Trump's Little Shop of Parlers (II)
Posted by Dave
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Continuing my few-parts "series" on news of the past three weeks or so.
Now I'd like to gripe about Parler being shut down. And once again before I wade into this, yes I am anti-Trump or rather anti-Trumpism. And yes I currently vote Democrat and in particular I voted for Biden. But if your mind blows up that I can be anti-Trumpism yet still hate CNN and the oppression of free speech like a Trumper might, then you probably aren't intelligent enough for this blog. Or, I'm too schizophrenic to be maintaining one. Pick your conclusion.
Anyway. When you get right down to it it's not so much scary that Parler was shut down as a service but rather its hosting was shut down (which of course shuts it down as a service). For years and years and I have espoused the merit of privately hosting your blogs and web expressions on your own hosted services on the theory that you can't be moderated away in a deplatform event. But here we are in 2021 and that is exactly what happened to thousands of noisy if not also delusional Parler users.
To catch you up, Parler didn't effectively moderate the dangerous sounding people, so its host, Amazon, did it for them in one fell swoop. Thousands of people who for sure consisted of some plotting to storm the Capitol were evaoprated, but so were harmless kooks enjoying their life preaching about elves living in their basement, or reasonable people who just wanted to duck the destructive and diminishing effect of commercialism on their rants. Even I had an account in which I dabbled with to carry on my (perfectly valid) diatrabes against the media and the demise of the open World Wide Web. As dangerous as it was, Parler represented freedom -- sort of.
Not Truly Free But More Fun
It turns out that Parler only represented freedom in the same way that one neighborhood garage for teenage friends to hang out in is more free than another. But it still wasn't free. The Parler dad was just cooler than the Twitter dad. Eventually a rule could be broken and everyone sent home. Or into the woods.
I cannot keep saying this enough. The first step to real online freedom is reclaiming in large part what the early web was. Millions of HTML web pages by people speaking and ranting about all kinds of topics. Some poorly and loosely, but many with talent and a sense of presentation. Back then these millions and millions of web pages were mansions unto themselves, and bringing down one, if it had to be rightly or wrongly targeted, did not bring down them all.
The topics were often redundant, sure. But while talking about the same general concepts of UFOs or the town ordinance on how far to keep your trash cans away from the curb might cluster around the same angle, the invidual voices of each author made each new encounter an enriching and often rewarding consumption.
A fair search engine was supposed to tie all these web pages together to your sense of curiosity, but alas, search became a monetized thing. Now, the findable answer is tied more to how much SEO an author has invested in and how more by the rules of commerce they abide by. If your knowledge is not packaged for financial return upon its discovery, your knowledge will not be noticed.
But, a renewed interest in creating personal web pages would still work. Twitter or Parler could be replaced by interlinks (remember "web rings" -- something like that but not quite so flashy), and of course RSS, which I believe went away because Google was hell-bent on destroying on the profitless intimate web.
As Doomed As Anything I'd Write
The final irony of Parler is that it was probably doomed anyway. It billed itself as an enterprise solution of sorts but in reality (and if you understood how buggy it was, you sort of guessed) it was amateur coding that I put "slightly" above my own in terms of skill set. This is to say, it was apparently a security nightmare that somehow even failed to strip geo-location metadata from the pictures you might have uploaded.
Its producer was probably relieved to have a "cover of principle" to maybe die under forever, but the fact is that it would have been sued out of existence before long, once the freedom privacy-loving population learned that every picture posted was a map to their house.
As of this writing, Parler is back online, but I am sure with the challenge of reworking its reckless bubble-gum-glued-together gears.
More power to'em if their team can do it. I mean, if they are willing to not home-school government revolts. But I would hope that a fraction of people with Parler fever would simply look into a cheap shared hosting account and feel free to unite with others doing the same. The open WWW is your resilience and if you claim it to be, is your resistance.
parler trump www
Trump's Little Shop of Parlers (I)
Posted by Dave
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Okay let's cut into my annoyingly nuanced position on the events of the past 72 hours. You really need to know where I stand. I'll start here with this post and bang out a few others, just to make it all digestible.
The Capitol Siege
The issue is the breach, period. We need not wonder whether the specific terminology in Trump's speeches actually caused the "siege", and we can only choose, but not necessitate, to engage in an examination of every individual who participated for purposes of prosecution.
But let's be honest: Nothing Trump said that day directed a small group of buffoons in particular to storm the Capitol and begin taking selfies. Yes, he did lay the foundation of unwarranted mantra against the United States with his election fraud campaign that was easy to pick up and run with, if some people were so inclined, which of course some buffoons were.
Not to let him off the hook. We know Trump is guilty of something in all of this. We know he is at the center. Trump legitimized juvenile anger and the result was of course an explosion of it under the stress test of an election and Senate control loss.
Through his years-long vitriol and celebration of "mean" he and his followers who equated his bullying with being strong and relatable, lost an opportunity to sell genuinely great merits of conservative principles to moderates and independents to a level needed to win continued control.
Trump created a culture similar to the common prison yard where high level politics and gestures of reason are conducted by a hundred men stuck with a 5th grade intellectual ruleset. You can tell them that an entire week's of debate and contemplation over the insult of a shove or the wearing of certain colors that ultimately results in a shanking, is ridiculous and small-minded, but they wouldn't get it. They think everyone thinks the way they do.
What Actually Happened
What in fact happened at the Capitol was that, as is atypical of any mass gathering protest a small number of people got aggressive and somehow (cough) breached the line of security which then allowed a swell of people to pour into a place that they should not have been, and probably never expected to be.
In a BLM protest "a place" has often been something like a big box store -- whatever is easily accessible. In this politically-geographed protest, it was the Capitol, its notable symbolism as a logical focal point, over a random shoe store, recognized.
I will be honest, I am absolutely positive had I spotted a stream inlet into a building like the Capitol, with no-one apparently stopping me or anyone else, I would have gone in too. Obviously not because I am pro-Trump -- I'd be livestreaming or taking a bunch of selfies.
Which brings me back to my opening point. The issue was the breach. How did that happen?
The Right Wing Did It
The right-wing-did-it "conspiracy" is that the small number of people who were too aggressive and managed to get in were actually part of a radical group that had planned it. After all, one guy was photographed with zip ties, and another guy was found with explosives in the car he brought. Seems like a real possibility. To know for sure, these people are going to have to be confronted, as they are, and their activities and communications scrutinized.
If they were in fact tightly associated with each other, and in fact were planning on something more serious than an elaborate tresspass, Trump still had nothing to do with it if only out of his sheer ignorance of his own power of words and status. That someone could be that dumb is a reason we hope an intelligent voting body can spot someone like that and not let it happen in the first place. But here we are.
But, let's not get crazy without getting crazier.
The Left Wing Did It
The breach might have been a convenient happenstance of the left. I can knit this conspiracy too. We can assume that everyone knew how charged pro-Trumpers were, as the threats and dangerous insinuations by enough of them circulated in plain sight for months and years (Twitter, Parler, wherever -- plain sight).
So, if you know wagons of dynamite are headed to a protest, it might be all too easy to thin out the security and "allow" a breach so that the predictable bad actors get in. The value would simply be to garner the CNN loop coverage (to use them as the usual example; understand that I mean the MSM in general) to cement Trump in the brilliant storification of a man at the helm, out of control.
Or, let's get even crazier.
The Corporate Government of the United States Did It
What if it was the left and right working together, agreeing to pass the ball back and forth in post-calamity wrangling, but out of the public eye, tapping glasses with each other over a job well done?
Trump usurped everyone negatively, but "negatively" isn't the active ingredient. Trump usurped. And politically that's what gets you killed, figuratively or otherwise.
Personally, I would love to know the absolute anatomy of the breach at all levels, and will be looking forward to learn. Those details are the key to understanding everything.