Friday, December 29, 2017

To get more exposure for your blogs, write less???

Tonight Ramsay Taplan, “Blogtyrant”, retweeted a controversial article from another source about how bloggers make a living at it, that is, “Why you need to stop writing content if you want to get traffic”, link here. The site is called “Amp my content” and the Twitter handle was called “ Inbound Ascension”.  Ramsay commented "This is real", probably especially for his very person-like cat.  

The underlying concept seems to be a “single short article” spread over multiple platforms that spread themselves.  There is this idea of “lead compounding.”

Still, this is an article of real world advice for people whose writing has to pay its own way and probably provide for other people, even if it has to be partisan.

The article gives one point of interesting advice: a site with a lot of weak content items will drag down the search engine ranking of the stronger items.  That could mean I should purge the weak or outdated or redundant items on the old "" site, finally. I need to keep all the reviews, major essays, and book texts.  Might happen in 1Q of 2018.  
I get annoyed at desperate attempts to get me to join other people’s campaigns, as if I didn’t have my own mind, but is that what “playing ball” really means? 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Congress says it want to look into Internet addiction (including Trump's); Facebook offers tool to determine if the Russians punked your account

Tonight ABC News reported that Congress is looking at whether some tech companies, especially game providers, are deliberately trying to “addict” consumers to tube time and associated social media, video story here

The story mentioned clinics which treat Internet addiction, which are even more common in South Korea and even China.

Facebook (under /help) offers a tool that indicates whether a user was befriended by a fake account (usually from Russia).  My check did not show one.  However, I recall a few bizarre foreign accounts which were added quickly in late 2016 and which all suddenly disappeared in the late summer of 2017.  I’ve also reported one threatening message, only one, a few months ago in bad English (maybe spam), and reported one account that was fake.  Another account constantly kept sending messages about wanting help getting into the country (a real no-no today with Trump) but then his account got deleted.  I did report one account as fake in June.  And finally, a fake profile of me was put up about eight months ago and caught by another friend, and Facebook removed it before I even knew about it.

The tool is not available on mobile devices. 

I talk about spam mainly on my Internet safety blog, but some of it is so laughable that I can’t believe people still fall for it.  

Monday, December 25, 2017

Kialo: a website that sets up a template for "opposing viewpoints" debate

I found a site, Kialo, that aims at promulgating “opposing viewpoints” about a variety of issues.  It sets up pros and cons for issues and groups the arguments into fitted subcategories.  I signed up for it through Facebook, and made the following sub-pro argument on “network neutrality”. 

"There is precedence for regulating large public "facilities" as "utilities": that is, power and phone companies. It matters whether there is competition. Is website access a "utility"? True, over time the Internet could be balkanized as websites convert to favored "apps" (as in mobile world now). ISP's must be expected to leave normal http(s) access to lawful websites alone."

Some of the debate topics are challenging or point toward some real confrontations in the culture wars/.  For example, should all confederate statues be removed from public spaces, or should gender-specific bathrooms be eliminated.


I had proposed developing such a scheme myself  (see Feb. 29, 2012).  I had particularly thought about it in the mid 2000’s, before Facebook and Twitter blossomed. 

Update: Dec 26

The "claim" was deleted.  Apparently it was not a clear pro or con statement (it is in the middle between the two) that could fit into their debate stream.  I'll have to figure out what they consider acceptable claims. 

I see that there is a panel on compulsory military and/or national service.  I'll look into this later. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Radical resistance instructions, or, you've been punked

I came across this set of “New Years Resolutions forRadical Resistance”.  The piece on Medium is written in such a manner as to make you wonder if you’re being punked (point 8), or if the speaker means it.


There is something to the idea that if better-off people don’t give back very visibly, others may have no reason not to express their indignation about the meaningless of what is happening on floors above them.  Particularly offputting is the idea of reverse targeting: that you have to pick out people who deserve your generosity based on race. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Baby boomers and hyperindividualism; paywalls and the lack of neutrality

Sean Illing has a damning interview article on Vox, “How the baby boomer – not millennials – screwed America”, link.

Illing interviews Bruce Gibney, author of “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America”. The boomers. If born after 1946 (I was born in 1943) never new personal sacrifice, so they took the world for granted.

But then should this become a condemnation of individualism?

The boomers were willing to let their own kids and grandkids get squeezed into increasing debt.
An essay by Jason Furman on Project Syndicate expresses a similar concern less directly.

With this site I ran into a rather aggressive paywall.  It sounds like the site wants to hook you into therm, and not visit other opinions sites.  If you think about it, that’s how the website world could work some day in a no-neutrality environment.  Only relatively few aggregate speakers compared today can be heard, so they have to charge and get you to join them.  It’s a kind of forced tribalism. 

Update: Dec 25

Here's another site, shared by Rick Sincere, with good articles, that now has a free-content max per month (paywall).  It's as if some of these companies want a world where only sites with paywalls are up so that everybody has to compete to become "your news provider".  That is how some people see things. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Twitter apparently will ban users with "affiliations" to violent groups, esp. neo-Nazis

There had been surprisingly little attention until maybe Friday about various reports that Twitter, starting Monday December 18 2017, will ban or at least suspend users with “affiliations” to groups that support violence against civilians, including foreign terrorists (ISIS) but especially domestic white supremacists or neo-Nazis.
The most obvious problem with the proposal would be pinning down what Twitter means by “affiliation”.  Some observers claim that Twitter will check the cookies of computers or phones that upload tweets to determined users who visit hate sites.  But this would require “hacking” and would be illegal except for sites actually hyperlinked from tweets.

What seems most reasonable is that Twitter wants to prohibit persons “working for” extremist groups from posting sanitized messages in order to recruit followers.
In the past, people have been banned from some kinds of employment because of associational membership, like in the Communist Party.  “Membership in” or support for foreign terrorist groups is a crime already, but the law seems less clear on domestic groups, even those connected to neo-Nazism.

The most objective piece seems to by Dave Morris Nov. 18, 2017 on Fortune.

Aja Romono is more whimsical on Vox about “banning the Nazis” here. 

Look at the attitude of “Wife with a Purpose” and her claims here
This piece in the Atlantic Aug. 31 “Distinguishingbetween Antifa, White Supremacists, and Black Lives Matter” seems pertinent. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Local magazine examines volunteerism for teens, and indirectly for adults and seniors like me

While at the Westover Market in Arlington VA late yesterday, on an icy day, I picked up a copy of Arlington Magazine having, on p. 46, “Teaching Kids to Care”, by Ellen Ryan, photos by Erick Gibson. The byline says, we want our kids to be altruistic, so it starts with us.  Ayn Rand does not appear to be welcome. 

The article, as the name suggests, deals with getting high schoolers and probably college undergraduates into volunteerism.  George Washington University, after all, has its annual day of service in September of every academic year.

Recently the Red Cross has been offering to train volunteers to go into low income homes and install smoke detectors.  The article describes kids going into homes and look for energy leaks.

I’ve done sporadic volunteer assignments for a couple hours at a time, and I don’t find it very effective.  Right now, it seems to take all my time to get my own projects done, sort of a continuation of the way it was when I was “working”. So I can’t practice what I preach (it’s easier, as Charles Murray has intimated, to preach what you practice).

I think it takes a minimum regular commitment to make volunteerism effective.  You need to get into something physical and hands-on and that intersect with people’s real lives and real needs, whether it is food, housing construction, clothing, job opportunities, etc.  You could learn some good skills.  That’s a little less relevant since I sold my own estate house.  But I can also see how this fits into “Survival Mom” type of thinking.

Some school systems have a community service requirement for graduation. It’s imaginable that as time goes on, more interests will pay attention to an individual’s “community engagement” in evaluations for employment or other business matters.  But this sort of thing gives non-profits some personal power over their own volunteers’ lives.  This fits especially into the ideology of the Left of compelling people to become horizontally as well as vertically connected and may sound counter to libertarian individualism.  (Charles Murray would disagree – consider “Coming Apart”).

Let’s ponder also what the best way to get recovery work done after a natural disaster.  Is it by having companies mass-build manufactured housing?  Companies are good at it.  Survival Mom says that local neighbors helping with cleanup was very critical around her own home area north of Houston after Harvey.

There’s even more at stake here, with the issue of national resilience.  With our tech dependency, we could face a vulnerability to enemies (like EMP) that is simply unprecedented.  Think about that the next time Trump (or Milo, or even I) publicly shames fat little rocket man. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Blogtyrant suggests website owners get ratings for carbon neutrality

Ramsay Taplan has a new piece, “How to Make your Website Carbon Neutral”  He refers to the CO2NeutralWebsite which will give every website (I guess that means independently hosted Wordpress blog) a grade on its carbon imprint and have the website audited by an accounting firm.
It is interesting to note that cloud processing is said to consume more energy that paper;  but cloud processing also disperses backup data, which may be a good antidote to threats to Internet architecture (like rogue EMP). 

Websites leave a footprint based on load time and time of visit. 


But what strikes me is that personal lifestyles have a lot to do with carbon imprint.  It is true, that functioning well in a social unit (family) is more efficient for the planet than doing things alone, although the way my own life has gone I could not live up to that. I drive places alone (and rent cars when I fly) a lot.  Electric-only cars don't have enough range yet.  Does the travel that supports my website content count in its carbon rating? 

Here's a mischievious thought about today's 3-2 "loss" in the FCC on net neutrality -- not carbon neutrality.  I've already speculated that in the future telecom companies could limit website access by safety ratings or by requiring https everywhere.  Now I wonder about a carbon rating with this concept. 

Friday, December 08, 2017

Video conference: "Fake News and Social Media: the New Propaganda"

Here’s a video of a panel on “Fake News and Social Media: The New Propaganda” at DraginCon in Atlanta on Nov. 19, 2017.

Speakers were Amie Spetanovich, Blair B. Chintella (moderator), Gennie Gebhart, William C. Nevin, and K’Tech.

Anie adds that Google got rid of the “objective search results icon” recently.

There was also discussion on whether “truth” exists in consumers’ minds.
Vox has an interview by Sean Illing of author David Patrikarokas (“War in 140 Characters”)  that examines whether individual bloggers really change the world and challenge governments, as illustrated by the work of Eliot Higgins, a gamer who exposed Russia’s complicity with the Malaysia Flight 17 crash.  

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

"Blogtyrant" 's niche blogging advocacy, with a warning about copyrighted photos

“Blogtyrant” (Ramsay Taplin), while recently on his own vacation in native Australia and noting the importance of trees in fighting climate change, has put out a couple more important articles on blogging.

The first of these is “What to do when your child says they want to be a blogger”.  (Note the “they” – plural – yet that is becoming accepted English as a gender neutral singular pronoun;  I prefer “she” if I want to sound inclusive enough, without really implying binary-ness).  My own mother would not have approved in her old age when I moved back in, but I don’t think she really understood.

More critical is “11 Beginner Mistakes that Cripple Blogs intheir First Year”.  I can’t adhere to 1 and 2 very well, which I think really apply to niche blogging  -- and what matters there is that the underlying small business is successful (and the blog serves the business).  I don’t run email lists, and I guess that means I’m not the “GO TO” (no COBOL please) person for anyone’s practical needs.  There are reasons why that may change soon if I can combine others to cover some critical topics (like infrastructure security from foreign threats).  But #9 (not the same as the DC bar of that name) is about the risk of lawsuit for copyright infringement especially for photo and video infringements.


There’s a personal story of a photo copyright infringement here from Ron Loren worth citing. In general, realize that some photo collections online are copyrighted and the photos may not be used free.  Some publications actually sell rights to use photos as part of their income (DC’s gay paper Metro Times does that) so they depend on being paid for their business model.  It is possible that embedded photos could cause a problem, but less likely than one on your own server. Photos of copyrighted material might lead to problems.  I doubt that photos of ads like in Metro stations would (you’re promoting them for free).  A few years ago bloggers were getting sued by a “troll” named Righthaven for using articles and images from plaintiff’s small newspapers. The fact that a service provider does a DMCA Safe Harbor takedown does not protect the blogger from a later lawsuit or demand for payment. 

Here's another piece, from a UK site called Connotations, on how to write an effective blog posting that gets the desired attention.  Sounds like an English theme. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

Does blogging about white supremacists for journalistic motives make the neo-Nazis look "credible"? Vox weighs in

Karen Turner has a interesting discussion with Tom Rosenstiel on Vox, “How can journalists responsibly cover neo-Nazis: a media scholargives his advice.” 

There is a lot of flak on the left that even covering them gives them credibility as a movement, that could some day become very threatening to specific minorities if politicians had to take them seriously.

A major big city newspaper with national circulation has to consider that different parts of the country will react variably to the same coverage.

There’s a question when amateur bloggers cover it, too.  If a blogger happened to film the Charlottesville rally “for documentation” some people see this as promotion. Correspondingly, it seems that a few journalists might be in trouble now for filming the anti-Trump rally and vandalism on Inauguration Day.

Update: Dec. 3

Yesterday I went on a day trip to investigate the KKK Flyers incident in Rappahannock County (and Warren) VA,  But some would say that my doing so, as an amateur, only encourages more incidents like this because a perpetrator knows someone like me will pay and give attention to it.  When am I responsible for what other people feel motivated to do? 

Later Dec. 3

I saw a ThinkProgress plea (after an article about Orin Hatch and CHIP, children's health, and people "helping themselves") that ad networks were blocking them because they "produce 'controversial political content'" and "cover white nationalism and other controversial topics".  Well, so do I, on my own. I'm "fortunate" enough not to depend on ads or members, but in a way that could be a bad thing. What if every website had to pay its own way to stay up (to keep well-off people from steering the debate)?  

Update: Dec. 4

Now there is a flyer incident on the SMU campus in Dallas (University Park) (CNN story).