The news is dire, depressing, infuriating, terrifying, ominous, twisted, biased, and generally panic-inducing. As always.
Okay, it’s more than usually ominous lately, what with the country rather suddenly being ruled by a coalition of pandering post-Alzheimers proponents of the old order and a whole new class of juvenile Masters of the Universe.
The flick-of-a-switch “disappearing” of Parler and our then-present president from the ‘Net finally rattled us in a way that previous censorship, deplatforming, demonetizing, Twitter mobs, and disappearances of lesser ‘Net operations could not.
Scary, scary, scary, scary, scary. BUT.
Have you noticed that activist ‘Netizens (that good old word from the hopeful 1990s deserves a revival) are now very actively doing exactly what they always said the Internet was designed to do — routing around the damage?
This is why, as terrifying as our New Totalitarians are, I don’t believe they’re going to achieve their goals of either permanently occupying space inside our heads or expelling all conservative, libertarian, or dissenting liberals (ala Greenwald, Taibbi, Weiss, Rowling) from mainstream society.
Oh, they’ll give us all kinds of hellish hell as they attempt to “re-educate” us, “cleanse” us, outlaw free speech via “domestic terrorism” bills, or ban us deplorables from careers, relationships, financial services, and ultimately from life. (And by deplorables I mean what our new overlords secretly mean; not only Trump v*ters, but anybody who disagrees with whatever their ever-shifting party line is at the moment.)
Some of us may lose everything right down to our “lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Our country may collapse to its knees. And our monetary system surely will collapse, period (although on a timeline no one dares predict).
But I don’t think TPTB know what they’re up against, and online events of the past few weeks bear me out. Not only are millions of users (and thousands of stockholders) finally fleeing Big Tech for privacy-respecting rivals; suddenly everywhere, tech folk and non-tech folk are independently rebuilding, or proposing rebuilds, of the very structure of our online life.
Some of these rebuilds are brand new. Gab, which already has its own browser (thanks, yachtsecurity, for the lead), is now working on a privacy-minded cellphone to route around the Apple/Google duopoly. Wendy McElroy linked this morning to a Bruce Shneier article about a possible means of foiling cellphone location tracking. New applications for distributed communication networks and cryptocoin payment options are springing up all over.
Much of this is way over my head and probably way over yours unless you’re a techie. All we can do is wait for some of these new developments to come to fruition, then investigate and adopt some of them.
Other rebuilds hark back to those halcyon days before billionaire brats and Deep State operators captured the Internet for their own profitable surveillance purposes.
It’s a few of those old-fashioned (but not nostalgic) hopes I’d like to emphasize today. And this is also where the invitation mentioned in the post title finally comes up.
A lot of ‘Netizens are going back to basics — and showing the rest of us how to.
For example, Chiefio takes us right back to 1990s tech (updated for the present) of private mail boxes, pre-paid debit cards, and burner phones. (H/T Borepatch) You already know all this if you’ve been around Living Freedom for a while. But it’s interesting because it promises to be the beginning of a comprehensive series on privacy, anonymity, and security.
Brad, at Wendy’s place, has stepped up to do some of the best communication about alternates to Big Tech. The other day he revived a past post of his about how libertarians and other at-risk site owners can protect their websites from attack or censorship.
Today, Brad posted a back-to-the-future message concerning blogs and blogrolls. He notes, “Glenn Reynolds, and others at Instapundit, have been saying for years that ‘abandoning the decentralized Blogosphere for the walled gardens of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was a huge mistake, particularly for conservatives.'”
Indeed. And how many times have you heard that blogs are hopelessly old-fashioned, a dying art, and contain too much long-form writing to be relevant in this age when 280 characters are supposed say all that ever needs saying?
Brad quotes a 2019 article by the equally excellent Reynolds:
In engineering parlance, the early blogosphere was a ‘loosely coupled’ system, one where changes in one part were not immediately or directly transmitted to others. Loosely coupled systems tend to be resilient, and not very subject to systemic failures, because what happens in one part of the system affects other parts only weakly and slowly. Tightly coupled systems, on the other hand, where changes affecting one node swiftly affect others, are prone to cascading failures. Usenet was one such system, where an entire newsgroup could be ruined by a spreading ‘flamewar’. If a blogger flamed, people could just ignore the blog; when a Usenet user flamed, others got sucked in until the channel was filled with people yelling at each other. As Nick Denton wrote, the blogosphere ‘routes around idiots’ in a way that Usenet didn’t, because the blogosphere doesn’t depend on the common channel that a Usenet group did.
Twitter, Reynolds observes, is like Usenet elevated to a virus of the mind. Or a highly addictive designer drug. You could say the same about most corporate-controlled social media. They’re deliberately designed, and constantly tweaked, to hook you. Then their corporate pushers can make you go cold turkey any time the whim strikes them. They can even gaslight you by leaving your messages seemingly intact, but ensuring that nobody sees them.
Blogging has suddenly taken on new importance in the age of corporate censorship.
And I would add (as surprisingly few writers are) that if you have a blog it’s important to get it off WordPress or any other centralized blogging platform. (This site and a lot of others use WordPress, but are not hosted on WordPress, which for now at least, is some protection. How much protection remains to be seen, but it’s a start.)
Brad also asks (I paraphrase and elaborate), but in this era of Googlish control and easy-to-alter algorithms and the relentless will to censor, how do the decentralized, the marginalized, and the world of deplorables find each other? If search engines won’t find you or they downgrade you into page-10 invisibility, what then?
Brad’s answer — or partial, expedient answer — is: revive the blogroll. So once you find one simpatico blog, you can use its blogroll to locate others.
Boy, now that’s old-fashioned. I haven’t even looked at the Living Freedom blog roll in years. But I will now. I’ll be pruning dead sites, revisiting live ones, and adding new ones. Shortly. It’s one of many tasks to prepare to stay in touch despite the worst efforts of the Masters of the Universe.
But now — finally! — to the invitation: come join the Living Freedom Forums (formerly Claire’s Cabal).
Talk about old-fashioned! If blogs are — were — passe, discussion forums are prehistoric. A couple years ago I asked two younger friends what I could do to attract twenty-, thirty-, and forty-somethings to the forums. Independently, each said pretty much: You can’t. You’re trying to attract younger people, who text and use Twitter and Instagram and other quick and trendy platforms, with OLD TECH. They’re not interested.
Well, dear people, the relevance of old, independent and distributed, tech is rising once again. And at The Living Freedom Forums you’ll find not only nice, sturdy old tech, but these added benefits:
- Pretty decent privacy protection
- Forums screened against trolls
- Useful freedom information
- Me (I post there more often than here)
- A community of intelligent, respectful freedomistas
- Well-screened news and some fairly bad jokes
- Voices of experience on subjects from preps to politics to money to guns to farming to tech security
- No Zuckerbergs, Bezoses, Microsofts, algorithms, or censorship (rules of civility and prudence, yes; censorship no)
I invite you to join. Or if you were a member in the past, to rejoin. If you ever had a membership and it’s lapsed, chances are good that admins can revive it.
New applicants: There’s a 10-question application. Enter through the above links to find it.
Former members, just contact me at memberships at clairescabal dot com, give me your name or registered username and unless you got banned for trollery or other misbehavior I’ll reinstate you.
Membership is free, but applicants are screened. The “price” to remain a member is your participation. Those who join but never, or seldom ever, post within their first six months are dropped. You don’t have to post every day, or make postosauruses; just be an active member of the community and your initial six-month provisional membership will be extended.
We need each other now more than ever. And we need private, independent meeting places our tech overlords can’t easily take away from us. Nobody is secure online these days, but better people than I are doing what they can to change that, and the rest of us can help make good things happen in these dark times.