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The current state of Web needs a counter culture!

August 12th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Since the publications of Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, some of our worst worries became true. The Internet got infected by a few sources of power. Mass surveillance by governments and big corporates is the daily routine. People, who fight for transparency are chased (e.g. Netzpolitik.org, Eward Snowden, Aaron Swartz, and other whistle-blowers) or got into some weird trouble. For years, I have the feeling the public discussion about the importance of privacy is very abstract and disconnected for the normal "non-technic" crowd. Even more bad the Open Data movement  in the US got also kinda stuck, because there does not exist any really benefit for a goverment to be transparent. Failures (through bad management or even corruption) could be found easier by journalist, but that is not the intent of a running government. However, Edward Snowden tried to explain the problem with the mass surveillance with his famous tweet, which should emphasize why privacy is important and a basic right for a democratic system.

 

 

In my opinion, that statement is correct, but let's still the ordinary "non-internet-culture" people in a dark space. What does that statement mean for a person, who does not make use of free speech?! Difficult to answer... In my opinion the result will be a decrease on diversity of internet content in a mid to long term. That has a direct influence how our personalities and culture will develop over the next years. How do you want to figure what you like and what not? How do you want to know what is true and what not, if other opinions just got filtered out or censored? It is important for a stable society to offer a big diversity. Diversity allows people to find identify with topics, things, people and so on. Even more, a wide range of topics enables finding new solution and pathways.

During my last 8 years of doing Media & Design research and developing new tools, I figured out for myself, no one of this fucking world is a genius. We all depend on stuff - we see, read and hear - and then we extend it or remix somehow. Diversity is OUR basic resource for an evolving society. Nature and its diversity is the best evidence in that circumstance. In contrast monoculture in farming causes more issues than benefits.

Back to the topic, the last decade the Internet evolved from atomistic competition to an oligopoly and now we are almost faced with the circumstance that few corporates (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft) hold a monopoly in some of their services. Are those companies in their nature bad?! No, I do not think so. They just took over the public mass media to a private direct communication model. The only stupid thing is their almost uncontrollable power, which they got inherited through a corporate driven economic system. Those big companies got so much power nowadays that they can decide what we will see, read and hear. This circumstance has a direct influence on our personal thinking. Of course, the government has kinda the mission to protect us against this power (like they do protect us against terrorism...). But in reality this generated user data is also a big wet dream for governments for regulate a society, see their first data mining experiments (see also this conference). Meanwhile, our user data - also called metadata - became a critical analytic tool for the NSA and I am pretty sure other intelligence agencies as well. If General Michael Hayden - former Director of NSA and CIA - really said this:

 

We kill people based on metadata

 

Then the situation becomes really uncanny and I do not want to know what other bad intelligence agencies are gonna do. If you want to know more what kind of data is tracked, please check this Do not track webisode produced by the German French television Arte.

 

The exit that won't work for you

If you think, ok that all sounds bad, but there is always one alternative: The exit... But even this got now problematic. If you are not a member of a social network, you might be already suspicious (Deutsche Übersetzung) for corporates and even foreign governments. As a former banker I can tell you, if you had a bad SCHUFA you would not get an account in our Bank. Nowadays, even phone resellers have access to this sensitive data and can add complains/negative entries. If you have only one negative data item, you can be sure that you won't get any new apartment (in a highly demanded area), or a bank account, or a new smartphone contract or bank credit. The next generations of trust analytics are on the way and they are going to integrate your online behavior. Depending on your personal calculated (Schufa) score, you have to pay a higher or lower price than your friends. Dynamic price strategies are very common and easy to implement in a digital world (see my bachelor thesis).

Now what to do?! If you do not want to miss the provided comfort of our digital devices, and think maybe some hacks with solve that issue. Be aware that even adapting or changing a device, which you own, can be illegal activity in the US. That circumstance of ownership became also very weird in farming technology... And even more all TOR user (a service for providing a anonymous identity) are suspicious from the beginning for the NSA.

 

Service, Services, Service bye bye

Until now we observed the topic from a very data driven view. If we look on this topic from a "service" driven view, we forced with some more problems. We all depend on our (internet) cable provider to get access to our beloved web. The topic net neutrality deals exactly with this topic. In EU, Germany and in the US emotionally discussed. The problem here is that the competition declines to a few very big companies. As a result of increasing power (power in assigning prices, power of access, power of filtering and analytics) against the small user. That evolves more to a serious problem, because almost all information we are consuming, we get through the internet cable (IPTV, Video-on-demand, news via mobile or web, telephone is directly connected to the router). Another problem is that data stream might be restricted for certain user groups. Restricted access to the web is a daily routine in China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some other countries. We should not take our access to the web as granted! Therefore, take care where your data is located! In Germany we messed up the whole privacy and mass surveillance thing 2times - the Nazis and the Stasi (at the former GDR/DDR) - so there exist a kinda more conscious about the importance of data privacy. Maybe that would be a real opportunity for the German economy to offer a real good data privacy environment. So that Germany could evolve to a market place for data sensitive applications. Unfortunately, Germany plays this card usually very bad. Switzerland understands such kind of business much better (see their banking confidentiality)...

And that is the direct transition to the next kind of services we use all day: The cloud services. Is the cloud evil? No, of course not! In appreciation of cloud service evolution, we got an idea how to make functionality easily accessible. From a Design view, the cloud services provide nowadays mature User Interfaces with automated updates. On the first view it makes life easier, but the nightmare can come very fast and strong. Usually the software industry plays hard with the business mechanics of the lock-in effect [ShapiroVarian1998]. Another aspect is time. Cloud services do not exist for all the time. I used to be a heavy delicious bookmark service user and was pretty shocked about their shut-down announcement. Luckily, delicious provided a export function (which of course broke down because of the massive amount of usage) and other services offered an import function. Fortunately, this switch was pretty simple, but kept a bad taste for me. More or less 4 years ago, I had developed a website and a mobile app, which used the Qype API. Directly after on week in the iTunes store, Qype announced that they got acquired by yelp. The stupid thing was only that yelp removed all the geo data (long/lat coordinates) from their data (in new Version 2 the geo data seems available again). We had to use another service for converting the address data to geo data, which made our app very sluggish. Yucheee again, I got a kick in my ass for using an external service. The last bad experience was the shutdown of Google Code. For my small projects the version management via SVN was more than enough. I lost all the documentation on my wiki pages. Since this day, I am done with relying on external services (non-selfhosted data stores). My blog runs for almost ten years on my webhosting server and I never had such existential archive issues as I have experienced it with cloud services.

This new start-up, cloudservice, and innovation hype I never really understood. It seems I am not alone, Allison Arieff has a similar view on this, but I also agree with Seth Godin about the chances we are able to develop.

 

How to improve our situation

In that context, the rest of the text will deal with alternatives and some suggestion. Yeah, the world is not evil! In my opinion there is one simple solution for the current problem:

 

We need a decentralisation movement for the web!

 

And luckily there is little by little a growing community around that topic decentralisation for the web. It comes even better for that movement. With the advent of embedded Linux microcontroller (e.g. Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone, Pine64, etc.), such low-cost & low energery computers in combination with AppCache & Services Workers (Offline First movement and Progressive Web Apps) enable developers the production of offline oriented apps and cloud services owned by users. Now everyone could store web apps and its data on their own device (notebook or mobile phone) and can run a pretty cheap webserver (regarding price and energy consumption) at home. Depending on your need and knowledge you can choose between different settings. For a better understanding the introduced tools are seperated in some categories. The publishing channel is dedicated for staying in connection with your friends and sharing your thoughts. The category organizational and utility tools deal with the functionality provided by cloud service. In that context I will describe the transition between collaboration tool and personal/private clouds. In the end we are gonna check alternative hostings service for our decentralized tools, and I will explain you why it is ok to rely on them. Afterwards we will enter the last category of self-hosting tools and explore their advantages compared to hosted services (also interesting for journalists).

 

Publishing (Website) channel: Keep in touch with your friends and readers

As I have already mentioned above, I am running a WordPress blog on a hosted webspace for sharing my thoughts with you. The last 10 years I have not made any real serious bad experience with my setup. Of course, I have to do frequently updates and backups of my blog. Since some time, the minor WordPress updates are automatically installed, which made the whole process simpler. Until now that procedure has not caused any problem yet. For sharing your thoughts, travelling trips I can recommend that tool without any concern. Even their hosting service might be all right to use, because you can export and import your content all the time. Furthermore, there exist plenty alternative solutions for hosting your WordPress blog. That decreases the 'lock-in effect' for the user.

If you are more familiar with social media, microblogging and information streams, then the tool known might be a good alternative for you. You can create content and link this additionally to your social media profiles (on Facebook, Twitter, etc.). The linkage and data exchange between different known users are enabled via RSS/ActivityStreams and the IndieWeb based Webmention procedure. Another cool feature is the support of microformats, which simplifies the import/export of data between various software tools. However, the same as WordPress, you can run your own Known site on your webserver (it runs with the standard requirements PHP & MySQL) or you decide between their free hosting service (pro version is not for free) or the indiehosters offer.

In terms of a full social network the software tool diaspora might be an interesting tool. Unfortunately, diaspora has never reached a critical user base and might not really interesting anymore. If more sad to hear that it seems infected with radical (political) movements. If someone knows more about it, please leave a comment (changed because of a misunderstanding by me. Please look at the comment by Olivier).

 

Your Personal cloud: organizational and utility tools

Managing our photos, contacts, files, documents and so on via cloud services have evolved to a standard user pattern. Google, Apple and sometimes Microsoft try hard to gather all your data under their own cloud umbrella. In some points they know more about you then you do.

Luckily, some great developments are ongoing regarding private/personal clouds. Within that category we can see a transition from a classical cloud approach to a hardware tool box for your home network. The classical cloud feeling you can get from software tools ownCloud / Nextcloud, Sandstorm, and Cozy Clouds. All three open-source cloud tools offer you the standard functionality (e.g. contact & calendar manager, photo gallery, file management and so on) and some more features as 3rd Party tools.

A mixture of a cloud service and owning the hardware is provided via NAS Systems [ChipNAS2016]. The closed-source solutions provided by Qnap and Synology deliver a good user experience on desktop as well on mobile phones. Furthermore, you can host your cloud within your local network, which makes mass surveillance much more difficult and has advantage of fast data transmission. However, if you do not want rely on the manufacture's cloud software then you can install other 3rd Party tools, like ownCloud. Depending on your computer & network skills that approach could be interesting for you. If you understand German, I can highly recommend the NAS Special by the German Computer magazine CHIP [ChipNAS2016].

The last group of tools depends completely on your self-hosted hardware and might more appropriate for computer nerds and hackers. For using such private servers, you need the above mentioned embedded Linux microcontroller and a SD Card. Then you download the software from their webpages and copy it on the SD Card, which runs the software on that little linux computer. Such tools are kinda an instant private server system, that are called FreedomBox, YunoHost, UBOS, Upribox, and Syncloud. They offer you a sort of private cloud features (mostly ownCloud or Nextloud) and some nice additional network tools, like a private VPN Server. After the installation you can extend that server system as you work with your other Raspberry Pis/Beaglebons installations.

By all that various software tools and its features, it is very easy to get lost. For that reason, the feature overview table (extended Version as a Excel file) below hopefully makes your life more easy to find the right solution.

 

Feature list of alternative cloud services

Feature list of alternative cloud services

 

The feature list also reveals that Internet-of-Things (#IoT) Apps are not really existent. Regarding the hype about Health apps and Home automation, I hope those alternative tools implement also some features in that direction. Especially, personal health data and the home infrastructure should always stay private as much as possible. During my work for the Health/Medicine Industry can only say I experienced a big motivated hunt for such data by the insurance industry. Never ever provide such sensitive data to a corporate. They will take it and adapt it to their pricing and product strategies. In my personal context that would be saying; "Yeah, nightmare welcome!"

In a summary I can give those recommendations:

  • Keep as much of your data within your local network, a private VPN Server is a good choice.
  • Self-hosting is a good way to protect your data, but it gets complicated if it should connected with the internet. DNS, port forwarding configurations and a slow internet connection can make your experience suffer.
  • Using a hosting service is more easier and OK to use, if they meet those requirements
    • Check the data privacy terms (no use of your data for data mining)
    • Import/Export of your data is possible (backup, data compatibility)
    • the code base is open-source (avoiding the black box metaphor)
    • the tool is also offered by other hosting service (decreasing lock-in effect)
  • Do frequently backups of your data! It does not matter where the data is hosted..

If you have the feeling I missed something in my article, please write a comment!

********** Update 19.11.2016 *************

This website Fair Web Services - What makes a web service free as in freedom? also provides a very good overview about the requirements of good web services.

 References

[FePeDi2016] Ferdinand, Jan-Peter, Petschow, Ulrich, Dickel, Sascha. The Decentralized and Networked Future of Value Creation. Springer Verlag, 2016.

[Wattenhofer2016] Wattenhofer, Roger. The Science of the Blockchain. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016.

[Tapscott2016] Tapscott, Don and Alex. Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World. Portfolio, 2016.

[ShapiroVarian1998] Carl Shapiro, Hal R. Varian. Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy. Harvard Business Press, 1999.

[ChipNAS2016] NAS & Heimnetz: Der ultimative Guide 2016 - CHIP-Sonderheft

Kurz, Constanze. Strafanzeigen belegen, wie BfV-Präsident Maaßen das Verfahren wegen #Landesverrat inszenierte. Website Netzpolitik.org, 2015.

Borchers, Detlef. Die Wahrheit ans Licht - Whistleblower unter Druck. Website C't, 2016.

Hare, Jason. The current state of open data in the US government. Website opensource.com, 2016.

Boyd, Danah. If You're OK With Surveillance Because You Have "Nothing to Hide," Think Again. Website future tense, 2013.

MacFadyen, Gavin. Die Nazis, die Stasi - "Ihr wisst, was Überwachung ist". Website Stern Online, 2014.

Nunez, Michael. All of the Creepy Things Facebook Knows About You. Website Gizmodo, 2016.

Hunt, Troy. Website enumeration insanity: how our personal data is leaked. Website Troy Hunt Blog, 2016.

Dolan, Brian. In-Depth: What Apple's Health app tracks and what it forgot to include. Website Mobi Health News, 2014.

Byung-Chul Han. Tut mir leid, aber das sind Tatsachen - Die heutige digitale Gesellschaft ist keine klassenlose Gesellschaft. Website Zeit Online, 2014.

Godin, Seth. The computer, the network and the economy. Website type pad blog, 2016.

Morozov, Evgen. The rise of data and the death of politics. Website The Guardian, 2014.

Holland, Martin. US-Justiz: Algorithmen benachteiligen systematisch Schwarze. Website heise online, 2016.

Beuth, Patrick. NSA hält alle Tor-Nutzer für verdächtig. Website Zeit Online, 2014.

Dopheide, Niklas. Der Kampf gegen den falschen Schufa-Eintrag. Website Handelsblatt, 2015.

Cutlack, Gary. Tech Startup Uses Social Media to Calculate Your Credit Worthiness. Website Gizomodo UK, 2015.

Conference Website. Preconference Call for Papers - Algorithms, Automation and Politics. Website International Communication Association.

Kokalitcheva, Kia. Spotify Reportedly Says Apple Blocked Its App Update Because of Competition. Website Fortune, 2016.

Kobie, Nicole. Diaspora accuses PayPal of blocking donations - Alternative social network says its account has been frozen. Website alphr, 2011.

Barrie, Joshua. Instagram censored a photo of a woman on her period and the internet isn't happy. Website Business Insider UK, 2015.

Sidahmed, Mazin. Dennis Cooper fears censorship as Google erases blog without warning. Website The Guardian, 2016.

Wikipedia Authors. Censorship by Apple. Website Wikipedia accessed on Auguste, 2016.

Wikipedia Authors. Censorship of GitHub. Website Wikipedia accessed on Auguste 2016.

Crawford, Douglas. Grindr app can be used to track down gay men. Website BestVPN blog, 2015.

Wikipedia Authors. Internet censorship and surveillance by country. Website Wikipedia, Auguste 2016.

Hamann, Götz. Die schmutzige Säuberung - Wie es in der Türkei um die Meinungsfreiheit steht – und welche Lehre darin für Europa steckt. Website Zeit Online, 2016.

Hauswedell, Hannes. Why Privacy is more than Crypto. Website Blog, 2016.

Maciej Cegłowski. The Moral Economy of Tech. Website Idle Words, 2016

Maciej Cegłowski, Leonhard Dobusch und Hendrik Obelöer. Zum Ethos der Tech-Szene in der digitalen Ökonomie: Zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit. Website Netzpolitik.org, 2016.

Kim, Eugene. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos signed the $250 million Washington Post deal with no due diligence. Website Business Insider Deutschland, 2016.

Bhuiyan, Johana. The head of Google’s Brain team is more worried about the lack of diversity in artificial intelligence than an AI apocalypse. Website recode, 2016.

Derakhshan, Hossein. The Web We Have to Save: The rich, diverse, free web that I loved — and spent years in an Iranian jail for — is dying. Why is nobody stopping it? Website Medium, 2015.

Varda, Kenton. Decentralization is about diversity. Website Sandstorm Blog, 2016.

Reweaving the web - A slew of startups is trying to decentralise the online world. Website The Economist, 2016.

Chayka, Kyle. Same old, same old. How the hipster aesthetic is taking over the world. Website Guardian, 2016.

Eyal, Nir. Hooks: An Intro on How to Manufacture Desire. Website Blog Nir & Far, 2012

Harris, Tristan. How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist. Website Medium, 2016.

Viner, Katharine. How technology disrupted the truth. Website The Guardian, 2016.

Rushkoff, Douglas. The New Nationalism Of Brexit And Trump Is A Product Of The Digital Age. Website Fast Co.Exist, 2016.

Oremus, Will. Who Controls Your Facebook Feed. Website Slate, 2016.

Tsotsis, Alexia. Is Yahoo Shutting Down Del.icio.us? [Update: Del.icio.us Responds]. Website TechCrunch, 2010.

Lunden, Ingrid. Yelp Pays $50M To Acquire Its Big European Rival, Qype, To Beef Up Its Recommendations And Listings Business. Website TechCrunch, 2012.

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Summers, Nick. Google Code is shutting down because everyone loves GitHub. Website engadget, 2015.

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  1. August 16th, 2016 at 17:58 | #1

    It seems you mix the term “diaspora” with the software “diaspora”.
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/diaspora

    The paper you cite on radicalization in diasporas doesn’t refer to the software.

  2. admin
    August 17th, 2016 at 19:18 | #2

    Hi Olivier,

    thank you very much for your hint. You are right! I mixed up something totally wrong. Sorry!

  3. September 21st, 2016 at 09:42 | #3

    Nice blog post about the negative aspects of Selfhosting by Fred. In my opinion, he addresses real issues of current selfhosting products (therefore it is worth to read his blog post), but these are all design issues, which can luckily be solved.

    https://t37.net/your-data-is-too-important-to-be-self-hosted.html

  4. September 23rd, 2016 at 19:42 | #4

    Matthias Pfefferle hold a very nice and helpful Talk about WordPress and how to make it IndieWeb compatible. Please check is blog and his slides

    http://notizblog.org/2016/09/23/indiewordpress-wordcamp-frankfurt/
    https://pfefferle.github.io/wcfra-2016-talk/

  5. September 25th, 2016 at 15:06 | #5

    Nice readings:

    The price of connection: ‘surveillance capitalism’ – Shifts in our communication infrastructures have reshaped the very possibilities of social order driven by markets and commercial exploitation by Nick Couldry

    Coding is not ‘fun’, it’s technically and ethically complex by Walter Vannini and Sally Davies

  6. October 6th, 2016 at 11:39 | #6

    That’s one of the problem of service oriented content delivery vs. self-hosted content:

    Danger of automated content removal: YouTube took down my video of the anti-torture debate in the European Parliament! by Marietje Schaake

  7. October 10th, 2016 at 13:43 | #7

    Christopher Groskopf summarized in his article The digital age has destroyed the concept of ownership, and companies are taking advantage of it very nicely current problems with software products, online services (e.g. netflix) and its licensing procedure.. The same is valid for many emerging Internet of Things devices, too. In that context this book looks also pretty promising:

    Perzanowski, Aaron; Schultz, Jason (2016). The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy. The MIT Press, 2016.

    Another example of censorship or how governments can shut down cloud services
    https://turkeyblocks.org/2016/10/08/google-drive-dropbox-blocked-in-turkey/
    http://t3n.de/news/tuerkei-blockiert-dropbox-google-github-753592/

    Cloud services or online services are very often in privacy discussion. Especially, Facebook and other big players hold a special role in that context. Last year, an interesting paper was published related to Facebook, Google, and other big players and data mining.

    Kim, Nancy S. and Telman, D. A. Jeremy. Internet Giants as Quasi-Governmental Actors and the Limits of Contractual Consent (March 3, 2015). 80 Missouri Law Review 723 (2015); Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-3; California Western School of Law Research Paper No. 15-01. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2573477

    In relation to privacy and data mining, Adam Scott wrote a nice guide and orientation about ethical web development. He listed some good points what developer should consider, when the create a new web apps or online services.
    Building Web Apps that Respect a User’s Privacy and Security by Adam Scott
    https://github.com/ascott1/ethical-web-dev

    Another great initiative in that ethic context is this ThinkTank:
    http://dataethics.eu/en/

    From a design point of view Graeme Fulton wrote a nice article about “Anticipatory Design (automatic decision making), dark patterns and maintaining user trust”.

    Graeme Fulton (2016). How To Build Honest UIs And Help Users Make Better Decisions on Smashing Magazine.

    Especially, that phrase worries me a lot as an Interaction Designer regarding Anticipatory Design:

    Alan Shapiro suggests that anticipatory apps could actually encourage behavioral patterns in users. By being constantly advised where to go and what to buy, people could become conditioned by app notifications and the decisions made on their behalf.

    This could make for some scary scenarios, such as when a company is primarily interested in selling you products, because it’s more likely to instill behavior that favors impulse purchases and the use of its services.

    Another conversations are available at Ethical Machines – conversations about humans, machines & Ethics
    http://ethicalmachines.com/

    Another interesting ethical maninfesto regarding Interaction Design
    https://ind.ie/ethical-design/

    Some nice texts by Sebastian Greger about constructively critical approach to interaction design

  8. October 13th, 2016 at 16:00 | #8

    Another interesting article about the failures of camera tracking & face recognition algorithms

    Kofman, Ava (2016). Losing Face – How a Facial Recognition Mismatch Can Ruin Your Life. The Intercept, online October 2016, the 13th.

    Regarding to this a nice article about how the US police gatheres the image and face data:
    Lily Hay Newman (2016). Cops Have a Database of 117M Faces. You’re Probably in It on Wired.

    And it seems it is almost impossible to walk incognito around New York:
    Currier, Cora (2016). A Walking Tour of New York’s Massive Surveillance Network on The Intercept_, online October 2016, 21th.

  9. admin
    October 16th, 2016 at 15:37 | #9

    An interesting book about surveillance:// (2016) by Tristan Nitot to this topic here. Unfortunately, at this moment this book is published in French, but maybe one day it is translated in English. His interview about his book sounds good:

    https://blog.cozycloud.cc/post/2016/10/06/surveillance-book-Tristan-Nitot

  10. admin
    October 21st, 2016 at 09:19 | #10

    Recently, I have found two interesting “decentralized” infrastructures:

    safenetwork.org/ – Decentralized network infrastructure
    cloudwall.me/ – noBackend Web app service
    Dowse.eu – Gateway and hub for your local Internet of Things
    openHAB – Internet Of Things automation software for your home

    Does anyone has already some experiences with those services?

  11. admin
  12. admin
    October 24th, 2016 at 22:38 | #12

    Some good points on Why AI Needs Diversity by Fei-Fei Li:

    But the need for diversity in AI is more than just a moral issue. There are three reasons why we should think deeply about increasing diversity in AI, Stanford’s Li says.

    Another reason diversity should be emphasized is its impact on innovation and creativity. Research repeatedly shows that when people work in diverse groups, they come up with more ingenuous solutions. AI will impact many of our most critical problems, from urban sustainability and energy to healthcare and the needs of aging populations. “We need a diverse group of people to think about this,” she says.

    Last, but certainly not the least, is justice and fairness. To teach computers how to identify images or recognize voices, you need massive data sets. Those data sets are made by computer scientists. And if you only have seas of (mostly white) dudes making those data sets, biases and unfairness inadvertently creep in. “Just type the word grandma in your favorite search engine and you’ll see the bias in pictures returned,” Li says. “You’ll see the race bias. If we’re not aware of the bias of data, we’re going to start creating really problematic issues.”

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/at-work/tech-careers/computer-vision-leader-feifei-li-on-why-ai-needs-diversity

  13. October 27th, 2016 at 23:45 | #13

    Andy Baio’s article Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job – As Google abandons its past, Internet archivists step in to save our collective memory reflects very nicely what kind of problems emerge, when a society relies too strongly on a global big internet player and its online services. In my opinion, it is the task of a government to use our taxes to archive the knowledge of the internet. Even considering how hard it might be to decide what to archive and what don’t archive…

  14. October 28th, 2016 at 15:16 | #14

    The relationship between algorithms and a quantified lifestyle is pretty strong. Victor Tan Chen describes in his article very nicely how metrics and its applied algorithms already influence our daily life. One mentioned topic is the introduction of “Scientific Management”. As a developer, I was frequently forced with Agile Project Management, also known as SCRUM, which is kind of scientific Management strongly based on metrics. Unfortunately, people sometimes forget that numbers aren’t telling always the truth. Victor Tan Chen summarizes some downsides and non-considered aspects of daily life.

    Victor Tan Chen (2016). Living in an Extreme Meritocracy Is Exhausting – A society that glorifies metrics leaves little room for human imperfections. The Atlantic website 2016, October.

    Further article and interview with Lynn Parramore and Adair Turner about metrics & statics in relation of the financial and economic sector:

    Lynn Parramore (2016). Getting Radical Might Be the Most Practical Way to Fix Inequality. Evonomics – The next evolution of Economics website 2016, October.

  15. admin
    October 29th, 2016 at 22:04 | #15

    Conferences, Festivals and Camps all around making the web a better place again:

    MozFestival
    Decentralized Web Summit
    IndieWeb Camps
    Offline Camp
    GETD – Get Decentralized
    Redecentralize conference
    Decentralize Camp

  16. admin
    October 31st, 2016 at 20:03 | #16

    Might be a little bit off-topic, but that book and the conference looks interesting, too

    Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider (2016). Ours to Hack and to Own – The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet. OR Books, 2016

  17. admin
    November 4th, 2016 at 21:27 | #17

    Since the social media service Vine died, a lot of user experience the pain of shutting down a service, where they have produced a lot of content for… More ironic, the user can not download their content. It is kinda locked-in as I described it on my blog post here.

    Unfortunately, for Vine does not exist an alternative, but for the Twitter service emerged an alternative and it is called Mastodon. It is is a free and open-source social network server. A decentralized alternative for self-hosting or decide for one of the other hosted services.
    https://mastodon.social/

    Another decentralized solution for local servers your in local network is offered by the Mozilla Labs. The project is called FlyWeb and is still in production. The idea is that your Firefox browser is enabled to connect with your nearby devices or servers and then provides you the website and the service api. It looks pretty interesting on the first view.

  18. admin
    November 18th, 2016 at 17:41 | #18

    Für deutsche Entwickler in Deutschland scheint das Hosting-Angebot von Uberspace ganz interessant zu sein:

    Uberspace.de ist eine Hosting-Plattform, die auf Basis von Kooperation, Fairness und einem freundlichen Umgang miteinander bereitgestellt wird. Wir sind uns sicher, dass sich hier jeder Zuhause fühlen kann, ohne dass wir den Einzelnen durch massive Vorschriften einschränken müssen

  19. November 19th, 2016 at 14:23 | #19

    Top tutorial : Die eigene Cloud mit dem Raspberry Pi und Nextcloud plus mit SSL bzw. HTTPS Server
    https://www.canox.net/2016/06/die-eigene-cloud-mit-dem-raspberry-pi-und-nextcloud/

    Here an interesting website analyzing your actions in a funny way:
    https://clickclickclick.click

  20. December 4th, 2016 at 19:37 | #20

    Der Spruch “Ich habe nichts zu verbergen” wird spätestens nachdem Artikel Ich habe nur, gezeigt dass es die Bombe gibt (2016) von Mikael Krogerus und Hannes Grassegger seine ganze Naivität verlieren. Die beiden Autoren berichten über psychometrische Methodiken (Psychometrie) und wie man daraus ziemlich genaue Persönlichkeitsprofile erstellt. Die Forschungsergebnisse von Michal Kosinski und dessen Experimenen mit dem OCEAN Fragenbogen spielen dabei eine elementare Rolle. Wie diese Methodiken dann in Zusammenhang in den sozialen Medien für den US Wahlkampf von Donald Trump eingesetzt wurden, beschreibt der Artikel im Detail.

    Natürlich hängt das auch alles mit der heißdiskutierten Privatsphäre zusammen. Die wird im Rahmen des öffentlichen Raumes im Forschungsprojekt ChaRiSma näher untersucht.

    Vorträge und Diskussionen über Algorithmen, Daten und Demokratie gab es auf dem Event Unboxing von der Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung.

  21. December 14th, 2016 at 15:44 | #21

    Jeremy Keith wrote a really nice online book about resilient web design. He recommends a bunch of principles and challenges for the future (free) web. In that context, he created an additional research resource for designers for avoiding revenge effects with unintended consequence. Another resource is the ethical design manifesto by Aral Balkan.

    The website and people of digitalcharta.eu produced the first version how digital technology can be adapt to meet the needs of civial rights.

  22. December 27th, 2016 at 13:27 | #22

    In my article as well as on some comments here deal with some negative side effects of Machine Learning, Big Data analytics and so on. It is nice to see that the IEEE takes over this topic and tries to develop Ethetical Standards for AI and Machine Learning:

    http://standards.ieee.org/develop/indconn/ec/autonomous_systems.html

    https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/13/ieee-puts-out-a-first-draft-guide-for-how-tech-can-achieve-ethical-ai-design/

    http://globalpolicy.ieee.org/2016/12/22/responses-to-ieee-initiative-on-ethical-design-of-ai/

  23. December 29th, 2016 at 11:51 | #23

    The always-on voice recognition device Amazon Echo should now take over the role as a wisdom for prove a murder case. Is privacy in danger or is it a good side effect of those technology?!

    http://www.theverge.com/2016/12/27/14089836/amazon-echo-privacy-criminal-investigation-data

    https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Ermittler-wollen-Aufzeichnungen-von-Amazon-Echo-Alexa-als-Zeugin-einer-Mordanklage-3582492.html

  24. January 31st, 2017 at 20:56 | #24

    The Free Software Foundation puts a high priority topic to self-hosting and decentralize architecture. They share the mission of Nextcloud. On their agenada are the following topics:

    • Free phone operating system
    • Decentralization, federation, and personal Service as a Software Substitute (SaaSS) clouds
    • Free drivers, firmware, and hardware designs
    • Real-time voice and video chat
    • Encourage contribution by people underrepresented in the community
    • Free software and accessibility
    • Internationalization of free software
    • Security by and for free software
    • Intelligent personal assistant
    • Help GNU/Linux distributions be committed to freedom
    • Free software adoption by governments

    The TOR Projects created a nice list of recommended security tools (e.g. Secure Passwords, Encrypted Messanging, Secure Browsing, etc.) for a free internet:
    –> Security Tools in a Box

    Regarding to Security, John Strand wrote a nice article about How I Would Hack Your Network (If I Woke Up Evil) and for testing your network and webservices against social engineering hacking attacks that software tool might help.

    As a developer and web designer, I like industrial recommendations and conventions beyond specific technologies for improving the software quality. In that context, ROCA (Resource-oriented Client Architecture) defines some pretty useful advices for decent Web application frontends. On the backend side, the level logic behind hypermedia for better REST APIs is pretty helpful. Some tools like Swagger.io can help you to develop faster an API. A general view what social design of technicals systems means is pretty good explained within this free book:
    The Social Design of Technical Systems: Building technologies for communities . Also interesting read the Dao of Product Design by Faruk Ateş. A list of some antipatterns in UX Design are mentioned in the article The End Of User-Friendly Design on the fastcodesign.com website.

    After reading this book, this article about the interesection of politics, statistics, big data, and the power of huge internet enterprises will become pretty interesting taste:
    William Davies (2017). How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next. The Guardian, website visited on January 2017, 31th.

    The very diverse group of scientiest, artists, developers and activists Technopolitics produce frequently some nice exhibitions or other (art) pieces regarding information technology and its (mis)usage.

    Sometimes you thought you have deleted and exited the cloud or social media. Dropbox revealed that they don’t let you go. Check this german article:
    Jan Weisensee (2017). Dropbox gesteht jahrelange Speicherung gelöschter Dateien. Golem.de Website, visited on January 2017, 31th.

  25. February 26th, 2017 at 22:40 | #25

    Pretty interesting website about the Security for Sale – The price we pay to protect Europeans investigated by a joint-venture of five journalists.

  26. March 31st, 2017 at 11:15 | #27

    Some furher news:

    The US government gave up Internet Privacy regulation
    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/03/isps-and-fcc-chair-ajit-pai-celebrate-death-of-online-privacy-rules/

    This development justifies more and more the use of privacy tools like Streisand
    https://github.com/jlund/streisand
    Especially, from an indy web point of view such tools are also pretty interesting. What can the indieweb provide in this direction?!

    In that context I like the the idea of a alternative ways of providing a (mesh) internet, like Freifunk in Germany
    https://freifunk.net/
    https://github.com/openwrt/luci
    and its open-source software tooling for the router

  27. admin
  28. April 25th, 2017 at 10:13 | #29

    Machine Learning is usually pretty strong connected to a centralized infrastructure. The approach of Federated Learning: Collaborative Machine Learning could apply Machine Learning also to decentralized infrastructures while take care of some privacy related data.

  29. April 26th, 2017 at 15:58 | #30

    Some reading about Critical Algorithm Studies: a Reading List
    https://socialmediacollective.org/reading-lists/critical-algorithm-studies/

  30. May 9th, 2017 at 09:32 | #31

    Interesting article about the microphone on your mobile and how it is used for localization and other ad-tech stuff. Of course not so nice for your privacy:

    Hundreds of Apps Can Listen for Marketing ‘Beacons’ You Can’t Hear on Wired
    https://www.wired.com/2017/05/hundreds-apps-can-listen-beacons-cant-hear/

    Another (must-read) article is Build a Better Monster: Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance by Maciej Cegłowski. His suggested solutions are very helpful for making the the web a better place
    http://idlewords.com/talks/build_a_better_monster.htm

  31. admin
    May 29th, 2017 at 23:24 | #32

    The five issues impacting Internet Health
    https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2017/03/15/five-issues-that-will-determine-the-future-of-internet-health/

    Global Sprint 2017 is a Hacking event by Mozilla for improving the Internet Health
    https://mozilla.github.io/global-sprint/

    Interaction Designer take care and stop shaming your users for micro conversions
    https://www.nngroup.com/articles/shaming-users/

  32. June 28th, 2017 at 15:58 | #33

    The negative impact of big data on humans is called Social Cooling:
    https://www.socialcooling.com/

    Some tools might help decreasing the impact on yourself. Check out this helpful list about Indie Tech Tools:
    http://indietech.rocks/products/

    The Alt Platform blog and the Radical Networks conference is pretty interesting source for alternative tech approaches (regarding a more humane technology)
    http://altplatform.org/
    http://radicalnetworks.org/

  33. admin
    July 1st, 2017 at 16:11 | #34

    Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life
    http://crackedlabs.org/en/corporate-surveillance

  34. July 3rd, 2017 at 10:44 | #35

    Maybe the lack of Ethical education in Compute Science is one reason, why the web moves in a more closed and centralized system. Emma Pierson wrote an interesting article:

    Hey, Computer Scientists! Stop Hating on the Humanities
    https://www.wired.com/2017/04/hey-computer-scientists-stop-hating-humanities/

  35. July 5th, 2017 at 20:10 | #36

    This unconference Internet Freedom Festival looks pretty interesting
    https://internetfreedomfestival.org/history/

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