Friday, April 23, 2021

On Being Heard

Forever, it seems, I've been involved with communications technologies. Over the years, the focus widened to include concerns with privacy, security, and ultimately control over communications channels. Finally (maybe), focus moved to how we know ourselves through communication.

Late last night, I found some joy in getting a "matrix-synapse" server running. What's that? It's an instant messaging service -- IRC on steroids, slightly weaker than Discord or Slack, more focused on the distributed operations (resembling email delivery) and security between the users (end-to-end encrypted messages). In some circles, the most important aspect is that it is "free and open-source software:" talented people contribute their effort to make sure that the software is available freely to everyone.

The rest of the house asleep, I set my reading glasses aside, stretched my fingers and wrists, and sat with a cup of tea. It wasn't long before my thoughts came to join me: "On your network alone, you are running your own self-hosted:

  • blog server,
  • email server,
  • IRC channels for chat (old-school chat rooms),
  • pleroma server (think "federated twitter," "mastodon"),
  • FreePBX (think "office phone system"),
  • Synapse (think discord / slack),

and others. Hell, you even have ham radio transceivers on your desk with digital, voice, and Morse code keys, and antenna wires running out your window. You have every way to communicate -- some of them even bridged -- but who do you even talk to? Who talks to you?"

I have to admit, my thoughts do occasionally raise good questions... After some more thought, I am forced to admit: Most of the time I talk to no one; moreover, most of the time, there is so little "signal" that everything appears as "noise" and the technical mind drifts to find technical ways to suppress it. "If that phone rings at all, it's undoubtedly a scammer." "If that email account receives anything at all, someone scraped or sold the address and now I'm receiving spam." "If a post receives a 'like,' there's something odd about the 'person' (bot?) who took notice; let's write a program to do some analysis..."

Eventually I finished my tea and went to bed.

This morning, my thoughts found me sitting with my coffee, asking me to consider the inverse correlation between an person's "social clout" and numbers of communication paths available to reach that person. Think back to when there were first more than one social media services. Have you ever been the person with an account on each, spending time on each to stay connected with friends, family, business folks, and others, here and there? Wanting to be on one but afraid of losing contact with the others? Have you gone down the technical paths of trying to see all of the activity on one dashboard? Finding the plugins to cross-post all of your activity everywhere?

Or maybe you're one of the people with some popularity or celebrity who everyone is trying to reach? Maybe in your situation you are so in demand that you cut off all social media ties, or delegate "dealing with the public" to others.

Which do you suppose is better: to want to be heard and have no audience, or to want quiet while everyone clamors to hear what you have to say? In your own situation, can you look past your habits and come to know something about yourself?

In my own case, whatever "karma" drives me, I've learned to build communications paths. For me, maybe the value isn't in having my voice heard but in knowing how to build those paths for others.

Then my thoughts asked me what I've learned about prayer...


Ray said...

I'm much the same way, always tinkering or building and to what end, really?

I made peace with it knowing I'm doing it for the pure pleasure of building something even if it may never get used. It's in the building I experience meditation.

Plus it keeps my brain healthy. : )


Rick Matz said...

I practice because life just works better than when I don't

Unknown said...

Last night, I got voice & video running with the matrix-synapse service. There's no rhyme or reason to why; for better or for worse, it was simply the most important thing to do at the time.

My first tests? Talking to myself.

Remembering that I am always talking to myself? If I was practicing, that would probably be it. I must like how I sound when you speak, Ray & Rick ;-)

Happy Sunday :-)