[bds] Why not just use Facebook?

[meta advisory – for regular readers of this blog, you’ll notice that the title is prefaced with the tag: bds for Bromsgrove Digital Shoebox.  I will likely be writing about this quite a bit over the next few months and I’ll try to remember to tag the titles so that you can make a better informed decision about whether to read on or not – the project will no doubt have a blog of its own before long, but till then the best place to see what’s really happening is the crowdfunding page]

I’m committed in this project to make as much as possible available via the open web, rather than via corporate service offers like Facebook – yes you can share anything you like and connect to people very smoothly, but there are a few costs on the user side that aren’t immediately obvious and I’d like to avoid them.

I’m not totally anti-Facebook – for many things I find their (free) service very useful and you’ll see that I’m using it a lot to get word out about the project.  It’s just easy to forget that there’s a downside and I think the downside is too big for projects like this, in these particular ways:

1. Ownership, Authority, Access.

It’s your material and you will have the right to share it however you want.  In an archive environment though, there needs to be some independent authority for resolving disputes and making  decisions about things.  That authority doesn’t have to be centralised, it can be distributed between members of the community, as it is for Wikipedia.

This openness will at some point bump up against concerns about personal privacy, but we will start with an assumption that everything will be open and free and only close down in response to real concerns not ones that we can imagine in the abstract.

I also don’t want access to our memories and digital assets to be subject to the continuing existence or shifting priorities of a publicly-owned corporation based in California.

2. Not everyone is on Facebook

We all know this to be true, but it’s easy to fall back into thinking that “loads of people, at least more people than I can keep track of” is a good proxy for “everyone”.  And if you’re not on Facebook, if you choose for whatever reason, not to join in, then you’re excluded from the fun that goes on around old photos.

So people can share stuff about you without you knowing.  In fact this can happen even if you’re on Facebook, but the person who “owns” the picture isn’t connected with you.

I want to create something that is at least available to anyone with an internet connection (and actually to a whole lot of the people who don’t too, but that’s another story)

3. Interoperability & Extensibility

It is in Facebook’s interest to keep you on Facebook where you might see and click on an advertisement that will ultimately bring them revenue, or keep you creating new content to keep other people on Facebook where they might see and click… etc.

I’m looking to create something that you can use however you wish.  I want to create a platform for you to do new things, for you to extend and improve what we have, without damaging the experience for others.  That means being able to link to things from anywhere, to be able to include and embed material wherever you like.  it also means creating feeds that you can subscribe to so that you’re alerted when new material is found/uploaded.

These aren’t just my prejudices, they’re based on the NEA principle – ie build things that (N)obody owns; (E)veryone can use; and (A)nyone can improve.  It will be a key guiding principle and differentiating characteristic for this project.

Another Happy Return

6709-011Here we are again, then. 48 feels so much nicer than 47, 47 is an unwrangleable prime, it’s great to be 2x2x2x2x3.  My 16th birthday (feels like yesterday) was a third of  the way here.

My mood is tempered by my need this morning for emergency dental treatment.  The pain has been creeping up on me for weeks, but I didn’t get round to making a call until yesterday morning and midday today was the earliest I could get to see someone.

I went for antibiotics and painkillers rather than immediate root canal surgery just before Christmas…

This therefore qualifies as my first real middle-aged birthday post as it’s dominated by news of my health 🙂

Otherwise, I’m having a lovely day: sausages with candles in them for breakfast, courtesy of Miss Laura Musgrave.  An hour-long massage at Wandsworth’s finest and then the traditional watching of “It’s A Wonderful Life” on a big screen.

I’m also a bit overexcited about my new project for the new year, I hope lots of you will join in – more of that next week.

To Give, Yes, but To Receive?

I had a conversation with a friend this morning that has become quite traditional for me at this time of year.  It’s my birthday on Sunday and obviously Christmas a couple of days after and I’ve come to dread the days leading up when people say to me “What do you want for your Birthday & Christmas?”

What do I want?


And that’s usually as far as it goes.  And this friend today pointed out that that’s a really good way of avoiding receiving anything. *And* that that is a hugely selfish position to put oneself in.  I know the joy of giving.  And I withhold that joy from people around me by making it hugely difficult for them to give.  I want to keep the giving all to myself. Yuk!

I was encouraged instead to “Get ready to receive like hell!” and make a list of things I’d like to receive.  Yuk! again! Yuk! I would do anything to avoid this.  I do anything to avoid being given to, but then end up wondering why I don’t have stuff.  I’m avoiding it now by writing about it instead of doing it.

Now of course, I let go of a lot of “stuff” when I went on the road, but now I’m settled again, there are things that I need and want that are associated with that lifestyle.  I think I’m cured of accumulation for its own sake, but for the last five months I’ve been a bit needless and wantless.

See how I’m still avoiding getting down to it.  It’s painful, isn’t it?  I really want to slip out of doing this and get on with working out what I can give to others, but the truth is that this is a time of exchange, not one-way flows.  I don’t have a problem with giving, I have a problem with receiving, so that’s where my attention needs to be.

Deep Breath.

I’ve got a high-level list of spending categories from times when I’ve had plentiful income and when I look through that, I find that there are things I want.  And if I let go of the idea that anyone at all might be interested in this list and might act upon it, I can trick myself into typing it out and posting it to the internet.

I’d be really grateful for:

  • a bedside table (or a TV stand to replace the bedside table that’s currently holding up the TV!)
  • a really nice solid writing desk
  • a warm blanket that feels like it’s mine
  • bed linen in dark warm coloursn
  • a thicker duvet
  • my bed back from storage
  • curtains for the bedroom that really blackout
  • a blender
  • a roasting tin that fits our little oven
  • measuring cups and a measuring jug
  • kitchen scales
  • a little one-cup coffee filter like Laura’s got
  • some more plants for the flat
  • homebase/IKEA vouchers (!)
  • a big (no really, probably bigger than you’re thinking) whiteboard
  • a lifetime’s supply of whiteboard markers & wipers
  • a noticeboard for the hall
  • a generous, dark, soft fleecy/velvety/corduroy beanbag
  • HD storage for home media
  • big chunky headphones
  • my turntable and amp from storage
  • a desktop PC that’s less than 5 years old
  • a movie-quality video camera with good sound
  • new glasses (spectacles) – last time I bought new ones was 1996 that’s too long.
  • a case + screen protector for my phone (HTC Desire S)
  • good  smells – there was a time when I wouldn’t have dreamed of going out without suitable aftershave, but I have no idea what suits me these days.

And that’s what just comes out when I give it a little thought, I’m sure other things will dribble into my consciousness.

My standard answer is “Oh nothing, I don’t need much.”

What piffle.

BBS Culturematic inspired by @Documentally

Christian just tweeted with a link to lists of old BBS’s

And so I ended up looking at this list for the UK in 1994 and thinking there’s a culturematic in doing the following:

  1. Bring the STD codes up to date (mostly “add a 1” but there have been other changes)
  2. Call each of the numbers on the list to see what response you get.
  3. If you talk to a person, write up the conversation. If you get a modem (!) there’s another project in finding out what’s going on.

Just y’know, if you like.