I have been on a bit of a TikTok bender lately. Everything they say is true, you can very easily lose an hour or two to swiping through short videos about all manner of interesting, or mostly ridiculous clips of creativity. The Grace Kelly harmony challenge was interesting, the lip sync stuff is entertaining or silly or both, there are some how-to clips, some math and science clips, and some random stuff that defies simple classification.
If you have visited TikTok, or Insta, or many other platforms, you know that there is an entire creator segment aimed squarely at adult entertainment, which is fine. The problem, though, is that each platform determines what their community standards are, and what it means to violate those, which may include accounts being closed or suspended or limited in other ways for some period of time. So many mentions of accounts being closed and their owners losing 10s or 100s of thousands of followers, or lesser penalties that are almost as vexing and which are used to enforce limitations on what people say or do in their presentations.
I’m actually okay with this. The example I use is placement of signage on a lawn. You can place a sign on your lawn, whatever it might say, and you might offend or upset your neighbors or people passing by, but as the saying goes, “if you aren’t offending someone, you probably don’t really have freedom of speech.” The problem, though, is when someone else posts a sign on your lawn, the can of worms is opened, and this is where the platform on which you post your creativity gets to decide whether you can do that or not.
There is a lot of talk lately about a decentralized Web 3.0 effort, based on blockchains and some kind of cryptocurrency (because these are both critical, say investors in these things), to which I would say, the notion of publishing one’s stuff online goes back to the origins of the internet itself, with distribution methods like Usenet News going back to the early 1980s and the migration from publishing our stuff on a school server in our home directories to getting our own domain or some place to publish a blog, etc) into the 1990s, has been supplanted by the handing-over of that agency to commercial entities profiting from you on all sides of the transaction.
My publishing this newsletter here on this website/platform (and via Substack when I was sending out two each week) goes against the very notion that I have been espousing for the last few months, and with this platform being something of a disappointment for a few reasons (I am not looking to bash them too hard, though they do have Twitter money that is being spent on something else, perhaps), there really are zero remaining reasons to remain tied to Other People’s Platforms (yeah you know me).
When the internets were slowly but surely becoming accessible to the masses, internet connectivity was not great (still true for more people than you would think, which is ridiculous itself), computers were not so commonly in homes much less in pockets, and the ability publish to someplace in between so others could get to your stuff was weird magic. Today, there is essentially zero reason to hand over one’s brand and agency to platforms that care about their own bottom line with zero regard for yours (even if your bottom line is sharing your creativity without so much energy spent avoiding getting shut down).
So it really has become a moral imperative, to practice what I preach, so to speak, and if I put it off and put it off, it will never happen. Thus, for the week of Thanksgiving 2021, I am skipping dinner and staying in front of my computer to take back my online agency and put the internets and the embarrassment of riches that is the canyon-full of free tools and software available with cloud resources everywhere to work, for myself and the to take mostly-unfettered advantage of the internet in everybody’s pocket.
To be continued…