Alternative Digital Discussion Groups
Sunday, December 15, 2019 [Update 12/29/2019 Please see end for additional ideas for discussion groups not in original article.]
You may be a big user of “The Bird” and used to chirping out 140 characters of text if you’re a Gen X’er, Gen Y or Gen Z or millennial. According to Kasasa there are various generations defined by the eras they were born in.
- Baby Boomers are defined per the site between ages 55 to 75. These are typically our grandfather’s generation and some of our parents fall into this generation.
- Gen X is younger a bit and fall between ages 40 to 54. This the mom and dad generation.
- Millennials are defined as Gen Y and are defined per Kasasa as between ages 25 to 39. There’s even a subset split with a Y1 group from 25 to 29 and Y2 group from 29 to 39 if you want to be a bit more technical.
- Lastly there’s also a Gen Z which per that site Kasasa spans from age 4 to 24.
The key identifiers are the use and prowess with technology. The reason there’s also a split in Gen Y’ers is because the older ones might have children and also a house and be a bit more financially well off versus the younger ones that still need to get their financial houses in order.
Now, if you are any of these you often do enjoy socializing and hanging out with people and talking and interacting in real life but some of the younger generation is more and more comfortable with mobile devices and social interaction via these devices. It should come as no surprise as these groups were born into technology education from cellphones and laptops and other mobile devices at an early age. The youngest generation is starting off really early interacting with touch screen devices and tablets and other manner or digital communication devices including motion sensing devices at a really early age while the older generation is practical and enjoy going into physical stores and paper media but are still slowly acclimating and getting accustomed to a digital world.
Defining moments in the millennial generation include the Great Financial Crisis and a post 9-11 world which has served not only to leave some with uncertainly and moving back with parents and difficulty saving and finding jobs but also job hunting more to gain various skills. In their own way they are diversifying their skillset to survive as jobs and pensions may not be around as they used to and they have to deal with a rapid changing multitasking world.
Not only that but today’s world also requires a major look at changing increased surveillance states. You have Amazon Kindle devices, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Siri, Cortana and other device beacons that “phone home” with location data. Recently in the news they talked about how Apple Watches could detect your heart rate and body positioning and detect a sudden acceleration and stationary position and interpret it as a fall, which in the case of an elderly person can be particularly fatal and time sensitive. We found it particularly neat that on one social media site a person reported that their grandfather or similar had suffered a fall and the watch ended up phoning emergency services and an EMT came by with ambulance to take the unconscious individual to a hospital. This is one example of useful “surveillance” smart devices that can be almost a cross between “Inspector Gadget” and James Bond-ish (see Casino Royale poison scene) to see how useful this life support Batmanesque device might be to people in the future… (Also think M. Bison of Street Fighter the movie).
However there are also occasions where devices might be too 1984-ish. The Ring doorbell recently has been in the news and people have been wondering about whether the devices can be used to form a scatter plotted combination of maps and recorded video data to reconstruct what’s happening in a neighborhood. Some have even worried that video feeds can be confiscated or sent to law enforcement for things that may not be its original intended usage.
Although there have been good uses such as checking to make sure the person at the door is actually a deliver person. Another good example is catching someone taking something from your property or committing vandalism. In that case you have it recorded as evidence.
But this article is not just about surveillance and tools. It’s about privacy and alternatives that we all have. We all have a choice into what tools and devices we allow or enable access to our lives. Just like we can let our phones scan our retinas and face, but who are we actually sending this data to?
Richard Stallman of GNU and Free Software Foundation fame is famously known for his contributions to free and open software and also the precursors to Linux kernels and tools which you see in many other computer industries including modern day Linuxes, Androids and Macintosh software. Mr. Stallman has famously gone on the record that he does not use the big social media platforms and also non-free softwares and prefers to use cash based transactions, avoid model smart phone cellphone usage to prevent unnecessary tracking and privacy invasions and also anonymizing tools when he does connect to the to the web.
With that being said, many of us go through day to day and don’t realize that we probably need to disable location when not using it on our cellphones, cover up our cameras on our cellphones and laptops in the rare occasion we’re hacked and also to give up way less permissions and information to the online world. Too many and too much of our identities are now linked to the electronic world and media where it can readily be scoured and searched and scrubbed by big data corps using search engines that offer free software but at the cost that you’re already entrenched and mired in their honey pots of convenience. Instead we need to wrestle back control and create our own free usable, open, and privacy protecting/preserving alternatives. On top of that, many influencers and CEO’s and top movers are trying to prevent censorship and wrestle away control from any one country, individual or state from silencing and censoring good important information that needs to be broadcast and disseminated. That’s a two prong sword that can be used for good or bad depending on the message. One the one hand hate and falsehoods wouldn’t be able to be silenced, but also important whistleblowing information can come out and stay out for public inspection without fear of retaliation of censorship. So it can be used for good as long as the negatives don’t drown out the truth or serve to confuse truth.
The Bird was recently in the news as its CEO (who also is getting into the Square App as well as its social media platform) recently tried to put out a call to arms to bring about a small team to create a project “bluesky”.
Here’s what’s noteworthy though as there are already alternatives out there that have been considered or bantered and volleyed back and forth as tools to prevent censorship.
Already people that are on these platforms know that not everyone likes what free speech may come out. And some have been found violating platform rules and regulation. And there’s likely a fine line also when it borders or crosses the lines of legality. Many people have differing opinions also on bullying and speech that stokes hate. The counterpart of The Bird is “Zuck” and his “likeable” blue F platform. And he claims that it’s very difficult or next to impossible to regulate and still allow and grant free speech.
The discussion for this is too lengthy for an analysis article such as this.
However we will offer some apps that have in the foray for some time that you may not have looked at. And we will name only a few as you will want to do your own research based on your area, country and app availability in your area or app stores.
- Gab has been around and now Dissenter as an alternate. It was used by “a.j.” and others that weren’t allowed on social media platforms due to their “extreme” views. There have been iterations of this program and app. Adult content is on these and also views that may be highly offensive to certain groups and affiliations. Viewer discretion is advised of course. More information is available on Wikipedia. It is now a forked version of the Mastadon alternative mentioned next.
- Tusky and Mastodon alternatives – This is an open and free social alternative that allow individuals to host their own content. This is a decentralized, distributed (federated) network spanning many different servers and allows them to share messages and content across different servers seamlessly. Toots are what the short messages are called rather than the bird themed tweets. These platforms use the “elephant/mastadon” mascot after all. And they are already using an open standard of “ActivityPub”.
- Riot.im and Matrix protocols. Matrix is an open standard protocol for real-time communications and allows users that use various different protocols to talk to each other in decentralized, federated fashion.
- Older protocol of IRC was used in the early days of the internet which allowed two computers to talk to each other. It could have one server or possible networks of servers. With social media and also open standards like XMPP, the older messenging technologies are not as know but still used often. XMPP relies on or is based on XML and is extensible. XMPP was also named Jabber. XMPP is considered decentralized although it is client to server based and not client to client. However people can run their own XMPP servers if they wish.
- There are also specialized programs like Discord for encrypted secure chats originally for gamers by gamers but now also used for creating channels and rooms and with bridges to other protocols like Matrix.
- Minds is a social media platform designed as an alternative to the big blue F due that mainstream platform’s notorious privacy policies and “censorship” or violation reporting policies. It has a emphasis in digital tokens as well. There are various versions for download.
- Diaspora for Dandelion and Nomad for Hubzilla. These are also decentralized distributed networks.
- See also Secure Scuttlebutt protocol.
As you can see there are many technologies out there to ensure your message and privacy of information get out to the intended recipients and unharmed. In the case that there’s an EMP or power outage or just a magnificent solar flare then we would have a really massive network disturbance likely and it would set society back a bit on the immense connectivity we experience now. However just knowing there’s a way to get your information out and transmit it as needed is a huge benefit as a civilization we always have some back up way or alternate means of coming up with a solution to get information where it needs to be and wants to go.
If you get a chance Gen X,Y,Z and Baby Boomers alike, give these alternate mediums and modes of communication a look and listen. You might discover you like things or discover news or a different way of thinking or find fascination information. And also new hidden groups or find yourself a new friend, a romantic lover, or someone you share common interests in.
The world has gotten more connected and maybe a bit smaller in some ways and the world of communicating choices has gotten a lot bigger. We have found that tools like Twitter, and Mastodon and the Fediverse have been invaluable learnings tools, keeping up on the news in bitesize up-to-date breaking fashion. And also to learn about topics from politics to digital currency in the last few years to economic markets. And it’s allowed digital artists, mini-bloggers, social media influencers, cosplay artists, and companies and even world leaders to stay connected, conduct business and speak directly to their core audience and subscribers. The world has truly given everyone a voice and a microphone to speak out wherever you are.
So have fun, try something out of the box, step out side your normal routine and give these things a visit. Who knows, maybe you’ll stoke your mental hunger and find you have so much more to learn out there. Stay hungry, stay read, stay connected.
[Update 12/29/2019: Check out LBRY.tv for decentralized and blockchain marketplace, Bitchute for p2p video sharing, Parler for an alternative to the Bird, dtube for decentralized blockchain-based video platforms, and Peepeth for blockchain based microblogging. These may have views and speech that are not censored and thus may have offensive content for some. DYOR or do your own research and see if any of these serve a good purpose for you or your company.
Note: We are not affiliate with any of these sites nor are we responsible for any of their content. Please remember to network responsibly.]