Big Tech Wipeout

Big Tech Wipeout

It’s been a very long time coming with so many hesitations and false starts over the years. I’ve truly wanted to commit to small tech, open source software and ensuring that I publish my content on my own platforms. Keeping the content from being used by others for attention-mongering. But the work involved to achieve this has felt insurmountable.

While an early adopter of computers (1982), and decent programming familiarity, I haven’t kept my skills updated enough to feel safe about doing the right thing, technologically. The worry being that it would consume all of my time and when things break weeks would go by before I could fix them.

But I’ve done it. Or at least, I’m well on my way and about 80% there. I moved to my own VPS (Virtual Private Server) and am running my own instances of blog software, wiki, shared document editing, web servers and more.

What finally helped me decide on this move was two things:

  1. A move to Mastodon (my third attempt) and finally feeling at home in a way I haven’t in a while. No ads, no algorithm and a gang of wonderfully pleasant people to hang out with. A shared excitement about a different way of being online together. This emboldened me.
  2. The advice to try out Cloudron. When running your own server keeping everything updated and secure is perhaps the biggest challenge. And getting my own email server up and running. The Cloudron service makes this a breeze. For a fee, but totally worth it for me. Free alternatives would for example be YunoHost or HomeLabOS.

In the end I will have saved money based on all the different services I was using and can replace with something self-hosted.

I think I’ll learn a ton over the next year about running my own server and apps. About being more independent in a world controlled by big tech. And I’ll be able to share these learnings as we go along. I’d call myself a “tech-savvy rookie who can learn fast and teach others”.

In a year or so I imagine I’ll want to package my insights into something (a guide, a book, a video) that can help more people who have similar desires but are hesitant because of the technical friction.

The hashtag I’ll be using a lot related to this is #indieweb.

Oh yeah, as part of all this I also left Twitter and LinkedIn.

Does any of this make sense to you? You can always hit reply to these newsletters and let me know your thoughts.

Be good 😊

P.S. By the way. This newsletter will also move to my own server over the next month. But you won’t need to do anything. Just rest assured there won’t be any big tech involved in sending these out anymore :)

Some things will forever remain a mystery. Such as the communication going on here between our dog and these cows.

Blog updates

Bye, bye algorithm
Saying goodbye to Twitter, LinkedIn et al. Not deleting these accounts (yet) but logging out for the foreseeable future.

Faux-tonomy - the dangers of fake autonomy
The word autonomy is being thrown around these days, often to imply that software is running without human intervention. But it still does not mean software can make decisions outside of the constraints of its own programming.

Wild Exploits, new comic by Per Axbom
What will I do with all the time I’ll save when leaving algo-social media? One new publication from me is this cartoon. A comic about digital ethics acted out in the animal kingdom.

Inaccessible QR-codes

The audio of the following video is in Swedish, but I’ve added English subtitles (click the “CC” button to activate them). The video explains the problems with QR code logins for people with visual impairments. And offers a solution.

QR code login are becoming very common in Sweden, which is problematic in itself. It won’t matter if digital services are designed with accessibility in mind if they are behind an inaccessible login.

Machine Learning Harm

Attacking machine learning training by re-ordering data
The problem isn’t merely that using biased data to train an algorithm automates the bias and repeats it at scale. The problem is also that machine-learning is a form of “empiricism-washing.”

Data abuse

Twitter will pay a $150 million fine over accusations it improperly sold user data
People told you to sign up for two-factor authentication. They needed your phone number. They used that phone number to target ads. As expected.

Analysis | Google Is Sharing Our Data at a Startling Scale
It transmits our locations and browsing habits 70 billion times a day to advertisers amid trillions a year by other firms, a new report shows.

Facebook Doesn’t Know What It Does With Your Data, Or Where It Goes: Leaked Document
“We do not have an adequate level of control and explainability over how our systems use data,” Facebook engineers say in leaked document.

Governments Harm Children’s Rights in Online Learning | Human Rights Watch
Governments of 49 of the world’s most populous countries harmed children’s rights by endorsing online learning products during Covid-19 school closures without adequately protecting children’s privacy.

Crypto concerns

Abuse on the blockchain (Lecture transcript)
Molly White’s lecture at Stanford University from March 7. She lays out how blockchain is used to harass and abuse people. Also keep an eye out for UX Podcast’s episode 290 with Laura Kalbag on Web3, dropping on Friday, June 3.

Why This Computer Scientist Says All Cryptocurrency Should “Die in a Fire”
pUC-Berkeley’s Nicholas Weaver has been studying cryptocurrency for years. He explains why it’s a terrible idea that will likely end in disaster.

Everyday victims of locked-in digitalisation

Tractor giant AGCO hit by ransomware, halts production and sends home staff
The ransomware attack is likely to impact a number of agricultural machinery brands, including Challenger, Fendt, Ferguson, Massey, and Valtra, in the run-up to a crucial time of year for crop farmers.

Social and cultural regression

The History—and Disturbing Resurrection—of Black Androids
When Elon Musk unveiled his idea for the Tesla bot, it evoked a racist phenomenon dating back to the 18th century.

Surveillance effects

Yes, Phones Can Reveal if Someone Gets an Abortion
To protect personal information from companies that sell data, some individuals are relying on privacy guides instead of government regulation or industry transparency

Data Broker Is Selling Location Data of People Who Visit Abortion Clinics
It costs just over $160 to get a week’s worth of data on where people who visited Planned Parenthood came from, and where they went afterwards.

The EU Commission is planning automatic CSAM scanning of your private communication – or total surveillance in the name of child protection.
This would be the worst surveillance apparatus outside of China, and completely disproportionate.

Svenska / In Swedish

Hej då algoritm
Vinkar hej då till Twitter, LinkedIn, et al. Jag raderar inte mina konton, men loggar nu ut för överskådlig framtid.

Tillgänglig inloggning med QR-kod
Kontakter med myndigheter, banker och företag kräver allt oftare inloggning med QR-kod. Antingen i kombination med BankID eller Freja eID. Det finns många övergripande problem med QR-koder, men jag vill här adressera hur de visas på ett sätt som gör det oerhört svårt för människor med olika grader av synnedsättning

Anton Borgström: Inga kakor på Dagens ETC!
Otroligt välkommet och hoppingivande initiativ av ETC. Kakor försvinner och annonsnätverket byggs om med Ethical Ads.

Kry anmäler sig själva efter att tjänst läckt uppgifter till Facebook
Under pandemin lanserades Kry Connect i över 30 länder. Med tjänsten skulle vårdpersonal kunna ha kontakt med patienter digitalt. Men tjänsten har även läckt kontaktuppgifter om läkare och patienter till Facebook. Nu anmäler Kry sig själva till Integritetsskyddsmyndigheten.