No longer rocket science

Yesterday evening, I attended an excellent Zoom video lecture by author and conservationist Mark Cocker on the subject of crows. It was the latest in a series of lectures organised by The Last Tuesday Society. Cocker spoke for about an hour, then took questions from the online audience. I managed to sneak in a question of my own about ravens flipping upside-down while flying and cronking. There was also a Facebook page where attendees could hand out and discuss the presentation afterwards.

The talk was loosely based on Cocker’s wonderful book Crow Country. There were a lot of crow fans in the audience. Apparently, over 800 tickets had been sold for the event.

This was the latest in a small number of online, video-streamed events I’ve attended during lockdown. I’ve enjoyed them very much indeed. The fact that people who are, in effect, enthusiastic amateurs can now netcast live events to a global audience is pretty mind-blowing. It reminded me very much of the early, golden days of blogging. As an Information Systems strategist at the time, I confidently predicted blogging was about to take over the world. It did for a while, then the likes of Twitter and (especially) Facebook arrived to throw a spanner in the works. It could be argued the social media giants were simply the next, logical step in the blogging phenomenon, but I can’t help feeling they went out of their ways to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

We’ve come a long way technically since I watched the events of 911 unfold on Dave Winer’s Scripting News blog, while all the traditional media websites crashed under the unexpected load. Back in those days, even having a blog was an immense technical challenge (a challenge I was determined to, and soon did, overcome). To save bandwidth and cut load times, images on blogs were either non-existent, low-definition, or tiny. Audio was pretty much unheard of. Video, a distant dream. Now we have podcasts, and video blogs, and live lecture series being published by people from their smart-phones and laptops.

This has to be a good thing, and I’m really glad enthusiastic amateurs are putting out such great content. But I still miss the days when blogging was going to take over the world. Before the likes of Twitter and Facebook turned up on the scene. They haven’t quite won yet, and I think the backlash will continue to build. I’ll keep using them, of course—primarily because that’s where most the people I want to hang out with hang out these days. But I’ll also stubbornly continue to put out (and shamelessly link to) stuff on my own websites, because that’s where I feel any original ‘content’ I generate rightly belongs. And because I’m pig-headed like that.

Get your own websites, people! It’s no longer rocket science.

Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. He is currently working on a book about looking at the world through Darwin’s eyes.Website · Newsletter · Mastodon · Facebook


  1. Leon says:

    That’s cool, Richard, and I picked this up from your RSS feed rather than Twitter, which I only very occasionally dip into these days. There’s a burgeoning website scene out there built on old-fashioned RSS and email newsletters. I just wish the folk I used to chat with on Twitter would all go back to their websites.

    1. Thanks, Leon. Wow! Someone whose RSS feed I subscribe to subscribes to my RSS feed… It’s like the 1990s all over again! Your recent post mentioning POSSE-ing partly inspired this post. I hadn’t heard the term before, but I’ve been making a conscious effort in recent months to post more of my stuff on my own websites and use Twitter, Facebook, my two newsletters, etc, at proxy RSS feeds. Like you, I wish more people would do that. Keep it up!

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