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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sat, 09 Jun 2012

I will not be posting on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Diaspora or Identi.ca

These are the social networks on which I have accounts.

But I won't be posting directly on any of them.

Instead I will be writing posts on this blog and other sites I maintain, and titles of those posts will flow to any number of these social networks with links back to my sites.

That way the work I'm doing to potentially enrich Twitter and Facebook will also serve to bring interested people back to my web sites, where my content lives and is wholly controlled by ... me.

I'm not saying social networks are bad. (OK, I sort of am).

What I am saying is that the many-millions of us cheerily typing away our thoughts, opinions, feelings and meanderings into the web forms of for-profit businesses is not serving us well.

The deal is that we make the services like Twitter and Facebook popular, and we benefit from "free" use of the platforms and the resulting network effects of spreading our crap around the globe and having conversations of sorts based on it.

It boils down to this: The scam at Facebook, Twitter, even Blogger and Google +, is to make the users generate unlimited content that the companies creating the services can monetize through advertising and marketing. And we are supposed to love being marketed to, or to at least tolerate it. And we do so knowing we are getting something for "nothing," in the sense that no moneh changes hands.

But it does. Successful services like Facebook and Google are collecting all kinds of money from advertisers. Based on what we put into those little "What the fuck are you doing?" boxes.

In my case, automatic posting -- in my case via dlvr.it (which I have turned on again) -- ensures that each and every post I make on Twitter, Identi.ca and Facebook (and perhaps on Google Plus ... some day) will be a link back to some content I created and retain ownership to on my own web sites.

So I get the "network effect" and promotional heft, as it were, from my content appearing on popular social networks, but I will not be consigning my content -- however valuable or not (it's still mine) -- to a third party for the sole purpose of monetization/exploitation.

O readers, you dozens or so, what do you think of this not-so-grand bargain? Do you think I'm looking at this the right way, or am I deluding myself? Feel free to respond in the comments, which live on the third-party Disqus service -- a service, I might add, that has been very helpful to me in running this particular blog.

There's no black and white here. It's gallon after gallon of gray.

Or should I cut off all profit-making social networks at the knees? Since cutting off Google search would be extremely counter-productive, I figure that links on Twitter, Facebook and the like are a fine compromise. While Google is making whatever money it can from offering up links to my web sites, at least it's allowing more people to find out about my sites and to quickly reach content they're interested in.

But going onto my "favorite" social networks and typing shit in? Nope. Won't do it. I still have to wean myself off of Twitter's addictive smartphone photo capability.

The key is finding tools that enable me to post text and images to blogs like this one. I already have some of the apps and ideas on how to do this.

Let's face it, Twitter "wins" for me because it's easy -- just type and post. But I know that Ode can be almost as easy. (The same's probably true of WordPress via posting apps on smartphones.) I know Ode project leader Rob Reed is working on tools to bring social-networking immediacy to the Ode platform -- something I wholeheartedly applaud.

I'm not saying we should horde our content. By all means, make it free and freely available. Just don't sign it over to a couple of very rich guys somewhere in Silicon Valley.

Note: I'm not putting the non-exploitative, generally nonprofit Identi.ca and Diaspora in the same league as Twitter, Facebook and Google. I'm barely on Diaspora but applaud what they're trying to do -- and I generally support any project that doesn't just use but also pretty much is free software. I love Identi.ca and Status.net, and I think founder Evan Prodromou is one of the smartest people out there. I'm still "taking a break" from directly posting to Identi.ca, though that's the first place my links go. But neither Evan nor the people behind Diaspora are trying to make a buck off of our words and pictures.

Again, I don't begrudge Twitter, Facebook and Google from making money, I just want more out of them in return than "free" use of their services. And if it isn't clear already, I want control of my own content. And so should you.