Replied to a post by Ton Zijlstra

I guess the novelty will wear off after a year, but for now my ‘on this day’ widget keeps surfacing small fun finds in my blog archive. Fifteen years ago today I installed our first wifi at home. Twelve years ago today I hurt myself playing Wii-Tennis.
Looking back at my own archives day by day …

Those are some fun memories 🙂 I like that secondary use of an ‘on this day’ widget – as part of the weeding and watering of one’s blog. I have a ‘random post’ page that I occasionally use and aim to use more – partly to surface old memories, but also it works as a small microtask for myself – did I tag and categorise the post? Does it have the right post kind? And maybe more interestingly, how have my thoughts changed over time – is it time to write a new post on the topic?
Wow, Jennie Lee and Nye Bevan – now that’s a relationship with a pretty epic dynasty. (Drivers behind the Open University and the National Health Service respectively).

A current Labour policy is for the creation of a National Education Service, seeing education as a lifelong right rather than a commodity you pay for. Issues with ‘national’ / ‘state’ anything aside, putting an emphasis on socialised education again is great.

tribunemag.co.uk/2019/06/the-open-university-at-50/

Read Amazon’s next big thing may redefine big (BBC News)

Amazon doesn’t feel it has a responsibility to make sure its groundbreaking technology is always used ethically.

“Civil rights groups have called it “perhaps the most dangerous surveillance technology ever developed”, and called for Amazon to stop selling it to government agencies, particularly police forces.”

“Mr Vogels doesn’t feel it’s Amazon’s responsibility to make sure Rekognition is used accurately or ethically.

“That’s not my decision to make,” he tells me.”

Murky AF. I guess this kind of moral self-absolution is a necessity if you’re in charge of Amazon.

“He likens ML and AI to steel mills. Sometimes steel is used to make incubators for babies, he says, but sometimes steel is used to make guns.”

Amazon’s ML/AI is not a raw material. It’s shaped (and sold) by a cadre of people at Amazon.

Do they build in any accountability mechanisms to their algorithms?

They’re making a loaded technology. They’re making the guns, and he’s saying “hey – it’s not our responsibility to add safety catches.”

 

Kicks Condor discusses his ‘infostrat’ (information strategy), as filtered through a reading of Ton‘s writings on the topic.

What’s an infostrat?  Picking up from Ton and Kicks:

“deciding what and how to bookmark or archive stuff, sorting through conflicting news stories and accusations, and alternating “periods of discovery with periods of digesting and consolidating”

and

“what is my strategy to comb through the gigs and gigs of input I can plug myself into on the Web?”

I find it all very interesting and would like to work out an infostrat for myself.  Quite often I fall into the pit of infinite scroll and end up in a mess of information overload.  Need to change my filters.

What do I want from the world of information out there?  I would separate my goals in to the social and the informational.

For the social side: I want to not only communicate with people, but to over time become close to some of them.  I must say that until recently, social media has always felt remarkably asocial to me.  Ton seems to have achieved sociality very well over time through blogging. I’d like to explore if there’s a knack to that, other than just giving it time.

For the informational side: this is more what social media has traditionally given me.  However, so far, it’s facilitated more consumption than consolidation I would say.  So I am very intrigued by Kicks’ mention of the linkage between blogs and wikis.  I like the idea of the blog timeline crystallising into a personal wiki over time.

Thanks Ton and Kicks for the discussion.  I have some reading to do!

Read We Have Never Been Social by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)

The project has as its working title We Have Never Been Social: Rethinking the Internet. It revisits the history of the Internet’s development and, in particular, the rise of the social media structures that have come to dominate so much of our experience of networked communication, arguing that a significant part of what has led us to the mess we find ourselves in today is a desperately flawed model of sociality, one that is in fact not just un-social but anti-social.

What if the problem with social media isn’t just that it got centralized, but something deeper than that?  Looking forward to seeing this project by Kathleen Fitzpatrick progress as she looks at the history of sociality online.

That is to say: if the problem has not been the centralized, corporatized control of the individual voice, the individual’s data, but rather a deeper failure of sociality that precedes that control, then merely reclaiming ownership of our voices and our data isn’t enough. If the goal is creating more authentic, more productive forms of online sociality, we need to rethink our platforms, the ways they function, and our relationships to them from the ground up. It’s not just a matter of functionality, or privacy controls, or even of business models. It’s a matter of governance.

Listened The story of Grenfell United – podcast from the Guardian

Natasha Elcock and Ed Daffarn escaped from Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017. Karim Mussilhy’s uncle died in the fire. They talk about their work with Grenfell United, while the Guardian’s social affairs correspondent, Rob Booth, discusses government inaction

Two years after Grenfell, there has been little change or progress in the provision of safe social housing in the UK.

Summed up in the podcast as being down to a lethal mix of indifference, incompetence, and dicking about with Brexit.

Despite the liberatory potential of technology, of which I see free software playing a big role, there’s a very real concern of ending up with a kind of technocratic ‘vanguard party’.

You can debate the merits of vanguardism in general, but couple it with the current disproportionate skew of tech roles to white and male – which is even more pronounced in free software at present – and throw in the ‘scratch your own itch’ trope.

That’s a huge systemic problem as vanguard becomes regime.

Some things I am learning: if you’re white and male and into free software (I am), recognise that you have a very blinkered and narrow view of the world.

* Spend half the time you use learning Yet Another Technology to educate yourself about race, gender and class struggles (historical and present).

* Pipe down and listen to others when it comes to discussions about what is needed in software.

* Don’t ‘scratch your own itch’ – serve a community. If you’re white, male and technically proficient you’ve got enough privilege in the bank to pay it back building for others rather than yourself.

Listened Cruel state: the impact of austerity on disabled people from the Guardian

Frances Ryan discusses the impact that austerity has had on disabled people and Helen Davidson discusses the Hong Kong protests.

This podcast made me very angry.  The effects Tory austerity has had on disabled people in the UK.  After a lot of hard-won gains for disability rights in the 80s and 90s, the Cameron government rolled most of those gains back in the bogus pursuit of austerity.
IndieWeb is more and more starting to feel like a genuine social network for me.  It’s happening slowly, but I’m building up a list of people that I follow in my reader, and I get the odd interaction back here and there.  And it’s not all just inside chat about IndieWeb plumbing.  Good stuff!

(Not saying it wasn’t already a social network for other people – this is just my own experience.  If I’d been blogging to my own site for 20 years, or joined micro.blog, I’m sure I’d be there already!)

#IndieWeb

 

Read We Can’t Do It Ourselves by Kris De Decker (LOW←TECH MAGAZINE)

How to live a more sustainable life? By placing responsibility squarely on the individual, attention is deflected away from the many institutions involved in structuring possible courses of action.

This is a very nice analysis of the shortcomings of behaviour change at the level of the individual.  Better to focus on systemic failings than guilt-tripping people for making a wrong choice, when it very often isn’t really a choice at all.

When the focus is on practices, the so-called “value-action gap” can no longer be interpreted as evidence of individual ethical shortcomings or individual inertia. Rather, the gap between people’s attitudes and their “behaviour” is due to systemic issues: individuals live in a society that makes many pro-environmental arrangements rather unlikely.

Fixing stuff in the park today with Hackney Fixers.

Maybe 50 or more people came over the course of 3 hours and we try to fix their broken devices with them.  Always a lovely community event.

Read Solidarity economy: Case studies from Rojava and Jackson, Mississippi by Anca Voinea (Co-operative News)

Sacajawea Hall from Cooperation Jackson and Huriye Semdin from Rojava shared their experience during a workshop at Ways Forward.

I’ve found Rojava and Jackson very inspiring movements over the past year or so.  Grassroots and built in areas of intense struggle, they both focus strongly on equality, economic justice and environmental issues.

There’s nothing really in-depth in this particular article, but I like the fact that representatives from both movements dialled in to a workshop in Manchester, England.  Being able to so easily communicate remote can help us build international solidarity.

A mini yak-shave to be able to sensibly eval scheme in spacemacs.  For `C-x C-e` to eval the last sexp sensibly, you need to be after the last paren.  By default in evil mode, navigation to the end of the line ends you up *on* the last paren, not after it.

Setting:

(setq evil-move-cursor-back nil)

will navigate you to after the last paren.

See: github.com/syl20bnr/spacemacs/issues/646