Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2019)

The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band - Brian Eno
The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the endless attempts to regain our trust from the big corps.

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 hard work going into building an open hardware ebook reader.

 

A framework for human values

Ian thinks: This work is so essential for all public service, non-profits and government organisations. Starting to chip away at what value means beyond the attention economy.

Yancey co-founder of Kickstarter talks about a new framework called bentosim (full episode)

Ian thinks: Yancey  talks a good game about going beyond financial maximization and society changes but I’m not convinced about bentoism.

Another attempt at the decentralized file-storage system

Ian thinks: Its another attempt, good idea combining projects but wondering about the applications of use?

China’s free market system grab on other economies

Ian thinks: Maybe Jamies conspiracy is a little heavy but a good thoughtful podcast

Introducing the Dweb

Ian thinks: good introduction by ex Mozillan written a few years ago but parts later are up to date

Panel about sex-tech from Techcrunch (NSFW)

Ian thinks: Sex tech grows its own infrastructure to over come the adolescent thoughts of the tech industry

He used the tech and wasn’t used by the tech

Ian thinks: Vinnie and Douglas talk about the importance of the human element in music and everything.

Why you shouldn’t go to Harvard?

Ian thinks: Got to love Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis of the university system, although maybe not quite right. He’s funny and rolls the research into a great story.

The secret ecosystem of personal data is being unfolded

Ian thinks: People are having fun with this right now, wonder how many people will actually request their data? I put my request in a few days ago, will you?

Memetic Ripples

Wispers

I recently did a 1min talk (well it turned into 90secs, but I wasn’t counting) on Memetics and a quick snap shot of what it is in theory. I didn’t do the best of jobs in the short while I had but its something I’m really interested in…

In the short… from wikipedia

Memetics is a theory of mental content based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution, originating from the popularization of Richard Dawkins‘ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Proponents describe memetics as an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer.

The meme, analogous to a gene, was conceived as a “unit of culture” (an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour, etc.) which is “hosted” in one or more individual minds, and which can reproduce itself, thereby jumping from mind to mind. Thus what would otherwise be regarded as one individual influencing another to adopt a belief is seen—when adopting the intentional stance—as an idea-replicator reproducing itself in a new host. As with genetics, particularly under a Dawkinsian interpretation, a meme’s success may be due to its contribution to the effectiveness of its host.

Its a general theory and honestly a really interesting one to think about when thinking about influence, the attention economy, globalisation and our global network. Also really fun to think and understand the  perfect conditions. Who makes for a good host, who holds back the meme spread and why? Is there a link between openess and sharing of memes/ideas/thoughts?

I have Dave, Miles and a few others for putting a name to the thing I was always fascinated with. Sarah studied disease outbreaks for the health protection agency (HPA) and remember the errly similar process of counting numbers as they grow massive very quickly. Network effects slightly excites and marvel me… Maybe a job in advertising awaits?

Anyway, I like systems and things which foster sharing. This is why I like Schemier and as I only recently discovered Google ripples. This I must have missed somewhere on my travels.

Fascinating how certain ideas spread eh?

Maybe you too, might be interested in Memetic theory?

A win for openness

Android on a Camera

This camera by Nikon is a win for openness, google and of course android

The first mainstream digital camera to be powered by Google’s Android system has been released by Nikon. The Japanese company’s point-and-shoot Coolpix S800c model is being marketed as a “social imaging device”. Demand for compact cameras has suffered because of the rise of smartphones.

Is it ugly? Maybe a little…

Is it fascinating and a wonderful combination? Yes…

Google always wanted Android everywhere and it started happening a while ago. Now this is just a logical extension of where digital cameras may go. Instead of some crazy proprietary embedded operating system, why not Android?

Public 2.0: The era of personal data openness

I was in London Thursday for the Public 2.0 conference, which the guys behind the Data Art  project put together. It was a nicely put together conference with a mix of speakers and topics.
I kicked off the day with my presentation titled The era of personal data openness.
When I was approached about doing a presentation for the data art conference. I wasn’t sure which angle to take. After a few thoughts, I decided to contact the data art guys and see what they were exactly after. After a brief chat, I decided to take the more interesting path in this presentation
The premise of the presentation is Open data from organisations like the government, companies is interesting and the movement around this has finally sunk in. There wasn’t a single government proposed agenda last year which didn’t include something about releasing more open data. And every startup and online business is building APIs, so they can take advantage of the overwhelming power of the rich ecosystem of developers, hackers and early adopters. But I’ve noticed a increase in tools and systems to take advantage of our own data and the data we generate everyday.
I was tracking this very much from the sidelines and had not found a decent way of explaining the topic of self documentation. That was till I had lunch with Rain Ashford.
We talked through a bunch of stuff but got talking about my presentation which I was due to give next day. And after describing the premise like I am now. She said it sounds a lot like Quantified Self
Bingo! Having never heard of the movement, it instantly made sense and further research clarified everything.
Quantified Self is the Era of personal Data Openness….
Its also worth noting Walter De Brouwer’s presentation at Thinking Digital also had some influence but I forgot to mention it. Two links from that session http://curetogether.comwww.patientslikeme.com all fit perfectly…

London Geekdinner Facebook group

Geekdinner london logo

After some minor issues with Facebook networks, I have finally sorted out a global geekdinner group on facebook. You can sign up here or search for geek dinner to find the girl geekdinner group along side the geekdinner group.

As you may have noticed in some of the blog comments else where (Regular Jen) not everyone could sign up to the previous group because I left the default network of London instead of setting it to Global. This was stupid because I even after I knew the problem I couldn't change it. So please makes ure you're signed up to the correct group (the one with the geekdinner logo not the red x).

I do make the joke that everyone is on Facebook but I won't be using Facebook as the official way to tell people about events and news. As Regular Jen points out.

The catch, as I see it, is that you still have to be a member of Facebook to view it. That is not what I would call open… it is open to members of Facebook only. That’s fine and fair and there is no reason to hold back from creating such a group, however, it absolutely divides the followers of London Geek Dinners (and London Girl Geek Dinners). You now have a group within Facebook and ‘the rest of us’

Total agreement and I expect to be using some sort of aggregation to allow good communication between the different spaces. This isn't the first time I've had this problem. It would be very easy for me to stop using our tradional geekdinner blog and setup some group on upcoming and urge people to use that instead but I don't. Instead I prefer the older comment system on the geekdinner blog and then allow sign up on upcoming.org. Ideally I would aggregate the upcoming results via there API back on the geekdinner site but this will all make sense hopefully in the near future.

I want to address something Jen talked about in the same post.

Making something very clear: this isn’t about London Geek Dinners, but the recent LGD Facebook group creation solidified a feeling I already had forming in my subconscious about Facebook dividing people. I posted about Facebook last week. I caved to social pressures and joined the service. I wish I hadn’t. I have only me to blame for that (well, and Facebook. Bastards. /images/emoticons/happy.gif.
What I hope I’ve brought forward more than anything is that every time a link is posted to a page within Facebook to the world outside of Facebook, that link (and its poster) excludes people. The ‘welcome’ page non-members get is a stark, uninviting login screen with no other content— it’s the equivalent of a giant, muscly body guard outside an exclusive club’s door. You aren’t welcome to the content within the Facebook walls unless you give up something in return, and in this case, it’s your data. Forever. I have never felt so unwelcome on a site. Even without the information brought to light by the video I linked to in another post, I felt this way.

This is not the way to start or nurture relationships. It’s high-level data mining wearing a social network cloak and at the same time subtly creates social outcasts out of the ones who want nothing to do with it.

I joined it and now I can never truly leave. Sounds dramatic, but Rachel called Facebook a new Hotel California. She’s right you know

 

 

 

I hate social networks for the sake of social networking, this includes Facebook. Facebook is the new roach motel as one of the gilmor gang use to say. I like Jen resisted till the bitter end but once they included a developer API and I started to see some applications being built I signed up.

I heard rumors that the facebook guys didn't sell to Yahoo because they are working on a operating system or something. Well currently you can certainly see how once your in facebook it would be easy to ignore most of the net if your thinking that way already. Its like the portals of the late 90's but with social networking layed through-out it. This may be all good for most people and at this very moment just about bearable for me too. I still can't find a way to put my blog rss into my facebook profile for example and I'm a sucker for owning my own data.

I think Facebook is almost unstoppable without some radical game changing from someone else. I'm hoping that other thing is open and decentralised (the first person to make the concept of FOAF work or the concept of FOAF work will bite a huge chunk out of Facebook) and puts a end to facebook but till then i'm forced to use it because thats where the attention and people are right now. Sad but true.

Please note I haven't mentioned Plaxo 3.0 or Plaxo Pulse which I'm sure will come up when I decide to do a post about lifestreams.

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Openness in data formats

Me and Tantek

Tantek wrote this thought provoking entry about data formats and openness. Which I can't help but kind of agree on and disagree on. So first his entry.

  1. ASCII is dependable. Project Gutenberg insists on publishing their e-books as plain ASCII text as Mark Pilgrim noted, and their reasons are solid.
  2. Compatible XHTML is now also dependable. In the 15+ years since its public introduction, I believe that HTML has established itself sufficiently prominently worldwide that I feel quite comfortable declaring that HTML will be accepted to be as reliable as ASCII in coming years. In particular, authoring what I like to call Compatible XHTML, that is, valid XHTML 1.0 strict that conforms to Appendix C, is IMHO the way to author HTML that will have longevity as good as ASCII. Note that files in most file systems have no sense of “MIME-type”, thus the winged-mythological-creatures-on-the-head-of-a-pin style arguments about text/html vs. application/xhtml+xml that are often used to discredit either HTML or XHTML (or both) are irrelevant for the most common case of keeping archives of files in file systems.
  3. Plain old XML (POX) formats in the long run are no better than proprietary binary formats. XML, both in technology and as a “technical culture” is too biased towards Tower of Babel outcomes. I've spoken on this many times, but in short, the culture surrounding XML, especially the unquestioned faith in namespaces and misplaced assumed requirement thereof, leads to (has already lead to) Tower of Babel style interoperability failures. As this is a cultural bias (whether intentional or not) built into the very foundations of XML, I don't think it can be saved. There may be a few XML formats that survive and converge sufficiently to be dependable (maybe RSS, maybe Atom), but for now XHTML is IMHO the only longerm reliable XML format, and that has more to do with it being based on HTML than it being XML.
  4. Formats that are smaller (e.g. define fewer terms) tend to be more reliable.
  5. Formats that are simpler (e.g. define fewer restrictions/rules for publishers) tend to be more reliable.
  6. Formats that are more compatible with existing reliable formats tend to be more reliable, e.g. HTML worked well with existing systems that supported “plain text” (AKA ASCII)
  7. Formats that are easier to use, i.e. publish, and more immediately useful, rapidly become widely adopted, and thus become reliable as a breadth of software and services catches up with a breadth of published data in those formats.

The microformats principles were based on these observations. Now this doesn't mean I think microformats will replace existing reliable formats. Not at all. For example, I feel quite confident storing files in the following formats:

  • ASCII / “plain text” / .txt / (UTF8 only if necessary)
  • mbox
  • X)HTML
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • WAV
  • MP3
  • MPEG

So my take on Tantek's thoughts.

Plain old XML (POX) formats in the long run are no better than proprietary binary formats. See I take issue with this, I understand what Tantek is getting at but I would say plain xml without a schema isn't leaning towards the Tower of Babel. And like Tantek already mentioned RSS and ATOM are pretty close to the non-tower of babel direction. I would also add FOAF and OPML to the list. I would love for SVG to also be included in this but alas its not. Formats that are smaller (e.g. define fewer terms) tend to be more reliable. Good point, hence why things should be broken down like how XHTML and SVG got Modularization.

My list of formats are slightly different too.

  • XHTML (Unicode)
  • XML (Unicode)
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • MPEG3 audio
  • MPEG4 video
  • WAVE
  • SVG

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