Reclaiming my home on the Internet
Manifesto redux, 25 years along. The World Wide Web we planned and promised in 1994 was a much better place than the Internet turned out to be today. Back then, we promoted an endlessly expanding universe of ideas and information presented with powerful multimedia tools never thought possible in the hands of the public, with everyone owning and and publishing to their personal corner of the sky, quaintly called a “home page.” In that first wave of enthusiastic visioning and pioneering and homesteading and outrageous innovation, even commercial ventures made investments and took risks to elevate a common digital good.
Now, we mostly live within a gulag archipelago of misleadingly-termed walled gardens — more like prisons for our minds, to paraphrase The Matrix. Massive platforms of surveillance capitalism have largely quashed innovation and the motivation for personal expression, as much of the public has become content to surrender to the most simple toolsets and to retreat to consumer status where our privacy is exploited as product and our most personal data is aggregated as the trading currency. Throughout this dark and lopsided transaction, minds are manipulated and even altered by algorithms gamed by demagogues, and society and institutions and our personal well being are diminished and damaged, as if we all made some conscious decision to trade Western democracy for a better digital ad experience while building the personal fortunes of just four men beyond the total wealth of the bottom half of our country.
As someone who always has lived my digital life out loud, I was a willing participant for years, and in my professional career I helped build out some of this world. I often wrestled with my involvement on many levels, especially in encouraging family and friends to join in, and I still do. Events and developments over the last few years have heightened the problems and have forced some issues beyond a breaking point where change is not only welcome but absolutely necessary. Which brings me back here, stepping out of as much madness as I can, coming back to where it started: reclaiming my home on the Internet to shape and share my story on my own terms in ways that look like me. Will be refreshing to publish and post with the perhaps naive hope that it’s not immediately going into a database to be turned back against me; they could still scrape it, but they’re going to have to make an effort. So I hope you find me out here, and to the best of your own abilities, I hope you choose to re-establish your home as well.
Kurt Fliegel, October 2019
Collection point for my Internet presence. The main active channel here is a Commonplace blog for sharing things that interest me, or parts of my life that I’m willing to share publicly. I’ll also group and highlight some favorite photos in albums in a small Gallery. I know this won’t get the kind of play here that it would on some of the social platforms, but it’s mostly for me to anchor my stuff and for friends who want to check in on me every once in a while.
Difficult to know what to do about politics and current events in a polarized and partisan world, and the people who know me know I hold some strong views usually expressed in strong language, backed by extensive receipts and evidence. Not sure what I’m going to do about including purely political content and conversations. If I do something, it will likely be private and limited to people I know well. If you’re interested in being a part of that, and we haven’t already spoken, please use the contact form to let me know you’d like to join should it happen. In the meantime, check social media, or take a look at what’s on my nightstand on the Reading List page.
Running is a huge part of my life and my relationships, and I’m treating it as a separate area of focus (see below) including a side project. There’s a section for basic Professional information too, even though I don’t like to mix that with personal content, but there’s some here.
Personal website: https://fliegel.com
Keeping some semi-active outposts even as I try to move away from algorithms, continuous feeds, personal data collection, and other mechanisms of surveillance capitalism. Have returned to Facebook, grudgingly, and temporarily, to check in on people during the pandemic. Most active on Instagram as my primary social connector; you can find me there or on the feed on the Gallery page here. Now that WordPress owns Tumblr and has cleaned it up, I may come back to use it as a microblog especially if I can integrate it here. I keep personal Twitter and Medium accounts to source some kinds of content but I rarely if ever tweet or post, although I have been more active on Twitter lately. Back to using Flipboard and Feedly to curate RSS newsfeeds, and Pocket for bookmarking. Still undecided whether to return to Flickr as a photo service under their new ownership but I still have an old presence there.
For these platforms I’m FLGLchicago in most places.
There’s no hiding from this: I do so much running and talk about running so much and post so much about running because I live with a runner and hang out with runners and on and on about running and running and running…I need a separate container to hold it all just like I have a special room to hold all my running stuff.
And that’s my next project. A container not only for me, but a platform for the global running community. Will take me a while to build it out, but in the meantime, there’s some basic stuff here as a placeholder, and running friends can find me in all the usual places, especially Instagram, Strava, and Athlinks. And of course at Logan Square on Thursday nights, and the Lakefront Trail on in-season Saturday mornings, and at various start lines around the city and the country all through the year. Keep your eye on this space for when the vision of RunO2 becomes a reality.
There’s some background and color on my career on the Professional page, and LinkedIn of course provides a skeleton timeline and a network through which colleagues past and present can reach out. I don’t post much at all there, as I am a consultant late in my career and prefer to share knowledge specifically to help my firm and its clients. For the same reason my professional Twitter account also is rarely used, and mostly for checking up on news.
This Train Studios is a construct I’m holding in reserve for project work, and will become active when I ease towards retirement. For now the site is a single static placeholder page that I’ll light up when the time is right.