Bookmarked Cory Doctorow: Inaction is a Form of Action (Locus Online)

When the state allows the online world to become the near-exclusive domain of a small coterie of tech execs, with the power to decide on matters of speech – to say nothing of all the other ways in which our rights are impacted by the policies on their platforms, everything from employment to education to romance to (obviously) privacy – for all the rest of us, they are making policy.

Because inaction in the face of danger is a form of action.

Cory Doctorow argues that depending on the social media platforms to clean up the problem of moderation simply continues down the path of political inaction. Instead he argues that we need to demand a better internet

A restored internet is one that values pluralism (power diffused into many hands) and self-determination (you get choose which tech you use and how you use it). Achieving a pluralistic internet of technological self-determination will be a long process.

This is a part of Doctorow’s wider discussion of adversarial interoperability. It is also interesting to consider this alongside John Harris’ investigation of the punk rock internet.


Doctorow also recorded an audio version of the essay.

Liked Publishers and Platforms Need to Label Genres. Now, Please. by mikecaulfield (Hapgood)

It’s true that people do like having a standard interface for the feed, but the feed needs to figure out ways to parse this information and add the genre labels and indicators back in … The fact that it is 2018 and we’re still having this conversation is bizarre

Bookmarked Many More Webs Bite The Dust (CogDogBlog)

Three years after publishing the first version of Another Web Bites The Dust (35 corpses), it was time to update, and add 24 more dead web sites to the video.

Alan Levine adds to his lists of web sites that have been shut down. Attached to this is a video montage:

Only a day later and another site has already been added, Wikispaces.

Bookmarked The punk rock internet – how DIY ​​rebels ​are working to ​replace the tech giants by John Harris (the Guardian)

Around the world, a handful of visionaries are plotting an alternative ​online ​future​.​ ​Is it really possible to remake the internet in a way that’s egalitarian, decentralised and free of snooping​?​

John Harris speaks with a number of people about alternatives to today’s dependence on super nodes and silos. Aral Balkan and Laura Kalbag talk about their concept of a indienet where users control their data:

Using the blueprint of Heartbeat, they want to create a new kind of internet they call the indienet – in which people control their data, are not tracked and each own an equal space online. This would be a radical alternative to what we have now: giant “supernodes” that have made a few men in northern California unimaginable amounts of money thanks to the ocean of lucrative personal information billions of people hand over in exchange for their services.

While David Irvine discusses the idea of a distributed SAFE network built on blockchain technology:

The acronym SAFE stands for “Safe Access for Everyone”. In this model, rather than being stored on distant servers, people’s data – files, documents, social-media interactions – will be broken into fragments, encrypted and scattered around other people’s computers and smartphones, meaning that hacking and data theft will become impossible. Thanks to a system of self-authentication in which a Safe user’s encrypted information would only be put back together and unlocked on their own devices, there will be no centrally held passwords.

No one will leave data trails, so there will be nothing for big online companies to harvest. The financial lubricant, Irvine says, will be a cryptocurrency called Safecoin: users will pay to store data on the network, and also be rewarded for storing other people’s (encrypted) information on their devices. Software developers, meanwhile, will be rewarded with Safecoin according to the popularity of their apps. There is a community of around 7,000 interested people already working on services that will work on the Safe network, including alternatives to platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

It is interesting to consider these ideas alongside that of the #IndieWeb community. I think both are aspiring to create a demonstrably better web. It will be interesting to see where all of this goes.