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IndieWeb Book Club: Ruined By Design

Some of us have thought about doing it before, but perhaps just jumping into the water and trying it out may be the best way to begin designing, testing, and building a true online IndieWeb Book Club.

Ruined By Design

Title and author on a white background at the top with a red filtered view of an atomic mushroom cloud explosion on the Bikini atoll in the Pacific Ocean

Earlier this week I saw a notice about an upcoming local event for Mike Monteiro‘s new book Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It (Mule Books, March 2019, ISBN: 978-1090532084). Given the IndieWeb’s focus on design which is built into several of their principles, I thought this looked like a good choice for kicking off such an IndieWeb Book Club.

Here’s the description of the book from the publisher:

The world is working exactly as designed. The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have outed gay teens to their conservative parents, are working exactly as designed. Their “real names” initiative, which makes it easier for stalkers to re-find their victims, is working exactly as designed. Twitter’s toxicity and lack of civil discourse is working exactly as it’s designed to work.The world is working exactly as designed. And it’s not working very well. Which means we need to do a better job of designing it. Design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. The power to choose. The power to influence. As designers, we need to see ourselves as gatekeepers of what we are bringing into the world, and what we choose not to bring into the world. Design is a craft with responsibility. The responsibility to help create a better world for all. Design is also a craft with a lot of blood on its hands. Every cigarette ad is on us. Every gun is on us. Every ballot that a voter cannot understand is on us. Every time social network’s interface allows a stalker to find their victim, that’s on us. The monsters we unleash into the world will carry your name. This book will make you see that design is a political act. What we choose to design is a political act. Who we choose to work for is a political act. Who we choose to work with is a political act. And, most importantly, the people we’ve excluded from these decisions is the biggest (and stupidest) political act we’ve made as a society.If you’re a designer, this book might make you angry. It should make you angry. But it will also give you the tools you need to make better decisions. You will learn how to evaluate the potential benefits and harm of what you’re working on. You’ll learn how to present your concerns. You’ll learn the importance of building and working with diverse teams who can approach problems from multiple points-of-view. You’ll learn how to make a case using data and good storytelling. You’ll learn to say NO in a way that’ll make people listen. But mostly, this book will fill you with the confidence to do the job the way you always wanted to be able to do it. This book will help you understand your responsibilities.

I suspect that this book will be of particular interest to those in the IndieWeb, A Domain of One’s Own, the EdTech space (and OER), and really just about anyone.

How to participate

I’m open to other potential guidelines and thoughts since this is incredibly experimental at best, but I thought I’d lay out the following broad ideas for how we can generally run the book club and everyone can keep track of the pieces online. Feel free to add your thoughts as responses to this post or add them to the IndieWeb wiki’s page https://indieweb.org/IndieWeb_Book_Club.

  • Buy the book or get a copy from your local bookstore
  • Read it along with the group
  • Post your progress, thoughts, replies/comments, highlights, annotations, reactions, quotes, related bookmarks, podcast or microcast episodes, etc. about the book on your own website on your own domain. If your site doesn’t support any of these natively, just do your best and post simple notes that you can share. In the end, this is about the content and the discussion first and the technology second, but feel free to let it encourage you to improve your own site for doing these things along the way.
    • Folks can also post on other websites and platforms if they must, but that sort of defeats some of the purpose of the Indie idea, right?
  • Syndicate your thoughts to indieweb.xyz to the stub indieweb.xyz/en/bookclub/ as the primary location for keeping track of our conversation. Directions for doing this can be found at https://indieweb.xyz/howto/en.
  • Optionally syndicate them to other services like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Optionally mention this original post, and my website will also aggregate the comments via webmention to the comment section below.
  • At regular intervals, check in on the conversations linked on indieweb.xyz/en/bookclub/ and post your replies and reactions about them on your own site.

If your site doesn’t support sending/receiving webmentions (a special type of open web notifications), take a look at Aaron Parecki’s post Sending your first Webmention and keep in mind that you can manually force webmentions with services like Telegraph or Mention-Tech

I’ll also try to keep track of entries I’m aware about on my own site as read or bookmark posts which I’ll tag with (ostensibly for IndieWeb Book Club Mike Monteiro), which we can also use on other social silos for keeping track of the conversation there.

Perhaps as we move along, I’ll look into creating a planet for the club as well as aggregating OPML files of those who create custom feeds for their posts. If I do this it will only be to supplement the aggregation of posts at the stub on indieweb.xyz which should serve as the primary hub for the club’s conversation.

If you haven’t run across it yet you can also use gRegor Morrill‘s IndieBookClub.biz tool in the process. 

If you don’t already have your own website or domain to participate, feel free to join in on other portions of social media, but perhaps consider jumping into the IndieWeb chat to ask about how to get started to better own your online identity and content. 

If you need help putting together your own site, there are many of us out here who can help get you started. I might also recommend using micro.blog which is an inexpensive and simple way to have your own website. I know that Manton Reece has already purchased a copy of the book himself. I hope that he and the rest of the micro.blog community will participate  along with us.

If you feel technically challenged, please ping me about your content and participation, and I’m happy to help aggregate your posts to the indieweb.xyz hub on your behalf. Ideally a panoply of people participating on a variety of technical levels and platforms will help us create a better book club (and a better web) for the future.

Of course, if you feel the itch to build pieces of infrastructure into your own website for improved participation, dive right in. Feel free to document what you’re doing both your own website and the IndieWeb wiki so others can take advantage of what you’ve come up with. Also feel free to join in on upcoming Homebrew Website Clubs (either local or virtual) or IndieWebCamps to continue brainstorming and iterating in those spaces as well.

Kickoff and Timeline

I’m syndicating this post to IndieNews for inclusion into next week’s IndieWeb newsletter which will serve as a kickoff notice. That will give folks time to acquire a copy of the book and start reading it. Of course this doesn’t mean that you couldn’t start today.

Share and repost this article with anyone you think might enjoy participating in the meanwhile.

I’ll start reading and take a stab at laying out a rough schedule. If you’re interested in participating, do let me know; we can try to mold the pace to those who actively want to participate.

I’ve already acquired a copy of the book and look forward to reading it along with you.

📺 "Empire" The Empire Unpossess’d | FOX

Watched "Empire" The Empire Unpossess'd from FOX
Directed by Craig Brewer. With Terrence Howard, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers. As the Empire ownership bid presentation nears, Lucious must make a difficult decision to save the future of the company.

Still never quite sure why I’m still watching this show. It’s not as solid as it was the first season and has become a bit too soap-opera-y and painfully unrealistic.

👓 Hiding Information in Plain Text | Spectrum IEEE

Read Hiding Information in Plain Text (IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News)
Subtle changes to letter shapes can embed messages

An interesting piece to be sure, but I’ve thought of doing this sort of steganography in the past. In particular, I recall having conversations with Sol Golomb about similar techniques in the past. I’m sure there’s got to be prior art for similar things as well.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Rod Rosenstein’s Impossible Choice | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Rod Rosenstein’s Impossible Choice by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

President Trump has asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether the F.B.I. infiltrated his campaign in 2016 for political purposes. In response, the department granted the president’s team access to highly classified information from the special counsel’s Russia investigation. What’s behind this decision?

On today’s episode:

• Julie Hirschfeld Davis, who covers the White House for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• In a series of tweets on Sunday, President Trump demanded an investigation into whether an F.B.I. informant “infiltrated or surveilled” his campaign. The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to accommodate the president’s wishes by expanding an existing inquiry.

• The president’s tweets referred to a Times report about Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, examining whether countries other than Russia, including Saudi Arabia, had offered assistance to the Trump campaign.

• After a White House meeting on Monday, intelligence and law enforcement officials agreed to disclose some sensitive documents from the Russia investigation to Republican congressional leaders.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: North Korea’s Fear? Becoming Libya | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: North Korea’s Fear? Becoming Libya by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

John R. Bolton, President Trump’s new national security adviser, has said that negotiations with North Korea should follow “the Libya model.” Now, North Korea is threatening to call off the planned summit meeting with Mr. Trump. What risks does the Libya model hold for Kim Jong-un?

On today’s episode:

• Mark Landler, a White House correspondent for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• In a statement released on Wednesday, North Korea’s vice foreign minister threatened to cancel scheduled talks with President Trump if the United States continues to insist on complete nuclear abandonment.

• The statement repeatedly cites the example of Libya, whose former leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, agreed in 2003 to forfeit the country’s nuclear capability in the hope of economic integration with the West. Colonel Qaddafi was captured and killed by rebel forces after the United States and its allies launched airstrikes in Libya in 2011.

• According to administration and foreign officials, President Trump has been seeking advice from his aides and allies, including from President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, about whether he should proceed with the talks with Kim Jong-un at the risk of political embarrassment.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Does Mueller Have a Plan for Trump? | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Does Mueller Have a Plan for Trump? by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

White House lawyers have claimed that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, will not indict the president, regardless of his findings. If that’s true, then what is the purpose of his inquiry?

On today’s episode:

• Michael S. Schmidt, a Washington correspondent who covers national security and federal investigations for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• According to President Trump’s lawyers, Mr. Mueller’s investigators said that they would abide by the Justice Department’s legal and historical precedent to refrain from prosecuting sitting presidents.

• Any discovery of wrongdoing by the president might instead be referred to Congress for a decision, as was done when Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton were under investigation.

• It has been one year since Mr. Mueller was appointed special counsel to look into a dizzying array of events that span years and continents. Here's a guide to what has happened.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: A Child of Gaza Becomes a Political Symbol | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: A Child of Gaza Becomes a Political Symbol by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

The death of a Palestinian baby during the protests in Gaza became a rallying cry for critics of Israel. Within hours, the family’s story was being questioned.

On today’s episode:

• Declan Walsh, the Cairo bureau chief for The New York Times, who has been reporting from Gaza.

Background reading:

• Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old Palestinian girl, inhaled tear gas during the protests at the Gaza border on Monday and died hours later. The tragedy became a focal point of outrage for critics of Israel’s use of force, while the Israeli military and its supporters questioned the narrative around her death as a political ploy by Hamas.

• The child was one of more than 60 Gazans killed during this week’s demonstrations, which were held to draw attention to the 11-year Israeli blockade of the territory. The violence gave way to mourning on Tuesday, the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or Catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands fled their homes upon the creation of the state of Israel.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: When Facebook Rumors Incite Real Violence | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: When Facebook Rumors Incite Real Violence by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

A series of damning posts on Facebook has stoked longstanding ethnic tensions in Sri Lanka, setting off a wave of violence largely directed at Muslims. How are false rumors on social media fueling real-world attacks?

On today’s episode:

• Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, who have reported on Sri Lanka for The New York Times.

Background reading:

• Fraudulent claims of a Muslim plot to wipe out Sri Lanka’s Buddhist majority, widely circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp, have led to attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned homes and shops in the country.

• Facebook’s algorithm-driven news feed promotes whatever content draws the most engagement — which tend to be the posts that provoke negative, primal emotions like fear and anger. The platform has allowed misinformation to run rampant in countries with weak institutions and a history of deep social distrust.

📺 Git Tutorial 5: Branches (Create, Merge, Delete a branch) | YouTube

Watched Git Tutorial 5: Branches (Create, Merge, Delete a branch) by codebasics from YouTube
In this tutorial, I'll cover a very powerful feature of git called branch. I will show you how you can manage alternate versions of your code by creating separate branches, how to merge branches and delete them.

📺 Git Tutorial 4: Undoing/Reverting/Resetting code changes | YouTube

Watched Git Tutorial 4: Undoing/Reverting/Resetting code changes by codebasics from YouTube
In this tutorial, we will cover how to undo or revert a code change. Also I will show you how to reset your git branch to any previous commit id.

📺 Github Tutorial For Beginners – Github Basics for Mac or Windows & Source Control Basics | YouTube

Watched Github Tutorial For Beginners - Github Basics for Mac or Windows & Source Control Basics by Learncode.academy from YouTube
If you've been wanting to learn Github, now's the perfect time! Github is seen as a big requirement by most employers these days and is very critical to business workflow. This Github tutorial will cover the basics of how to use Github and the command line.

👓 Women accuse Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, harassment | CNN

Read Women accuse Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, harassment (CNN)
Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior. They say it happened on movie sets, at his company and in interviews.

I suspect this one is going to quickly have some sketch video to go along with it.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Two Views of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Two Views of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

Many Israelis see the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv as a historic milestone for the Jewish state. But for Palestinians, who hope to see the eastern part of Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, it’s a betrayal.

On today’s episode:

• David M. Halbfinger, the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times.

• Declan Walsh, The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, who has been reporting from Gaza this week.

Background reading:

• At least 58 Palestinians were killed and 2,700 injured on Monday as demonstrators clashed with Israeli forces along the Gaza border fence.

• Meanwhile, an hour’s drive away, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel celebrated the new American embassy in Jerusalem at a ceremony attended by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

• Here are images of the two contrasting scenes, which illustrate the widening chasm between Israelis and Palestinians after 70 years of conflict.

While listening I forgot about the opener and thought the first half was too chipper and upbeat. I was ready to get upset at the break thinking that they were doing their usual commercial and closing. I had a sigh of relief that it continued. The second half made for a far more balanced picture.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: The Prospect of Peace With North Korea | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: The Prospect of Peace With North Korea by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

The time and place for a historic meeting between the president of the United States and the leader of North Korea have been set. Does President Trump deserve credit for the diplomatic breakthrough on the Korean Peninsula?

On today’s episode:

• Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist who writes about human rights and global affairs, and who has repeatedly traveled to North Korea for The Times.

Background reading:

• After the release of three American detainees in North Korea, President Trump confirmed on Thursday that he would meet with Kim Jong-un, the North’s leader, on June 12 in Singapore.

• North Korea has invited journalists from the United States and other countries to witness the dismantling of its underground nuclear test site before the summit meeting.

• It may now be possible to envision an era of peace with North Korea, but the odds that the North will forfeit its nuclear arsenal entirely are uncertain at best, Nicholas Kristof writes.

Does Trump get credit? He still hasn’t actually carried anything out yet. It’s even more ironic to be listening to this on the same day that they’re walking away from the table less than 10 days later. Nick Kristof should have held to his guns of doom and gloom.

🎧 ‘The Daily’: A Life-or-Death Crisis for Black Mothers | New York TImes

Listened to ‘The Daily’: A Life-or-Death Crisis for Black Mothers by Michael Barbaro from nytimes.com

Black mothers and infants in the United States are far more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts. The disparity is tied intrinsically to the lived experience of being a black woman in America.

On today’s episode:

  • Linda Villarosa, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine.
  • Simone Landrum, a young mother in New Orleans.

Background reading:

The story in this episode is a superb and emotional follow-on of an excellent NPR/ProPublica story I read back in December. We need more stories like this.

I nearly had a panic attack while listening to this. The disparities in parts of America are so painful and distressing and we can, could, and should be doing more to improve them.