👓 About | Data & Society

Read About (Data & Society)
Data & Society is a research institute in New York City that is focused on the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric and automated technologies. The issues that Data & Society seeks to address are complex. The same innovative technologies and sociotechnical practices that are reconfiguring society – enabling novel modes of interaction, new opportunities for knowledge, and disruptive business paradigms – can be abused to invade people’s privacy, provide new tools of discrimination, and harm individuals and communities.
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👓 Google, the Social Silos and the Web Traffic Future | Brad Enslen

Read a post by Brad EnslenBrad Enslen (Brad Enslen)
The video below is of interest to SEO’s, webmaster’s trying to create their own informational websites, and the Indieweb.  The video, featuring Rand Fishkin, is 32 minutes long but packs a lot of current information.  I agree with Rand through the first 2/3rds of the video where he is making h...

Some interesting things to think about here with respect to the future of the web.

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🔖 The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online by Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner

Bookmarked The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online by Whitney Phillips, Ryan M. Milner (Polity)

This book explores the weird and mean and in-between that characterize everyday expression online, from absurdist photoshops to antagonistic Twitter hashtags to deceptive identity play.

Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner focus especially on the ambivalence of this expression: the fact that it is too unwieldy, too variable across cases, to be essentialized as old or new, vernacular or institutional, generative or destructive. Online expression is, instead, all of the above. This ambivalence, the authors argue, hinges on available digital tools. That said, there is nothing unexpected or surprising about even the strangest online behavior. Ours is a brave new world, and there is nothing new under the sun – a point necessary to understanding not just that online spaces are rife with oddity, mischief, and antagonism, but why these behaviors matter.

The Ambivalent Internet is essential reading for students and scholars of digital media and related fields across the humanities, as well as anyone interested in mediated culture and expression.

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👓 Article 13 makes it official. It’s time to embrace decentralization | Ben Werdmüller

Read Article 13 makes it official. It's time to embrace decentralization by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)
Today the EU passed Articles 11 and 13 of its new Copyright Directive in a 438 to 226 vote. This has, rightly, been widely painted as a complete disaster for European internet businesses - and the internet industry as a whole. Here's the first clause of Article 13 in its entirety: Information societ...
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👓 Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound | Maryanne Wolf | The Guardian

Read Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound by Maryanne Wolf (the Guardian)
When the reading brain skims texts, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the digital age writes Maryanne Wolf, author of Reader, Come Home
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👓 The New York Times Fired My Doppelgänger | Quinn Norton | The Atlantic

Read The New York Times Fired My Doppelgänger by Quinn Norton (The Atlantic)
I saw the internet create and destroy a bizarro version of myself.

I’ve been reading some pieces from my archive on context collapse and people losing jobs/opportunities as the result of online bullies digging up old social media posts which has become a bigger issue as of late. Many people have been wanting to leave social media platforms for their toxic cultures, and this seems to be a subset of that in that it has people going back and deleting old social posts for fear of implications in the present.

Quinn Norton has some relatively sage advice about the internet in this piece. Of course it’s no coincidence that The New York Times editorial board wanted to hire her.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

History doesn’t ask you if you want to be born in a time of upheaval, it just tells you when you are.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:00AM

I have a teenage daughter, and I have told her all her life that all the grown-ups are making it up as they go along. I have also waggled my eyebrows suggestively while saying it, to make it clear to her that I mean me, too.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:00AM

This taught me that not everyone worthy of love is worthy of emulation. It also taught me that being given terrible ideas is not a destiny, and that intervention can change lives.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:02AM

Not everyone believes loving engagement is the best way to fight evil beliefs, but it has a good track record. Not everyone is in a position to engage safely with racists, sexists, anti-Semites, and homophobes, but for those who are, it’s a powerful tool. Engagement is not the one true answer to the societal problems destabilizing America today, but there is no one true answer. The way forward is as multifarious and diverse as America is, and a method of nonviolent confrontation and accountability, arising from my pacifism, is what I can bring to helping my society.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:03AM

I am not immune from these mistakes, for mistaking a limited snapshot of something for what it is in its entirety. I have been on the other side.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:04AM

I had been a victim of something the sociologists Alice Marwick and danah boyd call context collapse, where people create online culture meant for one in-group, but exposed to any number of out-groups without its original context by social-media platforms, where it can be recontextualized easily and accidentally.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:05AM

I had even written about context collapse myself, but that hadn’t saved me from falling into it, and then hurting other people I didn’t mean to hurt.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:06AM

It helped me learn a lesson: Be damn sure when you make angry statements.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:07AM

Don’t internet angry. If you’re angry, internet later.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:07AM

Context collapse is our constant companion online.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:07AM

I used to think that showing someone how wrong they were on the internet could fix the world. I said a lot of stupid things when I believed that.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:08AM

I am not, and will never be, a simple writer. I have sought to convict, accuse, comfort, and plead with my readers. I’m leaving the majority of my flaws online: Go for it, you can find them if you want. It’s a choice I made long ago.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:09AM

If you look long enough you can find my early terrible writing. You can find blog posts in which I am an idiot. I’ve had a lot of uninformed and passionate opinions on geopolitical issues from Ireland to Israel. You can find tweets I thought were witty, but think are stupid now. You can find opinions I still hold that you disagree with. I’m going to leave most of that stuff up. In doing so, I’m telling you that you have to look for context if you are seeking to understand me. You don’t have to try, I’m not particularly important, but I am complicated. When I die, I’m going to instruct my executors to burn nothing. Leave the crap there, because it’s part of my journey, and that journey has a value. People who came from where I did, and who were given the thoughts I was given, should know that the future can be different from the past.  

August 03, 2018 at 08:13AM

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👓 How Online Hobbyists Can Reaffirm Your Faith in the Internet | New York Times

Read How Online Hobbyists Can Reaffirm Your Faith in the Internet by Farhad Manjoo (nytimes.com)
Much of the internet feels terrible. But using the web to learn an offline hobby can give you a glimpse of a healthier relationship with your digital devices.

I see a lot of what I love about the IndieWeb community being discussed tangentially in this article. Interestingly, with respect to this article’s headline there’s a double-entendre with regard to who they are and what they actually happen to be doing as an online community.

#IndieWeb #FTW

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👓 There is no single solution to making the internet more decentralised – The art of the possible | The Economist

Read There is no single solution to making the internet more decentralised (The Economist)
Stopping the internet from getting too concentrated will be a slog, but the alternative would be worse

This has generally been an interesting series of articles in The Economist.

As John Sherman, the senator who gave his name to America’s original antitrust law in 1890, put it at a time when the robber barons ruled much of America’s economy: “If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation and sale of any of the necessaries of life.”  

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👓 How regulators can prevent excessive concentration online – A new school in Chicago | The Economist

Read How regulators can prevent excessive concentration online (The Economist)
Conventional antitrust thinking is being disrupted from within

It is not the data that are valuable, he says, but the services powered by them. Some firms are just better at developing new offerings than others.  

So big piles of data can become a barrier to competitors entering the market, says Maurice Stucke of the University of Tennessee.  

“When feedback data from large players is available to smaller competitors, then innovation…is not concentrated at the top,” he argues in “Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data”, a new book co-written with Thomas Ramge, a journalist.  

This sounds like something which could be worth reading.

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👓 China has the world’s most centralised internet system – The ultimate walled garden | The Economist

Read China has the world’s most centralised internet system (The Economist)
A perfect example of a Hamiltonian internet for maximum control

Leading thinkers in China argue that putting government in charge of technology has one big advantage: the state can distribute the fruits of AI, which would otherwise go to the owners of algorithms.  

Such thinking has also been gaining some traction in the West, although so far only at the political fringes. The underlying idea is that some types of services, including social networks and online search, are essential facilities akin to roads and other kinds of infrastructure and should be regulated as utilities, which in essence means capping their profits. Alternatively, important data services, such as digital identity, could be offered by governments. Evgeny Morozov, a researcher and internet activist, goes one step further, calling for the creation of public data utilities, which would pool vital digital information and ensure equal access to it.  

When it comes to democracy and human rights, a Jeffersonian internet is clearly a safer choice. With Web 3.0 still in its infancy, the West at least will need to find other ways to rein in the online giants. The obvious alternative is regulation.  

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Defining the IndieWeb

The concept of IndieWeb is something slightly different to many people and it’s ever evolving and changing, just like the internet itself.

Trying to define it is somewhat akin to trying to define America: while it has a relatively well-defined geographic border and place in time, its people, laws, philosophies, and principles, while typically very similar, can vary and change over time. What it is can be different for everyone both within it as well as outside of it. It can be different things to different people based on their place, time, and even mood. In the end maybe it’s just an idea.

A basic definition of IndieWeb

In broadest terms I would define being part of the IndieWeb as owning your own domain name and hosting some sort of website as a means of identifying yourself and attempting to communicate with others on the internet.

At its simplest, one could say they have an IndieWeb site by buying their own domain name (in my case: boffosocko.com) and connecting it to a free and flexible service like Tumblr.com or WordPress.com. Because you’ve got the ability to export your data from these services and move it to a new host or new content management system, you have a lot more freedom of choice and flexibility in what you’re doing with your content and identity and how you can interact online. By owning your domain and the ability to map your URLs, when you move, you can see and feel the benefits for yourself, but your content can still be found at the same web addresses you’ve set up instead of disappearing from the web.

If you wished, you could even purchase a new domain name and very inexpensively keep the old domain name and have it automatically forward people from your old links to all the appropriate links on your new one.

By comparison, owning your own domain name and redirecting it to your Facebook page doesn’t quite make you IndieWeb because if you moved to a different service your content might be able to go with you by export, but all of the URLs that used to point to it are now all dead and broken because they were under the control of another company that is trying to lock you into their service.

Some more nuanced definition

Going back to the analogy of America, the proverbial constitution for the IndieWeb is generally laid out on its principles page. If you like, the pre-amble to this “constitution” is declared on the IndieWeb wiki’s front page and on its why page.

Some people may choose to host the business card equivalent of a website with simply their name and contact information. Others may choose to use it as the central hub of their entire online presence and identity. In the end, what you do with your website and how you choose to use it should be up to you. What if you wanted to use your website like Twitter for short status updates or sharing links? What if you wanted to use it like Facebook to share content and photos with your friends and family? What if you want to host audio or video like Soundcloud, YouTube, or Vimeo allow?

The corporate social media revolution was a lovely and useful evolution of what the blogosphere was already doing. Thousands of companies made it incredibly easy for billions of people to be on the internet and interact with each other. But why let a corporation own and monetize your data and your ability to interact with others? More importantly, why allow them to limit what you can do? Maybe I want to post status updates of more than 280 characters? Maybe I want the ability to edit or update a post? Maybe I want more privacy? Maybe I don’t want advertising? Why should I be stuck with only the functionality that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and thousands of others allow me to have? Why should I be limited in communicating with people who are stuck on a particular service? (Would you use your phone to only call friends who use AT&T?) Why should I have hundreds of social accounts and an online identity shattered like just so many horcruxes when I could have one that I can fully control?

By decentralizing things to the level of owning a domain and having a simple website with control of my URLs, I can move to cheaper or more innovative web hosts or service providers. I can move to more innovative content manage systems that allow me to do more and communicate better or more broadly with others online. As a side effect of empowering myself, I can help create more competition and innovation in the space to do things I might not otherwise be capable of doing solely by myself.

Web standards

Almost all of the people behind the IndieWeb movement believe in using some basic web standards as a central building block. Standards help provide some sort of guidance to allow sites to be easier to build and provide a simpler way for them to communicate and interact with each other.

Of course, because you have control of your own site, you can do anything you wish with it. (In our America analogy we could consider standards to be like speech. Then how might we define free speech in the IndieWeb?) Perhaps a group of people who want some sort of new functionality will agree on a limited set of new standards or protocols? They can build and iterate and gradually create new standards that others can follow so that the infrastructure advances and new capabilities emerge. Generally the simpler and easier these standards are to implement, the more adoption they will typically garner. Often simple standards are easier to innovate on and allow people to come up with new ways of using them that weren’t originally intended.

This type of growth can be seen in the relatively new W3C recommendation for the Webmention specification which grew out of the IndieWeb movement. Services like Facebook and Twitter have a functionality called @mentions, but they only work within their own walled gardens; they definitely don’t interoperate–you can’t @mention someone on Facebook with your Twitter account. Why not?! Why not have a simple standard that will allow one website to @mention another–not only across domain names but across multiple web servers and even content management systems? This is precisely what the Webmention standard allows. I can @mention you from my domain running WordPress and you can still receive it using your own domain running Drupal (or whatever software you choose). People within the IndieWeb community realized there was a need for such functionality, and so, over the span of several years, they slowly evolved it and turned it into a web standard that anyone (including Facebook and Twitter) could use. While it may have been initially meant as a simple notifications protocol, people have combined it with another set of web standards known as Microformats to enable cross-site conversations and a variety of other wonderous functionalities.

Some people in the IndieWeb might define it as all of the previous ideas we’ve discussed as well as the ability to support conversations via Webmentions. Some might also define an IndieWeb site as one that has the ability to support Micropub, which is a standard that allows websites to be able to accept data from a growing variety of applications that will allow you to more easily post different types of content to your site from articles and photos to what you’re drinking or reading.

Still others might want their own definition of IndieWeb to support the functionality of WebSub, MicroSub, IndieAuth, or even all of the above. Each small, free-standing piece expands the capabilities of what your personal website can do and how you can interact online. But since it’s your website and under your control, you have the power to pick and choose what and how you would like it to be able to do.

So what is the IndieWeb really?

Perhaps after exploring the concept a bit, most may not necessarily be able to define it concretely. Instead they might say–to quote United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart“But I know it when I see it […]”.

The IndieWeb can be many different things. It is:

  • a website;
  • an independent network of websites;
  • an idea;
  • a concept;
  • a set of broad-based web standards;
  • a set of principles;
  • a philosophy;
  • a group of people;
  • a support network;
  • an organization;
  • an inclusive community;
  • a movement;
  • a Utopian dream of what the decentralized, open Internet could be.

In some sense it is all of these things and many more.

In the end though, the real question is:

What do you want the IndieWeb to be?

Come help us all define it.

IndieWeb.org

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🔖 Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

Bookmarked Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier (Henry Holt and Co.)

You might have trouble imagining life without your social media accounts, but virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier insists that we’re better off without them. In Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, Lanier, who participates in no social media, offers powerful and personal reasons for all of us to leave these dangerous online platforms.

Lanier’s reasons for freeing ourselves from social media’s poisonous grip include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more “connected” than ever, to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads. How can we remain autonomous in a world where we are under continual surveillance and are constantly being prodded by algorithms run by some of the richest corporations in history that have no way of making money other than being paid to manipulate our behavior? How could the benefits of social media possibly outweigh the catastrophic losses to our personal dignity, happiness, and freedom? Lanier remains a tech optimist, so while demonstrating the evil that rules social media business models today, he also envisions a humanistic setting for social networking that can direct us toward a richer and fuller way of living and connecting with our world.

This looks like an interesting book to read for some related IndieWeb research. Perhaps something Greg McVerry could use in his proposed talk?

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👓 The Internet is going the wrong way | Scripting News

Read The Internet is going the wrong way by Dave Winer (Scripting News)

Click a link in a web browser, it should open a web page, not try to open an app which you may not have installed. This is what Apple does with podcasts and now news.#

Facebook is taking the place of blogs, but doesn't permit linking, styles. Posts can't have titles or include podcasts. As a result these essential features are falling into disuse. We're returning to AOL. Linking, especially is essential.#

Google is forcing websites to change to support HTTPS. Sounds innocuous until you realize how many millions of historic domains won't make the switch. It's as if a library decided to burn all books written before 2000, say. The web has been used as an archival medium, it isn't up to a company to decide to change that, after the fact. #

Medium, a blogging site, is gradually closing itself off to the world. People used it for years as the place-of-record. I objected when I saw them do this, because it was easy to foresee Medium pivoting, and they will pivot again. The final pivot will be when they go off the air entirely, as commercial blogging systems eventually do.

A frequently raised warning, and one that’s possibly not taken seriously enough.

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🎧 <A> | Adactio

Listened to by Jeremy KeithJeremy Keith from adactio.com

The opening keynote from the inaugural HTML Special held before CSS Day 2016 in Amsterdam.

The world exploded into a whirling network of kinships, where everything pointed to everything else, everything explained everything else.
— Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

I wasn’t able to attend the original presentation, but I think it’s even more valuable to listen to it all alone rather than in what was assuredly a much larger crowd. There is a wonderful presence in this brief history of the internet, made all the more intriguing by Jeremy’s performance as if it were poetry about technology. I find that he’s even managed to give it an interesting structured format, which, in many senses, mirrors the web itself.

I hope that if you’re starting your adventure on the web, that you manage to find this as one of the first links that starts you off on your journey. It’s a great place to start.

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👓 Google Condemns the Archival Web | Doc Searls

Read Google Condemns the Archival Web by Doc Searls (doc.blog)
The archival Web—the one you see through the protocol HTTP—will soon be condemned, cordoned off behind Google's police tape, labeled "insecure" on every current Chrome browser. For some perspective on this, imagine if suddenly all the national parks in the world became forbidden zones because nature created them before they could only be seen through crypto eyeglasses. Every legacy website, nearly all of which were created with no malice, commit no fraud and distribute no malware, will become haunted houses: still there, but too scary for most people to visit. It's easy to imagine, and Google wants you to imagine it.
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