Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2022)

Re:publica 22, is this the real life

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed reading about how Conti ransomware has issued in a new era and as always the sorry state of social in the Scientific America and the FT.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with Mozilla rolling out total cookie protection worldwide, EU making USB-C the standard for mobile and the recent gains in Quantum technology.


The silence is deafening on Roe vs Wade

Ian thinks: America’s decision on Roe vs Wade is deeply shocking but can you hear the silence from the tech companies who are on the very sharp end of this all. Very few public announcements, even today.

Those scams are always there

Ian thinks: The new griftonomics podcast is something wotth subscribing to. In this episode there is a genuine discussion about how laws must catch up with the new range of cyrpto based ponzi schemes.

Re:publica is always worth the wait

Ian thinks: Re:publica is one of those conference full of thoughtful conversations. Its mainly in German but most have been translated into English and captured in a playlist.

The real issue is open vs closed

Ian thinks: The consistent bashing of RSS in podcasting has recently gotten pretty bad. Dave cuts right to the heart of debate and outlines the advantages of ownership.

Ending a monopoly is almost always a good thing

Ian thinks: I’m always interested in how the mainstream picks up subjects like tech monopolies. Jon Oliver would have made Cory Doctorow pround with well thought out arguments, many we could use.

W3C’s Ethical web principles

Ian thinks: I was not aware of this till someone pointed it out during a meeting. Really positive to see it develop and who is on board with these core principles.

Google is never far from controversy when it comes to AI

Ian thinks: What is it with Google and AI? LaMDA is a curious tale but there is a much deeper problem of AI Bias which hasn’t been picked up by the other outlets in connection with the story.

Enough of the Web 3, its all about Web 5 now

Ian thinks Jack Dorsey’s raves about Web 5 is quite something. Although easily ignored as bluster, there is tiny bit of sustenance which shines some light on other community efforts. Just ignore the crypto stuff and focus on the decentralisation.

All about DIDs

Ian thinks: Talking about Web5 and other community efforts, Decentralized identifiers or DIDs is something the W3C have been working on for years. Explaining them is difficult but this does a good job trying to covering most questions.

The W3C become a public interest non-profit?

Ian thinks: Its a mouthful and I did wonder whats broken? But then reading through the future changes from a speed and adaptability point of view. It all started to make a lot more sense.


Find the archive here

The excesses of Berlin’s club culture?

I found this documentary by DW quite a find, especially with my early history of clubbing in Berlin just before the millennium.

I have heard so much about Berghain, which I have never been to but remember it being called something else (Ostgut/Snax?). It certainly wasn’t a place I was that interested in going to as a young twenty old to be fair.

The drugs is something worth talking about. I remember going to raves and the absolute dangerous politics around drugs testing. Its not ideal but with the drugs laws as they are, anything to help drug users make more informed choices is important I would say. I remember spending lots of time in the rave first aid rooms (mainly with a asthmatic attack) and seeing ravers who have had spiked pills, overdosed, etc. I couldn’t understand how the laws could be so mindlessly and badly written in the face of reality.

Would Jennifer and Carlo have made the choice to take the ecstasy knowing the dosage was so high? Who can say? But I like to think they might have reconsidered taking two?

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2022)

This land is your land

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed reading about the not well known dangers of databrokers, likewise the surprise? inequality effects everyone, and hearing the details of Facebooks paid smear campaign,

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with the power of community, Reddit’s /place working together and different ways to do notifications.


Community door deliver fills in gaps

Ian thinks: This reminds me of the community WiFi initiatives, which filled in the gaps of big internet companies which refused to support smaller communities. However I can see these growing, with the backlash against generic speedy delivery systems.

The metaverse’s architecture is simply lazy

Ian thinks: In my recent Mozfest session about the metaverse vs public service internet. I was highly critical of repeating the same mistakes of the physical world in the virtual world. I’m not the only one.

Lessons for a metaverse

Ian thinks: On a similar note, there are plenty of lessons for virtual space creators, but I wonder how many are actually paying attention?

P2P fashion renting, focuses on the community

Ian thinks: Not my usual interest but shrinking fast fashion’s carbon footprint is interesting. However its the community focus and peer 2 peer model which elevates it into this line up this month. Expect this business model to be duplicated over and over again.

Sunshine technology

Ian thinks: This BBC Click episode is focused on solar technology and there are some impressive developments. The limits are made clear but frankly I’m reconsidering my next pair of headphones.

Channel 4 sell off shows the misunderstanding of public service business models

Ian thinks: Much has been written about the recent announcement to sell off Channel 4 but the misunderstanding of the business model of Channel 4 isn’t just embarrassing but shocking that people assume the model is one way.

Leap frogging with 3D printing and communities

Ian thinks: I always liked the idea of leap frogging in tech but things tend not to stick unless there is influence from governments or a ground swell of community support.

Secrecy as a means of monetization?

Ian thinks: The joy of tinkering, making, and sharing is part of the human condition. In modern times, this creative freedom too often is stifled by secrecy as a means of monetization – from non-compete laws to quashing people’s right to repair the products they’ve already paid for.

Twitter is not a digital public space

Ian thinks: The whole Elon and twitter saga is simply boring, and I do not buy Elon’s idea of Twitter being the public square. Paul’s piece sums up some critical thoughts around this all.


Find the archive here

What do you value most in a friendship?

Question on screen. Question: What do you value most in a friendship? Answer: When Ian Forrester gives chocolate ;-)
Question: What do you value most in a friendship? Answer: When Ian Forrester gives chocolate 😉

Seen completely out of the blue while in the Mozilla/BBC Ethical Dilemma Cafe last week. I had to do a double take when I saw my name.

Question: What do you value most in a friendship?
Answer: When Ian Forrester gives chocolate 😉

The screen was part the ethical dilemma, where people use a QR code to register for free hot drinks but in return they need to answer personal questions getting more and more personal/intrusive the more hot drinks you have.

Do I know who wrote the answer?
Actually I do not, but I have a small number of people who I do think it could be…

Ethical Dilemma Cafe Manchester through the window

Look out for a full blog post in the next few weeks.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (April 2022)

 

EULA for the Ethical Dilemma Cafe

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Apple’s lack of regard for the Dutch ACM, understanding the motivations of young people hacking now and people being reminded about cafe working etiquette

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with people dumping their smartphones along Cloudflare providing a free webservice firewall and Twitter joining TOR


Mozfest Ethical dilemma cafe Manchester tickets are now live

Ian thinks: Understanding the ethical dilemmas we face every day online has always been difficult to explain the harm. Putting them into physical spaces really brings home the dilemma. If you are in Manchester in late April, grab a free ticket and join us.

Rallying call for a equitable digital public space

Ian thinks: Reading this piece, I couldn’t help but think about the digital realm with the ever growing divide between rich/poor. Not only with money but time and knowledge The digital divide is live and sadly growing..

The inspiring documentary about internet life for young people in the Netherlands

Ian thinks: I was able to watch the whole documentary at Mozfest this year and was impressed with the different methods used by parents and young people working with the current internet.

Who is really looking at the infrastructure of a metaverse?

Ian thinks: Found via this years Mozfest while talking about the metaverse vs the public service internet. The folks at Matrix, are building a truly interoperable infrastructure for a real metaverse.

WordPress is the dark matter of the web?

Ian thinks: This good interview with Matt Mullenweg, WordPress founder and so much more. Really makes clear how wordpress is not only greatly estimated but also its positive impact on the web.

Indigenous teachings finally influencing our sustainable future

Ian thinks: People turning towards the deep learning from indigenous people is a good thing. I would like to see much more of this sooner rather than later,

Its all about the Scenius?

Ian thinks: I first heard about Scenius at Mozfest this year, Brian Eno coined the term to summarize how communities not individuals are responsible for innovation.

Europe makes its intentions very clear with the Digital Markets Act

Ian thinks: The EU’s Digital Markets Act is a very bold legal policy which could have the similar impact to GDPR? Although people can’t stop talking about opening Apple’s iMessage, its worth remembering the DMA hasn’t been fully drafted yet!

Cory and Ethan chew over a better internet

Ian thinks: A lot is covered in a short amount of time. However they both settle on the practical problems of the current and future internet. The legal battles, societal frameworks and the web3 bubble is used to chill what the future internet could be.

Keeping the Ukraine cyber secure early on

Ian thinks: The mission to harden and keep Ukraine as secure as possible earlier, has played a big role in stopping the cyber invasion of Russia and maintaining a functioning country.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (March 2022)

Flag of Ukraine

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the cyber-war alongside the disinformation war and of course the physical blood shed of war in the Ukraine from Vladimir Putin. It makes delivery drivers dancing for likes and Tinder changing prices based on personal data look even more pathetic.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with the incredible resistance from the Ukraine people along with People leaving Facebook, enzymes eating plastics and  Android getting tracking protection.


Thoughts about the digital public sphere

Ian thinks: I still find re-reading Bill Thompson’s entry into the book “Building a European digital public space“, still full of wisdom and insight for the future of the digital public ecosystem.

The rush to virtually own your home has started

Ian thinks: On the face of it, it seems like a load of nonsense but the harms are clear as you read further and consider how the big tech corps always buy the smaller startups.

Mozfest’s grand webmontization tipping experiment

Ian thinks: Adding tipping to Mozfest is going to be a interesting dynamic for the mainly virtual festival this year. To take part you just need one of the pay what you like tickets.

O’reilly’s thoughts on Web3, interesting technology but get ready for the crash

Ian thinks: Tim O’Reilly has been asked a few time for his thoughts and this piece for CBS, certainly has put the cats in with the NFT pigeons.

The technology is questionable but the community is real?

Ian thinks: I do find something of hope in this article, as it explores the community side of the web3 hype. If the community spirit can outlive the huge speculation, that might make it worth while?

The deep worry of the fact checking systems

Ian thinks: Following Facebook fact checking the British medical journal, I found the EFF thoughts spot on. Saying you are fact checking isn’t nearly enough. Sadly a lot of people assume that is enough

Faster internet isn’t the panacea for a better society

Ian thinks: Although the paper seems slightly different from the news piece, The notion of faster internet as ultimate end is a bad mistake. Infrastructure is only part of the solution not the panacea.

Friction can be a good thing

Ian thinks: Last year I gave a talk about friction-less design and how it was partly to blame for the lack of control people have on the internet. This piece adds even more impact to the lack of friction.

Synthetic biology and needs a public entity?

Ian thinks: Amy’s new book The Genesis Machine, sounds far reaching but Amy raises a lot of points about who is driving synthetic biology? I kept wondering about a public entity besides Governments and Corporations.

Matrix’s swarm mode is truly terrifying (spoilers)

Ian thinks: There is so much about Matrix 4 which speaks about the current and future state of technology and society. Clearly swarm mode activating sleeper bots from a therapist who manipulates our feelings says plenty


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Feb 2022)

Hello Chatterbox

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the Kazakhstan’s crypto boomthe Red Cross cyber attack and dare I say it the capitalist technocratic nightmare or simply the metaverse.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with seeing un-recycled plastics turned into building bricks, this years grant for the web’s awardees plans and the final death nail of Diem.


You can’t get much more decentralised than bittorrent?

Ian thinks: Although the conversation is mainly about piracy or lack of it. There is a interesting discussion about the current idea of web3 and how the protocols used in piracy are closer to decentralisation.

Software used as business strategy

Ian thinks: Although I think Gizmodo go a bit off the deep end. There is a growing number of software updates being used as a business model

Teaching AI literacy through making

Ian thinks: I love the idea of chatterbox, and the values behind the project are spot on. Just perfect for a generation growing up with voice assistants and always being listened to.

A sobering look at the colonisation of innovation

Ian thinks: This very thoughtful piece from Branch is something I think about a lot. It will have you rethinking all the recent news about space, the metaverse, web3, etc in a very different light.

Should we fix or re-imagine surveillance capitalism

Ian thinks: Ethan Zuckerman joins the EFF to discuss ways forward for public and private spaces online. Lots of mentions about the importance of interoperability

Zuckerman reimagines a better internet

Ian thinks: Ethan Zuckerman again, I found this piece a good summary of the aims, focus and projects being actively worked on with others.

Interpol ordered to remove a trove of data under GDPR

Ian thinks: There is a number of view points on this news, but its worth remembering GDPR does not apply to security agencies. Meaning the news stories are not necessarily as clean cut as the headlines say.

The EFF like the DSA but outline whats missing

Ian thinks: The EFF with their bigger interest in whats happening in Europe, outline what the Digital Services Act (DSA) got right and whats missing. Its a thoughtful blog from the EFF in Europe

Whats your plans for the digital afterlife?

Ian thinks: Digital legacy is a really messy area and this wired piece covers quite a bit before ending up in the world of Black Mirror. Interesting place for public services nonetheless.

The tech workers handbook

Ian thinks: What a selection of resources for tech workeds who decide to speak out on issues related to public interest, like the ones you will see in the press and across this newsletter.


Find the archive here

Black and British in America

Daniel Kaluuya talking surrounded by the black panthers
Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah

There is something I have observed for decades, its being Black and British. Its something got to reflect on while reading this piece form the Guardian.

The piece is mainly about American & British cultural differences which I got to experience early in the 2000’s.

I hadn’t even reached Ithaca, the tiny university town in upstate New York – my home for the next six years, as I studied for a PhD – when the confusion over my Blackness and British accent began. I was ill-prepared for Matt, the skinny white American in a cap sitting beside me on the plane. “But you don’t seem like you’re from London,” he said (I’m from Hackney, and very proud). Matt had never been to the UK, let alone London.

I got a lot of this in a different ways.

My best story in this space (which I have told too many times, but can’t seem to find on the blog) is when me and my ex drove into a fast food place in the mid-west. She parked the car and I went in to order in advance.

I walked through the door and up to the counter to order. The young short white woman with blonde hair said to me…

“Yo-yo, brother whats up? How ya doing? What can I get ya?”

In that moment, I was really confused thinking this isn’t the way to greet someone at all? And let out a “Uhhhh, what?!” in my typical British accent.

At that moment you could see the staff member’s face descend into utter confusion. The confusion was made clear as my ex followed me and made it clear what I was thinking.

Although its quite different from the Matt story, there is still something of a disconnect/confusion which is happening. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly. Maybe a light touch of stereotyping? (depending how you look at it)

I remember always being called African-American and trying to explain, nope I’m black or UK-Black. Some interesting discussions were had too.

Colston does not represent Bristol!

Remember in the summer heat of 2020 when Bristolian’s tore down the Edward Colston statue?

Well although the police did the right thing on the day, there were of course going to be arrests and in the court of peers months later, the 4 people were found not guilty.

Justice was served I’d say, but alas some would say I’m bias…

Why is healthy only associated with morning people?

Someone doing yoga in the open air
Took me a long time to find a good picture, and when I saw it I thought about someone doing yoga in the evening. Although it could be someone doing yoga in the early morning – dammit!

So this bugs me… and I can’t be the only one?

When ever there is advice on being healthy, there is the typical advice of going to bed early and wake up early. Indicating the only way to be healthy is to be a morning person? (if you don’t subscribe to the notion of morning larks and night owls then this might sound like bull to you from the start)

I’m not the picture of health but I think its something which needs a rethink?

It’s clear some people are morning people, some are night people. Heck some are evening & afternoon people. Equating this with health feels like lazy nonsense.

I understand in the age before electricity, indoor lighting and 24hour access to a lot of things (including gyms, travel, etc), it made sense that maybe healthy people fitted the profile of someone who went to bed during darkness and got the most sunshine during the day. However maybe things are different now? Especially now Owls can work the hours which fit their natural circadian rhythm. Surely the effect of trying to fit into a world made for Larks has a negative effect and so the amount of people who are healthy Owls will increase over future generations? Just a thought?

Looking into the universe
Look what you are missing out on…larks!

Maybe if I read the scientific papers, I might be convinced one way or another. Although this or this doesn’t help my case. Although… there is this and this ha!

But I’m more thinking about the perception of larks as the image of health, pictures of people doing yoga during the sunrise, etc. My nonscientific advice follows this one, should an owl try to turn into a lark?.

Whether you’re a lark or an owl, you still likely need seven to eight hours of sleep.
• If you don’t get enough sleep, what time you go to bed or rise won’t matter-you’ll still experience the side-effects, from depression to a lack of concentration to problems with coordination.
• If you break your natural sleep cycle by forcing yourself to get up early, you’ll be tired, less attentive, and not nearly as productive throughout the day.

Something else to keep in mind: Not all “high-powered” people are early risers. Though we do hear stories about tycoons who don’t need more than four hours of sleep at night, these are the exception-not the rule.

Last year, scientists discovered that our skin cells may hold the clues to whether or not we are larks or owls. That’s right: you’re internal clock may be pre-programmed to be an early riser or late-nighter. So don’t mess with Mother Nature. Go to bed when you are tired, and get up when you are well-rested. Period.

This is consistent with everything I have read to date, also begging the question I answered at the start?

Of course I wrote this at night and published it at night.

Long live the night owls!

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2022)

Mozfest 2022

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed thinking about the security & privacy of live facial recognition, Qualcomm’s always on smartphone camera and the erosion of community over convenience.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with seeing the work around better AI pictures, Lush closed down its social media accounts. and even Elon Musk & Jack Dorsey’s doubts about Web3.


Mozilla Festival 2022 tickets now available

Ian thinks: There is so much to love about the Mozilla festival and 2022 will include a virtual mozfest and a more distributed programme over months. Its exciting to be part of something special.

App tracking via tunnel technology

Ian thinks: I always found tunneling technologies like VPNs powerful ways to understand the characteristics of networks. Duck duck go’s app tracking uses the technique to shine a light on app surveillance on Android devices.

WordPress Matt’s humble thoughts on saving the internet

Ian thinks: Personally I find Matt Mullenweg one of the most humble and thoughtful people out of the valley. I would never underestimate him and the open interconnected services he’s creating. I find this profile of him clearly one to watch.

Technocultural through the eyes of black technology

Ian thinks: This talk by Dr Andre Brook is a strong talk given at Microsoft with a lot of pointers to positive alternative technologies and approaches which benefit all minorities.

1000 true fans, back with a vengeance?

Ian thinks: Kevin Kelly’s original blog was well thought out and this follow on looking at coming technology does give Kevin’s original blog a lot of legs.

Sleep walking into an advertisers dream

Ian thinks: Although very much early days, the studies so far are alarming and needs a lot of consideration. They had me, as someone who tracks their sleep every night.

Calculating the true environmental impact of AI

Ian thinks: Quantifying the carbon impact of different aspects of our lives is critical. What I like about this is not just applying it AI systems but the different practical methods being developed.

Could Filecoin be used for more public service purposes?

Ian thinks: Within this interesting discussion, there is aspects which could be useful for the public service internet. Shame Kevin pulls Mikeal off talking about it in detail.

The Economist’s 2022 look ahead has a couple of good points

Ian thinks: These prediction type things are everywhere at the start of the year. However I did find 2 stories about African fashion and Hybrid work, had some good points.

The last word on Meta

Ian thinks: This Vice documentary pretty much sums up everything to be said about Facebook/Meta. Even includes Lawrence Lessig along other smart people.


Find the archive here

The toxic masculinity experience

Macho is bullsh*t

On Saturday something happened which irked me.

Unisex toilets have become common with cubicles for each person. They sometimes have a shared hand wash area. It makes a lot of sense, I mean how many times have we seen the queue for the female toilets, while the male toilet line is non-exist. For the trans people it cuts right through all the toilet nonsense you hear in the fear mongering parts of the media.

The cafe was closing and I popped into the toilet before going home through the pouring Manchester rain. I put my mask on, walked to the toilet and opened the door which contains the hand wash area, baby changing and 2 cubicles. As I open the door and walk through. I’m facing 4 white men and one of them has their (I’ll be blunt) dick out and the rest are fooling around, laughing. I was not impressed at all!

The only thing you respect is stupidy

I’m shocked but also very annoyed because I’m thinking what if a young person had come through the door instead of me? Heck what if any one had come into the toilet expecting to go to the bloody toilet?!

They all laugh and the one with his private parts out, jiggles around like a flipping idiot. They say something I can only describe as laddish nonsense but I had my headphones on with my mask (so they can’t see how angry I was and likewise I couldn’t hear them well).

They parted as I look at the far open door cubicle, half expecting me to play along with their disgusting stupidity . The cubicle I head towards has the door open but with another one of the men peeing on the toilet seat which is down. I hear the others laugh saying something about I might want the other one as he’s busy trying to aim for the toilet.

So I disappear in the other cubicle, lock the door behind me and use it like a decent respectful person. But during my time in there I was even more angry about everything which just happened. When I came out, the men had left the hand washing area and were sitting by the cafe exit.

As I left they said something along the lines of its funny eh? I just shook my head with my headphones on. Kind of a shame on you all, shake of the head. They were not impressed and kidded around with each other. I left thinking what a bunch of (literally) dicks.

Your whole way of life is bullsh*t

On the walk home, I thought about what I really wanted to say and maybe I should have done more. In the end I got about 5mins into my journey home and turned back to tell the cafe what happened, knowing they would likely be long gone, I was right.

I told the serving staff and they were pretty shocked but said they were getting a bad feeling about them when they complained about why everything was gluten free. One of the staff made a good point that once the door to the toilet space is opened can be seen by anyone sitting eating their brunch not even going to the toilet. We were agreement, if they ever (not like they will) enter again, they will be told to leave. There was a suggestion to look through the CCTV, but unsure if they went ahead and did that after I left. Part of me thinks this could be important as it is a crime and maybe I should have reported it to the police?

The whole thing really annoyed me but I think I handled it the best I could. The easier thing would be to lash out (I really wanted to kick them in a certain place) or worst still  play along. But I made it very clear they were out of order without getting into a dispute. Maybe I could have done more but not sure what else?

That macho enough for you?

Its been a long time since I faced such blatant toxic masculinity. I am very aware this isn’t news for a lot of women who experience flashing and worst.

I’m interested what others would have done in my position?

You might wonder why the pictures of one eight seven? When ever I think about Toxic Masculinity, I always remember how great the film is at uncovering the macho nonsense.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2021)

Morpheus with agent smith

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed how Google & Deepmind used patients data without permissionhow aesthetics has dominated technology reviews and comparing social media’s effects to alcohol.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with seeing the EU’s first steps in creating a Interoperable Marketthe open source approach to solar power and the understanding technology won’t solve the coming climate collapse.


The metaverse is a zoo and a silicon valley surveillance dream

Ian thinks: I have many thoughts about the metaverse, but there is so much about the matrix which is apt for Silicon Valley’s metaverse, Agent Smith says “I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it.” While Morpheus says “What is the Matrix? Control.” Both fitting.

The absolute importance of trust and accountability

Ian thinks: As more and more of public services go online, the absolute importance of trust and accountability needs to be established. We can’t leave it to private enterprises as you see with meta, to provide trusted services

Rushkoff & Javis’s invite to redesign the internet

Ian thinks: I like the idea of the course, the reading list is very good. With such heavy weights I’m keen to see what may come from it?

What comes after the social feed?

Ian thinks: Its good to see some early positive public research about aspects of social we all take for granted. Look forward to further development.

The goldmine of data on our phones

Ian thinks: The EFF’s latest podcast on what the police and malicious actors do with the data on our phones once they have it for a short while is quite something to hear and think about.

Is Venture Capital as harmful as we suspect?

Ian thinks: The Freakonomics give a balanced view on venture capital. I’m less positive but also hopefully with some of the details in the podcast.

Can crypto provide wealth to black communities or is it all a trap?

Ian thinks: I’m personally deeply conflicted about crypto but very concerned at how its being pushed as a way to rebuild generational wealth within the black community. Especially by the community its self. Crypto and the Neo-liberalism narrative doesn’t seem to fit neatly.

Whats the difference between Sky, Whatsapp, Anom, Signal, etc?

Ian thinks: Sky suing the US Government is a interesting point of reference, but also begs the question of whats ok and not in the encrypted messaging future.

The enemy in the home breaking relationships?

Ian thinks: The amount of IOT device in our home and their impact on our homes and human relationships is a ongoing concern, with no little good outcome on the horizon. On a similar branch Stacey outlines her problems with her IOT home.

 


Find the archive here

Those grey advertising boxes in Manchester

Those grey advertising boxes

There has been a lot said about Manchester’s grey advertising boxes. For a lot of people it will be annoying but as someone living in the city centre, having one right outside your flat isn’t annoying but damn right stupid.

The patch of pavement is already full of parked cars which you need to dodge, then Manchester council add to the problem reducing pavement space.

No wonder why people are culture jamming them.

And you can even imagine that lovely highline in Manchester. Which just got official backing. Hopefully without the advertisement…

https://twitter.com/Paul_SLG/status/1463582931243442186

Facebook’s metaverse is a petting zoo for control

Matrix Deus Ex Machina

Right, there is so much about the metaverse, I can’t help myself but comment.

Although I do love the Iceland tourist video piss take.

Lets be clear, the metaverse and what Facebook (bloody Meta) are planning is not a metaverse any one really wants. I’m calling it the corporate metaverse, as I do think there is some useful parts which are worth exploring. However there is too much which isn’t because its always described in a commercial/capitalism space.

Neal Stephenson who coined the term in Snowcrash, did proposal a virtual real estate owned by a global commercial group. So Meta isn’t that far off the mark, especially with Ernest Cline’s Ready player one making the metaverse the literal Oasis from the real world. Leading me to the conclusion that the metaverse is not a good idea for humanity.

So I thought about it and picked out some parts, framing it within mainly the Matrix.

The metaverse under capitalism

Morpheus with a battery

This is pretty damning but in the arms of a commercial company or market, you don’t need to look far to realise the Matrix has a lot of the answers.

Quoting Morpheus in the Matrix

“What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to turn a human being into this.” *Holds up a battery*

I won’t go as far as to say a battery but rather a resource of data or funding (almost a cash cow?). The computer generated dream world is apt and the control statement is spot on!

While immersed in the computer generated dream world, we can/will  be controlled. Complete surveillance of movement, emotion, discussion, everything. Something of the big data pipe dream, but within the tight (fist) environment of a corporate provider (overlord). The temptation is there to maximize all the data (batteries).

Morpheus with agent smith

Quoting Agent Smith also in the Matrix

“I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it.”

Agent Smith complains about the Matrix the computer generated dream world. What got me was the idea of it being in a zoo (although prison and reality is perfect too), and even more so the idea of a petting zoo. The animals are always surveilled and controlled with fences and systems. So much so, it changes their behavior, the way they think, react, etc.

The reason why a petting zoo is because the corporate owners allow their extra paying customers to pet/play with the animals. Remember this is on top of the on-going surveillance. Petting zoos are fun for the customers but I’d say less so for the animals?

Some will laugh but frankly I’m not the only one (thankfully) thinking this.
While the rest of the media does its cheer-leading and stone throwing of meta’s metaverse. The debate (its not really a conversation) isn’t going anywhere useful.

The metaverse for the public interest?

I have thought quite a lot about what public service elements could exist within a public metaverse (oppose to one owned by a corporate entity, although I don’t actually think this will happen because companies don’t want to share and we know monopolies are very bad).

I remember when I first came across the fediverse, which thanks to the use of interoperability at different levels, allows you to move between different instances with minimal pain. The other absolute fantastic thing is being able to have different friends on different instances and having no real differences (Just like email). Whats this got to do with the public interest? Do you think the corporate entity would be interested in supporting this free form of communication? Can the animals in a petting zoo, talk to each other?

Thinking about the Matrix (there is a loose theme here).

“Your appearance now is what we call residual self image. It is the mental projection of your digital self.”

Residual self image and portability of identity is something a public metaverse could/should provide. Your self image is something you control and manage and across different instances/nodes/spaces or within the bigger metaverse. I can see modification based on the public space, in the same way most people change the way they look at a funeral or wedding. There will be spaces/nodes/instances where rules/cultural/ethos. Similar to the way, Mastodon have instance/server level rules.

There is a ton of real/virtual places type things where I’d lean on public architecture, thinking of Jane Jacobs incredible book.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

There must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.

The metaverse must be created by everybody not just a privileged few or a corporate overlord. In a interconnected virtual space, it should be much easier to build your own and work together in a public way but this needs a lot of thought. There are lessons to be learned from our semi-democratic physical city/town planning.

With the metaverse being placed directly in the xR (extended reality) space. I certainly think its time we got to the infrastructural side of the metaverse. Everything from how data is used, how, where, etc. A long time ago I talked about X-Ray mode, so you can see the underlying data & infrastructure. Something like when Neo can finally see the Matrix code while still inside of it.

Matrix code of agents

Part of the data/code is of course the algorithms which should be public and transparent for the public benefit. Is something I’ve seen in parts elsewhere but not really in the xR space. It certainly would even up the scales. Its something we build into the living room of the future funny enough.

In summary

Although very messy thoughts, there are parts worth exploring. As mentioned at the start I think there is interesting parts to a metaverse but the corporate petting zoo is something which has become the dominate view. I see similar when people talk about social networking and social media. Their frame of reference is pinned to a dominate corporate wet dream and it clouds what it really could potentially if you start from the public interest at the core.