Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (March 2022)

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We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the cyber-war alongside the disinformation war and of course the physical blood shed of war in the Ukraine from Vladimir Putin. It makes delivery drivers dancing for likes and Tinder changing prices based on personal data look even more pathetic.

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 incredible resistance from the Ukraine people along with People leaving Facebook, enzymes eating plastics and  Android getting tracking protection.

Thoughts about the digital public sphere

Ian thinks: I still find re-reading Bill Thompson’s entry into the book “Building a European digital public space“, still full of wisdom and insight for the future of the digital public ecosystem.

The rush to virtually own your home has started

Ian thinks: On the face of it, it seems like a load of nonsense but the harms are clear as you read further and consider how the big tech corps always buy the smaller startups.

Mozfest’s grand webmontization tipping experiment

Ian thinks: Adding tipping to Mozfest is going to be a interesting dynamic for the mainly virtual festival this year. To take part you just need one of the pay what you like tickets.

O’reilly’s thoughts on Web3, interesting technology but get ready for the crash

Ian thinks: Tim O’Reilly has been asked a few time for his thoughts and this piece for CBS, certainly has put the cats in with the NFT pigeons.

The technology is questionable but the community is real?

Ian thinks: I do find something of hope in this article, as it explores the community side of the web3 hype. If the community spirit can outlive the huge speculation, that might make it worth while?

The deep worry of the fact checking systems

Ian thinks: Following Facebook fact checking the British medical journal, I found the EFF thoughts spot on. Saying you are fact checking isn’t nearly enough. Sadly a lot of people assume that is enough

Faster internet isn’t the panacea for a better society

Ian thinks: Although the paper seems slightly different from the news piece, The notion of faster internet as ultimate end is a bad mistake. Infrastructure is only part of the solution not the panacea.

Friction can be a good thing

Ian thinks: Last year I gave a talk about friction-less design and how it was partly to blame for the lack of control people have on the internet. This piece adds even more impact to the lack of friction.

Synthetic biology and needs a public entity?

Ian thinks: Amy’s new book The Genesis Machine, sounds far reaching but Amy raises a lot of points about who is driving synthetic biology? I kept wondering about a public entity besides Governments and Corporations.

Matrix’s swarm mode is truly terrifying (spoilers)

Ian thinks: There is so much about Matrix 4 which speaks about the current and future state of technology and society. Clearly swarm mode activating sleeper bots from a therapist who manipulates our feelings says plenty

Find the archive here

A rallying calling for distributed rather than decentralised

Centralied, decentralied and distributed network models

I’m currently writing my presentation for the Mozilla Festival on the metaverse vs the public service internet, and thinking about Web3 and the metaverse quite a bit in reflection to a truly digital public space…

There has been so much talk about Web 3.0 and Crypto. The recent interview with Tim Oreilly (heads-up, I know him and been to many of his conferences in the past), adds to the piles of critical thoughts of this all. I specially found Small technology’s (Aral & Laura, who I also know well) Web0 manifesto a interesting thought.

web3 = decentralisation + blockchain + NFTs + metaverse
web0 = web3 – blockchain – NFTs – metaverse
web0 = decentralisation

web0 is the decentralised web.

Pulling all the “corporate right-libertarian Silicon Valley bullshit.” out of Web3, leaving us with a decentralised web.

Something I believe is a landmark on the way to the future destination of the distributed web. (I’m aware web isn’t the right term rather it should be internet but as most people experience the internet via the web…).

I think about this a lot as I look at the very notion of a public service internet and the very idea of a public service stack. The decentralisation move still has elements of neoliberatiasm which puts dependence on the individual. This is fine if you got time, resource and knowledge. Those without are out of luck?

As you can imagine not everyone has these but in a distributed model you can trust others to support/help/collaborate to lessen the cognitive/environmental/time load. This gives everybody the ability to benefit from a distributed internet.

If that isn’t the future, I’m not sure what is?

To me, the distributed model is a superset, supporting the decentralised and even some aspects of centralised models. Federated is also interesting to me but for many different reasons.

Language, the original singularity

I had the massive pleasure of hanging out with Kevin Kelly, Tim Oreilly and many others.

Cooltools is something I’m aware of but after the discussion I’ll have to subscribe and maybe invest in a book for my bookshelf.

There was so many things said in the hangout which had me thinking but the one which really got me was the Tim and Kevin talking about Language being the last singularity we have been through.

The notion that at the time the people going through it had no  conception about how life afterwards would be, really got me. Plus it shines a whole new understanding of what it will be like to be across the singularity.

Thanks to Imran for putting this on my radar, I didn’t think I would get picked to be on the panel but I’m happy I did. Just wish I didn’t have to quickly run and put a shirt on at the start of the hangout…

Women at a overnight barcamp?

Suzanne Valadon Blogging, after Lautrec

Everytime we’ve tried to accommodate woman at previous BarCamp, we’ve been told “don’t treat us any different.”

It wasn’t till BarCampManchester2 when Lucy really made her feelings known about woman staying over night at a BarCamp. Up till that point it hasn’t really been a problem, but the idea of staying over seemed so shocking that even I was surprised. Fast forward to this month and Samantha convinces me that having a contact for woman to get in touch to ask questions about staying over makes sense to me. To be fair I didn’t take much convincing, it made sense to me for capturing a new groups of woman who might be put off

However in Techgrumps 39 last night, Iris seems pretty upset about the idea of woman staying over night at a event with men. It might have been her lack of experience ever going to a barcamp or the bad description we explained the concept of barcamp with… But then Samantha send me the recent blog post of Tim Oreilly.

We’ve been contacted recently about issues of sexual harassment at technical conferences, including at Oscon, which starts tomorrow in Portland. At O’Reilly we take those issues very seriously. While we’re still trying to understand exactly what might have happened at Oscon or other O’Reilly conferences in the past, it’s become clear that this is a real, long-standing issue in the technical community. And we do know this: we don’t condone harassment or offensive behavior, at our conferences or anywhere. It’s counter to our company values. More importantly, it’s counter to our values as human beings.

I’m starting to wonder if I was too easy going about this all, and actually I’ve just been lucky that nothing like this has ever happened while I’ve arranged things.

BarCampMediaCity has some fantastic facilities including multiple toilets, changing rooms and even showers. It would be a real shame if people didn’t take full advantage.

Hosting Tim O’Reilly’s Geek Dinner

So first rule of hosting anything, dont turn up late. I broke that rule by about 15mins, but I have a good reason or a good way to shift the blame. Tim O'Reilly had talked in White City only a few hours before the Geek Dinner and spent sometime talking to people afterwards. So by the time I had left White City it was already 18:40 and I still had to ride into Central London with the crazy one way systems and find somewhere to park the scooter. Luckly Hanover square is full of parking and it was after 6 so finding a space wasnt so bad.

When I finally arrived at the Hogs Head (venue for the geekdinner) I was kinda of suprised by how people had already turned up. I would say at 20 people were already sitting around drinking and chatting. After a little talk with the bar man and some pre-printed signs up here and there, we were off. I actually believe Tim and Josette walked in and sat down around about this time, which was perfect timing. Before you knew it a few people had hovered around Tim and pinned him into a corner. I dont believe Tim really got a chance to walk around till the Questions and Answers point later.

I was doing my best to keep the room cool (air con was a little tempermental) and collect the one pound for the buffet later. Honestly going around the room was a joy and although my voice was starting to go, I kept going because everyone I met was interesting and a joy to talk to. Everyone was happy and remarked on how great it was that I was doing this geek dinner. I did many times say that I was helping Lee out while he was away, but people kept asking me if I was running the Scoble one too. More on that later.

The venue was quite warm if a little too hot sometimes due to the packed up Air con and at first it seemed a little small for 60 people but people were quite tightly grouped and there was more room by the toilets and staircase. The bar man, was a young guy and was actually really interested in what geek dinner was and why it existed. He did comment that although there were a high percentage of males in room, they didnt seem very geeky, just normal guys out drinking. I wasnt sure what to say to that, but it came across as a compliment not a insult. I had asked everyone to tell me what they felt about the venue and on a whole most people were quite happy with it, remarking it was so central and easy to get to from the tube. But the noise from upstairs was a little too much and made things a little difficult when Tim did the Questions and Answers session. I guess it didnt help having another party just up on the landing and the quite busy pub above us. The Buffet was actually not bad at all. It did all disappear by the end of the evening but honestly there was more than enough to go around plus there was something for everyone. I feel it was well worth the 1 pound per head cover charge, and I didnt find anyone who disagreed.

Tim's Question and Answer session came a little late in the evening and was difficult to hear with the noise I mentioned earlier. I dont believe anyone got it recorded correctly, the recording Nokia which I was holding for Improbulus didnt record anything and a guy with the video camera was not close enough to get the audio clearly. (Kosso where were you?) Which I'm sure Tim will be happy with because he revealled a new service from O'Reilly which there still working on. The question which sparked the disclosure was "what web 2.0 services does O'reilly have?"
Tim did talk about the good stuff they were doing with O'reilly Safari but then talked about this other project, which I cant remember right now.

47 (not including me) people attended this geek dinner. This is a exact figure because I collected the money from everyone.

I'm not the biggest fan of name dropping, but I have to say thanks and hi to everyone and here's some of the people I remember who were there and I talked to quite a bit or not enough. Suw Charman and Kevin Anderson (geez you guys are cute together, good one Kevin), Alan Wood, Improbulus, Dave from NTK, Richard Sanbrook, Euan, Lianite, Ryan Carson, Jeremy from HP and of course some work mates Sherwin, Henrik and Dharmesh.

Big thanks to everyone who helped and turned up…

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Geek Dinner with Tim O’Reilly – Thursday 13th October

Tim O'Reilly

Geek dinner with Tim O'Reilly: Thursday October 13, at the Hogs Head, 11 Dering Street, Westminster, London

Tim O'Reilly is stopping over in London for a few days before the Euro OSCON conference.

The venue is the quiet and chilled out Hogs Head 11 Dering Street, near Oxford Street. We have the whole lower floor which seats up to 60 people and there is a nice cover charge of one pound for the finger buffet, which is payable on the door.

We have the downstairs bar from 7pm till 11pm. Tim is expected to get to the venue about 7:30pm and is looking forward to meeting London geeks and bloggers.

Lee has now changed the blog. So leave a comment here or on the geekdinner blog, if your interested in going.

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