Throwing rocks, bombs, and nukes: The death of the old internet.

Recently a member of the SeedSing team was subject to some internet harassment. This got us all thinking about this old post. We feel like these thoughts are still as valid now as they were way back then. The post originally appeared July 22nd, 2015. Tell us your thoughts.

It has been a bad year for Reddit.

And a less than stellar month for Gawker.

And a very bad week for Ashley Madison.

Let us first take a look at the failure of Reddit. I love Reddit. It is part of the daily news dump into my brain. I am one of the millions of people who visit Reddit every single day, sometimes more than once a day. The idea of uncensored non-professional content was a revelation. I could not get enough of the raw content Reddit had to offer. Then I got older, and the ugliness of Reddit was turning me away. The horribleness of the MRA's , racists, and generally despicable people were the main focus of the site. The statistics would show how insignificant these loser subreddits actually were. The problem is these miserable people had social media, and a broken media, to advance their cause. Whenever Reddit would try to reign in the most awful people, the awful people would revolt under the claim of free speech. Gamergate gained its legs from  Reddit. That alone is Reddit's greatest failure.

Once Reddit tried to reign in the ugly minority, it had failed. The exit of Ellen Pao was the end of any future for the site. The fact that she tried to monetize the site by tamping down the worst parts of humanity should have been seen as an evolution of Reddit. Instead it was seen as a ploy (by a woman) to silence idiots. Reddit was for the worst of us. That was the lesson we all learned.

Gawker wanted to be the new media. Journalism without influence. I love that ideal. The idea that newsmaker should be part of news creation is idiotic. Influence has destroyed our modern media. I do not care to hear what the policy maker thinks, I want to know how the average person is affected by the policy maker. Fox News raced to the bottom through influence journalism, and all the networks followed. Gawker was going to be different.

So what the hell happened. Well, Gawker decided to be a celebrity (or celebrity connected) scandal tabloid institution. The problem is TMZ already filled that void. Gawker wants to be TMZ, while they trash on entities that are like TMZ. Celebrity gay shaming became a primary part of Gawker (and its other sites). The goal of being new media, but the reality of being a middle school boy, will be the sites undoing.

I absolutely love the Ashley Madison hack story. The hackers do not care about cheating idiots.  I do not really care about the weird sexual fantasy's of rich people who want to cheat (well I am kind of curious). The hackers are going after Ashley Madison because of their false claims of anonymity. What is so great about this story is that Ashley Madison will go down because of their own greed. 

That is why the old internet is dying, greed. Ashley Madison promised anonymity, and the ability to delete your existence (for a price). The problem is they never deleted anyone from their own servers. Credit card numbers, addresses, names, all of these important pieces of information people wanted to be anonymous were still part of Ashley Madison's data stores. The old internet relied upon financial information, and clicks. Reddit quietly embraced its horrible side because of web traffic. Gawker fell to the tabloid side of journalism because of eyeballs. Users want truth, justice, and financial security. The websites that claim to offer these things failed because of personal greed.

This is the end of the anonymous, self righteous, and asshole internet. Good riddance. I created SeedSing as a place for discussion that centers around what we can do to make a better tomorrow. Will we fall into the same trap as Reddit, Gawker, and Ashley Madison? Absolutely not. SeedSing will not cater to hateful peopleThe money we make goes to the contributors (after small expenses to keep the site running).

People have ideas, people have solutions, people have ambition. The new web will be contributor based with a focus on problem solving. The days of clickbait, endless surveys, and required personal financial information are over. We do not need your email, we need your thoughts. Society is in a bad state, something needs to change. We need to embrace new culture. We need to embrace new technology. We need to embrace new politics

There are many problems created by antiquated backward thinking. Our politics is messed up because of this. Our view of sports is suffering because of this. Our drug policy is messed up because of this. Let the internet of the past die. It is time for the 21st century to take hold.

Let your seed sing and take root. We can change the world.

RD Kulik

RD is the founder of SeedSing. He is interested in making things better. Join his cause.

The SeedSing (half) year in Politics and Society

 What is the opposite of progress?

What is the opposite of progress?

SeedSing was launched on May 1st (National Workers Day) so we could look at politics and pop culture from the common person. We are not interested in influence or telling stories that will protect the egos of the well connected. What started out as one man's personal political philosophy has grown into a discussion covering a variety of topics. Join us for a look back at the year in politics and society.

The first article posted on our Politics/Society section was about The Ohio Problem. Every presidential election states like Ohio become very important to the national Democratic Party. Out of state consultants are brought in to fund raise and create a massive voter outreach program for the presidential nominee. In their effort to secure the state, the Democratic Party forgets about the local candidates. The lack of voter turnout during non-presidential elections is a direct consequence of the Ohio problem. There was another election in November of 2015, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky saw the election of a Tea Party zealot for Governor, large in part because voter turnout was so low. This is directly related to the Republican Party taking over the majority of local offices in many blue states. We identified the The Ohio Problem, and then tried to find out how to solve this issue. Technology and an emphasis on local messaging are two solutions we put forward. In 2016 SeedSing is looking forward to many other solution oriented ideas on how to fix a problem like Ohio.

The how and why of the modern Republican Party was featured many times on SeedSing. The hypocrisy, lack of global leadership, the need to be hateful, the absence of vision, and the celebration of failure, were all on display for the Republican Party this year. The only glimmer of hope in their dreary future seems to be Senator Rand Paul, but the Republican Party does not seem to care about a candidate who can grow the parties voter base. The parties faithful base would rather rally behind a loudmouthed bigot idiot that has never heard of Muhammad Ali or Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

The traditional press and the original internet taste makers were beginning to show their incompetence in 2015. The rise of Donald Trump is upon us because the news people on television love to have a good story. It is time to ignore the press before they really bring disaster to our society. The old icons of the internet were not behaving any better than their television counterparts. Reddit and Gawker may be letting out their final breaths. At SeedSing we believe it is time for the old walled ways of the internet to die, and it is time to make way for a new open discussion.

How we live and the way we define people became a topic of discussion all over the internet. Tina S shared her views on what #ILookLikeAnEngineer really means. The saga of Rachel Dolezal briefly made us talk about how we identify race. Kirk Aug recommended books on  the failure that is the war on drugs, and the policy side of death. We took a look at the legalization of marijuana, and it's eventual failure at the Ohio ballot box.  Who we are and how we live will determine the type of society we will die in.

Gun violence became a larger problem with a solution falling farther away. Guns were used as tools of destruction for a racistGuns were used to kill two people trying to do their jobs. Guns were used to cause terror at rural community college. Guns were used by crazy people to insight terror in Paris. Predictable we decided to fight this terror with more destruction. Each event was covered by the news, and as a society we tried to find meaning. The public was never able to discuss the gun as being part of the problem, and the violence continues. 

We had many challenging discussions at SeedSing about the state of our politics and our society. 2016 looks to be an even more exciting year. We have a Presidential election to look forward to. Will Hillary win it all (probably)? Have something to say about the state of politics and society? Come join our conversation.

Thank you for 2015. On to 2016

RD Kulik (and all the SeedSing contributors)

RD is the Head Editor for SeedSing. Do you love SeedSing, but do not want to write? Money is always welcome around here.

Welcome to the Future: The web as the platform

 You may not need to upgrade to Windows 10

You may not need to upgrade to Windows 10

I have long waited for the day that the platform I use would be primarily the internet browser. Years ago, I installed a Linux based desktop distribution and stripped out much of the software aside from Firefox. This was when Google Docs had yet to become Google Drive and Google’s Chrome browser was in very infantile stages. It sort of worked. There was not much for web based services for video editing, software development, or photo management the way there is today, but I did not really expect it to fulfill all my needs at the time. I just wanted to see how far we had to go. I ended up using it as my baseline, adding software as I needed it after the browser when nothing available through the web sufficed.

Today things are quite different. I have been using a Chromebook for about a year now and I have not found that I need to go back to a full desktop for anything that I use a computer for on a personal level. Those three things I mentioned above are now taken care of through web based applications. I do all of my writing on Google Drive. I use a service called Codeanywhere for coding. I use WeVideo to edit together video clips. And Google Photos works great for photo management and editing for me. If I do need access to a desktop computer, I have a headless Mac mini sitting in my living room that takes care of some automated tasks. I can use remote desktop to get at it, but I have not used it for anything that I couldn’t do with Chrome OS. Maybe someday I would put a Chromebox in it’s place, but the Mac is doing the job fine right now.

The reason I have been so excited for the web to be operating system rather than merely another application on your main operating system (Windows, OS X, Linux, etc.) is because every platform has a portal to the web. At this point it makes more sense to build a web app before any platform specific app. In fact, a lot of the apps that can be attained from the various app stores of the modern mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and others) are little more than a native app wrapper around code that runs in a web browser. This does not always mean that the device needs to be connected to the web for the app to function. Many offline apps are built using web browser technologies as the core. Many websites can be placed on the homescreen of your device and be indistinguishable from an app store app to the untrained eye, even without going through the app store. I like this idea since I do not believe that any app store curator be it Apple, Google, Microsoft, or whoever, should be the czar to the digital media we enjoy.

Another positive reason to celebrate the web as a platform from a developer’s perspective is that an app hosted on the web can feature the ultimate piracy protection. Using a system that the user has to log into and pay if they want to continue to get certain features means that there is no way that a pirate can use your software without paying. Now I do believe that users should be allowed to try before paying, and I think that is one of the main lessons we have to learn from the state of piracy today. However, individual developers are free to try other models.

Problems with the web as a platform at this point are mainly the complexities. Most people are used to the world of software being something installed locally. Though web apps can be installed locally, most do not require it. The expectation is that you will likely be online when accessing these services. Many people are not comfortable with this. I can use Google Drive offline to some extent, but I cannot edit video from within a tunnel on the Metro. I think that some of the heavier web apps will evolve to work offline, but our connectivity will also evolve to a point where we will not be offline ever. It may still be a while, but even as I write this I am hardly ever away from access to the internet. I almost have to go out of my way to make it so that I am totally outside the boundaries of an internet signal. I went to a cave on my recent vacation and they had wifi hotspots in there. Seventeen hundred feet underground and I still could not escape internet access. Even with my example of the Metro train, I would not be surprised to see wifi installed in the near future. And if not, do I really need to be doing heavy web applications from within a Metro tunnel?

So the web is the platform. Some people are currently stuck using a more fully featured version of Microsoft Office or Photoshop, but I think it is silly to think that every feature of those software packages would not be available through a web app one day. I think someday soon native software will be dwarfed by what is available as a web app.

Kirk Aug

Kirk has settled into his virtual cubicle at SeedSing. He is curious if future space tourism will have good wifi coverage. Follow him on twitter @kirkaug.

 

The Death of the Old Internet: A rebuttal and revisit.

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on the problems at Reddit, Gawker, and Ashley Madison. This morning I uploaded a podcast recorded days after the article that discussed the current death of the old internet.  The future of the internet is a topic that consumes my mind throughout a large portion of the waking day, I think I actually dream about the idea on some nights. I am excited, and saddened, when I think about how many of my favorite sites have changed with the times, and how many of them have failed to adapt. Being a beginner in content creation for the internet, I wanted to learn from all the successful people in the past, and heed the warnings of the failures. The new internet is where I want to live, it is where we will all thrive.

On August 6th, the website Vox.com published an article by Todd VanDerWerff titled 2015 is the Year the Old Internet Finally Died . I was initially shocked that there was an article out there with a similar headline, and many of the same ideas I had proposed. My first basic thought was "Have I been ripped off?". Then my rational brain took over and reminded me that Vox, Todd VanDerWerff, or any other large professional news organization probably did not rip off my piece. They did not know the article, or SeedSing, even exist. I really wish they had ripped me off, because that would mean some big dogs are reading, and agreeing, with the ideas I am presenting. I highly doubt, but am naively hopeful, that is the case.  

VanDerWerff's piece recounted some of the same problems I talked about surrounding Gawker and Reddit. The Vox.com article was more researched, and devoted a lot more words to the overall topic. The author also has experience working with websites I frequently visit. He is definitely more of an expert on the death of the old internet than I am. I also believe he is wrong in his conclusions of the new internet. Where VanDerWerff thinks we are getting away from community and long form expression (funny considering his piece was definitely not that short) I think that long form articles will be a big part of the make up in the new internet. We are entering a new age of enlightenment. The ideas of the common people, not only the connected elites, have a place on the new internet. Real, positive change needs to be explained, and explanation takes up screen space.

The professional internet writers are more interested in their personal profiles, they have forgotten about writing to the masses. Clicks and monetization seem to be the only concern for these old bloggers. The A.V. Club is a website I visit everyday. I have been there since the launch, and have no reason to change my loyalty. The A.V. Club is also in danger of not being a viable part of the new internet. They have built a community of writers and readers, and have walled off that community to anyone else. The movie reviewers have been my go to source for Paul Thomas Anderson praise and Adam Sandler hate. They are incredible predictable in their "reviews". I am sure Sandler's latest movies stink, but I also really did not care that much for There Will be Blood or The Master. Those views will invite the stupidest inside joke scorn from the commentators and a more professional rejection from the writers. The A.V. Club has created a community for the writers, and this shows a lack of vision. If you want to write about anything, pop culture especially, you need to understand and expand the audience. Creating a community of people that only think like you is the same as going to church (or the Republican National Convention). The kids in the high school audio visual club were awkward because they were assholes about what was cool (it was almost never something that was cool). The A.V. Club wants to be the asshole, they will also get to have their little room that no one else wants to go in.

Cracked.com is another website I have visited nearly everyday since their launch. What I enjoyed about Cracked was how they would talk about the worst fictional towns (Gotham City number 1) or the dumbest GI Joe vehicles (so many dudes hanging off of the sides). This was a site for nostalgic men over the age of 30, but who really want to be 13 again. As the audience changed, Cracked started to change with it. Their articles started to take on an intellectual vibe (with some crude humor), but at the same time the core purpose of the website stayed the same.  Their commentators hated the change. Recently Cracked has added a BuzzFeed feature looking at the news of the week, which their commentators hate. The personal experience articles, where the editors talk with people who have interesting jobs and life experience, have brought a whole new group of people in. The commentators predictably also hate this. Cracked does not care what the commentators think, those people will still come to the site that they fell in love with in 2005. Cracked is interested in growing the community by adding new people.

Todd VanDerWerff's piece lamented the fact that the new internet is removing the nice communities of the old internet. That is a good thing. The old internet was built with walls, and walls do not foster ideas. Many of the writers from the "professional" sites want to live in an echo chamber where only their ideas are correct. That kind of behavior leads into problems like ones facing the current national Republican Party. As communities start to meld, innovation takes off. The New York Times is going extinct because they have created a public persona that only the sycophants can believe in. Dissolve.com did not last past two years because The A.V. Club had already captured the "I like it because it is not popular" film crowd. Reddit created a wall by being where all the awful people can go and be unfiltered. When Reddit tried to take that wall down, their image was forever tainted. A new and better Reddit is being incubated right now to takes it place. Facebook created a community in the old internet and crushed the more free MySpace. In the new internet Facebook has brought down its walls and has become something that looks a lot like the free world of MySpace. VanDerWerff even points out that BuzzFeed may be disposable viral content, but they also produce insightful journalism. That is why BuzzFeed's community is one of the largest on all the internet.

We have the ability to radically remake global society into something grand. The grad student of yesterday would study Dunbar's number. The world at large can get a easier explanation through the Cracked article on The Monkey Sphere. The cult television show of yesterday would be lucky to last one season. Now Yahoo is not just a search engine, you can watch the latest season of Community. Expanding and dissolving communities is how we innovate. The new internet will bring more knowledge, culture, and freedom to the entire world. 

Standing on your island and you will only see the water. Standing on a continent and you can touch all of society. The internet does not need to be special for a few. The internet needs to be useful for all.

RD Kulik

RD is the creator and Head Editor for SeedSing. If any big websites are watching us for content, Hi there. Drop us a line seedsing.rdk@gmail.com

 

Is piracy helpful? Kirk has some ideas.

Once upon a time, I pirated movies, television shows, music, and software without feeling the slightest measure of guilt. There are many ways that I used to justify this shameless disregard for the artists of the entertainment industry. In some ways I still think that piracy is warranted ethically if not legally. Although I have not given up piracy completely, the media world has changed dramatically and thus negated some of the excuses that I once used.

When I was in college, as I was introduced to piracy through a friend who had a then rare home broadband connection and a piece of software known as Napster, I was poor. I was the typical broke college student. I paid for music from the artists that I already knew about and whose music I knew I would enjoy. What I was downloading was merely for discovery purposes. These were artists that I would never have had a chance to listen to in that era. If anything, it broadened my taste. I probably bought more music as a result.

In the ten plus years since then we have music subscription services like Spotify, Google Play Music, and now Apple Music. I listen to most of the music I want through one of these services and do occasionally purchase an album I would like to own. The fact is, legal music adapted to what the consumer wanted. I could still be pirating music, but the paid alternative is more attractive. Which brings me to another justification that I once used and still, in some respects, do.

The industry has to compete. Prior to high speed internet, folks had to put up with any antiquated system that any of these media companies wanted to use for distribution. There was no alternative and would not have been any alternative without high speed internet. The technology to distribute content in a more user friendly way was there long before the big media companies decided to take advantage of them. I contend that without piracy, big media companies would never have been motivated to offer content on services like Netflix, Spotify, iTunes, Steam, or any of the other digital content service providers that exist in the wake of piracy.

Big media companies are champions of capitalism. In a capitalist system one has to compete with any other service providers. That does include black markets in this case. At first they resisted. They tried to sue their way back into the game. They were used to having control over the method of distribution and did not want to make changes for the kids of tomorrow. Eventually they have started seeing that they would have to offer a more alluring alternative to piracy. It wasn’t hard. Piracy can be clunky. Do you think I am going to pirate a movie or series that I can find on Netflix? Not a chance. It is so much easier to use Netflix and have a library of content at my fingertips. I even tend to choose something that is on Netflix over something else that I maybe wanted to watch which is not. This all because of the efficiency over piracy that Netflix provides. In that light, content providers are losing money by failing to provide it through such a service.

As much as I would like to say that I am a pillar of progress and that through only viewing content which is available through these types of services I am only supporting those content providers, I cannot. I have found that currently airing television series are still served superiorly to me through piracy. I think that network fragmentation is culprit there. Hulu has tried to offer a solution to that issue, but those particular content providers are still too greedy to go for it. I am pretty sure someone could improve on Hulu anyhow. Sorry, but serving ads along with subscription content will not fly.

So, dear reader, what do you think? Has your use or justification of piracy changed with the times? If you were a user of early services like Napster, do you still pirate to the same extent or at all today? Was it ever really justified or would we have progress just the same without it? Let me know your thoughts.

Kirk Aug

Kirk is still the new guy around here.  He is added some gravitas and intelligence to the group. Follow him on twitter @kirkaug