Perry De Havilland on Samizdata (one of the oldest political blogs in Europe) wrote the post below that is especially appropriate on US Election Day,. Not only have the mainstream media thrown the last bit of caution to the wind and are making even the Soviet-era Pravda look demure, but now the people who are sitting atop Big Social are making even the free flow of information impossible. Regardless of who wins the election today, it is blatantly obvious that we will need a decentralized, censorship-proof alternative to the
Stasi-monitored “curated” big social media sites. And one may already be in the making. If a “doubleplusungood crimethink” message is spread among a myriad blog sites around the world, they cannot all be muzzled at the same time.
As for the election:
“Pray as if it all depends on G-d, for it does.
Work as if it all depends on you, for it does.”
On this day back in 2001, the first iteration of Samizdata haltingly plopped onto the internet, wide eyed and not quite sure what to make of itself.
Why did Samizdata happen? Because every time a ‘news’ feature appeared about the 9/11 atrocity, I and other assorted stalwarts were done shouting at the television screen (remember them?). That was the trigger, but frankly there was much more to it than just that. It was years, decades really, of seeing the mainstream media’s disconnection from common sense and observable reality on a great many issues. We were sick of the BBC, Robert Fisk, CBS, The New York Times, ITV, Dan Rather, The Guardian, CNN, all of them.
Glenn Reynolds created Instapundit and showed the way… and we followed (Samizdata was the UK’s second political blog, the first being the long vanished ‘Airstrip One’). Many more piled into the scrum, most now long extinct. Blogspot hosted most of the new online blurting initially, they were the blogosphere’s training wheels, even if most of us eventually moved elsewhere. We held blogger bashes, networked, and people got drunk and ended up with regrettable tattoos. I met Andrew Breitbart (truly amazing guy) and Arianna Huffington (um, yeah) and they were heady days, the wild west era of the opinionated internet. We had our own platform to say what we wanted to anyone who cared to listen (which back in the ‘golden age of blogging’ circa 2002-2008 was about 30,000 people a day for Samizdata, vastly more for Instapundit or Andrew Sullivan). We were social media before anyone called it social media.
But times move on.
Gradually the internet ecosphere changed, the cacophonous mosaic of a gazillion blogs were steadily overshadowed by bigger and taller things. In their place came walled gardens that commoditised the users in return for ‘free’ access, most prominently Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The very term ‘blog’ seems a bit archaic now, I tend to use the term ‘independent site’ these days. And independent sites like this one remain, as does Instapundit, but we are just part of a much bigger and far more managed internet, a fringe sitting on the edge of the new on-line mainstream media, which is what Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are, the new mainstream media with all that implies.
Heh, meet the new boss, same as the old boss; rolls of barbed wire are appearing atop the garden walls. With the internet rapidly becomes far more stage-managed and tightly controlled than I would have guessed possible almost twenty years ago, we are seeing a second wave of independent sites. And they are driven by the same discontent at the same MSM disconnect from reality that drove the first wave of new media post-9/11.
Excellent slick new operations like The Critic, Unherd, Spiked, Quillette and others are rising to the occasion, with sites using a more ‘trad’ blog-like format also still popping up, like Expunct, Lockdown Sceptics and others.
The weapons have changed a bit but battlefield looks pretty similar and the same war continues.