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

The future of the browser conference

I was very happy to take part in the future of the browser conference, along with my amazing colleague Jasmine. It was a different kind of conference and this was very clear from the introduction with Amber in the future! (amazing and well worth watching)

Each section started with a really different video from different artists. This was a great move with most conferences, generally starting with a keynote before the conference talks) This conference turned that on its head before jumping into number of deep dives around aspects of the future browser. All the videos are now up online, so go have a watch now.

Since the conference I have installed Brave on my Ubuntu machine now and also Puma on my mobile.

There was quite a few new developments I hadn’t really seen before.

Project fugu

Project Fugu is an effort to close gaps in the web’s capabilities enabling new classes of applications to run on the web. In short things like controlling Zigbee, USB and Bluetooth devices. I heard about this a while ago and thought Living room of the Future controlled via a browser.

Handshake

Handshake is a decentralized, permission-less naming protocol where every peer is validating and in charge of managing the root DNS naming zone with the goal of creating an alternative to existing Certificate Authorities and naming systems. Names on the internet (top level domains, social networking handles, etc.) ultimately rely upon centralized actors with full control over a system which are relied upon to be honest, as they are vulnerable to hacking, censorship, and corruption.
I think that says it all, something which many people have pointed out many times as a major problem with the DNS system.

Handshake is an experiment which seeks to explore those new ways in which the necessary tools to build a more decentralized internet. Services on the internet have become more centralized beginning in the 1990s, but do not fulfill the original decentralized vision of the internet. Email became Gmail, usenet became reddit, blog replies became facebook and Medium, pingbacks became twitter, squid became Cloudflare, even gnutella became The Pirate Bay. Centralization exists because there is a need to manage spam, griefing, and sockpuppet/sybil attacks.

Unlock protocol

As most of you know, I have webmontization enabled on this blog and also on my mixes site. But Unlock is aimed at subscriptions and memberships. This is great news, except its not a standard yet but looks promising.

The coming age of the 402

I had heard Matt talk previously during May’s Manchester Futurists. There is a lot of unexplored areas in the http status codes including 402, which could be used to do new and interesting things like WebMon, which was also covered in Manchester Futurists and the future of the browser.

Better ways to archive and save the page.

Saving the page has been a nightmare for a long while, and I found Webrecorder and ArchiveWeb.page quite interesting solutions. Its also interesting to think about the lengths we have gone through to stop people saving the page.

This is why I like these community driven conferences… Big thanks to @caseorganic, @anselm and all the speakers.

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

1 month of trying web monetization

Web montization

I wrote last month how I was giving web monetization a try.

I decided to go with the option where people with the coil extension would pay a small fee but its still available to the public. There was a consideration that I could make certain posts such as my publicserviceinternet notes.

Its been surprising to see the money come through on uphold. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a way to stop uphold emailing me each time I got new money (seems to be an option which could be useful)

£3.48 for a month Over a month and a bit. I made £3.48 from having installed the coil extension. Not bad for a month, and its more than I was expecting. its certainly more than the changetip I had originally (I wouldn’t mind if it went straight into uphold as a cryptocurrancy rather than currency actually – Sure there is a way to do this but not found it yet).

Enough to buy a expensive pour over coffee in one of my favourite northern quarter coffee places. Not quite enough to cover the domain name but if things stay as they are, it will easily cover a few of my domain names renewals for a year.

So where do we go from here? Well I’ll leave it as it as it currently is set for now but I might give the option of coil only members a try on a post or two in the future.

Thanks to Cyberdees for connecting me with this, I like the non-tracking and if I was running other sites I would add coil to it. I may end up doing another post in 6 months to see what happens in the future. There is something good here.

Some interesting Indieweb developments

Person with chromebook
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Update with more conference details

I’ve been keeping an eye on whats happening in the next/web3/fediverse/indieweb space, here are a few things I found interesting

Theres a virtual conference about everything Activitypub.

Activitypub.rocks

A conference about the present and future of ActivityPub, the world’s leading federated social web standard.

Looks like a good virtual conference, and don’t forget to register for it.

One to mark the calendar and another one…

I  noticed there is a Fediverse , sessions and sign up here.

I was mentioning webmentions to someone the other day and wondering if there was other places webmentions could work beyond the typical scenarios. So when I saw Whim (a command-line utility for sending, receiving, and working with webmentions) with these features

Daemon to receive and store incoming webmentions
Webmention verifier, suitable for scheduled operation
A tool for sending webmentions, individually or en masse (given a source URL)
Commands to query a local database of received webmentions
Simple webserver to display webmention-powered comment sections as HTML, suitable for JavaScript-driven insertion into an otherwise static webpage

Talking about indieweb and fediverse software, I’m impressed the long list of other software projects. Theres some neat projects there including

  • dokieli looks good as its hits so many of the standards I’m interested in, especially the web annotations.
  • reel2bits looks like funkwhale but maybe more webby
  • gath.io is a quick and easy way to make and share events. Events are public with the special link, its like what doodle.com does.
  • bookwyrm is a federated book reviewing system, aka a fedi-goodreads

Lastly a couple of things, although loosely indieweb/fediverse related.

I was interested to hear Kaliya Young on Floss weekly recently. Kaliya I have met a few times at the Mydata conference. Self-sovereign identity and the use of verifiable credentials and decentralized identifiers is a interesting area. I get the concept but haven’t had the chance to set one up yet. Last year after going to the Indiewebcamp, I setup indieauth which works in a similar way? In actual fact, it finally worked for me on retrying it.

I felt Kaliya did a reasonable job of explaining it but you can tell by the questions she was getting, people were not following. I recommend the Mydata 2018 talk although its moved on quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong its a very difficult thing to get, especially with audio only.

However I did catch Kaliya saying how important standards are and some kind of implementation. I very much agree, this is why I love what the indieweb community do. It also reminded me of something I heard on the twit podcast network too. Protocols not platformsProtocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech.

Lets also not forget the experiment I’m part of with Web Monitization. So far its pretty good without having to block access to my postings. I’m sure there will be an update in a future blog post.

I’m giving web monetization a try

Recently I gave the web monetization a try thanks to the amazing CyberDees.

I was aware of the web monetisation project after reading about the amazing grant for the web. But generally I don’t really think about monetizing my blog because its generally a hassle, I can’t stand the ad tracking and I worry about random stuff which I don’t agree with in my space.

Currently I get about 8-10 emails a day asking to replace links with their own. I generally ignore them now but they never stop and they always ask if they could guest write a blog for me. So I’ve been thinking maybe I should find a way where I stay in control of everything?

Hence the interest in web monetisation and tipjars. Actually one of the first things I looked at was flattr a while ago. Theres a good comparison of the two here.

Setting it up was quite easy with some direction from Cyberdees.

The process involving signing up to Coil, installing a wordpress extension and then somewhere to store/exchange money (ILP-enabled digital wallet) which was Upheld.

Once its all setup, I just need to turn it on. This is where I am…

I could turn it on and block all access to my blog unless you have a web monetisation plugin. But thats not what I want to do. I noticed in the editor theres the options per post or page.

Web monitization

  • Monetized and Public (default) – Allow all visitors to see the content, get paid when your visitor is a Coil Member
  • Coil Members Only – Only allow Coil Members to see the content
  • No Monetization – Allow all visitors to see the content, don’t get paid when your visitor is a Coil Member

So I was considering maybe making certain posts monetised, for example I could make all the public service internet notes pay to read? Maybe I could write some exclusive posts even?

But right now, I’m going to turn on monetized and public for my blog as a kind of tip jar type of thing. I’ll do it for a bit and see how things turn out. I’m not looking to make a boat of money, if its enough to cover a year of a domain name that would be cool.

Think of it as a beta test… I’ll review in a couple of months if I don’t forget that its turned on. Do let me know if theres any problems accessing the site. I also guess the RSS will stay as it is right now, but there is people looking at how to add web monetization to rss/xml/atom feeds. One thing I’d like to see is something of a timer on the montisation, so it could switch on or off after a certain amount of hours/days/weeks.