I and my team at The Green Land are looking for a self-hosted version of event organisation tools like MeetUp.com or Eventbrite. Both for small scale events as part of projects, such as meet-ups of citizen scientists, as well as for ourselves, such as small gatherings we organise around AI ethics with our professional peer network.

We don’t want to use Meetup.com or things like Eventbrite because we don’t want personal data to be handed over to US based entities, nor require the participants to do so just because they want to attend a local event. We also notice a strong hesitancy amongst participants of events when it is needed to create yet another account on yet another service just to let us know they will be joining us for something.

Nevertheless we do want an easy way to announce events, track registrations, and have a place to share material before, during and afterwards. And I know that events are hard in terms of discovery, because although there are a plethora of events, for most participants as well as event organisers they’re incidents (years ago I came across a blogpost describing this Events Paradox well.). Additionally, for us as professionals it is usually more logical to host our own events than find one that fits our needs.
So we need a way to announce events where we can assure participants there’s no need to hand over personal information, and where material can be shared.

There seem to be two FOSS offerings in this space. Mobilizon by Framasoft and Gettogether. In the past weeks my colleague S and I tried to test Mobilizon.

Mobilizon is ActivityPub based, and there’s a Yunohost version which I installed on our VPS early last month. Mobilizon promises several strong points:

  • Fully self-hosted, and able to federate with other instances. There aren’t many visible instances out there, but one NGO we frequently encounter in our network does run its own instance.
  • you can maintain different profiles in your account, so that for different parts of your life you can subscribe to events, without e.g. your historical re-enactment events showing up amongst your professional events in a public profile.
  • People can register for an event without needing an account or profile (using e-mail confirmation)

Working with Mobilizon turned out less than ideal at a very basic level. Accounts couldn’t log in after creation. As an administrator I could not force password resets for users (that couldn’t log in anymore). Not being able to do user admin (other than suspending accounts) seems to be a deliberate design choice.
I still had access through my Yunohost admin account, but after an update yesterday of the Mobilizon app that stopped working too. So now both instance admins were locked out. Existing documentation wasn’t much help in understanding what exactly is going on.

I also came across an announcement dat Framasoft intends to shift development resources away from Mobilizon by the end of the year, and thusfar there’s little momentum in the developer community to pick up where they intend to leave off.

For now I have uninstalled Mobilizon. I will reach out to the mentioned NGO to hear how their experiences are. And will look at the other tool, although no Yunohost version of it exists.

I’m open te hear about other alternatives that might be good to try.

Bookmarked een tweet van Frankwatching

Niets is zo persoonlijk als een machine je hartekreet laten schrijven! Technische mediatie brengt je alleen maar dichter bij elkaar. Ik hoop dat het team van Frankwatching de ironie ziet van hun eigen tekst.

Hoe zet je AI in … om persoonlijker te communiceren?


(overigens valt me ook op dat het opslaan van losse tweets in The Web Archive niet lukt. Eerder lukte me dat wel. Dan maar een screenshot, met de gebruikelijke caveat)

I’ve been involved in open data for about 15 years. Back then we had a vibrant European wide network of activists and civic organisations around open data, partially triggered by the first PSI Directive that was the European legal fundament for our call for more open government data.

Since 2020 a much wider and fundamental legal framework than the PSI Directive ever was is taking shape, with the Data Governance Act, Data Act, AI Regulation, Open Data Directive, High Value Data implementing regulation as building blocks. Together they create the EU single market for data, adding data as fourth element to the list of freedom of movement for people, products and capital within the EU. This will all take shape as the European common dataspace(s), built from a range of sectoral dataspaces.

In the past years I’ve been actively involved in these developments, currently helping large government data holders in the Netherlands interpret the new obligations and above all new opportunities for public service that result from all this.

Now that the dataspaces are slowly taking shape, what I find missing from most discussions and events is the voice of civic organisations and activists. It’s mostly IT companies and research institutions that are involved. While for the Commission social impact (climate, health, energy and agricultural transitions e.g.) is a key element in why they seek to implement these new laws, for most parties involved in the dataspaces that is less of a consideration, and economic and technological factors are more important. Not even government data holders themselves are represented much in how the European data space will turn out. Even though everyone single one of us and every public entity by default is a part of this common market.

I would like to strengthen the voice of civil society and activists in this area, to together influence the shape these dataspaces are taking. So that they are of use and value to us too. To use the new (legal) tools to strengthen the commons, to increase our agency.

Most of the old European open data network however over time has dissolved, as we all got involved in national level practical projects and the European network as a source of sense of belonging and strengthening each others commitment became less important. And we’ve moved on a good number of years, so many new people have come on to the scene, unconnected to that history, with new perspectives and new capabilities.

So the question is: who is active on these topics, from a civil society perspective, as activists? Who should be involved? What are the organisations, the events, that are relevant regionally, nationally, EU wide? Can we connect those existing dots: to share experiencs, examples, join our voices, pool our efforts?

Currently I’m doing a first scan of who is involved in which EU country, what type of events are visible, organisations that are active etc. Starting from my old network of a decade ago. I will share lists of what I find at Our Common Data Space.

Let me know if you count yourself as part of this European network. Let me know the relevant efforts you are aware of. Let me know which events you think bring together people likely to want to be involved.

I look forward to finding out about you!

Open Government Data Camp in Warsaw 2011. An example of the vibrancy of the European open data network, I called it the community’s ‘family christmas party’, at the time. Above the schedule of sessions created collectively by the participants, with many local initiatives and examples shared with the EU wide network. Below one of those sessions, on local policy making and open data.

It had been expected, Tweetdeck is now no longer available to me to follow Twitter topics and lists. Tweetdeck is only available to paying Twitter accounts. Earlier today it still worked for me as a non-paying account, now no longer. It went web-only a year ago before Twitter’s transition of ownership. Last month it became clear Tweetdeck would be limited to paying accounts. With Tweetdeck gone the last remaining shred of utility of Twitter for me dissolved.

These index cards provide improvisation prompts. They contain words to use and suggestions for actions to use in a game of improvisation. One grouping of words and actions per index card. Seeing them laid out next to each other obviously reminded me of the use of index cards in personal learning/knowledge systems that are based on physical cards or made digitally (keeping one thing per note file), as well as of flash cards (like for spaced repetition). And it made me think of Chris Aldrich who collects examples of using index cards like these, as well as of Peter who is part of an improv group.

This set contains 108 cards with ‘nuclei’ of words and actions for improv. They were created by Jackson Mac Low in 1961 as ‘nuclei for Simone Forti‘ after seeing her perform in Yoko Ono’s loft. They were used by her as well as by Trisha Brown.

I came across this set of cards at the ‘Fondation du doute‘, the institute of doubt, in Blois, in a exhibition on the postmodern ‘Fluxus‘ movement that Jackson Mac Low participated in for some time.

Some good movement on EU data legislation this month! I’ve been keeping track of EU data and digital legislation in the past three years. In 2020 I helped determine the content of what has become the High Value Data implementing regulation (my focus was on earth observation, environmental and meteorological data), and since then for the Dutch government I’ve been involved in translating the incoming legislation to implementing steps and opportunities for Dutch government geo-data holders.

AI Act

The AI Act stipulates what types of algorithmic applications are allowed on the European market under which conditions. A few things are banned, the rest of the provisions are tied to a risk assessment. Higher risk applications carry heavier responsibilities and obligations for market entry. It’s a CE marking for these applications, with responsibilities for producers, distributors, users, and users of output of usage.
The Commission proposed the AI Act in april 2021, the Council responded with its version in December 2022.

Two weeks ago the European Parliament approved in plenary its version of the AI Act.
In my reading the EP both strengthens and weakens the original proposal. It strengthens it by restricting certain types of uses further than the original proposal, and adds foundational models to its scope.
It also adds a definition of what is considered AI in the context of this law. This in itself is logical as, originally the proposal did not try to define that other than listing technologies in an annex that were deemed in scope. However while adding that definition, they removed the annex. That, I think weakens the AI Act and will make future enforcement much slower and harder. Because now everything will depend on the interpretation of the definition, meaning it will be a key point of contention before the courts (‘my product is out of scope!’). Whereas by having both the definition and the annex, the legislative specifically states which things it considers in scope of the definition at the very least. As the Annex would be periodically updated, it would also remain future proof.

With the stated positions of the Council and Parliament the trilogue can now start to negotiate the final text which then needs to be approved by both Council and Parliament again.

All in all this looks like the AI Act will be finished and in force before the end of year, and will be applied by 2025.

Data Act

The Data Act is one of the building blocks of the EU Data Strategy (the others being the Data Governance Act, applied from September, the Open Data Directive, in force since mid 2021, and the implementing regulation High Value Data which the public sector must comply with by spring 2024). The Data Act contains several interesting proposals. One is requiring connected devices to not only allow users access to the (real time) data they create (think thermostats, solar panel transformers, sensors etc.), as well as allowing users to share that data with third parties. You can think of this as ‘PSD2-for-everything’. PSD2 says that banks must enable you to share your banking data with third parties (meaning you can manage your account at Bank A with the mobile app of Bank B, can connect your book keeping software etc.). The Data Act extends this to ‘everything’ that is connected. Another interesting component is that it allows public sector bodies in case of emergencies (floods e.g.) to require certain data from private sector parties, across borders. The Dutch government heavily opposed this so I am interested in seeing what the final formulation of this part is in the Act. Other provisions make it easier for people to switch platform services (e.g. cloud providers), and create space for the European Commission to set, let develop, adopt or mandate certain data standards across sectors. That last element is of relevance to the shaping of the single market for data, aka the European common data space(s), and here too I look forward to reading the final formulation.

With the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament having reached a common text, what rests is final approval by both bodies. This should be concluded under the Spanish presidency that starts this weekend, and the Data Act will then enter into force sometime this fall, with a grace period of some 18 months or so until sometime in 2025.

There’s more this month: ITS Directive

The Intelligent Transport Systems Directive (ITS Directive) was originally created in 2010, to ensure data availability about traffic conditions etc. for e.g. (multi-modal) planning purposes. In the Netherlands for instance real-time information about traffic intensity is available in this context. The Commmission proposed to revise the ITS Directive late 2021 to take into account technological developments and things like automated mobility and on-demand mobility systems. This month the Council and European Parliament agreed a common text on the new ITS Directive. I look forward to close reading the final text, also on its connections to the Data Act above, and its potential in the context of the European mobility data space. Between the Data Act and the ITS Directive I’m also interested in the position of in-car data. Our cars increasinly are mobile sensor platforms, to which the owner/driver has little to no access, which should change imo.