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Technology cleanup, 2023 ed.

Oh well, new year. Already January 11, and I'm still wrestling 2022, trying to make sense of the last twelve months, trying to somehow write a few meaningful words on that and maybe get an idea what at least to hope for the coming days, weeks, ... . For reasons, like many other things, this feels more difficult for that last year, and it also kept the amount of posts here smaller than the years before, but however. Early years feel a good point in time to talk habits, procedures, annoyances and maybe clean some or the other thing up, a bit. Also technically, and, here, in two different ways for the tools and things I use.

First off: "Microblogging" between Twitter and the Fediverse, and my odd feeling about both. Even while a lot of things have changed here, it's still ... complicated. I've been on Twitter for the first time very early in the "fail-whale days". Eventually deleted my account because I saw no use for it. Signed up again in 2010 as people in my environment increasingly started making use of it (and, well, because for whichever pointless reasons I've always been enticed by playing around with such tools). Again, never really had any use for that, so, like with many other digital services, it ended up being a tool used because it was around - not a tool used to solve an actual problem or scratch some real itch. Never been only or even mainly "on Twitter" for exactly this reason - it's been a sort of "oh well so there we are too" channel for a long time. Had random waves of engagement, of following people and randomly interacting with smaller communities, then and now. Now, "cleaning" this up, it seems the list of followed profiles on Twitter is still chronologically sorted, newest first, so it's ... interesting to follow that route of own interests and (temporary) passions there into the past. Like: Netlabels. A big thing in the early 2000s, most of the profiles seem abandoned, most of the related webpages unmaintained or in domain parking by now. Or WebOS, back in 2011 when I used to use my Palm Pre as the first smartphone'ish idea. Apparently most of this went down the drains all along with WebOS handheld devices being axed and buried. Or Eclipse RAP and everything related to it, back when we (professionally) spent a few months reworking an internal application using Eclipse RxP - which ultimately failed and drowned in the Bermuda Triangle of excessive complexity, lack of long-term strategic internal commitment and inability to actually steer through such a refactoring project in small steps and a meaningful way. Or Apache CouchDB - a technology that floated by at some point, seemed a perfect match to solve one particular technical problem in a very specific customer use case. It remained a better mouse trap that stayed at the heart of the back-then "new" system until today, but it doesn't matter that much anymore. Or OpenSolaris, an operating system I've really been enthusiastic about in the late days of Sun Microsystems - before they got acquired by Oracle, also bringing any ambitions of a "libre" OpenSolaris competing with GNU/Linux to a grinding halt. My track record of people followed on Twitter reads like a history of these personal interests, involving public profiles and prominent people involved with the particular projects as well as some news outlets or persons orbiting these planets. And in many ways, this also feels like browsing through the oldest parts of my bookmarks and mailboxes, dating back to the mid-1990s: A deserted collection of dangling links ending in 404s or even hosts not found anymore, a set of cut connections of mail addresses that grew unread, unresponded, unreachable over time.

For an incredibly long period of time, however, this whole Twitter feed of mine has mostly been in some way "tech-only", even including netlabels. Up to then I haven't really been into longer-lasting deeper involvements in any particular bubble or community in there, unless resharing various content and throwing some short-lived musings about irrelevant personal projects into that global void. Oddly enough, this only changed the last couple of years, and oddly enough, it only changed with signing up with my first longer-living Mastodon account, which, unlike Twitter then and before, never felt like primarily a place to link with maybe-relevant people in a "global community", always indecisive whether this should be about actual exchange or just consumption of input while scrolling through an endless timeline of post that, one step back, rarely were of any relevance. Unlike Twitter, Mastodon in a way got me back to that very-early-blogging mood of leaving behind random musings myself, then and now, and more or less frequently. These, too, were and are rarely of any relevance to anyone but me, but, doing so on Mastodon and crossposting to Twitter, it somehow made me find new "bubbles" in both places, people that do words and pictures, people that are, well, people not companies, individuals not representatives of some technology or corporation. It for the first time ever on that channel was mostly about interaction, about actually having communications in there, and also about having people in my own virtual environment sharing similar thoughts, looking at life in similar ways and moments, finding the same words for similar things. A kind of resonance. Very much like with the "very old internet days" back when that young country guy for the first time used to run into like-minded people in newsgroups or mailing lists in the mid-1990s.

And it felt comfy and familiar, on both places - Mastodon and Twitter - at least from that perspective, while from other points of view (not going into details here, we all know these things) Twitter gradually started feeling worse, uncomfortable and a platform that probably should not be supported and left behind as soon as somehow possible. Still, I never would have closed down my account over there simply because people, because I still consider it utterly disturbing to just drop out of such existing communities and conversations on short notice or overnight, leaving behind everyone in there who seemed to matter before - it feels like the most explicit way of telling people that, in the end, they don't matter at all. Talking personal conflicts and inner fights. With Elon Musk finally acquiring the blue bird in late 2022, with everything that changed following these days, things got a bit easier here. Twitter got worse, in many ways. The Fediverse in general, and specifically Mastodon, gained a bit more interest, even while still not really being globally relevant in terms of user count and while still exposing a bunch of very interesting questions on technical and community-building levels. In turns, this helped reconnecting with quite some people that "mattered" on Twitter over in the "new world", and this way in tiny steps reducing the personal "mental ties" to Twitter. And it also helped luring or helping some Twitter contacts to take the step and move over, something that was impossible to achieve in my bubble prior to 2022. Which is good, and it helps cleaning up things over "there" a bit. So far, I unfollowed virtually everyone who's not a "mutual" and who I have been interacting with in this way or the other at some point, except for very few accounts that still spark my interest and still seem active. So far, I'm focussed on cutting down my profile "over there" to only keep around the people that still hold me there, and not much more - that's why account is locked, too, and I won't accept any new follower requests. I don't want new "reach" and I don't want to grow my bubble. I just want to keep the status quo without leaving behind people who, for whichever (in some cases rather good) reasons hesitate leaving behind Twitter, who hesitate or dont' have time and energy to play with the Fediverse and its learning and reconnection curve which can be steep and rocky ... still hoping that at some point either this will become easier and more common or that people will have a chance and will to take that step, one by one - always being ready and willing to help out wherever needed. Still believing that this kind of change, regardless of which good or bad reasons are there, needs awareness and will, and this hardly is something people can be forced to do and enjoy or maybe it's better not to try that route.

(Interesting, however, is that apparently Mastodon changed things for me in a substantial way for the first time in years. I've been on the Fediverse for much longer, starting at least with this identi.ca post being the oldest I found, some Diaspora* accounts I wasn't able to retrieve as they have been deleted ages ago because it just never worked out and more than once I really wondered whether these non-mainstream networks actually are worth time and effort, but maybe and hopefully that's changing now.)

Anyway, talking cleaning up technology, something else that might be obvious by people who care or dare to read my random occassional musings: I've did some other technical cleaning over here too, and finally moved over to a new blogging system. Been on Wordpress ever since 2005, starting with version 1.5 I think. Watched this growing out of a small, accessible blogging platform into a vast, powerful web content management application. Watched this growing bigger and more professional with the years. Enjoyed working with for most of the time, while at the same time experiencing my usage of it generally going down with most of my environment: Most of the people in my blog roll (and the discourses they were having) moved over to social networks like Facebook or Twitter in the early 2010s. Being my predominant means of digital "publication" in the early 2000s, blogging more and more became ephemeral and irrelevant at least after 2010 for quite a while. It lacked good topics to write about in public. It lacked time to do so. It wasn't interesting and motivating anymore to dive down the usual path of outrage of copying various links from various web sources and adding my personal foam-at-the-mouth'ed rants to that - which at least by now more seems a pointless waste of lifetime and energy as it just makes oneself and anyone else feel upset and bad without changing anything for the better. More than once, all along the way, I tried to redo all the things living here, cleaned some, deleted others, and always wondered whether keeping that blog of my own still is even worth the effort, after trying several different approaches of writing, and still learning that most of the actual communication happens elsewhere these days, even for the digital dimension of it.

So for now, Wordpress has been replaced by bludit, which is not a decision against one but a decision for another tool: A tool that, talking 2023, suits my needs better. A tool that provides way less features I don't need anymore, while at the same time making it easier for me (with some web development experience and some skills even in PHP, despite my profound dislike for that language) to, in templates, plugins, code, add some minor tweaks I always wanted to do in Wordpress but never managed to achieve due to the overall technical complexity of virtually everything involved. A tool that might be a bit lighter on resources and is a bit easier to handle in terms of backup and migration as it doesn't require a database backend. And maybe, too, a tool that gets to that kind of "integration" I'd actually like to see - where I can, much all along the idea of POSSE (which feels ridiculous as an acronym but in the very idea is pretty much to the point), keep all my data in one place and just have it made accessible to people that matter to me the way they want to interact with. It's a trip, it's a bit about trial-and-error, so why not try...?

At the very end ... it's of utter irrelevance to anyone except me, anyhow. 😊

11. Januar 2023

Filed under:

meta , blog , bludit , wordpress , twitter , mastodon , cleanup