The Internet, social media, and me.

I have had three distinct relationships with the Internet. I started using it back in the early 90s. The World Wide Web had not come into existence yet, everything was text based. I mostly trawled music and photography listservers for information. When I got my own computer in the late 90s, there were actual webpages! Most of my internet use was centered around music (I loved Napster!) and reading about photography. It was still mostly a passive thing though. I’d order stuff and read newsgroups but that was about it.

Things changed dramatically in 2004. My friend Jenny inspired me to get a LiveJournal account and I started blogging. That quickly led to me getting my own website so that I could post pictures, papers, and other things along with my blog. I distinctly remember the thrill of creating content for the web. Suddenly I was part of the Internet, not just someone that read it. I put my thoughts, my pictures, my life on the web under my name with my own address. I was a creator, I had carved out my own space and made it mine. I was pretty good about keeping that up through about 2009 or so. While I still posted blog posts and pictures after that, my frequency slowed considerably. Why? Facebook.

I joined Facebook in 2003 I think. At the time I did it just to keep track of my cousin while she was at school. I didn’t really start using it till the middle of 2007 when my fellow students in Yemen encouraged me to. It was an easy way to keep track of people I knew from all over the world and it helped me reconnect with friends from high school. By 2009 I was very busy on Facebook. Keeping up with friends is addictive, especially when you had so much catching up to do.

When 2012 rolled around, I had started to get a little weary of Facebook’s shenanigans when it came to privacy, the ads, and general ickiness. That’s when app.net was launched. The goals of the service resonated with me. No ads, users were the customers, not advertisers, and developers were given free rein to use the service in any way they saw fit. The main use was microblogging (similar to Twitter) but there were a lot of other services being built around it like blogging and podcasting. This coincided with my first stint on disability so I had a lot of time to invest in the service, and invest I did. App.net became my primary social outlet despite the fact that I didn’t know anyone on it when I signed up. It was such a compelling experience that I spent a ton of time on it. I was really excited about the possibilities that the platform offered beyond microblogging and couldn’t wait to see what else developers were going to make of the service.

Unfortunately, app.net has devolved into what I had so strenuously denied it being for so long, a paid Twitter clone. Microblogging is really the only thing it is used for now. Sadly, the people that are invested in the service continuing are only interested in microblogging. I still use it but only because I’ve met some really cool people there and I like talking to them.

My use of Facebook really slacked off while I was using app.net heavily. Now that I’m trimming back on app.net, I don’t have a big desire to invest as much time in Facebook. When I look back at all of the energy and information I put into my social media presence, I’m struck by how little I have to show for it. Yes, I have a bunch of stuff in my timelines on both app.net and Facebook but what good is it? Can I find the interesting link I shared or mini exposition on whatever it was I thought was interesting at the time? Not a chance. Can someone else come across what I’ve written and start up a conversation? Will anyone ever Google an explanation I’ve given and be helped by it? How could they?

When I look at my posts on my blog from 11 years ago I feel as though I’ve lost something vital to my writing because of social media services. My posts on my site resonate with me much more than my posts on Facebook do. And that’s assuming that I can even find my posts on Facebook. What I realize is that I no longer feel like a creator, I’m back to feeling like a passive user. It’s not that I don’t make things and put them on the Internet, but I don’t feel as though I own them. They don’t feel as though they are mine. I am making content that either is transitory by design in the case of microblogging, or enriching a company’s product. The feeling of ownership is a subtle and tricky idea, especially when it comes to things on the Internet, but I miss it.

So what to do? I miss the old feeling of accomplishment of making something on the web. I want to feel like a creator again so I’m coming back home. I hope to make this site my primary outlet on the web. It is a place that anyone could come across. I am able to search it for previous writing and I have total control over how it looks and how I present it. I’ll still use social media to be social. Both app.net and Facebook are great for conversations but anything I make will be here.

Here’s to my fourth relationship with the Internet, hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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How I use my iPhone pt.2 (long)

This is old news to my friends on app.net but I have some family and friends still trying to get a handle on the possibilities of having a computer in your pocket.

 

Ok, continuing on my apps I use theme…

 

The app store is absolutely awash in weather apps. Most of them seem to be about the particular Apple fetish, design. Lots and lots of pretty apps. Some really are wonderful. I tend to use a couple more utilitarian ones. I use the Weather Channel app a lot because of the amount of info it gives. It’s especially good for warning explanations. The other is a more localized app. Dark skies revolves around one theme. When is it going to rain and for how long, right here. As in, where I’m standing. I’ve found it really useful, saved me several drenching when trying to figure out when to leave/go back to the car. 

 

Ok, here’s the big one, Communication. Yes, I mentioned earlier on that it being a phone is almost an afterthought. I do talk on the phone, but in several different ways. There is the regular phone app. I use my sell number like any other phone. I do also have a Google Voice number. I got this for three reasons. 1) I live in a cellular hole so I would frequently drop calls at home. Using wifi is far better. 2) A land line is even better, n ow I have one. 3) I can hand out 1 number and use it both on the go and at home, pretty useful. I use Talkatone to access Google voice. I also use Obion to access the little box that my landline is created by. Gives me better sound quality while at home. Of course I prefer doing FaceTime with my Apple friends. It’s like Skype but a little easier to use. I “call” someone and it rings all of their stuff, phone, iPad, and computer. Good stuff.

 Texting is handled by the messages app. I can either send an SMS or an iMessage depending on what kind of device they have. The only practical difference is that iMessages can go to people’s other devices like computers and iPads while texts can only go to phones.

 And then there’s my most common ways of communicating, social media. I use two different services. The first one is Facebook. Everyone knows what it is, even if they don’t use it. It’s ubiquitous, most people that I know have an account. I’ll post various things on there and keep up with the goings on of my extended friend network.

 I have been using Facebook less and less ever since I joined app.net. Yes, I’m going to talk about that again, mostly because I use it with my phone so much. App.net is a social service that is user supported. It has the same business model as Dropbox, Github, or even an idealized public broadcasting without fund raisers and Federal funding. The service is mostly made up of free users with a small amount of paid users supporting it. Because users are supporting it, there are no ads. Because there are no ads, the people using the service are the customers. They do not monetize your activity or track you in any way. You can read about it and their core values here. You won’t find any other social network like this. They are actually the complete opposite of ad financed social networks. Here’s the full complement of my app.net apps on my phone:

 

IMG 0316

It is also different in the fact that they are allowing developers to make whatever they want on top of the service. I have apps for microblogging (a la Twitter), private chats/messages, podcasting, check ins, journaling, photo sharing, and file management. I might start backing my websites to it as well. Storage space is part of the membership so I have access to all of my content. All the apps I use are unique to iOS. Here’s what I use the most:

1) hAppy, Riposte, and Felix. They are general purpose microblogging clients with a host of other features like private messages and chats.

2) #pan. It is a general use App.net client for microblogging but I primarily use it for posting media. I make podcasts with it and I share pictures with it. Whatever media I post with it gets stored in my private storage and then is aggregated on my own web site. It generates an RSS feed and I can distribute it to Facebook, blogs, etc. You can see my main one here.

3) Whisper is a private messaging app. It supports both individual and group chats. Once again, because there isn’t any advertising these really are private and app.net actually encourages people to use them!

4) Ohai is a journalling app that stores the info on your app.net storage. This is a daily (or more) journal I do for myself. I will occasionally public all post to app.net as well. It records location, a picture, and text. One of the nice things about the information being stored on app.net is that if someone else makes a journalling app that uses app.net I can switch to that and all of my posts come over to the new app.

5) Filez is a file manager for the stuff in my app.net storage and allows me to post the content in other places.

 

Whew! That’s longer than I thought it would be. I hope this gives you a feel why I’m addicted to my phone. Everyone has different things that get them, but iPhone users usually get gotten by some apps or services:) Let me know what your favorite apps are!

Writing again… hopefully

It’s been a while, a long while since I’ve done any writing. I’m going to try to get started again. I finally feel like I’m capable of putting something intelligent out there again but I suppose you’ll be the judge of that. I’ve overhauled the website, it’s still a work in progress so please bear with me.

 

I’ve also made a few other blogs for more specialized topics. This one will still be my catch all, economics, music, general thoughts, etc. I have a blog specifically about app.net called ADNViews. App.net is the social media service that I have been using the most recently. There’s a lot going on there, if you’re curious you can check it out or listen to the podcasts I have made about it. . I have also made a new blog called Through Complexity that I hope will explore just how complicated things really are. Too often we think we know what’s really going on and therefore know just how to fix things. I think there is too much hubris and not enough humility when it comes to things like the economy, politics, justice, etc. Haven’t posted there yet, but things are percolating…

 

One of the many things that app.net has allowed me to do is make podcasts! I will drop them into these blogs if I think they’re appropriate. Sometimes you gotta say stuff instead of writing it… OK, enough blogging about blogging, time to get to writing!

Podcasts for folks new to ADN.

Here are the first four podcasts I made for @ADNViews. They are brief overviews of app.net and reasons why you might want to use it. There will be other episodes but these are general knowledge about the service, I frequently contrast app.net to Twitter. I hope they are useful.

 

Episode #1. What is ADN? No, really, what is it?

 

ADNViews #2. Is it possible to make a social network that doesn’t end up sucking? Yes, it is app.net.

 

ADNViews episode #3. OK, so what can I do on app.net? It isn’t a twitter clone. 

 

ADNViews episode #4. How do I find people to follow on app.net?