The Other Colombians
Music Charts in 2021
My Music Listening Setup
It’s that time of the year again. People are sharing their top music charts from Spotify. It’s become a tradition to screenshot the results and share them everywhere. What I wasn’t expecting this year was to see a #boycottspotify happening at the same time.
Users are cancelling their premium subscriptions and podcasters are removing their catalogs from the service because Spotify’s CEO invested money on what appears to be a terrible AI company.
Is it really that simple to just leave one’s music provider? Around 6 months ago I struggled with the decision to unsubscribe from Spotify premium. My reasons were different, but it took more than just waking up one day and saying I’m done with Spotify.
Maybe is the sentimentalism of the music medium, as my playlists still live on Spotify and I couldn’t imagine them anywhere else. Maybe is the fact that I used to love Spotify, but I find it hard to hate on streaming services, even the ones I don’t even use, because they provide too much value to people in developing countries.
So I thought this #boycottspotify was all an overreaction, until Migala detailed why they’re taking their podcast down from the platform.
We can’t collaborate with a company that profits from artists to finance war.
When you put it like that something feels incredibly unappropriate about this mix of art and war.
I stopped paying for Spotify premium in favor of Plexamp. I was just rooting for a less algorithmic (is that a word? it made sense in my native Spanish) way of enjoying my own collection first and a more organic way of discovering music as there are only two record stores left in the city and I heard one of them might be closing soon. But I’ll go about music discovering another time. I’m just here to say there’s something admirable in every ethical decision, so props to those who finally quit. They inspired me to finally move those treasured playlists, and hopefully there will be time to talk about that too.
I have never tweeted much, but for a time my Twitter timeline replaced my RSS feeds. The fall and rise of this wonderful technology owes more to the invention (rip-off) of the social media timeline than to any attempt of a big company to kill it, and today I’m just recognizing myself as partly at fault for it.
You must believe me when I say in rural Colombia of the 2000s there wasn’t such thing as an affordable and stable Internet service. An hour of Internet time in the only café there was in my village was around 3 dollars which at the time was also half a day’s work worth. I remember wanting to stay online for hours but having to choose between a meal at school or that extra torrented song to burn into my CD before my time was up.
I had good months with 2 hours of Internet and not so good ones with just half an hour. Not the most convinient, but it worked. It wasn’t until social media created the need to stay online that money became a problem.
And when I think of early social media Microsoft’s Messenger is what comes to mind. By the time I made it to high school almost none of my friends had Internet at home but everyone I knew was on Windows Live Messenger and wanted to have Internet at home.
Fortunately Microsoft had a program called Windows Live Mail, I guess you can see it as Outlook’s grandfather, and back then it had this thing called RSS Feeds. Around the same time stores started selling Internet cards that you would scratch for an user and password to connect to the Internet. You had to call the ISP to set it up and for 5 dollars you’d get around 24 hours of Internet time. But if you had just discovered what RSS feeds were that translated into a backlog of articles to read and what felt like having Internet at home. Refreshing the feeds in the background and going crazy on eMule or Ares, it worked.
As Internet became affordable and social media websites made it super easy to stay in touch with one’s interests we made it here. Today’s invasive web, and tomorrow’s polluting web (👀Web3)
I guess of all the social networks out there Twitter is the one that did it for me and who needs RSS when you have a cool Timeline? For years Twitter was all I needed to check to stay “in the loop” online.
I’ve been back on RSS Feeds for almost 2 years now and I want to reverse my mistake by moving my timeline to my feeds reader. Without RSS on Twitter that’s isn’t as easy. There are of course alternatives like Nitter and feed aggregators, but those feel clumsy? Naturally, my first thought was “it’s just another walled-garden, I’m not missing on anything” and forgot about it. A couple of months have passed and I realized I was wrong. I always got value from Twitter. I actually wrote down some reasons to use Twitter.
I’m reading less Philosophy, as the professors I follow only post content there.
Congress and Presidential elections are within 6 months and the candidates are quite active on Twitter.
I miss the memes.
With all the IndieWeb hype I have to try syndication too, right?
So I started looking for a tool out there that would allow me to turn my timeline into a single RSS feed, I couldn’t find anything that did it the way I wanted so I ended up setting up 20 feeds for 20 different Twitter accounts using rss-bridge and then connected my website to Brid.gy. Not the prettiest solution, but it worked.
I was recently invited to join the IndieWeb Chat and upon joining someone happened to mention Granary. It looked like the solution to my problems, as easy as creating a Twitter list and generating a feed from it. Problem solved! but then yarr!, my beloved RSS reader wasn’t showing the authors for tweets.
With Together and Monocle being so appealing, all this IndieWeb hype at the moment and the developer of yarr! considering it feature complete software I feel it’s time to try a microsub reader.
So, IndieWeb, what reader is the “best” for my purpose here? And does anyone know how to import an OPML file into Aperture?
IndieWeb is the way
Two months ago I started implementing IndieWeb principles on my website. I use started because it has been a long process of tinkering with different tools and learning to use technologies I never expected to be using.
Naturally, the progress has been slow as I’m often running into problems beyond my skillset. However, by reaching out to other community members I’ve been able to slowly setup things kind of the way I want. Because it’s true that on the IndieWeb everyone assumes you’re a developer, but most people are nice enough to open source their code and even go the extra mile helping with one’s particular use cases.
This website’s original goal was for me to have an online presence that was fully controlled by me, but thanks to the IndieWeb it’s turning into my single Internet channel. And how can it not progress in that direction when there’s many inspiring websites on the IndieWebring alone?
What started as moving my content back to Jekyll from Tumblr, resulted in personal website that implemented microformats, used a Heroku-hosted micropub endpoint and relied on Quill to post updates. Right now everything I need to post or read online is hosted on my personal domain.
I’m using a slightly modified version of this micropub endpoint hosted on Netlify and I’m customizing a micropub client, it’s fully functional at the moment, but I’m still trying to figure out how to get it to store sessions longer (or indefinitely), it deletes them automatically after x time. Self-hosting a social reader like Together or Monocle sounds like the next reasonable step but I love yarr! too much to give up on it, so I finally put everything on a subdomain and this is how I’m posting and reading on the Internet these days:
I know there’s a lot to improve in this setup, and who knows, maybe some day, I can build implementations of IndieAuth, Webmentions, etc… or build something as cool as Tanzawa or Eagle, but as of right now, this is something I’m kind of proud of and felt like that was worth sharing here.
The Singing Brooms: Get Back
There was a time when I thought of The Beatles as the greatest Rock band ever. Rubber Soul basically redefined music for me, but these days unless it’s Sgt. Pepper’s… or Magical Mystery Tour that’s being discussed I find it hard to get too excited about them.
I’ve seen the ads and several people I follow talking about Get Back, the new documentary sheding light on the events leading to the mythical rooftop concert and the creative process behind Let It Be, a solid record with clear signs of a declining group, but also the weakest album in the post-boyband era of The Beatles.
After the uninspiring Apple documentary about The Velvet Underground, which didn’t do the New York band any justice, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this one.
There’s joy in seeing how the songs that millions now know and love developed, I also enjoyed seeing the Fab Four jamming to songs from their Quarrymen days, written and composed when they were teenagers, but I really couldn’t get pass the George Harrison underappreciation. And just to think of almost 9 hours of runtime felt exhausting.
Yoko Ono is present during the jamming sessions and the rehearsals, no other wife/girlfriend is around, to me it certainly feels wrong and while I expect that to frustrate a lot of fans my position is quite far from that of people that to this day believes she broke the band.
It’s heartbreaking to see a defeated Harrison insist on having a few softer tunes that could be tried, he also passionately explains the ideas that only 6 months later would become the first triple album in the history of music, All Things Must Pass, while raising little to no interest from the other members, yet somehow it was Yoko’s fault. Non-sense, right?
I think I would’ve LOVED this documentary 10 years ago, when the only band I listened to (and this is not an exaggeration) were the singing brooms1. Today, a single episode of Get Back and the countless and deeply personal Beatles related musical memories are enough.
I can’t finish without saying no person should go a lifetime without listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, or Magical Mystery Tour. Seriously.
Las escobas que cantan (the singing brooms) was the title of the first Colombian vinyl pressing of Meet The Beatles. ↩
For the past month I have put more hours into this website than I ever have. I didn’t make huge changes in the design, there’s isn’t much to do anyways as my colorblindness and a pinch of paranoia have led me to settle with black and white as the “trusted colors.” So I’ll stick with it. I did, however, made sustancial changes on how the website (me) interacts with the interwebs, but this is not a post about the my website setup, who needs another one of those?
I must say however that it took me more than I expected to implement IndieAuth, microformats, webmentions and eventually a micropub end-point, but after a weekend of trial and error, I have finally done it.
Why did I even bother? Well, the motivation for these changes came as I dived into the IndieWeb, and the above mentioned are building blocks, the technolgies and design-patterns on which the project is built on. The truth is I am fascinated by this community of people that refuses to let the tracking giants take over the whole Internet and they do so by owning their content. How come I didn’t find them sooner? I don’t know.
Even though I always owned my content by keeping all posts and pages stored as markdown files and in recent years by owning a domain name as well, two months ago I had decided to let Tumblr host my presence online, crazy to me now that I’m so determined to maintaining it independently for as long as I can.
But you know what’s the best about this whole “journey”? I’m revisiting a warm and fuzzy feeling I thought long lost in the memories of the late 2000s, it’s the joy of finding an inspiring and personally crafted website. For me the best thing about the IndieWeb is discovering people that are using their website as an extension of their personality and not just sharing words on a generic online profile that depends on the decisions of corporate people.
The IndieWeb has inspired me and I’m here to stay.
All of this is to properly say:
Less of "Less"
I have always advocated for using apps and tools that are open source and focus in the privacy of their users. I used to go as far as finding a self-hosted alternatives for every app I considered essential.
After years of an always open source unless unpractical philosophy and running my own Linux server I’ve given up on it and reduced significantly the number of tools I use on a daily basis.
Looking at what life became during the pandemic I hoped on the detachment train and disappeared from the Internet.
Even though it’s been 3 years since I deleted my Facebook account and one since I stopped using Google services altogether it wasn’t until I didn’t have a computer that I truly felt disconnected.
With no notifications nor social media all I really needed was a web browser and that fit in my my first gen iPhone SE.
I considered this such a radical change that I thought it deserved to be documented.
I took these screenshots back in December:
Here are a bunch of tools/services I considered absolutely essential back then and how I replaced them.
- Thunderbird → Tutanota
- Beets/Tauon Music Box → Spotify
- VLC → Plex
- Foliate → Kybook 3
- Fluent Reader → Yarr → Feedly
- Eddie → OpenVPN
- Jekyll/Github/Netlify → Tumblr
- Visual Studio Code
- Oh My Zsh
- Forza Football
I rarely have something to say but whenever I do Tumblr gets it out here, it supports custom domains and brought the most special person to my life (but that’s a story for another day), so it’s become my hosting platform of choice and even though I’m restarting my vinyl collection, Spotify flexibility and flawless import of all my playlists throughout the years was worth the subscription.
I guess everything does fit in here:
A Longer Year
It’s been a year since I last posted something personal to the Internet. Little has happened really. Much like everyone else the pandemic vanished me, each quarantine disconnected me from the machines and the people that made me love or hate living.
However, each quarantine also brought along a new sobering layer of solitude and I realized I had nothing to say so I quietly removed myself from the Internet, lost all the connections to realize only a year later that everyone is online. Because everyone’s got something to say, everyone wants bits of attention.
This post might seem at least half a year late but this therapeutic experience called 2020 was a longer year because in many ways, for many people, it hasn’t ended yet, I’m wrapping it up once and for all just now. I’ve been humbled by this strange experience and after a year of isolation (and still with not much to say) I really feel like there needs to be more of me out here.
And those years spent in uncertainty and fear were all a joke
We’ll just look back and laugh about it, ha!
In Heaven - Dick Stusso
That’s how much I’ve spent in lockdown. Going out once or twice a week just to get the essentials.
I suppose like most of the fortunate ones I’ve gone through all the quarantine stages. I caught up with the reading list, ran out of Seinfeld episodes to re-rewatch, escaped cofinement through melted walls and enjoyed the privilege of comfort in these times.
I stopped complaining and entered a lethargic state filled with uncertainty.