The interwebs have been full off AI generated imagery. The AI script used is OpenAI’s Dall-E 2 (Wall-E & Dali). Images are created based on a textual prompt (e.g. Michelangelo’s David with sunglasses on the beach), natural language interpretation is then used to make a composite image. Some of the examples going ’round were quite impressive (See OpenAI’s site e.g., and the Kermit in [Movie Title Here] overview was much fun too).

One of the images resulting from when I entered the prompt ‘Lego Movie with Kermit’ using Dall-E Mini. I consider this a Public Domain image as the image does not pass the ‘creativity involved’ threshold which generally presupposes a human creator, for copyright to apply (meaning neither AI nor macaques).

OpenAI hasn’t released the Dall-E algorithm for others to play with, but there is a Dall-E mini available, seemingly trained on a much smaller data set.

I played around with it a little bit. My experimentation leads to the conclusion that either Dall-E mini suffers from “stereotypes in gives you stereotypes out”, with its clear bias towards Netherlands’ more basic icons of windmills (renewable energy ftw!) and tulip fields. That, or it means whatever happens in the coming decades we here in the Rhine delta won’t see much change.

Except for Thai flags, we’ll be waving those, apparently.

The past of Holland:

Holland now:

The innovation of Holland:

The future of Holland:

Four sets of images resulting from prompts entered by me into the Dall-E mini algorithm. The prompts were The past of Holland, Hollond, the innovation of Holland, the future of Holland. All result in windmills and tulip fields. Note in the bottom left of the future of Holland that Thai flags will be waved. I consider these as Public Domain images as they do not pass the ‘creativity involved’ threshold which generally presupposes a human creator, for copyright to apply. Their arrangement in this blog post does carry copyright though, and the Creative Commons license top-right applies to the arrangement. IANAL.

Robin Sloan has proposed a protocol, Spring ’83, that serves publisher’s content like a magazine stand. You see a board of cards, where cards get replaced whenever its publisher releases a new one. He aims to ditch the timeline experience it seems, partly considering form and content as pieces of the same expression, as well as a way to maintain space for voices that do not express themselves every other minute but way more infrequently.

A Beijing news stand with spread out mags competing for your attention. Image by Peter Ashlock, license CC BY

Others in my feedreader have commented on it in the past days and it gets me thinking. Not in any structured way yet. No idea yet therefore what I think about this in a form I can narrate, but some associations come to mind.

I do like the notion of small cards. Makes me think of Hugh’s Gaping Void back-of-a-business-card drawings, and of tiny zines made as a folded single sheet chapbook. The set limit creates friction for creativity to feed on. Yet, the built in size limit, when putting more of them together on a ‘board’ may well mean the same drawbacks as in Twitter, aiming for the highest attention grabbing value. Magazines in a kiosk do the same thing after all, using the cover to try and lure you into reading them. Look at that image above. Does that make a board of cards just a collection of adverts for your attention? Reading Maya’s annotations, there too the scarcity mindset a board of such cards might introduce is raised. Are there other ways to thread such cards?

The focus on p2p distribution, and on making it easy to put out there, chimes with me in terms of networked agency and in terms of low thresholds for such agency.

The notion where softer voices have the same claim to space as louder ones (i.e. more frequently posting ones) I appreciate a lot. Kicks Condor in his Fraidycat feedreader provides neat sparklines indicating frequency of posting, and allocates every single author the same space by displaying their last few postings regardless of timelines. That points back as well to my use of social distance (not the pandemic kind!) as a method to order presentation of feeds I follow, in a person focused way, and less a timeline. I follow people’s expressions, not blogs as publications. It also makes me cringe at the use of the word publisher in Robin Sloan’s explanation.

À propos following people, Maya also mentions how she likes to see friction between different strands of her online expression (e.g. blogposts, and Mastodon messages). Such different strands have different qualities to them, and having them in one place, like an IndieWeb enabled site may put them too closely or too obviously together. The notion of friction is important I think when getting to know someone online in more detail by following more of their online traces. I follow people, and for a good number I follow multiple traces (photos, posts, tweets e.g.). Combining those traces needs friction I feel, getting to know someone better from their expressions needs a certain effort. That’s about me having something at stake in building interaction. Blogs are distributed conversations to me and you need to invest your presence in such conversations. Connecting with others should be extremely easy in terms of being able to connect, but certainly not effortless in terms of time spent on the actual connecting. Way back when (2006), Lilia and I had conversations about this, and it’s still relevant now. My site purposefully introduces friction to readers: casual visitors see only a fraction of the postings, some content is only shared through RSS and not findable in the site, some content is both not listed nor shared through feeds etc. All the fragments are still in the same place, mine, though, and not farmed out to various silos to create the same effect of deliberate fragmentation. It means I’ve greatly reduced the friction for me as author using IndieWeb, not eroded the needed friction for readers. Someone who puts in the effort will be able to gather all my traces in their reader.

Tracy Durnell has some remarks, and compares Spring ’83 to IndieWeb efforts and discusses the visual aspects. Her suggestion showing a blogroll as cards, not as a list, is a good one I think, perhaps showing the last three postings the Fraidycat way? I’ve seen others do it as a river of news, but that once more provides additional amplification to the loudest authors.
Louis Potok takes a first look under the hood.

Over in the IndieWeb community we were having a conversation about how easy it should be for people to create their own websites (also for small local businesses etc.) Where making the site is basically the same as writing the text you want to put on it. Social media silos do that for you, but out on the open web?

Aaron mentioned that one a tech conference, someone had a linktree site on the last slide for people to find more info, because it was the easiest way apparently to make a small site just for that info, by using a third party silo.
Tantek then said that is a good summary of the use case:

easiest way to make a small site

Seeing that single line on my screen, I was mildly shocked that my own first instinctive answer to “easiest way to make a small site” is “write my own html in Notepad“. That answer is almost 30 years old, it’s how I made my very first web page. And handwriting html is still my first answer! No other path immediately comes to mind. Of course, I wouldn’t want to hand write this weblog in html, but ‘small site’ as in a few simple pages, yes, I would do that by hand in some plain text app like Notepad.

Can it be that three decades on the closest answer to ‘making a website is as easy as making a plain text note’ is still hand written html? Dave Winer uses an outliner to blog, and more recently created Drummer for the rest of us, that for him at least means blogging is as simple as writing plain text. I can post to this blog from my plain text notes on my laptop (from Obsidian using micropub), but I use markdown to style it a bit. What else is out there?

Can making your web page be as simple as writing a note you put on the door or in the window of your business?
The answer can’t really still be Notepad, can it?

No not really, also because I don’t use Windows…but it could still be, and it was back in ’93. Image by John Lester, license CC BY

Een maand geleden diende ik een voorstel in voor het Nederlandse WordCamp, om over IndieWeb te spreken, vanuit mijn perspectief als blogger. In de hoop dat het leidt tot meer thema’s en code die IndieWeb mogelijkheden actief omarmen. Deze week hoorde ik dat het voorstel is geaccepteerd. Nadenken over een verhaallijn dus.

Netherlands WordCamp vindt op 15 en 16 september plaats in Arnhem. Binnenkort wordt het programma bekend gemaakt.

Bonus link: mijn eerste kennismaking met WordPress in 2006, toen Matt Mullenweg op BlogTalk Reloaded in Wenen er over kwam presenteren. Later (veel later) die avond deze foto op Matt’s blog…vlnr Thomas (organisator BlogTalk), ik, Anne, Monica, Elmine, Matt met camera, en Paolo.

Favorited Zo bouw je een open source infrastructuur voor een conferentie door Toon Toetenel (CTO PublicSpaces)

Afgelopen maand vond de Public Spaces conferentie plaats (ik was de eerste dag aanwezig). Dit jaar heeft de organisatie gezorgd dat boodschap en verpakking ook echt in overeenstemming waren. In een blogpost legt Toon Toetenel uit welke stappen ze daarvoor hebben genomen. Globaal langs de lijnen van de ladder van de Public Stack, met Jitsi, Matrix, Listmonk en ActivityPub/Mastodon. Mooie erkenning ook voor de nudge die Björn Wijers hen gaf dit nu eens goed te doen. Björn deelt die nudges vaker uit, ook bijvoorbeeld bij Open Nederland t.a.v. de videovergaderingen, en hij heeft gelijk. Tijd steken in het vroeg genoeg regelen ervan is vaak een obstakel, en goed dat Public Spaces er een voorbeeld in wil zijn. Ik ontmoette Björn ook op de conferentie overigens, de nudge betekende ook dat hij werd ingehuurd om mee te helpen.

Ja, een conferentie hosten zonder Big Tech en met open source tools is mogelijk. Het kost wel wat moeite om alles zelf op te zetten en aan elkaar te knopen maar dat is de investering meer dan waard.

Toon Toetenel van Public Spaces

Today a colleague at the Netherlands Space Office showed me a new Copernicus service, the ground motion service (EGMS). Quite an amazing data service to explore. Earlier I wrote about the European forest fire information service (EFFIS), and its use as a proxy for the fighting going on due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. EGMS is another service based on satellite remote sensing, here radar telemetry tracking the subsidence or rising of the ground. As far as I understand it can’t ‘see’ soft materials (peat land subsiding e.g.), only sees hard materials (solid ground, or buildings on softer grounds).
The images are quite amazing, and the data is provided right alongside it.

First an overview of northern Europe. Blue is rising ground, red is sinking ground. Sweden and Finland show rising ground, this is still the bounce back of the earth since the last ice age ended when the tremendous weight of glaciers was removed. At the tip of the arrow you see subsiding ground, this is the result of gas extraction in Groningen province.

Zooming in on Groningen province, here’s the data for a single house, subsiding 4 centimeters in the past 6 years. No wonder many homes are getting damaged in that area, both from subsidence as well as from the earthquakes that accompany it.

For comparison, here’s the data from the street I live on. It shows a subsidence of 6 millimeters in the past 6 years.

And here’s the same data as in the graph in the image above, but exported from the Copernicus services as an SVG, and pasted here as text.

-14-12-10-8-6-4-202468101214Displacement mm2016011120160428201608142016113020170318201707042017102020180211201805302018091520190101201904192019080520191121202003082020062420201010Measurement dateORTHO Vertical: 20dXRnBSzzDataset: Point ID: Position: Mean velocity: RMSE: ORTHO Vertical20dXRnBSzz3242050.00 N 4007550.00 E -0.60 m-1.10 mm/year0.40 mm