Elmine, in her role as resident WordPress savant, pointed me to MainWP. MainWP is a tool that allows one to manage updates of WordPress and plugins, from a separate single WordPress instance.

That separate single WordPress instance doesn’t need to be online, and can be hosted locally. So I installed it on my laptop. That way there is no attack surface for the outside that would risk allowing access to my 6+ sites that run WordPress.

It turns out, an added benefit is that I can also post to any of those sites from this local instance. This has as an advantage that I can draft postings offline on my laptop, and then push them to a website when done. That should help me write more and with a lower threshold. It has a few drawbacks, as offline I don’t have access to some features I use regularly (post kinds, and more importantly previews).

This post serves as a test, posting from my wordpress instance on localhost.

Op de eerste This Happened in Utrecht eind 2008 was een presentatie van Cultured Code, waar ik onder de indruk was van de focus van ze. Sinds die tijd gebruik ik met veel plezier Things, ook al kan ik het niet op mijn Android gebruiken.

Let wel op, volgens mij is het nog altijd zo dat je taken niet in een volgorde kunt zetten / afhankelijk van elkaar kunt maken (zodat taak 2 alleen in een context naar voren komt als taak 1 af is). Het gaat er dus vanuit dat alle taken parallel kunnen worden gedaan, en geen volgordelijkheid kennen. Dit kan een punt zijn als je het voor GTD gebruikt. Ik heb er zelf verder geen last van.

Replied to a post by Frank Meeuwsen

Ik zit nog geen kwartier in een trial van Things 3 te werken en ik voel dat ik weer een smak geld ga uitgeven voor een takenlijst app. Wat zit deze goed en intuïtief in elkaar. Tot op heden nog exact de juiste balans tussen eenvoud en geavanceerde planningsmogelijkheden. Het is bijzonder hoe je ond…

Based on my conversation with Boris Mann about Fission, and visiting a Decentralised Web Meetup in Amsterdam because his Fission co-founder Brooklyn Zelenka, I started exploring the technology they work with and are building. First step was getting access to and understanding the ideas behind IPFS.

What makes IPFS interesting

The IPFS about file (if you click that link, you’re visiting a file on IPFS from your browser) says a variety of things, but a few elements are key imo.

First, it is a peer to peer system, much like we’ve seen many before. When you download a file to your system it will come in bits and pieces from multiple other computers, somewhere in the network, who have that file available. Whatever is the easiest way to get that file to you, is the way followed.

Second there is a key difference in how file addresses work in IPFS, compared to the web or on your local drive. We are used to files having names, and addresses being a representation of the location of that file. The URL for this blog points to a specific server, where in a specific folder, a specific filename resides. That file returns the content. Similarly the address for a file on my drive is based on the folder structure and the name of the file. IPFS addresses files based on their content, and does so with a hash (a cryptographic representation of the content of a file).
Naming things based on a hash of its contents means that if the content of a file changes, the name will change too. For every file the content will match what it says on the tin, and versioning is built in.

Combine that with a peer to peer system, and you have a way of addressing things globally without being tied to location. You also have a way to ensure that whatever you find in a given file is exactly what was originally in the file. https://mydomain.com/catpicture.html may have had a cat picture at the start that later got replaced by malware, but you wouldn’t know. With earlier p2p systems to exchange files like Napster of Bittorrent you always had to be careful about what it was you actually downloaded. Because the content might be very different from what the name suggested. With IPFS those issues are done away with.

Currently (location based) addressing on the web is centralised (through domain registration and DNS), and decoupling addresses from locations like IPFS does allows decentralisation. This decentralisation is important to me, as it helps build agency and make that agency resilient, as decentralisation is much closer to local first principles.

Getting IPFS set-up on my laptop

Boris was helpful in pointing the way for me how to set-up IPFS (and Fission). There is a IPFS desk top client, which makes it very easy to do. I installed that and then you have a basic browser that shows you which of your own files you are sharing, and which ones you are re-sharing. It also when you are looking at a file shows where it comes from.

I uploaded a PDF as a hello world message. In the screenshot above the Qm…… series of characters you see underneath the local file name helloworld.pdf is the hash that is used to identify the file across the IPFS network. If you ‘pin’ a file (or folder), you prevent it from being deleted from your cache, and it stays available to the wider network with that Qm…. string as address. Which also means a drawback of hashed-content addressing is non-human readable addresses, but they’re usually intended for machines anyway (and otherwise, there’s a use case for QR codes here maybe)

With IPFS set-up, I started playing with Fission. Fission builds on IPFS, to allow you to deploy apps or websites directly from your laptop. (“build and go live while on a plane without wifi”). It’s meant as tooling for developers, in other words not me, but I was curious to better understand what it does. More in a next post.

Abundance isn’t shipping containers full of stuff. (image by me, CC BY NC SA)

Last month I was at the Scifi Economics Lab, and Cory Doctorow
was one of the speakers. There was much to unpack in his talk, and he has a style of delivery that makes you want to quote a lot of things. I won’t give in to that urge, but will highlight one expression.

At some point he talked about abundance. It’s a term I’ve struggled with over the years because it’s so easy to interpret as having mountains of stuff, as per the image above. Or have everything free. A Dutch expression or rather admonition “we don’t live in the land where chickens fly into your mouth already fried” is probably an image our Calvinist culture associates with abundance: no work, but all the fruits of it. I have a sense of the meaning of abundance other than that, but never felt I had the right words to express that other perspective on abundance.

Doctorow’s metaphor for abundance was useful for me. He described back packers always having to carry a roll of toilet paper with them and that if not used it would desintegrate in your backpak, and therefore regularly needs replacement. Backpackers spent resources on replacing their toilet paper and spent mental energy on keeping an eye on still having it with them. A constant worry, and an inefficient use of resources (as you don’t use much of the toilet paper for its intended purpose, due to degradation).
Abundance then is being certain there is toilet paper when and where you need it. This is a qualitative metaphor that adds location, timing and actual need as dimensions of relevance. Abundance here is also more efficient, reduces worry, and is always there when needed. But it’s not limitless, free, or available anywhere for anything at any whim. It’s about qualitative abundance not quantitative abundance (‘heaps of free stuff’).

Hotel Room Toilet Paper Roll FoldMetaphorical Practical abundance, image by Tony Webster, license CC BY

This makes a vast number of things abundant in the society I live in, because it is there when I need it, without worry. Water, food, energy, clothing, transport, and everything else including toilet paper. (I once had a Central-Asian colleague who told me she thought, having visited, the Netherlands was totally boring because of that predictable abundance: no need to improvise anytime/anywhere.) Especially in the context of the six ways to die, abundance is an important notion, also because that abundance is often acquired by increasing the complexity of our systems. That complexity can break down.

Time, location and the context of an existing need are qualitative dimensions interesting to consider as design factors. What do you do when one or more of them are not to be counted on? Or can be counted upon, but at specific intervals? This is dealing with and designing for intermittence, as building block of both resilience and agency. That’s for another time.

Ja, je hebt een digitaal testament nodig. Dat is het korte antwoord op de (retorische) vraag die Roel stelt.

Niet zozeer om aan te geven welke van je accounts ‘voor altijd’ moeten blijven bestaan en als ‘gedenksteen’ dienen. Want niets online is voor altijd, en er is een gerede kans dat jij het langer volhoudt dan de YASN du jour waar je een profiel hebt.

Wel om je nabestaanden in staat te stellen je spullen netjes op te ruimen. Zodat je blog niet na een jaar of twee stilte en niet langer bijgewerkte software updates een plek vol spam wordt. Je e-mail historie niet langer bij Google huist etc.

Dat allemaal opruimen is lastig. Toen mijn ouders overleden in het najaar van 2015, betekende dat een lange speurtocht door hun e-mail en hun mapjes en papieren om te achterhalen waar ze allemaal een account hadden. Beiden waren geen zware internetgebruikers, integendeel, maar toch heb je het ook dan over tientallen accounts (verenigingen, webwinkels etc. etc.) Ter vergelijking: ik heb op dit moment iets meer dan 670 accounts in mijn password manager staan. Voor sommige van die accounts vond ik het wachtwoord tussen hun spullen, voor andere kon ik het op basis daarvan gokken, en voor weer andere ging ik door de ‘wachtwoord vergeten’ processen van al die sites. Gelukkig wist ik wel het wachtwoord van hun laptops en e-mail, want anders had dat allemaal niet gekund. Van sommige accounts heb ik het niet kunnen achterhalen.

Toegang achterhalen is vervolgens nog maar het begin: eerst beslissen of je opgeslagen data in die accounts wilt exporteren en opslaan (ivm nalatenschap, administratie etc.), en vervolgens kijken wat je kunt wissen. Accounts wissen kon in 2015 vaak tot mijn verrassing niet online (met de AVG zal het wel wat anders zij nu), en vergde een telefoontje naar de betreffende organisatie. Herhaal vervolgens die stappen voor elk account.

E en ik hebben toegang tot elkaars accounts. We gebruiken allebei een passwordmanager en hebben elkaars toegangsgegevens daar ook in opgeslagen.
Dat scheelt al een hoop. Daar kunnen nog wel wat stappen aan toegevoegd worden, zoals aangeven wat je eigenlijk wil dat met sommige dingen gebeurt, en wanneer. Veel kan weg, maar wellicht wil je van sommige dingen een kopie bewaren, of juist online houden. De kanalen die je nu gebruikt zijn namelijk vaak ook de kanalen waarlangs een groot deel van je netwerk straks zal horen dat je er niet meer bent. Van mensen die ik ken heb ik van hun overlijden gehoord in Twitter, op Facebook, in hun blog, en ik ken voorbeelden waarin dat via een gaming world als World of Warcraft ging. En daar vind je dan ook de condoleances.

Zelfs als dat allemaal geregeld is, blijft het natuurlijk ongelooflijk veel werk. Wil je daar iemand mee opzadelen?
Mijn meer dan 670 accounts? Kan dat niet nu al minder?

Informatiehygiëne is ook het tijdig verwijderen van accounts. Daar kun je zelf al mee beginnen terwijl je nog volop geniet van je leven. Het is net tuinieren, elke dag een onkruidje trekken tussen de tegels in de tuin, en elke dag een account weggooien waar je al meer dan een jaar niet bent ingelogd. Mijn ouders ruimden wel hun zolder op om mijn zussen en mij werk uit handen te nemen voor als ze er niet meer zouden zijn, maar dachten niet aan hun digital twins online. Je digi-zolder opruimen hoort er nu ook bij.

Stap 1 is hoe dan ook inzicht in welke accounts je hebt. Of je nu zelf gaat opruimen of niet. Een password manager is daarbij onontbeerlijk. Heb je die nog niet? Nu doen!

Replied to Heb je een digitaal testament nodig? – Roel.io (Roel.io)

Als je het digitaal goed voor elkaar hebt: gebruik je een password manager; met waar mogelijk tweefactorauthenticatie geactiveerd; en heb je je back-ups op orde. Maar heb je ook nagedacht over wat er met online accounts en websites moet gebeuren als jou iets overkomt? …

Through a posting of Roel I came across Rick Klau again, someone who like me was blogging about knowledge management in the early ’00s. These days his writing is on Medium it seems.

Browsing through his latest posts, I came across this one about homebrew contact management.

Contact management is one area where until now I mostly stayed away from automating anything.
First and foremost because of the by definition poor initial data quality that you use to set it up (I still have 11 yr old contact info on my phone because it is hard to delete, and then gets put back due to some odd feedback loop in syncing).
Second, because of the risk of instrumentalising the relationships to others, instead of interacting for its own sake.
Third, because most systems I encountered depend on letting all your mail etc flow through it, which is a type of centralisation / single point of failure I want to avoid.

There’s much in Rick’s post to like (even though I doubt I’d want to shell out $1k/yr to do the same), and there are things in there I definitely think useful. He’s right when he says that being able to have a better overview of your network in terms of gender, location, diversity, background etc. is valuable. Not just in terms of contacts, but in terms of information filtering when you follow your contacts in several platforms etc.

Bookmarked to come up with an experiment. Timely also because I just decided to create a simple tool for my company as well, to start mapping stakeholders we encounter. In Copenhagen last September I noticed someone using a 4 question page on her phone to quickly capture she met me, the context and my organisation. When I asked she said it was to have an overview of the types of organisations and roles of people she encountered in her work, building a map as it were of the ecosystem. Definitely something I see the use of.

HandShakeHandshakes and conversations is what I’m interested in, not marketing instruments. Image Handshake by Elisha Project, license CC BY SA