I’m trying to eliminate software and services that lock me into a specific device manufacturer or device type. Instead I want to focus on services that can be used more easily across multiple devices. Email is one example: it doesn’t matter whether I’m using iOS, Android, or just a browser. I can still access my account when needed.

For posting to a wide audience, my blog will take precedence. This creates an easy way that anyone can follow what I’m up to without any other account necessary. Writings on the blog have the added advantage of being able to be moved at any time to a different platform without significant interruption. Comments are disabled by default, but may be enabled for some posts.

Mastodon will serve as ‘social media’ hub. This is preferable to Twitter/Facebook/Instagram since it does not depend on farming people for its continued existence. Mastodon also does not require an account to be able to view what is public on the platform; alternatively a post can be restricted to account holders that have been approved as “Followers”. The software is free and open to development by anyone. The main developer behind the project (currently) is supported by donations and sponsorships. Mastodon will be the place to engage in discussion, should any of my thoughts prompt someone to respond.

Direct communication can be accomplished via XMPP. This protocol is well known and under continuous development. Several popular communication platforms started out using this protocol and then closed off into their own system (Slack/Google Hangouts). The XMPP protocol is open, like email, and apps are actively developed for many platforms. Examples include ChatSecure and Monal on iOS, Conversations and Zom on Android, and Pidgin/Gajim/Adium on the desktop. There is even a web interface available at conversejs.org.

A secondary option for direct communication will continue to be email. I expect this will be available and familiar to almost everyone.

Each of these tools has benefits that the current popular services do not:

1. Each of these facilitates ownership of produced content. This is known as POSSE (Publish Own Site Syndicate Elsewhere). If I don’t like my current provider, I may switch. I can even roll my own, if I wish, either on a shared machine somewhere or on hardware in my own home.

2. If I were to choose to switch away from my current provider, all of my data is mine to move to a new location and pick up as if nothing changed. Each of these systems is built on free software and open data, allowing me to export my info and upload to any other provider with minimal effort.

3. These services are available across devices and operating systems. There are apps for Android, iOS, and any desktop system that support each of these tools. There are browser interfaces for the above tools. I am not locked into using Apple’s Mac + iPhone because that is the only way to access iMessage. I am not forced to use Facebook because that is the only way to access Messenger, or WhatsApp because their system is locked down.

4. All of the above can be set up on a domain I own. I can completely control my “name” on the web, as well as standardize it across the multiple services.

Kari, you never cease to amaze me in what you are willing to put your body and mind through, and also how well you are able to handle it. You tackled an 18 mile run after a 1500m active ice bath and 68 miles of biking up and down a mountain. Talk about extremes! In spite of it all, the weeks and months of ‘wake up-run-swim-bike-sleep’ paid off and you killed it in your race.

Here is one possible future we face if neutrality rules are rolled back: https://mobile.twitter.com/MillenPolitics/status/933037122260529155/photo/1

Some important services are left off this page: credit cards and banking (Citi, Chase, Bank of America), medical appointments and records access (patient portal, remote visits), news (New York Times and Breitbart), software (Firefox and Google Chrome). All of these become potential candidates for “buckets” that could be offered for extra fees.

ACLU has done a great job describing the issue and what it all means: https://www.aclu.org/issues/free-speech/internet-speech/what-net-neutrality

What can we do? Make sure congress knows your thoughts: https://www.battleforthenet.com/

Today is the “Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality 2017”. I added the year in there because this is actually the second such day in about as many years. The U.S. FCC has proposed rolling back rules that would restrict how ISPs can manipulate the data stream that we purchase from them. Many ISPs want to be free from adhering to Title II regulations that require them to provide fair and unhindered access to all users of the internet connection. Most stories I’ve read have put forward the idea that, given the successful removal of Title II rules requirements, the ISPs would be free to create “bundles” of websites that they could then charge extra fees for access. While this is possible, much like many cable companies offer programming bundles today, I think this misses one important detail.

The provider of my internet service has privileged access to my activity, able to see every webpage I visit and for how long. I think it’s naive to say that ISPs would create generic “bundles” of content for which they charge a premium. I think we are much more likely to see people simply being charged more for continued access to their most frequently visited sites.

For more detail and links to additional resources, see Center for Democracy & Technology’s blog post on the topic.