Diaspora has Gone Woke

Diaspora was once a really good alternative to Facebook. Built on the values of Free Speech and non-censorship, it’s quickly becoming a disjointed collection of echo chambers for “right” and “left” political positions (mostly “left”). If you look up the hashtage #blocklists on almost every diaspora pod you can see where whole pods (servers) as well as individual users are listed and people are advised to block them for such things as “disinformation” and other hotly-charged buzzwords. I don’t know if the other platforms in the Fediverse have gone as “woke” as Diaspora has, but I suspect it won’t be long before they do.The result on diaspora has been that on just about any pod you create an account on, you can’t get a fair and impartial view of most topics. Most of the pods are left-leaning echo chambers, and a few (well, perhaps one now) are right-leaning. But they’re all becoming echo chambers. It’s stupid. And it’s not in keeping with Diaspora’s original openness and free-speech philosophy. Diaspora was once by far the most popular of the Fediverse’ marcoblogging platforms because the interface is simple and full-featured without as steep a learning curve as the very complicated Hubzilla or Friendica platforms.

But by far the most popular Fediverse platform now is Mastodon, a microblogging platform similar to Twitter. I’m giving that one a shot, but even there you fnd blocklists of Mastodon instances, so perhaps the whole friggin’ Fediverse is getting polarized like Diaspora has become, but perhsps more slowly.

Find me on Mastodon at artim@social.quodverum.com (that’s not an e-mail address!) and join me there if you’re looking to avoid Twitter’s brutal and nonsensical censorship.

Diaspora Update: What I’ve Learned So Far

Why do we call it “the Fediverse?” A brief explanation can be found here. My favorite platform of the ones listed there is Diaspora  because of it’s short learning curve and simple, intuitive interface. In my opinion it’s the most ideal replacement for Farcebook with similar features, except for groups, but I’ll show you how I have created groups of my own on Diaspora.

Diaspora Takes Time to Become What You want it to Be. 
That’s because you “build your own” experience here. Unlike Farcebook, Diaspora will not suggest “people you may know” or “stuff you might like.” _You_ tell _it_ what you want to see and who you want to share with. If you are new to Diaspora, and especially if you don’t know anyone on Diaspora or elsewhere in the Fediverse, you can follow #hashtags about subjects that interest you, and looking there, you’ll probably find some people you want to share with. You may also find people you’d rather ignore. Both adding new people and ignoring trolls are easy to do with just a couple of clicks. I think it’s better to follow people more than hashtags.

Your friends, old and new, will help you.
For example, I might private message one of my friends to tip him or her off about a spammer, a bot, or a troll and advise my friend to use the Ignore feature to prevent them from commenting on your posts. Or I might suggest an awesome person to share with whose posts I think my friend will enjoy. Most importantly, since it takes time, give it time! You’re building it custom made, just for you.

Create your own Groups on Diaspora!
Some people do it simply by using hashtags. I do it using Aspects. From your personal page (reach it by clicking on your own picture if you’re viewing your Stream), look at your Aspects. You have a few to start with by default: Family, Friends, Work, and Acquaintances. But underneath that list you’ll find “+ Add an Aspect.” Give it whatever name you want. Dance Partners, Church friends, Trek Fans, Starwars fans, Alien Life Forms, whatever you like, as many as you like! You can put people you’re sharing with into one or more of those categories, then read and post to just that particular Aspect. That’s how I made my own groups. It works for me because I took the time to make it work

Most of all, have fun! Make it your own, and celebrate your liberation from “Big Media!”
Some material for this post, and the idea of having a greeting like this, was shamelessly stolen from @{robbie1@diasp.org}

Diaspora: A Digital Ghetto

For over three years I have encouraged people to dump Facebook and move to Diaspora. I still say dump Facebook, along with Google, because they’re just evil, and their users become the commodity they sell.

But on the subject of Diaspora or any of those half-dozen or more “decentralized, free-and-open-source, federated” platforms, it looks like politics and “political correctness has infected them as well. There are instances that block other instances (or “pods” on Diaspora), change  the definition of free speech, etc. The result is a hodgepodge of completely different federated (not centralized) platforms, some of which communicate with others and some of which can’t. Different interfaces, features, protocols, user bases, filters or the lack of any. I chose to stick with one, the oldest, best known, and most used as a Facebook replacement: Diaspora (Mastodon for Twitter).

But it’s still a digital ghetto, still full of fragmentation and the same arguments. And users who come from the Big Platforms join only to find the squabbling and juvenile conduct offensive at worst and a waste of their time at best. Following hashtags you like only shows a half-dozen other users, maybe, most of which have given up and left.

I think I can do better just posting to forums that are dedicated to the stuff that interests me. I think Forums could replace social networks altogether and the world would be a better place.

Mastodon, the Fediverse’s most used platform, is a Twitter alternative, but last time I was on it, offered no settings or ability for a user to delete his or her account!  You would think that kinda matters, huh?  The best you can do is abandon a Mastodon account.  That’s just stupid design. It may have been fixed later, especially since Gab (using modified Mastodon software) has made a big splash.

Pluspora, a Diaspora pod that was created for users of the now-defunct Google Plus platform, is perhaps the best proof of the general rule that while Diaspora is a great idea, the users generally SUCK.  If it’s not cat pictures and political memes, it’s political shills from the Left attacking everything to the right of Karl Marx.  Many Diaspora users left or were kicked off other platforms for antisemitic rants, hate speech, advancing stupid extreme conspiracy theories and fringe cult stuff.   But Pluspora simply removes users the administrators disagree with. Another popular pod, Diasp.org, appears to be implementing a similar policy, albeit not as openly. And, it’s no longer free to use. Financial support is mandatory now, according to it’s most recent Terms of Service page. Diasp.org is now a paid service. That’s okay with me, since it takes a lot of money to buy and maintain such a popular instance. But the censorship I just can’t abide.

Hubzilla turned out to be a complete and utter non-functioning waste of time for me, with a confusing interface with lots of stuff to click on that led nowhere and did nothing. After weeks of effort at it, I gave up on that platform altogether.

Friendica seemed pretty good, but not as intuitive as Diaspora by a long shot.

UPDATE: The centralized “alternatives” suck too. I stand by my suggestion that forums should replace so-called “social media.” But a DE-CENTRALIZED or PEER-TO-PEER network of independent servers is far preferable to any centralized platform. So, after MeWe proved to be a huge disappointment for me, I revisited Diaspora and learned quite a bit more. I’ll post a big ol’ honking update on what I have learned later.

Principled Action

Dear Readers,

I found an old Gmail account I haven’t used in a while, signed in, and deleted it. Screw you, Google. I deleted Facebook and moved to Diaspora. I’m also toying with MeWe, but probably not for long since it’s centralized and even deleted a friend’s whole group because they disagreed. I also dumped Microsoft Windows®, since I have no wish to contribute to Bill Gates’ bullcrap, in favor of Linux.
Now it’s Mozilla to delete, because of this. New default setting to filter out content the new dictators don’t like. So it’s Brave browser instead of Firefox, and Evolution instead of Thunderbird. I gave Geary a shot, but when I clicked on Preferences in Geary the app would crash (at least on my current Linux distro). My Internet provider, AT&T, owns CNN Fake News. So I’m working on changing my ISP as well.
My own family thinks I’m “paranoid,” but I’d be hypocritical not to put my convictions into action. They agree that Big Tech is a big, evil problem, but they’ll go ahead and continue giving big tech control over their Internet use, social media, and privacy. No, I’m not paranoid, I’m principled and doing what principle demands.

So, those of you have read my previous post about Diaspora are probably wondering what in hell I’m doing going back there again! Well… Here’s the thing:

It’s decentralized. Meaning it’s not under the control of one single person. If one server (“pod,” in Diaspora’s lingo) goes rogue, I can jump to another or for that matter, run my own!

I’ve found ways to clean up the crap and make Diaspora what I want it to be. It takes some time to do that, but I think it’s worth the trouble. Ask me how in the comments if you’d like to try it. And,

MeWe is such a bewildering, cluttered mess by comparison. Diaspora’s user interface is intuitive and simple, in spite of the learning curve which I think is comparable to Fakebook’s. While “Groups” are a thing on MeWe, I’m able to create my own groups on Diaspora, kinda sorta, by dedicating an Aspect (category) to share exclusively with.

Call me paranoid or a conspiracy type if you want, but one thing you can’t call me is a hypocrite. I’m acting on my beliefs, not just whining about what’s wrong with the rest of the world.

Social Media and Mental Health

So I got on Diaspora and dumped Facebook (and Google) because of all the paranoid geeky stuff about them manipulating news and spying on people and using all your stuff to take over the world.

I ran away from systemd on Linux because of all the paranoid geeky stuff I read on Diaspora about how Red Hat and Microsoft (and the NSA, FBI, Illuminati, and who knows, some alien race from the Eighth Dimension) are using systemd on Linux to take over the world and enslave Linux users.

As it turns out, in spite of Monstanto, GMOs, vaccines, the Left, the Right, Microsoft, Google, the Borg, Canonical, Red Hat, and systemd, my computer and my privacy are as safe as anyone who ever connects to the Internet on any device or platform can expect to be.

Who is manipulating who here? Who is really thriving on the fears of others here?

People told us to stop flying the American flag and stop showing our support for the military and first responders or else we could be targeted for violence, blacklisting, discrimination, etc. Did I take down my flag? Hell no. Let them come. I’ll gut them if they bring their threats beyond my front door.

And guess what else? I’ve got a systemd-equipped Linux distro running because it works better on my machine than the two systemd-free distros I tried. And y’know what else? I rejoined Facebook today. I’m using it with my eyes open and sensible precautions in place. I’ll keep my Diaspora but I’m making big changes there. All that paranoia and conspiracy stuff is not good for people who have ever been diagnosed with depression, whatever the cause.

All I can say now is,

I didn’t take my flag down. And I’m not avoiding systemd, Facebook, Google, or any other tool that serves me.

I’ll use the Internet wisely, my systemd-equipped Linux distro wisely, and Facebook wisely. Just like I do with my car, my firearms, my power tools, and anything else that requires a little thought and caution. I’m not throwing away all the perfectly good tools that make modern life so nice and so rich.

I’m through running away from phantoms. If and when the time comes to fight, against whoever the bad guys are, I’ll fight and die like a Klingon in glorious battle. In the meantime time, all you anti-vaccine, anti-Google, and anti-everything-that-isn’t-home-grown-or-home-made people can kiss my grits.

Hey, I just had a thought…. maybe my medicine is working now after all!

Are Linux Users Anti-Capitalist?

I’ve seen a lot of stuff in Linux forums and blogs to make me think so, in spite of the existence of for-profit Linux companies like Red Hat, Novell, and Canonical. During my very brief membership in Diaspora, the free and open-source social network that bills itself as an alternative to Facebook, I found no other members there who believe in good old fashioned free market capitalism. Diaspora attracts many Linux/FOSS users. There were hundreds of posts from Diaspora community members equating profit with greed, as though it is somehow unethical to reap the rewards of one’s own hard work. For all I could tell, I may have been the only one in the whole network with an opposing point of view.

Now comes another rant from Richard Stallman, the rabid FOSS advocate who sees all other software as inherently evil because it may have a profit motive. In his most recent anti-capitalist rant, the Bearded One rails against Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, the most popular and most widely used desktop Linux distribution in history. He urges Linux users to abandon Ubuntu because of an advertized feature of it’s innovative Unity desktop interface (here). He claims that the “shopping lens” in the desktop “dash” (think of “dashboard” – that Unity desktop is pretty cool, and is designed with a view towards touch screens and such – the future!) is a “sneaky” invasion of the user’s privacy with an eeeeevil profit motive.

First of all, the shopping lens is an advertized feature of Ubuntu, so there’s nothing “sneaky” about it. And users can easily opt out if they don’t want to use it. Secondly, it takes money to fund development of Ubuntu’s innovations, which they then provide for free to their users. Canonical’s deal with Amazon helps provide some of that funding while preserving the user’s privacy by not collecting any “user-identifiable” information. What expectation of privacy does any online shopper have anyway? Gimme a break! If Canonical can get enough profit from deals with companies like Dell, Amazon, and Google to continue funding their awesome and innovative operating system and then give that operating system away for free, how can that be considered greedy and selfish?

It’s only considered “greedy” by anarchists, communists, and others who believe that the rewards of one’s own hard work should not be retained by those who earn those rewards. “Share the wealth,” we are told by those who would remove any incentive to work at all, much less invest in the work of others. The Linux and Free and Open Source Software communities have more than their fair share of such rabid anti-capitalists who think they are entitled to all the benefits of other people’s work. What about their own volunteer contributions to the Free Software Foundation? How is that different from any Ubuntu user who wants to use Ubuntu’s cool search feature or shopping feature to support their favorite Linux/FOSS project? Answer: It’s no different at all. It’s just easier than writing a check to support the Bearded One’s favorite Linux/FOSS projects – or more accurately, to support the Bearded One himself.

Shut up, Stallman. Quit begging and bitching and get a real job. I bet if you did, you would come to resent the efforts of other socialists and anarchists to confiscate your wages in order to “share the wealth” with other bums like you.