Category Archives: blog type stuff

Ello – FB alternative

OK, so the Jury’s out on this one so far.

I had word of a new social network about a month back, I can’t  remember exactly where, but since then a few more posts on blogs and press made me more interested.

is a new social networking site, very minimal in design, and at first glance, probably more suited to visual posting, but just as adequate for text updates.

The primary interest for me though is their basic manifesto.  IE, that they aren’t building it to monetise the posts, and that there won’t be any advertising.

Normally on the internet, an old adage holds true, that if something looks too good to be true, it usually is.  Ello makes the claim that they’ll maintain the finances for the site by charging for access to premium functionality.

I mean, at the end of the day, if you’re paying for it, and it’s profitable, would you need to be greedy and exploit the data and users?  Certainly doing so to paying punters would be fatal.

So, I’m going to stick with it for a while, and see where it goes.  certainly as an “anti facebook”, if it sticks to its manifesto, I will be impressed, and very pleased.

“you are not a product”

damn right.

I had an invite from a facebook friend fired over to me, and I have a slot at

It’s not decentralisation, but as an antidote to “big data”, it’s a start.


Sadly, invites for the site have already gone up on ebay, so you can dodge the word-of-mouth style of being brought into the fold.  I believe the whole idea of the invites system if done properly would mean that only people you know, and would benefit from the system would get on.  Obviously, if you want to spam the crap out of everyone, all you have to do is buy your way in on ebay.  Sad really, but also inevitable, I suppose.


Decentralisation. A Concept.

OK, the tag is probably the biggest in the list so far.

I wrote another post about this, and then binned it.  It got way too ranty for a simple blog.  It began to take in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Manchurian Candidate, and if my boss read it she’d think I was mad.  (If she doesn’t already).

It boils down to a few bullet points.

  1. If you aren’t paying for it, someone else is.  If you are using a website for nothing, it will be paying for it with Adverts, and your information.  And by your information, I mean your likes, dislikes, opinions, prejudices and personal thoughts.
  2. All the big data systems you hook into are probably affected by laws which, while good intentioned, will more than likely be abused for someone else’s good.  Whether that’s a government trying to stay in power by appealing to the lowest common denominator, or an interested third party willing to corrupt someone so they pass that same information on.
  3. To an extent, all the systems you connect up to are trying to make you use them more and more, and sometimes quite blatantly trying to manipulate your opinions or feelings.
  4. 140 characters has been described as being more efficient, and resulting in people using words more effectively.  Fuck that shit.  It means more people T8lking 2 u lyk a D1v.

So that’s my argument.  And it is an argument, I don’t expect everyone to agree with it, it’s merely an opinion, but one expressed in more words than you generally see in a Facebook post, and in far more than a Twitter post allows for.  One day I may publish the other, more ranty post, but only if I feel safer in everyone thinking I’ve gone over to the dark side of conspiracy theory.

So Decentralisation is a possible answer.  Using other systems instead of the big logos.  Try systems with no central control (Diaspora), or ones which are completely under your own control (WordPress, ArkOS) and use simple tools like RSS readers to pull together data streams which you are interested in.

And try and question what your opinions, likes and dislikes, are worth to the right people in the long term, and whether you want them to be in control of what, and how, you think.

If This, Then That

Oh, the irony.

suggested to me by my sister, this post may well have come to your darling eyeballs by way of facebook, and if it did, then it’s almost certainly wot did it.

Using “recipes”, IFTTT basically polls various Channels, (which in this case, includes this privately hosted WordPress Blog), and if it finds something new, it performs an action, again, in this case, posting for myself on Facebook.

Given my views on decentralisation, if i was principled enough, i’d kill my FB account, but for now, there’s not enough accurate personal information on there for Mr Zuckerberg to monetise me that much, so i’ll leave it for now.  IFTTT may end up making it easier to make the leap though.

it’s worth noting that while this particular recipe is pretty simple, “If new post on WordPress Blog, post on Facebook”, but there are GPS channels available, and recipes have come to my attention regarding turning on/off ringtones when going to church, or copying new iphone photos to one’s Evernote account, so the Channels are worth investigating a little as it’s not just social media that can be drive by IFTTT.  about the only thing that slightly disturbs me about the whole thing is that you do have to give IFTTT your passwords for stuff.  which may or may not be a risk in the very long term, but if the profile of IFTTT is anything to go by, that would be catastrophic for them.

If you take this recipe as an example, you can pretty much just make your WordPress post, and then let IFTTT post it to Twitter, Facebook, and then every other Social networking system you’re tied to.  And then, to wrap it up, take a photo on Instacrapgram and then have it reloaded to evernote, dropbox, flickr, tumblr, Google Drive and onedrive automagically.

so, If This, Then That.

Walled City….why the name?

For me, even before I read William Gibson’s “Bridge Trilogy”, which is made up of “Virtual Light”, “Idoru” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, all of which I would recommend, the Walled City I thought of was Kowloon’s.

Wikipedia has  a page on it, which gives you the gist, and there are some extraordinarily expensive books* on the place if you go to Amazon.

Kowloon's Walled City
Kowloon’s Walled City

What’s really always fascinated me is how it was allowed to exist and function for all those years until they tore it down.

My point, I suppose, is that once it had established itself, it was more or less autonomous, in that the police didn’t go in, and it managed itself to a degree. It was an enclave within an enclave, answerable to no-one but itself. At least until they tore it down.

That all said, once I’d read “Idoru”, it did begin to crystallise for me.

If you’re interested, check out the concept of Temporary Autonomous Zones, it’s a tad hipsterish, “Burning Man” gets mentioned in this context, and in the end, Kowloon’s Walled City ended up more of a Permanent or Semi Permanent Autonomous Zone, but it does represent pockets of the universe which manage to sneak out from under the control of normal law and government, and this fits in with my views on decentralisation and privacy.

I would like to think that some of the material I post on here will, in a grand combination of all the odds and sods, come together as some sort of Cyberpunk style thoughts.  Cyberpunk extols anti-control concepts and principles, and for many, ubiquitous and all-powerful technological presence in life.  Expect to see more of that here.

Although, there’s an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote which I’ve always loved,

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

And I’ve always had a nasty penchant for thinking about both sides of the Control coin.  On the one hand, control is bad.  It restricts our ability to function, to be “free” however you measure that particular metric, but on the other hand, we need an amount of control for safety and so on.  I look for interesting ways in which people are fighting control, but I spend time imagining ways in which the systems involved could work better, and tie into each other better.  I guess so long as I don’t actively participate in those, maybe I’ll be ok?

I can’t imagine myself only thinking of one side of the coin.  I’ll always have to look at both sides.  Of course, there’s always the chance that both sides are “Heads”.

So, I’ll chalk this one up as a success, 2 posts in as many days.

* see “City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon’s Walled City”