Founder Member of the Responsible Tech Collective – Interview

EMF Camp complete with Lasers
The bright future for the public service internet?

Following the talk I did at the Bright Ideas recently.

I also recently spoke with the Responsible Tech Collective, which is mainly out of Manchester.

The collective is a community of cross-sector organisations and community representatives, working to (first) establish Greater Manchester as an equitable, inclusive and sustainable examplar for responsible tech, through putting people first in its creation.

The collective has been one of those interesting groups which has been doing a lot around what I’m calling the public service internet ecosystem. Another group out of Manchester is Open Data Manchester.

You can read the whole piece on Medium below.

View at Medium.com

Its a good read and I especially like how it links different pieces of work together. Mainly the Adaptive podcasting, Personal Data Stores and Living room of the future in with the ethos of a Public Service Internet. The list of podcasts was a surprise question and hopefully will be of interest to others.

This all reminds me clearly why I moved to Manchester.

My talk at the Bright ideas gathering

I have been pretty busy recently and had not as much time to do much blogging. To be fair my mastodon microblogging has increased quite a bit, can’t think why…

During the busy last few months, I gave a talk at Durham’s Bright ideas gathering. It was a really good event which felt like a TEDx with a number of different topics and speakers.

Originally I was going to give a talk about the recently launched Adaptive podcasting but gave it more context with why its a important project. Along the way we stop at the big changes coming to the BBC looking at my own personal view of moving to Manchester.

Thank to Herb and the team which delivered another excellent conference even in the middle of train strikes.

I shared the slides on slideshare (which is still a thing it seems)

 

The future of public service broadcasting is closer than you think

The other day a family member said to me.

I remember ages ago you talking about something you were researching around personal data stores. Then I saw on the most recent click, something similar.

I looked it up, knowing colleagues in the team have recently done a interview with BBC click and found the above video. Its great to see it being used in unique ways and always reminds me of the great BBC news story “Why the BBC does not want your data

To me its clear a personal data store is a key part of the public service internet ecosystem. There is much more to it but people controlled data is a key corner stone. Its also why the Perceptive Radio sits next to MyPDS/Datapod in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

MyPDS and Perceptive Raido

My role in personal data store project ended a while ago but I’m still involved in tangential research around this all. Part of it being the living room of the future and other new research.

The public service internet is one step closer… everyday!

Join us! Its going to be great!

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

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2022)

This land is your land

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed reading about the not well known dangers of databrokers, likewise the surprise? inequality effects everyone, and hearing the details of Facebooks paid smear campaign,

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 power of community, Reddit’s /place working together and different ways to do notifications.


Community door deliver fills in gaps

Ian thinks: This reminds me of the community WiFi initiatives, which filled in the gaps of big internet companies which refused to support smaller communities. However I can see these growing, with the backlash against generic speedy delivery systems.

The metaverse’s architecture is simply lazy

Ian thinks: In my recent Mozfest session about the metaverse vs public service internet. I was highly critical of repeating the same mistakes of the physical world in the virtual world. I’m not the only one.

Lessons for a metaverse

Ian thinks: On a similar note, there are plenty of lessons for virtual space creators, but I wonder how many are actually paying attention?

P2P fashion renting, focuses on the community

Ian thinks: Not my usual interest but shrinking fast fashion’s carbon footprint is interesting. However its the community focus and peer 2 peer model which elevates it into this line up this month. Expect this business model to be duplicated over and over again.

Sunshine technology

Ian thinks: This BBC Click episode is focused on solar technology and there are some impressive developments. The limits are made clear but frankly I’m reconsidering my next pair of headphones.

Channel 4 sell off shows the misunderstanding of public service business models

Ian thinks: Much has been written about the recent announcement to sell off Channel 4 but the misunderstanding of the business model of Channel 4 isn’t just embarrassing but shocking that people assume the model is one way.

Leap frogging with 3D printing and communities

Ian thinks: I always liked the idea of leap frogging in tech but things tend not to stick unless there is influence from governments or a ground swell of community support.

Secrecy as a means of monetization?

Ian thinks: The joy of tinkering, making, and sharing is part of the human condition. In modern times, this creative freedom too often is stifled by secrecy as a means of monetization – from non-compete laws to quashing people’s right to repair the products they’ve already paid for.

Twitter is not a digital public space

Ian thinks: The whole Elon and twitter saga is simply boring, and I do not buy Elon’s idea of Twitter being the public square. Paul’s piece sums up some critical thoughts around this all.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Feb 2022)

Hello Chatterbox

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the Kazakhstan’s crypto boomthe Red Cross cyber attack and dare I say it the capitalist technocratic nightmare or simply the metaverse.

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 un-recycled plastics turned into building bricks, this years grant for the web’s awardees plans and the final death nail of Diem.


You can’t get much more decentralised than bittorrent?

Ian thinks: Although the conversation is mainly about piracy or lack of it. There is a interesting discussion about the current idea of web3 and how the protocols used in piracy are closer to decentralisation.

Software used as business strategy

Ian thinks: Although I think Gizmodo go a bit off the deep end. There is a growing number of software updates being used as a business model

Teaching AI literacy through making

Ian thinks: I love the idea of chatterbox, and the values behind the project are spot on. Just perfect for a generation growing up with voice assistants and always being listened to.

A sobering look at the colonisation of innovation

Ian thinks: This very thoughtful piece from Branch is something I think about a lot. It will have you rethinking all the recent news about space, the metaverse, web3, etc in a very different light.

Should we fix or re-imagine surveillance capitalism

Ian thinks: Ethan Zuckerman joins the EFF to discuss ways forward for public and private spaces online. Lots of mentions about the importance of interoperability

Zuckerman reimagines a better internet

Ian thinks: Ethan Zuckerman again, I found this piece a good summary of the aims, focus and projects being actively worked on with others.

Interpol ordered to remove a trove of data under GDPR

Ian thinks: There is a number of view points on this news, but its worth remembering GDPR does not apply to security agencies. Meaning the news stories are not necessarily as clean cut as the headlines say.

The EFF like the DSA but outline whats missing

Ian thinks: The EFF with their bigger interest in whats happening in Europe, outline what the Digital Services Act (DSA) got right and whats missing. Its a thoughtful blog from the EFF in Europe

Whats your plans for the digital afterlife?

Ian thinks: Digital legacy is a really messy area and this wired piece covers quite a bit before ending up in the world of Black Mirror. Interesting place for public services nonetheless.

The tech workers handbook

Ian thinks: What a selection of resources for tech workeds who decide to speak out on issues related to public interest, like the ones you will see in the press and across this newsletter.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Sept 2021)

Metaverse

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the lack of coverage for facebook whistleblower sophie zhang, thinking about those batteries and yet another data breach.

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 twitter crop bias bug bounty, the discussion about removing the landline and the social dilemma free on youtube for a month.


Tech Crunch gets on the moving train

Ian thinks: Reading this, I can’t really take Techcrunch seriously, because for every one of these startups focused on privacy and security. Theres at least 20 more startups covered the opposite. Maybe its just me?

Envisioning the future of social media

Ian thinks: This interview with Ethan Zuckerman is full of some great points to get you thinking, I find it hard to disagree with Ethan especially around using affordances and setting up small town based on Mastodon.

Values not eyeballs please

Ian thinks: Its always interesting to hear from experts in the space, on the work you are involved in. Its a really good read especially if you haven’t come across the Human Values, which also has new podcast interviews.

Apple cares about your privacy?

Ian thinks: I do find it so ironic, Apple making a song a dance about their privacy changes but their own browser Safari, not including any strong level of privacy? Of course Apple are in privacy hot water for much more too.

What is really behind Only Fans new policy? and its Uturn?

Ian thinks: There is a important question about the platform and who has influence over the platform. As this twitter thread says, you really need to think about the platform & infrastructure,

The dystopia which is the metaverse

Ian thinks: There is so much talk about the metaverse but few looking at the privacy, security, infrastructure and trust within this space. Till then I can’t help but think Vice is kind of right.

Its started with a MP3 player

Ian thinks: Dan Hon’s rant starts with a want and spans the internet media ecosystem, pointing out so many of the problems we all know too well.

Blackhat & Defcon happened, here’s the scary flaws

Ian thinks: I always love seeing what comes out of these security events. You can also watch the full videos from Blackhat and Defcon online here.

Web Monetization showcase

Ian thinks:The webmon showcase is a nice summary of some of the projects which came out of the Grant for the web initiative

Mozilla thumbs down Facebooks claims about Ad Observer

Ian thinks: Its so interesting to see Facebook’s concerns around Ad observer squashed in one post by the privacy first Mozilla. This is deeply concerning behavior, what is Facebook worried about?


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

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2021)

Snowdon tells us we can fix the internet for all

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, hearing how much Salesforce have spent on Slack, the news about Solarwinds and Airbnb’s IPO (why exactly?)

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 emerging with Snowdon telling us its possible to fix thingsthe Economist’s look to 2021, this inspiring list of books of hope and the final end of proprietary Adobe Flash.


The Solid project hits a mile stone in development

Ian thinks: Following BBC R&D’s new forms of value, one of the key research aims is using personal data stores. Solid is one such personal data store and its hit a mile stone with a number of different partners.

The ODI Summit 2020

Ian thinks: The ODI’s summits are always full of great talks and discussions. This years virtual summit is no exception with talks ranging from how we collaborate across border (perfectly timed as the UK leaves the EU) to Elizabeth Denham on who decides how we can use data.

The 3rd way: liberalism, Europe and a antivirus for the mind

Ian thinks: Yuval Noah Harari’s speech about the state of liberalism and Europe is worth listening to even if the panel is less so. Its a German conference but the subtitles help, while Yuval speaks in English throughout. His points are strong and worth remembering, especially the Netflix one.

Nicer businesses reap the bigger rewards

Ian thinks: A good summary of different businesses which operate in a more human fashion and the benefit they gain from this approach. Doesn’t include the usual B-corp names like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia.

Has your local Coop been tracking you and fellow shoppers

Ian thinks: We hear so much about this happening elsewhere, not your local supermarket. Although its adopted a closed loop system, there’s still questions about the bias set in the algorithm being used.

Facebook is another US Corp avoiding EU privacy laws around UK data

Ian thinks: Brexit has far reaching ramifications, but many didn’t foresee their personal data being moved to American law. First Google and now Facebook. Look out for more in the new year.

The nation state as a subscription?

Ian thinks: It was during a conversation with the Future Today Institute about my Estonian e-residency and potential digital nomad visa. Than the notion of a subscription to nation states was considered a possible future. Might seem strange but its clear the idea of a nation state is overdue a change.

TechCrunch editors choose their top stories of 2020

Ian thinks: I found the choice of stories quite different and varied for 2020. I imagine every other year previously in Techcrunch would be much less focused on the effect of technology on society.

The biggest hacks of 2020

Ian thinks: Hearing the numbers of affected people increasing as Shannon gets closer to number one, is just unbelievable. I expected Solarwinds to be number one but yes number one is absolutely deserved. So clear how integrated the digital & physical are.

The future of social media, content moderation and censorship with the EFF

Ian thinks: Good honest discussion with EFF on topics affecting the internet right now. On a similar vein, you may also like a podcast Manchester Futurists recorded with Derek Caelin too.

Some things to take forward into 2021

Ian thinks: Lets be honest 2020 was a awful year, but there was lots of good things within the year which do need to be remembered and taken forward into 2021.


Like this, find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2020)

Jessica gordon nembhard

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, watching people shaming others for not working extra hard during the pandemic, employers spying on their employees and our continuing reliance on centralised servers.

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 Google implementing Signal’s open source E2EE protocol and Google loosening control of the Chromium project


BBC R&D’s New forms of value research explained by MaxAlexLianne and myself

Ian thinks: Yes this is a bit meta but its great to deep dive into the cutting edge research of BBC R&D’s lab. Remember its all for the benefit of the citizens of the UK and far wider. Worth also listening to the Human Values podcast series if you want to know more about what Lianne talks about.

The Solid project hits a mile stone in development

Ian thinks: Following BBC R&D’s new forms of value, one of the key research aims is using personal data stores. Solid is one such personal data store and its hit a mile stone with a number of different partners.

Hacking society for the sake society

Ian thinks: Bruce Schneier’s talk from Tech Open Air is well worth 20mins of your time. Its a combinations of what goes into these notes. Security, privacy, hacking, dis-information, policy and the internet.

The key for securing our shared water future

Ian thinks: In this sobering Tedx talk, Seth makes clear we are running low on shared water. Seth talks about a rethink of our policy, technology and cooperation around this space.

What black ideas from the past we could take into the future

Ian thinks: Jessica and Douglas talk about how black communities already developed circular economic mechanisms and how effective they have been.

Technology always transforms ethics

Ian thinks: Juan’s thoughts are important to take in, he touches on so many points from ethics to politics. All framed within alongside technology disruption. I did find it strange he never used Brexit in his last reply about example of breaking up a nation.

An unscientific look at algorithms and my phone is still listening to me

Ian thinks: Wired magazine creates a quick and dirty test looking at Youtube’s recommendation algorithm. Plus that classic notion that your phone is listening to you.
Both are crude but if the social dilemma has taught me anything these actually help convince people

The challenges of IP in the coming world of ubiquitous game engine use

Ian thinks: Found via Simon Lumb, a real in-depth look at the challenges around IP in a world of game engines. There is also a podcast if like me you prefer audio

A musical trip into Nerdcore *explicit language

Ian thinks: Hip-hop artists talk about their reality and Nerdcore is no different. Its impressive and fascinating to hear how integrated internet & hacking culture has become in these artists life.


The archive is available here

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

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2020)

Dark estonia
Photo by Kevin Lehtla on Unsplash

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed watching the twitter hack fall out and the cult like increase in conspiracies theories.

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 the new Estonian digital nomad visa and a steady drive of transparency questions levelled at Facebook.


Protocols, Not Platforms

Ian thinks: This paper really sets out the problems of the current mainstream internet. Platform building opposed to open protocols which everybody can use. Its well thought out and substantial in its arguments.

The growing changes in robot technology, iot and 3D printing

Ian thinks: I am impressed with the bio-mimicry in some of the robots. Its certainly the way to go, learning from nature. If only we could save it too.

Estonia launches a new type of visa for digital nomads

Ian thinks: Estonia was the first country with e-residency and they have flatten the world one more time with a new type of visa, allowing people to work for a remote company for up to 90 days.

If I earn a bitcoin everytime some asked me about the darkweb…

Ian thinks: Although the speaker doesn’t do himself any favours with a blurred out face, he crushes a lot of the typical questions I have been asked about the darkweb

Insight into the dark world of shadow brokers

Ian thinks: Its fascinating to hear about the unsolved puzzle of shadow brokers who sold NSA surveillance tools on the open market. Another reason why government encryption back-doors are such a bad idea.

What are the applications using blockchain technology right now?

Ian thinks: There is a lot of scepticism about crypto technology but I found this video from Crypto startup school, useful looking at the direction and focus of the actual applications which currently exist. The questions are pretty intruding too.

An atlas of surveillance

Ian thinks: Ok this is mainly American but its quite a unique database of different types of surveillance, how they are used and for what purpose. Good work by the EFF.

Emerging tech overview with Node

Ian thinks: Starting with drone delivery and ending with human assisted tech. Node is a great place for summaries on emerging open tech advancements.

Mozilla wants your advice on how to make the internet healther

Ian thinks: If you had only one question for Mozilla, what would it be? Well here is your chance to think and submit that one question.


Find the archive here

Is it about time twitter was put under a public remit?

Twitter: Handle with care
Photo by Ravi Sharma on Unsplash

You can’t have missed the twitter (social engineering) hacks.

It was pretty bad but no where near as bad as it could have been. Others have thought exactly the same as I have, bitcoin and direct messages was just the start, they could have started world war 3.

Ok this is still a live hack with new information coming out every hour but its clear as sight. International and even national politics shouldn’t be announced on twitter or any social media really.

However lets be clear, that level of power in one place is just too great one  company. Another example is Facebook and what happened with Cambridge Analytica.

I know Jack was talking about decentralising twitter a while ago but something as big and powerful likely needs two things.

  1. Be decentralised or federated
  2. Be something more like a public utility than a profit making company

I know many will disagree but honestly I would feel much more safer with twitter under a different remit, a public remit? (I do not mean government control)

Not to say the social engineering wouldn’t have happened but there would be a stricter understanding of the importance and more accountability for the attention & power it has currently.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2020)

Hackers hoodwink facial recognition software with masks

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed considering the new normal for cybersecurity or uber’s underhanded approach to get its Jump bikes back.

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 projects to finally make clear IOT devices more legible and the EU putting weight behind Free and Open software.


The world we want post Covid19

Ian thinks: I have read a lot of post covid19 predictions, even started writing my own. But this one really felt more like a manifesto for where to go next.

Technology which perpetuates racism

Ian thinks: Good look at tech policy decisions which directly affect people of colour.

Beyond the tweets of support, where’s your tech being used?

Ian thinks: There is a real murky history of tech companies helping to arm law enforcement with stronger and ways to enforce without real regulation or legal oversight.

How do you defend against an opaque system of surveillance?

Ian thinks: Terrifying story of a man wrongly accused by an algorithm. He’s not the first and won’t be the last, the call for transparency, legibility and legal oversight is ever so strong.

How Taiwan used digital tools, to solve the Covid19 pandemic

Ian thinks: Taiwan mainly avoided the Covid19 lockdown. Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, shares how tools/techniques like crowdsourcing, a transparent supplies system and the use of humor on social media have resulted in less than 500 confirmed cases.

Is anonymous or actually hacktivism which is back?

Ian thinks: Theres been an uptake in techniques similar to anonymous & occupy in the wake of . Its a mistake they are back when this simply the future of protests?

Why is the police body camera a false hope?

Ian thinks: Its all American body cameras in the studies, however there are similar aspects in the UK which are starting to stir.

Different ways to defeating facial recognition

Ian thinks: Great summary of techniques to defeat facial recognition complete with demos. Take your pick which most suits your style.

A comprehensive guide book to manifesting reality

Ian thinks: I know a lot people prefer paper to digital, and the node zine is a great e/book covering a lot of the digital technologies I cover in the public service internet newsletters. You can download if for free or order a nice print copy.

The future of work post covid19?

Ian thinks: There’s a lot debate over the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. Each case is different but I found this economist video had all the points nicely wrapped up in short video. Lots to think about as the world starts to open again.


Find the archive here

Imagine a public service video conference service

Its pretty disheartening to hear about people who seeking/getting help for addiction being trolled. Business insider’s article about Trolls breaking into AA meetings held on Zoom and harassing recovering alcoholics. Speaks volumes about where we currently are with our technology and society.

Its easy to blame the people who would troll people who are seeking help and support. Yes but also Zoom are to blame? Well thats a very easy target and they are not doing themselves any favors although they recently seem to be sorting themselves out. The problem with default settings is a well known problem and the easy thing to do is switch to another platform right?

Looking at the list in the Guardian, its clear the amount which are profit making businesses just like zoom. Its not exactly their fault, the scenario of the public using your service for to run a help group wasn’t in the business plan.

Maybe its time there was a business which did have that in their plans? Maybe not a business at all? Maybe an organisation with public interest & benefit at the centre of its remit?

This is something I was thinking through with Herb the other day, as we talked through the problems with Zoom. Could an organisation like for example the BBC run a video conferencing system for the benefit of the public?

Wouldn’t this conflict with existing commercial businesses and be a problem? Nope not if done correctly. I used healthcare when talking with Herb.

The NHS is a catch all and provide baseline health care. If you want to pay for better/quicker healthcare you can pay BUPA or someone else. In the same way, could the BBC or others provide baseline video conferencing aimed to give everybody a free platform which is  basic but focused on important things like privacy, security, anonymity, etc. This means no custom backgrounds, no filters, no full HD, etc. Thats the realm of the  commercial providers.

I know its a thin line but we can’t such important public services be hostage to commercial factors/models.

There is another aspect to this, the public sector could finally double down on services which preserve privacy and security of the public with software which is audit-able, has levels of transparency and is decentralised & distributed in nature.  For example I was checking out Jitsi with its webRTC support. Jitsi meet might struggling if everybody is hitting the main site but as its self installable, suits a more decentralised model. A public company could easily set it up and run it for under-served audiences?

Thoughts?