I'm having an interesting conversation (actually it started as a request for help) about a self-hosting case. Or rather: concerning a girl (at least, so it seems from her avatar) who would like to do, after all, a very simple thing. Having "his" instance of WordPress, enough "his" to be able to read the logs and extract some information.
But the important thing is that he would not want to give anyone else (google analytics, for example, which seems the standard backend of any wordpress plugin) the data, and process it alone. So far so good, you say (who are generally IT-wise people): what does it take? Do self-hosting, or buy a server on a cheap cloud and you will have everything you want.
But the trouble is that the girl in question is not a system administrator. In IT terms, she lacks the know-how to do it herself. And here the point begins.
I'm not saying that it's enough to do self-hosting to escape google, facebook & co, for heaven's sake. However, if this person wants to have control over a certain set of data (after all, Google Analytics might decide to censor the reports and not let them see anything they find uncomfortable), why can't they do it?
Lack of knowledge.
By speaking with her I am realizing the complete impotence of those who do not have basic computer skills, in a world dominated by IT. If in a pre-it world, a person without schooling could still grow basil on the balcony, cook a meal, fix a dress, repair their bicycle, clean their home, and had some control over their life data, the the same person who decides to "swim" on the internet is completely helpless.
The digital citizen is COMPLETELY impotent.
An interesting objection might be that I am overestimating my power. Maybe there is no difference between me and anyone else. After all, the supply chain behind my "self-hosting" (someone has to produce the hardware, has to deliver it to my house, I have to download the software, so I have to have an internet connection, etc.) certainly does not suggest a real independence.
But the fact remains that what is impossible for this girl is trivial: having control over the data she wants. And be sure to process them in the right way, rather than having to trust google that maybe censors them.
Of course, it may be that Google manages to have a copy of the access logs to this blog. There are so many ways he could watch you this way, that I have no doubt that he's indexing your visit. But the point is that the access data that I have I can read them all. I don't need google or wordpress to know who enters, from where, and what search strings he used: and if these strings enter my logs, there is no way for Google Analytics to censor strings that it doesn't like.
I think you need to get tested to understand the importance of this girl's case.
Then, an important member of the US Senate made a speech on September 13, 2019 entitled "ten good reasons to close google and arrest the CEOs of Alfabet, and to prohibit the activities of the silicon six ". The video runs on the internet, just like the text.
Homework: find the video and listen to it in full.
What are you going to do? Well, you don't find it. You went to Google and google doesn't see any videos. You went to Bing and Bing doesn't show up. You went to Youtube and Youtube does not appear.
So, you deduced from it, such a video does not exist.
Um. Why don't you surprise me?
DID YOU REALLY GO TO GOOGLE TO ASK TEN GOOD REASONS TO CLOSE GOOGLE AND STOP YOUR CEO? AND YOU ALSO ASKED HIM WHICH POLICY / PARTY TO SUPPORT IF YOU WANT IT TO HAPPEN?
And what did you expect? While you were there, you could also ask him for a virgin in sacrifice, or a slice of ass close to the bone. (it is the Bolognese way of indicating the pound of meat of the Merchant of Venice https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shylock ).
So, suppose someone found this blog looking for "ten good reasons to close google and arrest the CEO", do you expect this to result on my "google analytics"?
So the girl's request is much more powerful than it seems: the problem is not to prevent google from having surfers' data. His problem is to have ALL the data ONLY for himself. And if you think about it, it is very political, in the sense that to build a monopoly it is not enough to have a complete resource: in the digital world, where data is copied , to have a monopoly you need not only to have all the data, BUT ALSO PREVENT OTHERS FROM HAVING A COPY.
So yes, the request of the girl to have all the access data of her blog in raw format, to do what she wants, (including deleting them) is a POWERFUL request. He is asking for power. Having a COPY of the data that google has is also power, because it takes away from Google the monopoly on that data.
But here is the point: without the proper knowledge, the internet user is much less powerful than, I know, an illiterate peasant from the 1600s, who at least could plant an apple tree if he wanted apples.
Another example is the idea of running a self-hosted social network. The point is that surely google & zuckerberg can index their contents (and they certainly do), but what they CANNOT do is have my logs on users, who visit social, because I have them, and I delete them continuously. So tracking, not of what I write but who the readers are) is rather difficult. But especially, they don't have THE MONOPOLY of that data, because I HAVE A COPY.
And the issue of monopoly is important: if you give the same data to Youtube and TikTok, in practice the data is not Youtube monopoly, therefore it is not a competitive advantage against TikTok.
Now, when I say that knowledge is power I am not making a meritocratic speech: I am only saying that in the past world (past in the sense that it no longer exists, at most it coexists with the present world) the minimum skills of an individual ( washing, cooking, cultivating something, repairing something, building something) were such as to allow him a certain degree of freedom.
On the contrary, in the absence of system and computer knowledge, the internet user is completely impotent.
To make a comparison, imagine having to buy everything. To need someone to clean your house. To need someone to cook. To need someone to get dressed. To need someone to iron. To need someone to wash you. Not to know your home address because it changes every day. Not being able to receive mail in your home but having to use a company.
In reality these are the conditions of a paraplegic who lives inside a trailer driven by others.
And this is the condition of who is a user without knowledge today.
This is no longer a matter of meritocracy, sorry. It is a matter of survival. Even the user who goes on a mastodon or pleroma pod, believes he is doing a revolutionary act, but does not realize that he has only changed supplier with one that he considers more ethical, or more comfortable . The revolution for third parties is not a revolution: it is just a coup d'etat. But regardless of the political discourse, the point is that going on a mastodon pod managed by others the point remains that: the data you generate remains ONLY to someone else, but NOT YOU. Apparently the rebel has got what he wants.
But his state of impotence remains.
Without knowledge there is no power: today as today the knowledge needed to self-host anything would be considered the minimum in order not to be, in the digital world (which will not go away), the equivalent of a paraplegic who lives in a caravan that does not drive.
You can barely look through the windows if anyone opens them.
Today as today, reaching a MINIMUM level of knowledge in the IT field, such as "installing a blog" or "installing something P2P to share a file" should be a matter of human rights, because without those in the digital world you are only larvae .