Julian Elve writes about capturing notes from various sources, in response to my new little script to capture web articles directly from my feedreader into my markdown notes. I will need to reply to it more later, but to signal I’m continuing the conversation, I want to respond to one thing immediately, specifically to this bit

Hypothes.is (only just starting to play with this, but if I can’t see how I can process what I might capture with the tool, there is no point in starting down this track)

Julian Elve

I follow along with Chris Aldrich’s Hypothesis stream in RSS and it’s highly informative for me to do so. Similar to Julian I have concerns starting to use it myself, if it means adding a silo next to my regular workflow. The type of interaction and annotation I have/do with a source text I normally do locally. Unless it can be a PESOS (Post Elsewhere Syndicate to Own Site) flow, exchanging that current value of processing things locally for merely the potential for interaction and conversation is likely a bad trade-off for my learning.

Hypothesis does have an API, which offers a way forward perhaps. A few weeks ago I added at least tracking who else is annotating my blogposts to my list of things to create. Julian’s nudge maybe means reevaluating that starting point, and aiming higher to also fetch whatever annotation I might make myself (I do have Hypothesis running in my Firefox browser, despite not using it much).

It starts I think with playing with the Hypothes.is API anyway. I have a day off later this week, hopefully I can use part of it to fire up Postman and explore the Hypothes.is API.

I use ConvertAPI to on the fly convert PDFs of my presentations into individual images (something Keynote can do for you locally on your Mac, btw), to create embeddable versions of my slidedeck. This is how I create my own Slideshare service as it were. I started doing that in the fall of 2020, and the last time I converted a slidedeck was in the fall of last year.

Today in preparation for a talk I gave this afternoon I went through the same routine, but nothing happened. No conversion of slides, no embeddable files. There were no error messages either, it just stayed stuck in the conversion step. I assumed it might be an API issue and logged into ConvertAPI to check.

Or tried to login, as it said my mail address or password were wrong. I clicked reset password, but did not receive an e-mail from ConvertAPI for it. Turned out my entire account had been deleted without me being aware of it.
I recreated my account (using the same email address as before thus proving my account no longer existed), copied the new API key to my WordPress config and was all set again.

Running the same routine as before now almost immediately gave the expected result. I did have to remove the uploaded PDFs from earlier attempts in WordPress though, as trashing those items in WP does not delete the uploaded PDF file.

I don’t know why my account was deleted or why I would not have received a message announcing deletion. Perhaps it’s an automated cleanup of dormant non-paying accounts like mine. ConvertAPI is a useful service, and they generously provide 1500 free seconds (my slide decks take about 2 to 4 seconds, so that would cover 375 to 750 slidedecks)

Looking forward to reading Data Mesh by Zhamak Dehghani. She published this book last March with O’Reilly, but originated the concept in 2018. Received the book yesterday.
She suggests data mesh, as a decentralized sociotechnical paradigm drawn from modern distributed architecture that provides a new approach to sourcing, sharing, accessing, and managing analytical data at scale. In other words, moving beyond traditional data warehouses and lakes to a distributed set-up.

I think this is a key concept for the creation of the EU dataspace(s), where combining and working with data is envisioned as not requiring centralising that data, nor even having a copy of the data for your application. Only that way, through things like multi party computing and bringing your model to the data not the other way around, is it possible to bring data into play at European scale that is sensitive, personal or non-public. Only that way is it possible to work with data across domains and a diversity of data holding or using stakeholders. In my work on a national reference architecture for federated digital twins, the concept was applied to the data parts of the reference.

I’ve been musing about the use and value of a shared annotation tool like Hypothes.is. Chris Aldrich kindly responded in detail on my earlier questions about Hypothes.is. Those questions, about silo-effects, performativity if the audience for annotations isn’t just me, and what group forming occurs, are I think the key issues in judging its use to me. Circumventing the silo, integration with my own internal workflows and preventing performativity so fragile explorative learning may take place are the key concerns, where the potential of interaction and group forming in stimulating learning are the value it may yield.

I don’t yet readily see how I can use hypothes.is for annotation, as I think it would largely mean a switch away from annotating locally to doing so in-browser or rather in Chrome which is less a browser and more an adtech delivery vehicle. In general the browser is not a helpful environment for me when it comes to making notes. I now close a browser tab after clipping a web text to markdown which I then annotate locally later.

A first useful step I do see is bringing how others annotate my postings back to my own notes. Currently there are 66 annotations on my blogposts, stretching back three and a half years (mostly by the same person). I should be able to pull those in periodically through Hypothes.is’ API, or from an RSS feed, and integrate them into my local notes or perhaps show them alongside my blogposts (maybe by generating WebMentions about them, as I did here manually). As I have stated often, blogging means having distributed conversations and if Hypothes.is is where some of those conversations originate it is worthwile to make them visible.

Wired talks about the potential consequences of the EU Digital Markets Act which will enter into force later this year. It requires amongst others interoperability between messenger services by so-called tech ‘gatekeepers’ (Google, Apple, Facebook/Meta etc). The stance taken is that such interoperability is bad for end-to-end encryption. Wired uncritically accepts the industry’s response to a law that is addressing Big Tech’s monopolistic and competivity problems by regulating lock-in. Wired even goes hyperbolic by using ‘Doomed To Fail’ in the title of the piece. What stands out to me is WhatsApp (Facebook/Meta) gaslighting with the following:

“Changes of this complexity risk turning a competitive and innovative industry into SMS or email, which is not secure and full of spam,”

Will Cathcart, Meta’s head of WhatsApp, gaslighting the public about the DMA.

A competitive and innovative industry you say? Incapable of dealing with a mere rule change that just happens to break your monopolistic chokehold on your customers, you say? Nice dig towards e-mail and SMS too.

Meanwhile the non-profit Matrix has scoped out ways forward. Not easy, but also not impossible for the innovation and competivity inclined, as per the previous boasts of the competitive and innovative.

It reminds me of a session I with colleagues once had years ago with most providers of route navigation services, where it was about opening up real time traffic and road information by the Dutch government, specifically changes to roads. The big navigation providers, both of the consumer products, as well as the in-car providers, generally struggled with anything that would lead to more frequent changes in the underlying maps (adding stuff to dynamic layers on top of a map is easier, changing the map layer is harder). It would mess up their update cycles because of months long lead times for updates, and the tendency of the general public to only sporadically update their maps. This is the reason you still come across traffic signs saying ‘situation changed, switch off navigation’, because of your navigation provider’s ‘competitive and innovative’ attitude towards change.

There was one party in the room who already was able to process such deeper changes at whatever frequency. It wasn’t a ‘gatekeeper’ in that context of course but a challenger. It was the non-profit in the room, Open Street Map. Where changes are immediately rolled out to all users and services. Where interoperability is built in since the start.


“Situation changed, navigation on”, the type of response you’d expect instead of the usual ‘situation changed, navigation off’. This photo taken in 2016 or 2017 in Leeuwarden, where I’ve been working on open data. Image Ton Zijlstra, license CC BY NC SA

(The EU DMA is part of a much wider package of regulation, including the GDPR, expressing a geopolitical position w.r.t. everything digital and data.)
(I’m looking forward to the fits thrown when they close read the Data Act, where any consumer has the right of access to all data created through their use of a product of service, and can assign third parties to share it with. PSD2-for-everything, in short)

Favorited The Small and Starting Community Tool Gap on In Full Flow

Good questions I don’t know the current answer to either.

What tools are there if you want to provide a small, still forming group, an appropriate space for online interaction? Tools that are either very easy to self host, or cheap enough at the start to allow quick experimentation. Tools that don’t require a lot of skill to self host, tools that don’t throw up a (cost) threshold that surpasses the energy and will of a just budding group. There’s this precious moment in the evolution of a group, where there’s intention to constitute itself, but uncertainty about whether it will happen, whether those involved will indeed commit. Where commitment is slowly forming tit-for-tat. Where the group is still more network than group, but already in need of secluded space for their interaction, and not yet set firmly enough so that applying fixed costs would immediately make it collapse again.

What tools are there that allow you to interact online in multiple small groups? We all tend to be part of multiple groups, and e.g. if a fixed monthly cost would apply to all of them, that accumulates quickly. I already see that in my own ‘subscriptions’, which take constant pruning and balancing to justify their total cost to myself and our household. I very much dislike SaaS as a result.

…in the past few months I’ve had several moments that I wanted to bring people together outside certain social silo’s… It feels like there is a tool gap, or a price gap, for bringing small communities (or temporary project groups!) together.

As the web is so big, there are probably solutions out there that I don’t know of. Please share them with me

In Full Flow