Liked The best way to blog in 2020 by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

Over time, your body of work will build, and you’ll find that people are interested in surprising topics. This post on equality of outcome vs opportunity has been the most popular thing on my site for a while now, which I never could have planned or anticipated. The power is in being consistent, and keeping your site online for the long term. (I wish I could have told my 1998 self that.)

Liked Climate crisis stories must be human centered by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

We live in a consumerist society where everything is presented in terms of products. So, let’s talk products. Tim Burton’s Batman was released 30 years ago. So was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And, yes, Star Trek: The Next Generation is thirty-two years old. In less time than that, it could all be over.

Replied to I need more blogs by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

if you already have a blog, or you really love someone else’s, I’d really like to know about it. I want to subscribe. In another, parallel universe it would have been as easy to share OPML subscription lists as it is to share Twitter lists, but that’s not the one we live in. So email me, or send me a webmention, and let me know who I should be reading.

you can find my OPML file here. I really wish it was more organised, but it is a start.
Liked Pull requests and the templated self by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

A key question to building any software in the modern age is: “In the wrong hands, who could this harm?”

Decades ago, software seemed harmless. In 2019, when facial recognition is used to deport refugees and data provided by online services have been used to jail journalists, understanding who you’re building for, and who your software could harm, are vital. These are ideas that need to be incorporated not just into the strategies of our companies and the design processes of our product managers, but the daily development processes of our engineers. These are questions that need to be asked over and over again.

Liked Ban the guns. by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

Buying and selling automatic weapons is indefensible. These are weapons of war, designed to be wielded by trained military servicepeople. We don’t need them on our streets. It’s not about mental health; it’s not about drugs; it’s not about videogames. It’s not about prayer in schools. It’s about limiting access to instruments of death.

Liked Adding, not echoing by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

My love of tech has always been deeply tied to my love of people. Technology isn’t interesting for technology’s sake: it’s interesting because it elevates the human experiences and lets people do things they couldn’t do before. It has the potential to make the world more educated, more inclusive, and more peaceful. It’s certainly not interesting because it makes money for people.

Bookmarked Trump’s social media summit and me by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

Code is never more important than life. Genocide is always a bigger problem than software distribution licenses. Hopefully this is obvious.

While I accept that it runs counter to the stated principles of the free software movement, I believe we need a new set of licenses that explicitly forbid using software to facilitate hate or hate groups.

Ben Werdmuller discusses Minds use of Elgg and its involvement with hate speech. He argues that to counter the abuse of people and open source software, we need a new set of licenses that prevents misuse. This reminds me of Mike Monteiro’s call for reform in regards to design industry to eliminate such situations.
Liked Peace and love by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

Being generous, having purpose, working in service of others; the truth is that all of those things make you happier, too. I need to get so much better at this. But it’s clear to me that it’s the right direction.

Rather than be responsive to hate, fear, or tragedy, I want to be proactive with love, with everything in my work, and everything in my life.

Liked Finding happiness in dystopia by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

Happiness is a laudable goal, and we can only achieve it by creating a better society (and even a better world) for everybody. Not through authoritarianism or revolution; not through a worship of markets; not through tending to the individual at the expense of community, or through tending to community at the expense of the individual; not through accidentally creating new gatekeepers as we tear down the old ones; but through balance, compassion, and an eye for creating equal opportunities and making everybody’s lives better.

Liked Open APIs and the Facebook Trash Fire by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

What information is Facebook sharing with Palantir, or the security services? To what extent are undeclared data-sharing relationships used to deport people, or to identify individuals who should be closely monitored? Is it used to identify subversives? And beyond the effects of data sharing, given what we know about the chilling effects surveillance has on democracy, what effect on democratic discourse has the omnipresence of the social media feed already had – and to what extent is this intentional?

Liked Facebook’s monopoly is harming consumers by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

With any lens except the most superficial, Facebook fails this test. Yes, its product is free and available to anyone. But we pay with our data and privacy – and ultimately, with our democracy. Facebook’s dominance has adversely affected entire industries, swung elections, and fuelled genocides.

Replied to I’m going dark on social media for the rest of 2018. by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

I’m cutting out Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Mastodon completely. (Mastodon doesn’t suffer from the organizational issues I described above, but by aping commercial social networking services, it suffers from the same design flaws.) As of tonight, I won’t be logging into those platforms on any device, and I won’t receive comments, likes, reshares, etc, on any of them.

You raise some interesting questions to consider in moving away from social media, especially the point about staying in contact. I have tried to be more mindful of my interactions this year. RSS has definitely been an important part in this (that is how I found this post).

Noting your concerns with Mastodon, I am wondering if you think Micro.blog fixes any of this, especially with its use of feeds and webmentions etc

Replied to Media for the people by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

Fascist propaganda led directly to modern advertising, and modern advertising has now led us right back to fascist propaganda, aided and abetted by people who saw the right to make a profit as more important than the social implications of their work.


I think this is the time to take more direct action, and to build institutions that don’t just speak truth to power, but put power behind the truth. Stories are how we learn, but our actions define us.

This reminds me of danah boyd’s call for:

  • Create a sustainable business structure without the pressure of ROI
  • Rebuild the social networks
  • Develop new ways of holding those who are struggling
Liked Gab and the decentralized web by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller

These are complicated ethical questions. As builders of software on the modern internet, we have to know that there are potentially serious consequences to the design decisions we make. Facebook started as a prank by a college freshman and now has a measurable impact on genocide in Myanmar. While it’s obvious to me that everyone having unhindred access to knowledge is a net positive that particularly empowers disadvantaged communities, and that social media has allowed us to have access to new voices and understand a wider array of lived experiences, it has also been used to spread hate, undermine elections, and disempower whole communities. Decentralizing the web will allow more people to share on their own terms, using their own voices; it will also remove many of the restrictions to the spread of hatred.
In America, we’re unfortunately used …

Liked Start with the spark, not the fire by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

It’s not enough to have working code. It’s not enough to have a vision. You’ve got to have a holistic, concrete understanding of your entire venture and the context it sits within.

Your vision can be a raging fire that might change the world. But you can’t have a fire without a spark that takes hold.

Liked Article 13 makes it official. It’s time to embrace decentralization by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

Although it uses incredibly imprecise language, it can be reasonablly inferred that the directive targets large service providers like Google and Facebook. It doesn’t target small communities or people who are independently hosting their content.

All of which means that peer-to-peer decentralized social networks are exempt, if you’re hosting your profile yourself. Nobody on the indie web is going to need to implement upload filters. Similarly, nobody on the federated social web, or using decentralized apps, will either. In these architectures, there are no service providers that store or provide access to large amounts of work. It’s in the ether, being hosted from individual servers, which could sit in datacenters or could sit in your living room.