Search engines have been losing the battle against content farms for a decade or so. Around 1 March I noticed that DuckDuckGo was including random things that it thought were physically close to my IP address in search results, things like maps, business directories, or local news stories that did not have most or any of the keywords but were things people might often click on. That made me look more into what DuckDuckGo actually is these days.
saying everything’s on the internet is great if you know how to use the internet. People who say it’s all on Google probably haven’t spent a lot of time watching people try to find what they want on Google. It’s challenging. There’s a lot of syntax to know, you’ve got know how to use a mouse, you’ve got to understand clicking, what’s a tab, what happens when I do this that and the other (thing), and there really isn’t a social institution dedicated to helping you figure it out. And then, that’s just for digitally divided folks, but for average folks who know how to use a computer, they still need to know how to be discerning about the information they get.
“Don’t be evil” or not, Google has a great deal of power over Internet culture. One example is the way that Google discourages searchers from marking up their search (with quotes, Boolean logic, restrictions like “only from the following domain,” etc.) Google Advanced Search was removed first from their main page and then from their list of other Google tooks on google.com, and their algorithm takes more and more freedom to ignore quotes and deliver sites with only partial matches. Rather than encouraging users to become skilled searchers, it teaches them to type quickly and trust the algorithm.
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.
If you come from book culture, the Internet and social media often work the opposite of the way you expect. One of these differences is that readers pay for preserving books, but publishers pay for keeping websites online.
Where now the blog and livejournal? Where the alert that was blowing? Where are the drafts file and imagebank, and the wild words flowing? Where is the strife about small wars, and the cathodes glowing? Where is debate and discovery, and the archives growing? They have passed like bits on a floppy, like tape in a dashboard The sites have gone down one by one, by their owners abandoned. Who shall turn the dry sheaves into green grass waving, Or behold a sunken ship to the Sun returning?
So, 2021 is crawling out the door under a hail of bullets, arrows, javelins, beer bottles, and hurlbats. A lot happened.
I worked the 2021 election where Canadians told their representatives to go back to work and not ask for absolute power, and I got a part-time job with a large Canadian retailer after three years of unemployment.
I got vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic.
I finished the manuscript of my second book and am about to sent a draft around to contacts with the right interests.
The Arms and Armour Society in the UK is holding a subscription drive to fund their excellent journal. I am informed that if you put a subscription in your shopping cart, go to the shopping cart and enter code facebook2020 you can subscribe for half off. If self-promotion in front of a camera is not... Continue reading: Arms and Armour Society, and the Great Migration
At first I thought substack were just good self-promoters. They managed to convince people to lend them more than $80 million to launch a blog platform with 2010s aesthetics. Most blog platforms will deliver posts by RSS or email if you sign up, and paid and unpaid newsletters go back to the 19th century. Getting people with too much money to give you some is harmless, and convincing people to read and write blogs is good. But then @email@example.com suggested I should look at their source code and I saw something as beautiful as the tale of Emperor Norton of the United States.
My mental health has recovered to the point that I can work on moving the static part of my website onto its own domain name and server. That is good, because WordPress’ web interface has become even more intolerable. Automattic has other frustrating policies, like storing images on their domain not mine (so if I move the site links on other sites to the images break), and editing a customer’s site to stop them from using someone’s legal and most famous name. If you want to see how a computer scientist thinks about this problem, read on!
 a scientist with a diploma that says CSC and a resume with “junior software developer” under work experience, at least
So, it is 2020. It has been an odd year in an odd decade. And while I am tempted to just note who was king and the most exciting thing that happened in the heavens, I want to finish this section of my chronicle. The conjunction of Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter in May was exciting but there are other things to write.