Do you know of any work, Valdis or Marc to map scientific networks (who’s collaborating / publishing with / citing / getting funded by whom in which field) as a means of discovery? E.g. if you wanted to explore the current developments in a field of science you’re not a part of yourself, to explore who is currently core, a new comer, or an interesting boundary spanner in a field.

This is a good observation. In my mind Flickr for instance isn’t about sharing per se, but I see it as an off-site archive next to my photo archive on my laptop and a NAS at home. That it allows for easy re-use of those images in my own site is an added bonus. Will need to write a bit about my own thoughts from this session too.

Liked IndieWeb: it’s about first ownership by Elmine (InFullFlow.net)

A photo (or video for that matter) is a special kind of data. Its file size creates limitations to its distribution, but no matter where it’s uploaded, it is always owned by its creator first. Status updates on any platform are owned by the company first and can only be copied to the creator. That is why I think it’s important to use IndieWeb: if you publish updates on your own site and then POSSE them to the big silos (where your friends still hang out), you own your updates first, just like you own your photos.

Fifteen years ago today Elmine Wijnia published a paper “Understanding Weblogs: a Communicative Perspective” (PDF) for the BlogTalk conference based on her master thesis. In it she discusses weblogs as a communications medium and compares their role and potential a.o. with Habermas’ philosophical work on communications (Habermas’ work on this predates the web). I have a ‘on this day in….’ widget in my sidebar, and it showed me I had blogged about it back then.

From my posting then, I feel much is still the same, and much is still as key as then in bringing online expression and interaction forward.

In my view Elmine’s work does something very important, which is to firmly place weblogs in communications, and not put the fact that it’s technology-based first.

Having just organised an IndieWebCamp where technology is very much front and center, while I find we struggle to get broader involvement, this is a very pertinent reminder.

It describes what we actually do, in stead of which tools we use to do it.

This is a core element in my thinking about technology in general, unchanged in all these years. It is about what people do and can do. The agency that technology provides.

She positioned weblogs as a new medium because it combines three information patterns in itself, that previously stood on their own (e.g. in separate digital tools): consultation, registration, and conversation.

In part it feels like silo’s such as FB and Twitter break that combination of multiple patterns again, after weblogs joined them, and from which these silos themselves in turn emerged. The ‘back to the blog‘ urge I’ve felt and lived here in the past two years, is an expression of seeking the richness that the combination provides. My involvement in IndieWeb which tries to strengthen the ties between those patterns by adding new functionality to our blogging tools is also explained by it.

Because it allows better communication. Which is what matters. As Kicks Condor phrased it when he reflected on my information strategies

It is very focused on just being a human who is attempting to communicate with other humans—that’s it really.

Elmine and Habermas still point us in that direction. We can do better in this, and we should do better in this.

On my way to Amsterdam for day two of IndieWebCamp, that I’m co-hosting with Frank. Today’s focus will be on doing, based on the conversations and ideas we had yesterday. I’ve published a few pics on Flickr.

IndieWebCamp Lunch
The IndieWebCamp Amsterdam bunch at lunch

I have three ideas I might work on

  • Writing some Dutch language intro’s and explainers about IndieWeb, following up on the session about making it easier for people to engage with IndieWeb options
  • Figuring out how to flip the presentation of a quote/snippet and my remarks in my RSS feed (in a posting it is [my remarks] [snippet I’m discussing], in the feed it is [snippet] [my remarks]. This makes my content disappear from e.g. Micro.blog that presents my feed
  • Enable Webmention and Brid.gy on my company’s website, so we can directly tweet from posting something on the site, as well as receive interaction back to the site.

The first is I think the most important. The second is about figuring out how WordPress creates my RSS feed, and which plugins influence it. Likely takes a lot of time and frustration outside the scope of a day. The third seems the easiest, given my experience doing the same on other WordPress installs. So I’ll start with the first, and use the third as fall back plan.

INDIEWEB.SOCIAL is a #Mastodon-based Fediverse instance that is a home for those who build, study, promote – or are just fascinated by – a wide variety of #openweb, #indieweb, #federated and #humanetech practices and technologies.

We seek to promote innovation and shared evolution and promotion of such technologies as well as to offer this instance itself as a platform to experiment with integration and early implementations of these.

Originally registered by Jeannie McGeehan, now co-administrated by Tim Chambers

To me it’s more logical to run ActivityPub individually, either directly from your own domain, or by having a separate single-person instance (such as in my case). Yet, I can see how having a group instance like this can be useful.

Before Techfestival‘s speakers and event partners’ dinner Thursday, Marie Louise Gørvild, Techfestival’s Director, and Thomas Madsen-Mygdal, its initiator, said a few words. Thomas cited the Copenhagen Letter from 2017 singling out how our tech needs to be embedded in the context of our democratic structures, and how innovation can’t be a substitute for our sense of progress and impact. The Copenhagen Letter, and the entire Techfestival emphasise humanity as not only the source and context for technology and its use, but its ultimate yardstick for the constructive use and impact of technology. This may sound obvious, it certainly does to me, but in practice it needs to be repeated to ensure it is used as such a yardstick from the very first design stage of any new technology.

20190905_201141At Techfestival Copenhagen 2019

Technology is always about humans to me. Technology is an extension of our bodies, an extension of reach and an extension of human agency. A soup spoon is an extension of our hand so we don’t burn our hand when we stir the soup. A particle accelerator is an extension of our ears and eyes to better understand the particles and atoms we’re made of. With technology we extend our reach across the globe by instantaneously communicating, extend it into the air, into the deep sea, towards the atom level, and into interstellar space. Tech is there to deepen and augment our humanity. In my daily routines it’s how I approach technology too, both in personal matters such as blogging, and in client projects, and apparently such an approach stands out. It’s what recently Kicks Condor remarked upon and Neil Mather pointed to in conversations about our blogging practices, what Heinz Wittenbrink referenced when he said “they talk about their own lives when they talk about these things” about our unconference, and what clients say about my change management work around open data.

Techfestival in Copenhagen takes humanity as the starting point for tech, and as litmus test for the usefulness and ethicality of tech. It therefore is somewhat grating to come across people talking about how to create a community for their tech to help it scale. Hearing that last week in Copenhagen a few times felt very much out of tune. Worse, I think It is an insulting way to talk about people you say you want to create value for.

Yes, some newly launched apps / platforms really are new places where communities can form that otherwise wouldn’t, because of geographic spread, shame, taboo or danger to make yourself visible in your local environment, or because you’re exploring things you’re still uncertain about yourself. All (niche) interests, the crazy ones, those who can’t fully express their own personality in their immediate environment benefit from the new spaces for interaction online tools have created. My own personal blog based peer network started like that: I was lonely in my role as a knowledge manager at the start of the ’00s, and online interaction and blogging brought me the global professional peer network I needed, and which wasn’t otherwise possible in the Netherlands at the time.

20190905_201346Techfestival’s central stage in Kødbyen, during an evening key-note

Otherwise, however, every single one of us already is part of communities. Their sports teams, neighbourhood, extended family, work context, causes, peer networks, alumni clubs, etc etc. Why doesn’t tech usually focus on me using it for my communities as is, and rather present itself as having me join a made up community whose raison d’etre is exploiting our attention for profit? That’s not community building, that’s extraction, instrumentalising your users, while dehumanising them along the way. To me it’s in those communities everyone is already part of where the scaling for technology is to be found. “Scaling does not scale” said Aza Raskin in his Techfestival keynote, and that resonates. I talked about the invisible hand of networks in response to demands for scaling when I talked about technology ‘smaller than us‘ and networked agency at SOTN18, and this probably is me saying the same again in a slightly different way. Scaling is in our human structures. Artists don’t scale, road building doesn’t scale but art and road networks are at scale. Communities don’t scale, they’re fine as they are, but they are the grain of scale, resulting in society which is at scale. Don’t seek to scale your tech, seek to let your tech reinforce societal scaling, our overlapping communities, our cultures. Let your tech be scaffolding for a richer expression of society.

Techfestival fits very much into that, and I hope it is what I brought to the work on the CPH150 pledge: the notion of human (group) agency. and the realisation that tech is not something on its own, but needs to be used in combination with methods and processes, in which you cannot ever ignore societal context. One of those processes is continuous reflection on your tech, right alongside the creation and implementation of your tech, for as long as it endures.

20190907_120354Our group of 150 working 24 hours on writing the TechPledge