Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2024)

Undersea internet cablesWe live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed while understanding the risks of wearable technologyDiscord public messages sold for profit and seeing the Investigatory Powers Bill approved.

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 America finally getting a online privacy billBitwarden and Proton giving away passkey support to all users including the non-paying ones. Finally Fairphone shows up the consumer tech industry with new levels of sustainability.


The long con of the XZ backdoor

Ian thinks: This video really explains whats known about the XZ backdoor and the Microsoft employee who saved so many in the industry from a unthinkable backdoor. The social engineering side is also fascinating and chilling.

Encryption in the age of surveillance

Ian thinks: This lightening talk is a harsh reminder of the current state of encryption law in the UK. Whittaker’s talk is aimed at the EU, which are facing similar legal objections around encryption and privacy,

Fast fashion under the limelight

Ian thinks: Not tech as such but related as I was looking at larger effects of social media on our collective conscious.

Enshitification explained in a way we can all understand

Ian thinks: When a very popular youtuber covers a issue such as enshitification, you know its hit the mainstream (plus it was word of the year last year). This is perfect to share with many other people.

Who looks after those undersea cables?

Ian think: The Verge’s piece about the importance and health of those super important internet cables is a good read and reminder of how important the physical cables are to so many.

Are we at Peak AI and can you say AI bubble?

Ian thinks: Zittrain’s recent podcasts looking at AI is worth your time. Although he use the metric of revenue & profit most of the time, there is parts across both podcasts asking about the public benefit. There is also a clear question about the problem of booms and bubbles.

Why men shouldn’t control AI?

Ian thinks: Although a very clicky headline, there are some really good points raised about the fragile egos of some men and the clear pointers to the lack of imagination and cooperation in a patriarchy. Read with a open mind.

Fediverse gets new Threads

Ian thinks: In the latest dot social podcast, Mike Cue is joined by Meta employees to talk about joining the fediverse. Techcrunch have a good cover of the conversation, Regardless of Meta, its clear the fediverse isn’t something which can be ignored.

23andMe? A welcomed update

Ian thinks: I have always been concerned about DNA testing, especially in the tech space. In this update the Freakonomics play an existing interview and update it with the very public downfall. I can’t help but think public health was ignored from the start.

You may know Transhumanism as another name?

Ian thinks: To understand Transhumanism is to understand the almost unwritten motivation of so much of the tech billionaires. Recently renamed techno-optimism, longtermism and even effective altruism, it crops up so much. Where better to listen to a critical view of it than on tech won’t save us?


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Apr 2024)

Back of 2 robots approaching the united nations

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed with Klarna’s ai chatbot 700 people foot in mouth statement, hearing the unlikely but technically possible Meta VR inception attack but Meta caught snooping on users via a VPN app they bought previously is chilling stuff

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 FCC adopting Cyber trust labelling, discussion about norms for wearables and Mozilla’s change in privacy partner.


Revisiting the dark forest filled with Gen AI

Ian thinks: A little while back, the dark forest theory was heavily mention and quoted. Followed up not long afterwards with thoughts about GenAI last year. I have found it useful to re-read it and reflect on where we are now in 2024.

Are you afraid? The race for AI robots

Ian thinks: Watching the race for AI robots, honestly makes me feel slightly defensive. Its harder to work out the real from the hype, and this video helps a lot with this. My defensiveness reminds me of a scene in War of the Worlds and the Animatrix second renaissance. How would you react?

Deep concerns about nostalgia

Ian thinks: I have always had a real problem with nostalgia and this episode of tech won’t save us really speaks about my concerns I see/hear too often.

Ian thinks: Open AI says its impossible but they are wrong, proven by nonprofit Fairly Trained and zero copyright material. Expect many more court cases around this all soon.

How the digital divide looks in the UK post pandemic

Ian thinks: This guardian short video highlights some of the deep dividing issues which are easily forgotten in the forever pace of technology

Anger and disillusionment with Ed Zitron

Ian thinks: I recently subscribed to better offline with Ed. Its refreshing to have a good informative rants about the state of the tech industry, however I found this interview with Paris a lot more constructive.

Retiring the Mozilla’s privacy aware location service

Ian thinks: Its sad news for a privacy service by Mozilla. Most major location services which end up inside of other applications/service, generally track the users. MLS went out of their way to minimise the tracking and now its going away.

Dodds is confused about SOLID, are you too?

Ian thinks: Although I’m less confused by SOLID Its worth reading the comments which include a almost confession. Leaning in on the community

Japan plan to restrict seniors at the cash point?

Ian thinks: When I first read this, I thought about what the UK does in this space. None of them use age, however there is good argument both ways in Japan. Anything to make all people think is a very good thing, when you consider the way these scams work.


Find the  archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2024)

Scene from movie Her. Main character sits on a modern bench outside talking to his AI partner

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed with fake funeral live streams on Facebookmore algorithm problems and Mozilla Hubs coming to a end.

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 Air Canada’s forced to honour their refund policy chatbot, the 4 day working week being taken forward in the UK and finally dating monopoly Match group, sued for addictive design and more.


PublicSpaces conference: Taking Back the Internet in 2024

Ian thinks: The Netherlands PublicSpaces conference is such a fascinating conference full of public internet culture. Don’t miss it this year, put a mark in the calendar for Thurs 6-7th June 2024. Not to be missed and there is a call for proposals here.

Questioning the quantified industry

Ian thinks: Previously as a quantified self person, I found this episode of tech won’t save us a struggle. However I do agree with the insanity of the tech industry trying to quantify every single thing including relationships, dreams and more. I also enjoyed the thoughtful piece by Zach

Its the microplastics which will get you?

Ian thinks: Its good to get a view of the problem of microplastics and some of the latest research. Its clear this is a huge public health issue which people and companies should spend more time on now, rather than some point in the future.

AI partners, a sign of the times

Ian thinks: Everyone points to the film Her, when thinking about AI partners. However it doesn’t even scratch the surface of whats happening with the data, the epidemic of loneliness and the real human problems as described so well in Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.

Webmotization coming to the Chromium project

Ian thinks: Just when you thought Micropayments via WebMontization was gone. Its found its way into the Chromium project which is the base for Chrome, Edge, Brave and so much more. Don’t expect a quick adoption but its positive news for one of the alternative ethical web native business models.

Filterworld, how the algorithm took over culture?

Ian thinks: This book, which I haven’t read sounds perfectly timed for 2024 and the continuing interest in underlying the algorithms. From the review it sounds like a cross between Filter bubble and Get rich or lie lying.

Build your own Bluesky instance?

Ian thinks: It was due to happen. Now Bluesky has pushed the button. This move will put more emphasis on decentralised & federated social networks, although the interoperability back and forth about the AT protocol and ActivityPub will continue.

$50,000 in a shoe box, the Amazon fake call

Ian thinks: Every-once in a while there is a scam which gives me chills. This scam story in the unusual place of The Cut, is very detailed and although the social engineering signs are there. 5 hours on a phone is heavy interrogation and every phone can be spoofed including government ones!

Encryption is a human right, in the EU

Ian thinks: Could it be true, its certainly heading that way. Which has large ramifications for many things we have taken for granted, as you will read in at Techrader.

Lockbit owned and trolled by the security services

Ian thinks: Although its quite fun to watch what has happened to lockbit, its important to remember the damage it has done across the world. This video is a good summary of the security services fun and seriousness of lockbit. if you are not aware.


Find the original here archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Feb 2024)

Limitations of RSS according to Spotify

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed with questions like will Gaia X survive? What will happen to Firefox? Will our coffee to go habits end us all?

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 even rolling stone magazine covering the decentralised and federated webfully private internet search may happen sooner than expected and Mozilla’s clever demonstration called platform tilt.


The dark dark hole which is pig butchering

Ian thinks: You may have heard of “Pig Butchering” in relation to romance/crypto scams. In this  pretty dark episode of Darknet diaries which deals with violence, scams and death. You realised how deep and dark the scams go.

AI ethics and bias is popping up everywhere

Ian thinks: I have noticed a general exhaustion/ignorance to the problem of bias in AI. This short video from Channel 4 is a timely reminder of how it manifests and for us all to take some responsibility.

Post office scandal, the computer says No

Ian thinks: The post office scandal is simply awful all over. People have lost the faith of their communities, family and even lost their lives. All due to a not fit for purpose computer system (Fujitsu’s Horizon). What makes things worst is all the people who sided with the computer system over the huge evidence of the post office masters/mistresses. Also interesting it took a TV show to push the whole scandal into the public conscious.

AI hype distraction?

Ian thinks: I liked this for many reasons but the distraction technique used by many people who con others is somewhat clear to see across a lot of the AI stories I see. I did wonder if I was the only one?

Surveillance capitalism and open standards don’t mix?

Ian thinks: The podcast industry is feeling the pinch due to advertisers wanting to know more about the listener. Spotify’s has always offered a closed platform and rejected RSS for this reason. However, Apple will start supporting the open Podcast namespace around transcripts.

Why privacy matters

Ian thinks: I recently shared this video with a few people who have started drinking the cool-aid about privacy is over. Its something of a timely reminder at the top of the year, of the importance of privacy for everyone.

The hype machine

Ian thinks: I recently read the hype machine by Sinan Aral. I expected most of the points but I did find the influence on society points, stronger than I imagined. The depth of the arguments are worthy of reading and of course acting on.

The AI hardware devices got interesting

Ian thinks: There is renew interest in new/alternative user interfaces and although AI is all the rage, our smartphones are fighting back (as the video shows). When I think about this all, I can’t help but wonder about the infrastructure. Leaning on Human Data Interaction guidelines, many of them mask the data from the human.

The word of 2023, Enshittification

Ian thinks: Congrats to Cory on a word which sums up so much about the current internet business model but also doing something about it. I remember Cory being quite critical of surveillance capitalism and emphasising the problem of monopolies, lack of agency and interoperability.

Worth noting Cory’s sequel to Red Team Bluesthe Bezzle is available.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2023)

 

Tree of communication devices

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed hearing how a man was trapped in a EV, AI facial recognition not being taken seriously and the online safety bill now part of law in the UK.

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 BBC setting guidelines for Gen AI, Mozilla saying hello to two privacy and adding fake reviews detector to help us all.


Voice scammers scams coming your way

Ian thinks: The voice scamming is something most have heard about, but this podcast shows how vast the problem is in Asia. I suspect similar will be heading to the west soon enough.

Cory Doctorow why the internet is broken and how to fix it

Ian thinks: Cory’s new book The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation, says it all but if you were not convinced this interview with Vice will clearly why the fight for the future is not over, why and how you should be involved.

People over profits and LLMs

Ian think: The Mozilla podcast is in full swing again with a focus on the humans behind and affected by large language models. Mozilla do a great job reflecting viewpoints from outside the western markets with important contributions from Kenya and India in episode 2.

The origins of an oligarch, Elon is just one of many

Ian thinks: There has been a lot of discussion following the recent Isaacson book. I found this the very best series about Elon, not only critical of Elon but also a wider nod to many of the tech oligarchs and the culture surrounding them.

Devalued lived experiences

Ian thinks: Douglas Rushkoff is a character which some people enjoy and some less so. He was recently added to the Time person of the week, and this short podcast interview is a reminder of what the internet and technology could/should be and how it fits within human society, not consumes it.

The back and forth between founders and influences

Ian thinks: Taylor Lorenz’s book explores the tension between the owners and the women who drive the platform/service. Similar to Symons Browns’s Get rich or die trying, but focusing on usually stepped on female early adopters, this could shine a light on a sector never really covered.

Social engineering gen AI

Ian thinks: Its hardly a surprise people are finding their ways around the limitations of Gen AI systems but this really goes into details how people are social engineering sensitive information out.

A serious thought about the techno-optimist

Ian thinks: When Marc Andreessen published the techno-optimist manifesto. Most people just ignored it as silicon valley nonsense, but a few put together words to carefully deconstruct why. This blog is a perfect reply but also covers a lot of positive elements covered in this newsletter. Well worth the read.

The Repair revolution has started?

Ian thinks: Repair is essential for sustainability, we all know this and recent changes within the tech/internet sector has helped this already growing trend. The question is when some of the big companies will fully throw their weight behind such movements?

Where do you post?

Ian thinks: This post by the Verge sums up the struggle for many around social media right now. I highly recommend listening to the podcast, especially with interviews from Cory (pluralistic) and Manton (microblog), as they both give more definition to the problem. I would also recommend the deeper conversation with Manton, who discusses the Verge piece at a lot more depth.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2023)

Person in trousers points a pen at paper work on a table

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing criminals creating their own ChatGPT clones, Fitbit becoming useless without data sharing and those Tiktok frenzies.

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 EU naming the gatekeepers, the 1.26 million Kardashion crypto fine and Signal’s CEO calling out AI surveillance technology.


Thinking about buying a creepy car?

Ian thinks: Thanks to Mozilla’s privacy not included project, its clear almost every major car brand is sharing your personal data without any consideration of privacy. Everything from race, weight and health is free shared without the drivers consent.

Cannabis could save the environment?

Ian thinks: This piece from German broadcaster DW really makes clear the positive potential impact of Cannabis in the fight for a greener more sustainable economy. Its a real eye opener and for reasons you didn’t think.

Regularly using the internet can half the risk of dementia

Ian thinks: When I first read this, I had looked through the paper taking it a part to see if there was something which could be wrong. However it’s solid and surprised it didn’t get much attention.

The big con, How the Consulting Industry Weakens society

Ian thinks: I started reading this excellent book, really digging into the 4 audit consultancy and Its ultimate affect on more than just businesses. I noticed DW’s mini documentary about most of the problems raised in the book is good start..

Is this the UK Government U-turn you wanted?

Ian thinks: In short no, it sounds like the UK government might have done a U-turn on the encryption in the new online safety bill. But it is still there waiting for the right moment.

Crypto was never really the saver

Ian thinks: Sex workers and adult entertainers are usually demonised by the mainstream, turned to crypto made sense. But like most things in the crypto space, its never so simple and the wired piece outlines some horrible and disturbing problem. There has to be a better way for the sake of so many.

Living Next Door to Russia, Ensh*ttification and Veilid explained at Defcon

Ian thinks: In the last few weeks, Defcon, Tech Open Air and Techcrunch disrupt have uploaded their conference videos. I found Mikko, Cory and the Veilid talks the best so far. Although I will give a nudge for the Opera and Vivaldi founder from TOA.

What people don’t know about the Luddites

Ian thinks: The word gets thrown around a lot and very few people know the history. In this podcast it becomes clear the luddites image of techbophic is very wrong. With thoughts for the future with generative AI and power, the Luddites image is due a rethink.

Learning from the Fediverse

Ian thinks: The fediforum is the unconference for the fediverse. I took part in the September one and learned a lot including how activitypub can become the plumbing channel between the usual (microblogging) and unexpected applications like event management (gath.io)


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Sept 2023)

2 FBI agent's casually question Reality Winner outside her house

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed the unthinkable awful end of apps, the breach of UK voters data and zoom’s new business model.

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 Meta threads supporting Mastodon’s verification. the whitehouse cracking down on data brokers and ABC in Australia closing down almost all of its twitter account.


Colbalt the hidden side of the energy revolution

Ian thinks: This documentary by German broadcaster DW is a real eye opener of the real inequality happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo and its effect across any potential energy revolution.

The really deep problems of Venture Capital

Ian thinks: This interview outlines not just the well known problems of taking capital from a VC but how deeply broken the whole ecosystem is. Nothing better said that the market place won’t solve everything, it may make it worst?

No one gets fired for buying Microsoft?

Ian thinks: Local first but when will companies and the C suite care enough to take it seriously? You might have thought the serious damage of ransomware and malware might be a factor for the future to mitigate such damage?

AI right down the middle

Ian thinks: Although I was sceptical of the talk, there were some good points made about the problem of markets. I especially the responsibilities, coordination and the public/society interest.

A race to the bottom where everyone loses

Ian thinks: I hadn’t heard the term Moloch but Liv makes it clear what the term is and give great examples of Moloch. Although Liv and Tristan brush over the thought this is the market and capitalism in effect.

The world is a mess lets fix it?

Ian thinks: Defcon 31 has showed there is a number of incredible revelations on hacking voting machine to the Cult of dead cow’s open-source, privacy peer-to-peer networked framework.

When are we going to finally listen to the minorities who know?

Ian thinks: This fine group of black women have been ringing the bell about the real problems of AI for such a long time. They refuse to be silenced and as we are starting to understand they were absolutely right.

The awful truth about facial recognition and black people

Ian thinks: Simple as this, facial recognition can’t tell black people apart. So why the heck are we still deploying it? Its a question I just can’t wrap my head around, If you don’t trust business insider read the actual paper here.

Reality asks whats in the public interest?

Ian thinks: This film ended up in a lot of small cinemas but the true story of Reality NSA whistle blower is portrayed exactly how the FBI recording captured. Its quite compelling and raises questions about the public interest and what happened next.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2023)

Blue hand holding a key

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed thinking about the eyeball scanning worldcoin, Tesla’s secret range suppression team and dare I even mention @x.

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 BBC joining the fediverse, all those Firefox tips in one video. and EU plans to force replaceable batteries in smartphones.


UK’s online safety bill breaks encryption

Ian thinks: Its clear the UK government like most governments around the world have a difficult problem with end to end encryption. In my own experience anything which weakens encryption means there is no encryption. Anything which weaken encryption is an open door with a door mat and bright lights saying try here and welcome.

AI everywhere, bias everywhere

Ian thinks: This is a disturbing piece about shop owners using facial recognition to protect their stock in the UK. Face-watch is a worrying trend especially knowing how much AI systems are desperate for more training data.

PublicSpaces 2023: The collective of videos

Ian thinks: All the Publicspaces videos are now on peertube and linked on this page. If you only watch one video, I highly recommend the keynotes from Ruha Benjamin, Levien Nordeman and Eli Parser

Race, class, fame and harm: our current social media

Ian thinks: I didn’t see this live in Mozilla House Amsterdam but had a really good talk with Symeon who convinced me to finally read his amazing book.

Is it time to give up on the global internet?

Ian thinks: I hate to say it but this piece has some really good points and its hard to argue against them. The vision of a global internet has been torn apart by many companies, governments and pure greed.

The Eliza effect is big business

Ian thinks: With all the talk about AI, you can’t help but stumble into the chatbot space. Although its easy to laugh, we already know there is a demand to connect with people and there is a ton of companies willing to supply them with better versions of clippy. But do spare a deep thought of all the data being shared and sold too.

A old form of colonialism in effect?

Ian thinks: It was through the tech won’t save us podcast I came across the paper on Open AI’s whisper and indigenous languages. This isn’t just a cautionary tale, its actually as close to the playbook of colonialism. Glad the author and the community are call it out.

Had enough of Captcha’s?

Ian thinks: Although a emerging technology, privacy pass could bring an end to those captcha’s which are annoying, don’t stop a lot of malicious activity, are basically free labour which is used to sell to others. Could this client-side privacy pass protocol which uses un-linkable cryptographic tokens finally put an end to them for good?

Posting without consent is immoral?

Ian thinks: This is a question which has existed for a long time. Even mentioning a persons name can have dire consequences. Two things which were not mention is the interconnected nature of this all.and the EU laws around the right to be forgotten.

RIP Free Kevin

Ian thinks: When i heard Kevin Mitnick died aged 59, I thought back to all the things I had learned through his books, experiences and the free Kevin movement. Well worth re-reading his books and this piece in the register. Rest in piece Kevin.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2023)

Woman typing on laptop while sitting on a sofa in a coffee shop

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing students using AI to learn languages, the malicious use of AI and Meta’s Voice AI,

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 EU AI act, Amazon prime dark patterns finally being acted on and a look at the tangible risks of AI.


PublicSpaces: For a collective internet?

Ian thinks: I am biased as I took part in this years Publicspaces conference, however this is a conference worthy of watching once the 2023 ones are added to the others in peertube. Some highlights include Ruha Benjamin, Eli Pariser, Public broadcasters and private social networks, Building Digital Commons.

Who added the creepy?

Ian thinks: I found this interview with Dave Eggers worthy of a mention. The EFF push him on his thoughts and get quite a lot back. I was struck by the line “…but who decided to insert the creepy?”

What is the public service view on AI?

Ian thinks: This interview with Acemoglu is quite enlightening and highlights the critical question of how would AI & ML operate and look like if it wasn’t about increasing the bottom line or hoovering up data?

Ian thinks: Murthy in this interview has so many good points and ultimately links the possibility of loneliness with basic needs like hunger and thirst. I’m sure many disagree but as described in Turkle’s Alone together, its clear there is an unbalanced use of technology directly contributing to something.

Ian thinks: Following the previous link, Mozilla’s research deserves more attention. Consent is critical for trust and you would have thought the mental health industry would trust as their top priority? Maybe I’m naive and the commercialisation of the industry is self-evident.

Re:publica 23, its all about Cash? (day 1, day 2, day 3)

Ian thinks: Every year I see such great talks and come from Republica, most are in German but there are also a number in English. I am pretty sure they will separate the talks in time.

The challenges of openness within the social space

Ian thinks: I needed to add my thoughts on this challenge against openness by those leading the charge for openness (yes confusing). I understand the potential but its more likely Meta will close their instances to the fediverse, lets not be that person ahead of time.

Digital nomads reshaping the cities

Ian thinks: As someone looking to be a digital nomad, this is a hard pill to digest. I certainly would like to see more meaningful exchange with the locals rather than dive in an carve out a new bubble?

Get Rich or Lie Trying

Ian thinks: This book has come up so many times, but it wasn’t till I met the author at MozHouse Amsterdam. I decided to put it on top of my list. Symeon digs deep into the social dumpster fire and clearly points out the damage which has been done at all levels.


Find the original here – https://cubicgarden.com/2023/07/01/public-service-internet-monthly-newsletter-july-2023/ and the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (June 2023)

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing dirty but cheap western cars filling Africa. malware infested new iot devices or how parents are monetising their children in digital times.
https://cubicgarden.com/2023/06/01/public-service-internet-monthly-newsletter-june-2023/

Man sits in front of a computer monitor, looking sad

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing dirty but cheap western cars filling Africa. malware infested new iot devices or how parents are monetising their children in digital times.

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 buying fake spot, google launching passkeys and even Meta’s well rumoured but not launched microblogging platform using ActivityPub.


Will the real Connor step forward?

Ian thinks: This podcast is all about Connor’s story, but more importantly his online identity being used to fool employers into paying people a lot of money for skills they don’t actually have. This raises a lot of questions for the future of identity

Finally airtag stalking is being taken seriously?

Ian thinks: Finally Google and Apple have gotten together to stop the massive stalking problems of Airtags

The Obscene wealth simulator

Ian thinks: Perfectly timed for the Sunday Times rich list, this simulator gives you a sense of the “struggles” of the very rich people in society. Funny but also deeply tragic too.

The future possibilities for crypto?

Ian thinks: There is so much to say about this space, which has been generally eclipsed by AI recently. However this FT video does raise a number of good points. I also recommend the recently published public DLT paper by BBC R&D advisory team.

How I feel about the AI (LLM) changes when asked

Ian thinks: Over the last few months I have been asked about AI by many people, I want to deep dive but hold back. Using films like Her as reference, this video covers a lot of ground in short time but in completely understandable way

The debate over universal basic income is back

Ian thinks: Regardless of how close to midnight we are to AI singularity, the debate over UBI (Universal basic income) rages on

Forced to hack a world not built for you

Ian thinks: This fits with why I am interested in looking to the edges, where people in the minority are doing things to adapt technology for themselves and their community needs.

The dirty secret of online dating, but don’t worry AI will make it worst

Ian thinks: A bit of a key subject for me, I was surprised to see Wired explain the dirty secret in online dating. I am expecting AI chat bots to make things worst, as we experience higher levels of loneliness in society.

Sustainable streaming?

Ian thinks: I had only a small idea of the impact of streaming but this group is looking to make a big change to the sustainability of streaming services now and into the future.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2023)

Weaken encryption cyberpunk

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the environmental impact of ChatGPT, the fascination to force people back into the office and that musk interview.

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 a new right to repair for up to 10 years. how solar got so cheap and John Oliver’s 2nd reaction to cryptocurrencies.


Weakening encryption is a idea which needs to die

Ian thinks: There is so much to say about the potential UK online safety bill, when it comes to encryption. In my personal experience, weaken encryption is no encryption. I’m not the only one. There is a reason why no one uses MD5 anymore.

Using photosynthesis as a source of clean energy?

Ian thinks: This energy hack is exciting to say the very least. Although very exciting its very early. I certainly encourage reading the details of the Cambridge research here.

Heating our homes using abandoned coal mines?

Ian thinks: Novel use of the many shut down coal mines, is a gem of not just an idea but something being put into practice in other countries.

The bright future of Homomorphic encryption, 

Ian thinks: This interview with Rand Hindi of zama.ai is very enlightening. The idea of Homomorphic encryption at every level is fascinating. Could it be quantum resistant? Well Rand certainly thinks so. I also expect we will be hearing a lot more about this in the next 2 years and will be a building block for the public service internet.

Bluesky finally on Android but join the waiting list

Ian thinks: Its good to finally see an Android version of Bluesky, as there is growing interest in Bluesky and the actively developed AT protocol. There is also a lot of pumped up tension from some about Mastodon vs Bluesky which is just nonsense and a waste of energy.

The danger of stochastic parrots

Ian thinks: This very shared piece calls out the real problems of the new range of “AI Chatbot.” Bender runs through history and her challenging sometimes ignorant experiences talking with those evangelising the AI future. Its well worth the read if you haven’t come across it somewhere else already.

The stochastic parrots which drives us insane

Ian thinks: Jaron’s thought on the affects of AI on our well-being is spot on. Be it consistently doubting, double checking or just the overload of AI generated content. It always makes me think an adversarial AI bot working for you makes a lot of sense.

The detailed evidence of the impact of social media on teen girls

Ian thinks: This very detailed post outlines with countless data points summarising the effect of social media on young girls. Just incase you were not clear already?

Is Kevin Kelly’s technium, unrealistic or genius?

Ian thinks: This interview was a difficult one to hear, mainly because I usually find Kevin Kelly a good thinker. However his general thoughts on tech will save us, painful to listen to and it runs through most of his thoughts. Worth a listen with a sharp critical mind.


Find  the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (April 2023)

a close up portrait photo of a cyberpunk woman under neon lights
Midjourney prompt : a close up portrait photo of a cyberpunk woman under neon lights, cyan and orange highlights, street photography, lifestyle, wet street –ar 16:9 –testp –upbeta

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing AI generated images fooling so many, OpenAI’s CEO a bit worried about the risks of AI and the cropping bug popping up everywhere.

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 FTC banning better health. Content protections to identify fake/modified media and Solar tech being deployed in new and huge ways.


Mozilla takes a bite of the trustworthy AI emerging market?

Ian thinks: During the busy Mozilla Festival, was the announcement Mozilla was investing in the emerging market of trustworthy AI. We all want it but is Mozilla too early or will we look back and say it was perfect time? According to Jaron Lanier maybe Mozilla is perfectly timed.

Everything apps are all about control

Ian thinks: Twitter’s plans to be yet another everything app is painful enough, but if you look deeper into the idea of everything apps. Its super clear the reasons to be the one app to rule them all.

Whats happening in Europe?

Ian thinks: A good summary of the key concerns in Europe explained to an american audience.

The Quantum Revolution

Ian thinks: The FT’s series of podcasts about quantum is enlightening. Although quite dry its still a good listen for those like myself who know a surface level of information.

Why care about Silicon Valley Bank?

Ian thinks: I found this Rocket podcast episode, the most clear reasons why the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank actually matters. Its easy to ignore but looking at the long tail of startups and the people who rely on them, was eye opening.

Making the emerging Fediverse

Ian thinks: There is so much happening in this space of the fediverse its almost like the Metaverse has been forgotten? But I found this panel at the recent Mozilla Festival hit the tone perfectly for a workshop titled designing the future fediverse, run by myself the next day. I also recommend this indepth interview with Mastodon CEO.

Do you know what that public camera is doing?

Ian thinks:I found this Mozilla Festival session, answered one of those questions I wonder about. A QR alongside signs of surveillance, link to a human and machine readable datachain explaining its capability, who is involved, storage, etc. Best of all is the whole project is Apache 2 and CC licensed.

Sites go under but communities stay strong

Ian thinks: Timely reminder in the wake of Twitter, social sites which have gone, been archived and the rich community which stay strong.

Robots and elder care is a mess and needs work

Ian thinks: Japan for me was always the future. However this critical view of robots in elder care really brought a number of technical and cultural concerns into clear view.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2023)

See no evil: Loopholes in Google's Data Safety Labels

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing AI for everything, Elon changing the twitter algorithm to insure reach and even the BBC blue check mistake.

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 large scale eink screens coming, BBC R&D’s remote interaction guidelines and young people falling out of love with cars.


Mozilla Festival and so much more

Ian thinks: March is the month of the 3rd virtual Mozilla festival, tickets are available now., Mozilla is also responsible for some hard cutting research into the recent data safety labels in the Android play store, which leads to even more Tiktok privacy worries.

The Public Spaces Incubator

Ian thinks: A whole number of public service broadcaster join New_Public to reclaim public spaces with a new incubator looking to tackle so many of the ills online right now. Will it be successful, I hope so, and will be a sign of the great collaborations to come

The internet in transition

Ian thinks: Another long thoughtful piece about the state of the internet within a larger existence of time and history. A lot forgotten in the endless cycle of short term news snippets

Stop talking and buy our stuff, the endless battle

Ian thinks: A reminder of the commercialisation of the internet, services and ultimately community. This thoughtful pieces is a clear reminder of the endless battle, which has been running for so long.

Leaving tech to the private sector is a mistake

Ian thinks: Rosie gets right into the nub of the problem with outsourcing technology to the private sector. In this detailed interview with Paris, you are left with the question of what happened and why?

Its so much worst for workers caught in the a dystopia of our making

Ian thinks: Another reminder of all those people doing your wishes and for so little. The separation from that buy to the dystopia, is so deliberate and carefully done. The only thing which will make it change is our conscious buying?

Encryption burn in the potential era of the UK safety bill

Ian thinks: Signal threatens to leave the UK, Meta and most others are clear this would be a bad idea to weaken encryption to save the children. Its the endless battle but we are getting a glimpse of the real result of this bill.

The illustrated field guide to social media

Ian thinks: Zuckerman and Rajendra-Nicolucci’s illustrated guide although old is a clearly engaging and a neat way to make a point specially now.

The third room metaverse update

Ian thinks: I have been following the third room work for a while now, and was very impressed to see the FOSDEM update. If this isn’t a sign of a open, decentralised, immersive metaverse – what is?


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2023)

Xmas tree in Fediverse colours and streams

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Channel4 interview ChatGPT, FTX’s Sam Bankman and the biggest hacks of 2022.

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 3M stopping forever chemicals, sodium-sulphur batteries becoming a thing and the BBC’s director general’s speech rallying call towards digital.


The environment will not wait for us

Ian thinks: The problems with GDP are well known but I certainly like this video by the Economist which makes the urgency a lot clearer. Can money stop deforestation? Not while we look quarter to quarter.

AI photos privacy and ethical concerns

Ian thinks: Although things are not super clear in the AI generation space, Lensa AI always struck me as something you may want to avoid. As usual people jump in and think later.

Is computing the new cars problem?

Ian thinks: Interesting discussion hinged on the question will we grow to regret computing as much we regret the way cars changed society. I have compared Jane Jacob’s life and death of the american city to the modern technological world.

Car tech isn’t helping with public safety?

Ian thinks: I found this conversation with David Zipper fascinating from a public service point of view. All the hype and funding going into autonomous cars isn’t making our streets safer for the public, and David has some very clear points demonstrating this. Worth reading this Time piece too.

Not everything darkweb is bad?

Ian thinks: Seeing some of the good things about the darkweb is never a popular but Mozilla does a good job explaining what it is and how it works in the usual fun style.

Web3 is going so great

Ian thinks: This interview with the author of web3 is going great, Molly White is just great and this interview has so many to think about. Follow on from the interview Paris Marx and Molly White talk about the FTX.

All in on the fediverse

Ian thinks: A bit of a history lesson of where microblogging came from and where it splintered. Blaine Cook’s instinct for this space has been spot on and with him throwing some weight behind the fediverse

A taste of living in an authoritarian country?

Ian thinks: Umair makes a lot of good points, comparing the way Twitter was made to work with authoritarian countries. A real taste of whats to come if the public service internet isn’t fully realised.

Seeing the power of community

Ian thinks: The importance of local communities working together for the better, is something which underpins so much of the public service internet.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2022)

Bus stop in bladerunner style using AI
Created with Midjourney

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the ongoing fight around ransomware. 2fa social engineered and youtube dislike meaning very little.

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 EU ramping up its open source code access, South Korea’s win for privacy violations and solutions like Watomatic providing out of office replies for WhatsApp to aid with stopping using it.


Recommendations for a Digital Future to the EU

Ian thinks: Exit Platforms over the past year have brought together a group of experts, To chart out what a public service internet could looks like from a policy point of view. The last meeting being a hackathon in the European parliament. This is the report is a detailed from the last year of meetings.

Jack Dorsey realising the mistakes of twitter

Ian thinks: Jack’s thought about the mistakes are further clarified when Kevin Marks making it super clear how Twitter killed twitter as a API in favour of control and profit.

The future of Solar panels? Everywhere!

Ian thinks: Its fantastic to see solar panels in places I thought were simply a no go. Although the cost of panel is dropping there is still a need for a bigger drop.

Bus shelters turned into garden

Ian thinks: Although Manchester has had a bus shelter like described since 2016 and people point out its advertising driven. I do think its generally a good idea and better than looking at a metal frame in the pouring rain.

Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires (nsfw)

Ian thinks: Aspects of team human, this interview with Rushkoff is entertaining but its hard to see fault in the logic behind the new book.

EU puts its foot down around mobile waste and upgrades

Ian thinks: Although in draft form, its a move which may have serious consequences in many different industries.

Bluetracking around the city for better transport but at what cost?

Ian thinks: Contactless travel sounds fantastic but I’m not sure the trail will consider privacy and abuse cases. Something they really should.

Chris’s challenging talk about crypto gave me a bad taste

Ian thinks: Mydata is a good conference but this talk gave me a taste but I can’t exactly point at one thing. A lot of what Chris says is correct, but I can’t get his position over the keynote. Or maybe its just the bored ape t-shirt?

AI art has changed the game quietly

Ian thinks: I have personally been using mid-journey and dall-e2 for some personal works. It feels like something has changed, and we haven’t really acknowledged the effect yet.

What can be learned from Google’s smart city project?

Ian thinks: Sobering talk from Josh O’Kane about Google’s sidewalk labs project with plenty of insights for future smart city projects.


Find the archive here