Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Feb 2023)

The Bank of Dave

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing last pass scramble, the royal mail cyber attack and apple’s data use.

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 new range of biobatteries, Mozilla planning their own instance of Mastodon and the drop in ransomware payouts.


Channel 4’s privatisation U-turn

Ian thinks: Channel 4 survives the governments privatisation plans for now, but I do wonder for how long till the plans change again?

The on-demand economy debate isn’t finished

Ian thinks: A really good summary of the debate which has gone mainly quiet since the pandemic put the whole thing on pause. There hasn’t been much discussion since and Paris highlights the need for society

Breaking out of the Crystal Prison

Ian thinks: Its great to hear Bunnie talking, as its been a long time since the xbox hacking and the controversy at the time. Its also a good relaunch of the EFF podcast which is always full of good ideas.

Encryption still a difficult debate in Europe

Ian thinks: There is a lot of great privacy laws from the EU but as this wired post with Andy Yen points out. There is a lot of tension around encryption, which could under-mind the privacy laws created by the EU.

Fooled by randomness?

Ian thinks: So many people think Tiktok is magic but as explained in this post, its relatively high emphasis on exploration is higher than others and likely fooling people. However the point about the user interface is critical to its success and something to remember.

Has China gained a foothold in the so called publicspace?

Ian thinks: The link between Twitter and China propaganda is quite striking, as talked about in this video. What happens next is a good question, Its also worth reading through the New York Times piece if you prefer text.

Mark think about your obituaries

Ian thinks: Nobel laureate Maria Ressa recently cleared of tax evasion in Philippines, has a lot to say about social media and even more to say to Mark Zuckerberg.

A business model which works for a community

Ian thinks: Its not common I mention a film in the notes but the bank of dave is actually quite a good watch. More importantly is the true story and the banking business model which has been distorted beyond its original roots.


See the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Sept 2022)

a group of people walking down a street next to tall buildings, cyberpunk art by Ji Sheng, cgsociety, afrofuturism, concept art HQ
a group of people walking down a street next to tall buildings, cyberpunk art by Ji Sheng, cgsociety, afrofuturism, concept art HQ – via Midjourney

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the ring door bell show, twitter not taking security seriously and Android stalkerware with a flaw affecting millions.

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 some cameras which can optically not see objects and people. Facebook messager pushed into deploying some-kind of encryption and Chokepoint capitalism look very well timed indeed.


1.5 million people avoided ransomware

Ian thinks: Ransomware is awful and is such a big problem. Interpol and others decided to do something about it, to encourage victims from paying out. The 1.5 million victims helped in a short time is impressive

Side by side, the differences between AI image generators

Ian thinks: Over the last few months, the AI image generation world has gone in overdrive. I found this comparison really intriguing although the story of midjourney speaks volumes.

The privacy and security problems of frictionless design

Ian thinks:: What Tiktok is doing is deeply worrying but it raises the bigger question of usability to avoid user agency and data rights.

Terraform: Stories from the future?

Ian thinks: I’m not usually a reader of Sci-Fi but now Black Mirror is cancelled, I am looking out for the audiobook of this book. Interesting short stories about the future we are slowly walking towards.

Could we ever trust robots?

Ian thinks: This talk from the Thinking Digital Conference in Newcastle, made me chuckle but highlights a lot of the problems with the future dreams of robots around the home. Its worth checking out the rest of the conference videos too.

In machines we trust?

Ian thinks: MIT’s podcast about the automation of everything is a good listen. Well thought out and I’m looking forward to the next season in this ongoing question about trust and machines.

The future is bright for open podcasting

Ian thinks: I am still fascinated and still impressed the podcasting industry is holding tight against the larger players. Innovating together and for the benefit of all, a great example of the public focused future.

What can be learned from Netflix’s downturn?

Ian thinks: Everyone has been beating up on Netflix recently, but I found this summary sensible, logical and raises questions about the multipliers of tech companies.

Have you ever considered the term social warming?

Ian thinks: For a long time, I have thought about a term which sums up the downsides of social media/networking. In the book Social Warming: The dangerous and polarising effects of social media, I feel Charles Arthur has found the perfect term.


Find the archive here

Signal or Threema or how about both?

I have been a fan and person encouraging the use of signal over the likes of whatsapp. Its been good to me but like every piece of software there are things I would change about them. For example the whole pin code thing is not only concerning but also a real challenge for casual users.

The pin code thing and phone number thing is not that much of a concern for most but I’ve been keeping an eye on others coming into the space. Threema is one such messaging app which seems to have all the privacy and security needed backed with its strong European base in Switzerland.

I wrote it off in my mind because it didn’t have a open code base for security  experts to view openly. However that recently changed with them opensourcing the code base.

Because of this change I’m relooking at the Threema, although I don’t think I’ll be dumping Signal as a result but rather using both?

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2020)

Greta Thunberg

Good day, happy new year and looking forward to a new decade with you all!

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the next US election or at the endless denial about explainable algorithms.

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 Finland’s new prime minister, Sanna Marin at the age of 34, focusing on climate change.

 

The threat of quantum computing explained

Ian thinks: This is a serious challenger for so much of the encrypted systems we rely on daily.

Why do people listen to Greta?

Ian thinks: Makes a really strong point about creativity. It something I also worry we forget as it doesn’t conveniently fit our tired metrics.

A critical look at economical value

Ian thinks: Mariana makes some great points about different types of value.

Anarchy, Federation, IndieWeb the Fedverse

Ian thinks: Defining yourself in opposition to something else, doesn’t give you enough conceptual space is why I always quoting Buckminster Fuller

EFF’s deep dive into public key encryption

Ian thinks: Its one of those things which is banded about but few people when asked can explain it as well as the EFF

Webxray gives an insight behind the webpage

Ian thinks: The Webxray tool which runs on Linux & Mac is quite impressive to use. Gives a real insight into whats going on in the web when it comes tracking and the advertisement ecosystem

Decentralisation isn’t just about the internet

Ian thinks: The importance of decentralised networks applies to more than just the internet

Jason Silva interviews Kevin Kelly

Ian thinks: Technology, drugs, spiritualism its all in there and its quite a interview too.

Real People, Doing Real Things segment on teamhuman

Ian thinks: The new segment is welcomed on teamhuman and botsentinel is a good project to start with.

Jack Dorsey funding a decentralised twitter

Ian thinks: When I first heard this I almost fell off my chair, then thought this is classic innovators dilemma or twitter seeing the writing on the wall?

What happens when a country’s entire population is hacked?

Hack the planet

I was reading about how a 20-year-old man was arrested in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Tuesday afternoon and was charged with an unprecedented hack of the country’s tax authority, ending with the theft of sensitive personal records from nearly every adult in Bulgaria.

The question is what happens when a country’s entire adult population is hacked?

The scope of this attack is vast, and the number of unanswered questions remains significant.

The email the hacker sent to journalists with the leaked data came from a Russian email address. No one is quite sure what that means yet, but given the tension between Russia and Europe, especially in cyberspace, it’s a detail that’s attracted immediate attention.

Closer to home, the Bulgarians are looking at their government and wondering what went so badly wrong.

Its quite a thing when someone else (trusted?) loses control of your data like this. But its happening more and more.

More of a reason to be more choosy about who you trust with your personal data but also more of a reason why companies may want to rethink holding the data at all! Zero-knowledge proof, client side processing, etc is all part of this. But asking that question about the value of holding such data and liability of doing so is even more important.

Till we finally get a grip on this, more headlines like this will become more common place.

Standardnotes my alternative choice to Evernote

Standardnotes

This is continuous fight I keep having with myself… For quite some time I’ve been looking for an alternative to Evernote on Linux & Android. I got it down to 3, Turtl, laverna and standardnotes.

In the end I decided Standardnotes mainly because I needed something which easily syncs like simplenote and I guess evernote. I liked the idea of being able to run my own standardnote server in the future. But the biggest thing for me was being able to convert my evernote notes. Yes it costs but I was happy with the terms (client side encryption) and comfortable with the payment which is less than evernote anyway. I also been looking a little deeper at Standardnotes. The privacy and sustainability statements are just stuff of dreams. Theres very few other services which can say and do these things.

What about the others?

Turtl, was good but the interface drove me a little nutty, having to login each time and no offline support? Maybe in a few years if the project gets more development it grow into something special and I’ll check it out again.

laverna is also good and is very quick and easy to get going but its mainly built around the browser as it uses javascript. There is a android app coming but its not there yet and syncing is tricky because it stores everything in the browser. I think you can move this to a sync container like dropbox, google drive, etc.

Standardnotes

With Standardnotes., I have added it to Wavebox, installed the Android apps (doesn’t install on my ereader as it needs Android 5+) and paid for a year subscription.

So far so good!

I do still use Simplenote for quick and temporary notes, but not I installed the the Linux app, this may go away too. Now I just need to sort out my imported 2177 evernotes!

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.