Algorithmic discrimination

I came across an excellent (if disturbing) article today on the hidden algorithms that trap people in poverty. The examples given are US-specific, but the issues raised would be relevant in many other countries. It talks about two major types of algorithms that screw people over: credit scores, and broader “worthiness scores”, that can determine access to housing, employment, etc. algorithms used by state institutions (or the private providers the state has outsourced its responsibilities to) to determine access to welfare, health care, and access to public services generally One of the issues is that these algorithms are being used so that nobody can be held accountable, even when the consequences of a bad decision literally ruin lives.

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Today I started teaching myself how to use Hugo! The Quick Start guide on the official site is indeed a good quick start, but if anyone else needed a more detailed guide to how to actually get up and running, I can recommend Make a Hugo blog from scratch.

I came across this interesting article today: How the Blog Broke the Web. That’s not to say that I agree blogs broke the web (obviously), but it evokes nostalgia for an era of internet history just before my time, and I do think personal homepages are super underrated today.

Yooooo, I just found out what Micro.blog’s “New Test Blog” function under “Edit Custom Themes” does. Kind of obvious in retrospect… it creates a secondary testing blog for you so you can work on custom layouts and plug-ins without screwing up your actual blog. This’ll be handy 😎

Having worked hard over the past 24 hours, I can now link you to my static personal website! ☺️ As of right now the site only consists of two pages, and as I need more complicated formatting I’ll have to add to the stylesheet, but I’m pretty happy with it so far, especially with the responsive design (and now I understand why single-column layouts have skyrocketed in popularity). If I can adapt the theme to work with Micro.blog, that might be nice too – make the two halves of my online presence feel like a unified whole. Either way, this feels like a satisfying step forward.

After two and a half weeks running my own blog at this subdomain, I feel energised to start making a static site to go alongside it at the root domain ☺️ At first I was looking into Hugo, but the learning curve seems a little high and I feel like it might be overkill for what I want. So instead, I’ve installed MAMP to my laptop so I can work on a basic static site locally (with PHP includes for page layouts, as I used to do back in the day) and upload it once it reaches a satisfactory point.

For me, there are a lot of advantages to a static site: it should be a lot lighter and more performant than having a whole CMS for just a personal site; it allows me a lot more flexibility and precision for each page (because while I know CMS templates can technically do that, I’m just better with HTML/CSS/very basic PHP); and perhaps most importantly, if life gets too busy and I don’t have the time to actively work on the site for a while, nothing should break on me 😂 When I had blogs in the past, I often had problems with spam or software updates breaking my themes if I had to leave them unattended, and considering it was just a hobby that did sometimes happen… I’m a big fan of solutions that mean I no longer need to worry about this!

Two weeks on Micro.blog, and some discussion of "likes"

As of yesterday, I’ve now had this site on Micro.blog for two weeks. So far, I’ve really been enjoying the experience. It’s been interesting to realise that I actually do have lots to share when I have a consolidated space that feels like mine to share them, and rather than letting those stray thoughts go, I’ve been typing them up and putting them into posts (or drafts) more often. In line with POSSE, this has also prompted me to post more things on traditional social media, which has made me feel a bit more connected with some of those friends and relatives I probably should’ve been making more of an effort with all along.

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Honestly, much as it pains me that I’ve wasted my whole morning working on this, I think I’m going to give up converting my very old blog to a static archive site and just delete the damn thing. My main reasons:

  1. A lot of this material is stuff that, to be honest, I don’t mind vanishing off the face of the internet.
  2. Even if I did mind, it turns out the Internet Archive Wayback Machine has done an excellent job archiving material.
  3. Originally I wanted to keep it around to prevent link rot, but considering I already changed the subdomain and didn’t set up redirects years ago I think that’s a long-lost cause 😂
  4. For those few posts that are on worthwhile, evergreen topics, I can always write about those again here. I can even reuse parts of the original posts, I guess; it’s not like old-me is going to take current-me to task over plagiarism!

I do have some mixed feelings, I guess. The ephemerality of much of the web makes me uncomfortable sometimes, particularly the loss of my own content, even though I find some of what my younger self said kinda cringey 😂 (Who doesn’t?) But at the same time, I can’t keep stuff online in an unmaintained blog running on abandonware that I’d guess broke on the release of PHP7. For real longevity, static websites seem like the way to go… closely followed by paying a host to maintain your platform for you (which is what I’m doing here on Micro.blog, after all!) and trusting them not to go out of business, haha. Here’s hoping to not have a repeat of this morning’s headache any time soon!

My big job today has been (and is) laboriously converting an old blog to static pages, so I can keep the content up without the brokenness and security risk of running now-unmaintained software 😬 Gotta say some of these old entries are making me really wonder if it’s worth it…

Hello world!

Greetings! My name’s Jessica, and I’m a twenty-something leftie from Melbourne. A couple of days ago, I re-stumbled upon the concept of the IndieWeb, but this time something about it struck enough of a chord with me to really investigate, and as you can tell, here I am now. For a long time, I’ve been yearning for the days of personal websites and blogs. This is something I dabbled in a lot during high school and even into undergraduate uni, but as most of my contemporaries gradually migrated to the new social media sites springing up, so did I.

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photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society. See her homepage here.