Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2021)

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Amazon’s destroying unsold goodsICO’s concerns over facial recognition and Tiktok sneakily changing there privacy policy.

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 ethical ratings for fashion brandsthe introduction of the solar protocol and even Google has temporarily halted their privacy sandbox plans.


The future of the browser conference

Ian thinks: There is so much to take away from this community run conference, as I wrote in a blog. I’m sure you will find lots to take away too.

We know what you did last lock down

Ian thinks: The FT’s short black mirror like interrogation feels like drama but its all real and possible now with the cloud of always on IOT devices. Makes some seriously good points

Report those dark patterns

Ian thinks: The Electronic Frontier Foundation goes on the offensive asking you to report those dark patterns. Similar to what Mozilla and others have done too.

Vestager’s vision for the a digital Europe

Ian thinks: I highly recommend the Re:publica conference and seeing Margrethe Vestager again in her new role outlining her vision (with some tech hiccups) is good. I also recommend looking around the playlists to find other good talks including these audio essays and this talk about Silicon values.

Ian thinks: The ICO makes a big change to the EU cookie banner, interesting to hear the American tech view on this all.

When people can sit together

Ian thinks: Enabling physical public spaces with more thought and care for the community. You can’t help but smile and wish playful public spaces existed near you too.

Mozilla puts your data to use for a better society

Ian thinks: This is impressive, although not completely new there no better time to have a trusted company shepherding your data into good causes you choose.

Another internet outage, raises questions

Ian thinks: The outage of Fastly earlier this month has stoked fires about how centralised the internet is for lots of people. I personally didn’t notice much due to the decentralised services I use.

Social graph as a key to change?

Ian thinks: Every once in a while a start up makes some bold but well meaning claims. The notion of the social graph on a blockchain although not new is worth keeping an eye on to see where it goes.

Experience some fairly intelligent machine learning

Ian thinks: A.M. Darke’s piece makes all those silly harmless throw away decisions, very real by the end. There is also a Q&A hosted by the ODI well worth watching to understand more.


Find the archive here

The future of the browser conference

I was very happy to take part in the future of the browser conference, along with my amazing colleague Jasmine. It was a different kind of conference and this was very clear from the introduction with Amber in the future! (amazing and well worth watching)

Each section started with a really different video from different artists. This was a great move with most conferences, generally starting with a keynote before the conference talks) This conference turned that on its head before jumping into number of deep dives around aspects of the future browser. All the videos are now up online, so go have a watch now.

Since the conference I have installed Brave on my Ubuntu machine now and also Puma on my mobile.

There was quite a few new developments I hadn’t really seen before.

Project fugu

Project Fugu is an effort to close gaps in the web’s capabilities enabling new classes of applications to run on the web. In short things like controlling Zigbee, USB and Bluetooth devices. I heard about this a while ago and thought Living room of the Future controlled via a browser.

Handshake

Handshake is a decentralized, permission-less naming protocol where every peer is validating and in charge of managing the root DNS naming zone with the goal of creating an alternative to existing Certificate Authorities and naming systems. Names on the internet (top level domains, social networking handles, etc.) ultimately rely upon centralized actors with full control over a system which are relied upon to be honest, as they are vulnerable to hacking, censorship, and corruption.
I think that says it all, something which many people have pointed out many times as a major problem with the DNS system.

Handshake is an experiment which seeks to explore those new ways in which the necessary tools to build a more decentralized internet. Services on the internet have become more centralized beginning in the 1990s, but do not fulfill the original decentralized vision of the internet. Email became Gmail, usenet became reddit, blog replies became facebook and Medium, pingbacks became twitter, squid became Cloudflare, even gnutella became The Pirate Bay. Centralization exists because there is a need to manage spam, griefing, and sockpuppet/sybil attacks.

Unlock protocol

As most of you know, I have webmontization enabled on this blog and also on my mixes site. But Unlock is aimed at subscriptions and memberships. This is great news, except its not a standard yet but looks promising.

The coming age of the 402

I had heard Matt talk previously during May’s Manchester Futurists. There is a lot of unexplored areas in the http status codes including 402, which could be used to do new and interesting things like WebMon, which was also covered in Manchester Futurists and the future of the browser.

Better ways to archive and save the page.

Saving the page has been a nightmare for a long while, and I found Webrecorder and ArchiveWeb.page quite interesting solutions. Its also interesting to think about the lengths we have gone through to stop people saving the page.

This is why I like these community driven conferences… Big thanks to @caseorganic, @anselm and all the speakers.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2021)

a dark forest

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Facebooks dismissal of 530 million users data leaked and actively being exploited, joining the general dismissal of data leaks this month.

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 Google maps providing eco-friendly routesEurope seeking to limit AI use in society and how Ben & Jerry’s combine activism with business.


Facebook/Nick Clegg attempts to gaslight us all

Ian thinks: Nick’s blog post is cleverly written ultimately saying the right things even touching on algorithmic transparency. However the key message is, you are the problem, and ignores the power dynamic an entity like Facebook really has over their users lives.

What is the dark forest theory of the Internet?

Ian thinks: Yancey (co-founder of kickstarter) shares his thoughts about the dark forest theory in light of a year plus in a pandemic and our ever increasing reliance on the internet. Recently followed up with more thoughts.

Is more data or a more human outlook the future of shopping?

Ian thinks: Data use is a worrying trend and it reminds me how Ford decided the data was the goal of the car sell, but maybe shopping is missing the human element?

How is remote working going to effect the future of work?

Ian thinks: A good summary of the development work if you are a office/knowledge worker. Little for other types of work which seemed a obvious hole in this all.

The doomsday machine: scale is the enemy of human progress?

Ian thinks: The comparisons of Facebook to the doomsday machine is quite a leap but the points made are clear and re-enforces my thoughts about scale being the enemy of humanity

Those face filters were never fun

Ian thinks: I turn off the filters as they are usually not flattering for black skin. However there is much greater affect on women who have their faces and bodies under the microscope every moment of the day causing anxiety and even worst.

A new decentralization pattern library

Ian thinks: Its great to see a pattern library focused on decentralised, distributed applications and systems. Its still early days but do get involved if you see something obvious missing from the current 22.

The future of 3D printing is truly impressive

Ian thinks: There is so much covered in this video, everything from 3D printed houses, food and organs. The most impressive for me after the organs is the bio-mimicry printed structures.

If you don’t know dark patterns, this will explain it all in moments

Ian thinks: Really good to share this with people are not clear on the effects of dark patterns, also interesting to see Trump using dark patterns recently.

Sudhir explores the motivations, mistakes and conflicts of mainstream social media

Ian thinks: Although nothing new, its interesting to hear someone who has spent time with gang leaders and street prostitutes; lend his thoughts to the ugly side of social media from the inside out, in new podcast.


Find the archive here

Adventures in the Metaverse with Immersive Arts lab – Feb 11th 2021

The Bridge: metaverse

I will be giving a keynote talk at the Immersive Arts lab’s Adventures in the Metaverse

Fancy an adventure in the Metaverse? Or interested in what the next evolution of the internet is going to be?…

As computing becomes spatial, virtual and more mobile, and as the building blocks of the internet changes to a blockchain network, in the next decade – the internet as you know it, is going to fundamentally change. Come and learn more and join the future.

I’m going to focus on the public service internet side of things, rather than the layers on top of it. Other speakers will cover that better than myself. Imagine what kind of data can be collected in Virtual reality systems like the Oculus Riff by Facebook. Imagine the possibilities for awful abuse  There is also the big risk of pushing out smaller platforms who are more focused on civic and public purposes.

We are only scratching the surface here… I recommend getting a ticket and hearing more on the 11th Feb.

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.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2020)

How the fediverse deals with trolls

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

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

You are seeing aspects of this happening with do not track being rethought and getting some legal muscle.


The curious past and future of Signal CEO

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

Is scale the enemy of human kind?

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

How to fight black box algorithms together

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

Decentralized Social Networks vs. The Trolls

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

How Ghent removed cars from the city

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

Techdirt experiments with web monetization

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

The role of design during Covid19

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

Understand digital identity beyond self-sovereign

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

Facebook won’t take the social dilemma lying down

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


Find the archive here

Telepath, yawn…!

Friendcamp

I have been hearing a bunch of stuff about a brand new social network called Telepath.

…Richard Henry and Marc Bodnick are. The duo, who previously worked together at the question-and-answer community Quora, today announced a wider release for Telepath, a new app for discussing your interests. The app, which like Clubhouse is available only in private beta and requires an invitation to use, resembles a hybrid of Twitter and Reddit. As on Twitter, the app opens to a central scrolling feed of updates from people and topics that you follow. And as on Reddit, every post must be created within a group, which Telepath calls a “network.”

Hearing about it, I was almost yawning. Another centralised social app trying to make its self bigger and better than whats come before using the tried, tested and very abused dark pattern of growth hacking.

For a very short moment I thought, maybe this is built on decentralised technology or works alongside other fediverse platforms? Something like hometown which powers friend.camp but heavily funded? That moment passed very quickly.

Who cares???

Its the same centralised system with a new face, its boring and I’m fed up of it all. Seriously! Don’t send me an invite, it will go straight in to my virtual bin.

 

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (April 2020)

After truth

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the amount of infected people with Covid19 or the huge amount of scams cashing in on our Covid19 fears.

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

You are seeing aspects of this happening with people rising to the challenge of 3D printing valves and open-sourcing the results.


Your living room has an agenda

Ian thinks: Christopher Wylie covers the natural progress of linked data, surveillance, iot, smart cities, data ethics and echo bubbles in a short diatribe. Taken from ANTIDOTE 2019

Doughnut Economics explained by Kate Raworth

Ian thinks: Kate made the link between human needs and the environmental demands to support life on earth, in such a engaging and simple to understand way. This is the kind of connected thinking which will drive forward much needed changes.

Hacktivists: From Anonymous to Luzsac to Occupy

Ian thinks: Great documentary about hacks, hackers, hacktivists and their political interests. Free to watch in full on youtube

Throwing out data ethics with the bath water in the age of Covid-19?

Ian thinks: Great examples of where data ethics has been squeezed or sidelined during a more immediate threat. Something we should all be aware of.

Summary of Open hardware fighting Covid-19

Ian thinks: There is so much about open hardware hackers doing incredible things to battle Covid-19. This short video sums up so many great projects in one go and gives some great advice for those wanting to help.

The local global revolution which was waiting for its moment

Ian thinks: Helena and Douglas discuss the importance of localism or decentralised, can serve and solve the problems of people. Douglas’s monologue about Covid-19 and how our current media is warping our perception is so apt.

The status-quo is over, the world after Covid-19

Ian thinks: I started to do a similar post but Vice beat me to the punch with this vast (USA focused) post highlighting the opportunities and questions we should have post Covid-19.

Stealing card details in a flash

Ian thinks: As our contact-less cards limits raise to 45 pounds per transaction. Fascinating to see with great convenience comes great opportunity for those who want to prosper quickly.

Nothing spreads faster than disinformation on the internet

Ian thinks: There is a formula for mis/disinformation (fake news if you must) and its been exploited to the max. This documentary highlights the problem stopping on news we all have heard including . Don’t have HBO, here is a Guardian review

Staying safe and staying humanly connected

Ian thinks: I couldn’t help but end this Covid-19 heavy newsletter with a positive video from Vox showing how we are staying safe and connected during this world wide pandemic. Very touching…

Jamie King’s monologue about Covid-19

https://stealthisshow.com/s05e08/

It was interesting listening to the most recent stealthisshow. Jamie King’s podcast is always a good listen and his monologue is right on point. Here is the text copy of the part I felt was most important.

…Of course, we also have the internet to thank for actually being able to continue distributing the show so far the internet’s continuing working just fine even if Reddit seems to be under duress and normally streaming services have had to downgrade themselves. BitTorrent also seems to be working great. And that’s the main thing making this lockdown less weird than it would otherwise be to continued functioning of the Internet because it just enables large part of everyday life to go on.

I wonder how much Covid-19 will contribute to a future rise in teleworking. teleconferencing repopulation of rural areas by people who no longer see cities as desirable and can manage to work as a distance. How much more of the world’s everyday functions will now in other words be swallowed by the internet.

Specifically, I find myself wondering as governments prepare for unprecedented bailouts of business and showing. Just how critical things really are even ordinary individuals, whether the future of money might well make a shift online too and just how weird it is that Satoshi Nakamoto had a vision in 2008 of a currency that could survive a moment exactly like this.

In any case the show must go on and steal this show will go on. But while the crisis continues, I think it’s important to direct the show’s focus towards the role decentralized technologies peer-to-peer collaboration, online and organization, etc etc can help us survive and even prosper. In the context of crisis and whatever comes next.

So the next interview I’m gonna do is with Gotana who’s project of using meshing Wi-Fi notes to create survivable. Bitcoin infrastructure looks to me increasingly crucial. I’ll also be posting that to make world the podcast. I’ve started looking at the ideas politics and technology of building a new sustainable livable human habitat for our future.

You can check that out at make world.io during these uncertain times. I’d love to connect with listeners more than ever…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2020)

Microphones on a desk

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the sorry state of the UK during our EU withdrawal or the tech press panic over the corona-virus.

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

You are seeing aspects of this happening with the rise in unions and labor rights in the gig economy.


Google users in UK dropped into GDPR limbo

Ian thinks: I always thought this was going to happen, once out of the EU our data privacy laws won’t be respected by the GAFFA’s and why would they?

Signaling to the masses, leave whatsapp

Ian thinks: Signal as a behemoth is concerning but its clearly made the best use of open source licenses to keep itself in check. Love the new systems which are being built on the protocol, real opportunity for something very new.

A future without public service media?

Ian thinks: All public service is under treat and hearing the words of the CEO of the CBC, really sends the message loud and clear

Governments who lockout their Public service broadcasters

Ian thinks: Following the previous link, a look at the sorry state of American’s public service broadcasting. The up lift of donations is good but for how long, how sustainable is public donations?

Making the digital economy working for the 99%

Ian thinks: 3 words – Transparency, auditing, diversity.

Spotify’s plans to take over podcasting?

Ian thinks: The comparisons are spot on and its clear podcasting is going through a massive change right now. Spotify’s play to commodify and dominate is hard to break unless there is experiences they can not own.

Centralising podcasting with trapping techniques

Ian thinks: The writer makes a good point about Spotify taking decentralised open media and locking inside a closed proprietary system. Lessons to be learned for future services we use.

The utopian vision of Airbnb vs the harsh reality

Ian thinks: I like Airbnb, I’m even a host but its clear there isn’t just a problem but its fundamentally broken and actively exploited by too many.

Could containers for web browsing benefit you too?

Ian thinks: Been using Firefox containers for the last 6-8 months and find them incredibly useful. The user experience is a mess and provides an opportunity for design disruption.

Rethinking the user experience in age of distributed networks

Planetary.socialIt was David who reminded me to blog about planetary.social, which recently was announced on twitter by Tom Coates.

I feel this is one of many to come. Not another social networks, but the idea of rethinking the advantages of decentralised, federated and distributed networks.

When I saw Aral’s talk a long time ago at Thinking Digital, I have been wondering why don’t more designers look at the advantages and rethink them into completely new user experiences?

Imagine:  Decentralised, Its not a bug its a feature

I like what planetary has done with the FAQ page. You would also expect them to shy away from the underlying networking technology of Scuttlebutt (which is hard to explain to people use to centralised models of social networks). They took the underlying technology and turned it into a competitive business advantage, without breaking the ethos/promise of the technology.

So you got Aral, Tom and many more examples coming out of the Indieweb movement including Aaron

This is the future… Good ethical technology, good ethical design and good ethical data practices = Great new user experiences.

This might sum up the talk I’m thinking about for Agile Manchester 2020.

https://twitter.com/agilemanc/status/1219991870899675136

Decentralisation an important step forward

Its easy to think decentralisation is a new fanged thing the savvy technorati talk about while drinking their double macha latte. But the importance of decentralised networks is made very clear in this VOX piece and the video.

The 2010s: When the Media Lost Their Gatekeepers

Reason’s video post is spot on and charts how the 2010’s started with such promise but ended on such a low. However there are options on the horizon if we can get our heads around decentralised and distributed technologies.

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s work best explains how the world changed in the 2010s—and what we can expect in the decade ahead.

I’m doing what I can to fore-fill that mental shift in the 2020’s by focusing on trust, transparency, accountability, data ethics, etc.

Why one client is a bad idea

 

I recently saw this in my email and elsewhere…

We recently fixed a vulnerability within Twitter for Android that could allow a bad actor to see nonpublic account information or to control your account (i.e., send Tweets or Direct Messages). Prior to the fix, through a complicated process involving the insertion of malicious code into restricted storage areas of the Twitter app, it may have been possible for a bad actor to access information (e.g., Direct Messages, protected Tweets, location information) from the app.

We don’t have evidence that malicious code was inserted into the app or that this vulnerability was exploited, but we can’t be completely sure so we are taking extra caution.

We have taken steps to fix this issue and are directly notifying people who could have been exposed to this vulnerability either through the Twitter app or by email with specific instructions to keep them safe. These instructions vary based on what versions of Android and Twitter for Android people are using. We recommend that people follow these instructions as soon as possible. If you are unsure about what to do, update to the latest version of Twitter for Android. This issue did not impact Twitter for iOS.

We’re sorry this happened and will keep working to keep your information secure on Twitter. You can reach out to our Office of Data Protection through this form to request information regarding your account security.

Its clear to me, twitter’s plan to restrict API access to limit the clients and ultimately force people into using their own appis and always was a bad idea!

Jack talks a good game about a decentralised twitter but lets be honest, its not going to truly happen. Their company interests are too tightly wound up in this all. Of course theres already standards for this, just that twitter refuse to support micropub, activitypub, etc… Rosemary mentions this on a twit recently.

 

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2019)

The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band - Brian Eno
The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the endless attempts to regain our trust from the big corps.

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

You are seeing aspects of this happening with hard work going into building an open hardware ebook reader.

 

A framework for human values

Ian thinks: This work is so essential for all public service, non-profits and government organisations. Starting to chip away at what value means beyond the attention economy.

Yancey co-founder of Kickstarter talks about a new framework called bentosim (full episode)

Ian thinks: Yancey  talks a good game about going beyond financial maximization and society changes but I’m not convinced about bentoism.

Another attempt at the decentralized file-storage system

Ian thinks: Its another attempt, good idea combining projects but wondering about the applications of use?

China’s free market system grab on other economies

Ian thinks: Maybe Jamies conspiracy is a little heavy but a good thoughtful podcast

Introducing the Dweb

Ian thinks: good introduction by ex Mozillan written a few years ago but parts later are up to date

Panel about sex-tech from Techcrunch (NSFW)

Ian thinks: Sex tech grows its own infrastructure to over come the adolescent thoughts of the tech industry

He used the tech and wasn’t used by the tech

Ian thinks: Vinnie and Douglas talk about the importance of the human element in music and everything.

Why you shouldn’t go to Harvard?

Ian thinks: Got to love Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis of the university system, although maybe not quite right. He’s funny and rolls the research into a great story.

The secret ecosystem of personal data is being unfolded

Ian thinks: People are having fun with this right now, wonder how many people will actually request their data? I put my request in a few days ago, will you?