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.

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!

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?

Decentralise or Decentralize this and everything?

Silicon Valley season 4

Decentralise or Decentralize that is always a question I have… Of course being British, the first one is correct (I joke!)

Its fair to say I have been thinking about decentralisation quite a lot recently, but its not the first time. Conversations with Adewale has always got me thinking about this all.

Partly due to Mozfest/Mozretreat this year and thinking about it in terms of power structures; which I’ll explain more in another blog post soon. But I found a number of interesting points about decentralisation which I thought I’d share….

I’ve been thinking about the differences between Centralised, Decentralisation, Distributed and Federated; as I joined Mastodon and thought a lot about Jabber, Status.net and Laconica. Can the user the experience be better than the centralised services? Theres potential but is the will there?

Kevin Marks shared a link to a piece about Silicon Valley series 4 and how the main character Richard is interested in building a more decentralised internet.

In the first episode of the new season (Season 4) of HBO’s Silicon Valley, beleaguered entrepreneur Richard Hendricks, asked by eccentric venture capitalist Russ Hanneman, what, given unlimited time and resources, he would want to build.

“A new Internet,” says Hendricks.

“Why?” asks Hanneman.

Hendricks babbles about telescopes and the moon landing and calculators and the massive computing power in phones today, and says: “What if we used all those phones to build a massive network?… We use my compression algorithm to make everything small and efficient, to move things around…. If we could do it, we could build a completely decentralized version of our current Internet with no firewalls, no tolls, no government regulation, no spying. Information would be totally free in every sense of the word.”

Hel-lo! Decentralized Internet? That’s a concept I’ve heard bubbling around the tech world for a while now, but not so much in the consciousness of the general public. Is HBO’s Silicon Valley about to take the push for a Decentralized Web mainstream?

Of course decentralisation isn’t a panacea and shifting the power from a centralised power comes with roles and lots more responsibility. It also relies on correctly informed citizens. This is why the distributed and federated models are much more interesting in my mind…

A couple people mentioned Brexit is a type of decentraisation, and I guess it is but further encourages thoughts about distributed and federated. Manchester recently got its first Mayor because of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 which is a type of decentralisation I guess.

Its clear the internet could do with less centralisation but unless its as good or better a experience for people; why would they switch? That warm fuzzy feeling is powerful but not strong enough, you only have to look at the wake of decentralised social networks to see evidence of this.

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

And thats just the developers, goodness knows what the users enthusiasm levels are like? Surely one day it will just work and users won’t even know its been built that way.

Dare I mention my thoughts about distributed online dating? Imagine that!

I joined mastodon microbloging service, not the rock band!

mastodonI have always been a big fan of Jabber, Laconi.ca and Status.net. All are federated services which go well beyond the centralised and even decentralised ideas. But they all were second fiddle to the centralised services like Twitter mainly down to user experience.

So I’m wondering if Mastondon will be any different? Of course theres only one way to find out, and thats to try it out.

So I am… but what is it?

Mastodon is a fast-growing Twitter-like social network that seeks to re-create the service’s best parts while eliminating its whale-sized problems. The distributed, open-source platform offers better tools for privacy and fighting harassment than Twitter does, but it also comes with a learning curve. Mastodon’s federated nature means there’s no single website to use, and learning how to wade through its timeline of tweets (which it calls toots) takes some time to adjust to.

But for anyone who misses “the old Twitter” — the days of purely chronological timelines, no ads, and an inescapable flood of harassment — Mastodon can feel like a haven

Old twitter was great I’ll be honest but its not that I long for the old days of twitter. Its just I can feel the their business model imposed from their backers/investors infringing on why I originally used twitter. There is a blog drafted which is all about how business models imposed by VC/backers/etc ruins services/products. For example Pebble, Evernote, Twitter, etc.

So I’m cubicgarden on mastodon.cloud, which should federate across to other Mastondon server instances. Feel free to say hi…

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?

Is federated microblogging this easy?

everything you need for decentralised Twitter?

I’m wondering if I should bite the bullet and install these alpha and beta plugins under Cubicgarden.com? In my mind it seems what you need for a federated/distributed blogging system is just a few plugins away?

OStatus for WordPress turns your blog into a federated social network. This means you can share and talk to everyone using the OStatus protocol, including users of Status.net/Identi.ca and WordPress.com

WhisperFollow turns your wordpress blog into a federated social web client.
In it’s current form it aggregates RSS feeds in a page on your blog called “following” which it creates.
The links it aggregates are the ones from your blogroll with rss feed data.

And many more…

These would be a good time to have a duplicate setup of cubicgarden.com to test these and many more plug-ins out on..