Landing : Athabascau University

I’ve completely moved to social media | Scobleizer

So, Robert Scoble has left the blogosphere. I'm not entirely sure in what sense his blog was not an instance of social media but I do know why this bothers me. It's not just that he no longer owns his own space but that we don't either. I am certainly not going to use Facebook to follow him - the company has neither his nor my interests in mind. I might catch the odd post via Twitter or Google+, but it will be lost in a sea of other things and won't grab my attention, and any attempt I might make to organize and control the tide will be susceptible to the whims of the companies that own the sites, who are playing a much too large role in determining what I get to see in my particular filter bubble as it is.

If I'm going to be in a bubble then I want to be the one that makes it. The great thing about blogs is that they are distributed, not centralized, owned by individuals, not organizations. This is not just important to the individuals that they belong to, but to the individuals that read them, subscribe to them, aggregate them, remix them and learn from them. That's why things like WordpressElgg (that runs this site) and Known (by Ben Werdemuller, who co-developed Elgg) matter more than all the glitzy social silos put together.



  • I agree with you Jon, but we seem to be in an ever-growing minority that actually seems concerned about privacy.

    I got an email today the power company advertising a contest. The problem is, step one in entering is having to join something or other on either Facebook or Twitter. They also have a photo contest, but all entries must be via instragram.

    The probelm with all these social media "platforms" is that you give up pretty much EVERYTHING to join them. Yet people flock to this junk in droves, and when interviewed on TV news about the latest facebook (or whoever) info-grab, they just shrug and say "huh?".

    Richard Huntrods August 7, 2014 - 10:19am

  • Scoble is still around? - just kidding :)

    I tend to think of him as a pompous internet celebrity anyway.  I get to listen to him on This Week in Tech every now and again so I guess I won't be missing him.  Thinking about the internet, I don't think I own anything.  I lease space on a webserver.  I own the HTML, but not the space.  I basically rent my URL (because I pay money for it each year), and my blogs are on Blogger (so google can choose to remove them if they want).  At the end of the day, it would be great to have a cheap alternative to own my stuff, until then, free is the word.

    Apostolos Koutropoulos August 7, 2014 - 10:35am

  • Thanks Richard, Apostolos!

    @Apostolos - for sure, free services like Blogger or leave you at the mercy of their owners (and I have been stung, e.g when Ning did a u-turn) but, if that bothers you, decent hosting that gives you one-click installations of all sorts of server software that is highly controllable is less than $5 a month and, if you don't like it or the company folds, you can very easily move the whole caboodle to another provider with hardly a blink in service. But the point is not so much that you have control and can move your stuff where you want it to be, but that it does not impinge on the liberty and privacy of others, which is what commercial social networks tend to do.

    We've tried to avoid anything like that with the Landing though, now that I've had plenty of time to reflect, I understand that it is yet another social media silo, albeit benign, controllable and permeable. I would do it a little differently next time, making it more of a meeting point for distributed content, distributing the social interaction to anywhere and everywhere (especially within AU), and giving everyone their own space (something akin to Known) to control. All of those parts are there (or, in the case of distributed interaction, possible) using the Landing, at least to a very large extent, but it is mostly not being used that way and, because it can be and is used in so many other ways (e.g. its groups, uses for teaching, etc), those neat aspects are rather swamped.

    Jon Dron August 7, 2014 - 1:54pm

  • Agreed Jon - seems like a strange step backward. Especially given how easy it is to syndicate to FB. It's more than privacy, it's control and ownership.

    I love the idea of a space that aggregates distributed posts. I've actually been exploring how to pull posts from my blog into the Landing. I'm not wild about spreading the conversation b/w sites but I am interested in getting the content to the community.


    Jeffrey Pinto September 23, 2015 - 12:41pm

  • Yes and yes!

    We built an import tool for the Landing - you'll see an 'import RSS feed' button when looking at your blog, bookmarks or wikis that can be used for one-off or continual importing - with exactly that aggregation in mind.

    I do worry a little about diffusing the conversation too. I import my own blog and bookmarks from here on the Landing into my personal site ( using a similar tool, and my blog on this site contains the result of a similar import which was itself the result of another... and so it goes on. At one point I accidentally created an endless circle, where two sites were importing from one another.  In the process, though, I have lost that thread of connection - none of the imports included the dialogue and comments around them, and other metadata were lost too (ratings, tags, etc) despite attempts to make tools that adhered to the right (though often too imprecise or too diverse) standards for such things. It dilutes the dialogue. 

    But there is some advantage to that too: each different site is a different social context and addresses a different, though often overlapping, community. That seems very useful to me indeed. With that in mind, and although it still needs work as it seems most people make little use of it, we have put a lot of effort into context switching on this site, with not just discretionary access controls (of the sort Google+ later used in its circles) but also the ability to present entirely different facades with different information and presentation via profile tabs and other tools (smart widgets, pinboards, etc). Though I do make a point of making many posts public, different people on this site see quite different aspects of me depending on my relationship to them. We need to make this simpler and subtler, but I think it's a good way to go. Until everyone works this way (and figures ways to move things between them that preserve the social contexts) the next best alternative seems to use different sites for those different overlapping facades.

    Jon Dron September 23, 2015 - 1:30pm

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