Here’s an important article on how the Left must get ready to deal with deplatforming by Big Tech. It’s all very well to celebrate fascists getting booted off centralised web services like AWS or Twitter (that’s my instinct too!) but realistically, if the Left ever got its shit together long enough to be on the brink of forcing real, revolutionary change, we would also get booted off within the blink of an eye. Big Tech would never allow for the calling of a transfer of economic power away from board members and large shareholders, or the establishment of a democratically-run, zero-growth economy, and capitalist governments would never allow for the calling of decolonisation or real, direct democracy – not if these causes seemed within range of succeeding. I don’t think we’re in a historical moment where these concerns are applicable just yet (at least not in Australia…) but I think leftists should familiarise themselves with the issues and solutions even so, to be prepared for if or when they are.

Owning my content

One of the reasons I started this blog is that I’d come across the concept of the IndieWeb and really liked it. I went into some detail about that in my first post here. The principle of the IndieWeb that appealed to me most of all was the one about owning your content, instead of “sharecropping” it across half a dozen more narrowly focused sites and giving them control over the sole copy of all my data.

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Experimenting with Gemini

Gemini is a relatively new internet protocol, aiming to offer a much lighter-weight, text-oriented experience than the modern web. Gemini pages can make use of only very limited formatting: three levels of headings, lists, blockquotes, links (one per line only), and raw/unformatted text. On the bright side, this makes Gemtext formatting straightforward and intuitive. You also can’t browse “Gemini space” with a normal web browser (except via proxy); for that, you need a Gemini client.

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Upgrading my iPhone

After using my trusty old iPhone SE for 3½ years, yesterday I took the plunge and switched over to an iPhone 12 mini. The phone I replaced was my first-ever iPhone, and while I don’t think I was immediately like, “Wow, iPhones are so much better than Androids!” over time I came to be super impressed by how its performance never deteriorated (except the battery capacity, but a replacement fixed that) and the steady stream of security and feature updates, all direct from Apple and not held up for months, years or maybe forever by whoever keeps doing that for Android updates.

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Moving my journal from Notion to Standard Notes

Everyone likes the idea that when you put your data into an app, you’ll be able to get it out again easily. Unfortunately, the reality is that many apps’ import and export functions fall way short of what you’d hope for, leaving you with a ton of manual work to do if you’re determined to switch apps. So today, you get a gnarled tale of me trying to move my archive of journal entries from Notion to Standard Notes.

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Algorithmic discrimination

I came across an excellent (if disturbing) article today on the hidden algorithms that trap people in poverty. The examples given are US-specific, but the issues raised would be relevant in many other countries. It talks about two major types of algorithms that screw people over: credit scores, and broader “worthiness scores”, that can determine access to housing, employment, etc. algorithms used by state institutions (or the private providers the state has outsourced its responsibilities to) to determine access to welfare, health care, and access to public services generally One of the issues is that these algorithms are being used so that nobody can be held accountable, even when the consequences of a bad decision literally ruin lives.

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Over the last couple of days I’ve read numerous discussions of the new M1 Macs, including this John Gruber article – by all accounts they’re incredible! Not in the market for a new computer myself, but my partner’s still rocking a 2011 MBA. I’m trying to convince him now… 💻

Upgraded my MacBook Air to Big Sur this afternoon! (I like to wait a few days for any glaring problems to be reported on and fixed if necessary before I suffer from them.) The visual changes are subtle, and otherwise it all feels much the same. What you’d hope for, I guess.

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society. See her homepage here.