We are the media, but I want to be free

I met with a friend a few days ago to talk through one of my next projects. This one is directly related to me – how do I raise my presence via the net without using social media. Being a social media consultant she was a little puzzled.

So we talked it through and I was able to refine my position a little. I’m trying to get out of any web and mobile platforms out there that are closed source. I’m tired of being the product for silicon valley business models and I’m also tired of being a neat little secondary product for all the governmental surveillance agencies out there – NZ and the US being two of the worst in the ‘free’ world. Of course, data security is a bigger story than just having accounts on sites like LinkedIn and I am going to take more care of this side of things also. I feel a little sheepish about this as I know how to keep myself secure-ish but I have fallen into some lazy patterns. Too trusting and complacent it seems.

I’ve done a lot of the personal data lockdown already. It doesn’t take a lot to tighten things up. I moved to a VPN provider (after a brief research to find one outside the US that doesn’t log any data), got a password manager and replaced all my frivolous passwords with stronger ones, and will do a few other things to lock things down a little.

But the main issue is that I want to be back in a web I can respect. It is kind of an ethical issue for me, similar to what fuels my vegetarianism. I do actually see it very much like I am becoming a web vegetarian. I want to get out of all these platforms and put myself onto another dietary path and make it work for me.

First up, I have some apparently easy targets but, interestingly, like all ethical journeys, every small step brings about small paradoxes that I am motivated to resolve – ethical harmony being a given as a navigational device.

For example… Medium… yes, yes, such an interesting… err… Medium. So very tempting. it offers the classic ‘go where the people are’ quandary. So I thought about this a little… where is my ethical line? What if I just wrote blogs at my home site (I am also warming more and more to the crusty old idea of ‘home site’, more on this later) and then cross-posted to Medium…wouldn’t that be ok? Would that be ok? What if I put a big banner on my replica Medium posts that pointed back to my home site? What if I just put an excerpt in Medium and pointed back to the full article so people had to come ‘here’ to read it? Well… hmmmm….

I let it sit for a bit and then I wondered what others thought about this. So I duckduckgo‘ed around a little in my newly installed Chromium browser, to look for the obviously well-discussed topic of how to maintain an ethically viable presence on Medium if you cared about privacy and open source and ran your own WordPress site. Surprisingly I couldn’t find anyone offering a way forward. But what I did find was a whole lot of banter about Medium vs WordPress as platforms. ‘Which one should you use?’ sort of thing… and this was very helpful. It made me realise that there is a turf war going on out there between one of the most successful open source platforms -Wordpress – and one of the most successful recent closed source blogging platforms – Medium. I just hadn’t been thinking about this space for a long time so it never occurred to me that this was going on. Of course it is makes total sense (I have almost perfect hindsight at times).

In fact, if you visit the Medium for Publishers page, it is spelled out quite clearly in their “not saying its Wordpress but it’s Wordpress” speak.  The comparisons of Medium vs some ‘other’ are clearly targeted at WordPress. That in itself is fine, I don’t take offence to how people want to do business with things like this. However, it did wake me up to the fact that every moment of your attention, every post, every comment that Medium has is one less moment, one less post, one less comment that WordPress doesn’t have. And that’s not ok by me. Using Medium means, to whatever degree you use it, not using WordPress; and that means that the direction of the flow is going the wrong way, it is going away from open source and towards closed source systems.

So that actually, and surprisingly, solved it for me. I’m getting out of Medium. Not that I actually used it. I had one post that I deleted already and I have a few comments on one of Nadia Eghbals‘ posts about open source and I’ll leave those up for now as I ponder where I am with legacy contributions I have made in closed systems. Step, think, step.

Next, I must think through LinkedIn. I initially thought that would be simple. Just kill my account. However, what about identity ‘theft’? Where am I with regard to malicious persons out there that may wish to contaminate the web with ‘therealAdamHyde’ rahrah. It is a good question and one I am going to have to think through. Needless to say, it is a very strange place we have come to with the net when proprietary platforms are contributing to your identity online even if you aren’t in them. That is a pretty quizzical paradox. How, how, how, did we let this happen? Sigh.

So, LinkedIn. I will at first delete all the profile information and then think on it a little. It is a very ponderous question.

One good thing, as a final point in this first part of this evolving story, is that making an effort to get out of these closed social media platforms has made me realise that I’m just removing a crutch. I am not totally sure they did much for me anyway. So it kind of forces me to think about the effort I am putting into other, possibly more effective, vehicles and upping that part of my profile-raising mission. Which is why I have started a newsletter which you can join over there on the right ————> (oops…unless you are ready this on mobile), why I am feeling more ‘at home’ with my home site, and why you are possibly reading this…

More about all this soon…