Mark Pannebecker IS The St. Louis Indie Book Fair

Mark Pannebecker IS The St. Louis Indie Book Fair
General Concerns

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Do you ever wonder what’s going to happen on November 3rd, 2018? I got a few answers out of the mouth of Mark Pannebecker, founder of the St. Louis Indie Book Fair and confirmed German American. Have a listen-n-learn. It’s the first episode of General Concerns from the new studio in the Tower Grove South neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

The Birth of the Internet

Happy birthday, Internet, you big, beautiful, free and open thing!

On this, the 25th birthday of the Internet, I’ll begin by saying that I’m very grateful you’ve found me. The Internet has grown to be much larger than it was when I first started using it in the 1990s, and I can hardly believe that it’s been that long since we only had telephones, two-way radios and telepathy to communicate freely and openly over long distances. I remember the hope and anticipation we felt as early adopters of the new technology, and the excitement we shared for all the possibilities it held for the spread of ideas and information (“Oh my God, our band actually has a chance!”). It wasn’t technically an American invention, but it embodied the most American of constitutional ideals: The freedom and equality of individual speech.

The growth of the Internet has, in many ways, mirrored the growth of humanity and become an apt metaphor for the human condition. Just as there are more people, more advertising and more plastic nonsense in the world every single day, so too do we have growth in this digital layer of consciousness. And, as with many groundbreaking inventions, the potential for great things to happen for all of humanity has been watered down – and now, even, legislated in America – by people who have no original ideas or imagination of their own, only a desire for wealth and power. We know the routine: They attempt to harness and control what others have created in an effort to enrich themselves, and only themselves. It happened to roads, and it’s happening to the Internet. And it’s bull.

For that reason, this is a great day to launch a website. While most people have given control of their digital voice to social media corporations, I choose to embrace and nurture the power still freely available to me in the form of self-publishing an independent Internet entity. Though the trend may be for people to produce tiny amounts of content multiple times a day for a social media platform as a user (and, I do that too), here at this secure domain, I will publish the content I want to publish, to be presented in the way I want it to be presented. That’s what the free, open internet was intended to be, and web publishing technology has come so far in the last 25 years that there’s no excuse for everyone to not have their own website.

During the blogging boom of the early 2000’s, that’s essentially what was happening. It was democratic digital publishing at its wildest and freest. Then social media began making digital presence much simpler, and more accessible to everyone around 2005. That was a good thing, at first. Some years later, now that much of humanity is on Facebook, we’re beginning to discover that the stated goal of “connecting people” should probably be amended to “connecting people in a way that benefits our shareholders,” because Facebook and other social media corporations control who you can connect with, who sees your content, and when they see it. It has harnessed your natural instinct to connect with others, and strictly controls its expression in a way that maximizes profit from data monetization and advertising revenue for its shareholders.

Technically, there’s nothing really wrong with that in free market capitalism, and we’ve given our consent for these companies to do it. But the power social media once gave to people has steadily weakened and decreased, as profit-increasing measures have changed over the years. So, for people who seek to gain more than attention, who have more to share freely and openly, and who wish to actually make a living themselves by informing and entertaining others, Facebook and other social media are not the powerful tools they could be for everyone. They are powerful tools for their shareholders. If you don’t need or want powerful tools to express yourself and share ideas, that’s fine. Otherwise, it is your duty to yourself and to humanity to embrace Internet technology in its purest, freest form by publishing a website. Be the Internet.

And so, today, I determine that is a freely accessible website, to contain entertaining and informative ideas, images, audio, music and video freely available for consumption by the world. Due to the fact that it actually costs money to produce content and publish a website, and that my body has aged out of a life of cooking and hard physical labor, I need to offset expenses by keeping downloads and a portion of my content accessible only through paid membership. That’s fair, right? Entertaining and informing you is now my job, and part of a larger production and publishing enterprise. Considering how little I charge for memberships, you could consider your subscription a form of ongoing support for a lawful, honest, small independent business.

What you will see here is the kind of website I would like to see everywhere, hopefully embodying the ideals of freedom and equality.  Just you, me, and a growing collection of original words, audio, video and images. Every membership allows me to invest more in production, and so you have the assurance that I’ll continue to put out better content in greater quantity. If you wish to engage in discussion about any of the content, you’ll need to do that elsewhere by sharing the article with others, or commenting where you see it on social media. There will be no comment sections here. Honestly, the freest, most democratic way to share your ideas and reactions to anything here would be to do it the old fashioned way:  Publish a website. Be the Internet.

And, in the words of D. Boon of the Minutemen, “Let the products sell themselves.”

Thank you for stopping by. I look forward to sharing much, much more with you as time marches on. That process begins now. I’m here all week.