Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2022)

This land is your land

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

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

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


Community door deliver fills in gaps

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

The metaverse’s architecture is simply lazy

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

Lessons for a metaverse

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

P2P fashion renting, focuses on the community

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

Sunshine technology

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

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

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

Leap frogging with 3D printing and communities

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

Secrecy as a means of monetization?

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

Twitter is not a digital public space

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


Find the archive here

Beeper makes Matrix bridges into a business model

After the long wait and some wonder if anything was going to happen. On Monday I got my invite to join a very small number of people on Beeper.

I am impressed…

I thought I had a blog post about Beeper but I didn’t write one. So in short this picture sums up Beeper in one go.

Beeper bridges

Imagine if you could use one client to access all these different networks, but unlike pidgin or trillian which needs software plugins to connect to them all. Beeper is actually a Matrix client which connects to specific Matrix bridges (server based, instead of client based) to other messaging networks.

Its one of the thing which blew me away when I saw Matrix at Mozfest 2017.

Matrix is open source and you can run it on your own infrastructure (we will get back to that soon). You can even install your own bridges.

In short Beeper is the Matrix dream in a managed service which you pay $10 a month. You can self host it and its something I may do after a while but right now I’m happy to give some money to get use to things

First thing I did is install the appimage for Linux, set it up using the code I had received via email. Then setup a few networks. Within a few minutes I was replying to friends

I tested Slack using Storyteller United and was quite impressed, although I ended up disabling it due to the amount of channels and how busy the slack can be.

I may enable it again for a few slacks I am part of but don’t want the whole of slack on. Currently I have the Slack app on my laptop and work phone but I like the idea of the messaging parts without the heavy slack app.

I noticed you can input Gifs, emoji’s, attachments, etc in almost every single message in a unified way. I haven’t hooked up my SMS yet (mainly because there is no RCS bridge yet which I would miss). I also would like to see scheduling as I’m so use to it now.

Of course the phone interface for beeper is similar, Gif and all. You can use the unified inbox which puts everything in one timeline. The spaces cuts everything by network.

To be frank, Beeper is impressive and if I could change a few things they would be.the ability to have multiple accounts. For example I would love to be able to finally have one client for the multiple Signal accounts (I have one for my personal and work mobiles). This might be a limitation of Signal, but it would be great if I could spin up 2 bridges. I say this as I added 2 slack accounts and could add more with ease.

Right now Beeper is very much work in progress, but its got most of the key features.  I don’t feel like I have fully added the networks yet as I hold on to apps like Android messages due to RCS and scheduled messages. I could add Twitter and Discord but I’m quite happy with my Mastodon clients and cross posting to Twitter. Although I might hook up my ianforrester account on twitter just to see what its like in beeper. I even consider setting up Telegram, i-message, etc accounts just because I can now without the stress.

I forgot, Beeper doesn’t replace the existing messaging systems, meaning when I finally hooked up Android messages, I can still send scheduled messages and RCS from the app. But reply and send general messages from Beeper.

The network diagram at the very top is actually slight wrong because Beeper sits within the Matrix network and once I understood this via the support channel. It became clear I could easily share things between all my mobiles and laptop with ease. Bit like how I use Signal’s personal space/notes to yourself. I haven’t tried connecting to any of the Matrix systems I’m part of like publicspaces, sdeps or redecentralise. But I’ll give it a try over the next few days.

I like Beeper, but do long to setup my own bridges in a docker container or rasberrypi in the near future. Is 10$ a month quite a bit expensive for this? Maybe but only because I am still getting use to it and not fully using it. I think if I was using it for everything, 10$ a month would great value. Its a good business model, as most won’t or can’t run their own bridge server. (I have already looked to see if Yuno host has support or not)

I look forward to the regular updates and seeing it mature into something unique.



Funny enough I heard Beeper on Twit.TV’s all about android too. The person who wrote in didn’t blur any of his conversations and contacts which I would say is super brave or not thinking things fully through? However its interesting to see someone else also using Beeper and the reaction to it from people not fully aware of

Changes to the experience of mixcloud for free listeners

Rain clouds
Stormy rain clouds are coming?

As you may have noticed I use Mixcloud for uploading my DJ/Pacemaker device mixes. It works quite well because they upload the whole track with a few restrictions and you can listen to the lot anytime. I use to upload them to soundcloud but that didn’t work out too well.

Mixcloud has been pretty good to me but recently I noticed some changes coming into effect.

Some changes are coming to Mixcloud’s free playback experience. As a valued creator of the Mixcloud community, I’d like to personally notify you in advance about why we’re doing this.

We need to make some changes in order to keep running a legal platform in line with our licensing agreements, and a platform that is truly sustainable for the long term. Please read this open letter from myself and my co-founders to understand why and how these changes contribute to building a fair and sustainable streaming model that supports artists. I’ve summarized this for you below:

What’s changing?

Free listeners will only be able to seek forwards while listening to a show.

Free listeners will be able to listen to the same show maximum 3 times in a rolling two-week window.

Free listeners will not be able to listen to shows that feature more than 4 tracks by the same artist or more than 3 tracks from an album.

There more but its clear the pressure is on. Its nothing personal about mixcloud, they have to make money and its pretty fair. But I can’t help but  wondering about dataportability, because although I’m less concerned as I have all the mixes complete with track-listings and mix art on my machines backed up (The only thing I would like is the tags and some of the timings which I may not have directly).

I’m  wondering where I would go if I did move on?

The copyright filter would kill uploading to youtube and archive.org. I wonder if theres a decent alternative which is part of the dweb? The closest I can see is peertube, but its focused on video. To be fair I have enough bandwidth to host my own mixes on a instance of peertube…. Maybe something for a rainy weekend?

The barbershop world is ripe for disruption

I was talking to a guy in VividLounge recently and we were talking about the new trend for barbershops to create high quality promo videos for themselves. In actual fact when I was getting my hair cut last week at Barberboutique, Damien mentioned the new trend for  videos to be taken out side the shop rather than inside. The whole idea of pictures of people in the chair having their hair cut is old news it seems.

Look at whats on Youtube, theres some serious videos and theres a certain house style which is starting to emerge. Lots of them have taken the gentlemans therapy to another level with Coffees, Whiskey and even Champagne. But I feel theres plenty of room for disruption… Especially around the business models.

Freemium dating gone horrifically wrong

Online Dating for Bears

Lunch time at work is a interesting experience. Somehow we got into a discussion about online dating and Elizabeth asked me what kind of sites I’m on, out of curiosity. I mentioned I only do free dating sites and before you knew it we were on to a discussion about freenium dating sites vs paid sites.

The logic seems to conclude that a paid for sites would attract a better match, however in my own experience this is not true. Actually the opposite seems to apply, with the tricks the paid for dating sites pull on you. But we started wondering… If you were really evil or lack in moral judgment, what kind of things would you do?

Here’s some suggestions,

  1. Default all profiles would be ugly (there was a suggestion of green on brown with comic sans) unless you pay for colour changes and font faces changes.
    There would be a charge for every character over 320 characters (it was suggested 140 actually). Bit like plenty of fish’s extended profile.
  2. Depending on the time of the month certain words would cost less and more. Of course there would be a algorithm working out the most likely used words in profiles. But the cost would be reversed, as to charge the most for those words in their prime like selfie. Likewise Phrases go down in price depending on over use of the word across the site.
  3. There would only be allowed one photo like eBay use to have. More photos can be added at a cost of course. Oh and the one photo would be restricted to 256 colours and a size of 640×480. If you need colour, you can choose a animal photo which best represents you. One photo to impress… make it a good one.
  4. Messages can only be accessed on the site or the application. There will be strict limits of 10 meg storages and of course all messages will be monitored and fiddled with. So there will be no swearing, rude or lude content (lots of dating sites do this to kill off email and phone number exchange in messages). It would also have the right to change words and sentences to aid with communication. Well I say aid but expect all type of nonsense and mucking around.
  5. All messages will start at 200 characters maximum and grow by 10 characters based on the messages exchange. You
  6. Matching algorithms will be switch depending on paid membership. If you want the super-dooper algorithm you got to pay. And remember you have no idea how good it is till you try it out, at which you are offered the mega search for another upgrade in membership… Of course this time it includes advance options, thankfully. Okcupid already has multiple methods/algorithms for search and some are only accessible to paid members.
  7. Conditions for using the site is allowing the site to have access to your Facebook account. Not just for authentication but so it can read and write to your friends. If you want to stop the spamming, you need to pay for the yearly membership. Remember when Plaxo and many others did this to convince your friends to join?
  8. Don’t even get me started on adverts, you never seen adverts like this before, well maybe. Not only will you see them on the site, but also in your facebook timeline because you allowed us to do so, duhhh stupid…! Of course we could hijacking your cookies for even more fun, unless you pay the subscription money but that would be so… wrong!
  9. Feeling the pitch when it comes to the matches, well don’t worry most of them will be automated bots sent to lure you into paying even more or at least another few months of subscription. Hummm where did I hear this before?
  10. Of course our starred profiles will be ranked highly and you will need to digg through those before you get to the cheapskates. As a free user, you will have to do this with no sort and no option of how many users per page. Good luck with that…
  11. Did I forget to say, how our search doesn’t work correctly for free users. You will have to search through male and female users from all over the world till we can find a way to fix it. Of course paid users get access to the beta server which does support these (some people say) essential things.
  12. Random username allocation. Don’t like your username which was randomly given to you? Well if you pay the money, you can change it. Don’t pay, and you will have to put up with snugglemuffin666 or even snddjoidjidb81.

I could go on but frankly you go the picture. Some sounds a little crazy while others you may recognise from being on paid for dating sites. Free dating sites are rarer than they should be, but the freemium sites are going to be the next big thing. Don’t believe me? Look at Tinder.

The cocaine of dating – The 3 day trial?

Match's tube free 3 day adverts

Lots of times you see free membership weekends too. Now to be fair its a trial but if you think about it, what can you do in a few days?

Say you see someone you like and write them a message. And your lucky they happen to be online the next day and reply. If your very lucky, then your online and reply the next day. Thats pretty much 3 days gone. You will fork out money for a month membership and they got you! And thats if your not replying to another non-member who decides to actually purchase a membership. So the person you were talking to chooses not to buy one!

Yes it sounds over dramatic but I’d point to the 3 day trial or free talk weekenders as the crack cocaine of the online dating world.

Get people in, get them talking and then lock them out, lock the door and charge them to keep speaking to each other… I only pick on Match because I noticed the advert on the tube but all of the major online dating sites do this!

What a lovely business model!

Reminds me of drug dealers who let you have the first one for free to hook you in the future.

Facebook is being used for dating… full stop!

facebook_for_real

Saw “Facebook’s Graph Search Awkward For Dating” over the weekend in Online Dating Insider

Sam Yagan, CEO of both OkCupid & Match.com said, “I used graph search and it showed me people who meet my criteria but that didn’t mean I wanted to date those people. … I dont think Facebook itself wants to be in dating – because its risks alientating the majority of its users that don’t want Facebook to be a dating site.”

Aaron Schildkrout, CEO of HowAboutWe, said the problem is what to do after you’ve found someone you like, “pretend you search for your Bjork loving Cobble Hill 27 year old. You find your match. She looks cool. And then…what? You pay a dollar to message her on Facebook? You friend her out of the blue and wait? To me, these actions all feel just kind of… off. You have the clear sense that this is not quite what Facebook was built to do.”

Markus Frind, CEO of Plenty of Fish, agrees, “Facebook isn’t going to kill dating sites. Its all about intent. If you signup to Plenty of Fish there are millions of people who made the decision to signup because they want to be a in relationship.”

No matter what the online dating sites think or even say (and I’m surprised how short sighted OKcupid and PoF CEOs are on this). They should be worrying about facebook.

Facebook is being used by people for online dating. Simple!

I know a few people who have met up, dated and hooked up with friends of friends via facebook (geez look at that film/programme – Catfish). The friends of a friend (foaf) system is a new type filter which doesn’t exist on any dating sites I’ve seen before. Yes Badoo and Zook (all the other facebook dating apps) have tried to build on this filter but frankly done so so from what i gather? Heck they even have their own mobile platform now 😉

Like it or not Facebook currently rules the roost in connecting people and therefore will become a dominate force in online dating market without ever supporting online dating! And frankly some of the business models I’ve seen or guess others are using, they maybe deserve to?

Not that I’m saying its all tied up, there still major issues but Facebook doesn’t charge and verification of friends really helps

Imagine if you could remix books?

Cooking for Geeks cover

There is something about Simon Lumb, something that everytime we chat creative juices start flowing (wipe that smile off your smutty face, you know what I mean)…

Off the back of a conversation in Wagamama about Richard St John’s 8 Traits to be great, which I have a physical signed copy of after a TEDx. We got talking about how I tend to own a physical copy of most books although I also own the ebook version. Then we got talking about Instapaper and Readitlater, how they give you the ability to pull together elements from a range of sources…

Imagine if you could do the same thing as a published book? Remix books!

Books right now are like Albums, but imagine if they were more like singles and EP’s?

They could be like the Mixtape of the written word? Fits perfect with the self publishing trend.

  • Example 1: Custom cookbook. Pick a your favourite menu items and self publish your own cookbook. A bit of Jamie, dash of Heston and a lot of Nigella (yes please). Arrange them into a new type of cook book which is custom for you, or reflects your cooking style. It could be a cookbook for you or for someone else…
  • Example 2: The best of… Many times in the past, people have said the best way to learn about Z is to read chapters Y & X of book W and chapters A, B and C of book D… Want to know the best to learn how to skateboard or surf? I recommend reading my custom book which is made up of… you get the idea
  • Example 3: The best places in the world. Could be a nice mix of places you’ve never been to before, places you inspire to go or places you have been to before. Actually it kind of reminds me of off beat guides, but instead of building it from raw components its from previous decent reviews.
  • Sure there are many more including books for young children, books for different learning styles, etc, etc…

The remix methodology is actually very apt, because instead of building your own from the components, your remixing parts of others. Like a Dj remixing other peoples tunes.

The copyrights framework will be a nightmare to work out (we’re not kidding ourselves about that) but to be honest it could be something like the music rights framework for albums and singles? Might even increase the amount of readership for some books? It could be massive changes, or little changes like the art work in the book. Instead of lovely glossy pictures of food in a cook book, it could be technical diagrams for those more interested in seeing those? Maybe the remixes will cost more than the originals but to the person who gets it, its worth so much more. You get the idea…

Crazy idea? Tell me and Simon why? Maybe you love it and want to run with it? Well all we require is attribution… This idea is open to the world… Run with it and tell us when you get rich by changing the publishing industry. This is what places like Lulu have been crying out for right? Just like… My lifestreaming dating idea and my dreamscape idea. Go get them, change the world or go Lazy web make it so…!

The inhert flaw with paying for dating sites

OkCupid has another excellent break down of dating sites, this time its showing how the business models of eHarmony, Match.com and others are conflicting with users finding each other on the site.

If you’ve ever joined a paid for site or even interacted with one in anyway, you will instantly recognise this problem, and this is just the start of the problems.

Pay Sites Want You To Message These Dead Profiles

As you can see from the flow chart, the only way they don’t make money is to show subscribers to other subscribers. It’s the worst thing they can do for their business, because there’s no potential for new profit growth there. Remember: the average account length is just six months, and people join for big blocks of time at once, so getting a new customer on board is better for them than eking another month or two out of a current subscriber. To get sign-ups, they need to pull in new people, and they do this by getting you to message their prospects.

If you’re a subscriber to a pay dating site, you are an important (though unwitting) part of that site’s customer acquisition team. Of course, they don’t want to show you too many ghosts, because you’ll get frustrated and quit, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re relying on you your messages are their marketing materials to reach out to non-payers and convince them, by way of your charming, heartfelt messages, to pull out their credit cards. If only a tiny fraction of your message gets a response, hey, that’s okay, you’re working for free. Wait a second…you’re paying them.

There is a nasty speed dating service which I used once, which adds its results to a paid for dating service. Luckily everyone who was at the event could message each other if they both gave each other ticks in the speed dating section but you would also get loads of messages from people who were paid for members, so you couldn’t read the actual message. Of course most of the actual messages would be from spammers. Weirdly, I’ve gotten more spam from the paid for services that the free one. Maybe another investigation for OKTrends?