We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or watch how democracy is being gamed and broken. 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.”
With a focus on new models in business, technology, society, policy, processes, etc. I present my public service internet newsletter.
Ian thinks: Lancaster University’s short about smart homes, is a design fiction which is fun, informative and enjoyable to watch. Sure some the living room of the future and petras workstream had a influence?
We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the state of democracy around the world and closer to home. 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.”
With a focus on new models in business, technology, society, policy, processes, etc. I present my public service internet newsletter.
Ian thinks: Mozfest moving out of London a few days before Brexit is ominous, however the strategy of moving location every few years is a good idea for all including Mozilla. Learn more and get involved
She also reminded me about the web3 summit, which I wish I could attend but always felt like I might not be quite the right person for it. I look forward to hearing what comes out of it however because its clear as Jutta says
…The first time I interacted with the web like everything was open and somehow that was the the perception like we now have this great tool and sort of thought like it’s not this these closed intranets. But it’s the information superhighway we can do whatever we want but what happened really over the 30 or so years afterwards was we replicated or built a ton of intermediaries that basically sit between us and anybody we want to interact on the with on the web online, be that through what’s that when we text to someone through Facebook, venmo, whatever you use you buy anything there’s always an intermediary for something that really should be a general p2p interaction. So the problem with this really is what’s underneath this and what led to this mass these mass centralization and of power and data in the hands of very few people is the fact that we had to do this in a very centralized way because this is just how the Internet technologies of where to work so we have an underlying architecture with centralized servers where all the data is gathered because of network effect the power accumulates and accumulates, and this is a very fraught way of doing things because you have a central point of failure and that was massively exposed by the Snowden revelations I mean partly because also backdoors are built into it but partly because it’s it’s centralized architecture…
So with no further ado, heres the first of maybe many.
We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the new Prime Minster. 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.”
Ian thinks: The Chinese social credit “system” is discussed everywhere especially when talking about the other end of the scale from surveillance capitalism. Republica’s panel discussion about its actual implementation today, debunking some myths and brought everything in sharper focus from a western view.
Ian thinks: Jamie King’s podcast with episode with Sean Tilley of We Distribute (and formerly the Diaspora project) about the early days of Diaspora, a open source Facebook alternative which was even talked about by myself. The interview picks up a gear when talking about the Fedverse which is all the rage as a viable alternative for the next generation internet
Ian thinks: Nice follow on from the interview with Sean Tilley, there is a very detailed document from Chris Hughes one of the founders of Facebook. About the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook as a social network. The document proposes how to “Defeat” Facebook with trust, transparency, controlling broadcasting, eliminating horrors, killing the real names policy, etc.
Ian thinks: You hear it all the time, but this is a nice summary of a lot of the different aspects which leads to the conclusion that our traditional notion of privacy is dead or dying? The important part is the linked datasets and the consistent need to surveil for those companies business model rely on surveillance capitalism.
Ian thinks: Jonathan Zittrain introduces the term “intellectual debt” to the table while thinking about the accountable of AI. Screams algorithmic literacy supported by more transparency, governance and accountability. Jonathan makes some good comparisons how we didn’t understand how Aspirin worked till 1995 but was commonly prescribed and used.
Ian thinks: When you open source anything, there is always the chance someone will do something with it you don’t like, want or could even be illegal.This is the latest example of how the spirit & diversity of open source is being tested. Mastodon’s federated model has ways to deal with this but its not foolproof and still not palatable for its creator and supporters.
Ian thinks: Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s working draft document for the future web is open for review till September 8th. Is the aim is to have one shared contract for governments, companies and citizens realistic? I encourage all to complete the form to feed into the process
I mean the W3C was pushing for the semantic web, more rdf, more linked data and xml structuring.
Down with XML, down with linked data, rdf and the very idea of the semantic web – uggghhhh! (or something like that? I can hear you all say!).
Well hold on, remember how the web started? Remember the foresight which kept the web free and open. Insights like SVG when the proprietary alternative of flash was ruling the web. I for one really liked XML and the suite of technologies which came along with it. XHTML was a joy to use once browser vendors got on board and sorted there act out.
I was there during the fight from HTML4 to XHTML 1.0. Still remember fighting about Microformats vs RDF at BarCampLondon2 and to be fair WHATWG was likely right at the time but they didn’t have the foresight of looking further into the future. The semantic web was a big vision but whats the big vision of WHATWG now?
My fear is handing the web over to mainly browser vendors will lead us back to where the web was at during HTML 4.0. A mix of unspecified bits and bobs which rely on native browser capabilities. Whos fighting for accessibility, i18n, l10n, old systems, etc, etc? My only hope is because the w3c only handed over control of HTML and DOM, they will double down on CSS and ECMAscript?
I want the web to move forward and I know there was a lot of tension between the W3C and WHATWG but they kept each other honest. Handing the web over, I fear will ultimately make things worst for all?
Just RSVP’ed (did it via this post and via a webform) to IndieWebCamp Berlin. Its the first one I’ve been to and I have massive professional and personal interest in Indieweb technologies. Its such a big thing I added it to my new years resolutions.
Explore the future of decentralised and distributed systems
This one is a combination of 2 of my previous resolutions. Exploring the future of online dating with decentralise more. So more mastodon and more exploring Indie web technologies like Bridgy and Kinds. I’ve been really interested in these things for a long while.
I’ve been looking for a way to create SMIL files with an editor for a while. Main reason being to speed up the creation of creating podcasts for the Perceptive Podcast client and make it easier for those who don’t understand markup/code.
One of the techniques we deployed during the Visual Perceptive Media project was to export final cut xml out of final cut/premiere pro then transform the lot with XSL/Python/etc to something else more usable. Its something I’ve had in mind for a long time, as you can see with this paper/presentation I wrote 12 years ago.
There was a point when Wmas, could create an editor for our director/writer (Julius) or allow him to use tools he was familiar with (non-linear editor like Finalcut/Premiere). Of course we choose the latter and converted the final cut xml (which isn’t really an official spec) into json using python. We were able to use markers and zones to great effect, indicating the interactive intentions of the director in a non-linear editor. This meant the intentions can exist and run completely through to the very end, rather than tacking it on at the end.
So with all that in mind, I started thinking if I could turn Audacity into a editor in a similar way? Is there a final cut xml format for audio? Thats when I came across this article which made perfect sense – Audacity files are just XML documents, sooo…
Just the title ignited my mind, the actual content of the blog is less interesting but I realised I may have a free & open-source editor which runs on every platform and with a bit of XSL magic could be the start of the editor I was looking for? The idea of it being a pipe, which leads on to more is something which fits in the bigger pipeline chain
This might seem as quite a shock to a lot people use to the moderation/gatekeeping of centralised platforms, especially while browsing through the list of mastodon servers to join.
Generally a lot of the people in the Dweb (decentralised web) world understand the advantages and disadvantages of decentralised based systems including this. But it can come as a shock to others who have rarely come across anything like this. I would say this is like the red light district in Amsterdam. Its there if you want it, its better/safer for the those involved and its easier for law enforcement to do their job. Consider this happens regardless is important to note.
Of course it totally depends on the media, content, etc… Theres a sliding scale from stuff which is totally illegal to things which are more questionable depending on your culture, faith, etc. Mastdon has ways to not just filter but also block and ban things. The join an instance is ideal because it sets the tone and makes explicit the rules of whats tolerated and whats not. This gives transparency to the users and should stop things like the Facebook blocking breastfeeding policy.
I do understand its off putting to new Dweb users but like the Cloudflare daily stormer censorship or the British porn block, theres a serious lesson to be learned. Lets not kid ourselves, simply hiding it or pushing it underground will ultimately make things worst for everyone. Law enforcement works much better when there’s cultural and societal norm against the something. This is why the war on drugs has been and always will be a unwinnable war.
Some people believe that decentralization is the inevitable future of the web. They believe that internet users will start to demand more privacy and authenticity of information online and that they’ll look to decentralized platforms to get those things. But would decentralization be as utopian as advocates say it could be?
If I had some money from all the people who sent me details of Tim Burners-Lee’s Solid I would have enough to buy a cheap flight to somewhere in Europe with a cheap airline.
Solid is meant to change “the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance – by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.”
Solid isn’t a radical new program. Instead, “Solid is a set of modular specifications, which build on, and extend the founding technology of the world wide web (HTTP, REST, HTML). They are 100% backwards compatible with the existing web.
The comparisons between Solid and Databox have been asked by many and I would certainly say Databox (regardless of its name) isn’t a place to hold all your personal data. You could use it like that but its more of a privacy aware data processing platform/unit. I remember the first time I heard about Vendor relationship management (VRM), it was clear to me how powerful this could be for many things. But then again I also identified Data portability as something essential while most people just didn’t see the point.
Everything will live or die by not just developer support, privacy controls, security, cleverness, but by user demand… and it feels like personal data stores still a while off in most peoples imagination.
Maybe once enough people personally experience the rough side of personal data breaches it may change?
You’re one of 125,929,660 people pwned in the Apollo data breach.
In July 2018, the sales engagement startup Apollo left a database containing billions of data points publicly exposed without a password. The data was discovered by security researcher Vinny Troia who subsequently sent a subset of the data containing 126 million unique email addresses to Have I Been Pwned. The data left exposed by Apollo was used in their “revenue acceleration platform” and included personal information such as names and email addresses as well as professional information including places of employment, the roles people hold and where they’re located. Apollo stressed that the exposed data did not include sensitive information such as passwords, social security numbers or financial data.
Till this is a everyday occurrence, most people will just carry on and not care? Maybe theres even a point it should be part of the furniture of the web, like the new grey?
First time was from Gregor Žavcer at MyData 2018 in Helsinki. I remember when he started saying if you have no control over your identity you are but a slave (power-phased of course). There was a bit of awe from the audience, including myself. Now to be fair he justified everything he said but I didn’t make note of the references he made, as he was moving quite quickly. I did note down something about no autonomy is data without self.
This looks incredible as we shift closer to the Dweb (I’m thinking there was web 1.0, then web 2.0 and now Dweb, as web 3.0/semantic web didn’t quite take root). There are many questions including service/application support and the difficulty of getting one. This certainly where I agree with Aral about the design of this all, the advantages could be so great but if it takes extremely good technical knowledge to get one, then its going to be stuck on the ground for a long time, regardless of the critical advantages.
Its over 14 years since the dataportability project was founded by a bunch of well meaning people including myself. It was a challenging time with vendor lock, walled gardens and social guilt trips; to be honest little changed till very recently with GDPR.
Data export was good but user controlled data transfer is something special and one of the dreams of the data portability project. Service to service; not because there was a special agreement setup between the services but because you choose to move of your own freewill; makes so much sense.
In 2007, a small group of engineers in our Chicago office formed the Data Liberation Front, a team that believed consumers should have better tools to put their data where they want, when they want, and even move it to a different service. This idea, called “data portability,” gives people greater control of their information, and pushes us to develop great products because we know they can pack up and leave at any time.
In 2011, we launched Takeout, a new way for Google users to download or transfer a copy of the data they store or create in a variety of industry-standard formats. Since then, we’ve continued to invest in Takeout—we now call it Download Your Data—and today, our users can download a machine-readable copy of the data they have stored in 50+ Google products, with more on the way.
Now, we’re taking our commitment to portability a step further. In tandem with Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook we’re announcing the Data Transfer Project, an open source initiative dedicated to developing tools that will enable consumers to transfer their data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it. Download Your Data users can already do this; they can transfer their information directly to their Dropbox, Box, MS OneDrive, and Google Drive accounts today. With this project, the development of which we mentioned in our blog post about preparations for the GDPR, we’re looking forward to working with companies across the industry to bring this type of functionality to individuals across the web.
However! The devil is in the data or rather the lack of it. As the EFF point out theres no tracking data exchange, the real crown jewels. The transfer tool is good but if the services don’t even share the data, then whats the point?
Before I headed on holiday, I got a message from POF then OKcupid a day later, saying they need the request from the email which is on the account. Fair enough, so I forwarded each email to that email address and replied all to myself and to them but from that email account address.
A few days later I got emails, first from POF and then OKCupid.
You have recently requested a copy of your PlentyofFish (“POF”) personal data, and we’re happy to report that we have now verified your identity.
We are attaching a copy of your personal data contained in or associated with your POF account. The password to access the personal data will be sent in a separate email.
By downloading this data, you consent to the extraction of your data from POF, and assume all risk and liability for such downloaded data. We encourage you to keep it secure and take precautions when storing or sharing it.
The information contained in this archive may vary depending on the way you have used POF. In general, this information includes content and photos you have provided us, whether directly or through your social media accounts, messages you have sent and other data you would expect to see from a social media service like POF.
Please note that there is some information we cannot release to you including information that would likely reveal personal information about other users. Those notably include messages you received on POF, which are not provided out of concern for the privacy of the senders.
You have recently requested a copy of your OkCupid personal data, and we’re happy to report that we have now verified your identity.
We are attaching a copy of your personal data contained in or associated with your OkCupid account. The password to access the personal data will be sent in a separate email.
By downloading this data, you consent to the extraction of your data from OkCupid, and assume all risk and liability for such downloaded data. We encourage you to keep it secure and take precautions when storing or sharing it.
The information contained in this archive may vary depending on the way you have used OkCupid. In general, this information includes content and photos you have provided us, whether directly or through your social media accounts, messages you have sent and other data you would expect to see from a social media service like OkCupid.
Please note that there is some information we cannot release to you including information that would likely reveal personal information about other users. Those notably include messages you received on OkCupid, which are not provided out of concern for the privacy of the senders.
OkCupid Privacy Team
So on my train journey from Stockholm to Copenhagen, I had a look inside the Zip files shared with me. Quite different, I’d be interesting to see what others will do.
Forrester, I – POF Records.zip
UserData.json | 6.2 kb
UserData.pdf | 40.5 kb
Profile_7.jpg | 30.1 kb
Profile_6.jpg | 25.0 kb
Profile_5.jpg | 17.4 kb
Profile_4.jpg | 18.8 kb
Profile_3.jpg | 26.6 kb
Profile_2.jpg | 11.7 kb
Profile_1.jpg | 30.7 kb
Ian Forrester_JSN.txt | 3.8 mb
Ian Forrester_html.html | 6.6mb
As you can see quite different, interestingly no photos in the OKCupid data dump, even the ones I shared as part of my profile. In POF the PDF is a copy of the Json file, which is silly really.
So the Json files are the most interesting parts…
Plenty of Fish
.POF don’t have much interesting data, basically a copy of my profile data in Json including Firstvisit, FirstvisitA, etc to FirstvisitE complete with my ip address. I also can confirm I started my profile on 2012-01-25.
Then there is my BasicSearchData and AdvancedSearchData which includes the usual stuff and when I LastSearch ‘ed and from which IP address.
Nothing else… no messages
OkCupid has a ton more useful information in its Json. Some interesting parts; I have logged into OKCupid a total of 24157 times! My status is Active? My job is Technology? The geolocation_history is pretty spot on and the login_history goes from July 2007 to current year, complete with IP and time.
The messages is really interesting! They decided to share one of the messages, so only the ones you send rather what you received. As the messages are not like emails, you don’t get the quoted reply, just the sent message. Each item includes who from (me) and time/date. There are some which are obviously a instant massager conversation which look odd reading them now. In those ones, theres also fields for peer, peer_joined, time and type. Its also clear where changes have happened for example when you use to be able to add some formatting to the message and you use to have subject lines.
Some which stick out include, Allergic to smoking?, insomnia, ENTP and where next, The Future somewhat answered, So lazy you’ve only done 40 something questions, Dyslexia is an advantage, But would you lie in return? No bad jokes, gotland and further a field, Ok obvious question, etc.
Next comes the photos (My photos, no one elses)
"caption": "OkCupid's removal of visitors is so transparent, I don't know why they bothered to lie to us all?",
"status": "Album Picture Active",
"uploaded": "2017-08-08 19:16:20"
Of course the images are publicly available via the url, so I could pull them all down with a quick wget/curl. Not sure what to make about this idea of making them public. Security through obscurity anyone?
Now the images strings seems to be random but don’t think this is a good idea at all! Wondering how it sits with GDPR too, also wondering if they will remove them after a period of time. Hence if the image a above is broken, then you know what happened.
Then we are on to the purchases section. It details when I once tried A-list subscription and when I cancelled it. How I paid (paypal), how much, address, date, etc… Its funny reading about when I cancelled it…
"comments": "userid = 7367007913453081320 was downgraded to amateur",
"transaction": "lost subscription",
The big question I always had was the question data. Don’t worry they are all there! For example here’s just one of mine.
OkCupid has received your recent request for a copy of the personal data we hold about you.
For your protection and the protection of all of our users, we cannot release any personal data without first obtaining proof of identity.
In order for us to verify your identity, we kindly ask you to:
1. Respond to this email from the email address associated with your OkCupid account and provide us the username of your OkCupid account.
2. In your response to this email, please include a copy of a government-issued ID document such as your passport or driving license. Also, we ask you to please cover up any personal information other than your name, photo and date of birth from the document as that is the only information we need.
We may require further verification of your identity, for example, if the materials you provide us do not establish your identity as being linked to the account in question.