My first reading of the yet to be published EU Regulation on the European Approach for Artificial Intelligence, based on a leaked version, I find pretty good. A logical approach, laid out in the 92 recitals preceding the articles, based on risk assessment, where erosion of human and citizen rights or risk to key infrastructure and services and product safety is deemed high risk by definition. High risk means more strict conditions, following some of the building blocks of the GDPR, also when it comes to governance and penalties. Those conditions are tied to being allowed to put a product on the market, and are tied to how they perform in practice (not just how they’re intended). I find that an elegant combination, risk assessment based on citizen rights and critical systems, and connected to well-worn mechanisms of market access and market monitoring. It places those conditions on both producers and users, as well as other parties involved along the supply chain. The EU approach to data and AI align well this way it seems, and express the European geopolitical proposition concerning data and AI, centered on civic rights, into codified law. That codification, like the GDPR, is how the EU exports its norms to elsewhere.

The text should be published soon by the EC, and I’ll try a write-up in more detail then.

Ik zat vanmiddag in een middagsessie van Geonovum rondom digitale tweelingen waarin geodata wordt gebruikt. Mooie voorbeelden en goede vragen en bedenkingen voorbij zien komen. Ook het Kadaster kwam veel voorbij uiteraard, als grote datahouder op dit vlak.

Daarbij werd ook de pagina Kadaster Labs genoemd, een interessant overzicht van diverse dingen die het Kadaster technisch heeft uitgeprobeerd rondom 3d, linked data en meer. Ter inspiratie en voor hergebruik.

Een ander mooi laagdrempelig voorbeeld dat werd genoemd is de 3d versie van Amsterdam en Utrecht in wording, gemaakt in de game engine Unity. Hiermee is een 3D versie van de stad gemaakt die gewoon in je browser werkt, en waarin je bestaande data kunt verkennen maar ook interventies kunt visualiseren. Mooi laagdrempelig door die browsertoegankelijkheid, maar vooral ook omdat je wat je in beeld brengt direct ook weer als geometrische data kunt downloaden en in je eigen software kunt hergebruiken. Inclusief informatie over de ondergrond zoals riolering. Amsterdam en Utrecht werken in één ontwikkelteam, en trekken dus echt gezamenlijk op.

Een screenshot van in mijn browser, kijkend op Amsterdam Centraal Station en over het IJ naar Noord, vanaf een paar honderd meter hoogte.

Niet alles wat digitale tweeling wordt genoemd is een digitale tweeling. Veelal ontbreekt nog de dynamische kant van data, de tijdsas, terwijl soms de visuele presentatie dat wel bij gebruikers suggereert. Dat is al een valkuil van veel dashboards, dat gebrekkige kwaliteit of bruikbaarheid van onderliggende data verbloemd wordt door de presentatie, laat staan als we ook nog onder de indruk raken van mooie 3d visualisaties en bewegende elementen. Dat iedereen volop aan het experimenteren is met digitale tweelingen rond publieke vraagstukken betekent ook dat er nog weinig aandacht is voor hoe je de verbinding legt tussen al die digitale versies van onze omgeving, en welke praktijken en standaarden je daarvoor nodig hebt.

Google is experimenting with added functionality to the Chrome browser that follows your browsing. It’s called Federated Learning of Cohorts, FLoCs. This is a way of tracking you for advertising purposes that doesn’t rely on third party cookies. That last bit sounds nice, but it is still very much based on active tracking, and this time it’s the Chrome browser itself that provides the data, turning Chrome into ad-delivery malware. You can opt-out with your Chrome browser, or better yet by not using Chrome, and also website owners can opt out their sites.

That is what I’ve done, opting out my WordPress site, by adding a small function to functions.php in my theme. Adtech cannot be aligned with the GDPR, so it wasn’t a decision at all.

WordPress seems to be planning to add that function to WordPress itself, starting from version 5.8, which should arrive in July. That sounds like a good step.

If that blocking is too successful however, I bet we’ll see opt-out settings actively ignored, like with the Do-Not-Track settings already.

It’s odd to see how conspiracy fantasies, suspect sources, disinformation and deliberate emotionally provocative or even antagonistic wording are on the rise on my LinkedIn timeline.

I first encountered a QAnon account in a comments section last August, but that person was still many steps away in my network. Now I see things popping up from direct connections and their connections. I had assumed that LinkedIn being tied to your professional reputation would go a long way to prevent such things, but apparently not any longer. In some instances, it’s almost as if people don’t realise they’re doing it, a boiling-a-frog effect of sorts.

One person being called out for some under-informed reactionary content by pointing out that their employer has the capabilities and resources to prove them wrong even responded “leave my employer out of it”. That’s not really possible though, as your employer is in your by-line and accompanies your avatar with every post and comment you make. Seven months after first encountering something like that on my LinkedIn timeline it is now a daily part of my timeline, and all coming from my Dutch network and their connections.

LinkedIn is starting to feel as icky as Facebook did three years ago. Makes me wonder how long LinkedIn will remain a viable tool. I don’t think I will be spending much or any attention on my timeline moving forward, until the moment LinkedIn is as much a failed social platform as others and it’s time to let go of it completely. That doesn’t mean disengaging with the people in my network obviously, but it is not at all my responsibility to help LinkedIn reach a certain level of quality of discourse by trying to counteract the muck. I was an early user of LinkedIn (nr. 8730, look at the source of your profile page and search it for ‘member:’ to find your number) in the spring of 2003, I know there’s already a trickle of people leaving the platform, and I wonder when (not if) I’ll fully join them.

I came across the Dataview plugin for Obsidian as it was mentioned in the Discord chat group, and then looked at the forum discussion about the same.

This is a plugin that provides a query language which allows me to do a few things I had on my wishlist. For instance using the Day log note to also show notes created on that day. Dataviews works by using the ability of Obsidian to insert code into a note.

I added the following at the end of my Day log note for today:

``` dataview
TABLE file.ctime as Created, file.size, file.path as Path
WHERE date(2021-03-15T23:59:59) - file.ctime <= dur(1 days) SORT file.ctime desc ```

Which results in a list of files created on March 15th.

I added this to the Alfred snippet I use as a template for my Day logs, so that it will have the right date. I use fixed dates because then it will always be a record of notes created that day, also when I look back to a day log in a month or week etc.

[UPDATE 2021/03/20] In a conversation on the Dutch Obsidian Discord channel, Frank notes that my query above als retrieves any notes created after the date in question, because then the evaluated value becomes negative, which is also smaller than 1 days. I hadn't noticed as I hadn't looked back yet to an earlier day note. So it needs, as Maarten suggested, an additional statement to exclude those negative values, along the lines of and date(2021-03-15T23:59:59) - file.ctime >= dur(0 days)

I have started the migration of material out of Evernote in earnest. The idea is to make my Evernotes available in Obsidian in markdown. I don’t want all that stuff from Evernote to clutter up my current collection in Obsidian, so I am creating a second Obsidian Vault, in which all Evernote exported material will reside. This way it is available in Obsidian, but separate from the more organised material.

The route to getting there is:

  1. Exporting Evernote notebooks 1 by 1 as ENEX file (Evernote’s xml format)
  2. Importing each ENEX file into Joplin as markdown as a separate notebook. Joplin is a well working note making app in its own right. Here I use it solely to translate ENEX files to markdown.
  3. Exporting the Joplin notebook as markdown to the location of the Obsidian Vault

I notice that sometimes importing ENEX doesn’t work perfectly. Usually because of some special characters used in a note or title of a note, sometimes because of the included images etc. Sometimes doing it again fixes it. Sometimes it isn’t. I’m not worried about that. I have the ENEX files available as archive, and can search them as well. Also none of it will likely be critical information, as I haven’t been missing it in the past 8 months or so that I didn’t use Evernote.
[UPDATE: What helps to fix imports into Joplin is removing large PDF’s included in Evernotes, as well as removing special characters from note titles (specifically underscores and commas, and adding titles to unnamed notes.]
[UPDATE 2: All material is now exported from Evernote, transformed in Joplin and exported again as regular markdown]

Having done this export / import, this completes my withdrawal from Evernote after I stopped using it last September, something I wanted to do since 2016 at least. I need to cancel my subscription by June, and will delete the notes in Evernote beforehand. Judging by my subscription history I have used exactly 10 years, from October 2010 to September 2020.