I first started to develop the Afallen website in October 2018, as we were starting to move from the concept of our Partnership, to the reality of communicating our ideas to the world.
In 2018 the options for creating elegant websites were somewhat fewer than today. The basic wordpress functionality made it difficult to produce bespoke aspects of design, so we opted to use a commercial theme.
Fast-forward to 2020, and a number of things have changed, in the world of web design, but also more widely in our understanding of issues surrounding surveillance capitalism and privacy.
The new WordPress content management system – Gutenberg – has certainly not been without its critics; but the latest iteration allows for custom design and drag’n’drop type functionality, in a way which allows us to mirror the design of our previous website, but with a much lower code-base.
Privacy, surveillance and a ‘free’ web
In the 18 months since our first website was launched, we’ve become much more aware of data-mining, and the extent to which large corporations collect (and use) data on us as individuals.
This information can be used in unscrupulous ways to micro-target individuals, in some cases with misinformation in order to try to solicit actions such as voting for a particular outcome or candidate.
By using something as innocuous-seeming as Google Analytics, organisations are helping to maintain and strengthen the ability of private organisations to influence and direct our public discourse – and even our voting intentions.
That’s why you won’t find any tracking code on our website. In truth we never changed what we were doing based on our analytics anyway, so there will be zero impact on our operations. But there will be a minuscule reduction in the amount of data that Google – and others – are able to collect, as a result of your visit here today.
There are two other important improvements that arise from our change of theme.
Firstly, our website is now more accessible. Whilst not being perfect, it is much easier to navigate and read, because we’ve dispensed with a bunch of code that was necessary to create and place the elements that made up our previous website.
The other advantage is that the website is now able to automatically output new blog posts to the Fediverse, via the Activitypub plugin.
In other words, each of our posts will find its way to a (potentially) global audience via Mastodon and other federated networks – which will help us to reach, and influence, people everywhere.
So – a very warm welcome to our new website. And if you want to find out more about why we do the things we do, take a look at our values, or meet us over a coffee to talk about how we can help you in implementing sustainability and well-being. Privacy included as standard.