Now that the deal is done and Musk captured the bird, i.e. Twitter, let’s see what happens. Will there be a wave(let) of people migrating to decentralised places in the fediverse? There were mulitple connection requests in my inbox this morning.

It might be a strange experience for most newly migratory birds, as finding the others on Mastodon isn’t as easy. Especially not finding your current others that you interact with already on Twitter. The path that one needs for this is like it used to be: once you connect to someone you check-out the people they follow and are followed by. We did that for blog rolls, and for every YASN (yet another social network) we joined, and we asked people in person for their e-mail addresses before that. Now I am doing the same for people using Hypothes.is. The difference is probably that many never encountered that tactic before, because it wasn’t needed and you can follow the recommendations of the platforms who do the ‘finding the others’ for you (for their definition of finding, not yours).

Anyway. I am on Mastodon since 2017, find me there. I run my own instance since 2018, hosted by Masto.host run by Hugo Gameiro, who provides a great service. But you’re more likely to start at a existing bigger instance: here’s a useful tool to help you decide.
Zoek je een Nederlandse Mastodon server? Kijk naar mastodon.nl, beheerd door Maarten den Braber.

Come find me. That’s how you find the others.


An AI generated image (using Dall-E) with the prompt ‘A blue bird has an encounter with a grey mammoth’

Bookmarked The Two Definitions of Zettelkasten by Chris Aldrich

This is a great essay by Chris Aldrich for several reasons. Because it aims to address the absence in the current hypelet around recent personal knowledge management tools and note systems like Zettelkasten of the realisation that everything in this space has a deep rooted lineage. In response he writes about the history of commonplacing, using card collection for creative, academic or professional output. Because the essay itself is the result of the very practice it describes. In the past months I’ve been reading along with Chris’ annotations (the value of which led me to share more of my own annotations too), and reading his essay I can readily recognise things from that stream of raw material. The notes Chris made from those annotations in turn resulted in this essay. Seven thousands words in a half-day effort.

Note to self: I should create an overview for myself and here about my note taking practice through the years and their inspiration. Just to further illustrate the history Chris writes about.

Hopefully those in the space will look more closely at the well-worn cow paths of analog history in deciding how to pave our (digital) futures. [….] The hiding value proposition of the older methods can be contrasted with the incessant drumbeat of the value and productivity inherently “promised” by those describing [only] Niklas Luhmann’s system.

Chris Aldrich

Favorited Yes! My IndieBlocks plugin is now up on WP.org by Jan Boddez

Oh, nice! Jan has been working on his own WordPress plugins w.r.t. IndieWeb for some time and now released some of that work as a public plugin. Current IndieWeb set-ups do not support the Gutenberg editor in WordPress as blocks are not supported. Jan’s plugin is created for blocks. Will need to try this out (also because my recent presentation at WordCamp on making WP IndieWeb compatible by default played a small role). Nice timing Jan, releasing it just so it can dominate my weekend 😀

Current version offers a single “Context” block, and, optionally, (1) some custom post types, and (2) the ability to add microformats2 to block-based (!) themes. More is on the way.

Jan Boddez

Also on IndieWeb News

Last Tuesday I provided the opening keynote at BeGeo, the annual conference of Belgium’s geospatial sector, organised by the Belgian National Geographic Institute. My talk was part of the opening plenary session, after the welcome by NGI’s administrator-general Ingrid Vanden Berghe, and opening remarks by Belgian Minister for Defence Ludivine Dedonder.

With both the Digital and Data strategies the EU is shaping a geopolitical proposition w.r.t. digitisation and data. Anchored to maximising societal benefits and strengthening citizen rights and European values as measures of success, a wide range of novel legal instruments is being created. Those instruments provide companies, citizens, knowledge institutes and governments alike with new opportunities as well as responsibilities concerning the use of data. The forming of a single European market for data sharing and usage, the EU data space, also has consequences for all applications, including AI and digital twins, that are dependent on that data and produce data in return.

Geo-data has a key role to play, not just in the Green Deal data space, and finds itself at the center of a variety of ethical issues as it is often the linking pin for other data sources. The EU data space will shape the environment in which data and geo-data is being shared and used for the coming decade, and requires elevating the role and visibility of geo data across other sectors. I explored the EU Data space as geo-data’s new frontier, to provide the audience with an additional perspective and some questions for their participation at the BeGeo conference.

The slides are embedded below, which you can also embed in your own website, and can be downloaded as PDF.

Nicole van der Hoeven published one of her videos on using Obsidian on the topic of the ExcaliBrain plugin. The plugin is made by Zsolt Viczián, the same creator as the Excalidraw plugin which brings easy visualisation to Obsidian. I use Excalidraw within Obsidian with some regularity (I’m mostly text oriented).

It’s not mentioned in the video, but the ExcaliBrain plugin is clearly inspired by The Brain software, both in terms of types of links between notes, and how it shows them (even the placement of the little circles where links attach). The name suggests so too, and the plugin author names The Brain as source of inspiration in the github reposository. I used The Brain as desktop interface from 1997 until 2004-ish, and this plugin seems to bring The Brain as a visualisation layer to my notes. That alone is enough to try it out.

The plugin can both infer relationships between notes, through existing links, much as the general graph view in Obsidian does, but does so in a more navigable style. This I hope allows it to be used as a visual navigation interface to notes, something the graph view does not meaningfully, as The Brain so usefully did for me for a number of years.

You can also set explicit relationships by adding named links to your notes, for which it uses the inline data fields (yourfieldname::) that the DataView plugin makes possible. I already use that plugin so that’s not an extra step for me.
I disagree with Nicole van der Hoeven on her suggestion to comment out explicit relationships so that the plugin will visualise them but the note won’t show the links, except in edit mode.
The notes should always show all links I explicitly set, that’s the whole point of links.
Machine inferred links are a different matter, which deserve a toggle as they are suggestions made to me.
Links are my own and real work in my notes.

Setting explicit links (parent, child, friends ExcaliBrain calls them) is similar to how I already create links. When I write a new note I aim to link other notes in the way Soren Bjornstadt describes in a video of his touring his Zettelkasten. I make three links, if possible, from a new note. One to a higher level of abstraction note, one to a lower level of abstraction but more concrete note, and one to a related note at the same level. This creates ‘chains’ of 4 notes with a content-based implied order.

For example: a note on the role of public transport might link to urban mobility and the liveability of car-free city centers as higher abstration concepts, to a note on urban rail systems or bus networks as a lower abstraction level, to the German 2022 summer reduced fare scheme as an example, and to another communal public service like urban public internet as a same level but different type of note.

I strongly dislike the parent-child-sibling(-friend) vocabulary Excalibrain introduces though, as it implies an order of creation. Parents exist first, children from parents. This means for the way I described creating links in notes that abstract concepts come first. This is not how it mostly works for me. Abstract notions are often created from, intuited from, less abstratct ones. The scaffolding created by less abstract notes and concrete examples is what leads to them. Overarching concepts and insights emerge from linking lower level items. Thankfully the terms you actually use to denote such connections between notes can be freely chosen in the plugin settings. That is a design choice by Zsolt Viczián I greatly appreciate.

Nicole van der Hoeven in her run-through of ExcaliBrain also talks about this implied hierarchy, and mentions a higher level type of use, which is adding more semantics to links using the renaming options in the plugin settings. For instance to express lines of argumentation, and how material reflects on eachother (e.g. Note A reinforces / contradicts Note B). This is the type of linking that Tinderbox allows you to do visually too, which I’ve used a lot. She hasn’t used it that way herself yet she says, but suggests it’s likely the most valuable use case. I think that rings true. It’s where linking becomes the work you have to do yourself again, as opposed to lazy or automatic linking between notes.

I very much want to experiment with the ExcaliBrain plugin.


A screenshot after activating ExcaliBrain of the vicinity of a single note

Bookmarked AI Liability Directive (PDF) (by the European Commission)

This should be interesting to compare with the proposed AI Regulation. The AI Regulation specifies under which conditions an AI product or service, or the output of one will or won’t be admitted on the EU market (literally a CE mark for AI), based on a risk assessment that includes risks to civic rights, equipment safety and critical infrastructure. That text is still very much under negotiation, but is a building block of the combined EU digital and data strategies. The EU in parallel is modernising their product liability rules, and now include damage caused by AI related products and services within that scope. Both are listed on the EC’s page concerning AI so some integration is to be expected. Is the proposal already anticipating parts of the AI Regulation, or does it try to replicate some of it within this Directive? Is it fully aligned with the proposed AI Regulation or are there surprising contrasts? As this proposal is a Directive (which needs to be translated into national law in each Member State), and the AI Regulation becomes law without such national translation that too is a dynamic of interest, in the sense that this Directive builds on existing national legal instruments. There was a consultation on this Directive late 2021. Which DG created this proposal, DG Just?

The problems this proposal aims to address, in particular legal uncertainty and legal fragmentation, hinder the development of the internal market and thus amount to significant obstacles to cross-border trade in AI-enabled products and services.

The proposal addresses obstacles stemming from the fact that businesses that want to produce, disseminate and operate AI-enabled products and services across borders are uncertain whether and how existing liability regimes apply to damage caused by AI. … In a cross-border context, the law applicable to a non-contractual liability arising out of a tort or delict is by default the law of the country in which the damage occurs. For these businesses, it is essential to know the relevant liability risks and to be able to insure themselves against them.

In addition, there are concrete signs that a number of Member States are considering unilateral legislative measures to address the specific challenges posed by AI with respect to liability. … Given the large divergence between Member States’ existing civil liability rules, it is likely that any national AI-specific measure on liability would follow existing different national approaches and therefore increase fragmentation. Therefore, adaptations of liability rules taken on a purely national basis would increase the barriers to the rollout of AI-enabled products and services across the internal market and contribute further to fragmentation.

European Commission