Some links I thought worth reading the past few days

  • Peter Rukavina pointed me to this excellent posting on voting, in the context of violence as a state monopoly and how that vote contributes to violence. It’s this type of long form blogging that I often find so valuable as it shows you the detailed reasoning of the author. Where on FB or Twitter would you find such argumentation, and how would it ever surface in a algorithmic timeline? Added Edward Hasbrouck to my feedreader : The Practical Nomad blog: To vote, or not to vote?
  • This quote is very interesting. Earlier in the conversation Stephen Downes mentions “networks are grown, not constructed”. (true for communities too). Tanya Dorey adds how from a perspective of indigenous or other marginalised groups ‘facts’ my be different, and that arriving a truth therefore is a process: “For me, “truth growing” needs to involve systems, opportunities, communities, networks, etc. that cause critical engagement with ideas, beliefs and ways of thinking that are foreign, perhaps even contrary to our own. And not just on the content level, but embedded within the fabric of the system et al itself.“: A conversation during on truth, data, networks and graphs.
  • This article has a ‘but’ title, but actually is a ‘yes, and’. Saying ethics isn’t enough because we also need “A society-wide debate on values and on how we want to live in the digital age” is saying the same thing. The real money quote though is “political parties should be able to review technology through the lens of their specific world-views and formulate political positions accordingly. A party that has no position on how their values relate to digital technology or the environment cannot be expected to develop any useful agenda for the challenges we are facing in the 21st century.” : Gartner calls Digital Ethics a strategic trend for 2019 – but ethics are not enough
  • A Dutch essay on post-truth. Says it’s not the end of truth that’s at issue but rather that everyone claims it for themselves. Pits Foucault’s parrhesia, speaking truth to power against the populists : Waarheidsspreken in tijden van ‘post-truth’: Foucault, ‘parrèsia’ en populisme
  • When talking about networked agency and specifically resilience, increasingly addressing infrastructure dependencies gets important. When you run decentralised tools so that your instance is still useful when others are down, then all of a sudden your ISP and energy supplier are a potential risk too: | a disaster-resilient communications network powered by the sun
  • On the amplification of hate speech. It’s not about the speech to me, but about the amplification and the societal acceptability that signals, and illusion of being mainstream it creates: Opinion | I Thought the Web Would Stop Hate, Not Spread It
  • One of the essential elements of the EU GDPR is that it applies to anyone having data about EU citizens. As such it can set a de facto standard globally. As with environmental standards market players will tend to use one standard, not multiple for their products, and so the most stringent one is top of the list. It’s an element in how data is of geopolitical importance these days. This link is an example how GDPR is being adopted in South-Africa : Four essential pillars of GDPR compliance
  • A great story how open source tools played a key role in dealing with the Sierra Leone Ebola crisis a few years ago: How Open Source Software Helped End Ebola – iDT Labs – Medium
  • This seems like a platform of groups working towards their own networked agency, solving issues for their own context and then pushing them into the network: GIG – we are what we create together
  • An article on the limits on current AI, and the elusiveness of meaning: Opinion | Artificial Intelligence Hits the Barrier of Meaning
Replied to Gab and the decentralized web by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (
On one side, by creating a robust decentralized web, we could create a way for extremist movements to thrive. On another, by restricting hate speech, we could create overarching censorship that genuinely guts freedom of speech protections

I think this is a false dilemma, Bernd.

I’d say that it would be great if those extremists would see using a distributed tool like Mastodon as the only remaining viable platform for them. It would not suppress their speech. But it woud deny them any amplification, which they now enjoy by being very visible on mainstream platforms, giving them the illusion they are indeed mainstream. It will be much easier to convince, if at all needed, instance moderators to not federate with instances of those guys, reducing them ever more to their own bubble. They can spew hate amongst themselves for eternity, but without amplification it won’t thrive. Jotted down some thoughts on this earlier in “What does Gab’s demise mean for federation?

Tinkebell is the nome de plume of Katinka Simonse – van Bruggen, a Dutch artist (or discussion designer as she calls herself). In her work she is deliberately confronting the audience with inconsistencies in their morals and behaviour.

A lot of her projects deal with our attitude with animals.
At one point she bought 60 one-day old male chicklets, of which 31 million are routinely destroyed each year in the Netherlands by gassing or shredding within hours of their birth (only female chickens are raised). She then gave visitors of an exhibition the option of adopting a chicklet, adding that all the chicklets not adopted at the event would be killed by her at the venue in the same way they would have been had she not bought them. Only 9 got adopted by the public. In the end the organizers of the exhibition stepped in and adopted the remaining animals, dumping them at the police station afterwards, and the police got involved for her ‘intention to abuse animals’.
Other projects explored the way people see pets and toys, buying dead animals from taxidermists and preparing them as well worn stuffed toys. The most discussed project is probably how she killed her old and dying cat herself (in stead of having the vet put her down) and use the skin to turn it into a handbag. This caused some public uproar, upon which she pointed out we have no qualms using leather for bags.

Her confrontational projects result in large amounts of hate mail being addressed at her. She collected all her hate mail from 2004-2008 and with her colleague Coralie Vogelaar researched what information about the hate mailers was publicly available through simple searches on the internet. Starting with the e-mail addresses they searched out Facebook profiles, blog URLs, photos etc. To find out if those people are “as scary as their e-mails, or just like” any of us. From all that material a book has been created, released this week, which shows the piece of hate mail and then a picture and other info about the mailer. Eighty percent of her hate mail originated in the US, and most of the more vicious hate mail came from younger people and was being sent late at night (sender’s time). At the same time there are plenty ‘soccer moms’ out there who show a hateful side in their e-mails.

I ordered the resulting book today. I find it intriguing to see the hate mail connected to the every day lives of their authors. A type of context collapse that the senders probably thought wouldn’t happen. The tensions between privacy and publicness are also worth exploring,as they are shown to be more paradox than opposites.
The book’s existence also raises questions about authorship, copyright etc. Those discussions are part of the book as well, in the form of essays by other authors.

Some hate mailers and their photos

(pictures are taken from a news paper article from Dutch newspaper article NRCnext on May 19th.)