The matter is still unresolved: the AWS abuse team has been emailing us almost every day asking us to tell them what we’ve done to ‘address’ the complaint, ignoring the proof we sent them showing that the article couldn’t possibly have been plagiarised (we shared the Google Doc on which the article was composed and edited from scratch, with date and timestamps). The abuse team remains unsatisfied and would simply like us to act, whatever that means. From my point of view, it seems like AWS doesn’t have the room to consider that the complaint could be baseless. I also think that any organisation that doesn’t know or want to deal with editorial complaints shouldn’t receive editorial complaints in the first place. Otherwise, you have a situation in which an unknown private entity can allege to a tech company that one of its clients has violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – the overreaching American legal instrument that is the principal blunt weapon in this episode – forcing the tech company to bear down on the client to make the problem go away, without pausing for a moment to think if it’s been conned into becoming an agent of harassment. But why would it, considering so many tech companies registered in the US actually benefit from the overreaching character of the DMCA.
(It’s doubly ridiculous when these agents are Indian and based in India, and who may not be aware of the full story of the DMCA but are required by their contracts of employment to enforce it.)
The awfulness of this entire episode, still ongoing, strikes to me at the heart of questions about who gets to access the internet and how. The AWS abuse team has told us on more than one occasion that if the matter isn’t resolved to AWS’s satisfaction, they will have to remove the offending webpage from their servers. Obviously we can find a new host, but whichever host we find, the problem remains: one of the many mediators of our access to the internet, starting from the internet service provider, is the entity hosting those websites. And not just any entity but a predominantly American one, and therefore obligated to enforce the terms of the DMCA. I don’t have to point to any numbers to claim, safely, that a vast majority of the internet traffic today pings the servers of websites hosted by AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. Recently, Tim Bray blogged about what the consequences might look like if the biggest of AWS’s 24 datacentre “regions” – called simply us-east-1 – went offline. It would be an unmitigated catastrophe.
My blog has been hosted with/on WordPress for 13 years now and I’ve seen a lot of competing platforms come and go. (My very first blog was hosted by Xanga before I moved, a few months later, to WordPress.) A lot of people who like to talk or blog about blogging have expressed dissatisfaction with how some platforms “don’t talk to each other”, that they’re fans of the Quiet Web or that static sites are the way to go for the speed, security and controllability. But to me, all these concerns pale compared to the question of whether a platform will actually stay online. One alternative I’ve been referred to is micro.blog – looks nice and has an agenda that some bloggers seem to love, but will it stay online? I don’t know. It’s easier for me to believe a) that WordPress will stay online because it has been online for 15 years now – which is a long time in the Internet Universe – and because it has been both profitable and conscientious about what it does; and b) that AWS will stay online because its market capitalisation and revenue mean it’s just too big to fail at this point (as Bray has also written). Heck, of all the blogging platforms that have come and gone, one of the longest-lived has been Google’s Blogger. Google clearly didn’t spend much time on it after a point but Blogger is still around, as are the bloggers who continue to publish there. And to my mind the ‘Persistent Web’ – a place that convinces you that it’s going to be around for a long time – is a better place to be (see ref. 2).
 One of the platforms that I was really sad to see die was Posterous, which Twitter bought from the guys who built it and then killed it. These guys subsequently created Posthaven, and pledged that it would never get bought or be killed as long as at least one blogger paid to use it – except the guys have added no new features since 2017 nor updated the blog. Tumblr is pretty much a ghost city now even though its been bought by the foundation that runs WordPress, and even though it attracted a great deal of negative attention for its erotic blogs. Typed, made by a company that became profitable by building apps for Apple devices, was ridiculously short-lived. Silvrback‘s founder sold it a few years ago to some mid-level management professor who’s modified it – badly – back to the early 2000s. Svbtle is still around, and has a pledge like Posthaven’s, but is both extremely minimal in terms of its features and fairly opaque about how it’s doing as a company; also, it appears to be hosted on AWS. Medium‘s mood is just awful and doesn’t seem trustworthy as a company either, especially if you’re particular – as I am – but about not putting in with enterprises that treat editorial people badly. This is also why I’m put off of Ghost, whose maker John O’Nolan has seemed quite full of himself on occasion. Ghost itself is a great product, although it started off as a blogging company only to change direction to become a publishing company, leaving WordPress – which it sought to usurp as every blogger’s platform of choice – to dominate the blogging space. Squarespace is the sole long-lived, equally legitimate alternative to WordPress, but it doesn’t offer a self-hosted version. I could go on.
 Brian Koberlein writes here that he defines the Quiet Web thus: “Exclude any page that has ads. Remove them if they use Google Analytics or Google Fonts. Remove them if they use scripts or trackers. It’s a hard filter that blocks the most popular sites. Forget YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter. Forget the major news sites. So what remains? … Most personal websites don’t pass the test. They are either ad-driven or managed on platforms like Blogger or WordPress. But the quiet personal sites are diverse and interesting.” I think he overlooks a huge part of the internet here, comprising websites that self-host WordPress instead of using it on WordPress.com. Many of the features he ascribes to the Quiet Web can be built with WordPress – including this site you’re reading. As celebrated
web-designer Jeffrey Zeldman tech blogger John Gruber has written, WordPress shouldn’t be blamed for many of its users’ awful design choices. (Edited at 8:43 am on October 27, 2021, to attribute that comment to Gruber instead of Zeldman.)
So when someone asks if my blog will be online and accessible a hundred years from now, I’d like the answer to be ‘yes’. And while I don’t like it, AWS is going to remain one of the options to make that happen with little effort on my part. I’m not a programmer except in the tinkering sense, and still struggle to understand how websites really work (esp. beyond the application layer). Pertinently this means I’d much rather host my blog, which is invaluable to me, with an entity that knows what it’s doing rather than try to cobble something together myself that could well break or be exploited a day later. And this in turn is why I’m really going to stick with WordPress, which continues to be an excellent alternative to every other similar option, with my fingers firmly crossed that the people managing it continue to do so the way they’re doing it currently.