the KItTY rule for online presence

some portuguese pipes again and another one of those weird traditional dances

more and more we share online. we share thoughts, emotions, ideas, photos, friendships. don’t get me wrong, i love sharing. but sharing has always existed in many ways and even online it has gone through some evolution. though i’m young, i’ve been a “netizen” for over a decade now, and i was fortunate enough to go online when it was mostly personally driven: animated gifs, funny personal webpages “this is me”, shitty search engines that forced everyone to spend hours browsing to find anything useful. luckily, this has changed. we now have faster, easier ways to connect to each other. this doesn’t mean they are new ways, since before the internet people made their “social networks” in other ways

one of the main evolutions of the internet has been the change into big business. being online back in the day meant you had a server, or at least some access to a server. universities, companies, allowed people to have their own personal webpages. they didn’t need ads because there were no infrastructure issues. webpages were simple, and people shared what they were passionate about. it was klunky to post, so it was common for articles to be lengthy and for pages to have a lot of very detailed information

but then, money joined and soon there were banner ads and big companies making money off people’s interactions. this was the beginning of the commodification of personal interactions. instead of making and elaborate description, i’ll illustrate with an example

let’s say that today you want to share something with your friends. since calling would cost you money and email would probably take a while, you’ll just post it on facebook. nothing wrong with that, right? it’s easy, fast and everyone (that wants to) gets notified. but as soon as you post, when your friends read it, they will read it with contextual ads. what you posted, no matter how naive or plain, will cause your friends to check it and with it, get ad exposure. whenever you share online, unless you own your website or your server, someone will be monetizing what you’ve done. no matter if it’s personal, deep or shallow. your thoughts are being monetized and your popularity among your peers exploited for profit

some might say that this is fine, the service has to be paid somehow, right? wrong. the internet works so that everyone can run their own server and above all, share with everyone else. fuck, even RSS has made federation easy. so it’s not that we’re stuck with commodification, we’re just lazy to do the extra work or shy about asking someone to help us

i’m not writing today to lecture anyone into anything. i believe people have the right to make their own decisions. what i’m proposing today, instead, is a different way of being online. i’m not the only one that feels a kind of “social network disgust”, as if in some weird way, we know we are being exploited. but i have a simple proposal that i call KItTY: Keep It To Yourself. sharing is excellent, if you have something to say. if all you are doing is contributing to the global random noise, then i don’t think sharing is good. a book i recently got, you are not a gadget by jaron lanier, makes a good case about how we’ve become a culture that praises the poorly performed and the amateurish.

i believe that it is important to keep things to ourselves until they mature enough that they are interesting and meaningful. because if we don’t, our contributions to society will become fragmented and disconnected

it is not important to post every picture you took when you traveled. it is important to post what was meaningful for you when you traveled. but one cannot extract meaning from things without building narratives, thinking about things, and above all, keeping most things to oneself. that’s what lets life experiences mature like good wine, that they are corked and not left out in the open. only after they have matured, they become good to our taste

this is my last post in my country, and this serves as a warning too. i don’t plan to make reports of what i do, because i believe in KItTY, keeping it to yourself. if i find something meaningful and interesting, for sure i’ll share it

if you don’t want to be sold out, just learn to KItTY!

my careto costume

despite the song being from galicia, this is a nice video of the northern mask traditions.

even though i’m not from there at all (only if i trace my roots) and didn’t grow up the tradition myself, i decided to prop up my act with a costume.

i’m still not sure about the mask, but this one is just a small sheet i can fold into my bag. i like the wooden ones better but i couldn’t carry them on the (several) planes i’ll be taking.

as many people know i’m leaving the country soon. i decided to take with me what i consider to be some of the most interesting (and exotic) features of our culture, and that in a way ties me to local national legend. to be accurate, bagpipers wouldn’t dress up like this usually, instead wearing more formal clothing. but since i’m just making my own interpretation, i’m not worried

as for the busking act itself, i haven’t been very successful, but also haven’t been practicing much. percussion is essential but i’m usually alone, so i decided on this suit because it also has some cow bells around the waist, which adds to the sound.

there are several big issues when busking with this instrument: it’s too loud, sounds creaky if not played right, and people get annoyed after 15 minutes. this means the show has to be short and dramatic. at least that’s the way i see it, since i don’t have drummers to play with me.

this volume has been a great challenge for me, since i can’t play in a way it doesn’t damage my ears and the ears of people around me if i’m indoors. since it’s so loud, people can’t come close which constrains the busking to open spaces.

the repertoire choice is also a challenge, since most people won’t recognize any song at all. hell, even the locals don’t recognize songs. i’ve been trying to see which songs people enjoy the most, but i’m trying to expand my repertoire to songs outside the standard piping traditions. one of the things i’m enjoying is exploring modal shifts with the minor as a baseline. in regular jazz we take the major as the baseline, but with a minor-tuned instrument, it’s interesting to explore which modes are easier and harder. anyway, the philosopher bagpiper, coming soon to london and sydney