WordPress and walled gardens

Here’s a coincidence. Shortly after I decide to abandon my self-hosted WordPress instance for the safety of a site hosted on WordPress.com, John Beckett starts mulling over whether to leave the WordPress walled garden:

As we have seen in recent days with Tumblr, a shoe could come down one day, and change the rules that govern the existence of our words on the internet. If I choose to walk away from a hosted blogging service, am I really taking ownership though? I still won’t own or control the hardware — I still won’t own or control the connection between the hardware and the wider internet. I’ll just have moved the goal-posts a little closer to me — I won’t own them, or the ground they are planted in.

For me, there are two issues with walled gardens. Firstly, and most importantly, the owners of these networks tend to try and force people to sign up to their networks — I can’t see what someone has posted on Facebook, for example, without first signing up to Facebook. The second issue is one of exportability — once you have placed your content into the walled garden it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get it back out.

In the case of WordPress, neither of these issues apply. You don’t need a WordPress account to visit, or follow, this blog and if I do decide to self-host again at some point in the future, exporting and importing my posts is a very straightforward process.

Crucially, I do own this domain name and, if I did decide I wanted to self-host again, it would be possible to do so pretty much seamlessly. And because I can easily move the blog, I have much less desire to do so.

And by hosting the blog on WordPress, I can leave tasks like security, sizing and the rest to people who (should) know what they are doing.

WordPress may be a bit of a walled garden, but the walls are very low and the gates are wide open.

Quote of the day: The eleven percent

[I]t comes as a big surprise to almost nobody that a survey earlier this year found that 41 per cent of internet users entering personal information online tend to falsify their details. Wonderfully, only 30 per cent of respondents did so out of security concerns, which means another 11 per cent did so out of sheer unbridled mischief.

I love you, 11 per cent. You are my kind of people.

Alistair Dabbs

Buy different

You know all those movies you bought from Apple? Um, well, think different: You didn’t

Biologist Anders Gonçalves da Silva was surprised this week to find three movies he had purchased through iTunes simply disappeared one day from his library. So he contacted Apple to find out what had happened.

And Apple told him it no longer had the license rights for those movies so they had been removed. To which he of course responded: Ah, but I didn’t rent them, I actually bought them through your “buy” option.

At which point da Silva learnt a valuable lesson about the realities of digital purchases and modern licensing rules: While he had bought the movies, what he had actually paid for was the ability to download the movie to his hard drive.

Apple isn’t the first company to fail to clarify to customers what they are paying for, and they won’t be the last.

Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with the “lease to download” offering described here. But if you sign up for any sort of digital content, you need to be aware of what you are paying for. This also raises the whole question of DRM and how may times you are able to copy a file — do you really want to have to pay for the same film every time you replace your hard drive?

In short, if you really want to own a film, buy the DVD.

Resolutions

If you are stuck for a resolution for next year, PZ Myers has a suggestion:

Just so you know, 31 December is #TwitterEvacuationDay, when many people are making the jump to alternative micro-blogging media, or just throwing up their hands in disgust and giving it all up. It’s the only way to make Twitter wake up, I think…or at the very least, to personally escape the toxic trap.

I’m recommending that everyone make the leap to Mastodon — or, I hope, that at least some of my friends get an account there. Really, it’s just like Twitter — the interface is exactly like Tweetdeck, if you’re familiar with that. The big difference is that, instead of one giant central server for everyone, it’s distributed among many smaller servers, or instances.

I had abandoned Twitter, and was happily using GNU Social, long before Mastodon was a thing. But Mastodon and GS instances can talk to each other, so which platform you prefer really is just a matter of personal preference.

But if you are still on Twitter, December 31st is a good time to join the Fediverse.

I’m forever selling bubbles

Long Island Iced Tea Corp renamed itself to Long Blockchain – and its shares went bananas

Non-alcoholic beverage slinger Long Island Iced Tea Corp, which is publicly traded and wasn’t performing particularly well financially, decided to rename itself this week to Long Blockchain – and its share price soared 289 per cent.

I should start a company called “The e-Cyber Blockchain Business”. With a name like that, I won’t need a product.

Another Uber protest

Brussels taxi drivers protest against Uber

Around 200 Brussels taxi drivers staged a protest against the private hire app Uber on Tuesday morning. The drivers are unhappy about what they see as unfair competition from the app posing a threat to their jobs.

I find that my sympathies tend to be with the taxi drivers when it comes to disputes about Uber.

Ultimately, Uber is nothing more than a minicab firm with an automated dispatcher and underpaid drivers. I don’t really see why people keep getting so excited by this.

Quote of the Day: The medium is not the message

Too often we focus on technology and forget the structures of law, ownership and power that technology operates within. Dazzled by the astonishing pace of technological advance we can easily think that information technology is itself the solution. Instead we must think about the purpose, power and politics of information technology, and not presume some in-built positive aim.

Rufus Pollock