Web 2.1 – A Revolution in Plumbing?

My impression is that I’m not the only person to have found that Web 2.0 is proving less interesting these days than it was five or six years ago. I don’t think this is simply because for my social (networking) circle the novelty has worn off. It has more to do with the fact that the web is less chaotic than it was and corporations have learnt how to better use and control social networking. Friendster fell out of favour because it kicked out fakesters (those that refused to use their ‘real’ identities) and it was continually crashing due to lack of server capacity. MySpace allowed people to adopt any online identity they felt like taking – so it appealed to the fakesters, among others. One of the things I liked about MySpace was its willingness to jump on any and every online fad going, which made it more of a culture clash than most other parts of the web – and I particularly dug the blogging features. I’ve detailed my use of MySpace in an article on the main part of this website – http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/praxis/myspace.htm.
MySpace had lots of faults but it was fun for a while. The platform being bought out by Murdoch’s News Corp (via the Fox subsidiary) led to MySpace suffering a slow death, since its old media purchasers had no understanding of what they’d acquired. That didn’t stop the fools at News Corp from messing around with their new toy. Facebook took up the slack, after initially appealing to over-privileged college kids and other conservatives who couldn’t stand the anarchic nature of MySpace; and partly because one of the central features (alongside photo sharing when that was introduced) was the status update – which required less effort than writing a blog. Twitter took the status update and transformed it into pretty much the only feature on its site. Facebook quickly became a place to do little more than post links when the company made attempts to claim ownership of any original content distributed directly from its severs. No one in their right mind would want to give FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg anything too interesting to claim as his ‘copyright’. Facebook’s current revamp looks a lot like a tail-ending of the failed MySpace. Facebook is now being promoted as a place for sharing media. Zuckerberg’s site for college squares and their post-degree clones has always been uptight and preppy, but in recent months the boredom factor there has definitely increased.
I know I’m not the only person in my social networking circles to try out other sites in recent years. I’ve found the take up at Identi.Ca too low for it to work very well for me – although I’m still posting: http://identi.ca/stewarthome. VK might have turned out better for me if there hadn’t already been a number of Stewart Home fakester sites on their servers prior to my arriving there: many users assumed that I couldn’t possibly be running my own profile on ‘their’ site (a corporate Facebook clone but with more than a few toes dipped into the darkweb). VK is most popular in Russia and since my books sold very well in Russian translation, I’m well known there. So I’m plodding on with VK too: http://vk.com/id121464913. I’ve been working with Diaspora alpha but initially went to a pod that didn’t suit me. I’ve just switched to another pod that seems much better: https://diasp.org/people/36032. Fingers crossed that Diaspora takes off once it goes fully public, the potential for something really good is definitely there. I’m at many other places – including of course Google+ – but to take just one example, I can’t even remember the last time I logged in to my LastFM account: http://www.last.fm/music/Stewart+Home. I have managed to post new material at YouTube quite recently (a public reading from one of my books which I give standing on my head): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z70hEvWbaWg. I hope to update my Vimeo profile at some point in the future: http://vimeo.com/stewarthome. The same goes for my site on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewarthome/.
Instead of waiting for a social networking platform that I find viable to either appear or reach its potential, I figured I’d return to blogging here – albeit on a more sporadic basis than in the past. This is in part because I’ve found the current Guardian newspaper series on “How to build a profitable blog” by Andrea Wren completely vile.  Rather than opening up the possibilities of blogging, Wren’s series is all about closing them down and reducing web 2.0 to a narrow focus. Viz, her desire to turn ‘creativity’ into money. Wren and her mentor Craig McGinty may or may not make a fortune from their blogs, with some added help from the Guardian series that is boosting them – but most of their foolish followers won’t get a pot to piss in from setting up online sites. It is only by moving away from an obsession with monetisation and hits that blogging can become in any way exciting. Search engine optimisation is so last decade, and I’m still of the opinion that content counts, alongside the quality of interaction between a site and its visitors. I’ve never focused on a single subject to the exclusion of all others either here or when I blogged on MySpace. Unvarying subject matter may or may not deliver a target audience to advertisers, but it is also the road to unadulterated tedium.
Finally – and just in case you’re interested – the revolution in plumbing (and many other areas of design and engineering) is allegedly coming to us all very soon via 3D printing rather than web 2.0. And in recent days as I went through a slew of old social networking sites I’d joined, I found that some had wiped my profiles, but many others remained just as I’d left them when I’d last logged in two or more years ago. That said, the entire Twine platform had disappeared and when I typed their url into my browser I was redirected to the Evri site (who I understand have both bought out Twine and wiped my account from the site they’ve merged into their own). Meanwhile, I was excited to discover my Tumbler profile could be be updated from my new Diaspora account. Other places I’ll start updating again – mostly with links to here – include Stumble Upon, Digg and Delicious (the latter two had both ‘lost’ my old profiles but I set up new ones). As for my WordPress site blog, Live Journal, Blog Spot and Bebo profiles (among many others), I’m curious to see how long they’ll stay up if I never log in again, let alone update them…..
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Johann Hari on 2011-09-28 15:38:56 +0000


Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2011-09-28 16:47:24 +0000

I still maintain that content is king: get enough (quality) stuff on your blog / website and casual browsers and the committed will eventually find their way their, rather than just those who ought to be committed….

Comment by raymond anderson on 2011-09-28 19:27:45 +0000

My friend said something that resonates with me. Diaspora is looking like a forum. A thing I was somewhat hankering after. Screed and Scroll! The lost “anarchy” you sought and enjoyed in Myspace might be found in the darknet geeks fomenting revolution over at Diaspora. In a way they remind me of digital Midlle Ages monks!
When I logged back into Livejournal after a long while it was riddled with Russian spam!
Bill D. sent me a mail a while back to join Netlog. Was that the trade union network? Back in the day did you ever try Tribe?
The ultimate in 3D printing, if thoughts and words are merely forms and shapes, is to manifest dreaming!

Comment by Aaron Goldberg on 2011-09-28 21:05:16 +0000

Stewart, how do you remember all the passwords for all those sites?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-09-28 21:15:41 +0000

So here are the first three comments of season three but accompanied by six pieces of spam ‘comment’ – the spam filter prevented them getting here fortunately and they are now permanently deleted. I eventually turned the comments off on the old posts here because until I did that I had to come on daily just to deal with the spam. Some slips through although the filter is good. Fighting this kind of (ro)bot doesn’t feel very futuristic or heroic.
Never did try Tribe, and haven’t tried Netlog either…. Most of those sites I have joined are just a feedback loop to here. The point about search engine optimisation was worked through non-rhetorically in the links I placed above. Because some people do SEO, everyone is forced to do it to some degree. But like Chris says content is where it’s at and if you bang away with it you can start some interesting conversation because people will eventually find their way to your site. And congratulations Johann! You were the first person to comment on this new season of Mister Trippy… although some of the bots would have beaten you to it if their spam had got through!
And according to one of the spammers, ‘no spam, no content’ – they were advertising themselves as cheap content providers for blogs – but then maybe they just copy and paste from elsewhere online… Another spammer was offering to boost blogs and websites up the rankings through search engine optimising links (for a fee of course). Some of the bots had obviously checked through the tags and main body of this blog to target reasonably intelligently. Others hadn’t, since one of the pieces of spam was for ‘pay day loans’….
And while I was writing this, another comment and further spam came in…. Aaron, I’ve got a very good memory although it isn’t photographic, perhaps near – but if you’ve seen the awful The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie then you’ll know you shouldn’t ask me about that. And yes, I do have different passwords for here (the back end of my website) and the front end, Facebook, Diaspora, Twitter etc. It is not a good idea to use the same password for everything…. I’m able to add this last (for now) paragraph to the comment I just posted because WordPress allows me to edit comments.

Comment by SC on 2011-09-28 23:55:04 +0000

It’s an upside-down world in whcih you’re re-blogging – and yer an upside-down guy!

Comment by GS on 2011-09-28 23:56:15 +0000

I’m gonna bloglaraise you baby!

Comment by Mister Ed & Sister Jen on 2011-09-29 00:05:52 +0000

I miss the MySpace blogging – once they’d killed that functionality, they killed the platform for me. I don’t know why FB didn’t adopt a blog section. FB is like MySpace minus the creativity.

Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2011-09-29 12:48:24 +0000

I have been waiting in my cave until you re-opened your blog. I have not seen anyone, or done anything, except wait. My beard has grown long.
Now your blog is open again.

Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-09-29 14:37:27 +0000

Good to have you back Howling Wizard and I hope you get out of your cave more often now! Good also to see some other regulars back.
And I’m quickly being reminded of why I got fed up with running the blog…. overnight I just found my spam filter had stopped 120 spam comments coming on here. And I have to check each one because very occasionally the spam filter stops something that should come through, and just sometimes it lets something through it shouldn’t.
Lots of loan and tax help offers in the spam, and of course offers of SEO assistance that will give me a massive spike in traffic to this blog (with a tiny urls that probably lead straight to virus infected sites), but also spam comments advertising designer baby wear and watches among other things. Of course if the SEO link building being offered in the spam was any good, they wouldn’t be spamming blogs with their own links now would they, in the vain hope of raising their own search engine ranking!

Comment by Count Dracula on 2011-09-29 18:25:52 +0000

Can we have a blog in which you plumb the darknet please?

Comment by Peter Parker on 2011-09-29 22:24:23 +0000

I think you should devote a blog to lightly salted rice cakes and then move on to Parker pens.

Comment by Leutha B. Ordiga on 2011-09-29 23:09:51 +0000

Hello, I found your website by searching Google, but I noticed it was not on the first page. I am an Internet entrepreneur aka stay-at-home proud father of two beautiful kids. I have a tip for you. There’s a software I have been using that will automatically submit your websites to social bookmarking sites, social networking sites, article directories and blogs with a SINGLE CLICK to increase your rankings on Google. I highly recommend it, you should check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADhLzbmXaoE

Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2011-09-30 13:55:47 +0000

In my cave, I spoke to no one. I enjoyed the cosmic wordlessness. But, it was not all quiet — I have a mono record player at the back of my cave. You know the type — dark red, square shaped, with a small valve amp that heats up behind a plastic cross grill.
Here is the sound that filled my cave.
My toad was dancing about to the melody.

Comment by Stan Lee on 2011-09-30 14:41:22 +0000

If you wanna smash the state call a plumber!

Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2011-09-30 15:03:56 +0000

It is easy once we follow a pattern — and that pattern is very useful to us in life too — it helps us understand others’ points of view

Comment by Howling Wizard, Shrieking Toad on 2011-09-30 15:10:23 +0000

Here are some objects from my cave :

Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-09-30 16:22:17 +0000

Howling Wiz your cave sounds like a groove sensation, very 6Ts… you got Bruce Wayne in there with you? There does seem to be a pattern emerging but hopefully that’s just the carpet being worn in again – 20 spam comments to every genuine one, or something like that! And Stan Lee, sometime you need a plumber but it is really liberating to unblock a toilet yourself – and very often it isn’t very difficult!

Comment by Goddess of Spam on 2011-09-30 18:08:33 +0000

I am the Goddess of Spam, and if you mention SEO your spam filter still won’t keep me out!

Comment by Ned Ludd on 2011-09-30 21:41:34 +0000

Your attitudes are way too liberal. Smash the military industrial complex! Destroy the web. Stop computerisation of life. Stop robotisation of life!

Comment by Michael Roth on 2011-10-03 04:03:02 +0000

Here’s something I ran across. Not sure if it will help you in your spam fight:

Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-10-03 08:45:00 +0000

That’s useful. Makes me wonder if I should stop allow links to work. That seems a shame. The alternative may be just to close comments after a week or two. . The spam filter catches most things, but sometimes gets it wrong both ways…. Gonna think about it a bit more. But the tags on ths particular post seem to be particularly attractive to spammers…..

Comment by Old Rope on 2011-10-05 21:43:23 +0000

Dont know why your link wouldn’t work over on my blog… I cant see any settings preventing it, unless it was something to do with the spam filter, though I think that would reject it outright. Weird.
When will they invent a “filter” to filter out the crap on the net? And when will the invent a filter to filter out the crap I write? And when will they invent a filter to write my filler for me? How comes they can fake a man on the moon, but they cant fake this?

Comment by mistertrippy on 2011-10-05 22:47:05 +0000

Yeah, I couldn’t understand it, just the way these things work with trying to post the link and the filters… And good to have you back here too….

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