I was please to see a discussion on ‘P2P food system as a major environmental and social solution?‘ started by Robert LaRocque on the Loomio group of the CommonsTransition group. There are *so* many great resources on the transition back to a decentralized, sustainable food supply, thanks especially to folks like the biodynamics and organics movements, the permaculture and slow food movements that grew out of their compost heaps, and the transition movement that grew out of permaculture.

Firstly, check out the Localizing Food Project, spearheaded by one of my permaculture teachers, Robina McCurdy of Earthcare Education Aotearoa. Robina travelled the length of this country connecting with local food projects, and is producing a series of crowdfunded documentary films covering different aspects of them. The latest one is ‘Edible Paradise - Growing the Food Forest Revolution‘.

Secondly, have a browse through Appropedia, a crowdsourced mediawiki site for appropriate technology, PracticalPlants and Plants for a Future. which are the same thing but for articles about plants. There’s also OpenSourceEcology, a development project for appropriate tech based at FactorE Farms. Also WikiHouse, it’s not about food, but like OpenSourceEcology it does demonstrate the way the crowdsourcing and human-centred design principles behind wikis and free code software can be applied to creating new stuff on the physical layer.

Thirdly, it was great to see from the responses in the comments that there are Open Food Network folk participating in the group too. I had a great conversation about the OFN vision when I met OFN co-founder Serenity Hill at the first Open Source//Open Society. The P2P food network/ app idea is already being tried by folks like OFN, and here in Aotearoa, BuckyBox (now fully free code), and OOOBY (Out of Our Own Backyards), see OOOBY founder Pete Russell’s TEDx talk on ‘Hacking the supply chain‘ (sadly I believe OOOBY’s platform remains proprietary). I’m collecting notes about food coop and box scheme software on the Aotearoa Permaculture Network wiki.

Finally, a bit of shameless self-promotion, I wrote a paper for the FreeCulture2010 conference called ‘Free to Know or Free to Own? Convergence of Free and Slow Culture in Global Relocalisation‘. It looks at the parallels and points of overlap between the original ecology movement and what I sometimes call ‘digital ecology’, the worlds of free code, online commons, and green tech.

Filed November 15th, 2017 under free culture, free software, documentary

Update 13/10/2017: According to recent comments in the Open App Ecosystem group, the Digital Life Collective have already started using their own instance of MatterMost, a free code replacement for Slack. My apologies for the mistake.

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In my recent comments in the introduction thread of the Loomio group for the Open App Ecosystem project, I referred to a concept of “cancerous growth” resulting from open membership web platforms. I’d like to discuss this in more detail, in the context of a proposal for another approach to running web hosting organisations for the common good. It’s not a new approach, in fact Indymedia used it, RiseUp.net have been using it for some time, and if I understand their intentions correctly, Social.coop and the Digital Life Collective are using it too (although I’ll continue to be skeptical of “DigiLife” until they replace their use of Slack with a self-hosted, free code chat system like Riot/ Matrix).

A little background. As discussed by a number of folks recently including Doug Rushkoff, Aral Balkan, and Dan Lyons, the “startup” resource model (I prefer this term to “business model”) depends on unsustainable growth. This is because their goal is not providing user-driven services for the long haul, but selling their audience of users to capitalists, either by getting eaten by a bigger fish (”acquisition”), or by selling shares (”IPO” or “Initial Public Offering”). Web platforms created by such startups are commonly set up as “walled gardens” or “data silos”, where users can only interact with others who have an account on the platform, setting up a situation where users end up doing unpaid promotion for the platform, so that there are more users for them to use the platform services with. Because of this, it makes sense to let anyone with an internet connection and an email address set up an account, and grow as fast as you can, exponentially if possible; cancerous growth.

This way of operating has become so normal, for so long, there is now an expectation that any new web platform should have open membership, and be able to scale up its services regardless of how many users swarm to the platform. Yet this norm of unpredictable and open-ended growth creates massive problems for any hosting group who are not a startup, seeking to build fast and cash out. When new hosting groups start out with high ethical standards and a commitment to serving their users (not advertisers or future owners), their positive reputations lead to them being flooded with more users than they can really cope with, creating cancerous growth in hosting costs and technical debt, and increasing strain on system maintainers, who are often volunteers. Because they’re emulating a resource model that has diametrically opposite goals, ethically-orientated hosts risk becoming victims of their own success. Some examples off the top of my head include Identi.ca (micro-blogging using StatusNet then pump.io), GoblinRefuge (media hosting using MediaGoblin), and more recently OpenMailBox (email hosting with RoundCube and file storage with ownCloud, now using NextCloud)

I believe we need to establish a new normal, where prospective users have to request membership, and consider paying a regular membership free (eg weekly, monthly, or yearly). A normal where it’s seen as a privilege, or a generous gesture on the part of the hosts, to allow gratis use of their web services. As mentioned above, there have been groups experimenting with private or semi-private web platforms for some time. The problem has been that this can feel like a strategy of “gated communities” on the web, with access to libre technology limited to those who have the required technical knowledge, contacts, or money for fees. For those of us who care passionately about software freedom for all computer users, this can feel exclusive and unjust. But just as we cannot solve homelessness by inviting every homeless person we meet to live in our own home, we cannot solve ‘hostlessness’ by inviting every ‘hostless’ person into the web platform we use.

Instead, we can replace cancerous growth of a small number of hosting groups, with ‘growth by replication’, creating tools that make it easier to set up more, small hosting groups (stack documentation, organisational playbooks etc). These hosting groups may serve networks of people who know each other primarily through existing online social networks. But I suspect the real future of this approach is in groups of people who know each other face-to-face. I imagine the set-up becoming so simple that every family, community, or organisation could become self-hosting, or come together to form coops to provide each other with web services on a larger scale. I’m fascinated by the idea of experimenting with a hosting platform that has no account registration available on the public web, so the only way of getting an account is to meet with an admin in person. Watch this space.

As more free code web software moves towards federation, allowing users to interact across different hosts as we always have with email, it becomes less important for users to get everyone they know to sign up for the same services. But federation also makes it easier for a given user to have all the apps they use directly tied into a single sign-on by the hosts of the platform they use. Eventually, we probably need all the gory details of apps and protocols to sit quietly behind generally understood concepts, like “phone” or “radio” or “television”, so users can choose services based on what they’re trying to get done. We don’t need to know anything about the technology behind television broadcasting to know how to turn on a “TV” to watch audio-visual programs, and change “channel” to select the programs that interest us at the time. We’ve pretty much reached that point with “email”, and I’m looking forward to “social media” being broken down into a more service specific set of generalizations.

Filed October 11th, 2017 under Uncategorized

As a street scientist, I think a lot about making things reproducible, and for the same reason, identifying the limits to that. Carefully reproducing a resource model (I prefer this term to “business model”) allows us to distinguish models that work as social design patterns, from what one-offs that depends on unique local/ personal factors. Also, having resource models that are clearly documented and reproducible helps us scale up successful experiments through multiplication, rather than centralized growth.

The Enspiral Handbook is an example of documenting a resource model. Having documents like this available helps people distinguish a commons-based coworking space from a venture capital controlled “startup incubator”. This is particularly important for helping groups of people trying to create commons-based coworking spaces (reproduction through multiplication), giving them tactics and strategy they can use to avoid becoming an outsourced adjunct of the “startup” system. Established coworking projects like Enspiral can also benefit from studying each others’ documentation in the same way.

Another kind of resource model I’d like see become more reproducible is hosting organisations like RiseUp, OpenMailBox, and Disroot, the digital equivalent of the bricks-and-mortar coworking spaces. We need more of these organisations, so viable, community-based replacements for The Stacks can be available to more people who aren’t ready to learn self-hosting (some people may never be ready for UserOps). Documentation of exactly what software they use from kernel up to server applications (and whether that sits on bare metal or a VM or shared hosting) would cut down the testing time required to get a new hosting org up and running. Another way of achieving a similar thing could be distributions of GNU-Linux optimized for community hosting, something like scaled up version of self-hosting distros like FreedomBox, FreedomBone, or YUNOHost.

Filed October 8th, 2017 under transition initiatives, free software

I strongly disagree with activist organisations using web services run by corporations. I believe it’s unethical to allow corporations to harvest and mine data about what activist causes are of interest to who, and potentially puts activists and the causes we support at risk. There is plenty of free code (”open source”) software that our organisations can use to host our own services; if you can host a website, it’s not that much more difficult to host the other web services you need. There are also various not-for-profit organisations that provide web services tailored specifically to the needs of activists.

Why does this matter? In my first few years of experimenting with using the internet to support my activism on various causes, I set up a number of email lists. Since I had no access to servers, nor knowledge of how to use them, I set up my email lists using a gratis mailing list service offered by a startup called EGroups.

Like any Silicon Valley startup, EGroups was not designed to provide long-term service to its users, but to serve as a financial speculation vehicle for venture capitalists. Within a couple of years it had merged with another startup called OneList, and then been acquired by Yahoo! After its founders and the venture capitalists who had invested in it walked away with US$432 million, Egroups was then merged with Yahoo! Clubs to create YahooGroups. Many of the email lists I had created were mangled in various ways during the transition process, but since we were the product, not the customer, Yahoo! didn’t care, and nothing got fixed.

Since then, I’ve also seen startups dangle gratis services as bait, only to start charging ongoing fees, and refusing to allow users to export their own data. I’ve learned more about how “free” services offered by internet companies are used as honeypots to track us and gather information about us, whether for marketing or even more manipulative and sinister purposes like “political marketing“. I’ve learned about “walled gardens” and the “network effect“, where people become an unwitting (and unpaid) salesperson for every web service they use, by encouraging everyone they know to use the same services, so they can connect with each other online. Noting all these issues, I have invested a lot of time and energy into finding ways for activists to either self-host our own internet services, or find ethical hosts whose priority is to serve their users, not the financial interests of a parasitic tech investor class.

So, I have watched with dismay over the last few years as more and more activist groups and other community organisations make the same mistake I did, turning to corporations like Google, and even worse startups like MailChimp, to host their mailing lists. Worse, I’ve even noticed open source communities like Gratipay using MailChimp. In my mind there is no reason for an open source community running their own servers to do this.

Email mailing lists are one of the oldest “social media” forms on the net, and there are a plethora of free code packages available for running listservers or sending out email newsletters. For example, Permaculture in NZ use CiviCRM as their membership database, allowing them to send out newsletters to their members without giving their members’ contact information to anyone outside the organisation. If you need the extra-for-experts stuff that MailChimp offers on top of the standard listserver features, there is a free code package called Mautik that offers these, which can be used as a commercial service hosted by the developers, or you can follow the example of the Open Educational Resources Foundation and roll-your-own Mautik server. 

For non-geek groups who don’t have the resources to run their own servers, there are plenty of hosting organisations that exist to serve their users, and that run on free code. I’ve been part of activist email lists using using a number of services including RiseUp.net, OnlineGroups.net, and of course, CoActivate.org. There is also forum software like Loomio and Discourse, which provide sufficient email integration that these can be used like mailing lists. Loomio host their own trial service at Loomio.org, and one place you can try Discourse is a gratis, privacy-respecting host called Disroot. As awareness continues to grow about the risks of using proprietary, corporate-run “cloud” services, tech activists have been working on creating new hosting organisations, and finding ways to make it easier for people and groups to host their own services. Watch this space.

While we’re on the subject of mass email, the “service” that seems to make MailChimp so attractive is that is uses HTML to add a bunch of trackers to the email sent through its servers. Putting aside the ethics of enabling companies to use email to track people we like, I strongly discourage people from sending HTML by email. Email is designed as a text-only medium, and works better this way. HTML email massively increases the amount of space email takes up in someone’s inbox, how much of their data allowance is used looking at it, and how much of the total resources of the internet are used by email that may not even be wanted or seen. HTML email also creates vectors for viruses and malware to spread through email, vectors which do not exist in plain text email.

If you want to show someone a page of HTML, it’s better to put that on a website, and include a link to it in a plain text email. That way people can read the email anytime, then look at the linked web pages when they are using fast, un-metered internet. This is also helpful to people still using dial-up connections, or slow rural broadband.

In summary, please, please, please, don’t use MailChimp!

Filed October 4th, 2017 under Uncategorized

I’ve posted very little over the past month or so, since the end of my CCMusic project for NZ Music Month. June/ July is the middle of winter here in Aotearoa, and I like to take a bit of midwinter downtime, to observe the winter solstice (”midwinter Christmas”) and celebrate Matariki, the “Māori new year”, marked by the reappearance above the southern horizon of the constellation known in European cultures as the “Pleiades” or “Seven Sisters”, and to the Japanese as “Subaru” (from which the car company gets it’s name and logo).

But I did see the John Oliver’s video about net neutrality and figured I might as well as join all the USAmericans taking up Oliver’s invitation to tell the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), the US government department that regulates broadcast media and telecommunications, to GoFCCYourself.com. Here’s the message I sent to the FCC, and I invite the NZ government and any government department involved in drawing up and enforcing regulations that affect the operation of the net and the web to take note.

The internet is and must remain an international common carrier, just like the postal system, the telegram system, and the telephone system before it. All internet-connected network operators, whether commercial or non-commercial, must be legally allowed, indeed obliged, to pass on all traffic as it arrives, without prejudice, discrimination, or tollgates. Only under these conditions is the internet is a level playing field, in which services and ideas can compete on their own merits, rather than buying influence through backroom “payola” deals with network operators.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be doing a new year evaluation of my various projects, and setting some priorities for the next few months. Watch this space.

Filed July 11th, 2017 under Uncategorized

This is a generic version of an email I recently sent to a not-for-profit organisation that runs a web-based platform for community exchange. Feel free to use it as a model for encouraging other not-for-profits to use and promote free code software.

————————————–

Greetings

I recently received an email from GratisService.org [insert here the name of a not-for-profit running a gratis, web-based service] asking for a monetary donation. I really value the GratisService.org service, and I’ve [description of how I used the service] through your website on many occasions. However, as a point of principle, when a not-for-profit’s primary activities are software-based, I only donate to them if they respect the software freedom of the people who use their services.

There are two elements to this:

1) using only free code (or “open source”) software to provide the service

2) providing a page linked from the front page of the website, listing the various free code packages used to provide the service, including code developed by other groups, and code developed by the group providing the service.

I’ve looked around GratisService.org a few times, but there’s no indication of what software it uses. Adding such a page (eg as a technical FAQ) would satisfy point 2). I’m guessing that most of the software you use to run the service is free code. In order to satisfy point 1), if you have proprietary dependencies I’d be happy to help you find free code replacements for them, and if you have internally developed code that hasn’t been released as free code under a software freedom license yet, I’d be happy to help you do that.

This guide provides more detailed information about these issues: https://copyleft.org/guide/comprehensive-gpl-guidech2.html

In the meantime, keep up the good work.

Warm regards

Danyl Strype

Filed June 17th, 2017 under free software

640px-SoundscapeHamilton.jpg 

(SoundScape Hamilton 2011, by Nzwj - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link)

New Zealand Music Month (NZMM) is over for another year. I managed to promote 37 CreativeCommons-licensed kiwi music releases on the Fediverse, 38 if you count the one that ended up being posted a couple of minutes into June, and 39 if you count this year’s Turnbull Mixtape (#5: Time to get schooled). These releases covered 35 different music acts, across a diverse range of genres (no ukelele bands yet!).

To be honest, I was originally worried that I might  be scraping the barrel to get to 31 (one for each day in May). In the end, I ran out of May long before I ran out of releases to promote, mainly thanks to the Turnbull librarians and their mixtapes from the last few years. Thanks Turnbull folks!

A couple of thoughts on CC Aotearoa/ NZ engagement with kiwi musicians going forward. Firstly, it would be great to contact as many of these artists as possible about their CC use, and how they feel its worked for them (or not). Trying to interview all of them before next NZMM would be an average of about one a week, which would be a huge ask, so it might be good to aim to get a handful of interviews across a set of categories. Some of the obvious categories are;

  • always use CC
  • only used CC for one release
  • used to use CC then stopped for newer releases
  • started using CC after numerous ARR releases.

Another distinction I noticed was digital downloads offered gratis with no obvious way to pay/ donate, downloads on a ‘pay what you want’ basis, and downloads with a fixed price, just like a physical record. Some may have even used multiple styles across different web platforms (eg fixed price on BandCamp, free streaming/ download on SoundCloud). Again, it would be interesting to find out what motivated musicians’ choices here, how they feel it worked out for them, and whether they intend to experiment with a different approach in future.

Secondly, there’s definitely enough music acts using CC licenses to put on some amazing concerts for next year’s NZMM. Maybe even a CC music festival, or a touring roadshow! This would be a great chance to raise awareness of CC licensing among musicians and their audiences, and creative communities generally. Roll on NZ Music Month 2018!

Filed June 5th, 2017 under Uncategorized

I’ve been collecting information on free code chat software for a while now as part of research for the Core Us project. If anyone is keen to join an organised testing team and have a regular online chat session, using different chat systems, please get in touch. Today I’ve been looking into which chat systems might be the best options for integration with a Loomio, a web-based deliberation and decision-making platform.

My evaluations

 Etherpad: Text chat only. Collapsed until clicked. Once clicked, appears as a smallish GoogleChat-alike box in the bottom right of the screen. Can be expanded into a sidebar, or collapsed back down.

 Meet.jit.si: Demo of Jitsi Meet/ Videobridge. No login required on the demo site, just create a “room” (eg meet.jit.si/loomio), and anyone who enters the URL for that room automatically joins the chat. I recently used it for a one-to-one, voice-only chat. Other than a tiny bit of lag, which was only mildly disruptive, the experience was good. Supports text chat, (collapsible sidebar), voice, video, screen-sharing, text editing using an integrated Etherpad. A livestreaming output allows a 2-way chat among a small group over people to be streamed to a larger, listen-only audience (akin to Hangouts on Air), and presumably recorded for later viewing.

 MetaMaps: chat is in the form of a sidebar, collapsed until a button on the side of the screen is clicked, collapse back with a second click. Each map has its own chat ‘room’, and text comments made on a map persist in the chat box for that map between sessions. Supports voice and video, not yet tested. A bit harder to evaluate without setting it up on your own server, because they’re currently in invite-only beta.

Mumble / Murmur: Mumble clients are available for all major platforms, but the default interface is basically like IRC plus voice (no video), and may be confusing for people who aren’t used to IRC. Each Murmur server can host many rooms (rooms within rooms). If you are in the same ‘room’ as another user, you can hear each other, and it easily supports large numbers of users in the same room. Mic can be always-on, but I strongly suggest using push-to-talk, which reduces background noise, feedback, and bandwidth use. Plus, the user’s avatar visibly changes when they push-to-talk, giving some sense of who is waiting to speak.

Palava.tv: A WebRTC stack like Jitsi Meet, but only supporting the bare bones text/ voice/ video chat. The interface is much less polished than Jitsi. Would be interesting to compare the call quality between the same two people, on the same equipment and network connections. Palava also seems to be a patchwork of code in a bunch of different languages, whereas Jitsi (and Etherpad) are pure Javascript, and might be easier to integrate with a RoR application.

 Riot.im: A text chat server with multiple ‘rooms’. Basically a prettier, federated, web-based version of an IRC/ Mumble type interface,  but using the Matrix protocol. Also supports file sharing. Has annoying no-reply email notifications turned on by default, but you can unsub from the bottom of each email, and the notification control in the Settings is pretty fine-grained. Overall pretty similar to RockChat (but without the WebRTC voice/ video extensions), and I imagine pretty similar to MatterMost, as they are all basically free code Slack-a-likes.

 

Process of elimination

Trying to re-engineer a system expressly designed to be P2P chat seems like a fools errand, especially when those P2P tools are the various parts of Tox, an outgrowth of 4Chan with a tumultuous history, and somewhat consistent development progress. Ring is a more promising P2P chat project that recently joined the GNU Project, but it’s still in beta, and voice/ video conference calls are still bleeding edge. It doesn’t seem like there is protocol support for XMPP (plus MUC and Jingle), which may be a smoother way to handle conference calls (although maybe less secure), but adding that would be a huge engineering challenge.

Re-using code that’s designed for the web is probably simplest approach. Of the Slack-a-likes, Riot is probably the most interesting because it can federate with Matrix protocols, but as a consequence, it’s probably also the most bleeding edge. Besides which, federation is fairly low down the priority list for integration with a group-based app like Loomio (or Crabgrass, also RoR), which doesn’t currently support any kind of server federation. The ideal candidate would be a module that’s intended for adding chat features to a web application, written in languages that work in nicely with RoR.

 

Shortlist for possible Loomio integration

  • Etherpad is pure Javascript, and adapting the chat box modules of their code might be a way to add a collapsible, text-only chat box to Loomio. This might be a good experimental first step, as its likely to introduce fewer bugs than a chat box with voice and video too.
  • MetaMaps is a Ruby on Rails app, like Loomio, so it may be possible to add a similar chat sidebar to Loomio using the same modules MM chat depends on, or if necessary, by modularizing those parts of the MM code. This might be a good experiment #2.
  • Meet.jit.si ticks a lot of the right boxes. A self-hosted version of their stack could be set up alongside a Loomio server, with rooms sharing the same namespace and access permissions as Loomio groups and subgroups, and the same authentication layer. This would provide a full-featured live collaboration environment, including collaborative text drafting with the Etherpad integration, which is currently a missing feature resulting in a lot of Google Docs. It’s a complicated stack though, with a lot of moving parts, and some careful thought would have to be given to how to integrate the two interfaces smoothly.
  • Mumble: Building a web client for a system server designed to work with desktop clients can work (eg webmail and web-based IRC and XMPP clients), but this would be a major re-engineering job with no certainty of success, and using Mumble for a text only chat feature would certainly be overkill. A minimal web GUI that uses a Murmur server as a back-end for voice conference rooms, obscuring the fiddly business of connecting to a server and navigating through rooms, would make it much easier to use, and would most likely scale better than WebRTC. Underneath the GUI, Mumble rooms could be associated with Loomio groups, and rooms inside each rooms associated with subgroups. This could be a long term solution, but would take a lot of building.

You will have all seen Zuckerberg’s answer to Mein Kampf, heard about the Trump campaign’s strategic use of FarceBook to discourage their opponents from voting, and glanced at the various “e-democracy” apps funded by the same venture capitalists who brought us FarceBook, PayPal, Uber, and Palentir. You may also be aware that a number of kiwi political parties, including some who should know better (Greens and TOP), are using NationBuilder. I laid out a few of the *many* reasons why this is a bad idea in an open letter to the Greens a couple of months ago.

In the face of this, to focus on preventing the corruption of the voting process is to miss the point. Elite interests don’t need to control or corrupt the voting process, if they can control and corrupt the public discourse that informs whether or not people vote, and what they look for in the candidates and parties they vote for. The problem is that when such powerful discursive manipulation systems an be applied anywhere, from anywhere in the world, “representative democracy” (or more accurately, temporary elected dictatorship) is fundamentally impossible to secure against such attacks.

Digital voting can’t fix this, and neither can keeping elections paper-based. Whatever voting system is used, the only way to reduce the damage caused when they get pwned, is to stop using voting to elect an elite of individuals to form governments and then give them absolute state power, even temporarily. To replace it with a system where the powers of the state are strongly limited, and highly distributed, and where decision-making is participatory, not representative. Deep democracy, whether using digital platforms, public meetings, or a combination of both (which is probably ideal) is now our best possible future.

Now it’s true that these systems too will also be attacked, both directly and by discursive manipulation. For as long as economic power, and ownership of the mainstream news media, is concentrated in a handful of global corporations, democracy will always be under attack. Economic organisations and media too need radical democratization, and cooperative companies and not-for-profit social enterprises are making exciting progress on developing models for doing this. But in the meantime, it’s much harder for the 1% to effectively monitor and manipulate a flood of millions or billions of distributed, ‘citizen government’ decision-making processes, than to monitor and manipulate a trickle of representative government decisions that happen one at a time, per country.

Deep democracy is not a perfect solution, there’s no such thing. But as far as I can see, it’s the only alternative to a corporate-controlled technocracy, where elections and political “news” remain as a circus to distract the people from where the real decisions are being made.

Filed May 29th, 2017 under Uncategorized

I recently made this valedictory post on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is joining FarceBook, Skype, and Google, on the list of corporate platforms I no longer intend to use.

I’m going to be deleting my LinkedIn account by the end of the year. I probably won’t log in again until it’s time to action that. If I don’t respond to your message here, or accept your invite to connect, it’s not about you. Happy to hear from you some other way. I just need to stop spending my time performing unpaid data entry for corporate platforms like LinkedIn, especially when the data I’ve entering for them is my own.

The truth is, I’ve always felt somewhat ambivalent about LinkedIn. If LinkedIn was transparent about the source code of all the software it runs on, and especially if it was a platform cooperative, owned by its members, or even by its technical and administrative workers, I think it could be a great community resource. But as it currently exists, it’s like FarceBook and the rest of The Stacks. It’s a proprietary platform whose prime directive is not to serve their users, but to privatize and monetize people’s need to socialize, and to manipulate users to make sure they stay keep clicking around the site for longer.

The second reason I’ve looked sideways at LinkedIn is the company they keep. In late 2016 that incorrigible rascal Tim O’Reilly put on ‘Next:Economy‘, a pep rally celebrating the “Sharing Economy“, that rash of trendy new corporate platforms using mobile apps to make huge profits from other people’s peer-to-peer trading. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weinar was on the speaking list with the exploiters running Uber, AirBnB, Lyft, and so on.

But then, lots of cool people I know are on LinkedIn. People I do want to connect with. In fact, now that that I look more carefully, there were heaps of cool people on that speaking list too, like MJ Kaplan from Loomio, ‘Life Inc.’ and ‘Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus’ author Doug Rushkoff. People who understand that the real Next Economy will be a post-corporate one or it will be a post-human one.

Then I saw the news. LinkedIn, like Skype and so many other small to medium technology companies before them, are going to get swallowed by Microsoft. If there’s one platform corporation I really don’t want to be doing unpaid data entry for, it’s a company who spent years and probably millions of dollars telling lies about GNU-Linux to protect their monopoly on desktop operating systems. As Job puts it in a hugely popular fantasy book, “This far you may come and no farther’.

So, I’m out of here. See you out there in one of the many free and open networked savannahs outside the boundaries of corporate-owned walled gardens. Enoho rā LinkedIn. Haere rā koutou katoa e hoa mā.

Filed May 6th, 2017 under open social networks, open source
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