Back In Cyberspace

Screenshot of this website in an RSS feed

Cyberspace- A long time ago, before we allowed ourselves to bottlenecked into a few social platforms, fed into massive surveillance machines, mined for our attention, and controlled by algorithms, there was an idea about internet freedom. Cyberspace.

We allowed cyberspace to become dominated by a few large companies. It was unregulated, free. We created things and shared ideas and we didn’t need anyone to do it for us. We just did it.

Web 2.0- We became lazy and enticed by centralized/connected web applications. Back in 2005, I became hooked into the Google platform thanks to Gmail. Flickr was new and exciting way to share photos. In 2006, I was one of the first users of TWTTR (now Twitter) and I even had a MySpace account and then Facebook. We then coined the phrase “social media” and it was good. The internet became a cesspool of ads, trolls, marketing and algorithms after that.

Social Media- No Google, no Facebook, no Twitter. Thanks to the massive digital footprints I’ve left behind, you can still find some references to my usage but I am off of social media. The Flickr account I subscribe to is not social. It is an online repository and cloud backup to my photo archives. I have an Outlook account from Microsoft but that is residual and for using their services (which I am weaning off of.) No more. Most of us rely on those corporate platforms that decide what they think you need to know. Facebook news feeds anyone? Google search, anyone? Controlled by algorithms designed to keep you hooked and sedentary inside their apps.

I’ve spent the past year winding the clock backwards and starting over again. I have fully reclaimed my little hub here in Cyberspace. My domains are secured again. The website is self-hosted. Email domains are mine.

Since the early 2000’s most of us have used and since then forgotten two brilliant tools to consume information; E-mail and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.

With E-mail and RSS we control what we want to focus our attention on. For either information or for pleasure. I’ve slowly re-introduced E-mail subscriptions to informative websites I trust. They use it as communicating ideas, just like we did in cyberspace a long time ago. They won’t sell my information and they won’t spam me. When/if they do I’ll simply unsubscribe.

Since I first discovered RSS back in the early 2000’s, I was hooked. I’ve relied on it almost daily as an information resource. Here’s why: every website or blog has a feed attached to it. Once you set up or subscribe to these feeds in a feed aggregator like Feedly (free), you could read articles from your favorite websites without visiting them all. No ads, no tracking, no algorithms and in one central location.

I am in control of what I see. No one else. Now, that does not mean I won’t visit the web, far from it. I still use it for research purposes like everyone else but those websites are prevented from tracking me thanks to ad and content blockers. I use a secure browser called Firefox Focus which blocks them. I use Duck Duck Go to perform searches on the web. They don’t track or sell you anything. Pretty soon I will purchase a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that masks my internet provider’s information.

There is a lot of cyberspace out there still. The corporate platforms and strict governments haven’t completely taken over it, even if they do fancy themselves as masters of the universal internet.

I do not advertise and will never have advertisements here. I will never spam or sell anyone’s information. Ever. If you’d like to add my website to your feed aggregator it is [https://chrisdenbow.com/rss].

Goodbye Google

Previously I mentioned I was in the process of dropping all products made by Google but it was half-hearted. The amount of data they have on me for the past thirteen is overwhelming. I recently requested my data delivered to me via their own data freedom tool called Google Takeout.

It took all day to archive and send me my request and I saw why. 124GB worth of data compressed into 56 downloads of 2GB each(!!). And this was for my main account. I haven’t even started on my backup account I created just this past year yet.

The reason behind all this effort to liberate myself? Security and privacy. Also, they are showing signs of controlling/manipulating data and interfering with users. Google’s motto used to be “Don’t be evil.” That motto disappeared sometime this past month. Hmm.

Ever since I made my decision to migrate I have been adapting myself to new software tools. Alternatives to the Google ecosystem that has been so pervasive.

iPhone > Android

Windows > Chromebook

Duck Duck Go > Google Search

Firefox browser > Google Chrome

Outlook, own domain email > Gmail

Youtube > Vimeo

MS Office > Google Docs

OneDrive, iCloud > Google Drive

Apple Notes, Bear > Google Keep

iOS Photos > Google Photos

iOS Maps > Google Maps

Namecheap domains > Google Domains

Adobe > Snapseed

Ever notice how ubiquitous Google is until you saw these examples? Truth be told, I LOVE most of Google’s products and it hurts to leave them behind.

I am still looking for alternatives to a few of their software offerings like Google Earth, Voice, Translate, Book Archives and more. If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

The migration process is still just that. I am slowly setting up new spaces for old content. Once completed I will be pressing that oh so sweet “DELETE” button.