In light of recent events, I have been thinking a lot about the web, what I would like to get out of it, as well as some of the problems with the current landscape. I will say right now, many, particularly those in the #indieweb space, will probably and more than likely disagree with some of my proposals, and that’s okay. (one of the biggest things these days is the fact that many on the internet think that their keyboard and screen shield them from needing to be a worthy participant in society, and that they can be somebody different as long as they aren’t looking at their target’s face.) In other words, Gods help you if you disagree. I don’t follow that mentality, and nor will I ever.
As a citizen of the open web, I will not be the first to declare that there are definitely some problems with our current situation. Most of which revolve around closed ecosystems, APIs that are rapidly becoming closed-off entities behind a paywall (I get it, everyone needs to make money to survive, but if you’re going to charge for the API, don’t litter the service with ads, or charge for the service and leave the API free, as Manton Reese does. Twitter, looking at you right now. But that, I can deal with.
People, Stop Complaining!
The second problem is one that is probably in everybody’s life right now; depressing and misleading news reports and stories. Yes, those are gfreaking everywhere, but no, they do not have to take over your life, and you can get rid of them without getting rid of your social media accounts, because, let’s face it. As bad as some of these companies are; Facebook, Twitter, and so on, most people are there, and businesses, of course, are always going to use the big tech giants first, so until there is a wider shift in our culture, social media is here to stay. I definitely respect the decisions of those choosing not to partake anymore, but I will present my strategy for how I stay on and remain happy.
- Only follow pages, businesses, and people I care about: This one is easy. Stay away from news outlets, unless you know the source, and focus on the people and things you actually will pay attention to.
- Limit time spent on social media sites: Use something like RescueTime to help you monitor how much time you spend on such corners of the internet, and adjust your habits accordingly. I can tell you … I do, and having productivity goals for which I get reminders helps … immensely.
- Post useful content of your own that will spark conversations from genuine people interested in your field of study/hobby/interest. I only post things that I want people to respond to, so if you think of it as a place to interact, not as a firehose of information, then you’re much more likely to generate a healthy environment and not a dumpster fire. What I have been doing for years.
- Create Accounts on the decentralized social web, also called the fediverse, and cross-post to mainstream social media. I find that people on the fediverse tend to respond more readily, and conversations last longer; my theory is that since most of the instances on the fediverse are smaller, they have fewer people, so the folks responding have less irrelevant information to wade through.
Metrics Aren’t The Issue, People Are
I don’t mean to be this harsh, and normally I’m not, but this has been a complete thorn in my tall side lately. I will be the first to shamefully admit that I fell into this trap too, particularly when I was in college and shortly after graduation, where I tried to get as many followers on the various silos as possible. Those are the people who need to get rid of metrics, and work on their narcist views. At this point, since I’m a member of several communities, I have to keep track of the various metrics in order to tell how the groups are doing. Otherwise, we currently have no way to do so. I take the same approach with my personal account; I will look at follower counts, but if I lose a follower here or there, that’s excepted. People’s interests change, new things come up, so if I’m not interesting to everyone, then, I’m not going to change, either. It doesn’t mean I’m boring, it just means that something else has cropped up in that person’s life. More folks should take this approach; life is much better when you’re not worrying about how popular you are; it’s a delicate balance between popularity and enjoyment.