Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2021)

traveling with a passport and boarding pass

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, hearing Bill Maher rip through a bunch of websites and people looking for new ways to track users now 3rd party tracking is on its way out?

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 more nuanced privacy depth being discussed, participating in Mozilla’s challenges moment and hearing Solana talk through the internet health report.


The background story of Tony Abbotts boarding pass

Ian thinks: We all heard the story about the former Australian minster who was hacked after posting his boarding pass on instagram but here is the incredible background story, told by the hacker.

Vaccine passports are not as simple as the media are suggesting

Ian thinks: Heather gives plain and clear reasons why vaccine passports are not the panacea its being made out to be. Its also great to hear Lilian Edwards framework mentioned (May 2020 newsletter) as a way forward.

Gamestop? Rethinking the whole rigged system

Ian thinks: Douglas Rushkoff’s monologue about gamestop needs a listen for a different view, but stay around for the interview with Yaël, previous head of political advertising at Facebook. She tells all and I like the approach of trying to fix it before criticising.

Lets talk about Sharenting

Ian thinks: Shareting is when parents share their kids photos and private information without their consent. Its become a real problem now the millennials are growing up with a digital footprint without knowing.

How Facebook joined the splinter-net while Google throw the open web under the bus?

Ian thinks: Hearing about the absolute mess over news in Australia, its easy to point fingers. But its important to look deeper at whats really happening for the sake of profits not people. I’m with Shoshana Zuboff and others, but I know many people get their news from these massive corps.

A big step for gigworkers, but lets be diligent of next steps

Ian thinks: The Uber case is great news but in a similar legal play to Facebook & Google with Australia, there might be more going on that most are reporting? We got to look a little deeper as monopoly is Uber’s end game.

Ian thinks: This is a devious way to force a take-down of a live stream or any recorded footage. Theres got to be a better way and I think its related to using alternative platforms or self hosting with syndication.

The centralisation of power is the problem

Ian thinks: I like this summary of so many of the problems with Facebook, but it misses the important point of centralisation. It also highlights Noam Cohen’s quote “Mark Zuckerberg is deluded by his own faith in Facebook’s ability to be a force for good in the world”

Public value and purpose into the future

Ian thinks: Mariana is on fire and this summary of work around the BBC puts value under a microscope. I love this line “Value is not just the income generated at the end of the innovation chain–– it is also the creative input at the upstream end, the vital investment in talent, content creation, digital innovation and R&D at the early stages

Google fires another outspoken AI research, who will be next?

Ian thinks: Margaret Mitchell and Timnit Gebru show there is something going on with Google AI research. It doesn’t take a lot to guess what is actually going on behind close doors.


Find the archive here

The Australia Facebook wake-up call

There is so much I want to say about Facebook removing Australian news media from their platform, but I’d rather let things shake out a little because I’m sure it will change everyday in the next week. Similar to not really talking about the Gamestop news last week.

However I mainly agree with Prof Zuboff about Facebook. As soon as it doesn’t suit there business model they will forcefully remove it from their platform. This is wakeup call for all not just the Australian government.

This has been super clear for years and having just finished Adam Curtis’ Can’t get you out of my head. Its once again clear, this is a important point for democracy and freedom.

Unfortunately I think its clear where I think this will go…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Feb 2021)

Survillence everywhere
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, seeing the de-platforming and even the royals snubbing social media.

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 the privacy first search engine duck duck go surpassing 100 million daily searches, the move to Signal messager from Whatsapp causing it to fall over temporarily and Facebook forced to rethinking their strategy.


Its the Internet’s health check up time!

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s well researched look at the state of the internet is a one of those reports which spurs thought and action for the coming year. Its been a tricky year with lots of up and downs, nicely documented in this massively detailed report/playbook. You might recognise someone in the report.

How can we achieve public spaces online?

Ian thinks: on 11-12 March a online conference by a number of partners including BBC R&D bring together organisations and vendors who are interested in the development of a public stack in line with the principles of democratic, sustainable etc. This is all part of the Mozilla Festival 2021 which is in Amsterdam for the next 3 years. Tickets are now available for Mozfest. and the publicspaces conference.

The new state of the self sovereign internet

Ian thinks: A deep dive but also accessible look at the current state of decentralised technology like self sovereign identity. Maybe one of the better summaries.

Some of the challenges to decetralisation

Ian thinks: The post has quite a few errors within it, like how they keep referring to Mastodon as a single network and missed the memo how Gab removed themselves off Mastodon. BlueSky sounds only slightly interesting, but the core of this post is focused around the risk of extreme groups using decentralised technology.

Imagine a Buddhist-inspired AI

Ian thinks: A truly real rethink of AI ethics based around Buddhist ethos is something worth pursuing. There is a lot of modern life which could be re-thought with a eastern view.

Do Facebook really think we won’t notice?

Ian thinks: Will the name change from Libra to Diem make any difference? Its still got Facebook behind the scenes and almost all the original backers have left.

The future of shopping faces the same dilemma as everyone else

Ian thinks: Its later in the video when Ian talks privacy and luxury but also luxury and personalisation. Its good to hear these discussions happening in the retail world too.

(How) will Public Service survive Silicon Valley?

Ian thinks: Although this well written paper focuses on public service broadcasting, I would consider the wider question of publicservice full stop.  Its clear the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook etc are aiming to replace public utilities  Of course I think so but publicservice needs to double down on things which break silicon valley

How eXistenZ, Pizzagate, Qanon and Augmented reality all fit together?

Ian thinks: Mark Pesce is interviewed by Douglas Rushkoff for team human, and its quite a fascinating interview linking all these topics together.

Ring doorbells get on the E2E train

Ian thinks: Well its about time, but expect more E2E and Zero-knowledge buzz words to be thrown around this year. Question will always be, are they actually doing what they say they are? Looking at you Zoom.


Find the archive here

Why there is still an need for public telephones?

Red phone boxes

I found Jon Udell’s blog about public telephones funny but also quite telling of so much more.

Public infrastructure is important for so many reason including for equality.

If you take the telephone as communication infrastructure and apply that same thinking to the internet infrastructure. You see a clear rationale for public wifi, public internet kiosks at public libraries, etc – Yes and also the systems which surround it. This rules out the likes of Facebook free basics, which isn’t a public service.

Interestingly the public phone is also somewhat anonymous. Data is collected once used like where the call is coming from at what time, etc; but you don’t need to register first to use them or sign in to use them. Each of the companies setup to deliver these public infrastructures have a aim of coverage not profits (or they should). There might be legitimate and less-legitimate times when you want this, but this is a choice you can make, rather than be forced into.

These all seems so obvious if you live in a country which encourages public service but worth pointing out. Plus I’m focused on the notion of a public service internet.

 

Could a Estonian PO Box help to keep data on European servers?

old EU map showing GDPR affected countries
Obviously in 2021, the UK will not be part of Europe any more

When we leave the EU in the new year, its clear almost all the American corps will shift UK data from their European servers to American ones. Not only because of cost but GDPR is a pain for them (boohoo).

Facebook are not the only ones, (Google too) but I certainly am considering removing a lot of data from Facebook before this happens. I already moved a lot out of google over the year. But I’m also considering  maybe its time to get that Estonian PO Box address?

I have been weighing up options and it seems all possible.

First I spotted there is a PO Box service for Estonia e-residents. It does seem to mean setting up a business however? Something I’ve been thinking about for a good 10+ years.  Its currently 10 euros a month

Spotted someone on Reddit who was just looking to set up a PO Box a couple years ago.

Registering a P.O Box in Estonia? from Eesti

If I find other options or anyone knows other ways, do comment or tweet me.

Still not 100% that Google, Facebook, etc will accept the PO box but its worth it at least to document it for others thinking the same.

 

 

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

The/our social dilemma documentary

The social dilemma

I just watched the social dilemma.

I have to say its actually very well produced and gets the points across in a way which I feel might actually cause some thought. We have heard this before in many different places but I liked the family story which gave it some well needed context. Although it does go maybe a bit too far in the story. Heck I was wondering if the son was about to get himself a gun…

My only really issue is its very American focused except Myanmar which received a short segment. The insiders don’t reflect the diversity of wider society but of course that speaks volume. But Cathy O’Neil said it best,

Do we really want to hand this problem over to technologists who helped create this problem?

Unfortunately that kind includes the well meaning Tristan Harris and many others on the documentary. Its interesting who isn’t in the documentary, such as people like Douglas Rushkoff, Doc Searls, Clay Shirky, etc.

Is it the business model, is it the economic model, shareholder value, lack of governmental pressure, legal regulation, monopolistic practices, undemocratic markets? Or is it actually a bit of all of them?

So its a 7/10 its good but I feel After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News (2020) has the edge.

I guess the biggest question is what happens next? Will people actually act after seeing the documentary? Thats the big question.

Little note: I enjoyed the older sister reading The Age of Surveillance Capitalism on the sofa. I didn’t spot Cathy’s Weapons of math destruction and there was attribution to Natasha Schüll’s Addicted by design

Mark Zuckerberg under pressure

I found Mark’s replies pretty bad and I’m glad to see him under pressure for facebook. Its also interesting to see his advisors reactions too.

Great questions by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and nice pressure too.

Mark Zuckerberg faced a gruelling examination from the Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday, with questions over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook’s reluctance to police political advertising. The Facebook CEO declined to disclose when he found out the company was harvesting and selling user data to influence elections. She also asked Zuckerberg about his ‘dinner parties with far-right figures’ and if at those meetings he addressed the popular rightwing theory that Facebook cracks down on conservative speech, a question Zuckerberg also dodged

I used to be racist

https://i1.wp.com/www.evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/v6rxbn.jpg?w=840

I can’t tell you how amazing it was to read a facebook post from a friend. It started with those words…

I used to be a racist…

Obviously I won’t say who, as something like this is something them may be ok with sharing with close friends but not the general public. People will judge although they should likely look in the mirror first.

This person outlined how they were not what you typically think of as a racist but rather someone who would have said 10 years ago all lives matter. They had spent most of their earlier years blind to the reality of inequality of women, different races,, people with disabilities, etc.

With a small number of people, I was named as having a significant impact on their world view. So much so, they were very happy to post black lives matter on their facebook timeline and call for the eradication of racism now. Personally this was incredible to see and read completely out of the blue.

I was blown away by this, and it gives me real hope this time we can together make enough of a dent in systematic racism.  That is what we are fighting not police, not the judges, we are fighting a system of privilege which spans centuries.

I lost all trust for Zoom yesterday…

British PM on Zoom
Wonder how many people have tried to dial into that zoom id?

Yesterday I was on a zoom call which was hijacked or zoombombed with something not just horrible but totally illegal. Because of this I have pretty much lost all trust in zoom.

This is of course very difficult as its what we use at work and of course being in the middle of the covid19 lockdown, makes things tricky. Because of this, I’m going to still use it but with much more caution and I’m going to be a lot more forceful about the hosting side of it.

Its clear war-dialers for public Zoom meetings is so easy and well used by inscrutable groups of people. Zoom could make sharable links much more difficult to war dial, similar to the way Google docs uses combinations of characters and numbers to make a much longer url, a lot harder to war-dial.

The defaults of Zoom, is setup for a semi trusted corporate environment. I understand the covid-19 pandemic changed everything but there has been many updates and only now is the defaults only just safe. Their share prices have rocketed but they are only now focused on security ahead of more features?

Their idea of end to end encryption is a total dump on top of the security findings saying some calls are being routed via China.. Today they announce you can choose your routing but you need to pay for it. More governments and companies are blocking zoom because they just don’t trust it.

Likewise neither do I… but I will use it… with caution.

I have been thinking about an equivalent, and thought about two.

  1. I lost trust in Facebook a long while ago but still use it for volleyball events and the occasional post about something I feel could be important for friends, family and the public who don’t read my blog (as its posted on the internet already, I post publicly adopting the indieweb Posse approach, much to the surprise of some friends). For example I posted what happened on zoom yesterday there today.
    Facebook was hardly trustworthy to start with and over and over again they took the living daylights with our data.
  2. There was a point when Windows Vista pushed as the step/edition of Windows XP and I didn’t like what Microsoft had done to it. To be fair I didn’t trust them and saw shadows of where things were heading. So I switched to Ubuntu.I know the new Microsoft is quite different of course but the damage was done.

If you are hosting a Zoom call, please do lock it down theres a number of guides to help including this one.

Facebook tries to claw its self back

Screenshot_2019-09-01 (1) Islington Wharf

I noticed Facebook seems to be integrating Instagram into the Facebook web. I don’t have Instagram and refuse to use it due to their terms of use. But I assume their terms match Facebooks? I find the whole thing annoying to be honest but it feels like a very desperate way to claw back users attention.

Screenshot_2019-09-01 (1) Facebook

Talking about desperate, I happened to see this in my newsfeed. I usually don’t look at my newsfeed at all but something has happened with a friend which means I had to browse a bit (don’t worry it won’t become a habit).

Facebook is so full of crap, and stuff like this confirms it to me. Facebook couldn’t give a flying crap about me spending time with friends and family. I was so insulted by this notice I almost laughed out loud.

I almost wanted to look around to see what other treats (nonsense) they had planned for a user who gets in and gets out; only looking at a few groups for events. But theres so much more important things to get angry about right now.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2019)

The Cleaners film

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the state of democracy around the world and closer to home. 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.

With a focus on new models in business, technology, society, policy, processes, etc. I present my public service internet newsletter.

You are seeing more people thinking more critically about the power of public services to transform society again.

Don’t forget if you find this useful, you will find “Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?” at the RSA London on 21st October  2019, right up your street.

Well-being the real metric which matters

Ian thinks: Sturgeon is part of a growing momentum, rethinking what’s important and coming to the conclusion; in the internet age our adoption of attention is very badly broken.
Found via Lianne

The Technology of Better Humans from the founder of the hashtag

Ian thinks: Chris Messina is always a good thinker and the idea of emotional technology by emotional intelligent entrepreneurs is very timely.

Facebook Libra deep dive with someone who knows what they are talking about

Ian thinks: After the dust has settled, a detailed look at Libra from the point of view of someone who understands Libra isn’t a cryptocurrency, no matter what others have said.

The founder of Scruff on breaking up with Google

Ian thinks: Eric gives a compelling rational why he stopped using Google ads; siding with his users against short term profit growth in favour of safety and the support of his users.

Black Hat & Defcon hacking conferences in 12-15 minutes

Ian thinks: Its fascinating to see the diversity of hacks and vulnerabilities in everything from security doors, printers, voting machines, cars and even canon DSLR cameras.

Why we need to think public transport even more in the age of driverless cars

Ian thinks: There is so much focus on individuals in driverless cars, however its public transport and last mile transport which can make the difference to peoples lives in our future cities.

You only need 1000 true fans?

Ian thinks: I have been revisiting alternative business models and was intrigued to re-read Kevin Kelly’s thoughts in the light of recent concerns over attention. Still holds weight I feel.

From Pixels to DNA, biotech needs a careful hand

Ian thinks: One place I certainly don’t want to see the “Move fast and break things” ideology is with genetic engineering.
Whole interview with Bryan Walsh

Have you ever thought about the people who moderation that other content?

Ian thinks: This slow moving documentary opens your eyes to the reality of content moderation and the absolutely awful side of the modern web we all use without too much thought.

The Mozilla Festival is finally moving out of London

Ian thinks: Mozfest moving out of London a few days before Brexit is ominous, however the strategy of moving location every few years is a good idea for all including Mozilla.
Learn more and get involved

Facebook cafe with free drinks and privacy check-ups?

https://twitter.com/wearesorryfor/status/1162346869017763853

When I saw Jasmine’s reply to Claires tweet. I thought exactly the same thing. Its the ethical dilemma cafe, only 5 years out too late.

Facebook is looking to take the initiative in the social media privacy debate by opening a network of pop-up cafes around the UK. Each will offer patrons free drinks and a privacy checkup, to help assuage consumer concerns about their privacy online.

Facebook Café will run from 28 August to 5 September in a bid to encourage Britons to get on top of their digital footprint, helped along by free-flowing caffeine.

One of these will be located within The Attendant on Great Eastern Street, London, in response to surveys indicating that 27% of Londoners have no idea how to personalise their social media privacy parameters.

Free coffee (what kind) and teas in exchange for? Privacy advice from Facebook, Wifi snooping like most, a honeypot, or maybe a bit of social engineering from FB staff (Scientology style)?

Is it worth it? I very much doubt it but it would be fun to mess with the FB cafe staff and systems. Don’t you think?

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2019)

I decided to start a monthly newsletter with some personally fascinating links I’ve been reading/listening/watching; after presenting my view from Republica 2019 and IndieWebCampBerlin.

I have a number of ways I could run the newsletter, from standard email lists like mailchimp, could use a microblog, I could use standardnotes listed, RSS to email, etc, etc. But for now I’ll add to my blog and tag them accordingly.

So with no further ado, heres the first of maybe many.


 

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the new Prime Minster. To quote Buckminster FullerYou 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 young people getting out and protesting.

With a focus on new models in business, technology, society, policy, processes, etc. I present the public service internet newsletter.

 

Beyond Black Mirror’s Nosedive, what is China’s Social Credit “System?”

Ian thinks: The Chinese social credit “system” is discussed everywhere especially when talking about the other end of the scale from surveillance capitalism. Republica’s panel discussion about its actual implementation today, debunking some myths and brought everything in sharper focus from a western view.

Into The Fediverse, with Sean Tilley (Steal this show s4e20)

Ian thinks: Jamie King’s podcast with episode with Sean Tilley of We Distribute (and formerly the Diaspora project) about the early days of Diaspora, a open source Facebook alternative which was even talked about by myself. The interview picks up a gear when talking about the Fedverse which is all the rage as a viable alternative for the next generation internet

How to “Defeat” Facebook

Ian thinks: Nice follow on from the interview with Sean Tilley, there is a very detailed document from Chris Hughes one of the founders of Facebook. About the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook as a social network. The document proposes how to “Defeat” Facebook with trust, transparency, controlling broadcasting, eliminating horrors, killing the real names policy, etc.

Privacy is dead?

Ian thinks: You hear it all the time, but this is a nice summary of a lot of the different aspects which leads to the conclusion that our traditional notion of privacy is dead or dying? The important part is the linked datasets and the consistent need to surveil for those companies business model rely on surveillance capitalism.

The hidden costs of automated thinking

Ian thinks: Jonathan Zittrain introduces the term “intellectual debt” to the table while thinking about the accountable of AI. Screams algorithmic literacy supported by more transparency, governance and accountability. Jonathan makes some good comparisons how we didn’t understand how Aspirin worked till 1995 but was commonly prescribed and used.

The far right is forking Mastodon and joining the fediverse

Ian thinks: When you open source anything, there is always the chance someone will do something with it you don’t like, want or could even be illegal.This is the latest example of how the spirit & diversity of open source is being tested. Mastodon’s federated model has ways to deal with this but its not foolproof and still not palatable for its creator and supporters.

A contract to guide the web

Ian thinks: Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s working draft document for the future web is open for review till September 8th. Is the aim is to have one shared contract for governments, companies and citizens realistic? I encourage all to complete the form to feed into the process

The Great Hack

Ian thinks: This well worth watching, as it nicely ties together all the disparate parts of the puzzle and asks critical questions of the big data rush.