Neil's Noodlemaps


1 Start here


It is my (second?) brain.

Where do you want to go today?

  • There is a factory to the North: Technology.
  • You can hear people shouting to the East: Politics.
  • There are hills to the South: Environment.
  • Go West: Culture. We'll find our promised land.

If you get lost, try the map or the cheatsheet.

2 Captain's Log

^ if you click it you can click it

3 Hello

Welcome! This is my hyper commonplace garden wiki. I started it (in this format) in October 2019.

It is a companion to my blog. They are the Garden and the Stream.

Please feel free to click around here and explore. Don't expect too much in the way coherence or permanence… it is a lot of half-baked ideas, badly organised. The very purpose is for snippets to percolate and morph and evolve over time, and it's possible (quite likely) that pages will move around.

That said, I make it public in the interest of info-sharing, and occassionally it is quite useful to have a public place to refer someone to an idea-in-progress of mine.

Some more info on the whats and the whys.

4 Recent noodlings

4.1 2020-07-03

4.1.1 Resist the feudal internet

Via @pfrazee's article on information civics, came across this old article of Bruce Schneier's on what he calls the feudal internet.

In his analogy, we're the peasants who have traded in freedom for some convenience and protection.

Users pledge allegiance to more powerful companies who, in turn, promise to protect them from both sysadmin duties and security threats.

He sees the two big power centres of the feudal lords as data and devices.

On the corporate side, power is consolidating around both vendor-managed user devices and large personal-data aggregators.

We no longer have control of our data:

Our e-mail, photos, calendar, address book, messages, and documents are on servers belonging to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and so on.

I see the IndieWeb, Beaker, etc as means of resisting this.

And we're no longer in control of our devices:

And second, the rise of vendor-managed platforms means that we no longer have control of our computing devices. We’re increasingly accessing our data using iPhones, iPads, Android phones, Kindles, ChromeBooks, and so on.

I see the right to repair as a means of resisting this. Allowing us to do what we wish with our own devices - including putting whatever software on them that we want.

One big omission from the article I find is that Schneier focuses on the disbenefits to the users of these devices and platforms - the manufactured iSlaves, in Jack Qiu's terminology. He doesn't mention (at least in this particular article) those exploited in the creation and upkeep of these - the manufacturing iSlaves. That's just as big, if not bigger, a reason for challenging these power structures.

4.2 2020-07-01

4.2.1 Passports were once a temporary measure

I find this little nugget fascinating:

The history of passports – which were introduced as a seemingly temporary measure during the first world war, but were retained in response to fears about spreading the Spanish flu – shows that pandemics can significantly influence our social infrastructure.

Privacy is not the problem with the Apple-Google contact-tracing toolkit

The temporary becomes the norm.

4.2.2 Control of computing infrastructure

I had not really thought much about the tech firms in this light before - of the undue control they have on computing infrastructure. (I think the author here including both hardware and software platforms in 'infrastructure').

In all the global crises, pandemics and social upheavals that may yet come, those in control of the computers, not those with the largest datasets, have the best visibility and the best – and perhaps the scariest — ability to change the world.

Privacy is not the problem with the Apple-Google contact-tracing toolkit

I don't know if it's a bigger problem or not than surveillance capitalism though. They both seem like big problems, in tandem.

The distinction between harvesting data and running the platform seems pretty neglible, too. Unless maybe he's talking about things like Amazon Web Services more than things like Facebook?

Dunno. Regardless, cool to see both right to repair and IndieWeb-adjacent stuff mentioned together as modes of resistance against big tech.

4.3 2020-06-30

4.3.1 Reading Hello World

Reading Hello World at the moment. Subtitled "being human in the age of algorithms".

It's good so far. Clear and making its point well, drawing on plenty of examples of the problems with some present uses of decision-making algorithms. It's being framed as 'dilemmas', so, the idea that there's good as well as bad in what's going on.

I wonder what the overall thesis will be though. Will there be some call to action as to what needs to be done? Or will it just be left that there is good and bad, and we need to be aware of that. Hoping for the former, something with some teeth.

4.4 2020-06-29

4.4.1 Facebook only cares about money

Facebook will make some changes around its policy on hateful content, but only from the threat of lost ad revenue. Not from actually caring about the victims of it.

“Let’s be honest,” said Moghal, "these tech platforms have generated income and interest from this divisive content; they won’t change their practices until they begin to see a significant cut to their revenue."

Sucks that only big companies pulling out can have an effect on FB. But props to Stop Hate for Profit for putting pressure on companies. (thanks Ellie for the link!)

5 Backlinks

This page last updated: 2020-07-03 Fri 20:34. Map. Index. All recent changes.