Five Things: January 5, 2023

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Bring back personal blogging | Monique Judge

“Personal stories on personal blogs are historical documents when you think about it. They are primary sources in the annals of history, and when people look back to see what happened during this time in our lives, do you want The New York Times or Washington Post telling your story, or do you want the story told in your own words?”

I just renewed for another two years, first registered back in January 2002 when I was on the verge of leaving NYC and the poetry slam scene — for the fourth and first times, respectively. I was splintering my presence from the a little bit louder reading series I’d founded in 1998, once again carving out my own space on the internet. I was still oblivious to the existence of The Cluetrain Manifesto, which would not only validate so much of my online experience ~8 years later, but also my offline experiences in the poetry slam scene.

I’ve lost track of my online history and have literally lost thousands of words when websites and platforms went offline, including two of my own — RIP, zuzu’s petals and Spindle Magazine — but I occasionally find breadcrumbs that help me uncover fossils via the Wayback Machine, like this angsty essay from 1997, in which I quote Chekhov and summarize a take on writing that I pretty much still subscribe to.

In the wake of Twitter’s slow-motion implosion at the end of last year, I decided to completely rethink my online presence, and I’m glad to see many others are, too. I wholeheartedly agree with Judge that blogs should make a comeback — preferably self-hosted — regardless of wherever else you may engage online. Although I’m not one to make new year’s resolutions, I am hoping to take the next step beyond this bi-weekly newsletter and start blogging more regularly from now on without thinking too much about traffic and engagement.


[FLASHBACK] The Future of the Blog: Robots Win | Me

“Shatner’s on Twitter, too, which is a ‘micro-blogging’ platform. It’s like a blog on training wheels, for bloggers too stupid or boring to put together a compelling paragraph or three, and social media gurus who don’t like dealing with people all that much.

Ev and Biz clearly had no idea the monster they were creating.”

Speaking of blogs, the Wayback Machine, and archiving your own work, I wrote a guest post for Chuck Wendig’s blog back in 2010 that didn’t survive a subsequent site update, and randomly came across it in November as I was shaping my post-Twitter plans.

It was fun channeling Wendig’s profane tone at a time when my online presence was leaning more “professional” with the launch of Digital Book World resting on my digital shoulders — a website and online community I built and nurtured for a little more than a year before moving on, only to see it nuked without warning by new owners several years later.


What if failure is the plan? | Danah Boyd

I often think back to MySpace’s downfall. In 2007, I penned a controversial blog post noting a division that was forming as teenagers self-segregated based on race and class in the US, splitting themselves between Facebook and MySpace. A few years later, I noted the role of the news media in this division, highlighting how media coverage about MySpace as scary, dangerous, and full of pedophiles (regardless of empirical evidence) helped make this division possible. The news media played a role in delegitimizing MySpace (aided and abetted by a team at Facebook, which was directly benefiting from this delegitimization work).

I’m not usually so transparent nor cohesive when it comes to having a specific theme running through these newsletters, but this issue is slightly less coincidental than usual because rethinking my online presence — and by extension, the day job, and the media industry — has been top of mind for a few months now.

Boyd does a great job of putting what’s happening to Twitter in context, looking at it from a few different angles, all of which add up to just another variation of the “greed, hubris, and/or racism” story we’ve seen played out many times over the years.

Whenever I see someone pushing hard for people to stay on Twitter, I think about what they might have to lose or gain from it. There are definitely legitimate reasons to hold the line, shortsighted as they may be, but the most suspect are media organizations and attention-mongering pundits who’ve built entire business models around engagement-driven algorithms and have no easy alternatives to pivot towards.


Black Twitter is Dead, Long Live Black Twitter | futurebird

“Twitter never deserved Black Twitter, or Trans Twitter or any of the thousands of thriving marginalized but resilient communities it supported…

But, that’s part just of being marginalized, isn’t it? It’s not like there’s anything we could do about it—

Or is there?”

I’m not sure why futurebird chose to write and share this as a Google Doc rather than on their own Tumblr — which I often forget still exists, although mine is still live, too — but it’s an insightful post that gets to the heart of the “should I stay or should I go?” discourse. Most importantly, it focuses on the significant potential of a post-Twitter online experience, particularly for the various communities who begrudgingly used it, many of which are currently being used as human shields by others trying to justify their own continued support.


‘Atlanta’: The art of the scam | Touré

They’re in London this week, continuing their tour of Europe, to attend a party at a billionaire’s house. Even though the episode starts with the foursome together, in this story, they have four very different journeys through this one party, so different that they seem to experience four different parties. But all of their journeys through Fernando’s amazing house are linked by one concept: scamming. In every mini-story, someone is scamming someone.

Atlanta ended up being one of my all-time favorite shows, from its quirky first season through its subversive final episode, but I’ve found myself thinking a lot about this particular episode from the third season. IYKYK…

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