My Time on the Internet

Just a few days ago I deleted my last remaining social media account – well almost, more on that later* – leaving this blog/website as pretty much the defacto ‘source of me’ on the internet. That got me thinking back to how long I’ve been ‘on the internet’ so I tried to put together a little timeline. It’s been an interesting exercise. It’s by no means 100% accurate. I’ve used a number of sources including this blog itself, The Internet Wayback Machine, emails and my scattered memory. I think it’s pretty close though. I dare say the folks at places like Facebook, Google and Twitter could probably give me some ridiculously accurate stats.

1994ish – Opened my first and only AOL account.

1996 – Registered lyh.com and built a website for a house of people I lived with. Registered and built personal website thebukitzone.com.

2000 – Apple launches MobileMe which would eventually become iCloud/Apple ID. I started an account then and still have it.

2005 – Opened my first Gmail account [Gmail launched 2004]. It was Invite only then. I think I got an invite from a buddy. This was my first Gmail address. Moved my personal website at thebukitzone.com from HTML to WordPress.

2006 – Twitter – Launched this year, I opened an account, was the first ‘social media’ account I ever had.

2007 – Opened first Flickr account [Flickr launched 2004]. FriendFeed launched. I had an account, never really used it. In 2009 it was bought by Facebook.

2007 – Opened first Facebook account. [Facebook launched 2004]

2008 – Opened a Plurk account. Closed the same year. Switched to another Gmail address, my second one.

2009 – Registered kentfackenthall.com which basically replaced thebukitzone.com

2009 – Opened a LinkedIn account. [LinkedIn launched 2003]

2011 – Opened GoodReads, Instagram [Instagram launched 2010] and Tumblr accounts. Google+ launches. I was on right away and stayed pretty much till they shuttered it in 2019. Closed Twitter account.

2012 – Closed my LinkedIn and Tumblr accounts. Opened a Strava account.

2013 – Registered and built website at bikecommutercabal.com. After a few years transferred ownership to another. Ran Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Twitter accounts for Bike Commuter Cabal.

2014 – Left WordPress as my blog platform for Blogger for a hot minute (maybe a month) quickly returned.

2015 – Opened Ello and Ride with GPS accounts. Closed Strava and first Flickr accounts.

2016 – For most of the year, shuttered my website and redirected my domain to my Google+ profile. Opened Medium and Behance accounts.

2017 – Opened second Flickr account. Opened a Mastodon account. Lasted a week.

2018 – Closed Facebook account. Kept Facebook Messenger. Closed Ello, GoodReads, Medium and Behance accounts.

2019 – Closed Facebook Messenger. Registered and built website at correctiveactionbicycleclub.com. Opened Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for the Corrective Action Bicycle Club.

2020 – *Created a new Facebook account for work only. Not public, no friends, no posting. Strictly to manage client accounts/pages/advertising. Closed second Flickr account and personal Instagram account. Switched from Gmail as main email provider/app to my own domain mail and Apple Mail. Brought correctiveactionbicycleclub.com under umbrella of this domain, then eventually offline. Closed CABC Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Random takeaways

  • 24+ years on the internets
  • 15+ different social media platforms
  • 15 years hacking and whacking on WordPress
  • ~600 blog posts (I’ve deleted some for various reasons)
  • Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were platforms where I had multiple accounts at the same time, i.e. personal and a club

What a long, strange trip it’s been. I think I’m done with social media now. I say ‘think’ because the reality is that I still have the Facebook account for work and I could see a possible argument for having others if my job came to require it. I’m doing my best to avoid that however. I can see very well that I’m going in the opposite direction with this compared to most of humanity. I have to admit that I’m kind of looking forward to ‘going retro’ here and just getting back to writing blog posts again. I’ve been reading through old ones and they make me chuckle. In a lot of cases, past me was an idiot.

Nanoscape

My buddy and fellow cyclist Geoff Williams (gewilli to his peeps) has a side gig going on posting artwork from Electron Microscopes. Fascinating stuff. He recently had a print exhibition at the Chazan Gallery in Rhode Island. Check him out on instagram and twitter. I hear he plays a mean fiddle as well.

From the Gallery Exhibition Website:

For over 20 years Geoff Williams has been honing his craft as an electron microscopist. Each image that he collects is an expression of his sensibilities. The dynamic interplay of shape and grayscale values speaks to him. From that first image Williams collected on a scanning electron microscope (SEM) until now, he has been consistently striving to master a technique that engages this scientific tool towards a goal of sharing this world through his personal lense.
Williams’ images provide a tactile and striking view of samples we may or may not encounter in our day-to-day lives.  These samples can come from very diverse sources, from food to tiny fragments of the custom bicycle making process, to broken or discarded bits. Williams strives to present them as inspiring visuals, hoping to draw in and engage the audience in a way that is not possible in any other expressive form. The unique three dimensionality of these SEM works has the potential to decouple any a priori connection a viewer might have, while at the same time fostering a powerful de novo relationship to the subjects.

Facebook D Day

I think today may be the day that my Facebook account dies. I say I think, because I’m not really sure. I think Facebook wants it that way. When you go to delete your account, they say it will take effect within 14 days, but it may be sooner – or maybe later? My past experiences tell me that when you think it’s gone – and try logging in to check – miraculously, it’s still there and it ‘reactivates’ you so you would need to go through the whole process and waiting period again.

By my calculations, today would be Day 14, but I’m not going to attempt to login to check, I’ve been suckered before.

Cruising my Feedly today I came across this article, relevant to my Facebook usage – or former Facebook usage.

How to Use Social Media Wisely and Mindfully

One particularly relevant excerpt in my case:

“We can also become more mindful and curious about social media’s effects on our minds and hearts, weighing the good and bad. We should ask ourselves how social media makes us feel and behave, and decide whether we need to limit our exposure to social media altogether (by logging out or deactivating our accounts) or simply modify our social media environment. Some people I’ve spoken with find ways of cleaning up their newsfeeds—from hiding everyone but their closest friends to “liking” only reputable news, information, and entertainment sources.”

Over the past several years (yes, it’s been that long) I’ve experimented with various levels/methods of monitoring social media use. Logging out of some accounts for extended periods and attempting to curate more specifically the people/organizations I follow among others.

Overwhelmingly I found that certain platforms bug me more than others. Facebook was the number one offender, so I decided to dump it. Twitter was second, and I had pretty much stopped using it, so it went as well.

I was back and forth with Instagram, but I find that I still enjoy it in a unique way, and overall, it doesn’t impact my moods and outlook the way my Facebook experience did (negatively), so I’ve kept it. For now.

After abandoning Google+ for awhile when I gave up ALL social media for a stint, I’ve gone back to it. Although it’s lost a lot of the specifics of the platform that made it unique from the early days – anyone who’s followed me for an extended period of time know’s I championed it early on – I still find that there’s something about it that allows for more interesting and less frustrating engagement. That said, I’ve still cut way back on the number of people I’m following and become more selective. In addition, I’ve also decided not to follow any Pages (brands, companies, organizations) and stick to (supposedly) real people. I find this helps keep the noise down.

Full disclosure – I still have a Facebook account with a fake name that I use for work. As it stands I’m responsible for managing some client Pages as well as overseeing ad and social media campaigns so I still needed a way to be on the platform. My ‘fake account’ doesn’t follow anyone though and I don’t post anything with it.

So perhaps I am off the Facebook. I don’t know. Maybe you can never really leave.

Google+ Only August

I am the mad scientist of social media.

Back at the end of July, in another one of my social media experiments, I’d sort of made a resolution to myself to only use only Google+ in August and see what it got me. I didn’t really tell anyone about it, just sort of did it. The impetus for the whole thing is that I’m really starting to loathe the whole Facebook experience. Not the connections or people I’ve made there, but the user experience and interface is just lousy – and Facebook doesn’t really seem too interested in improving that in either its webpage or mobile app.

Google on the other hand is continuing to improve and innovate to the extent that I’ve read articles on the web of instances in which people have dumped their flickr accounts for Google+, left Facebook – essentially trying to have Google+ be the one ‘go-to’ social media source for them. This has always appealed to me as well – I’ve always been on a quest to find that ‘swiss army knife’ of a social media app. One ring (or plus, heh) to rule them all.

For quite some time while still checking into Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I haven’t been doing it though the native apps, I’ve been using Flipboard which provides a much better experience. It has most of the features of the native apps and none of the hideous design or clunky usability features. The drawback of course is that those companies aren’t going to port all their goodies to 3rd party apps obviously, so some key elements – namely notifications – don’t exist in Flipboard. Even with that being the case I was happier with it than the native mobile apps and had decided that though I was going to go Google+ only for August as my experiment – I would still allow myself to read/view the streams from my other apps, just not comment or post there. (FYI, you can also read a lot of other feeds, including Google+ through Fliboard, check it out.) Call it lurking if you want, but I still wanted some of the content/links/stories that can be found on those other sites, but I wanted to see if I could use Google+ only for the bulk of my online interaction and see if it filled my needs.

Most people’s primary complaint about Google+ when trying it out (and the subject of lots of articles and bloggery) is that “there’s no one here” or “it’s a ghost town” – to some extent this is true.

G to the Plus, Yo!

It’s not that no one is using Google+ – there’s 100 million users there as of April – it’s just that people have spent years cultivating their community over at Facebook and the subconscious assumption is that on jumping over to Google+, one will have the same kind of experience and level of engagement. Unfortunately, that’s not the case – yet. You simply can’t take all your Facebook contacts with you to Google+, believe me, I’ve tried, but what the past few weeks have taught me is that you might not need to right away.

What this experiment has done is get me to start circling/following people I don’t actually know, based on interest – something that seems MUCH weirder on Facebook and something I only used to do, really, on Twitter. Google+ has built a user experience and interface that really encourages and facilitates this yet still gives you the security/confidence and easy ability to only share more intimate posts with select people/groups when you want to – all in one app.

Since I’ve taken this ‘stranger plunge’ so to speak, the level of quality conversation and engagement I’ve experienced on Google+ has gone up radically and overall the whole thing has become much more satisfying.

I won’t lie, I’ve gradually been pulled back into Facebook – backsliding – partly because I was tagged in photo and felt compelled to comment on it, but also, I’ve missed the conversation there with some people and groups that I really enjoy. Really, it’s the people and conversation that are good – but simply because there are more established connections there. I hope over time that my Google+ experience will grow to equal, or even surpass that of Facebook.

Say it with me, Facebook is ugly.

One thing being away from Facebook – at least the native app/page – has caused to resurface from the depths is my contempt for the overall Facebook user interface. It’s just hideous, period. As a person who makes my living designing things, after a while, I just get pissed off that they simply don’t realize this – or if they do, they don’t care. Currently, Facebook seems more focused on monetizing the business model than they are with improving the user experience. Ads, promoted posts, suggested pages – it’s a very “hey, we’ve got some blank screen space here – we’ve got to figure out a way for that to earn money”. They’re totally trashing the joint.

Hey, Facebook people. Did you know there’s NO ads over on Google+? None. As in zero.

Over the years, Facebook has rolled out tweaks to their overall design in small doses here and there. Sure, the Facebook of today looks radically different than when it started out, but this is the result of YEARS of little, sometimes indistinguishable changes. In my opinion, they practically need to clean house and start over from scratch. Also, quit making changes to how my profile appears to other people (Timeline). I don’t care about that. Make it so it’s not like pounding my toe with a hammer every time I try and use it.

I hope that Google can continue to innovate and improve without resorting to a full on shilling of every inch of white space, because although I’ve begun to realize that I probably never will fully leave Facebook – due more to other’s unwillingness to do so than anything else – I will be visiting less and less.

I haven’t been on twitter in ages. I think that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Pluses and Minuses.

Ya know, the interesting thing I find is people comparing the launch of Google+ to Facebook and Twitter and comparing stats with regards to users in X amount of time and such. Google+ has had the benefit of 5+ years of Facebook and social media successes and failures to build on. Launching this service now can’t be compared to the launch of a Twitter or Facebook as when they launched, not nearly as many people were social media aware or savvy. To me the comparison is really sort of pointless.

A very large part of the reason Google+ took off like it did is because Twitter, Facebook and the like were already there to facilitate a ridiculously fast dissemination of info and user uptake.

I mean, I’m pretty sure most of us found out about it via another SM platform/tool.

Ironic. Dontcha think?

Oh, and I’m on Google+ here.