Fortunately there’s a back-up on the Internet Archive, but this tale of Google’s overnight destruction of fourteen years of writing is truly infuriating.
When we use their services, we trust that companies like Google will preserve some of the most personal things we have to share. They trust that we will not read the fine print.
When you pitch your tent in someone else’s walled garden, they can tear down your home whenever they want.
Two weeks ago, writer and artist Dennis Cooper was checking his Gmail when something peculiar happened: the page was refreshed and he was notified that his account had been deactivated – along with the blog that he’d maintained for 14 years.
This is why the Indie Web exists.
His advice to other artists who work predominantly online is to maintain your own domain and back everything up.
This is relevant to my interests because I think I’m supposed to be a senior developer. Or maybe a technical director. I’m really not sure (job titles suck).
Anyway, I very much appreciate the idea that a technical leadership position isn’t just about technical skills, but also communication and connectedness.
When we boiled down what we’re looking for, we came away with 12 traits that divide pretty cleanly along those three areas of responsibility: technical capability, leadership, and community.
For someone like me with fairly mediocre technical capability, this is reassuring.
Now if I only I weren’t also mediocre in those other areas too…
Dan Gillmor and Kevin Marks report on the Decentralized Web Summit:
Kahle framed the gathering with three key questions: How can we build a reliable decentralized web? How can we make it more private? And how do we keep it fun and evolving?
Story of my life:
I have to confess I had no idea what a technical leader really does. I figured it out, eventually.
Seriously, this resonates a lot with what I find myself doing at Clearleft these days.
It is a sad and beautiful world wide web:
The technology that let people make web sites never went away. You can still set up a site as if it were 1995. But culture changes, as do expectations. It takes a certain set of skills to create your own web site, populate it with cool stuff, set up a web server, and publish your own cool-stuff web pages. I would argue that those skills should be a basic part of living in a transparent and open culture where individuals are able to communicate on an equal field of play. Some fellow nerds would argue the same. But most everyone else, statistically, just uses Facebook and plays along.
Paul Ford shines a light on the solution:
Standing against this tide of centralization is the indie web movement. Perhaps “movement” is too strong—it’s more an aesthetic of independence and decentralization. The IndieWebCamp web page states: “When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation.” You should own your information and profit from it. You should have your own servers. Your destiny, which you signed over to Facebook in order to avoid learning a few lines of code, would once again be your own.
Beautiful, beautiful writing:
We could still live in that decentralized world, if we wanted to. Despite the rise of the all-seeing database, the core of the internet remains profoundly open. I can host it from my apartment, on a machine that costs $35. You can link to me from your site. Just the two of us. This is an age of great enterprise, no time to think small. Yet whatever enormous explosion tears through our digital world next will come from exactly that: an individual recognizing the potential of the small, where others see only scale.
I’ve been thinking a lot about learning, teaching, mentoring, coaching …this article by Ivana McConnell from last year is packed with gold nuggets of wisdom concerning apprenticeships.
As lifelong learners, we may be reluctant to call ourselves “masters.” But that’s missing the point, and it discounts the fact that teaching is learning. We’re not there to guarantee mastery—we’re there to give our apprentices fundamentals, to foster their respect, and make journeymen (or women) out of them. Mastery will come; we just offer the tools.
I really love what Dan is doing with his apprenticeship programme—I hope we can do something like this at Clearleft.
Jeffrey’s right. Instagram’s new deal with developers is openly hostile. It probably means the end of OwnYourGram in its current form …a service whose existence is frankly the only reason I’m able to use Instagram at all.
Why Get on the Indie Web?
In a word, autonomy.
- What is the Indie Web?
- How Can You Get on the Indie Web?,
- Where is the Indie Web? and
- Who is the Indie Web?
The Indie Web is made of people. It’s made by me. It can be made by you too. There’s no gatekeeper. You can join anytime without anyone’s permission. The Indie Web is made by everyone.
Shane gave a talk recently where he outlined his reasons for publishing on the indie web:
Most people reading this will probably have an account at most or all of these sites: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, Wordpress. Many also had accounts at Friendster, Tribe, MySpace, Delicious, Magnolia, Gowalla, Geocities. But no one has an account at any of those (on the second list) anymore. And all of the content that we created on those sites is gone.
All of those super emo feeling you posted to MySpace, they’re all gone. Some of the great web designers of our generation got started on Geocities. That stuff is gone forever. And sure, it was sparkling animated GIFs and neon colors. But that’s important history. Yahoo bought it, left it alone for a while, and then decided one day to turn it off.
This article on airships has my new favourite sentence in the English language:
During the First World War, Germany and its allies ceased production of sausages so that there would be enough cow guts to make zeppelins from which to bomb England.
Of course it was Simon who pointed me to this. Of course.
A subset of one of my favourite sites on the web:
Explore the Arctic of the past from the deck of a whaling ship.
Choose your vessel and get transcribing.
Remy and Julie are paying for diversity scholarships to Full Frontal on November 6th …including travel and accommodation costs.
The deadline for applications is October 2nd. If you know of someone who would benefit from this, please let them know.
Know any talented recent graduates? Let ‘em know about this 3-month internship at Clearleft.
Every single word that Lyza has written here speaks to me so, so much.
I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m nervous about messing up, but I keep doing this week after week because it feels important.
Get out of my head, Lyza!
A long-zoom look at life, work, and success.
I’m not usually a fan of portmanteau neologisms, but I really like Tash’s coining of the word longtrepreneur.
Tim Maughan reports on the same container ship trip that Dan W. is sending his postcards from.
I like the idea of there being an Apollo-sized project all around us, if you just know where to look.
First, towering above and over the ship, are the loading cranes. Vast structures mounted on huge, four-legged frames, they resemble the naked scaffolding of unbuilt skyscrapers, and trigger nostalgic reminders of Saturn V rocket launch towers from the 1960s.
Once in port at night I saw one suddenly fire into life next to the ship in a stroboscopic explosion of lights, before it tracked slowly above my high vantage point, bathing me in the orange glow of a dozen small halogen suns.
A scholarship fund for women students at the Flatiron School, in memory of Chloe.
Spotify has named the program the Chloe Weil Scholarship as a memorial to Chloe Weil, an inspiring designer and engineer who took a strong interest in creating opportunities for women in technology.
I have to admit, my initial reaction to the idea of providing free access to some websites for people in developing countries was “well, it’s better than no access at all, right?” …but the more I think about it, the more I realise how short-sighted that is. The power of the internet stems from being a stupid network and anything that compromises that—even with the best of intentions—is an attack on its fundamental principles.
On the surface, it sounds great for carriers to exempt popular apps from data charges. But it’s anti-competitive, patronizing, and counter-productive.
Airships in the atmosphere of Venus. More plausible than it might sound at first.
Petra has always been the strong one. She was the best friend that Chloe could have possibly had. Little wonder then that Chloe’s death continues to hit her so hard.
I still can’t fully comprehend it all nor do I have any idea how to learn to move on. All I know is that ever since the day I found out, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster. I go from being in shock, to being sad and angry, or completely numb.
Petra is getting help now. That’s good. She’s also writing about what she has been going through. That’s brave. Very brave.
She is one of the best human beings I know.
Tech specs for a spacecraft that doesn’t exist (yet).
Design fiction from a NASA scientist.
This is quite exciting: the Endnote project is sponsoring Science Hack Day globally—not just an individual event.
James re-imagines the Barbican as an airship drifting free of central London.
Honestly, if you value the content you create and put online, then you need to be in control of your own stuff.
A fascinating discussion on sharecropping vs. homesteading. Josh Miller from Branch freely admits that he’s only ever known a web where your content is held by somone else. Gina Trapani’s response is spot-on:
For me, publishing on a platform I have some ownership and control over is a matter of future-proofing my work. If I’m going to spend time making something I really care about on the web—even if it’s a tweet, brevity doesn’t mean it’s not meaningful—I don’t want to do it somewhere that will make it inaccessible after a certain amount of time, or somewhere that might go away, get acquired, or change unrecognizably.
When you get old and your memory is long and you lose parents and start having kids, you value your own and others’ personal archive much more.
The next Science Hack Day in San Francisco will be at the start of November. It would undoubtedly be a great event …but it needs sponsorship.
Do you know anyone who could help out?
Strangers on a train.
This is how London looked on my birthday, as recorded by the stationary meatspace protrusion of James’s Ship Adrift.
I love Tim Bray’s idea for naming the response code for censored content on the internet in honour of Ray Bradbury.
This beautiful piece of writing from Steph is making me hungry.
Google’s datadump makes for a fascinating—and worrying—bit of data dumpster diving.
Albert-László Barabási and Robin Dunbar are among the authors of this paper — it’s the scale-free network equivalent of the Avengers.
I want to go to there!
This is what Photoshop is for. Be sure to watch the slideshow.
Fred touches on the same issues that Frank highlighted in his dConstruct talk last year: what do we do with all of this wealth of material we’ve been collecting/ffffinding/scrobbling/liking/favouriting/plus-one-ing.
The network will interpret SOPA as damage and route around it …with SCIENCE!
A superb piece of writing from Jeffrey, scorching the screen with righteous anger. THIS. IS. IMPORTANT!
SOPA approaches the piracy problem with a broad brush, lights that brush on fire, and soaks the whole internet in gasoline.
If you live in the States, please, please, for the love of the internet, write to your representative at fightforthefuture.org/pipa
A joint effort by the Tau Zero Foundation and the British Interplanetary Society to research the design of an interstellar spacecraft.
Now this looks like a fascinating project …and there’s a symposium happening in Florida at the end of September with Jill Tartar, Stewart Brand and more. I want to go to there.
This looks like it might be worth investigating as one potential solution to the sharecropping problem: code for decentralising your data; you allow apps to access your data but you get to decide where that data lives. Intriguing.
Yet another reason to host your own content instead of sharecropping; danah boyd wakes up one morning to find her Tumblr account has been moved to a different URL.
A great piece about the changing nature of content ownership and distribution. And now I share it with you, validating its central premise.
There's some lovely Buran porn here.
And the award for Best Euphemism In An Online Column goes to...
Organisers of BarCamps â€” and other geek gatherings â€” take note: Campaign Monitor will provide sponsorship in the shape of pizza and drink.
Anna Pickard: Why is the idea of online friendships still treated with such disdain? | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
A lovely article from Anna on friendship and the internet.
This guy is sooooo busted.
A zeppelin over London. No, this isn't some steampunk flight of fancy; it's for real.
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! "A new generation of environmentally friendly 'hybrid airships' could be just about to take off." Anything that makes everyday life more like Steampunk must be good.
The Mars Phoenix probe is twittering its journey to the red planet.
The story of Professor Myers' foiled attempt to see the creationist propaganda movie, Expelled.
This is great news! Brad Fitzpatrick and Kevin Marks have built a new Google API that will spider XFN links.
Ben Brown outlines the reasons why he left Facebook: "I think it is important to note that Facebook, though they claim to be a tool for staying connected, is actually a software tool designed *primarily* to deliver marketing messages to its audience."
Facebook is ageist. Which sucks. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, you're only as old as the [woman/man] you are interested in [random play/networking/whatever you can get] with.
David Recordon announces a new developer tool for tracking status changes on social networking sites.
Sounds like Prince is being a bit of a twat. And Flickr have become complicit with the twattiness, to a degree.
Here's an API for accessing material that is censored in countries like China or Iran.You can use this API to republish that information on other sites, circumventing the censorship.
It's an aircraft carrier. Made entirely out of Lego.
Anina, the blogging model, is told by her agency to stop blogging because "fashion and technology do not go together". Asshats.