I’m back

Published Categorised as Life in General No Comments on I’m back

Before I get into my main theme- I haven’t updated this blog since New Year because it was basic­ally broken and I only had the time and patience to fix it recently. 

I use the self-hosted meth­od of Word­Press. It means that I pay a small yearly fee for some host­ing space, install the basic Word­Press soft­ware and then can add whatever theme and add-ons I like from a huge array of free and paid options. It also means if it breaks it’s up to me to fix it- and Word­Press can be incred­ibly frus­trat­ing.

I added a nice theme and some extra add-ons about five years ago and then let it be. Word­Press itself gets regu­lar updates, but the theme hadn’t been updated in two years and some of the plugins had stop being suppor­ted too, so I guess there was some kind of secur­ity loop­hole left open. This resul­ted in getting spammy popups for free iphones from my blog for the past six weeks.

All the tech­nic­al advice said the best thing to do was to nuke the whole site, and then reim­port the posts from the backup. So I did that, and set up a new theme, and reim­por­ted all the entries. They’re all here, but for some reas­on I have to go in and manu­ally edit them to make the pictures re-appear. Please have patience while I slowly wade through the old entries in chunks

So like a lot of people lately I’ve been think­ing about the influ­ence of the big social media sites, espe­cially with all the news stor­ies about how they have done little to noth­ing to stop far-right radic­al­isa­tion in the past few years. I loathe Face­book, and would happily close my account if I didn’t use it for promot­ing events. It causes me a lot of frus­tra­tion because it’s increas­ingly broken. Pages crash, and posts are shown or hidden from people seem­ingly at random on the whim of the algorithm. I have no idea if I’m actu­ally seeing what my friends post or how wide of a selec­tion see the things I share.

(The subscribe by email box over to the right is the best way to keep up with what I post here- who knows if you’ll see the links I share on Face­book or not).

I closed my Twit­ter account because it’s a cess­pool full of the worst people, which actively rewards being a smart arse who rushes in with bad takes on everything, and you end up seeing those people’s words wheth­er you follow them or not. I used to like Instagram, but it now has the same prob­lem as Face­book of being ruled by an algorithm that actively hides the things I want to see and replaces it with vapid “content” from paid “influ­en­cers” I have no interest in.

I have noth­ing but contempt for social media “influ­en­cers”. The well paid ones are basic­ally walk­ing adverts, and being a second or third-tier influ­en­cer is aston­ish­ingly pathet­ic. Instagram is supposed to be a plat­form for people to share photos of their life in all its vari­ety around the world, but has increas­ingly evolved over the past few years to show you ever narrow­er and more harm­ful beauty ideals, even if you try to actively avoid those kinds of people.

There used to be a lot of blogs around. Blogs that people wrote for the fun of it. That seems to have fallen by the wayside, and the ones that are left are commer­cial and sponsored too. I was making a link list for the side bar, and real­ised that I was strug­gling to think of more than a hand­ful I read that are still updat­ing.

I like writ­ing blog posts more than other kinds of social media because you get a bit of space to sit back and reflect. You’re not post­ing the photos instantly or getting instant grat­i­fic­a­tion. Host­ing my own blog means it’s also just there, on the front page. No algorithm hiding or show­ing it. I’m not look­ing to make money or get corpor­ate spon­sor­ships, I just want to write about thing that interest me.

Like most people of my gener­a­tion, I got the inter­net at home as a kid, but the big social media sites weren’t really in play yet. Myspace came into exist­ence I think towards the end of when I was at school, but I was never really into it. Face­book didn’t exist until I was already at univer­sity. The inter­net was just this whole separ­ate place that didn’t really inter­sect with everything else. Now all the grand­mas and uncles and Daily Mail read­ers are all over the place online. No wonder current teen­agers like apps and sites that let you lock things down or have them auto­mat­ic­ally disap­pear to have a bit of privacy.

My friend Kirsty is an arch­iv­ist by profes­sion. She is currently work­ing on a PhD project about how DIY cultur­al scenes are docu­mented, and runs a blog with her thoughts on the topic. Heavy reli­ance on big corpor­ate sites like Face­book and Myspace means DIY culture becomes ephem­er­al, not at the choice of the makers, but at the choice of the corpor­a­tions.   

There are almost no photos of me between the ages of twelve and eight­een. It’s not because I was in hiding- my mum got a prim­it­ive digit­al camera and took plenty of photos. All the files are on some long-gone computer, and all the hard copies were prin­ted with basic print­er ink onto cheap gloss paper. They didn’t really make it clear to non-profes­sion­als at the time that the ink would fade away quite quickly. It was all about the novelty of being able to take a photo and then instantly print as many copies as you liked. (I used to regu­larly use dispos­able camer­as myself, and care­fully made an album of all the photos, but have no idea what happened to the album).

I have a degree in Ancient History. The selec­tion of Roman and Greek liter­at­ure we have today relies completely on chance. This poem was copied out at that medi­ev­al monas­tery that happened to not get sacked and burnt. The famous Greek plays were part of an annu­al drama fest­iv­al with prizes. Some of the clas­sic plays that are still performed and enjoyed today were second or third prize-winners from their year, and the script of the winner is lost to history.

So I guess this is a very long-winded way of saying that I want to post on here a lot more, because it’s my place where I get to decide everything, rather than Mark Zuck­er­berg. (I’m also quite dilli­gent about backups)

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