Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Claiming Ephemeral Media

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

May 27, 2011

Responding to Boone Gorges and D'Arcy Norman, both of whom talk about recovering their content from the hosted sites and silos online.

It’s interesting watching this because for me the reverse is the problem – I already self-host most of my stuff, which creates a challenge getting it into the stream that other people use (and listening to that stream, because so much of it is siloed, and increasingly so).

At this point, I host my own website (and I really must learn about security certificates and such) and my own email server (which has led me to learn far more than I want about authentication and spam-blocking services). My website is also, by design, my bookmarks server and my email server. And I use my own RSS to publish (no feedburner).

I use Twitterfeed to send my oldaily posts to Twitter (I use a separate ‘oldaily’ identity because I’m sure my regular Twitter followers don’t want the additional traffic of a half dozen OLDaily tweets a day. And I use something else – I’ve honestly forgotten what it is, but it still works – to send Twitter posts into Facebook. In other words, I use the hosted services as a way of relaying my content, not as a primary interface.

This does make moving the traffic the other way an issue. I subscribe to some Twitter feeds, and these go right into my website database. Blogs and Flickr and such I can subscribe to directly via RSS. I haven’t figured out Facebook yet, and because it’s such a silo, I rarely use it. The same with most Google services, which again involve auth tokens, secret keys, and all the rest of it. I send photos to Flickr because I don’t feel like hosting the bandwidth (and I do like making my photos searchable; Google image search is a good 12 months behind, always) but I have an excellent backup photo library (which doubles as my screen saver). And I use a hosted service for my radio station, which is OK, because it has no listeners and I’m just building it up anyways.

The result, I think, is that some people perceive me as being stand-offish and uninvolved. It’s not through choice. It people want to converse in an environment that basically owns all their data, I can’t stop them, but I’ve been through this before – remember HotWired Threads, anyone? – and don’t feel like going through the grief again.

I think that’s the most difficult part of reclaiming ephemeral media. The silos have made people feel as though they have to be there, and the people there are complicit in making those who don’t play in the sandbox feel like outcasts. Are you ready to have people act as though you’ve dropped off the grid?

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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