Turning my blog into a Fediverse server

Ganesha on Montrose

I’m adding this as a weekend project for myself.

Fedi.Tips – An Unofficial Guide to Mastodon and the Fediverse writes:

If you have a WordPress blog, you can turn it into a Fediverse server, which means people will be able to follow the blog and comment on it from Mastodon etc.

This is now possible for all kinds of WordPress blogs, including free blogs on wordpress.com, paid blogs on wordpress.com and blogs hosted elsewhere that are powered by WordPress software. The method you use to activate Fediverse compatibility depends on the type of blog you have, but they all work using the same technology.

(click here to continue reading WordPress: Turning your blog into a Fediverse server | Fedi.Tips – An Unofficial Guide to Mastodon and the Fediverse.)

So far, I’ve installed the ActivityPub plugin1 and attempted configuration. I’m not quite sure it is alive yet, but I have to stop for a few hours anyway to attend to other tasks. I’ll check back in and figure out what the final steps will be…

  1. https://wordpress.org/plugins/activitypub/ []

The Internet IS The Public Square

Can t Remember What I Was Thinking Of
Can’t Remember What I Was Thinking Of

Brent Simmons writes about something I’ve been thinking about for the last few months:

My problem with Twitter remains the same: centralized social networking concentrates way too much power in one place.

Twitter is awful in other ways, sure, not just for that reason. (The issues with Nazis and harassment and abuse. The way it treats third-party Twitter developers.)

And Facebook, too, is awful in its own ways.

But, even if it were well-run, centralized social networking is still a deeply bad and unhealthy idea. Josh Marshall writes that we should be concerned about

…ceding so much of the public square to private platforms which really aren’t about free speech in any way and don’t have free speech in any way. They’re all ordered by algorithms designed to maintain time on site and service ad sales. In no sense are they open or free.

Twitter is not the public square. It just wants you to think it is. The web itself is the public square.

(click here to continue reading inessential: The Public Square.)

Ghosting all of my social media accounts is very, very tempting. Especially Facebook and Instagram which I care less about. I’ve already started the process of culling my interactions with both of those platforms. I only log in to Facebook using my Mac’s alternative browser, and since I have two-factor authentication turned on, it is even more time consuming to log on, thus I log on once or twice a month. I am considering removing most of the ephemeral contacts there as I have already done on Instagram. I deleted the Instagram app from my phone, and don’t miss it yet, and maybe never will. 

Defunct Tweets
Defunct Tweets

Twitter is slightly different, as I mostly use my Twitter account as a microblog. I’d guess that 90% of my posts contain URLs linking to a news story, or to my own photographs. If there was a quick, painless way to delete every Twitter post that didn’t contain a URL, I’d do that right away, but I’m not sure if that is possible, or tbh, even really worth it. I’m low profile enough that I don’t interact much with strangers on Twitter, nor do I seek out heated political arguments with the mouth breathers; so I’ve yet to encounter that toxic part of Twitter.

I never found a good method to integrate Twitter with my blog, perhaps I should look for a solution to that. My tweets1 are archived in a Google Doc spreadsheet; if I use Buffer, my tweets are also posted to my Tumblr, yet I’d rather there was a place on my own domain which hosted this running link history. 

Perhaps the microblog tool will work2.

I don’t miss the amount of fiddling Moveable Type required, Twitter’s main attraction for me is the ease with which I can create a link to something interesting I’ve encountered, Twitter is integrated into iOS and MacOS in a way that self-hosted WordPress blogs are not.

 Frostpocket Kitchen

To the bigger question, I miss the character of the web before Facebook et al existed. I doubt we can return to those days. It sort of reminds me of the back-to-the land movement of the last century: folks like my parents eschewing the technologies of the day to go to farms and communes and try to exist with one foot in the future and one foot in the past.

  1. using the magic of IFTTT []
  2. though I’m unclear at the moment if I can quickly integrate it into this blog, and whether or not I’d have to pay for use for the tool []

Twitter vs. Facebook

From the Department of Thoughts Slightly Too Long To Post on Twitter


In the context of my parenthetical aside in this post, Facebook Doesn’t Pay You Because That’s Not Their Model, I admitted I use Twitter much more than I ever used Facebook. For me, Twitter posts are links to go read ((or look at)) something posted somewhere else while Facebook posts are often, though not exclusively, self-contained. Twitter was initially only 144 characters, and despite this count being subsequently expanded, it retains that ethos. Facebook never had a length limit to what was posted.

This sucky blog has nearly always been more of a go read something ((or look at)) that is posted elsewhere, here’s a sample paragraph or two, here’s my reaction, but go read the source material kind of blog. A large percentage of the kind of posts that used to be created here are now created on my Twitter page

That is all.

UrbanSeens Gallery Show at Spellerberg Projects

As some people know, I have an upcoming gallery show in Lockhart, Texas, April 1st at Spellerberg Projects, 103 S Main St, Lockhart TX.

UrbanSeens Opening Reception

UrbanSeens invitation

I’d be honored if you attended, but I realize many people have other things to do, like washing their individual hairs in a custom built sink, or alphabetizing their sock drawer. So I forgive you in advance if you don’t make the opening. Or the 30 or so other days in April when the gallery will have my images on display without strangers gawking and pushing each other to gain a better view.

If you actually cannot make it to Texas on such short notice, the prints I’ve chosen to display are also available to view at Flickr, or at a dedicated photoblog I created for the occasion – UrbanSeens.com  (still a work in progress at this time)

Hope to see you there, or there, or there…

As an aside, deciding what images to display and print was a crazily complicated process. I’ve been taking photographs for a long time, decades in fact, and while I consider myself more adept these days, photos taken when I was first seriously exploring the photographic medium have a certain nostalgic gravity. Also as I scrolled through the nearly 13,000 photos processed and uploaded to Flickr (12,903 at this moment not to mention the nearly 100,000 total photos in my Lightroom catalog), I kept finding images I liked or wanted to include, but could not. Maybe in the next show? Or I could print them just for you?

Flickr Stats 2017-03-16 at 11.09.58 PM
Flickr Stats 3-2017.PNG

Ten Posts A Day


I tweeted a joke the other day:

and while I never did fulfill my desire to scarf down a bag of Cheetos and/or a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, I did decide that maybe I should challenge myself to write ten blog posts. In the dark ages, before Twitter and Facebook, before the corporate media began to emulate the blog model, et al, I did post a hell of a lot more content here. Ten posts was not a particular daily metric I tried to achieve, I was happy with five posts, but ten happened every once and a while. Now, to be honest, I’m not a long-winded person, so it isn’t like I typically write five hundred or a thousand words of my own per post, I’m more of a blogger of the Kottke school, pointing you to read something interesting somewhere else, while liberally quoting from the original source.  

I did other things yesterday too, but I didn’t post my tenth post until 7:30 PM. If blogging was a job, each day of work would typically be a long day.

Pippen Peruses the Newspaper
Pippen Peruses the Newspaper

According to Erica Berger, insisting upon ten posts a day means more click-bait articles, more shallow articles, less actual journalism will be practiced.

Every journalism student knows they are supposed to shine a spotlight on the issues that matter.   It’s a sad truth that some of our greatest reporters have had to bail out in search of a saner or more impactful job.   But it’s hard to do that when your boss wants you to churn out 10 posts a day. And when journalists are expected to maintain an active social-media presence and share their thoughts on every fresh twist in the 24-hour news cycle, it’s difficult to find the time to identify the stories that truly need telling.

(click here to continue reading The next generation of journalism students have no idea what they’re getting into – Quartz.)

Luckily, I don’t have that kind of pressure, other than self-imposed, so don’t expect to see any listicles posted here.

Jason Kottke: The blog is dead, long live the blog

No Ego
No Ego

The blog-father, Jason Kottke opines that the blog has died…

Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice. Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs. Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium.

In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids. Instead of launching blogs, companies are building mobile apps, Newsstand magazines on iOS, and things like The Verge. The Verge or Gawker or Talking Points Memo or BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post are no more blogs than The New York Times or Fox News, and they are increasingly not referring to themselves as such.

The primary mode for the distribution of links has moved from the loosely connected network of blogs to tightly integrated services like Facebook and Twitter.

(click here to continue reading The blog is dead, long live the blog » Nieman Journalism Lab.)

Yikes! G4 - still chugging
Yikes! G4 – still chugging

As an aside, though I’ve never met Mr. Kottke, he had a lot to do with how this humble blog exists. I always had a website, since first getting a floppy-disc copy of Mosaic1 way back in the Stone Age, but never knew what to do with my site until I discovered Kottke.org. Ahh, blogging, I could do that. I never learned how to code HTML beyond the basics, but blogging only required basic HTML and CSS skills. Sadly, I’ve become an increasingly lazy blogger, posting less and less frequently, but I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. 

He does have a point though, Twitter and Facebook and so forth consume an ever larger percentage of our collective online energies. Unfortunately, in my opinion, but then I’m over 402. Facebook especially is troubling to me as too often I hear of some arbitrary deletion of posting privileges, with minimal recourse. If you own your own data, you have much more control. Also if we only use Twitter and Facebook to communicate, we lose a large portion of our individuality – there becomes a vanilla plainness to the online world. On one side of the equation, no blink tags – yayyy; on the other, boring, shallow sites like BuzzFeed and HuffPost become the norm – meh.

I took the opportunity to clean up my blogroll, removing a few blogs that have died, and keeping a few dead blogs with the hope they resurrect. If you are reading this, and you have a compelling reason for me to add you to my blogroll, leave me a comment, and I’ll consider it.

  1. in beta? or was that Netscape Navigator? Memory gets fuzzy []
  2. albeit childless []

Swanksalot’s Solipsism

I Don't Wanna Look Down
I Don’t Wanna Look Down

I finally found a use for my long-standing Blogger account – all of my photos from Flickr and Instagram end up there. Thanks to the magic of IFTTT (If this than that, a great service if you have a few different online accounts), every photo that I upload to Flickr, every photo I upload to Instagram, every photo I “like” on Flickr, every photo I “like” on Instagram, every YouTube video I “favorite”, and so on is automatically uploaded into a Blogger post. If you are ever bored, you can browse this page for visual stimulation…

(click here to continue reading Swanksalot’s Solipsism.)

Whatever it is called when you add a pickled pepper to a martini
Whatever it is called when you add a pickled pepper to a martini

Embedding Tweets


Defunct Tweets
Defunct Tweets

Umm, yay?

Let’s try the short code version:


LoudTwitter is Defunct

For a while, I used a free service called LoudTwitter to post a days worth of my Twitter musings onto my Blogspot blog early every morning. I found this quite useful, especially because I tend to use Twitter mostly as a repository for interesting tidbits and news articles which may never actually end up being blogged. And because, quite honestly, my short term memory is for shit. Having an automatically generated page that I could browse looking for a particular link was something I used many times.

Defunct Tweets


Since LoudTwitter is no more, I wonder if there is a comparable plugin for WordPress or even Google’s Blogspot? I actually preferred that LoudTwitter posted to my step-child Blogspot blog, which doesn’t get much attention, other than to post a Flickr photo now and again.

When the Thrill of Blogging Is Gone

I guess it depends upon what your motivation for blogging was when you began…

many people start blogs with lofty aspirations — to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world. Getting started is easy, since all it takes to maintain a blog is a little time and inspiration. So why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

Judging from conversations with retired bloggers, many of the orphans were cast aside by people who had assumed that once they started blogging, the world would beat a path to their digital door.

[From When the Thrill of Blogging Is Gone … – NYTimes.com]

For me, blogging is just a way to help myself remember interesting tidbits of information, possibly helping others do the same. If a magic genie appeared, and granted me a wish, suddenly growing an audience to become a full-time blogger would not be one of my requests1.


note: this entry never even got posted back in June, 2009. I’d hazard a guess that I had another thought on the topic, but got distracted before starting to type it out. Oh well.

  1. working on a film, perhaps, and being a full-time highly paid art photographer would take precedence []

The FTC and the Unreasonable Case of Disclosure

The blogosphere is starting to think about the new FTC regulations we mentioned yesterday. Case in point, Nine reasons why the rules will solve no problem, and just cause headaches:

I'm With Stupid

However, I don’t believe that the new FTC guidelines actually help to further the goals of transparency but rather, instead, the new rules will be rife with abuse and misuse and uneven application. Here’s why:

1. Adversely affects smaller blogs. Small blogs like ours do not have editors. We don’t get paid to review and what we do is truly a labor of love. Yes, we are starting to host ads but we cannot afford a full time editor for our reviews. Blogs without editorial staffs will be subject to the new rules while blogs and mainstream publications, regardless of other issues and relationships, will not. Let me state it this way: the blogs with the highest earning capacity will likely be exempt while the blogs with the lowest earning capacity will not. I found it fascinating that Richard Cleland of the Bureau of Consumer Protection said this:

Cleland said that a disclosure was necessary when it came to an individual blogger, particularly one who is laboring for free. A paid reviewer was in the clear because money was transferred from an institution to the reviewer, and the reviewer was obligated to dispense with the product. I wondered if Cleland was aware of how many paid reviewers held onto their swag.

“I expect that when I read my local newspaper, I may expect that the reviewer got paid,” said Cleland. “His job is to be paid to do reviews. Your economic model is the advertising on the side.”

From Cleland’s standpoint, because the reviewer is an individual, the product becomes “compensation.”

[Click to continue reading The FTC and the Unreasonable Case of Disclosure | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary]

and Number 7, especially as it pertains to Twitter is a bit of a joke:

Eliminating any relationships. § 255.5 requires disclosure of “material connections”.

When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product that might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience), such connection must be fully disclosed.

I’m not sure what this pertains to. I have attended luncheons, parties with publishers. Do I need to explain each and every piece of swag I am ever given? Could I even possibly remember every pen and mint tin I picked up? I doubt it.

It’s important to note that in various interviews around the web and in the Guide itself, the FTC contemplates that any comment, tweet, post on a facebook page, participation on a message board, must be accompanied by the relevant disclosure.

As for Twitter, the FTC isn’t letting you get a pass with the excuse that 140 characters–Twitter’s famous text limit–is simply too short. “There are ways to abbreviate a disclosure that fit within 140 characters,” Cleland said. “You may have to say a little bit of something else, but if you can’t make the disclosure, you can’t make the ad.”

I do wonder how long it will take before this policy is attempted to be enforced, and how long before a high-profile case goes before the courts. Do I have to hire an editor now? An advertising manager so there is a wall between “content” and “advertising”? How come celebrity magazines1 are seemingly exempt from the FTC? If I read another positive review about a Michael Bay film, I may ask the FTC to investigate.

  1. print and television []

Mrs O Has No Regrets

Interesting write-up of the Mrs. O blog

Michelle Obama-at Blackbird

ON the blog Mrs. O, fans of Michelle Obama’s style can view photos of the outfit she wore on a recent date with the president-elect and find out where to buy the same purple designer coat.

The advertising agency behind the blog, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, does not work for Mrs. Obama or for the fashion designers the site features. In fact, mrs-o.org is not for a client at all. It is an entirely new business created by the Zag division of Bartle Bogle, which the agency started to invent new brands.

Mrs. O and Zag are part of a business model transformation in the advertising industry. Agencies are parlaying their expertise in marketing the brands of other companies into creating and marketing their own.

Zag got into the fashion blogging business in September, after Mary Tomer, a 27-year-old account planner at Bartle Bogle in New York, hatched the idea for the blog. She noticed Mrs. Obama’s style during the Democratic convention, yet could not find information on what she wore.

She decided to create a Web site, which she described as “a central resource for tracking her style and providing as much designer information and commentary as possible.”

Instead of writing the blog in her spare time after work, like most bloggers with day jobs, she approached her employers to see if they would bankroll her new hobby. They readily agreed.

“Mary was very sure about what she wanted, and when you read about the best brands, they are unrelenting,” Mr. Jenkins said. “That’s what I preached to my clients for the last 10 years, and now we have the chance to do that ourselves.”[Click to read more Advertising – Ad Agencies Create and Market Their Own Brands – NYTimes.com]

and this is how my photo ended up there:

Ms. Tomer and the site’s other writers find pictures of Mrs. Obama in newspapers or on the photo Web site Flickr and get permission from the photographers to post the photos free. They research her outfits by calling designers, searching on sites like Style.com and, when stumped, turning to the blog’s readers.

At first, Bartle Bogle thought of the site as an experiment in new media. Quickly, though, “there was a realization that there was a bigger idea here that was a very viable business opportunity,” Ms. Tomer said.

Ms. Tomer was very polite, professional, and of course I was pleased to be affiliated, even tangentially, with her website. I hope she’s able to parlay Mrs. O into a great success, for at least eight years…

Ambient Awareness for Airports

(Apology to Brian Eno for the title snatch)

Fascinating overview of the 21st phenomena of Digital Intimacy1 by Clive Thompson in Sunday’s NYT Magazine. I’m old and crusty enough to still be an old-fashioned introvert, but I’ve certainly exposed and expressed my thoughts to a much wider audience in the last couple of years than all my college years combined2.

Social scientists have a name for this sort of incessant online contact. They call it “ambient awareness.” It is, they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye. Facebook is no longer alone in offering this sort of interaction online. In the last year, there has been a boom in tools for “microblogging”: posting frequent tiny updates on what you’re doing. The phenomenon is quite different from what we normally think of as blogging, because a blog post is usually a written piece, sometimes quite long: a statement of opinion, a story, an analysis. But these new updates are something different. They’re far shorter, far more frequent and less carefully considered. One of the most popular new tools is Twitter, a Web site and messaging service that allows its two-million-plus users to broadcast to their friends haiku-length updates — limited to 140 characters, as brief as a mobile-phone text message — on what they’re doing. There are other services for reporting where you’re traveling (Dopplr) or for quickly tossing online a stream of the pictures, videos or Web sites you’re looking at (Tumblr). And there are even tools that give your location. When the new iPhone, with built-in tracking, was introduced in July, one million people began using Loopt, a piece of software that automatically tells all your friends exactly where you are.

This is the paradox of ambient awareness. Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating. The ambient information becomes like “a type of E.S.P.,” as Haley described it to me, an invisible dimension floating over everyday life.

[Click to read more of I’m So Totally, Digitally Close to You – Clive Thompson – NYTimes.com]

Geometric Divisions

As far as following people I don’t know: I learned from Flickr to be careful who I follow, otherwise the data stream becomes overwhelming. I’m usually not interested in baby photos of strangers, nor of parties I’m not invited to filled with people I’ve never met. Still, I know a lot more about acquaintances and friends from the past than I ever thought feasible, or enjoyable, and I’m quite delighted with the interconnectiveness of it all.

Oh, and for me, twitter became interesting after I:

1. connected it to my cellphone, but not getting updates every time somebody posted, just so that I could post while bored in waiting rooms and in airports, yadda yadda.

2. started using a third party application instead of the twitter webpage (I use the free version of twitterific, there are other clients)

  1. Like this blog, for instance, or twitter, Facebook, Flickr, tumblr, FriendFeed, LibraryThing, you get the idea []
  2. which lasted from 1986-1993, if you are curious []

An anarchic birthday

Madman's Honey
RIP, Tina

Sad news indeed. Friend of this blog, and friend of me, Tina Oiticica Harris has passed away after a long bout of anarchic illness. We’ll miss you Tina!

Around 3am this morning, I woke up with a weird sense of anachronism about Tina’s 56th birthday.
Unfortunately, Tina-la-vecina as she was known in the Santa Monica Unified School District checked in Hotel California on Monday and isn’t available to solve this riddle.

[Click to read more An anarchic birthday]