No more traffic to Facebook

Way back in May, I initiated the process to delete my Facebook account. That went through in June and I retroactively ceased to exist—in Facebookland.

A couple weeks ago, I deleted my account on Instagram and I retroactively ceased to exist—in Instaland.

I’m still using WhatsApp on my phone, but am very close to finalizing the switch to something else.

Now that I don’t actually need to use any of these services from my laptop, I can disable the ability of the laptop to do so. For this, I look back to an excellent series of articles by Kashmir Hill—”Goodby Big Five“.

During that experiment, Hill worked with a colleague, Dhruv Mehrotra, to block any outgoing traffic to various services so that she could report on how it felt to use the internet without them. A byproduct of that is a GitHub repository with scripts that can be used by anyone using MacOS.

A cool thing that I learned through all the above is that the large internet companies are all big enough to operate their own autonomous system (AS) that tracks all of the IP addresses that have been allocated to it. This means that rather than looking for any connection in a browser to a facebook.com-ish URL and blocking them in a Whac-A-Mole manner, we can get a list of all registered IPs in an instant and block them all at once.

So tonight I ran the script: sudo ./block.sh --facebook, and traffic to 122 IPv4 subnets owned by Facebook was blocked on my machine. If I try to access facebook.com, instagram.com, or if any other webpage attempts to load a script from those places, it just doesn’t work.

This likely won’t have any actual adverse effect on day to day browsing. I can imagine the two scenarios I’ll run across are looking at a one-off Instagram post someone refers to elsewhere and wanting to check the snow and grooming conditions at our favorite snowshoe spot, which are really only available through a Facebook group. For both, it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a hacky way to grab the info. Maybe that fits with adversarial interoperability? 🙂

Twenty-three years of after-school gigs on the internet

The New York Times has been writing about the internet for at least 31 years—well before “the Internet” became “the internet”. It has likely been writing about kids making money for much longer. I started going down that rabbit hole, but climbed right back out. This isn’t meant to be a long post.

A quote from an article last week on kids using the internet to make money made me terrified enough to do a quick comparison. It probably terrified me because I’m getting farther and farther away from being a kid, but it still worked and it’s my blog.

🗣 Just because you’re terrified doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying….

First, the comparison, from a 1996 piece on making websites as an after-school gig in the business section:

Mr. Franklin-Hodge also runs a popular site on the World Wide Web, called Laughweb, a smorgasbord of jokes plucked off the Internet. That’s for fun, but besides working for the local Internet company he has done contract jobs, for $15 to $25 an hour, that range from computer repairs to sophisticated programming assignments. His tax return for 1995 listed income of $6,000.

– New York Times, May 6, 1996: An After-School Job That’s Not Kids’ Stuff;Wanted: Web Designers and Programmers; $25/hr.; Need Parents’ Consent

Jascha Franklin-Hodge went on to become the CIO of Boston, co-founder of Blue State Digital, and is now executive director of Open Mobility Foundation.

The author interviews several other teens (and their parents) that are all earning money in some way or another from this great new World Wide Web and gosh isn’t it great. (It really was/is)

Fast forward 23 years and flip to the style section.

A 15 year old is making quite a bit of money (sometimes $10k/month) by posting memes on Instagram. But it’s not necessarily about the money…

“The more followers you have, the more voice you have,” he said. “The more clout you have, the more power you have.”

– New York Times, November 29, 2019: Here’s What’s Happening in the American Teenage Bedroom

“The more clout you have, the more power you have” is a version of the internet we’ve created.

A few things about Moby-Dick

This is my 3rd or 4th attempt at reading Moby-Dick and I’ve made it far enough this time that I’m pretty confident I’ll finish. While I still have quite a bit to go, I keep thinking of observations that I want to share now.

So; so; so; there are so many semicolons. And! I had not noticed until today that even the book’s full title has a semicolon in it—“Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.”

I love the use of exclamation points as emphasis in the middle! of sentences. According to numbers sourced via internet search and not verified, there are 1683 exclamation points in the book. Here’s a graph of those exclamation points as a percentage of all characters used by chapter.

I can imagine how I would film the movie and it would be absolutely wonderful—for me, at least. I’m looking forward to watching the 1956 version with Gregory Peck (and screenplay by Ray Bradbury!) to see if its anywhere close.

Bonus: for a general representation of punctuation used in the book, check out this visual of Moby-Dick without words by Nicholas Rougeux.