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The Internet: Vast Nothingness

Hey Folks!

  It is fascinating how the internet is both unbelievably enormous and yet simultaneously tiny. As wide as an ocean and as deep as a kiddy pool. According to Wikipedia, the indexed internet is around 14.5 billion web pages (as of 2015, even more now). This is a fraction of the total web pages on the internet. With the deep web accounting for 400 to 600 times more than that.

  And yet, with this almost completely impossible to grasp amount of content the vast majority of people have been funneled into a handful of websites. ahrefs.com has a handy collection of the most searched websites of 2019. Major banks, major retailers, and a few google services make up the majority of the entries. Alongside this we see a focus on health and social networks.

  I’d argue those go hand in hand, since your health is probably poor if you frequent social networks. But I have nothing but my own distaste of SM to defend that belief with.

  Hundreds of billions of websites but most of them are unvisited by the vast majority of human beings. They live and die without anyone ever knowing and I find that fascinating. When I was little and the internet was budding I would visit different websites almost every day. I would scour the internet for the perfect Dragon Ball Z gifs to add to my collection. It was this wild world where each day promised new discoveries.

Another for the collection.

This was intentional.

That’s what I find most fascinating about the modern internet. The murder of this exploration format was done intentionally. As reported by The Vulture and at this point a billion other places (that you’ll never visit), Facebook and other SNs falsified their click-through rates. This caused advertisers to leave other services and flood SNs.

What results is all the competition dies out for lack of funds and all you are left with is a small handful of (arguably) garbage websites. Where once you might suggest that the free market could handle problems and self cultivate that opportunity is now gone.

At a certain point services become so big that they become the defacto option. Wealth and power both have a gravitational pull, once you’ve reached a singularity for either the capacity for anyone to escape it is physically zero.

This likely isn’t good.

I can’t quantify this easily. But I do think that this is a very bad situation for the internet to be in. This wild consolidation of viewership and communities will result in mostly negative outcomes. My logic is as follows.

When eyes are spread across dozens, or thousands, of forums, websites, and other services, this makes any coordinated attack to manipulate people costly and difficult. Once you consolidate everyone to a single, or small handful, of locations you can then consolidate your attack vectors as well.

This means that faking political, religious, or cultural views of a destructive nature becomes trivial. It is inexpensive and almost curates itself. Once you plant the seed it spreads like a disease. And since we’ve gathered everyone into densely packed herds online those diseases spread with wild efficiency.

This is probably permanent.

The problem with the situation is that the internet is largely seen as a free service. The majority of services that you enjoy are ad driven and this means that they must appeal to advertisers first, and you second. This also means that whoever has the largest population also has the largest draw for advertisers.

It creates an ouroboros style situation. Everything cycles in upon itself and the gorging continues endlessly.

Tasty.

The only possible way that I can see this ever improving is if paid services become more appealing to people. I’m not recommending people pay for YouTube but I’m going to use it as an example.

Most of the negative changes to YouTube have been because it is ad driven. In order to appeal to advertisers they have collected heavy amounts of data on all of their users and they’ve also had a heavy hand in moderating the content on the website.

This first point is what recently got them into enormous legal trouble. They were collecting tons of data on children. Now, if the majority of their revenue came from YouTube Red there would be no real incentive to collect data on users. Giving it away to third parties would create competitors for their information market. And if they don’t need advertisers to stay profitable it also eliminates the need to be heavy handed with moderation.

Users will watch what they enjoy, part of the revenue from their subscription will go to those people, and anyone not being watched will not be making money.

This is just one example, and not even a very good one if I’m being honest. YouTube and Google at large have likely been just as complicit in manipulating their actual efficacy as any other service. You don’t get as large as Google without doing some fairly awful things.

So that’s my little rant for the day. The internet as an ad driven service has, in my opinion, died. Everything is consolidated into a small handful of places, almost all advertising revenue is transferring through a small handful of companies, and at this point it is something of an auto-piloting downward spiral.

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Out with the Old, In with the New

Why is everyone celebrating the death of a year again and why do we get so excited for the start of a new year? I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind as well in the past. Obviously, I don’t know why you think people do this same dance every year. Our relationship is one where my words teleport into your head through one medium or another. Sadly, most of the time, I’m not getting any kind of feedback.

Humans love to toss a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated things into one big bucket. I do it, everyone I know does it, and I’m about to do it again. Here it gets even weirder because this bucket stuffing is about bucket stuffing.

I think people like new years for the same reason that they like new people. And I’m using new in nearly every sense of the word. New things have promise, they lack the seemingly perfect clarity of hindsight that allows us to dream about them. A new year could mean anything for you, it could be a new job, a new relationship, a new experience. Something you’ve always wanted to do but have never done.

The end of a year is the direct inverse of this pairing of knowledge and promise. Once a year is over you realize all the things you didn’t do, all the people you didn’t meet, and all that dreadfully wasted potential. You knew what that year could be at the start and yet by the end of it all the achievements never stacked up.

I believe this is true of people as well. We take transgressions against children with so much more vitriol than we do transgressions against adults. A child can be so many things. They can be kind, funny, talented, and any other positive adjective you can imagine. They are lightning in a bottle, a vessel of potential.

Adults on the other hand have had all these chances and chosen to forego them. We see with each passing decade they did not reach their potential. And then, someday, we see them in a position of great power bringing incredible shame to their family, friends, and fellow humans. And in those moments, they become the end of a year personified.

We see a person that could have been so many great things and instead they chose incredible mediocrity. Don’t be fooled either, you can fail to the very top and rule the world while still being a disappointment. A great many tools, people, and events were incredible in their potential but ultimately disappointing in their outcomes.

Your parents, your superiors, your government officials, there is no position of great power that cannot be held alongside wasted potential. There is no mountain so high that one cannot climb it and still be a failure.

At least not when your metric for success is the positivity and beauty that you bring. And so, we return to the new year. A moment where anything can happen. Dozens of weeks, hundreds of days, and thousands of hours awaiting us with incredible promise and the kindness of no limitations.

With all that in mind I’m going to bookend this rambling with my own plans for this year. Behind me we’ve got ole booker growing dusty with mistreatment. I’m going to be taking some time out of my month to dust him off and move around the nonsense that I don’t have the heart to get rid of. I’m not actually sure what I named this other bookshelf, or if I did, but I’ll also need to clean that up. I’ve got an enormous number of cards that need to be sorted. The rest will either be sold or donated. I might make a few videos out of that.

I’m going to be cutting back dramatically on what is already a light consumption of social media. Last year I literally deleted my Facebook and hit the gym. Admittedly I didn’t lawyer up, but it is looking increasingly likely that I’ll be involved with some nonsense thereabouts in the coming weeks. More on that once it is all over.

I plan to hit the gym more this year than I did last year. Apparently, I visited the gym about 135-140 times in 2019. I’m shooting for 200 visits this year.

And overall my biggest goal is to keep my goals approachable and comforting. To take in the world slowly and at a pace that works best for me. The only day to day goal I’m going to have for the rest of the year is to do something each day that makes me happy. Be it writing, making videos, streaming, hanging out, meditating, or working out. Something, anything, big or small, that leaves me with a smile. I think at the end of the day that’s the best thing I can do with my time.

If I can pull that out, I’ll consider 2020 a winner of a year. We’ll see if I can nurture this year so that it lives up to the potential, I’ve set out for it. That way when the year closes out, I’m not joining in the melancholy parade.

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Blog

Hey Folks!

I Live!

I can’t believe it. I’ve been thinking about restarting the website for years. To basically take a bare bones theme and adjust it to fit all of my needs. At this point there is no real reason to buy or use any of the complicated multi themes that are floating out there.

Folks say they are making efficient themes but in my experience that just isn’t the case. Incredibly high use of JavaScript, tons of badly placed routines, and numerous calls being called over and over.

With the coming new year I’m going to do my best to be more active on here. There is no real benefit to me posting on other website. Popularity on social networks is nice, it does feed some kind of narcissism that I think we all suffer from on one level or another.

But do you know what the next level of narcissism is?

Pictured: Me in the morning.

Putting all my thoughts and content on my own website! That to me seems like the height of “Please god, look at me.” and you know what? I’m ok with that. If nothing else this’ll keep me busy and I think that can be handy when it feels rewarding.

So where from here?

Well first off I’ll be starting up YouTube videos again with the new year. I’m going to be setting all my old videos to unlisted. However they’ll still be available via playlists and finding them on the internet somewhere.

Additionally all my old posts are archived. I’ll be posting some of them again in the future, likely edited and improved. Over time I’m going to try and add everything I want on my website myself so that I don’t need to worry about the plugin owner updating and breaking my stuff.

Because I’ll be that owner. Which means the plugins will likely still break but it’ll be my fault at least.

There isn’t much else to say. The next few weeks and months will be about improving the look and feel of this place. Once I have it looking the way I like I’ll then move on to integrating a forum solution of some kind. I miss forums, I feel like they were the height of discourse on the internet.

Ever since we moved away from specialized forums to these larger hotpot social networks I think things have gotten more hostile. Nobody really knows anyone anymore and creating positive connections has become far too complicated.

That is a larger rant for another day however. For now I’m just fairly excited about this. It’ll be nice to have another hobby with largely instant feedback.