I have been quite busy lately, as usual reading a lot, experimenting with new technologies, and—yes—actually working on a few projects for clients. I am even back on Facebook and Insta (See Quitting Facebook & Insta (and Coca Cola)) after about a 4 month hiatus in which I decluttered. Moreover I decided to put up a still nascent Facebook Page for Montreal Tech Writer and to run a small ad campaign on FB to boost a post about MTW’s presence on Alignable. Alignable being a newer social network to LinkedIn geared towards small business. I have been getting good traction on Alignable BTW and recommend it for hyper-local connections and business contacts.
The point is, as I have been marketing lately professionally, I have been doing my own marketing for myself and Montreal Tech Writer.
While I am a big fan of the Fediverse (see It’s a Fediverse Planet) and see great potential in these non-commercial alternatives to Big Tech, let’s face it — for the most part the commercial web and software has and will continue to dominate. That’s where the audience is and where advertising and marketing must still be focused.
Relatedly, I have also been experimenting with the Brave browser to peruse the web, and DuckDuckGo as my search engine. These provide an ad free and tracking free experience of the web — though if ever fully embraced would likely see the prevalent business model of the web collapse. Brave is based on Chromium, which is the open source version of Google Chrome — so looks and feels a lot like it — only includes myriad privacy and ad-blocking features not-the-least of which is a mode to actually surf the web using Tor.
Things get complicated as I keep an eye on Extinction Rebellion — the environmental group I had briefly worked for but in the end found too militant (at least for me) in their standard sermon that getting arrested is a net benefit. XR, as they are colloquially referred to, are actually building up a very sophisticated backend almost wholly relying on open source, mostly free resources — except for hardware and some cursory examples like the Basecamp my group used for coordination. But software like Mattermost, an open source alternative to Slack, and Discourse (see Discourse the Answer to WordPress) and even its Mastodon presence (see XR France and XR Berlin) could collectively mean a web that is decommercialized, open source, and much more privacy-aware, this pointing back to the opening piece on this blog: The New Environment.
I have been involved in both these worlds and see pros and cons in each. The open source freer model does seem to address my twin concerns of the climate crisis and income inequality better as server instances mostly seem to be run by hacktivists with altruistic purposes. But when it comes to getting a job your software better run through Microsoft Office, LinkedIn, Slack, possibly FB and their ilk.
Of course there has been a lot of criticism of Big Tech lately, especially emanating from Europe and outside the US, which, via Silicon Valley’s dominance, are subject to a kind of neo-colonialism. The rest of the world must matter too, and the use of Firefox and perhaps Brave are indeed a gesture of venceremos.
These realities pose a dilemma for Montreal Tech Writer but we will continue to look critically at technology — bringing to business a 21st century outlook where Millennials and the Greta Thunbergs of the world have a right to pose very hard questions.
I think, like in this recent featurette by the World Wildlife Fund:
Business, even marketing and advertising, can be part of the solution if approached from the ethical.