You know that I have posted more regularly to Tumblr lately. WordPress forced a change of editor on me, which I did not appreciate. I accept forced changes readily enough for free software, but I don’t like loss of control over my interface, workflow, commands, and overall technology when I pay for my software.
WordPress, of course, operates on a hybrid model. It offers its platform at https://wordpress.com for free, but it makes money from customers like me, who pay for their premium package. I expect they make a little extra from me when I purchase my domain through them as well. In any case, once you pay for software, or pay an annual subscription fee to use an online platform, upgrades ought to be at user discretion. After I sign up, the vendor does not get to tell me what I have to use.
Yet when vendors have a strong enough market position, they can do exactly that. I can self-publish a book at Amazon, then see Amazon de-list my book with no notice, because it violates some standard of content they made up. That has not happened to me, but it has happened to many other authors. We all know about the numerous people who lose their accounts at Twitter and Facebook because they violate the companies’ latest so-called terms of service. Former President Trump can tell you about Twitter’s market power, both when he had an account, and now that he does not.
Interestingly, no one knows how many individuals Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and others have de-listed, how many accounts they have suspended, revoked, or otherwise made unavailable. Note that when they take such action, authors lose their content. They cannot back it up in any practical way. They say that nothing you post to the internet ever dies. You can lose your job decades later for something you posted when you were fifteen. If you do something to get yourself de-listed, then your content disappears. No one will ever find it after you disappear.
I am gradually getting used to the new interface, and I see WordPress try for small improvements as they go. Tumblr’s interface is versatile, I will say that. It is designed for quick posts. I believe WordPress went to a block editor because it is well adapted to larger, conventional websites. They did not want to be identified only as a platform for bloggers. For me, quick posts done on the fly, while I do other work, fit my daily and weekly routines. I do feel bad, having maintained The Jeffersonian for so long – with a loyal audience to read these posts – that I post to this site less often than before. Do check out The Jeffersonian at Tumblr for the daily posts that I enjoy writing.
Well, WordPress’s block editor does make it painless to incorporate Tumblr posts here at the original Jeffersonian, so that’s what I will do. I used to migrate text from Twitlonger, then massage it here at the main site. That was a pretty laborious process. I spent a lot of weekend time in revision, plus time in the evenings for original composition. With all the activities and unexpected things life brings your way, one looks for ways to stay productive, and efficient. As Steve Jobs said in his Stanford commencement address, “Death is life’s great change agent.” You develop a sense of urgency when you remember that. I suspect Jobs knew he had pancreatic cancer when he said that.
Let’s sign off with something a bit more humorous. Here is Winston Churchill on the subject of death:
I gather, young man, that you wish to be a Member of Parliament. The first lesson that you must learn is, when I call for statistics about the rate of infant mortality, what I want is proof that fewer babies died when I was Prime Minister than when anyone else was Prime Minister. That is a political statistic.Winston Churchill
Now let’s bring in a few of those Tumblr posts I mentioned.