trenchant.org

by adam mathes
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Operators Are Standing By

In the absence of twitter – the last social media site I used with any regularity – I’ve been thinking a lot more about centralization of communication, publishing, and its impacts.

Orange XML Buttons Were Ugly And Unusuable But Now All We Have Are Embedded Tweets

The death of RSS as a platform for decentralized notifications and re-engagement of audience has had a crippling effect on the ability of publishers (small and large) to keep audiences coming back. Pretty soon I will need to sell a Winer was right t-shirt next to the RMS one.

I apparently realized this six years ago when one of my first post-Google projects was mailmedaily – a simple RSS to email subscription toolset. But I didn’t realize how drastic the changes would be over the next few years.

Email is the last open protocol with notifications that people actually rely on, so it makes sense to retreat and retrench there.

Like most of my projects, this one failed to get traction and I shut it down due to other things that required my time, even though it did have a tiny active user base. (Also, running email services and avoiding being marked as spam is really, really hard.)

I probably should have thought of publishers as the customers rather than readers, and figured out how to make that work, but I think that market is pretty crowded and I wasn’t interested in solving that problem at the time – only scratching my own itch of subscriptions for myself and readers. But there’s something important to this one – re-engagement is actually the longer term problem to solve rather than mass audience. Mass audiences may live on social media, but trying to be a personal publisher within that cesspool seems like a Faustian bargain.

Well, that seems unfair – at least the devil felt obligated to do cool shit for Faust for 24 years in exchange for his soul – nobody will give you that sort of value for your soul in an algorithmically optimized feed!

Anyway, I should be thinking about how to deal with this sort of thing if I’m regularly writing again and want an audience, but luckily I do not care about the size of my audience anymore. (I mean, I care in the sense that I’m probably better off if it’s smaller.)

The Other Forgotten Text Protocol

In the near term I’ll just let my weird custom CMS tweet out my writing and have it do battle against the auto-delete bot because that seems like the most entertaining approach. (I was going to do that on Medium too but it seems too complicated to get my Medium posts auto-deleted.)

I’m also setting up a private IRC server. Which seems ridiculous that I’d even consider when I’m too lazy/weird/whatever to even respond to any of the personal inquiries I get and am avoiding all social media but it makes sense in my head.

Web version is available to play with if I haven’t messed it up yet. I may be unqualified to manage UNIX services but in the modern era everybody is dev-ops whether they like it or not.

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