The Mother Road

I have just completed driving the entirety of Route 66. It is almost 2,500 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. Double this for the return trip, of course.

Living one block away from Route 66 here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we started our journey to California and back in February 2019 for one week. After a few months, we were able to again, start from the center here in Tulsa and complete the final leg to Chicago and back.

The United States is a beautiful country and I am extremely grateful to have experienced this journey. I’ll provide a photo tour after I’m done processing all the images and notes.

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].

MissAdventure

Date a girl who travels. Date a girl who would rather save up for out of town trips, or day trips than buy new shoes or clothes. She may not look fashionable, but behind that tanned and freckle face from all the days out in the sun, lies a mind that can take you places and an open heart that will take you for what you are, not for what you can be.

F**k It List

Some people have bucket lists. Boring! These are the fun things I want to do this year (subject to change, add, subtract, multiply)

  • Another Tattoo

  • More skinny dipping
  • Route 66 trips. New Mexico to Chicago
  • Hiking new trails
  • Biking (need a bike)
  • Running/Hashing
  • Focus on urban erotic portrait photography

#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

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.

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