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