That’s Whatsapp deleted too. Which completes removing myself from the Facebook company services. My preferred messaging apps are Signal and Threema, and I’ve been using them for years for 95% or so of my messages. I kept Whatsapp as a passive inbox, for some of my network, never initiating contact there, but at least being reachable through it. However over time I noticed a creeping growth of my Whatsapp interaction, something I’ve been trying to avoid for 2 years. Reading Om’s posting yesterday, and especially the conversation with Lilia in the comments today made me conclude that Whatsapp needs to go too. Because of the company that owns it.

Last weekend I suspended my FB account. During the months of the pandemic I increasingly felt the irritation with FB build up again. Two years ago I deleted my previous Facebook account, after having stopped using it half a year before it. I did it then foremost to delete the existing history, and created a new account. I told myself it was the only way to connect to some people in my personal and professional network. That isn’t false, but it’s also not true in the sense that this is an overwhelming effect. FB is not without use, I’ve been able to keep up with the lives of various people I care about, and have been able to respond to their life events because it’s easy to share for them, and easy for me to respond on my own terms. That is a valuable human connection. Yet, when you’re having fun in a toxic swamp, you might be having fun, but you’re also still in a toxic swamp. I cherish the interaction with people around me, but rather do that in a pleasant environment which FB is most definitely not.

My original intention this weekend was to leave the account suspended for a few weeks to see how that felt and to maybe get back in later. I realised that that is basically to let the skin irritation of the toxic swamp fade away for a few days and then expose myself to a next batch of irritants.

Then today two things happened.

Om Malik wrote about FB’s toxicity as a company, and to vote with your feet. One vote in itself isn’t much. Yet “If you don’t make good use of your vote, you enable those who would … destroy what we value. Facebook is no different. You might be one person with just one account, but you are not powerless. Being a part of Mark Zuckerberg’s algorithmic empire is a choice. If you believe that Facebook is causing long-term damage to our society, and you don’t agree with their values or their approach to doing business, you can choose to leave.” He left FB half a year after me, but still maintained his Instagram and Whatsapp account. He’s ditching that now too, because of FB the company. He’s right. If you think you’re in a toxic swamp, why stay at all within its vicinity?

The second thing was that the mail man came. Bringing a lovely hand written note from Peter. With kind words about our friendship and how our blog writing and adjacent interaction crosses the ocean between us. His card was a great example of having fun outside of the toxic swamp. Not that I think that I should return to sending postcards only, it just points to the spectrum of other channels we have at our fingertips that aren’t FB.

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So, like two years ago I deleted my FB account again today, and in 30 days it will be gone. FB is betting I will try to log in within that time. I know I won’t. Because unlike two years ago I have no hold-out reason left to go back into the toxic swamp. On top of that, if I did then I’d have to return here and eat my words 😉

Stephen Downes describes his routine for exploring and learning, and the role of his blog in that. Useful description to feed my own thoughts on my routines w.r.t. digital gardening.

Bookmarked Where Do Blog Post Ideas Come From? ~ Stephen Downes

Almost all of what I do is in response to something I see, read or hear. So I read and gather information widely. Second,… I go on deeper dives. Third, I link things together. Fourth, I create. Finally, sharing freely. Society – and your success – is based on giving, not taking.

Useful post (in Dutch) by Max Roeleveld on his home automation using a RaspberryPi with Home Assistant. On how to do these things without silo’d hard- and software. To motivate others to take more online and offline things into their own control, not beholden to some service provider that then basically controls your off-switch, and harvests your behavioural data in the process.

In our household we are very much addicted to our Philips Hue lamps all over the house. We run those without external access or connections (we don’t use it to switch on/off lights when we’re not at home), but still it’s a silo of course. It could integrate with Home Assistant I see. There’s other unused stuff (Ikea’s Trådfri lamps a.o.) around the house too.

Bookmarked for the ‘someday’ project list.

Bookmarked Home Assistant, en wat ik er momenteel mee doe by @Max

Home Assistent met RaspberryPi, Zigbee en lampjes in de woon- en slaapkamer. Een kijkje in de… nou ja, niet in de keuken.

Really interesting step for IRMA: they’re now offering BigBlueButton enabled videoconferencing for meetings where participants have their identities verified.

IRMA is a Dutch mobile app that allows you to share specific aspects of your identity with different parties, relevant to a specific context. For instance if you have to proof you’re over 18 to order an alcoholic beverage, showing your ID is the current norm. But that discloses much more than just your age, as it shows your ID number, full name, date and place of birth etc. IRMA is an app that you can preload with verified identifying aspects, such as your date of birth as registered with the local government’s citizens database, which you can then disclose partially where needed. When ordering a drink, you can show the bartender that you’re ‘over 18’ as verified by your municipality, without having to show your actual date of birth or your full name.

In our pandemic age video conferencing has grown enormously, including for conversations where identity is important. E.g. conversations between patients and doctors, or job interviews, conversations with your bank, exams etc. IRMA-Meet now offers BigBlueButton videocalls from their site, where all participants have been verified on the relevant identity aspects for the call.

Looking forward to hearing user experiences.

Conspiracy theorists, or those with fringe opinions all are ‘snowflakes’ at heart, judging by the consistent accusations of being censored they make. You are not being censored, you merely don’t have your expectations met. The expectation that platforms won’t care what you publish, as they will care if it hurts their bottom line in some form. The expectation that your opinions will be amplified in the outrage machine. You are not being censored. You may be denied the use of someone else’s channel and infrastructure, you may be told you’re not welcome on someone else’s turf. You can still say whatever you want, and put it online on your own dime. You can’t demand anyone else paying attention though, or have attention automagically arranged for you in the walled garden of your choosing.

It reminds me of a group of protesters in my hometown some years ago. For about two weeks they were on the front page of the local paper almost daily, with photos and all. Towards the end one of them tweeted “we’re not being heard”, and I answered “you’re heard plenty, it just doesn’t automatically mean people agree and do as you wish”. I’m probably still blocked. Which ironically is how they confirmed my point precisely. They heard me, but didn’t agree, so I got ‘censored’.

Lack of amplification and attenuation are not censorship.