A People Centred Web

Have you ever tried to leave a social network? Want to be free to move web platforms because your needs have changed? Perhaps you might no longer agree with the business practices employed by the service provider, or no longer see the value in paying for having content monetised.

Currently, this means you have to build up new social connections and can’t move over your friends as they might not be on the new network. This is a dark pattern employed by the investor-heavy digital media giants to keep people siloed, making it easy to move in but burdensome to move out.

Social networks can then add messages and events on top, keeping the money making engine oiled with an persuasive analytics layer. Other places like media hosting providers where it seems a subscription fee supports the music uploaded to the system but causes artists to lose control over their fan base.

The silo is responsive and cushy yes, but ultimately the users are at the whims of the platform. I have accounts on hundreds of websites because every site wants to identify their users. Sites start their own network; to build things on top off.

It seems to me that it is very wasteful to keep building social graphs and user account systems when we can do so much better. Instead, have the person be in control of the people they interact with, and manage the information that is displayed to them!

Imagine launching a dashboard app that sits on your computer and is independent from any information sources. It’s free of tracking and open source to us all and doesn’t do too many things. It doesn’t belong to anybody but yourself. It’s just a window where information from friends can be shown in a timeline. It can connect to a friend’s dashboard so you can stay in touch. Hey what’s new? It manages who you follow.

Web services you visit can ask permission to add information on your dashboard. Want to see when concert tickets are available for your favourite artist? Allow them to display that. Allow the event provider to display dates of the next group meeting, and the music hoster to add in new tracks from that producer you follow.

Never again be stuck in a silo. Disconnect a source and attach another. A social reader for the new generation.

October 11, 2018 at 9:10 AM in Technology

More Private Browsing

If you visit this site you will know what browser cookies are and that they are used to store information about you across visits to that website. A typical website will store a few to a few hundred cookies on your computer.

Each cookie has an expiry date for when they are no longer valid and then automatically deleted by the browser. Did you know the lifetime of some of these cookies are several decades in the future and that they are routinely used by data brokers and analytics companies to gather data on you?

That’s why I’ve recommended installing a plugin like PrivacyBadger, to prevent these tracking cookies from being passed back to websites that track you across websites.

But you can also override the maximum lifespan of these cookies. I’ve experimented and 10-14 days seems to be a good medium between having to login to all your websites all the time and maintaining privacy.

On Firefox, open about:config and search for network.cookie.lifetime, you will find network.cookie.lifetime.days (set this to 14) and network.cookie.lifetimePolicy (set this to 3 to override the default behaviour or letting the website decide).

On Chrome or Vivaldi browsers it’s possible to set these values by installing my FreshCookies addon, which does not contain any tracking itself.

November 28, 2017 at 1:35 PM in Technology

How to install pip and pipenv properly on Ubuntu 17.10

Ubuntu 17.10 comes with python3 3.6.3 installed by default but not pip and pipenv. We can install install pip systemwide and pipenv into the user local bin so we can use all the convenience when working with our python projects:

wget https://bootstrap.pypa.io/get-pip.py -O /tmp/get-pip.py
sudo python3 /tmp/get-pip.py
pip3 install --user pipenv
echo "PATH=$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH" >> ~/.profile
source ~/.profile

Sources: Installing Python 3 on Linux; pip installation; Installing pipenv; How to permanently set PATH on Linux

Update 9 Nov 2017: replaced curl with wget, thanks Peter

October 20, 2017 at 4:31 PM in Python, Technology