I started this website over twelve years ago in September of 2007. Social media existed but not nearly in its current capacity and blogs, though dying, were still something to visit regularly. After this site served its brief purpose of being a personal profile for a job I was applying, it turned into a blog and evolved into what you see today. I put a lot of energy into making this a place that would be fun to bookmark and go back to. I could share some unusual links and oddities I found through the week. I felt that I could act as an aggregator of sorts.
Slowly I found that I did not want to maintain it any longer. I found doing all the dirty work under the hood was exhausting, boring, and I wasn’t getting paid for it. I folded and installed WordPress. It re-energized me and helped me put my best foot forward. I could write more, share more, and not do all the “nerd” stuff already do full time.
Our internet as a whole got bad. Then worse. Now this little corner of the web is hardly visited. Who bookmarks a site on their cell phones? If it isn’t served in “app” form, it’s hardly consumed at all.
To be fair, I was never looking for a broad audience. My specific audience were those related to me and close enough to be able to spell my last name (the original site had my full name, not “sandwich”).
That audience still exists and whether you agree with me or not, I’m glad that these words I type don’t just disappear into the void. The internet itself, though, has become just that. It is a void of vapid “content”, clicks, tricks, and crooks.
Even real people are more difficult to find. Now it’s about personas and influencer personalities. More kids want to be YouTube “vloggers” than astronauts according to a recent poll. Why work hard and learn math when you can turn yourself into a brand?
Back in the 90’s, when I was young and in high school, the (public) internet was a new thing. It was an awesome free exchange of ideas that could connect people cultures and worlds away. The first time I made a friend with someone who lived in Sweden and kept in touch with him regularly was mind blowing. Today, a relationship with someone you’ve never physically seen may be even more common than not. Things are instantaneous. The earth shrank.
I saw a presentation once a few years ago at a Microsoft conference and a man was talking about how AI works. Right now it feels like magic. There’s a famous quote by Arthur C. Clarke that says “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The presenter suggested that sufficiently advanced technology is not magic, it’s invisible. Part of our daily fabric.
Think about this. How often do you worry about the internal combustion in your car? Rarely? The fact that you can drive 80 miles per hour down a highway in nearly any weather, in perfect comfort, and not break a sweat? That technology, though comparatively primitive, is so advanced it has blurred into our daily lives.
Fresh water? Asprin? Even your cell phone getting little updates all day long from around the world? Not magic anymore. It’s just part of life. And the cell phone happened in your lifetime.
With this, we’ve turned this wonderful, open network of humans exchanging ideas into a cesspool of crime, hate, tracking, and advertising. Nothing is free. Nothing you see online is free – you pay with your information. In rare cases, like here, I pay out of my own pocket for you to see these words. There is a cost for servers, bandwidth, uptime, hard disk space, etc. That is not free. Every click or scroll through a “free” service is paid for dearly with your information. The problem is; you probably don’t know how much is being given up so it seems like a fair trade.
I started my “career” in IT officially in 2002 working as a figure-out-as-I-go computer nerd at a bicycle company. I loved it and it turned my 90’s hobby into a paying job. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I have been doing what I do for twenty years. On and off the clock, for hobby and for pay. I don’t regret those choices. A reputation is valuable and having not gone to college, it’s the only thing I really have in this industry.
Fast forward to 2019 and I now see the walls melt. I feel like I was originally walking through the fields of Los Angeles County in the 1920’s when it was orange groves and dirt roads. So much potential and possibilities. Perfect climate. Now 100 years has passed and, though massive in population and impressive in scale, it is covered in graffiti, crime, traffic, pollution, and more cement than a human brain can handle. It grew naturally. Too quickly, maybe. It was the Utopian idea of a new society that grew too large and is now controlled by a corrupt few.
The internet is gross. This is an opinion I share with the man who created the damn thing. Big changes need to be made but the comparatively small voices have little power against the juggernauts.
Running this site has always felt like a side hobby. When my daughters were born, I loved sharing details and pictures of them. Even five years ago I didn’t hesitate to share them here. I never wanted them on the big social sites but they scrape this data anyway whether you ask them to or not. It’s a real shame how generally bad they are.
But the fact remains; this site is visited by hundreds of times more scrapers and robots than people. They want to index my pictures, videos, text, links, whatever. Why? What value do my opinions have? I’d be absolutely shocked if anyone is still reading at this point. Who cares what some dad nerd living in the desert thinks about things?
I agree. This is going to be my last post. I pay real money for hosting and other software to keep this site safe. It isn’t very expensive but I don’t want to be a source of indexed content beyond my control. I will take the site down once the billing renewal cycle is complete in February 2020.
I will keep the domain and share videos and pictures with family in more direct ways. I’ll remain on LinkedIn as a professional point of contact. My YouTube channel will remain but will not have any video of myself, my kids, or anything of value – just some old video game videos that some people still watch.
I wish that the good web would have stuck around longer. This web 3.0 needs a serious overhaul but I doubt it will happen because it’s generating so much money. Maybe a smaller, segmented network is the next wave.
I will likely stay in this industry as a curmudgeonly fossil to which I already feel the push from the younger, more energetic generation. I will always fight the good fight. I will use these skills to be the best I can be. I know my value.
I look at this as a chapter in my life that I’m closing. Who knows, it may spring up in a different form in a few months with some new-found thing I want to share with the world. Or, hopefully, it’s one less stress point. One attack vector fewer.
Don’t forget to visit my mom’s blog at vilijaschlueter.com!
Thanks for being here for the journey. Do the right thing.