For about a week in June, Cornell University Library’s seven-year archive of videos were not viewable on YouTube. This was because they had posted an interview with the editors of pioneering lesbian magazine On Our Backs. You can find the details on Susie Bright’s new blog and check the status of their videos on Piped, a front-end for YouTube without the surveillance. Because they are a US institution with on the order of $10 billion in investments, and because censoring lesbian theory during pride month is a bad look, Cornell University was eventually able to have the channel restored. I just want to make one point.
Giant corporations, mostly based in the USA for everything but tax purposes, employ legions of slippery people to persuade you to hand your online life over to them. When you post on their sites your browser starts beeping and vibrating like a slot machine, and everything seems so easy. But their interests and values diverge from yours in fundamental ways. And just like any other bully, they can and will alter the terms of the deal at their whim (or when a stronger bully leans on them: changes in Patreon’s policies in October 2017 seem to have been pushed by the people who had just lent them money). So if you are wise, you will post anything you care about to your own site on your own domain and hosting, and cross-post links to it on their services (this has many names including POSSE). And if you choose to work temporarily with one of these companies, you will have clear lines defined in advance which will cause you to end the relationship. Multi-billion-dollar corporations are much more able to alter your behaviour than you are to alter theirs.
I just had an exchange with someone who wanted me to transfer a file with Dropbox or WeTransfer, and could not get the direct link to a file on my own server space to work. Incidents like the ban of Cornell University Library’s YouTube channel are one reason why I keep solving my problems on the independent web and with FOSS rather than with the corporate web services which corporations present as the default.
PS. Cornell U Library has a talk by Prof. Athena Kirk on “Ancient Greek Lists: Catalogue and Inventory Across Genres” which might be of interest to some of my readers? (Piped)
Edit 2022-06-22: added link to POSSE
Edit 2023-07-06: see also Adam Mathes, “Just Use the Web,” trenchant.org 6 July 2023 https://trenchant.org/daily/2023/7/6/