Every now and then, WordPress.com kindly sends me an e-mail announcing a new version1 2 That reminds me that I do actually have an active WordPress installation, and a moderate obligation as a citizen of the Internet to make sure it's not being abused to
send "make money fast" e-mails mine Bitcoin.
Much has changed in the five or so years since I was a semi-regular blogger. I still read a lot (on Google Reader and then Feedly, but mostly both through the Reeder app), but it seems feeds are almost as irrelevant as blogs are today. I'm still mostly a completionist. I eagerly await the weekly arrival of The Digital Antiquarian. I tweet a reasonable amount, but bitrot had kept the "recent tweets" on this blog locked in 20123.
I've tried to sort out some of the most obvious bitrot, but various plugins I used to use don't work any more through the passage of time, or won't update due to server configuration. Reading back through a couple of pages of posts I find links to sites that no longer exist, domains that are now being squatted, photos removed from Flickr4. Do I delete those, fix them, or ignore them? To bring the content up to date it could well take a good couple of days; add a couple more to move it to Google App Engine, in an "eat your own dogfood" sense, and then more still to file the bugs I would expect to uncover. The other option would be a site like Medium, who does all this for you, where you trade off control for overwhelming attention to typography.
In the earliest days of the Internet, I had two web sites which I lament the loss of - one on GeoCities, which I can't find a record of the name or number of, the other on my own domain name (in 1996!). On the other hand, the BBS I used to run is safely archived on a CD at my parents, which I assume is gradually losing its phthalocyanine dye coating and probably suffering a similar fate.
The debate about online advertising continues with the release of iOS 9 and content blockers, and the news cycle around Marco's quick change of heart. Many people rewrote his post, adding nothing new, in order to gain attention and something to sell advertising against. The only polite, non-tracking way to make good money online — which I have no desire to do, let me be clear — seems to be native advertising, either by having a large audience and selling sponsorships, or having a niche topic and advertising things that that audience might want by virtue of reading that niche. God bless those who do the latter. I already mentioned the Digital Antiquarian: I equally enjoy London Reconnections, who have an audience so niche they will still buy a paper magazine. These publications will survive. Many of the people whose bottom-feeding livelihood is threatened by ad revenue they might lose probably deserve to go.
It's easier than ever to get started writing today, but harder to have something to say. The audience for my writing here has ranged from "my close friends, who will get the in-jokes", many of which I've lost touch with since leaving New Zealand eight years ago, to "people who might want to hire me for my work with technology" for various technologies that I no longer use, no-one uses any more, or are now my employer's competition. Most writing of this type has moved to Facebook, in which case, you end up being "content" for someone else's advertising machine.
Anyway, that I've written all this clearly means I'm procrastinating.
Is there anybody out there?
- I love that it says "If that was an indiscretion you'd rather forget" as it's unsubscribe footnote. ↩
- I had to look up the markup for footnotes. ↩
- I tried to use Google to show the cached version, but apparently I have a robots.txt blocking that. More bitrot. ↩
- If you do anything where you expect longevity, especially where you link to other content, it seems like mirroring it yourself is a good idea. ↩