A safer web
Finding a way break even hosting brian-ross.net means finding ways to monetize the site. The damn cookies, the tracking cookies, show up and introduce a privacy problem I am going to fix. Heres my commitment to do so.
I haven't created brian-ross.net to get rich. I don't expect to meaningfully supplement my income. If I had a business plan it could be summarized as "don't spend too much money". Finding a way to more or less break even would be nice.
Unfortunately finding a way to more or less break even (cover hosting, software licensing, domain registration, service subsciptions, etc. associated with brian-ross.net) means finding little ways to monetize brian-ross.net. And monetizing can easily lead to some form of privacy invasion for my visitors (and self).
I will make it a priority to make brian-ross.net a transparent and safe place to visit. I don't promise it is now; I use google analytics and have a facebook page.
What is the safe state of brian-ross.net
I'm just getting started and pretty much have no readers. If you're reading this, well, welcome, and thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate it. I hope you've found something interesting or informative here. It really is a personal journal right now (and a rough one at that). I surely understand if you never come back.
I probably should be focused on content strategies. What is it I can share that will get people here? But, that's not entirely my natural inclination. I've been more focused on the tools available to the modern day blogger / content creator. The following table is a list of the key tools and services I'm using. This is a fluid list. Some things, I'd like to swap out for kinder, safer tools. I'll surely add some things too.
|Tool / Company||What It's for|
|Ghost||The blog platfom. It's great. No bloat, clean platform for publishing, a great community of theme builders and a pretty easy system to customize. It does have some quirks, but they're OK.|
|DigitalOcean||My Host; a super simple and pretty cheap way to host this site. That's an affiliate link that get's you a $100 jump start over the first 60 days.|
|gsuite.google.com||GSuite / GMail - the beast. It's obviously ubiquitous, not free and they clearly make lots of money off our use of their free and not free services. But, if you want to sign up for GSuite with the link above, have at it (ironically, it's an affiliate link). I'd like to move away from google all together and am seriously considering and currently evaluating protonmail.com|
|Google Analytics||My use of this is what makes has inspired me to be more mindful of the services I use. I will be replacing this with a self-hosted deployment of https://matomo.org. I'll write more on this once it's done.|
|Zapier||IFTTT on steroids and for a fee for crossposting and automation. This probably isn't necessary, but it's pretty cool.|
|Amazon Affiliates Program||If I talk about the product and you want to get it, well, I'm hoping to make a buck|
That's mostly it. I also have a Twitter account and Facebook account dedicated to this content creation. I left Facebook personally over 5 years ago and hesitated to go back and am regretting it now.
So - what does all of this mean? Right now, it means Google and Facebook and to a lesser extent, Twitter, drop some tracking cookies on my site. They know you visited. I don't know who personally visited (but they do). But, I know somebody in San Diego visited. I know somebody in Ashburn, VA visited. With gmail, well, wow, they can and do read my emails (well, there servers do).
That big bunch of data helps them profile who I am and what I'm interested in. It helps them profile who you are and what you're interested in . Perhaps, or likely, they create a virtual network of people with whom I communicate to determine things we all are likely interested in. It's all super creepy.
Also, the affiliate links can be leveraged for some creepy data mining. And when a company could be creepy, certainly when a company can benefit from being creepy, one should assume they are being creepy. I'm going to endeavor to be a better steward of my use affiliate links soon. For now, I try hard to disclose their use.
The Future State
So, my feeling is: it's all pretty unnecessary. And I have a pretty simple rule: don't be a creep. My "don't spend too much money" or "earn enough money to come close to break-even" business plan can probably be funded in ways that don't feed the beast. It's not like I've realied any revenue w/ these tools right now.
So - I'm assessing alternatives (starting with Proton Mail and Matomo Analyitics) and I'll post all about it here when I implement a change. I'm going to look hard at my use of Facebook too. Is it a necessary evil? Probably not.