Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2022)

The branches of the Fediverse diagram

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the UK government setup a discord server, A podcasting app sharing user location to podcast creators and whats its like to work in India as a woman in tech.

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 India following the EU with USB C. Flickr putting weight behind ActivityPub and even more calls to make privacy a human right.


Gifts which don’t track your friends and family

Ian thinks: I actually chuckle at the #askfirefox videos but this video makes good points about buying a surveillance device for friends and family this festive holiday. Shop smart with Mozilla’s privacy not included.

W3C Solid working group

Ian thinks: Solid the personal data store has found its place in the W3C groups, Tim Berners-Lee’s welcoming email is beautifully written, starting a genuine new phase of the internet.

The UK parliament debates the future of public service broadcasting

Ian thinks: Its good to see this discussion at this level but am concerned there isn’t more focus beyond broadcasting. Public service is much bigger and its time to bring what makes public service unique to this space.

Mozilla’s future looks bright and sustainable

Ian thinks: Mozilla although well know in certain circles, has been losing a lot of market share. However has good plans to build on its community roots for a bright and sustainable future. Don’t forget the Mozilla festival’s call for proposals ends Dec 16th

Thoughts on Blockchain technology a decade ago

Ian thinks: Tim Bray’s measured thoughts on blockchain technology is a good read. Its easy to say blockchains were not mature back when AWS started but Tim thoughts today haven’t changed much.

Elon musk’s take over of Twitter

Ian thinks: There is so much to say about this take over of Twitter but I didn’t want to spend the whole newsletter talking about it. However I’m sadden by the lack of understanding from Elon and the way employees have been treated.. No way was Twitter the public square.

More thoughtful discussion about the future of decentralised social media

Ian thinks: Interesting points made and worthy of listening to in full. Likewise this small panel with the folks from Bluesky, Manyverse and others exploring the possibilities way beyond what’s currently available.

The EFF look at Mastodon from a security & privacy point of view

Ian thinks: Its always great to see new systems deeply looked at by the EFF and Open rights group. Mastodon comes out looking great. However you certainly have to go about it differently.

Don’t like microblogging but like the idea of the fediverse?

Ian thinks: This is great news Automattic (WordPress) are once again supporting the standard ActivityPub and joining the large open network of the fediverse. How Tumblr will work on the Fediverse is another question.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2022)

Example of Solid with person and data surrounding them

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the Palantir’s Secret Plan to Crack the NHS. Deliberate radio spoofing to distort live video, a distressing insight into Silicon Vallay’s tech elite and of course Twitter finally bought.

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 open wallet foundation bringing standards to the chaos, Competition wins and American smart devices adopting security/privacy labelling.


Solid adoption faces the cultural problem?

Ian thinks: Personal data stores make a lot of sense, especially for developers as this post makes clear. However its consistent with the discussions I have had with startups with “The tech culture in the U.S. is a lot less suspicious of companies that are looking to centralise their data, because they can see a way to make money off of that”

See the future of the public service here

Ian thinks: Following the personal data store dev discussion above, its a lot clearer for public interest companies who want to innovate and provide a different proposition from profit driven companies.

Mozilla’s unknown influence is very chilling

Ian thinks: This short documentary is pretty powerful and highlights how much worst the dumpster fire is outside North America and Europe. Well worth the 12 minutes of your time. Also worth mentioning Mozilla’s little mini-series is fun, educational and instantly shareable. I personally have shared a few with some less technical friends and its been well received.

Hacking google mini series

Ian thinks: Although a big advert for Google, there are parts which are worth while watching from a cyber-security point of view.

OFCOM is looking into cloud services, iot and messaging

Ian thinks: This is good news as the national regulator does have a lot of power to work in favour of the public, but has spent too much time focused on traditional media.

All the Unfinished videos are online now

Ian thinks: The Unfinished live conference has caused quite a splash since its inception. A lot of the talks are worth re-watching and if not seen before, you are in for a treat.

Shannon needs to look away from the mainstream

Ian thinks: Shannon is no longer excited by Technology, but through the post its clear she is focused on the big mainstream tech. Looking away form the mainstream into the indie & niches could be what she’s missing?

Enable our cookies, pay or get lost

Ian thinks: We all knew it was coming, but to see it happen in the EU first was unexpected by myself. Expect many more to follow suit, a high profile court case and hopefully a renewed look at micro-payments.

Bluesky discussed and dissected

Ian thinks: There was a small announcement about Bluesky coming soon, but I found at least the first part of this video with Kevin Marks and Jeff Jarvis looking through the AT protocol quite revealing of whats coming.


Find the archive here

What is Bluesky doing which others can’t do?

A leaf, blueskies and clouds

Following Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey’s discussion about de-platforming Trump, there was mention about Decentralisating twitter and BlueSky.

He first made mention of this in 2019 in a number of tweets.

Researchers involved with bluesky reveal to TechCrunch an initiative still in its earliest stages that could fundamentally shift the power dynamics of the social web.

Bluesky is aiming to build a “durable” web standard that will ultimately ensure that platforms like Twitter have less centralized responsibility in deciding which users and communities have a voice on the internet. While this could protect speech from marginalized groups, it may also upend modern moderation techniques and efforts to prevent online radicalization.

When I first heard about Bluesky there was little information then at some point during the pandemic I heard about the iOS only app Planetary. My instant thought was oh no there going to try and bypass all the excellent work which has been done by others already. Especially with ActivityPub now a W3C recommendation.

I looked beyond the Techcrunch post (which is full of little odd bits) to see what I could dig up about Bluesky. Looking at the Github repo from Planetary it seems to be based on the Scuttlebot.io protocol? Its good to also see Scuttlebug to ActivityPub and RSS too. As its Scuttlebot, theres other clients for many other platforms.

So my question is what difference does it make over what already exists?
I get if twitter was to be a client of the protocol that would be generally a good thing and I imagine the publicity for decentralised systems would be welcomed but beyond that? Will their business model change? Will anything change? I guess does anything need to change from Twitter’s point of view?
On top of this all, will all the efforts before hand be forgotten now Twitter throws their hat into the ring? That would be awful for all the hard work others have put in for years and years.

My User Manual

Profile pic 2019

Hi I’m Ian and I’m referred to by ‘he/him’ pronouns

Here is my user manual, as first discovered in Cassie Robinson.‘s blog post and written about in my new years resolutions for 2020. Everything is work in progress and I may move this to a page instead of a blog entry.

Last updated on 20/05/2021

My full name is Mr Ian Forrester and this how you say my full name.

Conditions I like to work in

  • I like a medium busy working environment. I find it hard to work in dead silence.
  • I like having my own desk space but pretty flexible as I can work in coffee shops or on my sofa.
  • I like to wear headphones and listen to music mixes, podcasts or audio books while working if its too quiet.
  • I like flexible spaces, with adjustable seating

The Times/Hours I like to work

  • I am trying to start my work day at 11am, I am not a early riser at all.
  • I work best in the afternoon and evenings
  • Think better at night
  • I don’t mind being contacted at most times but I will likely only respond when not busy or have the time. I expect people to respect my decisions when I decline calls.
  • My calendar is private but I prefer if things are set in my calendar so I don’t double book myself.

The best ways to communicate with me

  • Text or instant messenger (signal & text) is the quickest way to get a response from me, but you will get a quick and short reply.
  • Twitter Direct message isn’t the best due to the changes Twitter made to their APIs making my Android & Linux clients slower to get direct messages.
  • Mastodon is better than twitter for communication
  • I will answer my phone and prefer to talk over more complex issues
  • I deal with emails all week and usually respond within a week, unless I’m busy
  • Narratives are generally better than raw data

The ways I like to receive feedback

  • I’d rather have conversations than leave things unspoken or at an inauthentic level.
  • I like receiving feedback face-to-face
  • I respect people with humanity & respect, and expect the same back
  • I see all feedback as a learning opportunity so I like any feedback to include examples and also suggestions on how I / it could be better/different

Things I need

  • I love ideas sessions with people, where we can freely think about what is possible without the if’s and but’s
  • I do need a little time to reflect
  • I need longer paper work in digital form, so I can re-shape it or have an app read it to me
  • Authenticity, I find it harder to take people seriously if there is no authenticity

Things I struggle with

  • Too much critiquing and logical reasoning drains my creative energy
  • If I don’t understand the bigger picture, I find it harder to understand why I should be involved.
  • I find unnecessary opaque processes draining
  • Maintaining the status-quo
  • Surface level conversations over a longer period of time
  • Superstition

Things I love

  • Hearing what others are working on and connecting up the dots of what we are doing together
  • Human conversations over administrative tasks like replying to emails
  • Understanding peoples experiences and influences behind projects
  • Team away days
  • Blue sky thinking
  • Working on the cutting edge
  • Collaboration
  • Working “in the open”

Other things to know about me

  • I am an ENTP
  • I have dyslexia
  • I use interconnected, narrative and dynamic reasoning to make decisions on problems which are logically taxing.
  • I approach problems in a learning as doing way
  • My favorite saying is “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
  • I bring my whole self to work (we should chat about what this means)
  • I am quite expressive and say what I feel and mean quite openly.
  • Fairness and justice matters to me. If I think someone is not being treated fairly, or someone is having an unfair impact on others, I will call it out.
  • I believe hyperlinks subvert hierarchy, with a rich network of people.