Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2020)

Jessica gordon nembhard

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, watching people shaming others for not working extra hard during the pandemic, employers spying on their employees and our continuing reliance on centralised servers.

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 happening with Google implementing Signal’s open source E2EE protocol and Google loosening control of the Chromium project


BBC R&D’s New forms of value research explained by MaxAlexLianne and myself

Ian thinks: Yes this is a bit meta but its great to deep dive into the cutting edge research of BBC R&D’s lab. Remember its all for the benefit of the citizens of the UK and far wider. Worth also listening to the Human Values podcast series if you want to know more about what Lianne talks about.

The Solid project hits a mile stone in development

Ian thinks: Following BBC R&D’s new forms of value, one of the key research aims is using personal data stores. Solid is one such personal data store and its hit a mile stone with a number of different partners.

Hacking society for the sake society

Ian thinks: Bruce Schneier’s talk from Tech Open Air is well worth 20mins of your time. Its a combinations of what goes into these notes. Security, privacy, hacking, dis-information, policy and the internet.

The key for securing our shared water future

Ian thinks: In this sobering Tedx talk, Seth makes clear we are running low on shared water. Seth talks about a rethink of our policy, technology and cooperation around this space.

What black ideas from the past we could take into the future

Ian thinks: Jessica and Douglas talk about how black communities already developed circular economic mechanisms and how effective they have been.

Technology always transforms ethics

Ian thinks: Juan’s thoughts are important to take in, he touches on so many points from ethics to politics. All framed within alongside technology disruption. I did find it strange he never used Brexit in his last reply about example of breaking up a nation.

An unscientific look at algorithms and my phone is still listening to me

Ian thinks: Wired magazine creates a quick and dirty test looking at Youtube’s recommendation algorithm. Plus that classic notion that your phone is listening to you.
Both are crude but if the social dilemma has taught me anything these actually help convince people

The challenges of IP in the coming world of ubiquitous game engine use

Ian thinks: Found via Simon Lumb, a real in-depth look at the challenges around IP in a world of game engines. There is also a podcast if like me you prefer audio

A musical trip into Nerdcore *explicit language

Ian thinks: Hip-hop artists talk about their reality and Nerdcore is no different. Its impressive and fascinating to hear how integrated internet & hacking culture has become in these artists life.


The archive is available here

Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?

Public value

Back last year when we could go to conferences and festivals without fear of the covd19 pandemic. BBC R&D, Mozilla and Publicspaces put on a conference during the Mozilla Festival week.

It was a great conference but unfortunately it never was written up. Its a real shame but you can understand with all the build up to the coming pandemic. So I thought it would be worth writing something short at least because it was enjoyable and full of great speakers.

We started with a keynote from Rachel Coldicutt – Doteveryone – previously CEO of Doteveryone

Rachel talked about the importance of public value, what’s at stake if we leave it to the market and the notion of just enough internet, which I mentioned previously. It was great keynote and really kicked off the day of panel talks in the right manor. Its still a shame doteveryone is no more.

Session One – Public-Controlled Data

Public-Controlled Data panel

Rhianne started the session with a look at the new forms of value work in R&D before Jeni and Katja followed in discussion with a look at the challenges facing the industry in which public controlled data can be ethically and unethically used.

Session Two – Equal Access for Everyone

Equal Access for Everyone panel

Bill kicked off the conversation looking at the important issue of inequality with Laura and Isobel looking at it from their points of view. All very enlightening with the different views coming together into we can all do better.

Session Three – A Healthy Digital Public Sphere

A Healthy Digital Public Sphere panel

Solana started things with a look at what makes up the internet heath report with Miles and Tim talking about the looking further and deep into what we mean by healthy and society

Session Four – Public Service Networking

Public Service Networking panel

Paulien kicked off the last session with a look at Publicspaces,net and their projects including the badges project. Ira followed up by exploring the notion of publicservice networking through the Redecentralize organisation. Alexandra then followed with her experience looking at the internet of things with a more ethical lens.

The whole event was very well attended and served as good follow on from the previous year. So what about this year? Well as you know Mozilla have moved the festival to Amsterdam but the pandemic has shifted things to a mainly virtual festival next year in March. Plans are a foot to follow up with something in collaboration with Publicspaces.

Bill thanks everyone

Bill Maher on leaving a cult

I was very happy to hear Biden and Harris’s speeches trying to unite right and left in America. Likewise I was impressed with Bill Maher’s restraints on hearing the democrats win, but they are both right. Civil war is the worst outcome for all. There was a lot worries this was inevitable (it might still be)

Its time to heal the nation and you can’t do that by shout down people. Bill’s comparison of leaving a cult is actually apt. Reminds me a long time ago when I tried to talk around a Scientologist called huggs. I tried to get her to think for herself not simply recite what shes been told to think. Of course it was just a late evening in London but with care, understanding and patience it really can help. All the things needed right now.

Apple and their form of privacy

Apple's smug new iPhone ad says privacy matters, just ...

Ummmm right…

I get Apple are more private about data than others like Google (which pings Android phones so much people are suing for data charges) but there is something about misplaced trust with Apple which always bugs me. These latest adverts and recent news stories say it all.

Downloads outage down issues which is all around Apples Gatekeeper privacy and Apple’s latest OS update Big sur network traffic bypass.

Of course this is all clear reasons why I’m very much in the open source camp. Maybe I won’t understand the code, but someone will and can inspect it or track down the issue without signing an NDA. I urge for people to not blindly trust. Always look out for open code, zero-knowledge security, no logging, transparency, etc

Human rights aren’t about party politics, its about morals and values

I heard the news about Gina Martin and up-skirting (or really sexual abuse) a while back but her Tedx talk is very powerful, especially her questions to all men near the end.

I was quite taken by this slide.

Human rights aren't about party politics, its about morals and values
Taken from Gina Martin’s slides at TEDxWarwick

Theres a lot of parallels with many other things including black lives matter, transrights, disability rights, feminism, etc. All transcends party politics and the endless squabbling; this is a question of human rights and human dignity…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2020)

How the fediverse deals with trolls

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the next big social network using the exact same centralised model as the existing ones; while us privileged dive into our exit pods.

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 happening with do not track being rethought and getting some legal muscle.


The curious past and future of Signal CEO

Ian thinks: Good to hear more about the mysteries figure which is Signal’s CEO Moxie Marlinspike. His views of taking back our privacy, moving systems into the public infrastructure category and making encryption the default; is quite telling looking at his past. Unlike most, he has the knowledge and system to actually implement with others the reality he thinks about.

Is scale the enemy of human kind?

Ian thinks: This interview with Marina Gorbis from the institute of the future with Douglas Rushkoff is full of status-quo busting thoughts. The centre idea is how the allure of scale is actually the main problem the human race faces.

How to fight black box algorithms together

Ian thinks: Openschufa a project which aggregates your GDPR requested financial data with others to reveal bias, is the type of services I was hoping would come out of GDPR’s data portability rules. Look forward to seeing more like this.

Decentralized Social Networks vs. The Trolls

Ian thinks: This video is excellent and one of the reasons I have always been keen to use fediverse services like Mastodon and Pixelfed. This is another good talk from the Activity pub conference

How Ghent removed cars from the city

Ian thinks: When I visited Ghent last year I did notice the city centre was very quiet from the lack of cars. I had no idea but it felt like a place to live and walk. Lessons for other European cities?

Techdirt experiments with web monetization

Ian thinks: I personally have been following the web monetization protocol and grant for the web project for a while. Even adding it to my own personal blog, but its great to see Techdirt taking up the same protocol. Web monetization is growing and growing.

The role of design during Covid19

Ian thinks: This is a impressive list of 7 design based innovations which have helped and aided during the pandemic. All very different and all inspiration.

Understand digital identity beyond self-sovereign

Ian thinks: Centralised digital identity is easy to understand, but self-sovereign identity is being pushed as the way forward. However this essay by Philip Sheldrake, really shakes up the notions of identity in a way I’m still struggling to think about now.

Facebook won’t take the social dilemma lying down

Ian thinks: I thought Facebook would ignore the social dilemma as its not that great compared the great hack or after truth, plus there are many issues. But Facebook have hit back claiming the documentary as sensationalism. Seems to have touched a nerve I think?


Find the archive here

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man and the police

Good to see Emmanuel Acho back at it…

I found this episode of uncomfortable conversations with the police quite a interesting one. Although good, it felt like there was something missing? Maybe there was a lot of outtakes or it was edited down quite a lot. What ever it was, it was intriguing but too short?

Wonder how different it might be with the UK police?

Whats really changed?

Print, The Black Experience in Graphic Design, 1968.

It was a hard read/listen but I’m glad to have read through the article which Leena suggested for me.

The Black Experience in Graphic Design: 1968 and 2020, has a number of black designers read through a hard copy article written in 1968 to see how much has changed or rather reflect on how little has changed.

As I started it was a hard read as there was a lot I recognise in my experiences as a designer in the earlier days of 2000. Like most of the designers featured, I stay hopefully too However I also listened/read the wired article – Five Years of Tech Diversity Reports—and Little Progress.

So little progressive… 

George Floyd mural in Manchester's Northern Quarter
At least george floyds mural stays in the northern quarter even today – Oct 25th 2020

Its coming up to 6 months since George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis police. One of the things I am planning is a look at all those pledges to make a change by companies to see if they actually did what they pledged.

Part of my work is to extract the data from this amazing presentation. Put into a form where others can add to it, likely a airtable, mutliple google sheets or github somehow? I think what the original authors did is amazing but it they limited its impact by not separating the data from the format. Not a criticism of course, but I could really help if they provided the data or sources.

If you can help or can point at places which might help a XML type person like me, do shout. If you are interested in joining what happens next, drop me a message.

Little update

I started a google sheet, after pretty much manually pulling the data out of the Google Slide. There’s lot of room for adding others. I’ll likely drop the sheet somewhere, so others can add without messing with the existing data.  I’m testing the protected cell feature in Google sheets, although I have a copy if it all goes wrong. This gives me the chance to mess with Airtable I guess?

The pandemic is just the start

I have been looking at the brighter side of things but also been pragmatically thinking about the future.

Its been a while since I heard from Noam Chomsky and this speech with additional footage is powerful I have been thinking a lot about the near future beyond this pandemic.

First of all, I do think we are talking about a long run on covid19, I suspect it will be Q3-4 when the vaccines actually become available to everyday people (people who are not at high risk, on the front line or anything like that). Pinning our hopes on things going back to the old normal is not going to happen. Heck even my mum the other day said this to me on our last family call! We already prepared ourselves to not spend the festive season together.

The festival season also brings to the UK, the harsh ramifications of Brexit. Something a lot people have blocked out of their mind as they focus on Covid19. Don’t even get me started about the this as its deeply upsetting and really encourages me to just leave this country.

However as Noam talks about in his speech, the elephants in the room (I would say blackswans but they are not because we are very aware of these, or at least we should be!).

  1. Global nuclear war
  2. Environmental collapse

Its clear if Trump wins another term as president of America, the countdown to both global nuclear war and environmental collapse will be so much closer than we can imagine. The election is a concern for many reasons but nuclear war and environmental collapse is something we should all be aware and thinking about; and I don’t mean disappearing into our escape pods.

We already passed the point of no environmental change but we are actively increasing accelerating things including future pandemics. Imagine pandemics are simply a side-effect of our environmental impact. That I feel gives it the real scope of the challenge in front of us.

This can all be a harsh reality kick in the teeth. But honestly see it as a kick up the ass for us all. Together we can do it but we all have to acknowledge the reality and look beyond the current pandemic.

What centralised systems could learn from the fediverse when it comes to trolls

This video from the activitypub conference 2020, is a perfect example of what I have tried to explain to friends and colleagues. The moderation isn’t just people but a system which is baked into the infrastructure of the fediverse. As the video explains its not perfect but its likely more effective than the centralised systems of Twitter, Facebook, etc.

I do remember when I heard about gab joining the fediverse and the outcry by many who didn’t fully understand how the fediverse works.

Its fascinating to see how the question, how normal am I hits home

How normal am I?

I was watching the NGI Policy Summit last week and it was good. Lots to take away but I found What your face reveals – the story of HowNormalAmI.eu. Stuck out as one of the highlights.

Dutch media artist Tijmen Schep will launch his latest work – an online interactive documentary that judges you through your webcam, and explains how face detection algorithms are invisibly pervading our lives. Can we really asses someone’s beauty, BMI or even life expectancy from just a photo of their face? After experiencing his creation, we’ll dive into the ‘making of’ and emerge with a better understanding of what face detection AI can – and cannot – do.

If you haven’t seen it, give it a try.

But I found the social media responses really interesting. It seems half the people are talking and sharing their data, while the other half are talking about the details. People can’t help themselves and compare the details although they know its bias.

Its a provoking art project and deserves to be watched fully. Theres plenty of details here once you watched/experienced it.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2020)

the social dilemma

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the endless press about Bytedance’s tiktok distracting us from the more important developments.

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 happening with people rethinking systems they are using such as Zoom for Education and android without google.


The net of a thousand lie in full

Ian thinks: Cory pretty much covers Surveillance Capitalism but then turns to focus on the problem of monopolies as the heart of the problem. He’s got a real point which he builds very nicely on throughout this free book. I know Cory’s kickstarter for the next little brother book could do with some support too.

The start of a manifesto for digital autonomy?

Ian thinks: This sums up a lot of the issues people have with technology today by seeking to empowering people, focus on privacy by design, increase legibility and avoiding lock-in. Its version 0.1, and can learn more in their talk.

Mozilla CEO urges EU Commission to double down on a better internet

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s interest in Europe is clear to see. The recommendations from Mitch Baker are well reasoned although I haven’t heard much since. One to watch for the future.

Ransomware isn’t just painful its a killer

Ian thinks: Its clear the ransomware wasn’t deliberately sent to kill but the death in Germany does raise a possible scary future. Man slaughter, murder, what would you call this?

The thriving and wilting worlds

Ian thinks: Been recently discovering Anand Giridharadas and this brave talk to the wealthy Aspen Institute criticising them is where his book winner takes all started.

How Tiktok works and how it fits with the splintered internet

Ian thinks: I wasn’t going to talk about Tiktok but I found this Vox video documentary raised much deeper profound questions about the splinternet.

Refreshing look at Citizenship

Ian thinks: Its always refreshing to hear important discussions in different places. Citizenship discussed on the guilty feminists podcast is a mix of fun and deeper conversations. Well worth listening to, always but especially this one.

New open source tool for Tracking Disinformation

Ian thinks: Mozilla are regulars in my public service internet notes and for good reason. The Social Media Analysis Toolkit (SMAT) could be extremely powerful to shine a light on the social dilemma we all face looking at in our timelines. On a related note is data futures lab launch.

Our social dilemma?

Ian thinks: Good Netflix documentary, however I felt like it wasn’t as good as the HBO’s after truth. The family sections make it more tangible but I felt the dilemma was being told the problem by creators and investors of the problems. Problematic? I’m not the only one. Also worth listening to Team Humans writer Douglas Rushkoff’s thoughts too.


Find the archives here

Orientation is far from binary

Rainbow colours
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I recently rejoined the dating world again, yeah I know…

Once I finally logged in and agreed to their new terms, I was able to get my old profile back partly using my GDPR request. Its interesting to see whats changed and how awful the dating apps have gotten (really badly money driven). Thats a whole blog to its self but I also found the options of orientation and what you are looking for really interesting.

In Okcupid I was given these options for who I am seeking.

Wow this is quite something. I generally say LGBTQA+ but I hadn’t really thought that much about the + aspect.

Being curious minded I started to look into the different spectrum’s. For example the affection orientation- sexual, romantic and friendship. Its all quite amazing but I couldn’t find a map, which would have made things a little easier to understand the relationships between each one. I did find that each one had its own flag however.

In Bumble

I made the mistake of trying to be too woke. by setting my status to cisgender male, thinking this means I was assigned male at birth and identify as male. On top of this I set my settings to seek females.

However I looking while swiping around, its clear I am getting men in my feed. Its clear its not a mistake as they self-identify as male and are not seeking other male. Even if they were, I’m seeking women. Of course I changed this twice and can not change it now. Bumble said contact them and of course I have and had disappointing replies.

Thanks for contacting Bumble

Hello,

Thanks for reaching out!

If you’re seeing users of the wrong age or gender, it might be that your filter settings are incorrect. Please check that you have selected the correct filter preferences in your settings menu.

If you are still experiencing this issue please let us know and we’ll be happy to investigate.

Emma
Bumble Feedback Team

Seriously, like I haven’t triple checked my settings! I tried a few other times but got the same reply, so given up. I always liked the idea of Bumble but found the montization model far too aggressive for a casual mobile dating user like me.

To this situation has the benefit of checking out how little effort cis-males are putting into their bumble profiles. Generally its some bad pictures and little to no text. Heck I have only seen a couple who even put some basic details down.