As the saying goes, an expert is somebody who has committed every blunder in his or her discipline. It should be 'her' discipline as I have finally made it. I can prove via two similar but independent (and surreal) events.
1) The Subversive Element's website had been hacked. Well, not quite, as it was the same web server but the URL pointing to The Element's so-called business identity.
Paranoia and panic was mitigated by the curiosity of the nerd. The Element spent countless hours dabbling with Google Webmaster Tools. That is: Not only clearing Google's cache from spammy URLs, but also with scrutinizing all data available, for all websites including also the elkementary blog. And there we looked into an abyss:
2) Google's love for the elkement's blog was dwindling - by a factor of 100 within a few weeks.
But what an opportunity: Conspiracy theories running wild. In two blog postings, presented to THE INTERNET at a global level:
Of course I want you to click these links. The anatomy of a hack part is perhaps interesting. After all, I can still consider it correct, given most recent findings.
This does not apply to the elemental theories on Google. Here is the final explanation, in an incredibly brief posting, by elkement's standards:
- [2015-01-23] All My Theories Have Been Wrong. Fortunately!
tl;dr: All WordPress.com blogs had been gradually migrated to https only in the past months. In Google Webmaster Tools you need to add the https URL as an additional site. My traffic was tucked away in statistics for the https URL.
Facepalm, Tim Green from Bradford, Wikimedia.
This article has originally been cross-posted to all of elkement's sites (e-stangl.at, radices.net, subversiv.at). These are questions worth some subversive thoughts. The Element is webmaster of a growing universe of weird sites since 1997. The first site was even a commercial one. Crafted with MS FrontPage 98, no less. The Element's Alter Ago, Elke Stangl, tries to answer all of them in the following meta analysis. (I am still looking for more levels of self-reference here - suggestions welcome!)
Since 1997 I have been maintaining personal and business websites but I haven't joined the social media borg cube(s) before 2012. You can find a brief overview on all projects, that is a collection of icons plus some more or less funny comments here.
Here I try to keep track of why I am doing this, and I only comment on those pages or blogs who I consider a project of some sort.
My personal blog elkement.blog is where I finally try really hard to unite all the things again that have been scattered across different sites before, and across different parts of my life - probably of my very self. I am quite satisfied with the structure I have added in April 2014 - main 'category' pages that list individual posts.
This kind of structure is probably what I would have wanted to achieve by splitting my personal space into three distinct realms in 2002:
e-stangl.at: an ancient predecessor of the modern About page. It always got more serious than I wanted it to be - especially the German pages. But this is probably because I have outsourced the fun parts to the subversive site, and it might have triggered that idea that I absolutely have to run a bilingual site. I am still baffled by my on unwillingness to translate - I either write something in German or English, and only with utmost discipline I do translate it. I rather let it rest and write a different and only losely related version in the other language.
Before the Subversive El(k)ement had its own blog, it had its own site: subversiv.at. This was inspired from quotes from The Cluetrain Manifesto about subversive hyperlinks, and it alluded by weird split responsibilities as so-called corporate IT manager on the one hand, and as a supporter of subversive webmasters of 'non-compliant' sites on the other hand. Over the years I have added many layers of meaning to that.
I re-discovered the joys of playful nonsense, wordplay, self-referential comments disguising my ambiguous opinions. This can be seen as what later was to become Search Term Poetry and Spam Poetry. Today I re-use such poems from my blog and enrich them with German translations on the subversive site.
My science & technology site radices.net should focus more on content and less on my personal woes. I was not successful with respect to the latter. Started as a German-only page the effect of over-solemnity was probably worse. I think it did get better after I was done with soul-searching and heart-wrenching career changes - and writing about those with hindsight.
In autumn 2013 I decided this site should become home to the grey area between my interests and hobbies - e.g. as a amateur student of quantum field theory and dilettante science writer - and those parts of my professional life related to it. Translated to English I called it my Practice in Natural Philosophy tongue-in-cheek. But since I can't help but preferring to write about science an philosophy in English, the German site was / is more or less a link dump - using links from my English blog, and our German 'company blog' (see below).
I got hooked again on classical cryptography and IT security - and I finally want to start what I had had in mind but never did some years earlier: Finally 'curate' all my favorite resources, document interesting anecdotes, and in general give back something to a community that had helped my out so often - when I found the much-needed solution via the ultimate oracle, Google. So I at the beginning of 2014 I mainly updated the PKI pages.
But this was not for a German audience, but for an international one. My English blog postings on security are what I really wanted to write and these should be complemented by a Resources page. I finally did it - I turned made this website into a a bilingual, too. The English version hosts nothing but the PKI stuff, and thankfully radices means Roots and there is something like Root CAs. Totally coincidental as the original intention was to re-connect with my roots as a scientist.
My business page is where I / we pretend to be serious. However, our rather peculiar diverified portfolio as I like to call it, thwarts these attempts (hopefully).
I said we have a business blog (though it is not necessarily discernable as such). Here it is: punktwissen.blog. You can see our work there, sort of, and we use a story-telling approach (And I am trying now to use a sounding-like-business approach). These are the stories of us, the two settlers, who tell their stories about physics, renewable energy, and our related adventures.
The punktwissen blog is successor to the legendary z-village.net site, bringing news from the village at the end of the internet to the internet community. This page was maintained solely by Somebody Doing Anything Nobody Wants to Do - I was (am) just the programmer.
And there was a grand, 'corporate' version of the quaint little village, this was (is) EPSI - a prestigious middle European Think Thank dedicated to: Elementary research, painting blogs, collecting space and doing something.
Now you know.
All the other social media stuff is tangential, ephemeral and fleeting.
This site contains a messy collection of allegedly original creative texts which are most likely unintended plagiarisms of really subversive thinkers. This might be true for all pseudo-subversive websites but I do admit it.
The investment in the domain subversiv.at was found to correlate unambiguously with the exposure to a subversive business book: The Cluetrain Manifesto.
I am now plagiarizing myself:
The website – and the book is a call to the people of earth and puts forward 95 theses, the first of them being Markets are Conversations.
You might say: Yawn. That’s web 2.0 – so what? And the site exhibits HTML design from the last millennium.
But bear with me and remember (people of earth) that this was 1999. Back then I was in charge of “managing” some of those infamous web projects and of operating “compliant” corporate web sites. That is: Theoretically I should have disciplined anarchic web site builders and force them to use the corporate CI. Above all, they should refrain from ordering a domain and web space elsewhere, circumventing “corporate” and setup their subversive departmental website. On the other hand I should have – theoretically – motivated people to add some content to the zombie corporate content management system nobody wanted to use.
But dictatorial directives – “All Web pages must be formally approved by the Department of Business Prevention” — throw cold water onto all that magic-mushroom enthusiasm. (Quote from Chapter 1)
Markets are conversations, and conversations between genuine human beings are at the heart of business. Corporation that ignore this are doomed.
In a nutshell that’s the message of the book, and in contrast to its deceptive simplicity, this is not one of those business books (if it is a business book at all) that make you think that an article in a magazine would have been sufficient to cover it all. The reason is that Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger tell their stories instead of stating a message. This makes the book remarkably self-consistent.
Continue reading here: Burn the Org Chart – if Not the Organization – Down to the Ground
These comments on ancient German newsletters (or: newsletter necro) are part of The Website Resurrection Project. Although the Element is now also blogging - using state-of-the-art blogging software, the Red Pages are still maintained. This is very Zen: Pseudo-blogging without a chance of receiving any feedback.
The original newsletters are more than 8 years old, and it is hard to understand what in hell was on my mind when I had written those.
In case of Newsletter No. 3 it is a bit easier as the core story is a narrative related to a technical glitch that happened in exactly this way in the so-called real-life.
In 2004 we had just overcome the era of the internet being SKAWEE-REWEERT but The Element still used an ISDN line as a backup for its ADSL connection. Which was a blessing.
The Element was very ambitious and operated its own Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 in 2004, that is: an Active Directory Domain Controller and a Microsoft Exchange mail server on the same box. The box was located in a very secure closet in the "data center"- a cupboard in the toilet.
This server downloaded e-mails every 15 minutes from the hoster's mail server via POP3 via ADSL and the download was limited to 2.5 GB per month.
Now another subversive entity sent an 18.5 MB invitation the Element. This took a while - more than 120 seconds. Now the hoster's mail server did not exactly follow the specifications (Internet RFCs) for POP3: Downloading was considered idle time and after 120 seconds idle time the connection was terminated. Recommended as per specs: 30 minutes.
The server has been configured for deleting e-mails after successful download. Since the download was never successful this e-mail had never been deleted. But every 15 minutes it tried to download again and failed after 120 seconds.
Why didn't the Element discover that before the download limit was exceeded? Because it was on vacation but wanted to have an option to access its own server via Outlook Web Access from the internet. No kidding. Warning e-mails by the ADSL provider were sent only a few days later. But the elementary internet traffic was back to the dialup ISDN era for the rest of the month.
The Elkement has recently put forward a theory: Its life is cliché and some googling does prove that.
It has been proposed that there is a huge community of people (Netizens) who would share the following characteristics / properties / hobbies:
- IT security
- Interested in the history of science
- Star Trek fan
- Douglas Adams fan
- Douglas Coupland fan
We are now going to challenge this, and we will ask Google. As Scott Adams has pointed out correctly the internet is nothing else than the consciousness of an omnipotent being, once splintered and now reassembling itself.
- Searching for "physics" "IT security" "Star Trek" yields 5 out of 10 hits on page one that can be associated with The Element. Actually 2 more elemental links have been pushed down to page three since I wrote the German version of this article two days ago.
- "physics" "IT security" "history of science" yields 6 elemental page 1 hits.
Similar results can be achieved with nearly every combination of key words listed above.
So my advice is: If you are frustrated about being cliché:
- Write an article about those attribute
- And enjoy your page 1 Google hits.
- Subversive Newsletter Nr. 5: A Mind-Altering Experience
- Subversive Newsletter No. 3: Internet Apocalypso
- Subversive Newsletter No. 2: On Self-Reference
- Subversive Newsletter No. 1: On Subversion at Large
Online since the early 90s. Yet The Subversive Element might be an impostor netizen.
I have never discussed in Usenet, learned programming on a C64, or compiled a Linux kernel. Even worse, I used Microsoft Word instead of LaTex with all my scientific publications, and the first website of my own was a commercial one.
Yet I feel I have the right to call myself a netizen. The vague definition of this term allows for misuse anyway.
I probably turned into a true netizen again because of my trepid (non-)adoption of the interactive web 2.0. So I could have been an avid open course keep-the-internet-free-of-commercials activist.
The Element has instructed the Element to post on that more frequently. I am using Web 2.0 as a platform for discussing why I am so not fond of web 2.0 unequivocally.
A netizen is an inhabitant of the internet. Everybody knows that today. Back in the golden times of the internet a netizen had to be an expert. A navigator through a new world, a world that existed only for the technologically adept. It comprised dark corners and caves.
Dark corners do still exist today. If you want to explain to paranoid technophobes why the internet is cute and harmless despite cybercrime you ought to say: It is just like the real world.
So everybody is a netizen. If the Know Everything Oracle (Google) does not find any content related to you - you might be something special.
You might be a Realizen probably.
So does the famous and legendary Subversive Newsletter. There were times when the Element used to spam a group of people with self-referential e-mail content. People were forced to subscribe because at that time mass e-mails have not been illegal yet.
Since the Element is subversive but also anxious and paranoid to the extreme at the same time, it has stopped its activities. Maybe it will continue in a more subversive way, such as by writing newsletter but not sending them.
Subversive newsletters have been dedicated to a selected group of recipients and have been written in German. There is no point translating them [*]. Yet the Element takes to chance to move to the spectator's meta level and comment the newsletters in English. Comments are carefully crafted in order not to reveal the true content.
The Element likes to rage and rant about a anything or anybody getting into its way. This also holds true for it pervious self, so the Element's comments are self-destructive.
[*] But of course the elkement tried: