In reply to It is bigger than a tiny little textbox by Dave Winer

What is biggger than a tiny little textbox, like the ones we get on social platforms, and a full blown CMS, like the editing back-end of my WordPress site? Asks Dave Winer. My current answer to that is: where I’m writing this reply now.

Mid 2022 Dave Winer talked about two-way RSS, which morphed into textcasting by the end of 2023. Now he’s looking at an editor that would work like that.

In my personal feed reader I added a form to post responses. You see Dave Winer’s posting that I’m responding to, and the response form.

The editor I am writing this in, is a simple webform underneath an entry in my feed reader. See the image above. Allowing me to respond while I’m reading feeds, and then move on to reading the next bit.

The editor allows me to set a title, keep the the title of the thing I’m responding to, or have no title. It can cater to different types of response (bookmark, favourite, reply). It can send to several WordPress sites (my blog, my company’s, the Dutch IndieWeb community site, and my company’s internal team site. As a post or a page.

Me writing this post in the response form in my feedreader.

But not just post to a website. It can post an online annotation to my Hypothes.is (the ‘H.’ response option at the top), and it can post to my local Obsidian markdown notes (the ‘obs’ site option underneath the edit boxes).

It accepts categories and tags as the same thing. The receiving site or location determines if one of the key-words is a category locally and treats the rest as tags.

It doesn’t use RSS except as source of the item I respond to, it uses the Micropub standard to talk to websites. It could use RSS or OPML. It accepts HTML and posts as Markdown to my notes. I just started tinkering with my feed reader and response form again, so I can take Dave’s question into account while doing that.

Now, the question: What’s between a tiny little text box and a full-blown content management system?
The question we intend to answer.
That’s what textcasting is for, to identity the essential features. This editor supports them.

Dave Winer

Bookmarked Commission opens non-compliance investigations against Alphabet, Apple and Meta under the Digital Markets Act (by European Commission)

With the large horizontal legal framework for the single digital market and the single market for data mostly in force and applicable, the EC is initiating first actions. This announcement focuses on app store aspects, on steering (third parties being able to provide users with other paths of paying for services than e.g. Apple’s app store), on (un-)installing any app and freedom to change settings, as well as providers preferencing own services above those of others. Five investigations for suspected non-compliance involving Google (Alphabet), Apple, and Meta (Facebook) have been announced. Amazon and Microsoft are also being investigated in order to clarify aspects that may lead to suspicions of non-compliance.

The investigation into Facebook is about their ‘pay or consent’ model, which is Facebook’s latest attempt to circumvent their GDPR obligations that consent should be freely given. It was clear that their move, even if it allows them to steer clear of GDPR (which is still very uncertain), it would create issues under the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

In the same press release the EC announces that Facebook Messenger is getting a 6 month extension of the period in which to comply with interoperability demands.

The Commission suspects that the measures put in place by these gatekeepers fall short of effective compliance of their obligations under the DMA. … The Commission has also adopted five retention orders addressed to Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft, asking them to retain documents which might be used to assess their compliance with the DMA obligations, so as to preserve available evidence and ensure effective enforcement.

European Commission

LinkedIn irritatingly has introduced a new ‘pay us or we’ll purposefully cripple your experience more than before’ scheme. Another step towards the inevitable leaving behind of LinkedIn, other than perhaps for search. How long until they get to the Ecademy-point of no return (which was in 2004, enshittification is not a recent ‘innovation’)?

Events take preparation w.r.t. who you’ll meet as well as ‘after care’ one element of which is to affirm conversations and connections started at the event. Yesterday morning an event around digital ethics committees in the public sector took place, of which I was the instigator though not the organiser. I talked to many new people, taking notes of my conversations, and afterwards did what I usually do: invite those I met to connect on LinkedIn. LinkedIn for a long time has suggested to add a note because it will help the other person know better who is reaching out and why. Just as they used to stress you need to only connect to people you met. I always use that feature because it also conserves the context of a meeting for myself (although I keep those in my notes these days too). The note allows you to be human, passing the Reverse Turing test, or helpfully shows someone up as a cold sales approach. It suggested that this time too:

In the past weeks I noticed that there was a counter attached to that suggestion, ‘you have x personalised invites left’. Yesterday’s event being one where I met more than a few new people, I exceeded the limit of 5 invites for this month (The webarchive shows the limit and premium feature wasn’t mentioned at the end of January).

Paying gets you past that limit towards unlimited.
Out of curiosity I clicked the ‘renew’ button (at some point in the past I used the free trial period to be able to see and download some specific data that LinkedIn had about me, hence ‘renew’).
The following question curiously did not have ‘no interest’ as an option, ‘no’ being folded into ‘other’.

Selecting ‘other’ led to an overview of types of subscriptions, conspicuously not mentioning any prices.

Another click further revealed the lowest price point being 40 Euro’s a month.

40 Euros buys me a month of 1Gb glass fiber internet and television at home. It buys me 7 months of reduced railroad fares in the Netherlands. About a month of reading fiction daily. A year of digital services and tools I actually care about. And the removal of a newly introduced barrier in a deteriorating platform to extract value, aiming to make you pay to allow you to behave like a human being on LinkedIn. I’ll pass up on the ‘opportunity’ offered.

Bookmarked Internet of Things and Objects of Sociality (by Ton Zijlstra, 2008)

Fifteen years ago today I blogged this brainstorming exercise about how internet-connectivity for objects might make for different and new objects of sociality. A way to interact with our environment differently. Not a whole lot of that has happened, let alone become common. What has happened is IoT being locked up in device and mobile app pairings. Our Hue lights are tied to the Hue app, and if I’d let it collect e.g. behavioural data it would go to Philips first, not to me. A Ring doorbell (now disabled), our Sonos speakers are the same Those rigid pairings are a far cry from me seamlessly interacting with my environment. One exception is our Meet Je Stad sensor in the garden, as it runs on LoRaWan and the local citizen science community has the same access as I do to the data (and I run a LoRa gateway myself, adding another control point for me).

Incoming EU legislation may help to get more agency on this front. First and foremost, the Data Act when it is finished will make it mandatory that I can access the data I generate with my use of devices like those Hue lights and Sonos speakers and any others you and I may have in use (the data from the invertor on your solar panels for instance). And allow third parties to use that data in real time. A second relevant law I think is the Cyber Resilience Act, which regulates the cybersecurity of any ‘product with digital elements’ on the EU market, and makes it mandatory to provide additional (technical) documentation around that topic.

The internet of things, increases the role of physical objects as social objects enormously, because it adds heaps of context that can serve relationships. Physical objects always have been social objects, but only in their immediate physical context. … Making physical objects internet-aware creates a slew of possible new uses for it as social objects. And if you [yourself] add more sensors or actuators to a product (object hacks so to speak), the list grows accordingly.

Ton Zijlstra, 2008

Favorited EDPB Urgent Binding Decision on processing of personal data for behavioural advertising by Meta by EDPB

This is very good news. The European Data Protection Board, at the request of the Norwegian DPA, has issued a binding decision instructing the Irish DPA and banning the processing of personal data for behavioural targeting by Meta. Meta must cease processing data within two weeks. Norway already concluded a few years ago that adtech is mostly illegal, but European cases based on the 2018 GDPR moved through the system at a glacial pace, in part because of a co-opted and dysfunctional Irish Data Protection Board. Meta’s ‘pay for privacy‘ ploy is also torpedoed with this decision. This is grounds for celebration, even if this will likely lead to legal challenges first. And it is grounds for congratulations to NOYB and Max Schrems whose complaints filed the first minute the GDPR enforcement started in 2018 kicked of the process of which this is a result.

…take, within two weeks, final measures regarding Meta Ireland Limited (Meta IE) and to impose a ban on the processing of personal data for behavioural advertising on the legal bases of contract and legitimate interest across the entire European Economic Area (EEA).

European Data Protection Board

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.