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How to Weave the Artisan Web

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I wrote on Twitter yesterday:

John Scalzi

“But Scalzi,” I hear you say, “How do we bring back that artisan, hand-crafted Web?” Well, it’s simple, really, and if you’re a writer/artist/musician/other sort of creator, it’s actually kind of essential:

1. Create/reactivate your own site, owned by you, to hold your own work.

2. When you create that site, write or otherwise present work on your site at least once a week, every week.

3. Regularly visit the sites of other creators to read/see/experience the work they present there.

4. Promote/link the work of others, on your own site and also on your other social media channels where you have followers. Encourage your followers to explore more widely, beyond the algorithmic borders of “social media.”

Now, why should we bring back that artisan, hand-crafted Web? Oh, I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a site that’s not run by an amoral billionaire chaos engine, or algorithmically designed to keep you doomscrolling in a state of fear and anger, or is essentially spyware for governments and/or corporations? Wouldn’t it be nice not to have ads shoved in your face every time you open an app to see what your friends are up to? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that when your friends post something, you’ll actually see it without a social media platform deciding whether to shove it down your feed and pump that feed full of stuff you didn’t ask for?

Wouldn’t that be great?

“But Scalzi,” I hear you say, for a second time, “I spent all this time on social media and all my people are there! You’re asking me to start from scratch!” Well, see: You don’t have to leave Twitter or Facebook or TikTok or wherever. Stay as long as you like, and post whatever you like there. Just carve out some of that doomscrolling/toiletscrolling time for your own space, that you control, too. And when you do, then link to your own site from that other social media, and invite your followers on those services to visit you in your own place. And link to other people’s personal sites, so your followers can visit them, too. Make social media work for you, and not just for the amoral billionaires.

That said, yes, it will take some work. Setting up a site, or reactivating it, takes a bit of time. Writing or presenting work exclusive to your own site takes some work. Getting your followers on social media used to the idea of leaving those walled gardens of content takes some work. It’s an actual project. But look at this way: You have just spent years building an audience on a platform someone else owns. Why not take a little time to do it for yourself? And to help others build their own platforms, too. No rush! Let it build over time. But put in the time.

Your platform, one post a week. It’s not too hard, and the upside is less reliance on other people’s platforms, and a healthier, more varied Web. Stay on social media! Make it work for you, not you work for it.

Build a better Web. An artisan Web. A handcrafted Web. Take the time to get people used to it. We’ll all benefit from it. We just have to decide to do it.

— JS

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ssweeny
2 days ago
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Pittsburgh
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3 public comments
rocketo
2 days ago
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www.bethefuture.space 😉
seattle, wa
hexdsl
3 days ago
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This is literally and exactly what we should always have done. Or at least never stopped doing
/home/hexdsl
sirshannon
3 days ago
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Do it, Gary!

Division Notation

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Science tip: Scientists hardly ever use the two-dot division sign, and when they do it often doesn't even mean division, but they still get REALLY mad when you repurpose it to write stuff like SALE! ALL SHOES 30÷ OFF!
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ssweeny
40 days ago
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Pittsburgh
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Groxx
40 days ago
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"30÷ off" is so wonderfully evil, I must use it everywhere possible
Silicon Valley, CA

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Hemingway

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Tolkien ends up in Heaven but is secretly disappointed Valhalla wasn't available.


Today's News:
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ssweeny
55 days ago
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Pittsburgh
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rraszews
59 days ago
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"Okay so the bad news is that it's Rowling, but the good news is you are definitely not going to run into her here."
Columbia, MD

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - I, Candy

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
And yet somehow people who study economics seem to become less humble.


Today's News:

Psst

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ssweeny
65 days ago
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Pittsburgh
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Facebook Has No Idea What Data It Has

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This is from a court deposition:

Facebook’s stonewalling has been revealing on its own, providing variations on the same theme: It has amassed so much data on so many billions of people and organized it so confusingly that full transparency is impossible on a technical level. In the March 2022 hearing, Zarashaw and Steven Elia, a software engineering manager, described Facebook as a data-processing apparatus so complex that it defies understanding from within. The hearing amounted to two high-ranking engineers at one of the most powerful and resource-flush engineering outfits in history describing their product as an unknowable machine.

The special master at times seemed in disbelief, as when he questioned the engineers over whether any documentation existed for a particular Facebook subsystem. “Someone must have a diagram that says this is where this data is stored,” he said, according to the transcript. Zarashaw responded: “We have a somewhat strange engineering culture compared to most where we don’t generate a lot of artifacts during the engineering process. Effectively the code is its own design document often.” He quickly added, “For what it’s worth, this is terrifying to me when I first joined as well.”

[…]

Facebook’s inability to comprehend its own functioning took the hearing up to the edge of the metaphysical. At one point, the court-appointed special master noted that the “Download Your Information” file provided to the suit’s plaintiffs must not have included everything the company had stored on those individuals because it appears to have no idea what it truly stores on anyone. Can it be that Facebook’s designated tool for comprehensively downloading your information might not actually download all your information? This, again, is outside the boundaries of knowledge.

“The solution to this is unfortunately exactly the work that was done to create the DYI file itself,” noted Zarashaw. “And the thing I struggle with here is in order to find gaps in what may not be in DYI file, you would by definition need to do even more work than was done to generate the DYI files in the first place.”

The systemic fogginess of Facebook’s data storage made answering even the most basic question futile. At another point, the special master asked how one could find out which systems actually contain user data that was created through machine inference.

“I don’t know,” answered Zarashaw. “It’s a rather difficult conundrum.”

I’m not surprised. These systems are so complex that no humans understand them anymore. That allows us to do things we couldn’t do otherwise, but it’s also a problem.

EDITED TO ADD: Another article.

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ssweeny
77 days ago
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Pittsburgh
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j8048188
81 days ago
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This is why any code that claims to be "self-documenting" isn't.

CDC’s updated guidelines for living with the zombie apocalypse

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The fighting-zombies phase of the zombie war is over!
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ssweeny
83 days ago
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Pittsburgh
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