Reclaiming the web and computing

If you’re expecting a stirring manifesto here, I’m afraid you’re going to be a little disappointed. Maybe that will come later.

For now, it’s simple: I’m starting this site because I’ve felt a gnawing feeling for too long that I was giving up too much control. The Twitter death spiral kicked that into high gear. Nothing else going on in 2023 is persuading me otherwise.

In the early aughts I ran my own mailserver and website. All of my computers were running some flavor of Linux, and I had very little proprietary software in my life.

Some of the communities I worked in held court in IRC. Most of the conversations happened on mailing lists. “Social media” was blogs. RSS was your friend if you wanted to keep tabs on other folks’ meanderings on the Web.

I curated my MP3 collection by ripping CDs to disk and managing them with free software like Banshee. And then there was ripping DVDs to disk…

Little by little, things have become appified and walled gardened to death.

I’m a pragmatist, not a zealot. I believe in software freedom, open source, open protocols, and general purpose computing, etc. Not because I have a “religious” belief about these things, but because it’s pragmatic.

If users don’t exercise their rights and abilities to an open web and open computing, they will lose it. We are losing it.

So, I’m making a concerted effort to push back on that. Indieweb Journal is about documenting that and encouraging others to do the same. I have some high hopes for the site, but I’m content to start modestly by writing about my own efforts and pointing to tools, news, howtos, where others are doing the same.

The scope of the site is anything and everything from desktop OSes to server OSes, blogging platforms, tools like Mastodon, free and open source software of any stripe, and how to DIY your own services.

This is, largely, a no-judgment zone. Baby steps encouraged. If you go from 100% proprietary and closed solutions to 99%, that’s progress.

Running a web server isn’t for everybody, so if you decide to go with something like to host a blog instead of Facebook for your web presence, that’s great! Happy using macOS but you use Inkscape instead of proprietary software? Awesome.

I'm Joe Brockmeier. Some of my friends call me Zonker, some call me jzb, but Joe is fine too if you don't dig nicknames. I've been tinkering with websites almost as long as I've had a computer of my own, which would be mid-1995. Linux came soon after that, though it took a while for me to become competent with it. Over the years I've done a lot of writing, some work with open source communities, and a fair bit of communications and marketing work. Life at the intersection of computers, communications, community, and the web makes me happy. I also have a deep love of music, cats, books, my family, art, Scotch, beer, and a good St. Louis-style pizza. Not in that order. My pronouns are "he / him / his," and I'll respect yours if you care to share them with me. My perpetual New Year's Resolution is to be more like Mr. Rogers. Doubt I'll ever get there, but it's worth trying.

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