Wednesday, October 1
A lot of things are happening right now in my life. Many of them are
interesting enough to write about, but a lot of them would be a bad idea to
write about. Some things that seem kind of harmless to talk about follow.
First, ok, Ello. It went around SparkFun IT a few weeks back and I got an account. I remarked that it was
barely functional, and then kind of kept messing with it anyway. Some of my
friends know some of the developers, there’s kind of a local Boulder vibe to
it, I liked it as this little ghost-town place to put some stupid pictures.
So now it’s still barely functional, but somewhere after that it kind of blew
up. Little wave of palpable excitement at the idea of somewhere to be on the
web that isn’t a billion dollar corporate silo, thinkpieces, minor scandals,
brands engaging, the whole bit. Impossible to tell quite how engineered, in
retrospect. And I’m still interested in what’s happening there, because it’s
kind of a differently shaped space. It breaks as often as it works, it’s
probably doomed, and even if successful it’s the usual shit sandwich of closed
code, central control, and vaporware funding model, but what the hell. I’m
still interested in where certain parts of the traffic are headed, I guess.
I’ll probably keep putting stupid pictures there for a while.
If anybody who works on Ello is reading this, I don’t mean to sound like such a
total jerk about it in general. You made a neat thing. People are interested
in it. You’re probably working unbelievably hard right now. I sincerely hope
that you have a good time with it and that you have better luck than most in
catching up to your own rhetoric. It’s just that I wish the world were better,
or at least that those of us with the means were trying a little harder to make
it that way.
Meanwhile, I don’t know if Paul Ford was thinking of tilde.club
as a commentary on the now-routine structure of things like Ello or if he was
just like “it’d be neat if people were putting stuff in
but tilde.club is pretty interesting.
What is it? It’s just a mediocre Linux distribution running on a cheap AWS
instance, with some shell accounts and Apache installed.
This turns out to be fairly interesting, in the way that unix systems have
always been interesting as pocket universes, and all the more
so when shared.
We (the “we” of “nerds who structure the internet for a living”) spend a lot of
time agonizing about social networks and control of social spaces and the way
all the protocols are being eaten alive by massive corporate silos. Is it too
much to think that we could address a lot of fears and problems just by
revisiting the way that the substrate all of this is built on used to be a
thriving social environment in itself, with an extraordinary set of tools for
communication and self-expression?
Maybe cheap virtualized servers could actually be liberatory for users of the
network if they were treated as first-class entities instead of just as
leverage for the centralization of power.