided to reevaluate the entire social media thing a bit more in depth, and I found some wonderful and weird places that seem like a much better idea.

The decentralized web

Looking for alternatives (or just being online, for that matter), many interesting ideas suddenly became much more popular with the demise of Twitter. Tumblr suddenly appeared in my purview again3, Facebook/Instagram decided to jump in on the action with Threads, and Mastodon also had its moment (hint: I think this is the cool one).

But to understand all this, one probably needs to take a step back (or a few). The reason I think the web is so cool is that anyone (albeit with some technical skill) can put up a website, buy a domain for a few bucks, and become part of the World Wide Web. If you want to send an email, you can send one to anyone4 provided you have their email address. The same goes for any old website; if you have the URL, you can access it. Much better than Instagram, which mostly requires you to sign up for an account before you can see anything, or Twitter, where you can’t see anything except some top posts (?) if you are logged out. And this is really the way to go. If you share something on a public platform, and I would strongly argue that most social media that is not a direct message is public, it should be available to anyone in the public and not require a login to be accessible.

Of course, one could argue that this would also be possible with any social media that uses the open standard of Activity Pub – and that would, in fact, be a very correct argument. I am, in fact, also on Mastodon, but I don’t post very much (though I do reply and boost from time to time). And I do also think that Mastodon is the platform with the most potential.

This blog is mine; I can do with it what I want

But a blog, which is a simple webpage, is still something different. It has pretty much no limitations (well, except my technical skills). I can put on it whatever I want. It can be as long as I want. I can go back and change what I want. And it’s not limited to text. I can change the colors or the layout of the website. I can implement a search function for this page (I probably won’t; it seems like a lot of hassle for not much gain).

If I suddenly want to add images to this website, I can. If I want to delete an old post, I can delete it (yes, I know, nothing on the internet is ever really gone). If I would like to change the provider that is hosting this little page, I can do so without any reader realistically noticing. If I wish to add footnotes, I can add footnotes5. I own the domain, I control the content, and I can do with it what I want.

Blogging should be fun

To make a long story short, blogging should be fun. It should not be about any algorithms, and frankly, it should also not be a popularity contest. That’s why I decided to start writing blog posts again. To be honest, I don’t care if people read them (or anyone for that matter); I will currently write them mostly for myself. I know this doesn’t sound a lot like social media, and that is very much by design. Let’s call this blog a form of anti-social media6. I will figure out what it will be at some point.

And if you really want to follow this blog, it has an RSS feed. And RSS is awesome!

Postscript: No one cares about your blogging platform except you7

Part of this blog will also describe the technical choices that are made in this blog. In fact, for me, the content of this blog might not be the most important aspect of blogging, but also the entire process that helps build it. This is inspired by Bryce Wray’s blog, which, in my opinion, might be the best blog ever written and is mostly about the process of creating said blog.

  1. I’m not sure if following people online makes you feel connected to them. Studies don’t offer an apparent picture, but I’m pretty sure they can’t replace real-life human interaction. ↩︎

  2. And I don’t seem to be the only one (as is proven by studies). There are explainer pieces online that show you how to reset the algorithms and on pressure from the European Union, both TikTok and Facebook have announced that they will offer a version to opt out of their algorithms. ↩︎

  3. Tumblr seemed to be the cool option for anyone who has been on the internet for a while. It has a wonderful subculture and the ability to customize a lot about it; it is probably one of the weirder places on the web. Also, its parent company, Automattic has a great track record for building great things on the internet. ↩︎

  4. I know email might not be the best example with the consolidation that is currently happening. But email is at least a decentralized technology, even if it might slowly become less decentralized↩︎

  5. As this footnote about footnotes shows, I will most likely make use of footnotes a lot. I don’t know what this says about me, but I quite like this meta-footnote. ↩︎

  6. That should not mean that I want to be anti-social in any way or that people should not read the posts if they’d like to. It just means that this isn’t my main focus at the moment, and frankly, I don’t care if anyone reads it. In fact, I think I have no proper way to figure out how many people, if someone reads it, as I have no analytics and currently no commenting feature. ↩︎

  7. This is a reference to this excellent blog post by Flavio Copes which describes the importance of ignoring the blogging platform and just writing great content. I will, of course, ignore this a lot and think a lot about the technical aspects of this blog as well. ↩︎

Tags: Blog, Decentralisation, Old Web