Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (June 2022)

Digital Literacy for Seniors

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed reading how Paypal wrote the crypto playbook, seeing the incredible insecurity of smart locks,  and is Bluesky going anywhere soon?

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 FT mentioning Mastodon, The right to repair research and the Lumous system identifying all those hidden camera in hotels.


Our password-less future is one step closer

Ian thinks: Everyone is throwing their weight behind FIDO and its looks extremely useful. Finally something which is user friendly, easy to use and secure.

Can you really trust that mental health app?

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s research into those apps many people used during the pandemic and varies lockdowns is simply a horror story. There has to be a better solution which doesn’t rely on misplaced trust?

Period tracking apps are tracking you

Ian thinks: On a similar note to the previous one, the consumer reports article is full of very useful tips to protect you. These are good for almost every single app I would say.

Dove uses deep fakes to really tell the story

Ian thinks: Dove’s self esteem project is consistently doing great things for society. Deep faked mothers talking to their daughters while sitting next to their real mothers is just incredible and so well thought out.

Proton taking on Google with a privacy edge

Ian thinks: Andy Yen Proton’s CEO gave a talk in the European Parliament hinting at this announcement. Taking on Google with a non surveillance business model is intriguing as scale isn’t as critical for success?

The time is now says PublicSpaces

Ian thinks: The Dutch collation, Publicspaces had their 2nd conference in May and a good number of the English language sessions are well worth your time. Always challenging and full of good threads to tug on.

Literacy, the forgotten side of our digital world

Ian thinks: This is a sobering and some what recently forgotten side of the digital revolution. If left to market forces, I can’t see things getting any better. Only a public service internet can really make the difference.

Regulating Algorithms?

Ian thinks: Although the register adds a level of snark to the idea, there is something which does speak true. Regulating algorithms could really provide a level of trust, comfort and agency which just doesn’t exist right now.

Education to promote agency?

Ian thinks: I love these projects explaining and educating diverse communities to take control of the technologies to avoid being the disadvantaged by them.

Learning the lessons of the past for the future of the internet

Ian thinks: In the middle of the hype, there is very little looking back and learning the lessons of previous generations. Dare I say it, those who don’t learn their history are doomed to repeat it.


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 (April 2022)

 

EULA for the Ethical Dilemma Cafe

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Apple’s lack of regard for the Dutch ACM, understanding the motivations of young people hacking now and people being reminded about cafe working etiquette

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 people dumping their smartphones along Cloudflare providing a free webservice firewall and Twitter joining TOR


Mozfest Ethical dilemma cafe Manchester tickets are now live

Ian thinks: Understanding the ethical dilemmas we face every day online has always been difficult to explain the harm. Putting them into physical spaces really brings home the dilemma. If you are in Manchester in late April, grab a free ticket and join us.

Rallying call for a equitable digital public space

Ian thinks: Reading this piece, I couldn’t help but think about the digital realm with the ever growing divide between rich/poor. Not only with money but time and knowledge The digital divide is live and sadly growing..

The inspiring documentary about internet life for young people in the Netherlands

Ian thinks: I was able to watch the whole documentary at Mozfest this year and was impressed with the different methods used by parents and young people working with the current internet.

Who is really looking at the infrastructure of a metaverse?

Ian thinks: Found via this years Mozfest while talking about the metaverse vs the public service internet. The folks at Matrix, are building a truly interoperable infrastructure for a real metaverse.

WordPress is the dark matter of the web?

Ian thinks: This good interview with Matt Mullenweg, WordPress founder and so much more. Really makes clear how wordpress is not only greatly estimated but also its positive impact on the web.

Indigenous teachings finally influencing our sustainable future

Ian thinks: People turning towards the deep learning from indigenous people is a good thing. I would like to see much more of this sooner rather than later,

Its all about the Scenius?

Ian thinks: I first heard about Scenius at Mozfest this year, Brian Eno coined the term to summarize how communities not individuals are responsible for innovation.

Europe makes its intentions very clear with the Digital Markets Act

Ian thinks: The EU’s Digital Markets Act is a very bold legal policy which could have the similar impact to GDPR? Although people can’t stop talking about opening Apple’s iMessage, its worth remembering the DMA hasn’t been fully drafted yet!

Cory and Ethan chew over a better internet

Ian thinks: A lot is covered in a short amount of time. However they both settle on the practical problems of the current and future internet. The legal battles, societal frameworks and the web3 bubble is used to chill what the future internet could be.

Keeping the Ukraine cyber secure early on

Ian thinks: The mission to harden and keep Ukraine as secure as possible earlier, has played a big role in stopping the cyber invasion of Russia and maintaining a functioning country.


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

The Metaverse* vs The Public Service Internet, coming to Mozfest in March

Metaverse vs Public Service InternetOver the last few months theres been a ton of interest in the metaverse, we all know why. Its been annoying seeing people wooing over something which others have started building decades earlier.

Off the back of the hype for the corporate metaverse (I really want to separate the hard work others have done/doing from what the likes of Facebook/Meta are attempting to do – aka take it over for their own benefit). I started to explore the corporate metaverse in a blog and previous to that the parallels with digital and physical spaces.

Metaverse

This got me thinking about the values and ethics which make the public service internet so important and so different from the corporate metaverse. But rather than think it out myself alone, I wrote a proposal for Mozfest 2022 to explore this in a discussion with a number of people. Evaluating emerging technology to understand its benefits and its problem. To hopefully shape the technology for the benefit of the public and society, is the goal of the session.

I’m extremely proud to say it was accepted and in March this year, I will lead the session sketching out the stark differences.

I almost want to add Web3 to the line up, but I believe there will be plenty to cover just in the metaverse alone.

Want to be at the session? Grab a early bird ticket before they go! You can also volunteer to help make the whole festival amazing.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2022)

Mozfest 2022

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed thinking about the security & privacy of live facial recognition, Qualcomm’s always on smartphone camera and the erosion of community over convenience.

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 work around better AI pictures, Lush closed down its social media accounts. and even Elon Musk & Jack Dorsey’s doubts about Web3.


Mozilla Festival 2022 tickets now available

Ian thinks: There is so much to love about the Mozilla festival and 2022 will include a virtual mozfest and a more distributed programme over months. Its exciting to be part of something special.

App tracking via tunnel technology

Ian thinks: I always found tunneling technologies like VPNs powerful ways to understand the characteristics of networks. Duck duck go’s app tracking uses the technique to shine a light on app surveillance on Android devices.

WordPress Matt’s humble thoughts on saving the internet

Ian thinks: Personally I find Matt Mullenweg one of the most humble and thoughtful people out of the valley. I would never underestimate him and the open interconnected services he’s creating. I find this profile of him clearly one to watch.

Technocultural through the eyes of black technology

Ian thinks: This talk by Dr Andre Brook is a strong talk given at Microsoft with a lot of pointers to positive alternative technologies and approaches which benefit all minorities.

1000 true fans, back with a vengeance?

Ian thinks: Kevin Kelly’s original blog was well thought out and this follow on looking at coming technology does give Kevin’s original blog a lot of legs.

Sleep walking into an advertisers dream

Ian thinks: Although very much early days, the studies so far are alarming and needs a lot of consideration. They had me, as someone who tracks their sleep every night.

Calculating the true environmental impact of AI

Ian thinks: Quantifying the carbon impact of different aspects of our lives is critical. What I like about this is not just applying it AI systems but the different practical methods being developed.

Could Filecoin be used for more public service purposes?

Ian thinks: Within this interesting discussion, there is aspects which could be useful for the public service internet. Shame Kevin pulls Mikeal off talking about it in detail.

The Economist’s 2022 look ahead has a couple of good points

Ian thinks: These prediction type things are everywhere at the start of the year. However I did find 2 stories about African fashion and Hybrid work, had some good points.

The last word on Meta

Ian thinks: This Vice documentary pretty much sums up everything to be said about Facebook/Meta. Even includes Lawrence Lessig along other smart people.


Find the archive here

Facebook’s metaverse is a petting zoo for control

Matrix Deus Ex Machina

Right, there is so much about the metaverse, I can’t help myself but comment.

Although I do love the Iceland tourist video piss take.

Lets be clear, the metaverse and what Facebook (bloody Meta) are planning is not a metaverse any one really wants. I’m calling it the corporate metaverse, as I do think there is some useful parts which are worth exploring. However there is too much which isn’t because its always described in a commercial/capitalism space.

Neal Stephenson who coined the term in Snowcrash, did proposal a virtual real estate owned by a global commercial group. So Meta isn’t that far off the mark, especially with Ernest Cline’s Ready player one making the metaverse the literal Oasis from the real world. Leading me to the conclusion that the metaverse is not a good idea for humanity.

So I thought about it and picked out some parts, framing it within mainly the Matrix.

The metaverse under capitalism

Morpheus with a battery

This is pretty damning but in the arms of a commercial company or market, you don’t need to look far to realise the Matrix has a lot of the answers.

Quoting Morpheus in the Matrix

“What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to turn a human being into this.” *Holds up a battery*

I won’t go as far as to say a battery but rather a resource of data or funding (almost a cash cow?). The computer generated dream world is apt and the control statement is spot on!

While immersed in the computer generated dream world, we can/will  be controlled. Complete surveillance of movement, emotion, discussion, everything. Something of the big data pipe dream, but within the tight (fist) environment of a corporate provider (overlord). The temptation is there to maximize all the data (batteries).

Morpheus with agent smith

Quoting Agent Smith also in the Matrix

“I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it.”

Agent Smith complains about the Matrix the computer generated dream world. What got me was the idea of it being in a zoo (although prison and reality is perfect too), and even more so the idea of a petting zoo. The animals are always surveilled and controlled with fences and systems. So much so, it changes their behavior, the way they think, react, etc.

The reason why a petting zoo is because the corporate owners allow their extra paying customers to pet/play with the animals. Remember this is on top of the on-going surveillance. Petting zoos are fun for the customers but I’d say less so for the animals?

Some will laugh but frankly I’m not the only one (thankfully) thinking this.
While the rest of the media does its cheer-leading and stone throwing of meta’s metaverse. The debate (its not really a conversation) isn’t going anywhere useful.

The metaverse for the public interest?

I have thought quite a lot about what public service elements could exist within a public metaverse (oppose to one owned by a corporate entity, although I don’t actually think this will happen because companies don’t want to share and we know monopolies are very bad).

I remember when I first came across the fediverse, which thanks to the use of interoperability at different levels, allows you to move between different instances with minimal pain. The other absolute fantastic thing is being able to have different friends on different instances and having no real differences (Just like email). Whats this got to do with the public interest? Do you think the corporate entity would be interested in supporting this free form of communication? Can the animals in a petting zoo, talk to each other?

Thinking about the Matrix (there is a loose theme here).

“Your appearance now is what we call residual self image. It is the mental projection of your digital self.”

Residual self image and portability of identity is something a public metaverse could/should provide. Your self image is something you control and manage and across different instances/nodes/spaces or within the bigger metaverse. I can see modification based on the public space, in the same way most people change the way they look at a funeral or wedding. There will be spaces/nodes/instances where rules/cultural/ethos. Similar to the way, Mastodon have instance/server level rules.

There is a ton of real/virtual places type things where I’d lean on public architecture, thinking of Jane Jacobs incredible book.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

There must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.

The metaverse must be created by everybody not just a privileged few or a corporate overlord. In a interconnected virtual space, it should be much easier to build your own and work together in a public way but this needs a lot of thought. There are lessons to be learned from our semi-democratic physical city/town planning.

With the metaverse being placed directly in the xR (extended reality) space. I certainly think its time we got to the infrastructural side of the metaverse. Everything from how data is used, how, where, etc. A long time ago I talked about X-Ray mode, so you can see the underlying data & infrastructure. Something like when Neo can finally see the Matrix code while still inside of it.

Matrix code of agents

Part of the data/code is of course the algorithms which should be public and transparent for the public benefit. Is something I’ve seen in parts elsewhere but not really in the xR space. It certainly would even up the scales. Its something we build into the living room of the future funny enough.

In summary

Although very messy thoughts, there are parts worth exploring. As mentioned at the start I think there is interesting parts to a metaverse but the corporate petting zoo is something which has become the dominate view. I see similar when people talk about social networking and social media. Their frame of reference is pinned to a dominate corporate wet dream and it clouds what it really could potentially if you start from the public interest at the core.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2021)

Digital Nomad

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed hearing about decentralized blogging, reading through the twitter thread of underacted google & facebook advertising complaint and of course  Facebook and its effect on gen-z with yet another whistle blower leaving the sinking ship.

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 John Oliver covering misinformation outside the English language, some young people questioning our capitalistic society, Mozfest 2022’s call for proposal and experiencing unified messaging on my devices


Personal data stores in the lime light

Ian thinks: Wired do a reasonable job explain some of the benefits, there are a lot more important aspects of personal data stores than beating others, like sovereignty and trust. Said as someone who worked on related work in the past.

The future of social networks with James Vasile

Ian thinks: James is a seasoned expert in this space and this interview is good covering a lot of ground including Project liberty’s DSNP. Even if you are new to this space, its accessible and understandable.

Visa & Mastercard regulate the internet by stealth?

Ian thinks: No matter what you think of adult sites, there is a complicated problem which should not be left companies which are only interested in maximising their own profits.

Misinformation works in all languages

Ian thinks: Its good to see mainstream John Oliver covering the huge problem of dis/misinformation outside the English language. Also great to see them not jump to the conclusion encryption is the problem.

The clear amplification of social media

Ian thinks: Adrian’s kickback is something I wasn’t super aware of but its a clear sign of the massive amplification of social media for good and bad, depending where you stand.

Digital nomadic dreams and border-less countries

Ian thinks: Although the digital nomad lifestyle is something I am personally interested in, I think the notion of Plumia is a worrying trend of a new kind of digital elite dream. Which needs to be put in check before it runs wild.

The mystery of Satoshi bitcoin creator, solved?

Ian thinks: I have to say this is the best case for the mystery of Satoshi (the creator of bitcoin). Recently it looks like his wallet has been used too?

Facebook: a little empty, a little sad; a place where a few voices get most of the attention

Ian thinks: Although turning your Facebook timeline back into a timeline doesn’t even start to touch the fundamental problems. I loved the end quote, which speaks volumes.

NFTs challenging the status quo

Ian thinks: Beyond the hype, scams and general nonsense. I am seeing signs of NFTs being used to genuinely disrupt the status-quo. From the portability of bought in game goods, new models of film making and of course the new NFT royalties standard.


Find the archive here

Facebook chooses money over public health

Its not a surprise at all. (If you are surprised, you haven’t been paying attention)

Haugen follows other whistleblowers including Zhang (who didn’t get the press she should have got).

Simple as this Facebook (a company bound by the laws of a company) chooses profit over people. Of course they are not the only company to do this and they won’t be the last (looking at you big tobacco, oil companies, etc). I won’t even get into the other tech companies either.

Its time for the metric of success to change, but before that can happen we need to support some of the alternatives which respect and support human kind not try and end it. I have said over and over again, scale is the enemy of human kind and looking at how much stress Facebook’s outage on Tuesday caused. I’m more confident I along with others are right on point.

Time for different types of institutions which are not bounded by the laws of a company to show the way. Its time for a public service internet…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2021)

Behaviour & Reasons

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed reading what might happen to GDPR in the UK, Russian governments attempts to block other candidates and once again Facebook.

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 Ethiopia building a social network, the password-less future is one step closer and reading the chairman of the BBC’s recent speech.


This can not be the future of social media

Ian thinks: I read this thinking this is not the future of social media, its a future I reject and look elsewhere for a more sustainable/longer term future

New types of social networks

Ian thinks: Talking about the future of social media… I don’t really care about Loot, I do care that people are trying something very different. Our notions of social network is driven by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Wisdom of crowds for Fact checking?

Ian thinks: Following Mozilla’s research into disinformation in Kenya, The study is a positive step for fact checking, but I do wonder how many people you would need to avoid systematic gratification?

A view of BBC R&Ds prototype personal data store

Ian thinks: Having the inside track on this prototype/project, its interesting to see whats highlighted in Wired and the comments from different angles.

The Framework Laptop

Ian thinks: Whats not to love about the framework laptop? DIY, right to repair? The CEO also has a business model behind this all too. I am considering one for my own laptop next year.

Imagine if Crypto was used for more than Capitalism?

Ian thinks: Douglas is somewhat ironically on the money but I’m not certain NFTs are the answer he thinks it is. Worth a read or listen, as the notion is important enough.

Metrics and society

Ian thinks: This video and summary blog, was suggested to me after posting about human values just recently. Its long but spot on with really smart insight.

Human rights are not a software bug to be removed

Ian thinks: I attended this live and found it very useful to explain why infrastructure is a key part in a more fair and equitable internet for all.

The frankly scary ideology of the billionaire technocrats

Ian thinks: Its a thought piece but the lack of originality and care for human kind, makes the link to this philosophy ever so easy and ever so scary.

What are Silicon Values?

Ian thinks: Intelligent conversation about the big players in Silicon Valley and discussion about their real values along side our own.


Find the archive here

In one picture: The internet now and into the future

Breath in and out the internet

I have to give credit to Bill Thompson for his thoughts around the public service internet. In one of our conversations Bill suggested a need for a picture to sum up the internet now and where we are going.

It feels like two pictures, but images can be powerful and stoke up vivid responses in the mind. Its a challenge I have been thinking about quite a bit and put it on the Publicspaces international matrix chat (#PublicSpacesInt:matrix.org).

Challenge for you all… If there was one picture which would sum up the state of the internet now, what would it be? Also what picture would sum up the internet if things go the way you would like what would it be?

Theres been a few entries but my favorite so far has been Erik who posted the one above.

This image would probably sum up my ideal internet as a magical portal to empower yourself with all the knowledge, and a connection to all the people in the world.

Others saw this as a way of breathing new life into the internet. While I started thinking about modifying the picture into something with multiple people breathing life into the internet (closer to this in nature). I like this image but don’t like the fact shes looking at her phone, likewise this image is striking but hands behind her back feels less participatory that where I think we are going. This is better but needs multiple people working together.

Like my colleagues in BBC R&D looking to change the way AI and Machine learning are displayed in the general media. I think I might take it upon myself to craft something using inkscape/glimpse and lots of creative commons media. Just something which speaks closer to what I think I’m going for when I talk about public service internet.

Love to know what others come up with?

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

There should be a digital public bench here

Nurse on the wall of the Northern Quarter
Public wall space given over for public wall art in the Northern Quarter

I recently went on a Manchester International Festival tour with the amazing Skyliner (Hayley Flynn). One of them was centered around the history of Manchester’s Northern Quarter (meant to be the Eastside). It was a very good tour but I could tell there was much more Skyliner wanted to talk about in the short amount of time of the tour. Lucky for me, I had booked myself the week afterwards on another tour, There Was a Bench Here Once 

Join us on a search for lost public spaces: places where we could once have sat, pondered and watched the world, vanished benches and much-missed opportunities to interact with the streets around us. Visiting sites where we could once idle and dwell, we’ll talk about the importance of those spaces between places, drawing on the works of urbanists William H Whyte and Jane Jacobs to discover the importance of streetlife as we discover what and who you could once have seen and met at city-centre locations across history.

Its was great tour, where I learned about a space which is Salford’s Green Gate square (the Piccadilly Gardens of Salford). Its a really nice public space but not very inviting although everything is there including good seating, a large open space, fountains and even views of the river (although the river irwell not exactly picturesque at that point)

Greengate square fountains
Salford’s green gate square

The tour went into the Northern Quarter and Piccadilly looking at the lack of public benches and questioning why policy and politics has caused this. The  tour ended at the most advanced public bus stop in the country – Paton Street.

During the tour, I got talking with Skyliner, She asked me about what I do at the BBC on the first tour but on the second one, I could truly talk about what I do in reflection to what she does.

I do what you do but in the digital space. I am fighting for public spaces in the digital world. Fighting for the public benches, library’s and parks where you can relax without requiring payment, personal identification, etc.

We had a good but short discussion about this on the tour, I would love to have a longer conversation with Skyliner about this all. About a week later I had a very similar discussion with good friend Architect Jane, while walking around the old BBC Manchester site now called Circle Square. The Circle Square is private land, just like Skyliner mentioned when talking about Peel’s Media City UK. The impact of private and public spaces is fascinating but also on the flip side really awful if in the words of Skyliner. What you are doing can be easily lumped into the anti-social behavior box and you are moved on with little to no review. For example sleeping on a public bench would be pushed under this broad definition. Under private space all bets are completely off, as 2 black men found out while waiting for their friend in a starbucks cafe in America.

The problem with Starbucks (I mentioned to Jane, as we looked at the awful and good architecture choices in Circle Square) is its attempt to be a pseudo public space with its community noticeboard and policy of join us, kickback and enjoy time here? (I use to work at Starbucks a long time ago and we use to have a older homeless woman come into the shop about a hour before closing time, very rarely did we ever ask her to leave as the conflict of Starbucks policy was interesting)
…pseudo I believe is the perfect word here.

Not actually but having the appearance of; pretended; false or spurious; sham. almost, approaching, or trying to be.

Good use of green blending the space
Interesting use of green blending in a quiet corner of the circle square development. But is it public or private space?

You see the exact same thing happening in the digital space too. From women breast feeding there babies on facebook to twitter blocking accounts for misunderstandings (to be clear I’m not talking about Trump because what he did was stoke fires, promoted hatred is actually illegal).

This got me thinking there are clear parallels between the physical and digital worlds, especially around public spaces. I also think those parallels are really useful to explain to different people why these things are of absolute importance. (I wonder what are the dark patterns of the physical & digital world?)

I have to give credit to many including FutureEverything, Waag, Ethan Zuckerman, Eli Parser’s newpublic, DotEveryone, which does a reasonable job linking the physical and digital aspects of public life. Its all strange because I was recently pointed to this piece which is a summary of this policy paper.

Its strikes me in America, there is a lot of pressure to work along the big tech corps like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. While in Europe there is more of an apatite to build alternatives, rather than position those public spaces them within private lands (thinking about the Starbucks example earlier).

In the ideal world, it would work but we know it doesn’t. Skyliner’s tour makes this super clear. I’m of course not disparaging the efforts to carve out digital public spaces within private digital spaces.

What is the public bench in the digital space? Does it actually exist? Can it exist and whats the norms that surround it?

 Empty Bench during Dusk

I for one believe in public spaces and will continue to create those very important public benches.

 

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2021)

Solar protocol

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing more centralised downtime, seeing a surge of ransomware and hearing about Voice as a vector for attack.

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 reading about the path aware networking proposal (Scalability, Control, and Isolation On Next-Generation Networks), Google providing an element of transparency and artificial intelligence used to restore the missing parts of a Rembrandt.


Digital Infrastructure as the core of the European internet

Ian thinks: There is so much good thinking here from Nesta’s Katja Bego. This why the infrastructure is so important as a base for privacy focused better/smarter systems.

Labelling retouched photos

Ian thinks: This is great news and hope it spreads to other EU nations and further a field. Although it should also cover video and audio and highlight whats in the metadata too.

You have YouTube regrets? Join the massive line

Ian thinks: So many of been horrified by where Youtube recommendations can lead you, and this crowdfunded campaign speaks volumes. Will Google do anything about this, its very unlikely.

Our digital legacy in data

Ian thinks: Elaine is right on the button, if you think the data ecosystem is bad now, what happens when most of the dead outnumber the living on social networks. Those terms and conditions need a massive reform.

Steve Wozniak on the right to repair

Ian thinks: Although its a cameo video and its Wozniak, I do think his thoughts are genuine. Does this make much of a difference in the right to repair? Unlikely.

Have you noticed the price increase of Uber?

Ian thinks: I wonder how much of this is the drivers, public understanding of the gig economy and the investors finally wanting their return on investment?

Those apps are selling your most private data

Ian thinks: Its funny but with a deadly serious message. Its also well researched too, its good to see the data ownership/misuse is getting attention everywhere. Even the daily show.

Its time to make the decentralised systems more common and friendly

Ian thinks: Although I don’t agree with everything said here, there is a need to change things and for me it comes down to user experience.

A new future for Solar power

Ian thinks: Great to see the advancement in the use of solar power technology. Using rocks personally surprised me but makes a lot of sense.


Find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2021)

a dark forest

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Facebooks dismissal of 530 million users data leaked and actively being exploited, joining the general dismissal of data leaks this month.

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 maps providing eco-friendly routesEurope seeking to limit AI use in society and how Ben & Jerry’s combine activism with business.


Facebook/Nick Clegg attempts to gaslight us all

Ian thinks: Nick’s blog post is cleverly written ultimately saying the right things even touching on algorithmic transparency. However the key message is, you are the problem, and ignores the power dynamic an entity like Facebook really has over their users lives.

What is the dark forest theory of the Internet?

Ian thinks: Yancey (co-founder of kickstarter) shares his thoughts about the dark forest theory in light of a year plus in a pandemic and our ever increasing reliance on the internet. Recently followed up with more thoughts.

Is more data or a more human outlook the future of shopping?

Ian thinks: Data use is a worrying trend and it reminds me how Ford decided the data was the goal of the car sell, but maybe shopping is missing the human element?

How is remote working going to effect the future of work?

Ian thinks: A good summary of the development work if you are a office/knowledge worker. Little for other types of work which seemed a obvious hole in this all.

The doomsday machine: scale is the enemy of human progress?

Ian thinks: The comparisons of Facebook to the doomsday machine is quite a leap but the points made are clear and re-enforces my thoughts about scale being the enemy of humanity

Those face filters were never fun

Ian thinks: I turn off the filters as they are usually not flattering for black skin. However there is much greater affect on women who have their faces and bodies under the microscope every moment of the day causing anxiety and even worst.

A new decentralization pattern library

Ian thinks: Its great to see a pattern library focused on decentralised, distributed applications and systems. Its still early days but do get involved if you see something obvious missing from the current 22.

The future of 3D printing is truly impressive

Ian thinks: There is so much covered in this video, everything from 3D printed houses, food and organs. The most impressive for me after the organs is the bio-mimicry printed structures.

If you don’t know dark patterns, this will explain it all in moments

Ian thinks: Really good to share this with people are not clear on the effects of dark patterns, also interesting to see Trump using dark patterns recently.

Sudhir explores the motivations, mistakes and conflicts of mainstream social media

Ian thinks: Although nothing new, its interesting to hear someone who has spent time with gang leaders and street prostitutes; lend his thoughts to the ugly side of social media from the inside out, in new podcast.


Find the archive here