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].

Plog

I’m on a photography hiatus for a bit but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about it. Now that I am off of FaceGram I will be focused on this web site and my photography website again (plog??)

I’m loving this idea more and more because:

  • I won’t have to look at ads
  • I won’t spam you with ads
  • My data and images aren’t being analyzed and mined for someone else’s benefit
  • It’ll be my platform, my content. Not someone else’s algorithm

If you are a creator I’d suggest putting the focus off of them and more on you and your work. I really do believe that the focus off of social media and to our own personal corners of the web are making a comeback.

Having said that, you can still catch me on these great sites. I’ll be redesigning them as well.

Website | VSCO | Smugmug | EyeEm | Flickr |

#deletesocialmedia

I just finished the monumental task of deleting all of my accounts. On purpose.

Why should you care about this? No idea. But for me, it is refreshing and liberating. I admit it was rewarding to receive online praise for my photographic work. To see it used on websites, magazines and books is very rewarding. For every day photos, the accolades came and went. Gone are the days when most will leave constructive criticism only to be supplanted by a simple “heart” icon indicating that they liked it. I’m over this.

The rest of social media was updating anyone and everyone about what I was doing. Look at me! I’m witty. I take decent photos. Here’s what I ate and where.

I used to be a charter member of every major social media platform as a beta tester. It was a new frontier to be explored with friends. But no more. Too much superficial. Too divisive. Not fun. Anti-social. No privacy and hacks.

Enough.

I’ve enjoyed meeting people from various social media outlets when we were offline. I am also enjoying meeting and cultivating friendships IRL. We’ll go old school and share a conversation, not a tweet thread. Share experiences as opposed to posts. This is what matters.

I am no longer a member of

  • Google
  • Google+
  • Youtube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Gone. It’s over. Done. I officially killed my social media accounts and severed a lot of relationships and a ton of “friends” in all the places I have lived and worldwide. Well, not them, just the online versions of ourselves.

Now I can and will focus on what matters:

Working on my social skills.

Want to connect? Click the link

#deletegoogle

I first mentioned I was migrating off of Google way back in April. Well, it has taken me just that long to do it. Every photo, video and document I shared with them has been downloaded finally.

I deleted my 10 year old Google account this morning after liberating all my stuff. That stuff is mostly sitting on an external hard drive to be sorted and archived but that is for a much later day.

Until then, I will work to close out my other Google account that I created last November. Shouldn’t be so bad. One year’s worth shouldn’t take nearly as long as ten.

Anyway, up yours, Google. I will not willingly volunteer my data to you for you to spy on anymore.

image

VSCO > Instagram

Instagram sucks. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. VSCO has a great business model. They make and sell digital products to help enhance your photography and provide a social platform to host too. VSCO desktop presets for Adobe Lightroom and VSCO mobile are great tools to create and share your work.

Compare this to Instagram’s business model: advertising. Fun fact: I have never purchased anything from an online advertisement and I will go out of my way to not buy their products for their intrusive behavior. Also, I don’t want my data sold to anyone I don’t want to business with.

VSCO is minimally designed where the focus is on photography, not how many followers you have or comments and likes. These fake forms of measuring how good your image is can be unhealthy and distracting.

The attention to photography and storytelling beats the Instagram feed of 1 ad to every 4 photos. Instagram has ceased to be relevant and ceased being fun.

VSCO is a creative tool program where it provides the tools to edit your images and share on your feed or even in a journal format. Repost others in a Collection as a mood board of inspiration. Even reach out to others with private messaging.

I’ll still use Instagram for my Shots photo group and that’s all. I want to focus on enjoying photography again and being more creative as a result.

**Update** It is finished

It’s Not Relevant

Instagram sucks.

It used to be a great way to network with great photographers and friends. It has evolved from a creative community into an abomination of memes, unoriginal work and advertisements.
When Facebook purchased Instagram everyone knew that it would change drastically and not for the better. 

Shortly after, ads were popping up with no regard for anything. Nothing was relevant because Facebook hadn’t yet figured out your likes, dislikes, friends. It still hasn’t figured me out. I am seeing ads for candy, ads for salt. Yes, salt. Ads for a house flipping seminar by some faux celeb on a DIY channel. Ads for paint etc etc. What the hell does salt have to do with photography? This is a photography platform…or it used to be.
IG has added video features, photo/video stories, IGTV for longer video stories. All laced with ads. 

FB and IG both have shitty algorithms that is distracting what we want to see. Their shitty algorithms have also destroyed the order in which we want to see our friend’s photos by assuming they know best. But FB and IG don’t know me at all. They’ve stopped caring and allow any advertiser to show whatever they want, relevant or not and then have access to our data.

How pervasive are these irrelevant advertisements? It averages one ad for every four photos in your feed. Four, maybe five of your colleague’s images and then you get a “sponsored post”.

Think these offered options matter?

Why don’t you want to see this ad?

It’s not relevant

I see it too often

It’s inappropriate

Think again.

Deleting Facebook was easy. I never took it seriously and my friends appreciated me mocking everything that they enjoyed about FB.

Speaking of deleting…I just accidentally erased my whole last paragraph and don’t have the energy to recreate it. Anyway, IG sucks and I am getting real close to pushing that “delete account” button

image

It’s Not Relevant

Instagram sucks.

It used to be a great way to network with
great photographers and friends. It has evolved from a creative
community into an abomination of memes, unoriginal work and
advertisements.
When Facebook purchased Instagram everyone knew that it would change
drastically and not for the better.

Shortly after, ads were
popping up with no regard for anything. Nothing was relevant because
Facebook hadn’t yet figured out your likes, dislikes, friends. It still
hasn’t figured me out. I am seeing ads for candy, ads for salt. Yes,
salt. Ads for a house flipping seminar by some faux celeb on a DIY
channel. Ads for paint etc etc. What the hell does salt have to do with
photography? This is a photography platform…or it used to be.
IG has added video features, photo/video stories, IGTV for longer video
stories. All laced with ads.

FB and IG both have shitty
algorithms that is distracting what we want to see. Their shitty
algorithms have also destroyed the order in which we want to see our
friend’s photos by assuming they know best. But FB and IG don’t know me
at all. They’ve stopped caring and allow any advertiser to show whatever
they want, relevant or not and then have access to our data.

How
pervasive are these irrelevant advertisements? It averages one ad for
every four photos in your feed. Four, maybe five of your colleague’s
images and then you get a “sponsored post”.

These are the offered options when telling IG you don’t want to see their ads:

Why don’t you want to see this ad?

It’s not relevant

I see it too often

It’s inappropriate

Deleting Facebook was easy. I never took it
seriously and my friends appreciated me mocking everything that they
enjoyed about FB.

Speaking of deleting…I just accidentally erased
my whole last paragraph and don’t have the energy to recreate it.
Anyway, IG sucks and I am getting real close to pushing that “delete
account” button.

**Update**  It is gone.