A ways back, I imposed a schedule on myself to try to keep my internet activities consistent and better organized. And mostly I’ve been sticking to it, and it has been a good thing to do.
Then, because we live in a world where the platforms on which all such scattered information is displayed contrive to hide much of it from those who want to see it, I started compiling a weekly summary of this activity, basically a link digest with occasional framing and commentary, just so there’s a reference to the items in this world where so much is disorganized and randomly invisible to those who want to see it most.
I’ve been doing this as much for me as for the “audience,” such as it is. I want to have an easy way find stuff I’ve posted, now and in the past. My blog used to serve that function, but it has been falling apart for some time and I decided the best way to preserve what’s already on it is to freeze it, in amber as it were, and not upset its delicate balance by trying to add to it. One day, I will finally come to grips with launching a Dr. Frank’s What’s-It part deux. In the meantime, it’s gotta be the socials. And they’re not good at this In-Case-You-Missed-It stuff — they are specifically designed such that stuff like this gets missed — nor are they good at indexing, archiving, preserving. Try searching Facebook for some specific thing you remember posting or reading on there in 2013, and good luck. I have switched my “long form” text posts to Medium, but lists of links don’t do too well here. And when I tried to do link digests in mulitpart Twitter threads, they were summarily deleted by the management. Basically, and increasingly, all the stuff I want to do on the internet (i.e., telling people about the things I’m doing and thinking) is discouraged and obstructed by the platforms I have to keep trying to do it on. It is very frustrating.
That said, the best of the bunch, by far, is this recently-instituted “on Google” search page feature where I’ve been doing my link digests lately. It’s easy to use and great for communicating, well organized, and obviously very easily searchable. Hopefully it’s permanent too, but, well hah, I know. I’ll settle for temporarily permanent.
But even there (and here’s where I get to the point, finally) the reason I had to make this the mother of all link lists was because a whole week’s worth of links (the one I posted on the Friday of the recent California shows) was summarily zapped and disappeared. It seems I may have been too… exuberant in describing the shows, and may have let slip a hint of preference that people attend rather than not attend. That’s a no-no. You can’t have a “call to action” there. (I’m not completely certain that’s what it was though. The parameters are deliberately vague, and the post has disappeared so I can’t go back and do a forensic analysis on the rhetoric to see what I did wrong.) It’s all a matter of phrasing, shades of intimation, and, I imagine, the subjective whim of whoever it is who reviews the stuff flagged by robots as potential violations.
And, you know, I’m posting this explanation on Medium because where else can I do it? But of course, Medium could just disappear it on a whim as well. They could disappear all of my posts. Maybe they will.
Are you getting tired of this like I am, tired of this world where your stuff exists only at the indulgence of corporate entities who can make it all go away anytime they like? I have a more general world-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket type critique of this as a matter of history and best communications and archive practices that I may try to flesh out one day. I don’t trust any of these companies to be responsible and reliable stewards of documents and materials of historical importance, or even of casual or trivial importance come to that. They’re the only game in town in the aggregate. So that’s bad.
But even for my much less important personal stuff: all I want is a clean, well-lighted place for organized links and content that won’t be shadow-banned, deleted, hidden, put out of order, or otherwise messed with, and a way to tell people that it’s there and where it is. In this, my agenda and that of the tech industry seem to be in insuperable conflict. Of course, I could maintain and host my own website/blog for archival purposes (which is what I’m planning to do, quaint and archaic though that notion may be) but the public has been trained to be passive receptacles for whatever the various platforms decide they should be filled with. I could build it, but they wouldn’t come. It would be there, yet, in a certain sense, not there.
Which is why I recently only half-jokingly suggested that everyone re-install Web 1.0 over Web 2.0. “Web 2.0” is why we’re in this predicament. In theory, it was great. But decentralizing information, scattering it hither and yon, and leaving its indexing and accessibility to various businesses, operating under their own parameters, who determine how much of what should be seen by whom: that hasn’t worked out so well.
In any case, until it gets zapped, this week’s Dr Frank Weakly Reader, three weeks’ worth, may be found here. And may God have mercy upon our souls.