a) read this blog anywhere, without being blocked?
b) read this blog on your mobile phone?
c) read this blog without images, so you can load it fast, on a dialup modem?
d) swing on a star?
Finally, I have the ways and means.
As I've written before, this blog is Not Safe For Prudes (NSFP).
NSFP means any site that has controversial editorial content without the financial clout to withstand puritanical American nannyware and blocked-site lists.
This sort of thing gets called: "inappropriate."
To give a quick example, The New York Times runs stories about abortion, breastfeeding mothers, and the occasional nude photograph in their Arts section— yet their web site can still be read at schools, corporate offices, and the San Diego Airport.
My site— and virtually every other web page that comments on feminist, queer, or non-infantile arts issues— cannot. Millions of blogs are blocked by unelected censors,who for various obscure and Vaticanesque reasons, believe such material is "not good for you." Isn't that comforting?
The NSFP-police argue that their "protective devices" are a matter of decency, or efficiency on the job. Sorry to say, it's really a matter of millions of advertising dollars— the ultimate velvet rope in American publishing.
Of course, some countries are even worse than the San Diego Airport. Even the Rupert Murdoch can't get his web empire past their censors. I want you to be able to read my blog in Shanghai without the slightest hassle!
Finally, in some situations, there's no censors to contend with— there's just no bandwidth. I know that sites like mine, filled with music, video, and big pictures, are impossible to load on a dialup modem. What's a girl to do?
I spent this last weekend in San Diego sampling the ash, and holing up in a room with my favorite lil' Lifehacker, editor/writer/programmer Gina Trapani, who schooled me in blog wizardry for a scorching 36 hours before I evacuated.
One of my big questions for Gina was how to give my readers some simple tools to hack their way through firewalls and bandwidth limitations.
I explained to her that last year I offered a prize-winning brownie recipe to a Not-To-Be-Named Famous Proxy Server Expert, who promised he would do ANYTHING for the right brownie. But he ran away with my chocolaty secrets and never sent me the code. Heartbreaking, I know.
Gina handed me a bowl or fresh grapes, and gave me some wonderful easy hacks. I'm sure some of you are so geeky-brilliant you've already figured them out, and gone far beyond such baby steps. But for innocents like me, this is a set of happy miracles.
use these hacks anywhere, not just for my site.
1. Read my blog anywhere.
This view of my blog is based on Google's cache of my page. That means it's a recent snapshot they took of my site, so it might not be completely up to the minute, but it's damn near close.
You can see everything just the way I designed it.
The one drawback is that if you click on a link, and THAT link is judged to be "unsafe" by your office network, you'll be blocked again.
However, there is an easy way you defeat the busybodies, for any URL you want to see:
Go to the Google Search box.
Type the word "cache" followed by a colon, and then any URL. Like this: cache:susiebright.com
Hit enter, and voila, the site appears.
2. Read my blog on your mobile phone, no censorship
This also works on any computer, to defeat the nannyware.
In this view, you can see the images, but there's none of my design. When you click on the links, you stay in the same "world"— everyone's site is "adapted for a mobile phone," but the advantage is that you won't be blocked by the NSFW firewalls.
You can view ANY SITE in this manner, on any computer screen, with or without images. Try it!
3. Put my blog on your iGoogle home page
I don't use RSS feeds as a rule, but I love my iGoogle home page. It has my weather, my favorite headlines, my National Geographic Picture of the Day. By adding my blog gadget, you get to see my most recent story headlines at a glance. Neat-o.
4. Load my blog FAST, without photos or other bandwidth-hogging nuisances
You can read it all, there's just no visuals or audio. If you click on the internal links, it stays the same format. External links, however, will potentially take you back to the big bad world of sound and pictures and ads.
None of these methods are fool-proof, and of course the game is always on— the censors try to foil every hack, and the hackers respond in kind. The real solution is for democracy and freedom of speech to prevail— what a concept!
Ironically, the methods I offer here rely on the simplicity and omniscence of Google, who is not always one of the "good guys" in the censorship wars. I've got letters from them myself, denying me services because I don't present "family values." I'm still coughing up a hairball over that one. Nevertheless, I'm suggesting these hacks because they're easy and practical— and they work, for the present.
I hope these nanny-spanking tools delight you as much as it did me. Gina, thank you for the Beginner's Illuminations. I'd still like to learn more about secure ways to view censored sites, so if you have a tip— or that proxy server brownie recipe that got away— please do chime in.