This week I visited Valletta, Malta. The old town’s facades have many so-called gallariji. A gallarija is a woodpanel-enclosed balcony. They became common it seems from the late 17th century onwards. It gives the city streets a distinct character from other places.
On the corner of the Arch Bishop Street and Old Bakery Street, photo Ton Zijlstra cc by nc sa
Looking down Arch Bishop Street, photo Ton Zijlstra cc by nc sa
On West Street facing St. Paul’s Cathedral, photo Ton Zijlstra cc by nc sa
Above the stairs of Triq-Il-Batterija, photo Ton Zijlstra cc by nc sa
In October 2017 Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated by planting an explosive in her car. She worked on exposing financial and political corruption, and worked on the Panama Papers. Last year October the murderers were convicted, while the court case against the political and business principal is still ongoing. Four months later Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak was gunned down alongside with his life partner Martina Kušnírová, possibly after his name leaked from freedom of information requests. Kuciak was also involved in reporting on the Panama Papers. In that case the gunmen have been convicted, whereas similarly to Caruana Galizia’s case, the court case against the principal, also a politically connected businessman, is still ongoing. That is to say both were murdered by the klept, to use William Gibson’s label, for their work on transparency. As someone who has worked on government transparency for some 15 years from a different angle, there are always some overlaps between my (net)work and European investigative journalists, the organisations they work with and the projects they work on.
A large part of this week I was in Valletta, Malta, for the EuroGeographics General Assembly. Tuesday afternoon I strolled around town, and made sure to visit the impromptu memorial for Daphne Caruana Galizia that is on Republic Street in front of the courts of justice. Because the case is still ongoing, the corruption still in place therefore. And because upon arrival the very first Maltese newspaper I saw Sunday evening carried a headline about the assassination, still in the spotlight of attention five and a half years after the fact.
The improvised memorial for Daphne Caruana Galizia, calling for justice to be done almost 6 years on. Located on the square in front of St. Johns Cathedral along Republic Street, facing the front doors of the Courts of Justice. (Photo by me)
The Sunday Malta Times of 19 March 2023, with a headline connected to the 2017 assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The WordPress ActivityPub plugin by Matthias Pfefferle has been updated. It now allows you to @mention ActivityPub users and they will be notified of the mention in your blogpost, through ActivityPub.
This is useful. Yet, I’m holding out on using the plugin myself until three things are possible:
- Set the user name of the ActivityPub account: Now the username is the login name of the user doing the posting. I recognise using WP user names is a straightforward way of turning WP into an ActivityPub client, and prevents having to add addditional stuff to the database. As I use non-obvious user names for additional website security, having those exposed as ActivityPub users is undesirable however.
- Refuse follow requests: currently the plugin allows follows, and defaults to accepting all follows. As on my separate AP account I want to decide personally on follow requests.
- Determine flexibly which postings get shared through ActivityPub, and through which ActivityPub user account. The current set-up is that all postings get shared through ActivityPub. I’d rather be able to determine not just on a post by post basis what gets shared but also to have specific categories of postings to be shared through a specific account.
I want to actively use the affordances ActivityPub allows on top of those WordPress as blogging tool provides. For me that is the ability to use the different activity types that AP can support, and to use dealing with followers and follows to selectively disclose content to different groups of people.
My current usecase for this is to have a separate AP account that shares my travel plans (posted in an unlisted category on my site) with accepted followers. The first part requires selectively sharing a category of postings, the second part doing so to a group of accepted followers on an AP account that is meant for just this type of postings and not my general AP account.
The plugin will develop in this direction, but is not there yet. I am slowly going through the code of the plugin myself to understand its architecture and choices. Perhaps it will give me an idea either on how to build on its core to create the functionality locally I want for myself, or maybe (though my coding skills are likely not adequate for it) add to the plugin itself.
Paris in the past week was far from empty, but it was quieter. Making for a pleasant visit: the terraces of restaurants and café’s were filled but there always was a table available for us. And enough traffic and passers-by to do some people watching from behind your coffee.
Coffee at Flores bistro, Boulevard Hausmann. Image Ton Zijlstra, license CC BY SA
The metro wasn’t as packed as I remember from previous visits. Metro stations didn’t have crowds at all, regularly allowing me to take pictures devoid of people. The trains we took between Paris and Versailles where we were staying were almost empty even.
Gare d’Invalides. Image Ton Zijlstra, license CC BY SA
All in all a great way to visit the city, busy enough to get a feel for the city, but not so busy you feel rushed along by the people around you, allowing us to set our own pace.
Basically on a whim we decided to head to France last week, to spend the last week of Y’s school holiday. I ordered some books from Shakespeare and Company in Paris last year, to help support them during the lockdown. This week we happily explored the store itself. I hadn’t expected to be able to visit them this quickly, and enjoyed spending some time there.
An upstairs room at Shakespeare and Company, image by Ton Zijlstra, license CC BY SA
An exhibition on the work of Swedish artist Mamma Andersson was one of the highlights of our recent visit to the Louisiana Museum. Her style spoke strongly to both me and E. We brought an A0 sized poster of the painting shown below back home:
Dagen Efter / The Day After (2020) by Mamma Andersson
What to me was an interesting parallel, despite the huge differences in subjects, medium and expression, with the work of Arthur Jafa we saw at Louisiana as well, is how Andersson finds her inspiration.
She collects, as does Jafa, large amounts of images, including from old(er) books, and surrounds herself with them. Transforms them into black and white images before creating paintings intuitively from them.
Mamma Andersson surrounded by material she collects, and an overview of a sample of that material below. Photo by Ton Zijlstra CC BY NC SA.
(More images from the Louisiana collection)