The/our social dilemma documentary

The social dilemma

I just watched the social dilemma.

I have to say its actually very well produced and gets the points across in a way which I feel might actually cause some thought. We have heard this before in many different places but I liked the family story which gave it some well needed context. Although it does go maybe a bit too far in the story. Heck I was wondering if the son was about to get himself a gun…

My only really issue is its very American focused except Myanmar which received a short segment. The insiders don’t reflect the diversity of wider society but of course that speaks volume. But Cathy O’Neil said it best,

Do we really want to hand this problem over to technologists who helped create this problem?

Unfortunately that kind includes the well meaning Tristan Harris and many others on the documentary. Its interesting who isn’t in the documentary, such as people like Douglas Rushkoff, Doc Searls, Clay Shirky, etc.

Is it the business model, is it the economic model, shareholder value, lack of governmental pressure, legal regulation, monopolistic practices, undemocratic markets? Or is it actually a bit of all of them?

So its a 7/10 its good but I feel After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News (2020) has the edge.

I guess the biggest question is what happens next? Will people actually act after seeing the documentary? Thats the big question.

Little note: I enjoyed the older sister reading The Age of Surveillance Capitalism on the sofa. I didn’t spot Cathy’s Weapons of math destruction and there was attribution to Natasha Schüll’s Addicted by design

Special editions of Tech for good live podcasts coming your way

Black Lives Matter - Cancelling cultur

About a month ago a few friends cc’ed me into a conversation with tech for good live on Twitter by friends

After a while we finally got talking agreed a schedule and I went about getting people to join me on the agreed 3 podcasts. I won’t lie, getting time with busy people in the middle of lockdown was difficult but I managed.

Now I’m very happy to see the first one with David EastmanErinma Ochu, Ethar Alali and Naomi Mwasambili

Enjoy it, email and rate techforgoodlive on google podcasts and itunes. Look out for the next two and thanks to pod.co for sponsoring techforgoodlive

I did talk about doing more around previously and now you can see some of the action I took to date.

Signal what are you up to?

I love Signal and never used Whatsapp because of many reasons included in this great opinion piece. Its gotten better and better but the recent pin number is a worry. I’m not the only one.

“Notably, things we don’t have stored include anything about a user’s contacts (such as the contacts themselves, a hash of the contacts, any other derivative contact information), anything about a user’s groups (such as how many groups a user is in, which groups a user is in, the membership lists of a user’s groups), or any records of who a user has been communicating with,” Signal wrote in 2016.

That, according to critics, has now changed.

“They should have a dumb network that knows nothing because it can’t be compromised then,” The Grugq told Motherboard. “[Having contacts] is a lot. It isn’t messages, sure. But I don’t like it. I don’t want them to have anything. Make the networks dumb and the clients smart.”

I do understand why they have done it, but I don’t know where its going next. Marlnspike (head dev of Signal) replies.

Marlinspike defended the decision to enable PINs and give users a way to migrate to a new device and keep certain data, and will increase the security of users’ metadata, “new features Signal users have been asking for.”

“The purpose of PINs is to enable upcoming features like communicating without sharing your phone number. When that is released, your Signal contacts won’t be able to live in the address book on your phone anymore, since they may not have phone numbers associated with them,” Marlinspike told Motherboard. “For most users, this also increases the security of their metadata. Most people’s address book is syncing with Google or Apple, so this change will prevent Google and Apple from having access to your Signal contacts.”

Smartphone use
Photo by Gilles Lambert on Unsplash

The changes Signal has made show how there can be a tension between messenger usability and feature set and security. It’s too early to say whether you should stop using the messenger. For most users’ threat models, it’s still one of the best options. But one of the key things that set Signal apart—that it collects almost no information about its users, appears to be changing.

Convenience is the enemy of security and I would say privacy. I wouldn’t be surprised if signal gets forked.

It was always clear to me Twitter direct messages was never secure in anyway, hence why I tried to move private conversations over to another medium. If thats not email or signal what else? Recently I have been looking at a couple others…

Session which is decentralised messaging and Criptext, which is actually secure email. Both need work but have decent security.

Flokk contacts app

I recently gave flokk a run on my laptop as a snap. I was surprised how different a concept it is and also the decisions they made.

Its simply a google contact manager but its focused around social. Its not perfect but I wasn’t sure about it at first, I didn’t want to enter in additional information if it wasn’t actually syncing with my google contacts. I checked and all the details I entered into my contacts were correctly synced and not dumped into additional data. They were!

Quite a few friends have complained that I don’t follow them on twitter. This is a really neat way to see what they up.

Its got some work to do on the contact management but as a social tool its good. Currently it only supports Twitter and Github but I can imagine Mastodon could be easily added in the future. I know Facebook would be interesting for other people too I guess.

Looking at flutter more and more now

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.

Mastodon shows, social data-portability the way it should be

https://mas.to/@cubicgarden/104231400255269868

I recently moved from Mastodon.cloud to Mas.to. My main reason was for some (political?) reason mastodon.cloud was no longer accepted as part of the crossposter accepted domains.

I looked into hosting my own crossposter but decided there might be a reason why mastodon.cloud isn’t supported anymore? I had a look around the fediverse and read quite a few of the terms for each instance/domain. Mas.to looked good.

The actual moving was easily done as per the instructions here.

So easy and quick, if only it was always like this…?

Bezos’s possible trillionaire status is the worst of capitalism and inequality

There is a lot wrong with the world especially our western capitalistic society. The very thought/notion of one person being personally worth one trillion (in less than 10 years) is just unthinkable with all the problems in the world.

Bill Maher sums it up nicely in new rules. Although not a fan of relying on these rich white men to share the wealth, Jack Dorsey recent pledge did take me by surprise. Especially how transparent he is with it all.

The whole Bezos issue reminds me of the talks and books by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, especially the spirit level. (I still haven’t read the inner level yet)

In their influential 2009 book The Spirit Level, the epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett demonstrated conclusively the pernicious effects of economic inequality. In more unequal countries, outcomes are worse for almost everyone in areas such as public health, education, obesity and social mobility.

Demostration of inquality in action
From Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s the spirit level book, this cartoon is just perfect.

 

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2020)

Greta Thunberg

Good day, happy new year and looking forward to a new decade with you all!

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the next US election or at the endless denial about explainable algorithms.

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 Finland’s new prime minister, Sanna Marin at the age of 34, focusing on climate change.

 

The threat of quantum computing explained

Ian thinks: This is a serious challenger for so much of the encrypted systems we rely on daily.

Why do people listen to Greta?

Ian thinks: Makes a really strong point about creativity. It something I also worry we forget as it doesn’t conveniently fit our tired metrics.

A critical look at economical value

Ian thinks: Mariana makes some great points about different types of value.

Anarchy, Federation, IndieWeb the Fedverse

Ian thinks: Defining yourself in opposition to something else, doesn’t give you enough conceptual space is why I always quoting Buckminster Fuller

EFF’s deep dive into public key encryption

Ian thinks: Its one of those things which is banded about but few people when asked can explain it as well as the EFF

Webxray gives an insight behind the webpage

Ian thinks: The Webxray tool which runs on Linux & Mac is quite impressive to use. Gives a real insight into whats going on in the web when it comes tracking and the advertisement ecosystem

Decentralisation isn’t just about the internet

Ian thinks: The importance of decentralised networks applies to more than just the internet

Jason Silva interviews Kevin Kelly

Ian thinks: Technology, drugs, spiritualism its all in there and its quite a interview too.

Real People, Doing Real Things segment on teamhuman

Ian thinks: The new segment is welcomed on teamhuman and botsentinel is a good project to start with.

Jack Dorsey funding a decentralised twitter

Ian thinks: When I first heard this I almost fell off my chair, then thought this is classic innovators dilemma or twitter seeing the writing on the wall?

Why one client is a bad idea

 

I recently saw this in my email and elsewhere…

We recently fixed a vulnerability within Twitter for Android that could allow a bad actor to see nonpublic account information or to control your account (i.e., send Tweets or Direct Messages). Prior to the fix, through a complicated process involving the insertion of malicious code into restricted storage areas of the Twitter app, it may have been possible for a bad actor to access information (e.g., Direct Messages, protected Tweets, location information) from the app.

We don’t have evidence that malicious code was inserted into the app or that this vulnerability was exploited, but we can’t be completely sure so we are taking extra caution.

We have taken steps to fix this issue and are directly notifying people who could have been exposed to this vulnerability either through the Twitter app or by email with specific instructions to keep them safe. These instructions vary based on what versions of Android and Twitter for Android people are using. We recommend that people follow these instructions as soon as possible. If you are unsure about what to do, update to the latest version of Twitter for Android. This issue did not impact Twitter for iOS.

We’re sorry this happened and will keep working to keep your information secure on Twitter. You can reach out to our Office of Data Protection through this form to request information regarding your account security.

Its clear to me, twitter’s plan to restrict API access to limit the clients and ultimately force people into using their own appis and always was a bad idea!

Jack talks a good game about a decentralised twitter but lets be honest, its not going to truly happen. Their company interests are too tightly wound up in this all. Of course theres already standards for this, just that twitter refuse to support micropub, activitypub, etc… Rosemary mentions this on a twit recently.

 

Twitter is now somewhat back for me… for how long?

cawbird on linux

I pretty much stopped using twitter after the change to their streaming API which broke my Linux client Corebird, meaning the only way to refresh the timeline is to close the app and start it again. Yeah crazy stuff!

On top of this my client on Android, Plume only gets direct messages a few times a day and there’s other messed up things happen which just cause all types of problems.

I refuse to install the twitter app because I’m pretty peed off about Twitter and to be frank I was using Mastodon to connect to twitter in the Indieweb POSSE way.

Then today I saw there is a fork of Corebird called Cawbird. I installed it and its working (currently). However I don’t trust Twitter to not mess with things making it impossible for such a linux app to work without constant changes.

Gender diversity on twitter?

Results of who I follow on twitter

I rarely read twitter due to the API changes which I’ve talked about in the past. But I saw Teknoteacher talking about changing his followers after reading about Male tech CEOs follower accounts. I thought I’d share some things I discovered too. Especially reading this a while back.

So my results are above, using the online tool – https://www.proporti.onl.

But a while ago I used Open Human’s twitter archive analyzer by Bastian Greshake Tzovaras. It was super sobering!

Here is my replies by gender from when I first started using Twitter back in 2017. As you can see there was a massive spike of conversation with males in 2012, I also generally talk to more men than women on twitter.

My replies & gender Likewise when retweeting based on gender its mainly males. Recently its a lot closer to 50% which is great but I wonder with my lack of twitter use, how that will effect things? (I have requested a new update of my twitter data)

My retweets & genderOf course my instant thought is there is noise in the figures as its not always clear if people are male or female for many reasons. But its disappointing to read Elon Musk’s tweet.

And read about others such as…

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, follows 267 accounts on Twitter. Of those, 238 appear to be men. He follows nearly as many Twitter Eggs (15) as women (21).

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, followed the most women (39) of any of the accounts examined by the Guardian, though that is still half the number of men he follows (78) out of a total of 165 accounts.

I’d really like to see this applied to race not just gender too. It reminds me how I was going to learn more Python so I can create this as a Juno personal notebook in Open Humans.

Updated…

I updated Open Humans with my latest Twitter data export and here are the results.
Once again very sobering to see. Got to make some changes.

Screenshot of replies for 2019

Worth adding from TwArχiv site.

The graph shows you the number of replies to Twitter users that are classified as either male or female. The classifications are predictions based on users’ first names as given in their Twitter accounts. The predictions itself are performed by the Python package gender_guesser . It uses name/gender-frequencies from a larger text corpus. mostly male, mostly female, andy and unknown classifications are ignored. To decrease the noise the daily values have been averaged by a daily average over a 180 day window (dataframe.rolling('180d').mean()).

Ideally these graphs would include non-binary folks. Doing this is a bit trickier. It is thus a work in progress.

Screenshot of retweets for 2019Also worth mentioned…

Even more interesting than whether replying to people might be gendered can be the question which voices are being amplified . On Twitter a good indicator of amplification are retweets. These can be gender balanced or show biases, similarly to the replies to other users.

The graph shows you the number of retweets to Twitter users that are classified as either male or female. The classifications are again predictions made by the Python package gender_guesser . To decrease the noise the daily values have again been averaged by a daily average over a 180 day window (dataframe.rolling('180d').mean()).

Ideally these graphs would include non-binary folks. Doing this is a bit trickier. It is thus a work in progress.

The horizon dating experiment on TV again…

Horizon dating

It was Valentines day a little while ago and while I was busy. I guess someone at the BBC thought it would be a good idea to put up the Horizon Dating Experiment again.

I got a whole bunch of people asking me if they saw me on TV recently… Well yes you did and there is a story worth reading behind it all. I’m not the only one who blogged about it too. To be fair it all started with Rachel Clarke who pointed it out the call to me after my bad experience with the Year of making love.

Horizon dating experiment

To be fair although its back on Telly again, the best example of where the Horizon dating experiment popped up has to be on a plane at 36000 feet. Found via my good friend Claire

Back of a airplane seat

 

Maybe it really time to drop twitter…

Dead twitter

I use to use Corebird on my laptop for twitter access. Today this was broken and with a quick search found a page explaining all.

As many of you may know, Twitter decided to remove the UserStream API, which many third-party clients use, including Corebird. It’s a vital part of the user experience and is used for real-time timeline updates, DM retrieval, mentions, etc.

The replacement is the Accounts Activity API. I have not looked much into its details since the technical difficulties are enough to make it virtually impossible for me to port Corebird to it, but what I know is that real-time tweet updates aren’t supported and the prices are well beyond what I could possibly pay (“$2,899 per month for 250 users”).

Now, there would be a few ways out, of course. Porting to the Accounts Activity API is off the table, but other protocols exist. Since Corebird has never been anything else than a Twitter client, there is no abstraction for the Twitter API however, so porting to another protocol will be a lot of work again. Since I’m not a student anymore, I can’t promise to do any of that work. The master branch is additionally in a very WIP state with the ongoing GTK4 port and a bunch of other features.

The API removal will take place mid-August, so Corebird will mostly stop working at that point. I do not know of any real alternative that is not twitter.com of course.

If this explanation was too convulted, http://apps-of-a-feather.com/ has one as well.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped me over they years and all the patrons on here especially for all the support.

Seriously… I’m so very very close to dropping twitter, as although I benefited greatly from it in the past. They seriously have over stepped the mark and my alternative Mastodon is growing massively. I already stopped cross posting to Facebook after their decision to drop automated posting.

As Twitter falls a part is it time to double down on Mastodon?

Dead twitter

Twitter is seriously getting up to no good.

Its super clear the openness of twitter is being stopped, told to stand against a wall with hands up and then shot in the head. Its not good and frankly, I don’t know about you but its starting to pee me off. I recently posted something to my facebook timeline about Facebook’s decision to stop automated posting under a persons account. Another frustrating thing as I was practising the POSSE method from the IndieWeb movement..

Facebook is no longer allowing automatically post to peoples profile. Meaning this timeline is going to get very quiet!
If you want to catch up with things check out www.cubicgarden.com and www.twitter.com/cubicgarden

Because of this my facebook interactions are mainly going to be checking my events including Volleyball training.

All this makes me think its time to double down on Mastodon? Of course I’m not the only one thinking this, cue Adrian and Naomia‘s mastodon 101 podcast.

The more I look at the more I think close my twitter account and just use Mastodon. Although the crossposter was helping till Twitter API changes broke that too.

It will be a shame to say goodbye but the more I see what twitter is about and see what Mastodon users are doing like listing the abuses/hate/rule breaks in different Mastodon instances into Github. I think this is the place to be and the whole setup/framework/infrastructure is what makes it all this possible. Heck with a bunch of the new W3C specs like WebmentionsFragmention and Micropub; I can see companies which enable/power their users really making amazing sustainable humane services.

Lessons from Starfish & the Spider, lets make a better internet together!

Best rollercosters I’ve ridden, so far…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/43429302991/

I make no secret of my love for Rollercoasters, heck some call me a rollercoaster nerd?

I can trace back where it comes from but I just feel so alive when faced with the moment of impeding doom. Going around and doing it again and again, is exciting too. You get to feel the adrenaline rush and understand what the coasters design and imprecate it fully from different ride positions. On that topic, I’m a back seat rider. The pull of the coaster and the intensity is just amazing. Its a real shame when you are placed somewhere in the middle.

The rollercoaster geeks like me, tend to use some online resource to keep a eye on new coasters and where to head next. I found rcdb.com is great for this. I have considered hacking up a self quantified/tracking system like trakt.tv to capture how many times you have been on a certain ride, when and maybe which position. Instead I keep a track in my head while in the queue and post it to twitter…

For example from Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens

And from Stockholm’s Grona Lund

Theres a better way to do this i’m sure… I started wondering if my aspersions to do something with Mastodon or Micropub & Microformats, could fit with this too? Terms look ok too if its a free app, shame theres no api but the pages are simple enough to turn into a large xml store or what ever.

It could recommend stuff to you and you can start to pick out unique elements which you like or don’t like. In the my case looking through my rides I really hate Vertical Chain Lift Hill’s like you see on Abismo. They are trying to be too clever and actually feel really crap and short for me to enjoy.

Anyway a project for another day…

So with that out the way, here’s my top rollercoasters across the places I have been.

United states

Déjàvu

Six Flags great America

Vertical Velocity or V2

Deja Vu (no longer exists)

Raging Bull

Its funny because I have been to many parts of America but not really seeked out rollercoasters, so the main ones are in Vegas and Six Flags great America near Chicago. Six Flags is typical of a American theme park with lots of rides packed into a space. There were lots of choices for coasters but V2 and Deja Vu caught me, when I could stand the long queues. Raging bull was nice too but was less keen on the restraints, likely now I’d be cool with them.

Las Vegas

Speed: The ride (no longer exists)

Massive fan of LIM (Linear Induction Motor) and Hydraulic Launchs, so speed the ride is right up my street. I’d also add it was the best ride on the Vegas strip by a long way.

Japan

Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima

Nagashima Spa Land

Steel Dragon 2000

Spa Land is one of the best parks I have been to. Its large but not Alton Towers trek around the park size. Within the park is lots of rides including a bunch of thrill and extreme rides. However the crown of Spa Lands is Steel Dragon 2000, which hits a top speed of 95mph on the way down its almost 95 meter first drop (5th highest in the world currently) Then theres a 75 meter hill and drop straight afterwards. Thats higher than the whole of Blackpool’s Big One (62 meters drop). At almost 4mins for a ride, its still the longest track in history and the gravitation force over the hills is insane! There is nothing like it and it eclipses everything else in the park.

Fuji-Q Highland

Eejanaika

Fujiyama

I went to Fuji Q after Nagashima Spa Land and although its got some great coasters, I think I preferred Spa Lands. Fuji Q’s big ride at the time was Takabisha but I wasn’t convinced by it. Felt similar to Saw the ride in Thorpe Park (another one I was so-so about). I did like Do-Dodonpa but after going on Stealth lots of times, this felt poor in comparison. I noticed they changed the hill into a loop now, which might be better but at the time it was a hill.

Tokyo Dome City

Thunder Dolphin

If I could build a rollercoaster, I would do it like Thunder Dolphin. Right in the middle of a city but go big. The Dolphin is a rare surprise but it shuts early due to noise I expect? Its quite thrilling riding through a city centre in this way and quite special.

Spain

Parque Warner Madrid 126

Parque Warner Madrid

Superman / la Atracción de Acero

Stuntfall

Parque Warner Madrid, is a great park. Its not massive but they nicely grouped all the big rides close to each other for easy access to other ones. The theme nature of the park was good and very late opening really helps space out the day. The only thing is its quite a long way out of Madrid which means a coach or car only. The park is packed with rides but the two selected are the best. Stunt drop is just so much fun while Superman is as close to Steel Dragon 2000 as I’ve gotten in recent times.

UK

Alton Towers in 2015

Alton Towers

Nemesis

Smiler

Out of all the theme parks, this is the most visited one. I like Alton Towers but its estate is vast making repeat rides tricky. For example; the distance between Smiler and Nemesis in time is at least 15mins by cable cart! Walking would be 20-30mins. However the number of extreme rides are plentyful. The SW (Secret weapon) series of coasters have been record breaking and a genuine joy to have in the UK. Nemesis for me is still the best inverted coaster I have been on. Its quite insane its 22 years old and hasn’t lost its roar and intensity. Its the reason why (almost) all other inverted coasters don’t appear in my list at all. Even Batman the ride although similar lacks the landscape which features so much in Nemesis. Nemesis is basically cut into the side of hill to keep it below the treeline. You can see similar with the Smiler which isn’t tall but super compact crossing over its self many times. I would include Oblivion and Air but they have fallen out of my ride book in recent times.

Thorpe Park

Stealth

Swarm

Thorpe park is a nice park and its small enough to quickly get high numbers of rides in a short time. Although it doesn’t have enough big rides in my opinion. I use to have a merlin year pass which meant I could go to Alton Towers & Thorpe Park over and over again. So on a long week in London, I would head to Thorpe Park on Friday or Saturday with my luggage then get the tube back to Euston for my train back to Manchester.

Blackpool pleasure beach

Infusion

The Big one

Blackpool is so close and unlike most UK theme parks, opens late. Its got some good rides but I haven’t been on the new Icon ride yet.

Drayton Manor

Shockwave

Its been a long time since I took a ride in Drayton Manor, but I won’t forget Shockwave which is one of the only stand up rollercoasters in the UK.

Sweden

Jetline at Grona Land

Gröna Lund

Insane

Jetline

Grona Land isn’t a thrill seekers paradise but its small opens late and you can easily run around to the entrance of each ride really easily. Jetline was surprisingly old skool but also had quite exciting elements including the out and back via a tunnel. Its also quite a smooth ride at the start. Insane is a winged insane coaster, even I had to take it easy after the 11th time. Its the first time I have been in a ball coaster and after a few breaks, quite enjoyed it.

Denmark

Dæmonen

Tivoli Gardens

Dæmonen

To be fair Tivoli Gardens isn’t really a extreme roller coaster park, but the one ride they do have is like a mini Superman / la Atracción de Acero. Same maker and coasters, just much shorter time and much less extreme.