A couple days to still enter a proposal for Mozfest 2017’s decentralization space

MozFest

Its always the case that on the run up to a deadline, things go a little nuts and every year Mozfest proposals are the same. I have already made calls for people to submit proposals in the past and we have got some very interesting proposals through including one which has really got me going.

So you have 2 and a bit days to submit a proposal for the decentralized space still, what should you do?

  1. Read the space description!
  2. Have a read through the submitted proposals by others.
  3. Find something which hasn’t been mentioned or a unique take on a existing concept. For example if you submit another what is blockchain talk, its highly likely to be dropped.(I do find it ironic no one has linked decentralization with net neutrality for example. We actually have no talks about this important issue)
  4. Submit your proposal! It doesn’t need to be complete, it can even be a placeholder to something unique and wonderful. Its also worth bearing in mind theres 3 types of sessions (workshop/talk, hackspace and gallery space). We are on the look out for things which can run for longer periods of time than just a hour too.
  5. Think if you really need a travel stipend. This is usually a big filter as we only have a few and only give it to those who really really need it. London is expensive but maybe theres a way to use Airbnb or Couchsurfing? I would also point out South East London hotels are far cheaper than central London hotels. Transport to North Greenwich is also less bad too.

I would also say most of this applies to the other spaces too…

So what you waiting for? Get writing…!

If you need some ideas… have a read of these

I especially liked what Stowe Boyd said in a interview which sums up some of our thought and direction for the decentralized space. He was answering a question about the future of work, but talked about what happens when you have decentralized networks.

Work can be thought of being two overlapping spheres: the personal and the organizational. Organizations are becoming looser because there is a need for increased agility. This translates into what I call the 3D workforce: decentralized, distributed, and discontinuous. Decentralization increases autonomy of sub-organizations and individuals. Distributed work means both distributed in space but also an increasing reliance on freelancers and partner companies linked in cooperative networks. And discontinuous because we are constantly lifeslicing and workslicing – shifting from one project to another ten times over the course of a day, working wherever we are, and blurring the distinction between work and non-work. This has changed everything in our personal sense of work, and is leading us to have more connections, but of weaker strength, which may sound bad but it isn’t.

This is the kind of thing we are after… the effects on people, places, society not just the tech.

If you have any questions please reach out to us the team running the decentralization space on twitter or via github.

Match group in full effect, time to rethink online dating

Stop Screwing with okcupid

It was a while since OKCupid was bought by Match group/IAC. They then went on to buy POF, Tinder and others.

OkCupid one of my top dating sites has finally dropped a key feature which for me was one of the defining features.

On Friday, online dating service OkCupid introduced its biggest change since its 2009 paid “A-List” add-on package. Starting today, the site’s users no longer see a major data point that has been standard for nearly a decade: the “visitors” tab.

“What’s the value of a visitor?” the company wrote in an e-mail to users. “Short answer: zero.” However, that valuation is shaken up by a follow-up sentence, and it may explain why the Match.com-owned company made the change. “A person who visits your profile and chooses not to follow up with a ‘like’ or a message probably (read: definitely) isn’t worth your time.”

The Visitor feature was key because it allowed you to see if someone visited your profile. Its a really nice feature and useful to understand if someone is interest or not. (there is a way to opt out if you are worried about this feature of course, but you don’t get to see who looked at you).

In short, a user could look through and see who looked at them, which is a potentially quicker path to determining who out there might have actually tapped “like” on you. (Without real-life cues like body language, online dating users can benefit from round-about paths to finding potential interest. As an occasional OkCupid user over the years, I can attest to appreciating any cues beyond seeing what happens when I send awkward, unsolicited “HI HOW ARE YOU” messages.)

Today (Saturday 29th July 2017 1300 BST) I haven’t received the email or the link to visitors is still there in my app and the site.

The statement from OKCupid is such bollox and clearly a sign they want more people to pay them for the A-list (premium service) which will get the feature of course.

I have used the visitor feature when sending a message and seeing if the woman is maybe interested or not. Generally if she looked at my profile, after I sent her the email. Then its very likely shes just not interested in me and thats fine. Its a good indicator rather than the like feature which leads towards a tinder like system.

I also tend to get about 5-7 visitors a week which is a nice place to look for potential matches.

Thus, OkCupid’s statement doesn’t necessarily add up. If a person visits your profile and does follow up with the “like” button, they just might be worth your time, and a “visitor” tab would let you tap “like” in kind and find out. But as of today, OkCupid now only has one option to reveal that information: A-List subscriptions, which cost $19.95 per individual month or $59.70 as a six-month bundle. (“A-List Premium” was introduced years later with an additional $15/month charge and more features.) Free users still “pay” for the site via advertisements, which A-List users can disable.

Once I saw this, I did look at the OKCupid EULA for changes and of course the site.

While OkCupid’s public-facing blog is typically transparent about changes, features, and site-driven research, the company elected to only inform users about this visitor-tab change via e-mail. OkCupid did not respond to Ars Technica’s questions about the changes in time for this article’s publication.

Suspect stuff… or a clear sign the match take over is in full effect now.

John from M14 industries asked how many features have they really got left?

RIP okcupids journals

He’s right really…

I think it is time to look elsewhere, as the original OkCupid idea died a long while ago and there is little which makes it better than POF (another Match group site!). At least they still have the visitor option (currently!)

All this drives my thoughts about decentrialised dating again. If I wanted to leave how would I take my profile? Could I take all those questions and answers I spent much time answering? I have had a task for a long while to make my okcupid profile public or duplicate it on a public platform I can control.

The best thing is there is a proposal which went into Mozilla Festival from the ever capable Evan Prodromou about this exact issue.

I realize it seems trivial to people thinking only of press freedom, but romance and sexuality are a huge part of human existence. Almost all major dating sites are owned by a single company (Match.com). It’s an area that requires privacy and gradual disclosure. Open dating systems are fascinating — posting one or more profiles on the open web in a way that preserves your privacy but allows gradual disclosure and connection.

He is dead right!

Some people, especially those married or in long-term relationships; but they have no idea the personal nature of the data being shared and mined by pretty much one corporation which just wants to toy with you and your life. I called it Endemic corruption and I wasn’t mixing my words.

There is an opportunity for something far better and much more useful…

Updated…

I looked at OkCupid tonight and found the notice saying…

We’ve removed visitors so you can focus on better connections
Without the distraction of visitors, you can focus on the people who really want to get to know you. And when you’re focused on those people, your chances of higher quality connections improves.

As I said in a follow up tweet, this is such a load of crap! The justification is just a joke and their blog is lacking in actual data.

So one last time before they took the feature away, I was able to grab a snapshot… Goodbye OkCupid visitors

goodbye OKcupid visitors

Thintelligence: Why we don’t move to decentralised systems?

Caught with the cookie jar

I recently posted on Mastodon after attending the doteveryone event in Manchester.

Interesting little rant at the doteveryone event.
Basically pointing to our ultimate comfort with propriety & opinionated software & services when complaining about things like Mastodon, Wire, Signal, etc.

All lack the engaged user base to break through because decentralised/federated systems are “just” too hard?

I say balls!

Maybe actually we’re too lazy and rubbish judging long term benefits in the face of short term rewards? Theres a whole industry feeding our short term highs

Our laziness is chronic and I half understand it but then I’m always reminded of the massive industry setup to encourage us to stay safe in their roach motels.

The term which comes to mind is… Thintelligenece?

The state of mind where a person does something without considering the consequences. The idea may seem brilliant at first, but the after-affects usually prove to be deadly. This phrase was invented by Michael Crichton in his book Jurassic Park (the character Malcolm says it)

I’m not saying installing whatsapp, facebook, etc are necessarily deadly but the lack of consideration of the consequences does make me and others worried. Its the short term gain over long term impact? (more cake anyone?)

Something to think about as you write something for the Mozilla Festival this year!

Decentralization, the people, power, money and the future of the internet

Mozfest 2016

I made reference to the decentralised web multiples times in the past but recently I posted a blog about it. I didnt want to say too much because I knew the Mozilla Festival was due to announce the call for participation.

This year things have changed quite a bit; this year its based around the Mozilla Internet health report.

I’m co-wrangling the decentralization space (note the Z not S, I tried but failed…), and of course I urge you all to check out the space narrative below.

the future is here
The year is 2027: Who owns the Internet?

In the dystopian version of 2027, the Internet is owned by a powerful few. Big tech corporations, select media companies and closed governments control the content on the Internet, the data that flows across the Internet and how people connect to the Internet. This dystopian future is closer than you may think.

On the flip side, what is the utopian version of the Internet in 2027? What future do we want to build? Where do emerging technologies like AI, mesh networking and Blockchain fit in? How do we ensure people are the most important part of the Internet?

Join us at Mozfest as we look into the future. Dystopian, utopian or somewhere in between—let’s explore the Internet of 2027.

Exciting eh? but you maybe thinking, well this doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in applying for?

Think again… its likely that there is something you haven’t considered which is perfectly fitting for example…

  • Power (political or system) distribution
  • Devolution
  • P2P technology like WebRTC, Torrent, etc
  • IndieWeb
  • Sharing economics
  • Crowd funding
  • Democratizing power
  • Open data and apis
  • Robustness & Sustainability
  • Net neutrality
  • Emergence
  • Open alternatives
  • Networks of trust
  • Mesh networking
  • The co-operative movement
  • Networked intelligence
  • Federated systems

So what you waiting for?

Add your proposal to the already growing list of proposals.

See you Mozilla Festival 2017

Airbnb’s algorithmic telling off

being told off by airbnb

Its kind of weird being told off by Airbnb.

I’ve always been pretty good with Airbnb but recently I had a volleyball derby match which went on way past its set time due to a thrilling end after 5 sets. Plus it was the last match of the year. This meant turning up late, although I did warn this might happen.

Then I had to cancel for the first time on guest who was due to be arrive at 0130am. I did say originally I couldn’t do it but decided since I wasn’t going to Sheffield Docfest anymore it would be possible. So I accepted the request to find out a week later, I would be going to Edinburgh for the DIS 2017 conference.

So I had to cancel for the first time in 2+ years… but it didn’t take long for Airbnb’s algorithm to kick in and tell me what a bad person I am and how my account will be suspended!

Anything but perfection is unacceptable according to Airbnb it seems?

Airbnb hosting standards

Of course it doesn’t really matter too much to me, as I don’t care so much about being a superhost but what I don’t like is being told off by Airbnb for canceling on a guest who to be fair was asking a lot at the start and for the 1st time since I started hosting over 2 years ago.

I wonder what a decentralised airbnb would look like with a federated trust system?

Storj: A p2p decentralised storage model

Storj: Decentralizing Cloud Storage from Storj on Vimeo.

Storj is an open-source, decentralized, cloud storage platform. It is based on the cryptocurrency Bitcoin’s (BTC) blockchain technology and peer-to-peer protocols. The Storj network uses its own cryptocurrency, Storjcoin X (SJCX), while its front-end software supports the use of other digital currencies such as Bitcoin and more traditional forms of payment like the dollar. Unlike traditional cloud storage providers, Storj keeps data spread across a decentralized network eliminating the problem of having a single point of failure. It also encrypts all data making it impossible for anyone, including Storj, to snoop on users’ files without having a user’s private encryption key. In return for offering storage space to the network, users are paid cryptocurrency.

Imagine storing all your private data across other peoples drives in encrypted form? Imagine getting paid to store this encrypted data?

Well this is Storj and its frankly quite an amazing concept whoses time as come.

This is a very attractve setup for someone like me with many terabytes of storage and hyperfast broadband. Unlike the risks of running an Tor exit node, everything is strongly encrypted and the host has zero knowledge of whats being stored or transfered.

I already have an account as I’d be interested to see how it works. First heard on Steal this show, how the swarm will beat the cloud.

Our embarssment is destorying people’s lives

I just posted a blog about undressed which I tagged #nsfw, as I recognise certain people will find the whole premise a little difficult to stomach? So because of this, I thought I’d post a blog I have had as draft for a long while.

Sex works rights… Why?

It’s the injustice which winds me up. Like the debate around Ecstasy, I haven’t got any skin in the game (if there was a better word I’d use it) but I can see the logical conclusion without social/societal bias.

The idea of sex workers is something which makes people go red. run away or ignore the whole thing. It’s frankly shocking and so crazy that we haven’t grown up enough to talk about this in a practical way. I mean there are many peoples lives at risk simply because we go all red when thinking about sex.

There are sorry parallels with the sorry state of sex education in schools.

Everyone has an opinion about how to legislate sex work (whether to legalize it, ban it or even tax it) … but what do workers themselves think would work best? Activist Toni Mac explains four legal models that are being used around the world and shows us the model that she believes will work best to keep sex workers safe and offer greater self-determination. “If you care about gender equality or poverty or migration or public health, then sex worker rights matter to you,” she says. “Make space for us in your movements.”

Valerie Scott always wanted to be a sex worker and has extensive experience in her chosen profession. She is a founding member and legal co-ordinator of Sex Professionals of Canada, a sex worker rights organization. She has been a passionate advocate for her colleague’s human, civil, and legal rights for the past 30 years. She has testified at Canada’s Senate and at several Parliamentary committees. She has spoken at numerous community meetings, colleges, universities, and conferences about the humanity of sex workers and the need for full decriminalization of adult sex work.

Both are powerful talks, and well worth watching. Deep down it’s about the rights of people to live a life without violence, fear and shame.They both talk about New Zealand which  decriminalised sex work and rejected the legalisation model used in Sweden. The reasoning is very sound and very enlighten.

Hopefully more countries will follow suit or at least try (similar to the legalisation of drugs maybe?) because right now the whole sex work industry sounds like a total mess. (just like the UK right now, to be honest) Too many people (mainly women) are caught in the middle one way or another. Frankly we all are letting down these people by simply not listening.

Redecentralize this…

Nurri-network

Adewale once said  (I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives me a kick next time he sees me, but I think this quote sums up so much. And its only the start of the smart things he thinks and talks about)

People’s enthusiasm for federated decentralised $WHATEVER seems inversely proportional to the practicality of their plan for achieving it

However a share I recently was tagged on to revealed Jon Udells post and a giant list of projects trying to solve the problem decentralised social networking.

Going under the notion of the Alternative Internet, there are some quite interesting projects including…

Ampify is an open source, decentralised, social platform. It is intended as a successor to the Open Web and as a replacement for closed platforms like iOS and Facebook by providing a web application framework to create social apps on top of a secure, decentralised core.

ClearSkies is a peer-to-peer file sync program. It is inspired by BitTorrent Sync, but has an open and fully-documented protocol. ClearSkies is a sync program similar to DropBox, The protocol is layered in such a way that other applications can take advantage of it for purposes other than file sync.

Movim is a decentralized open source social network based on XMPP.

Peerm Anonymous P2P inside browsers, no installation, encrypted and secure. The browsers are talking the Tor protocol extended to P2P and are connecting to the nodes using WebSockets, multi-sources and streaming are supported.

Trovebox community edition. Wrote about this many times but didn’t know there was a community edition too.

Twister is a secure and fully-decentralized P2P microblogging platform based on concepts and code from Bitcoin and Libtorrent (as described in this whitepaper).

pump.io Self described as “a stream server that does most of what people really want from a social network”. It’s a social stream with support for federated comunication.

trsst looks and feels like twitter but encrypted and anonymized and decentralized and only you hold the keys.

Plenty of cool projects but very little traction unfortunately, however theres quite a few which can be used to connect to the centralised networks. Looking at the list, I’m left wondering if Diaspora*, Wave and  Tent has gone through the trough of disillusion and might be coming out the other end? A while ago I thought WordPress was going to make moves in this area of decentralised social networking.

People’s enthusiasm for federated decentralised $WHATEVER

Adewale shooting me

Love following Ade and hearing some of the things he comes out with

People’s enthusiasm for federated decentralised $WHATEVER seems inversely proportional to the practicality of their plan for achieving it

And tell the truth he’s right… but one day someone will crack it and find a new business model which makes it all worth it.

On a related noted, suddenly everyones thinking about federated decentralised services with the discovery of what WebRTC is capable of doing.

One such use is decentralised chat rooms, which for some reason hit some of the smaller press.

The ICT division of NTT Group announced a free trial of the app, WebRTC Chat on Skyway, on Monday. WebRTC, or real-time communications, is a free, open-source project that turns supported web browsers into telephony engines so that devices can connect via IM, video, or voice chat.

Being open source, hopefully some of the enthusiasm will rub off on smart developers, and we’ll finally see non-vapourware?

Decentralised networking is hard, no really?

Sydney, January 2009

Straight out of the “No Sh*t Sherlock…” book….

Although I think its amazing what developers do, I can imagine how hard it must be to write decent decentralised software. The Diaspora guys spell out how difficult it is… which Adwale likes to make sure I and others fully understand.

  • If you build a decentralized application, you actually need to ship software. You need to package, test, create installers, test on a variety of platforms, write defensive code to work around misconfigurations your customers are likely to create, etc. For a centralized website, you can often edit files in place on the production server.
    Result: decentralized is 10x harder at least.
  • Somebody somewhere will run every single version of your app that you ever shipped. It will be badly out of date, full of security holes (you fixed years ago), outmoded graphics etc. It will cost you additional support, and your brand will suffer. Almost nobody upgrades to the latest and greatest within a life time it seems.
    Result: decentralized is less functional, less pretty, and less secure.
  • Decentralized software is much harder to monetize. You can’t run ads on somebody else’s installation. You can’t data mine your users (because most of them aren’t in a place that you have access to, it’s somebody else’s installation). You can’t do cross-promotions and referrals etc. You can charge those people who install your software, but there’s a reason most websites are free: much better business.
    Result: decentralized produces less money for you, so you have less investment dollars at your disposal.
  • Database migrations and the like for decentralized apps have to be fully productized, because they will be run by somebody else who does not know what to do when something fails 15 minutes into an ALTER TABLE command.
    Result: decentralized is 10x harder at least.
  • Same thing for performance optimizations and the like: it’s much easier to optimize your code for your own server farm than trying to help Joe remotely whose installation and servers you don’t have access to.
    Result: decentralized is slower, more expensive, and harder.

Frankly although I take the points… If you want to stand out in a clearly over crowded field, and one which has a major elephant using up all the space. You need to think differently (to quote someone we all know too well).

This means doing the difficult things which no one understands and owning the platform!

Your business model should/could be charging other developers to build and be creative on top of your platform. App.net have got the right idea, charge the developers who then create the experiences. Your focus should be on managing the platform and supporting their creativity. Anything else is greed and/or lack of focus.

What do I mean by creativity? Think about Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck innovated on top of the Twitter platform and in the end the platform twitter bought them (stupid move). Tweetdeck for a lot of people made twitter usable at long last. The amount of news rooms I’ve been to and seen tweetdeck with a million panels open is untrue. The same isn’t true now… Tweetdeck guys innovated on top of Twitter and instead of sharing revenue with them or something. They bough them…!

A quote which comes to mind is something like…

The train company thought they were in the railroad business, what they didn’t get was that they were actually in the transportation business.

I really like twitter but frankly their control/greed/whatever is getting out of control. While on a panel yesterday at the London transmedia festival in Ravensbourne College. I was sat with Danielle from Tumblr, Bruce from Twitter, Cat from BBC and Doug Scott from Ogilvy. Although its tempting to make a few comments about there change in stance, I passed. Although I did notice say something which could be seen as slightly negative. Doug said how useful Twitter is for understanding users and I agreed but I said,

“Well its important to remember Twitter is only explicit data, implicit data is the stuff people really want to get there hands on…”

Anyway, the point stands and its hard to see how Twitter will get into the implicit data game at this point. If they acted like a platform, maybe someone else would do the innovation for them. But back to the main point why would you do it on someone closed system?

Decentralised network systems are harder but will drive much more interesting creativity… I can see how this might be at odds with setting up a business, startup and having investors etc… But I’m sure I could make a argument that its better in the long run…

Bring your own bucket of photos

A little break from perceptive media, but don’t worry it will be back once we have something solid in that area.

I was intrigued to see two things happen one after another. I’ll have to store this one under the decentralised magic or something.

First Tim sends me a tweet about OpenPhoto which is a decentralised flickr (my words not theres)

The inception of OpenPhoto was a desire to liberate our photos and take back control. Like you, our photos are the most valuable digital files we have. Also like you, we’ve used Flickr, Picasa and Smugmug and wound up with our photos scattered across numerous sites on the web.

So I signed up and will be looking to move my pictures from Flickr to OpenPhoto when the flickr subscription runs out in May. Which reminds me I need to download all my photos using this lovely app on Ubuntu. It requires you to bring your own bucket or storage system. So right now you can either use Amazon S3 or Dropbox

Then almost like magic, Dropbox quietly announced they were doing Google+ like automatic upload of photos to your dropbox account.

Even though the holidays have passed, we’re really stoked to give you guys one more present — a new experimental release! Under the wrapping you’ll find a bunch of new toys, including a brand new Camera Upload feature. Here are the release notes:

• Automatically uploads photos and videos in the background using Wi-Fi or data plan

Together you have a complete solution to sidestep Google’s Picassa, Flickr’s reach and all other solutions. I just hope some of Flickr’s magic has rubbed off on OpenPhoto, as a decentralised Flickr is no easy feat. And I have to wonder how they stay sustainable if the money is going to Dropbox and Amazon.

Update – If OpenPhoto and SpiderOak would work together, I wouldn’t have to move anything at all. Although I’m wondering how permissions work? Wouldn’t want to just hand over my Spideroak authentication, as it has lots of my private backups. However its worth noting SpiderOak does support dropbox-like shares and Oauth, so that could work…