Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2022)

Re:publica 22, is this the real life

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed reading about how Conti ransomware has issued in a new era and as always the sorry state of social in the Scientific America and the FT.

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 Mozilla rolling out total cookie protection worldwide, EU making USB-C the standard for mobile and the recent gains in Quantum technology.


The silence is deafening on Roe vs Wade

Ian thinks: America’s decision on Roe vs Wade is deeply shocking but can you hear the silence from the tech companies who are on the very sharp end of this all. Very few public announcements, even today.

Those scams are always there

Ian thinks: The new griftonomics podcast is something wotth subscribing to. In this episode there is a genuine discussion about how laws must catch up with the new range of cyrpto based ponzi schemes.

Re:publica is always worth the wait

Ian thinks: Re:publica is one of those conference full of thoughtful conversations. Its mainly in German but most have been translated into English and captured in a playlist.

The real issue is open vs closed

Ian thinks: The consistent bashing of RSS in podcasting has recently gotten pretty bad. Dave cuts right to the heart of debate and outlines the advantages of ownership.

Ending a monopoly is almost always a good thing

Ian thinks: I’m always interested in how the mainstream picks up subjects like tech monopolies. Jon Oliver would have made Cory Doctorow pround with well thought out arguments, many we could use.

W3C’s Ethical web principles

Ian thinks: I was not aware of this till someone pointed it out during a meeting. Really positive to see it develop and who is on board with these core principles.

Google is never far from controversy when it comes to AI

Ian thinks: What is it with Google and AI? LaMDA is a curious tale but there is a much deeper problem of AI Bias which hasn’t been picked up by the other outlets in connection with the story.

Enough of the Web 3, its all about Web 5 now

Ian thinks Jack Dorsey’s raves about Web 5 is quite something. Although easily ignored as bluster, there is tiny bit of sustenance which shines some light on other community efforts. Just ignore the crypto stuff and focus on the decentralisation.

All about DIDs

Ian thinks: Talking about Web5 and other community efforts, Decentralized identifiers or DIDs is something the W3C have been working on for years. Explaining them is difficult but this does a good job trying to covering most questions.

The W3C become a public interest non-profit?

Ian thinks: Its a mouthful and I did wonder whats broken? But then reading through the future changes from a speed and adaptability point of view. It all started to make a lot more sense.


Find the archive here

My weird lucid dream: Google’s relaunch into tablets?

Old trational Japanese house

I had a strange dream last night… No not that kind of a dream!

I have been doing a number of sleeping/dreaming tests during the pandemic including trying build back up my ability to lucid dream.

With that, I had quite a amazing one last night (Wednesday 2nd Feb 2022)

I lucid dreamed I was seeing the Google’s new attempt at the tablet market. It was different size tablets, from 7inches to 13inches. I assume it might have been the news about root access to the remarkable 2 earlier the same day, which got me thinking. The noteworthy part of the dream was the sales room was in a traditional Japanese wooden house (complete opposite of  apple’s white and glass stores) a distance from the centre of town, surrounded by lots grass and water. Plus the tablets were housed in wood rather than plastic or metal.

There were many pastel colours from yellow, purple, red,  greens, browns and blacks. The tablets were quite thin but comfortable to hold. The tablet supported both finger control and a thin pen like stylus. The screen had some different kind of technology, like colour ink but a more vivid.  I expected to see a new futuristic version of Android to be installed on picking one up. But instead was greeted with Fuchsia.

Other features? Multiple day battery, Google tensor chip, light to carry, usual wireless connections including bluetooth, wifi, nfc, 5g but no cameras and not waterproof only dust proof. All for 349 pounds?

Later the same day I heard the news story that Google is rethinking tablets again. Honestly had no idea but I don’t think for how great the tablets were I was dreaming, google is going to do wood tablets… or will they *wink*

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2021)

Morpheus with agent smith

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed how Google & Deepmind used patients data without permissionhow aesthetics has dominated technology reviews and comparing social media’s effects to alcohol.

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 seeing the EU’s first steps in creating a Interoperable Marketthe open source approach to solar power and the understanding technology won’t solve the coming climate collapse.


The metaverse is a zoo and a silicon valley surveillance dream

Ian thinks: I have many thoughts about the metaverse, but there is so much about the matrix which is apt for Silicon Valley’s metaverse, Agent Smith says “I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it.” While Morpheus says “What is the Matrix? Control.” Both fitting.

The absolute importance of trust and accountability

Ian thinks: As more and more of public services go online, the absolute importance of trust and accountability needs to be established. We can’t leave it to private enterprises as you see with meta, to provide trusted services

Rushkoff & Javis’s invite to redesign the internet

Ian thinks: I like the idea of the course, the reading list is very good. With such heavy weights I’m keen to see what may come from it?

What comes after the social feed?

Ian thinks: Its good to see some early positive public research about aspects of social we all take for granted. Look forward to further development.

The goldmine of data on our phones

Ian thinks: The EFF’s latest podcast on what the police and malicious actors do with the data on our phones once they have it for a short while is quite something to hear and think about.

Is Venture Capital as harmful as we suspect?

Ian thinks: The Freakonomics give a balanced view on venture capital. I’m less positive but also hopefully with some of the details in the podcast.

Can crypto provide wealth to black communities or is it all a trap?

Ian thinks: I’m personally deeply conflicted about crypto but very concerned at how its being pushed as a way to rebuild generational wealth within the black community. Especially by the community its self. Crypto and the Neo-liberalism narrative doesn’t seem to fit neatly.

Whats the difference between Sky, Whatsapp, Anom, Signal, etc?

Ian thinks: Sky suing the US Government is a interesting point of reference, but also begs the question of whats ok and not in the encrypted messaging future.

The enemy in the home breaking relationships?

Ian thinks: The amount of IOT device in our home and their impact on our homes and human relationships is a ongoing concern, with no little good outcome on the horizon. On a similar branch Stacey outlines her problems with her IOT home.

 


Find the archive here

Google’s material you: be together not the same

Android: Be together not the same
I spent some time in the spa recently and listened to a conversation about Android vs iOS in the stream room. I didn’t partake but found it interesting to hear how people were describing both and their dis/advantages.

There was a point when one person mentioned the customization of Android vs iOS, something like “you only just widgets last year”

But there is something which I have been thinking about in that general space.

Most phones are super similar and the software is what makes it different, its why I stick to the Google phones. I’m not keen on the Samsung opinionated software choices, although I understand people do find much comfort in the per-installed software and decisions. I think of it like Debian vs Ubuntu (of sorts). When Ubuntu came with Unity, I always installed Gnome Shell. It was easy enough to do, but its very difficult to do on a phone (replace Samsung’s UI with plain Android).

But back to phones…

The customization is key… I was originally concerned when Google was following Apple’s approach a while ago but then they seemed to understand the power of Android being yours and leaned right into customization.

Having upgraded to Android 12 a couple of days ago, I really like the system. Material you is surprising and is just right even in dark mode.

I am using Yatse remote which changes the background of my phone depending on what I am watching.That change will persist till I watch something else. I thought it might cause a clash but it doesn’t and still manages to look good always. The colour palette works no matter what. What would Joney Ive and Steve Jobs make of this design approach? Can’t imagine they would be a fan. Its one of the rejections I had about objectified the film/documentary is the lack of customization.

I found this video which sums up what I’m thinking. I look forward to seeing Material you on my new Pixel 6 soon.

 

Update your Chrome browser now

The amount of times I have been on zoom during work, someone shares their own screen and you can see there Chrome browser almost begging the user to hit update.

Most people put these updates off and I have really hard time understanding why, especially because the most updates are done in seconds and you are back to where you left off. Maybe its different on Windows and Mac but on Linux very few updates require a reboot. If a browser required a reboot I would be shocked.

The chrome updates recently have become critical with a number of zero-day exploits running wild.

I found this post explaining the colour differences in Chrome updates.

Get a Chrome update when available

Normally updates happen in the background when you close and reopen your computer’s browser. But if you haven’t closed your browser in a while, you might see a pending update:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, look at More More.
  3. If an update is pending, the icon will be coloured:
    • Green: An update was released less than 2 days ago.
    • Orange: An update was released about 4 days ago.
    • Red: An update was released at least a week ago.

The amount of the people I have seen with the Red update is incredible. Of course if you are not sure how to update Chrome…

To update Google Chrome:

  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, click More More.
  3. Click Update Google Chrome.
    • Important: If you can’t find this button, you’re on the latest version.
  4. Click Relaunch.

The browser saves your opened tabs and windows and reopens them automatically when it restarts. Your incognito windows won’t reopen when Chrome restarts. If you’d prefer not to restart straight away, click Not now. The next time you restart your browser, the update will be applied.

Its that easy…

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

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (June 2021)

Mozilla's instagram adverts

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Google’s new dermatology system wasn’t built with darker skin ,the relative landmass the big tech corps are taking in make believe maps and seeing Mob-rule encouraged by the Citizen app.

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 finally processing dark skin betterco-ops changing the gig economy and seeing the number of iOS 14.5 users taking back their privacy.


Digital inclusion in the UK

Ian thinks: OFCOM’s report highlights the importance of digital inclusion which most assume is pretty much over, judging by the general press coverage.

Mozilla on the transparency march

Ian thinks: Mozilla picks up where Signal and Facebook left off with creepy personalised adverts in Instagram. They also did a good job explaining the signals which are used in Youtube’s recommendation.

A Planetary-Scale, Pluralist and cooperative commonwealth for the Digital Economy

Ian thinks: Such a interesting read starting with an alternative to Amazon and ending up rethinking everything. This is the kind of thinking we need more of.

Thorp attempts to make a statement

Ian thinks: Our European friends in the publicspaces collation take on the messaging and (small S) social networking big tech giants with a new matrix based server service which promises to be exciting.

The public interest internet

Ian thinks: The Electronic Frontier Foundation starts a series of postings around the concept of the public interest internet. Similar in many ways to the public service internet I do believe.

The Knight institute asks us to Re-imagining the internet

Ian thinks: There were some good sessions and like most online conferences, you can catch up with everything. I normally would point at one or two but they were all worth watching.

Smart contracts or Smart coins?

Ian thinks: I’m always interested in whats possible with DID’s and smart contracts and this high level Identity talk around Chia raises many ideas for non-commercial use.

The stress of digital currency on our existing banking sector

Ian thinks: The economist outlines the massive power struggle going on with company digital money, p2p cryptocurrency and government backed Central Bank Digital Currency

Why Recapture is getting much harder for humans

Ian thinks: If the captures are annoying now, don’t worry because behavior recognition will judge us all, all the time. Feedback loops make this a reality forever more.

The opt out game

Ian thinks: Its rare I mention a game but this frustrating trip through opt-out web interfaces/dark patterns that we all loath so much, is worth it. Even I have to admit to not getting 5 of the opt-outs correct!


Find the archive here

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 Lillian 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

Schedule messages on Android

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Happy to see Google messages getting schedule messages at long last. Its been a long time in coming after Gmail’s schedule send last year.I have been using the beta and enjoying sending messages at 1am for a quite some time now.

Be great if Signal also added scheduling, although I did buy tasker to solve the scheduling of text and signal but haven’t sat down and played with it yet.

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.

 

 

Apple and their form of privacy

Apple's smug new iPhone ad says privacy matters, just ...

Ummmm right…

I get Apple are more private about data than others like Google (which pings Android phones so much people are suing for data charges) but there is something about misplaced trust with Apple which always bugs me. These latest adverts and recent news stories say it all.

Downloads outage down issues which is all around Apples Gatekeeper privacy and Apple’s latest OS update Big sur network traffic bypass.

Of course this is all clear reasons why I’m very much in the open source camp. Maybe I won’t understand the code, but someone will and can inspect it or track down the issue without signing an NDA. I urge for people to not blindly trust. Always look out for open code, zero-knowledge security, no logging, transparency, etc

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2020)

the social dilemma

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the endless press about Bytedance’s tiktok distracting us from the more important developments.

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 rethinking systems they are using such as Zoom for Education and android without google.


The net of a thousand lie in full

Ian thinks: Cory pretty much covers Surveillance Capitalism but then turns to focus on the problem of monopolies as the heart of the problem. He’s got a real point which he builds very nicely on throughout this free book. I know Cory’s kickstarter for the next little brother book could do with some support too.

The start of a manifesto for digital autonomy?

Ian thinks: This sums up a lot of the issues people have with technology today by seeking to empowering people, focus on privacy by design, increase legibility and avoiding lock-in. Its version 0.1, and can learn more in their talk.

Mozilla CEO urges EU Commission to double down on a better internet

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s interest in Europe is clear to see. The recommendations from Mitch Baker are well reasoned although I haven’t heard much since. One to watch for the future.

Ransomware isn’t just painful its a killer

Ian thinks: Its clear the ransomware wasn’t deliberately sent to kill but the death in Germany does raise a possible scary future. Man slaughter, murder, what would you call this?

The thriving and wilting worlds

Ian thinks: Been recently discovering Anand Giridharadas and this brave talk to the wealthy Aspen Institute criticising them is where his book winner takes all started.

How Tiktok works and how it fits with the splintered internet

Ian thinks: I wasn’t going to talk about Tiktok but I found this Vox video documentary raised much deeper profound questions about the splinternet.

Refreshing look at Citizenship

Ian thinks: Its always refreshing to hear important discussions in different places. Citizenship discussed on the guilty feminists podcast is a mix of fun and deeper conversations. Well worth listening to, always but especially this one.

New open source tool for Tracking Disinformation

Ian thinks: Mozilla are regulars in my public service internet notes and for good reason. The Social Media Analysis Toolkit (SMAT) could be extremely powerful to shine a light on the social dilemma we all face looking at in our timelines. On a related note is data futures lab launch.

Our social dilemma?

Ian thinks: Good Netflix documentary, however I felt like it wasn’t as good as the HBO’s after truth. The family sections make it more tangible but I felt the dilemma was being told the problem by creators and investors of the problems. Problematic? I’m not the only one. Also worth listening to Team Humans writer Douglas Rushkoff’s thoughts too.


Find the archives 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

Epic games serves up some 1984 on the app stores

 

Epic battle unfolds

Its been a Epic (Pun intended) battle going back and forth for Epic games and the app stores (Apple & Google).

For mobile developers the 30% cut has been a talking point for a long while but the fact you can’t use other payment systems really put the foxes in the hen house. I won’t get into details as there are others which do a much better job. I love this timeline

But I found the Fortnite 1984 trailer absolutely spot on. Pointing directly at Apple and their classic 1984 advert.  Although to be fair like most big companies, Epic isn’t clean in this area but the monopoly & closed doors of the app stores is a big deal. Its very clear Epic games planned the lawsuit, the 1984 and the trigger event in a perfectly planned check move (chess).

Shall we get the popcorn ready for this clash of the titans?

Regardless of what happens, I’m sure mobile developers will massively benefit from Epic pulling the trigger. Of course many other big names have also jumped in behind Epic.

Google silently puts a knife into the Pixel 4

The view of the red moon through my window
Shot on a Google Pixel4 through my living room glass with nothing special

The Google pixel 4A looks like a really good phone and reminds me of the Nexus 5x in price and style. I won’t lie, the battery size and onboard storage certainly impressive compared to the Pixel4.

I’m still impressed with the Pixel4’s camera and its still good for me so far. But I noticed its currently leaving me with 50% battery at the end of the day. Its ok but remember I’m not really going out much at the moment. No idea what it would be like when I’m out and about again?

Its clear to me, that although I like the Pixel range, I would go for something like the One plus phone next time around. I mean look at the Pixel4a vs the Oneplus Nord?

One decision I have made is I will most likely this time around fit a new battery in the next 9 months. No idea why I didn’t do it for the Pixel2.