We need to go back to the past in order to save the future
We need to back to the past a little in order to live the future of decentralization. I’m talking about what’s going on with Twitter, GETTR, and Parler. All the silos. It started off recently with Dr. Malone getting pushed off of Twitter. Then going on the Joe Rogan show where he was able to speak freely about vaccines and our government’s response to the pandemic. Over the weekend Marjorie Taylor Greene was permanently banned from Twitter. It now seems to be a badge of honor to get banned from Twitter, if you’re of that political persuasion. Where did people start going? GETTR. Free speech advocates started signing up for GETTR left and right over the last several days. For the ones that haven’t been kicked off Twitter I guarantee they’re going to keep their accounts because the bulk of people are still there.
GETTR, like Parler, is a Twitter clone. But why bother setting up an account in another siloed platform? It’s still a free service that is more interested in your personal data than protecting your content. Even if they don’t start censoring posts what is the advantage of being there? Few liberals and progressives will be starting accounts in any large numbers. They may create accounts to monitor what is said but I doubt they would interact or debate. When we separate ourselves from people we disagree with we end up bifurcating speech. This is what happened with cable news. Go to one network for your conservative opinions and the other to hear the progressive side. One side is not talking to the other.
There are technologies that are superior to all of social media. In fact, social media runs on top of these technologies. They’re called the World Wide Web and the Internet. It seems stupid to have to say it but it seems with everyone’s fascination with apps and free services it’s forgotten people don’t actually need them to communicate with each other easily. The Internet is the base layer where everything we do online operates. At its core it’s just a bunch of computers connected together.
The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies.Internet – Wikipedia
The Web is a layer on top of the Internet using standard protocols that allow anyone to access just about anything on the Internet easily. The technologies of the Web is a user friendly front end. Your favorite web browser is your front end user experience to the Web.
The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system where documents and other web resources are identified by Uniform Resource Locators (URLs, such as https://example.com/), which may be interlinked by hyperlinks, and are accessible over the Internet. The resources of the Web are transferred via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), may be accessed by users by a software application called a web browser, and are published by a software application called a web server. The World Wide Web is not synonymous with the Internet, which pre-dated the Web in some form by over two decades and upon the technologies of which the Web is built.World Wide Web – Wikipedia
A personal web site should be at the core of your presence online. Everyone should own their own domain name and create their own web sites. It doesn’t require a ton of technical knowledge. And you can use open source software that is mostly free. Yes, you still can be de-platformed. That’s possible no matter what you do. Until the Internet is jacked into your brain there is always a way to remove you.
Using myself as an example, I have my own website and I self-host my podcast files. In between me and my published content is my Internet Service Provider (ISP). Spectrum Cable is my ISP and they can cut me off tomorrow if I violate their terms of service. The next link in the chain is a web host. This is where your content and media files live. The domain name you purchase points to those files. My web host is DreamHost. That’s where my personal web site, kevinbae.com, is located and where I store the mp3 files for my podcast. The hosting service is not free but also not crazy expensive. Being a paying customer also means you’re less likely to get de-platformed. Signing up for any free service means you’re just a data mine for big tech. I run open source WordPress, which is free. And that’s all I truly need to have my voice online. DreamHost can take me down but in my experience web hosting companies are generally content agnostic. As long as you’re not hosting child porn or other illegal content, you should be free to express your opinions or provide your expertise in whatever topic you desire.
But, what is the technology that can mimic social media? It’s a simple text file in a format called Extensible Markup Language (XML). That file is called an RSS file. You may have heard of it. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.
But don’t worry about that because WordPress and other content management software create the RSS file automatically. You don’t need to know how to code it. With these existing publishing tools you are your own gatekeeper. There isn’t much between you the content consumer. You don’t have to worry about getting shadow banned, you don’t have to worry about controversial topics, and you can link to the sources you deem credible without fact checks and content flags.
Let’s say you do get de-platformed from your web host. Well, if you own your own domain name, you can move that to another host and take your RSS feed with you. To the consumer there will be no difference. That’s the beauty of using the Web as your platform.
What’s required of the user is nothing more than their smart phone or a computer using their favorite web browser or an RSS reader or podcast app. Many RSS readers already play podcasts because there is no difference in reading the RSS file. The only difference is the content referenced. The reader app does the interpretation and feeds you the content. A good example of this is Feedly.
There used to be a lot of feed readers. But big tech has tried to move away from this in favor of their own apps. Twitter built their entire platform on RSS in the beginning. Feed reading apps can replace Twitter, Facebook, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and any other social media apps or media consumption platform. The only content difficult to host yourself is video. Video takes up a lot of storage space and requires a lot of bandwidth. It requires significant infrastructure not available to your average person.
Podcasting 2.0 and podcastindex.org have extended RSS to make it more useful and modern. For instance, they added the ability to have transcripts, which is basically closed captioning in your in a podcast app, and chapters that allows you to divide your podcast into segments so people can jump around to particular content that they want. There are also images and links that can go with each chapter. What they have done is make RSS more dynamic and interactive. They’re also working on cross-app commenting. This brings more Twitter like function. I think this can be implemented for blogs too. That way, using a reader app, people can create a comment thread for a post that will work no matter what app you’re using to view the content. They implemented streaming Bitcoin micro payments called the value4value model. You can literally pay your favorite podcaster as you listen which can remove the chains of advertising. All of this facilitated by a text-based XML file and created automatically by your content management system.
RSS as extended by podcastindex.org is the future of media and communications over the Internet. If you want true decentralization this is the direction you need to go. When people follow you using RSS they are actually following you.
The bottom line is in order for us to move forward in technology and to protect free expression we need to move backwards just a bit and go with RSS. No one owns it. It can’t be taken down. If you have someone’s RSS feed you have a direct connection to them. And if you have your own domain name and RSS feed you can take your content anywhere.
That’s all I got.
This is a Podcasting 2.0 compatible podcast. This means if you’re listening to this podcast on a Podcasting 2.0 compatible app you’ll have access to transcripts, chapters, and chapter images that accompany each episode. Please go to newpodcastapps.com to download and support these independent apps and go to podcastindex.org to support Podcasting 2.0.
For questions or comments e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org