Fake News Is Just The Beginning

in the area of fake news](http://boingboing.net/2017/08/04/fbi-tracked-fake-news.html), but I wanted to explore some of the other fake I’m coming across in my regular monitoring of the news.

We’ve seen folks having an increasing number of conversations with fake accounts, and services working to tackle fake influencers on their platforms. Facebook is working hard to tackle fake ads using AI, and Google is busy running tests to identify fake advertising. Wells Fargo is artfully crafting a fake world where customers get fake bank accounts they never wanted, and receiving fake insurance they don’t know they have. You come across fake photos, fake customers, fake dating, and fake currencies.

Fake news is just one symptom in a fast spreading epidemic. The Internet excels at everything fake. A small portion of world has figured out how to amplify their message with everything fake online. Opposing forces are lining up to assist us with fake literacy, developing courses on how to spot all the fake things, and helping us developer strategies, frameworks, and processes for identifying and dealing with fake news and other aspects of our digital world. Both sides of the coin are gearing up to wage a fake war, with much of it funded by a fundamental component of the web these days–advertising. Google, Twitter, and Facebook are all tailored for this type of behavior, allowing everything fake to morph, evolve, and continuing to make a negative impact online.


Reducing Developers To A Transaction With APIs, Microservices, Serverless, Devops, and the Blockchain

A topic that keeps coming up in discussions with my partner in crime Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) about our podcast is around the future of labor in an API world. I have not written anything about this, which means I’m still in early stages of any research into this area, but it has come up in conversation, and reflected regularly in my monitoring of the API space, I need to begin working through my ideas in this area. A process that helps me better see what is coming down the API pipes, and fill the gaps in what I do not know.

Audrey has long joked about my API world using a simple phrase: “reducing everything to a transaction”. She says it mostly in jest, but other times I feel like she wields it as the Cassandra she channels. I actually bring up the phrase more than she does, because it is something I regularly find myself working in the service of as the API Evangelist. By taking a pro API stance I am actively working to reduce legacy business, institutional, and government processes down and breaking them down into a variety of individual tasks, or if you see things through a commercial lens, transactions.

Microservices
A microservices philosophy is all about breaking down monoliths into small bite size chunks, so they can be transacted independently, scaled, evolved, and deprecated in isolation. Microservices should do one thing, and do it well (no backtalk). Microservices should do what it does as efficiently as possible, with as few dependencies as possible. Microservices are self-contained, self-sufficient, and have everything they need to get the job done under a single definition of a service (a real John Wayne of compute). And of course, everything has an API. Microservices aren’t just about decoupling the technology, they are are about decoupling the business, and the politics of doing business within SMB, SME, enterprises, institutions, and government agencies–the philosophy for reducing everything to a transaction.

Containers
A microservice way of thinking about software that is born in the clouds, a bi-product of virtualization and API-ization of IT resources like storage and compute. In the last decade, as IT services moved from the basement of companies into the cloud, a new approach to delivering the compute, storage, and scalability needed to drive this new microservices way of doing business emerged that was called containers. In 2017 businesses are being containerized. The enterprise monolith is being reduced down to small transactions, putting the technology, business, and politics of each business transaction into a single container, for more efficient development, deployment, scaling, and management. Containers are the vehicle moving the microservices philosophy forward–the virtualized embodiment of reducing everything to a transaction.

Serverless
Alongside a microservice way of life, driven by containerization, is another technological trend (undertow) called serverless. With the entire IT backend being virtualized in the cloud, the notion of the server is disappearing, lightening the load for developers in their quest for containerizing everything, turning the business landscape into microservices, than can be distilled down to a single, simple, executable, scalable function. Serverless is the codified conveyor belt of transactions rolling by each worker on the factory floor. Each slot on a containerized, serverless, microservices factory floor possessing a single script or function, allowing each transaction to be executed, and replicated allowing it to be applied over and over, scaled, and fixed as needed. Serverless is the big metal stamping station along a multidimensional digital factory assembly line.

DevOps
Living in microservices land, with everything neatly in containers, being assembled, developed, and wrenched on by developers, you are increasingly given more (or less) control over the conveyor belt that rolls by you on the factory floor. As a transaction developer you are given the ability to change direction of your conveyor belt, speed things up, apply one or many metal stamp templates, and orchestrate as much, or as little of the transaction supply chain as you can keep up with (meritocracy 5.3.4). Some transaction developers will be closer to the title of architect, understanding larger portions of the transaction supply chain, while most will be specialized, applying one or a handful of transaction templates, with no training or awareness of the bigger picture, simply pulling the Devops knobs and levers within their reach.

Blockchain
Another trend (undertow) that has been building for sometime, that I have managed to ignore as much as I can (until recently) is the blockchain. Blockchain and the emergence of API driven smart contracts has brought the technology front and center for me, making it something i can ignore, as I see signs that each API transaction will soon be put in the blockchain. The blockchain appears to becoming the decentralized (ha!) and encrypted manifestation of what many of us has been calling the API contract for years. I am seeing movements from all the major cloud providers, and lesser known API providers to ensure that all transactions are put into the blockchain, providing a record of everything that flows through API pipes, and has been decoupled, containerized, rendered as serverless, and available for devops orchestration.

Ignorance of Labor
I am not an expert in labor, unions, and markets. Hell, I still haven’t even finished my Marx and Engels Reader. But, I know enough to be able to see that us developers are fucking ourselves right now. Our quest to reduce everything to a transaction, decouple all the things, and containerize and render them serverless makes us the perfect tool(s) for some pretty dark working conditions. Sure, some of us will have the bigger picture, and make a decent living being architects. The rest of us will become digital assembly line workers, stamping, maintaining a handful of services that do one thing and do it well. We will be completely unaware of dependencies, or how things are orchestrated, barely able to stay afloat, pay the bills, leaving us thankful for any transactions sent our way.

Think of this frontline in terms of Amazon Mechanical Turk + API + Microservices + Containers + Serverless + Blockhain. There is a reason young developers make for good soldiers on this front line. Lack of awareness of history. Lack of awareness of labor. Makes great digital factory floor workers, stamping transactions for reuse elsewhere in the digital assembly line process. This model will fit well with current Silicon Valley culture. There will still be enough opportunity in this environment for architects and cybersecurity theater conductors to make money, exploit, and generate wealth. Without the defense of unions, government or institutions, us developers will find ourselves reduced to transactions, stamping out other transactions on the digital assembly line floor.

I know you think your savvy. I used to think this too. Then after having the rug pulled out from under me, and the game changed around me by business partners, investors, and other actors who were playing a game I’m not familiar with, I have become more critical. You can look around the landscape right now and see numerous ways in which power has set its sights on the web, and completely distorting any notion of the web being democratic, open, inclusive, or safe environment. Why do us developers think it will be any different wit us? Oh yeah, privilege.


Randomize IoT Device Username And Password By Default

I am totally hooked on POLITICO’s Morning Cybersecurity email. I’m not an email newsletter guy, but this is government cybersecurity wonky enough to keep me engaged each day. One of the bits that recently grabbed my attention was regarding what should be considered Internet of Things common sense.

New America’s Open Technology Institute argued that IoT device makers should start equipping their products with basic security from the start - including by randomizing each device’s default username and password, making it much harder for hackers to locate and take over poorly configured devices. “The ability to modify login credentials should not be taken as a replacement for the implementation, where possible, of unique passwords for every device sold,” OTI wrote. Also on the common-sense front, OTI said that IoT devices “must be designed in such a way that they can be patched or updated.”

I wish this was the default for ANYTHING we connect to the Internet. I wish that IoT manufacturers would make this the default without the government stepping in. I’m guessing there is more money in selling insecure devices, and defending against them, then actually securing Internet connected devices in the first place. From the number of breaches I’m tracking on each week, I’m guessing business will be good for a small handful of Internet of Things manufacturers in this climate.


The Reliability Of Government Data Over Externally Managed Data Sets

When I worked at the Department of Veterans affairs I was approached by a number of folks, external to the federal government, who wanted to help clean up, work with, and improve public data sets when it came to open data efforts in the federal government. As I was working on specific datasets about veteran facilities, organizations, programs, services, and other datasets that would make a potential impact on a veterans lives I would often suggest publishing CSVs to Github, and solicit the help of the public to validate, and manage data out in the open. Something that was almost always shut down when I brought the topic up within anyone in leadership.

The common stance regarding the public participating in acquiring, managing, and cleaning up data using Github was–NO! The federal government was the authority when it came providing data. It would own the entire process, and would be the only gatekeeper for accessing it. A couple of datasets that came up were the information for suicide assistance, and substance abuse clinic support, which I had on the ground local folks at clinics, and veteran support groups wanting to help. I was told there would be no way I could get approval to help crowdsource the evolution of data sets, that all data would be stored, maintained, and made available via VA servers.

As I waded through a significant number of links that returned 404, as part of my talk about the state of APIs in federal government last week, I’m reminded once again of the reliability of federal government datasets. I’m finding a significant number of APIs, datasets, and supporting documentation go missing. This has me looking for any existing examples of how the federal government can better publish, share, syndicate, and manage data in an interoperable way. Efforts like the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), which “is a common vocabulary that enables efficient information exchange across diverse public and private organizations. NIEM can save time and money by providing consistent, reusable data terms and definitions, and repeatable processes.”

Another aspect of this conversation I’ll be exploring further, is the role Github plays in all this. There are 130+ federal agency Github users / organizations on the platform, and I’d like to see how this usage might contribute to federal agencies being more engaged, and managing the uptime, availability, and reliability of data, code, APIs, and other resources coming out of the federal government. I am looking for any positive examples of federal agencies leveraging external cloud services, and private sector partnership opportunities to make data, content, and other resources more available and reliable for public consumption. Let me know any other angles you’d like to see highlighted as part of my federal government data and API research.


The Bungee Cord Connecting The Cult Of Always Being Ahead To Always Being Left Behind

</p>I sit at a fascinating vantage point of our reality, where my career is centered around highlighting the unrealistic stories that arise around our use of technology, and my personal life is still very much connected with my rural upbringing where I am seeing many side effects of a population that has been “left behind”. I spend my days studying technology and how it is being wielded to influence and control people, while pushing back some guilt, and many frustrations about how this world is impacting my friends and family.

Audrey and I call the umbrella company for Hack Education and API Evangelist, Contrafabulists – the definition for fabulists is, “a person who composes or relates fables. a liar, especially a person who invents elaborate, dishonest stories”. We work to be contra-fabulists for technology. Pushing back on the stories, myths, and outright lies that get told around what is possible with Internet technology. We spend each day trying to understand how technology is being used to mislead and obfuscate much of what is going on across almost every industry, including how our government operates, or more importantly does not operate on behalf of the people. While there is a number of interesting things going on in the world of technology, there are also a number of forces growing in strength, who have less than honorably intention regarding how technology is used.

When it comes to technology we often feel like we are on this fast moving conveyor belt enabled by technology changing everything around us in ways that we’ve never seen before! The world is moving fast! You have to keep up! Or you will be left behind! When you actually step off the conveyor belt, step back on, step back off, and repeat for a number of years, you kind of see that the conveyor belt is just a tech themed amusement park ride that is bullshitting you in almost every area. Don’t get me wrong, the ride is moving, but it is moving in circles, often around a pre-planned paths, with heavy amounts of storytelling and smoke blowing–you know VR, AR, AI. Everything is moving, but much of what we are experiencing is just a carefully crafted theme park experience.

When I return to the personal side of my world, and begin think about make the long trek back home to hang with friends and family, I’m reminded of the rural effects of this theme park ride we’ve put everyone on. When I switch back and forth between these realities the bungee cord tying the two worlds becomes more apparent. The lies about social, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and the all knowing qualities of code on what side, pushing, pulling, confusing, and manipulating those on the other side of the spectrum. You fabricate a grand story of what algorithms and artificial intelligence can do on one side to sell some amazing new advertising services to your customers, and you are messing with people’s realities, feeding them false information on top of of an already information starved diet at the other end–allowing old and new stereotypes, prejudices, and myths to flourish in this magical new world we’ve created for ourselves.

I am working to shine a light into the algorithmic black boxes that are driving much of world, helping distill down the magic of VR, AR, AI, and API into meaningful things that business can actually invest in and depend upon, minimizing the damage of snake oil salesman peddling their warez. While on the other side of my reality I am faced wit having to have discussions about whether wifi is not more damaging than the metropolitan area networks (MAN) wireless technologies that are already around your house, that those shootings in Florida, Paris, and 20 miles down the road from you were real, as well as that Auschwitz place in Germany as well the moon are both actually very, very real things. While miles apart, there is a bungee cord connecting these two worlds, and as some folks are cashing in, others realities are closing in on them and becoming a very, very scary place.

Photo Credits: Alessandro Caproni (pre algorotoscope filter)


Internet Connectivity As A Poster Child For How Markets Work Things Out

I have a number of friends who worship markets, and love to tell me that we should be allowing them to just work things out. They truly believe in the magical powers of markets, that they are great equalizers, and work out all the worlds problems each day. ALL the folks who tell me this are dudes, with 90% being white dudes. From their privileged vantage point, markets are what brings balance and truth to everything–may the best man win. Survival of the fittest. May the best product win, and all that that delusion.

From my vantage point markets work things out for business leaders. Markets do not work things out for people. Markets don’t care about people with disabilities. Markets don’t see education and healthcare any differently than it sees financial products and commodities–it just works to find the most profit it possibly can. Markets work so diligent and blindly towards this goal, it will even do this to its own detriment, while believers think this is just how things should be–the markets decided.

I see Internet connectivity as a great example of markets working things out. We’ve seen consolidation of network connections into the hands of a few cable and telco giants. These market forces are looking to work things out and squeeze every bit of profit out of it’s networks that it can, completely ignoring the opportunities that are available when the networks operate at scale, and freely operate to protect everyone’s benefits. Instead of paying attention to the bigger picture, these Internet gatekeepers are all about squeezing every nickel they can for every bit of bandwidth that is currently being transmitted over the network.

The markets that are working the Internet out do not care if the bits on the network are from a school, a hospital, or you playing an online game and watching videos–it just wants to meter and throttle them. It may care just enough to understand where it can possible charge more because it is a matter of life or death, or it is your child’s education, so you are willing to pay more, but as far as actually equipping our world with quality Internet–it could care less. Cable providers and telco operators are in the profit making business, using the network that drives the Internet, even at the cost of the future–this is how short sighted markets are.

AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast do not care about the United States remaining competitive in a global environment. They care about profits. AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast do not care about folks in rural areas possessing quality broadband to remain competitive with metropolitan areas. They care about profits. In these games, markets may work things out between big companies, deciding who wins and loses, but markets do not work things out for people who live in rural areas, or depend on Internet for education and healthcare. Markets do not work things out for people, they work things out for businesses, and the handful of people who operate these businesses.

So, when you tell me that I should trust that markets will work things out, you are showing me that you do not care about people. Except for those handful of business owners who are hoping you will some day be in the club with. Markets rarely ever work things out for average people, let alone people of color, with disabilities, and beyond. When you tell me about the magic of markets, you are demonstrating to me that you don’t see these layers of society. Which demonstrates your privilege, your lack of empathy for the humans around you, while also demonstrating how truly sad your life must be, because it is lacking in meaningful interactions with a diverse slice of the life we are living on this amazing planet.


Opting In/Out To Sharing Our Data Through Partnerships

I was logging into the Twitter web application for my @apievangelist account, and got a popup about their terms of service changes regarding sharing data with partners. While far from the world of privacy and data ownership I see in my head, it is a step in the right direction.

If you go under your Twitter privacy and safety, then scroll down until you see personalization and data, then click on edit–you will find a section about how they use your data to personalize, and share data with partners. The page just gives you a list of six checkbox you can turn off, or on, one of which let’s you have a say in whether or not Twitter shares your data with select partners. It is an important look into how we need to be seeing people’s digital data, and asking them if it is ok to share with partners.

I’d like to see a full dashboard, with more detail about EVERY way our data is used, and even some revenue share opportunities for users who do opt in. I know I’m crazy, but I think it makes sense if we want healthier online ecosystem. End users need to be included in the conversation. They need to be made aware of the data we track on them, and how we are sharing, selling, or doing anything else with our personal data. It is just the right thing to be doing.

Anyways, I went in and turned off all my settings. I’m not really interested in having Twitter personalize ads, personalize based on your apps, personalize across all your devices, personalize based on the places you’ve been, track where you see Twitter content across the web, or share data through select partnerships without me getting a piece of the action. Sorry I’m running a business here. Tweets are the exhaust from my business performance on the web each day, and it is important to me to retain as much control over my work.

I’m hoping Twitter keeps investing in this area of their settings. Maybe the personalization and data section can expand and even gain a more prominent place in the Twitter settings area. I’m thankful they have given me this settings, and it is something I would like to see from EVERY platform that I use, giving me more awareness and control over how my data is used. Maybe we could also start sharing notes on how to do it, so that we can expect consistent things from the tools we depend on each day–that would be way cool!


I Deleted All My Tweets Before 2017

Continuing the grooming of my digital self, I’ve deleted all my Tweets prior to 2017. These tweets offer almost no beneft to my traffic to my site, or the sales of my content, products, and services. They do contain many things that could be taken out of context, and potentially be used as leverage against me when it comes to potential legal cases, insurance prices, credit decisions, job or project prospects, and many other negative things that I just do not need in my world.

So far I’ve deleted my Gmail, and my Facebook history for anything @kinlane. I’ve also cleaned up my storage units for Amazon S3 and Dropbox, putting anything historical on a local drive, and secondarily on an SD card that is stored in separate location. I’m not deleting my accounts, or taking unrealistic stances with my digital presence, I’m just cleaning up things and keeping my house in order. Having these massive archives out there don’t do me any good, and only really benefit the platforms, and 3rd parties who are looking to enrich their data sets.

This is a practice I’m only applying to my personal accounts. If it is @apievangelist, or another one of my professional productions I am keeping the history in place as it brings benefits to the table, and tends to be more business focused. I’m also not cleaning up my personal blogging on kinlane.com, and my other personal domains, as this archive is within my control to clean up and delete at any time I desire. I consider this practice something I am calling reclaim. It is just the regular practice of maintaining my personal digital presence, assert control over what the web says about me, and limiting potential damage to my online, and offline worlds.

I wish that I had more trust in these service providers, but in the current online climate I just don’t trust that they have my back, and are being honest with me regarding who they are sharing my information with. I also don’t trust the ENTIRE online world these days. There are too many folks looking to troll, incite mayhem, and chaos. With this effort, I am just looking to minimize the surface in which they have access to when it comes to stirring their cyber(in)security pots, and limit any potential damage in my life.

Update: I never shared the tool I used - TweetDeleter. I purposely used this instead of the API, because I wanted others to be able to do it without any coding skills.


Showing What Algorithmic Influence On Markets Leaves Out

I’ve been playing with different ways of visualizing the impact that algorithms are making on our lives. How they are being used to distort the immigration debate, and how the current administration is being influenced and p0wned by Russian propaganda. I find shedding light on how algorithms are directly influencing a variety of conversations using machine learning a fun pastime. I’m also interested in finding ways to shine a light on what gets filtered out, omitted, censored, or completely forgotten by algorithms, and their authors.

One of my latest filters I’ve trained using TensorFlow is called “Feed the People”. It is an early 20th century Soviet propaganda poster that I do not know much history behind, but I feel provides a compelling point, while also providing an attractive and usable color palette and textures–I will have to do more research on the back story. I took this propaganda poster and trained a TensorFlow machine learning model for about 24 hours on an AWS EC2 GPU instance, which cost me about $18.00 for the entire process–leaving me with a ML model I can apply to any image.

Once I had my trained machine learning model I applied to a handful of images, including one I took of the economist Adam Smith statue in Edinburgh, Scotland–which interestingly was commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), a neoliberal (formerly libertarian) think tank and lobbying group based in the United Kingdom, named after Adam Smith, a Scottish moral philosopher and classical economist in 2003. Taking the essence of the “feed the people” propaganda and algorithmically transferring it an image of the famous economist from the 18th century that was installed on the city streets by a neoliberal think tank in 2003.

I’m super fascinated by how algorithms influence markets, from high speed trading, all the way to how stories about markets are spread on Facebook by investors, and libertarian and neoliberal influencers. Algorithms are being used to distort, contort, p0wn, influence and create new markets. I am continuing to trying to understand how propaganda and ideology is influencing these algorithms, but more importantly highlighting the conversations, and people that are ultimately left behind in the cracks as algorithms continue to consume our digital and physical worlds, and disrupt everything along the way.


I Flushed The Last 9 Years Of My Facebook Profile

I flushed the the last 9 years of my Facebook profile over the last couple of days. Instead of deleting my account, I just cleaned up everything except what I have posted in 2017. In the future I will make it a yearly ritual to flush the previous year of my Facebook profile–something including an altar, candles, and Mark Zuckerberg picture. After watching the last nine years flash by before my eyes, slowly over the last 4 days–I feel confident that I’m not going to need ANY of this social media diarrhea.

This work is part of a larger effort to go through all layers of my digital self and clean house. I recently delete all but the last year of my Gmail, and deleted my central MySQL database, which has been up for the last decade in some instance. Of course, I have downloaded my Facebook archive, and created backups of my Gmail and MySQL databases–which I zip up and store locally on SD cards. Along the way I managed to also cleaned up my Amazon S3 storage which has been up since 2006, and stored what I wanted to keep from their on the same SD cards.

Why am I doing this? I am just just asserting control over my digital self. Gmail and Facebook provide an unprecedented look into our lives–my life. I’m thankful (sometimes) for the tools they provide, but I’m not convinced that they need to possess this intimiate look into my life for an entire decade. I’m not naive enough to think they don’t have some sort of backup, cache, or at least some sort of algorithm trained on my data. But asserting control, and cleaning it up makes me feel like I am a little more in control of my digital self in a time where I feel like I’m increasingly losing control of who I am it this surveillance economy.

I did not manually clean up my Facebook profile manually. I could have automated it using the Facebook API, but I wanted to use a tool that would be available for my readers to use. I’m following the lead of my partner in crime Audrey Watters, who is using F___book Post Manager to delete her network. I took many hours to delete some years, but I just tackled it year by year going back from 2016 until 2007, until it had done its job. I had to rerun it couple times to get some more stragglers, and there are still a handful of things that won’t go away no matter what–not sure what is going on here. However, the majority of my Facebook profile has now been removed, except for anything in 2017.

When you clean up your digital profile this scale, you always think twice about it–what if I need something in here at some point? However, once you are done, this feeling fades away, and you realize you will almost never need any of it, and the one or two items you do, will end up being just fine. Somewhere along the way we were convinced that all of this matters. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter at all, it just doesn’t matter as much as we’ve convinced ourselves that it does, and we do not need a record of everything that has gone on in the past at this scale. We don’t.

Having the last decade of my Facebook doesn’t benefit me. It benefits Facebook. It benefits Facebook partners and advertisers. They want us to think it benefits us, but rarely will it actually serve us better ads, or surface that amazing news article or video. However, the chances that someone will be targeting you, surveilling you, or use a piece of your Facebook out of context to negatively impact your life is pretty great. In this modern digital world we’ve created for ourselves, the more companies and governments have on our behavior, the bigger target we will become–for advertising, surveilling, and p0wning.

I didn’t want to delete my Facebook profile. I like keeping my network, because I enjoy sharing news I curate, and publishing the stories I write here. I also like staying in tune with my friends or families lives on Facebook. However, all of this has an expiration date, which I’ve identified as 1 year. The last year of my life is all I need on there. Once it rolls over a year, I archive it, and move on. Facebook has already aggregated the data, and trained their ML models. Keeping all this data does me no good, and just allows application integrations, advertisers, and other digital actors to look into my life, as well as my past. MY past.

I’m going to move on to Twitter next, cleaning it up just like I have done with my Facebook. I’ll continue to work through all of my personal accounts in this way. I won’t be doing this to any of my business accounts, or my personal blogs, because I see more value in keeping a history of my business activity out there, and happy to maintain a more personal view of my world that gets published within my own domain. As I learn more about my digital self, and develop a deeper awareness of the digital bits of mine that are floating around out there–the more I want to take control, curate, clean, and assert control over these bits. They are mine. It is me.


I Deleted My MySQL Database

I just deleted my primary MySQL database. Of course, I backed up everything, but it is the first time since 2011 I’ve cleaned up my entire database backend to the point where I could delete the entire instance (with confidence). I was motivated to do this mostly because I couldn’t downsize the AWS RDS instance to a smaller instance due to a variety of constraints. The situation gave me the opportunity to clean house, and rethink my next moves.

Instead of setting up a new MySQL instance, I went with the new MySQL compatible Amazon Aurora. I setup a smaller instance that was more affordable, and I was able to easily import the database backups I had made in my previous setup, but now I had a cleaner, more modern Amazon Aurora situation. Which as Amazon claims, “provides up to five times better performance than MySQL with the security, availability, and reliability of a commercial database at one tenth the cost”. Time will tell…

I like cleaning up my database and migrating to a new solution, even if the solution is still with the same provider. It helps me think through things, shed unnecessary databases, tables, and hopefully costs. Everywhere I’ve worked, and within all the businesses I have owned the database is always the hardest thing to manage, and migrate. I want that to be a thing of the past. Now that I have things cleaned up, I’m going to keep my databases small, modular, and using standardized solutions that top tier providers support. This means I can migrate my data wherever I need to, and wherever it makes sense to my business.

Another thing that has also allowed me to migrate my data in this way is that I have offloaded a significant portion of the data I manage, which drives my public research to Google Sheets. This approach helps me simplify, and modularize my data, again using a common tool (spreadsheet / CSV), but in a way that I can easily collaborate with others, and publish to Jekyll and GIthub using YAML. This shift in my world is all about helping me reduce the bulk on the backend of my business, and making sure I spread out my business data, content, and algorithms across a variety of solutions. While making sure all the services I use have APIs that allow me to automate, orchestrate, and of course migrate my data whenever I need to.


The Algorithmic Undertow On Our Reality

After this last election I have concluded that we have severely underestimating the grip the average U.S. citizen has on reality, and the dangers of the algorithmic undertow that has been sweeping us off our feet on a regular basis. These dangers become even more life threatening when you consider the pharmaceutically-charged, doorstep delivered assaults on our reality–something that can become pretty isolating and damaging when you lived in a rural environment.

Ok, what is reality though? This is definitely up for grabs. Your view from middle America, to the coasts, or the north to the south will vary widely. Left wing, right wing, rich, or poor, we will have different views on what actually is reality. Religious–reality shifts even further. However, I think we underestimated the power of the collective reality we had when it was just newspapers, radio, and a choice between NBC, CBS, ABC, or PBS nightly news. I kind of feel like some people were a little better off with less information, or at least a more editorially controlled drip of information each day.

I speak on this grip on reality from a very real place. I struggle with reality myself. From 1988 to 1996 I was pretty high all the time. Ingesting professional levels of LSD, DMT, mushrooms, and any other hallucinogen I could get my hands on, then ultimately doing Heroin to be able to come down and stabilize–yeah, I know. I know. Beginning in 1997 I began to get to work on the heavy lifting involved with reconstructing my reality, taking back my life, finding a career, and eventually building a family. A significant portion of this was about stabilizing myself, and the world immediately around me in way that was conducive to living a sane life–it took me some time for me to craft a working version of reality, something that is still very much a work in progress today.

Another front I struggle with reality on is when it comes to my rural upbringing. I know a number of pretty “out there christians”, but I know even more “out there hippies”. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between them anymore, they’ve seemed to have merged at some point. I know many people who are anti-vaccine, believe in chem-trails, Jesus, and believe the government is completely incapable of doing anything, but can also pull off some pretty amazing conspiracies without missing a beat. These are cousins, friends, and my immediate family, who really do not have a firm grip on reality, for a variety of reasons. Ultimately we are talking about mental illness, isolation, and the effects of our environment, which includes heavy doses of poverty–I’m not excluding myself from this group, I grew up in this, and suffer daily from its effects.

I know people who are deathly afraid of brown people, because they do not know any. I know people who truly believe in the illuminati and the deep state–it is their greatest fear, and their answer to why everything is the way it is, in the world “out there”. In the last decade I think we have focused on the benefits of the Internet when it comes to the mainstream world, but have significantly underestimated what a slippery slope it would be for isolated folks who do not have a decent grip on reality, and honestly are increasingly on pharmaceutical and other legal, and illegal body and mind altering substances. I’ve seen the effects of Internet culture on these folks first hand. I’ve tried to dive in and understand the information diet they’ve subscribed to, but it is something that is too toxic for even me to endure–no wonder they are so afraid. They’ve created this prison for themselves, and then signed up for a digital mainlining of information that keeps their prison walls in tact.

I know people who are selling herbal concoctions locally and regionally to people, who believe this is proven science, and that they are actively defying the government regulators, and completely unaware that herbal supplements is just one of many affiliate programs of Alex Jones, and the other alt-right evangelists. God, politics, and herbal supplements all swirled together with legal or illegal weed, pharmaceuticals, and good old fashion black tar, with a heavy algorithmic undertow to sweep you off your feet during each election–or on demand, as needed mid election. While many people are on surer footing and can handle the daily algorithmic tides swirling around under their feet, I think a significant portion of our society cannot. While you are all focused on your tech startups, or advertising revenue generation, I’m seeing an increasing number of people left spinning, unsure which way is up, left, right, north or south. Not only are we not having an open conversation about addiction and mental illness in this country, we are not being honest with ourselves about the dangerous effects algorithms are having as an undertow on the reality of many of our citizens.


I Deleted All But The Last Six Months Of My Gmail

I continuing my effort to take control over my data, and digital presence and the next target on my list is Gmail. I have been using Gmail heavily since early 2007, and the application contained a significant amount of my data in its archives. I didn’t need any tools to delete my email, as Gmail provides some easy “select all” options for folders, which easily allows me to delete from inbox, archives, and anywhere else.

I’m not fooling myself to think that Google has some index of my history, or that they’ve already enriched their machine learning models using my data, but cleaning up my past feels good, and is something I will be repeating every six months. Before I got started, I downloaded my archive using Google Takeout, which I’ve put in a backup location for possible future reference.

What was difficult for me is getting over the notion that somehow I needed access to my Gmail history. I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve had to search the archives for anything historically important, and in all of the situations I would have been fine if I did not find what I was looking for. The stories we’ve told ourselves about needing this history is powerful, and something that is very difficult to overcome–I do not know where this has originated, but is something I’ll explore further in future stories.

When I copied the downloaded Gmail archive to my backup location I saw the Outlook .pst files for 2000 through 2006, before I switched to Google–something I have never cracked open. I question the need to even keep these archives–what the hell am I going to do with them? I’m going through each of the other digital services that I use and will be setting up a similar strategy for cleaning up my history and archives on each platform. As I do this work I keep having concerns about the algorithms not treating me the same, my ranking and scoring taking a dive, and other worries. These are all concerns that are made up, and are in place to protect platforms interests, and really have nothing to do with me, except to ensure that I keep giving away my data, and the digital exhaust from my daily work.


Tightly Coupled To Our Mobile Phones

I had ditched my phone last year after being with AT&T for just shy of 20 years. Not having a phone made me realize how much you need a phone number to exist online these days. Facebook, Twitter, Google, all needed me to have a phone number which I can verify from time to time, to keep my accounts active.

In addition to just needing it for an account, I also need it regularly to secure my world via two-factor authentication. Sometimes I need it for SMS, but mostly I just need the authenticator app–both requiring at least having the mobile device in my presence. I’m not very tightly coupled with my phone, but it feels like it increasingly like it is always coupled to me.

I’m guessing that if it isn’t our mobile phones, in the future there will always be at least one device we will be required to have as part of our identity, and be helping us secure both our physical and digital worlds. It isn’t something I enjoy but like pretty everyone else, it is not a cord I am going to be able to cut anytime soon.


Patents As A Measure Of Individual Success

I read a lot of patents as part of my work as the API Evangelist, and I tend to stalk and tune into the social media accounts of some of the authors. I have noticed that some of them work at large companies, and are counting each patent they file and are announcing each one like it is a badge of honor. I’m fascinated by this. Each company’s approach to showcasing or downplaying their patent portfolio tells a lot about the company, something that I feel trickles down to each individual author.

The theater of showcasing the number of patents is fascinating to me. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just something I think is worthy of more discussion in the modern age. I don’t showcase the number of patents I have filed because 1) I don’t have any patents 2) I cannot afford to file any patents 3) I don’t showcase my ideas, I showcase things I do and the stories I tell. Ok, maybe a patent is a story right? A story about what is possible, that you’ve paid a fee to file with the government, and convinced them that the story is true? I’m just trying to get at the thinking behind this theater production, and why some folks feel that it is a badge of honor.

The biggest differentiator here for me is that I cannot afford to file patents. It is a rich man’s game. Is this why people showcase? To declare they are part of the elite? Even if I could afford to file one patent, I definitely cannot afford to file many patents, and I cannot ever afford to litigate and defend a patent in a court of law. Making patents completely useless to me, even if I wanted to legally define my stories and ideas like this. Another thing that I notice is that there are no individuals filing patents, it is always an individual filing on behalf of a large company who has the money to file, and to litigate on behalf of the patent portfolio, which for me diminishes the individual merit of showcasing–look ma, I got a new patent (for my company)!!

A patent feels like one of those carrots that get dangled in front of individuals to get them to perform while on the hamster wheel. You get told in high school and college by your mentors that the number of patents you have is a badge of honor. However, you never get told that it is your organization that owns the portfolio, and made aware of the closed door dealings or litigation that will occur around your patent portfolio. IDK, it could be that I’m naive and uneducated about the wider world of patents, and how revenue is generated from patent portfolios–it won’t be the first time I’ve spouted off about something I don’t get, nor will it be the last. I write to understand.

Ultimately I think patents are a rich person game, and how a significant amount of ideas are locked up and made part of larger flows of power, or rendered a non-threat. It isn’t a game I’m part of because I don’t operate at that level, which is why it is foreign to me. I’ve never heard someone tell me that they respect someone for their patent portfolio, or that they were an author on a patent. I think patents are one of those legacy stories that used to have meaning and purpose in the industrial world, and long ago became the game of rich folks, while also becoming pretty distorted in the translation from the physical to the digital. It is a game people still showcase as a badge of honor because of mythical stories they have heard those in power tell–they have little to do with your own success or the value of your ideas.

For me, I measure my success based on the stories I tell about my ideas, and the stories others retell about my ideas. I also measure my success based upon the number of my ideas that become real, and are part of everyday practice in an industry, even if I do not receive royalty checks, or able to litigate and make deals based upon my idea portfolio…but, this is just me. I’m an oddball like that.


In The Future Our Current Views Of Personal Data Will Be Shocking

The way we view personal data in this early Internet age will continue to change and evolve, until one day we are looking back at this period and find we are shocked regarding how we didn’t see people’s digital bits as their own, and something we should respect and protect the privacy and security of.

Right now my private, network shared, or even public posts are widely viewed as a commodity, something the platform operator, and other companies have every right to buy, sell, mine, extract, and generally do as they wish. Very few startups see these posts as my personal thoughts, they simply see the opportunity for generating value and revenue as part of their interests. Sure, there are exceptions, but this is the general view of personal data in this Internet age.

We are barely 20 years into the web being mainstream, and barely over five years into mobile phones being mainstream. We are only beginning to enter even more immersions of Internet in our lives via our cars, televisions, appliances, and much more. We are only getting going when it comes to generating and understanding personal data, and the impacts of technology on our privacy, security, and overall human well-being. What is going on right now will not stay the norm, and we are already seeing signs of pushback from humans regarding ownership of their data, as well as our privacy and security.

While technology companies and their investors seem all powerful right now, and many humans seem oblivious to what is going, the landscape is shifting, and I’m confident that humans will prevail, and there will be pushback that begins helping us all define our digital self, and reclaiming the privacy and security we are entitled to. When we look back on this period in 50 years we will not look favorably on companies and government agencies who exploited human’s personal data. We will see the frenzy over big data generation, accumulation, and treating it like a commodity, over something that belongs to a human as deeply troubling.

Which side of history are you going to be on?


The Stories We Tell Our Children

As I contemplate the world on this Memorial day, I am thinking about the father I never had a chance to know, and thinking deeply about the stories we tell on these holidays, as well as the cracks in between. This was one of the only photos I had of my father while growing up. As a young impressionable male, I wanted to join the military, fill my void with service and days spent fighting “the enemy”–a fire that was stoked daily by the adults in my life. After hearing the 6:00 news, from the radio out in the shop, and around the dining room table, my friends and I would spend our weekends at the river, running military exercises to prepare us for when the Russians invaded–WOLVERINES!!!!

The adults around me would tell us stories, purchase us backpacks, guns, and knives, all fueled by their own fears–completely unaware of what this was doing to us. I now hear these same adults telling stories about how Russia has a strong leader, and we should be afraid of those brown people over there, that we should go to war with them, and that we should not let them into our country. They are letting their fears be stoked, be used (yet again) to make the world a more hostile place, and ensuring that the next generation will be just afraid of the world as they are, and where societal and financial collapse becomes the only hope you have (you spend your days waiting, hoping for the next collapse, all the data points to it being October 5th)–this becomes the light at the end of the tunnel.

On this day I think about what my life would have been like if I had not got that hit of album cover acid at the Dylan & The Dead concert in 1987 and found my own way out. I found my own way out of rural poverty (thumb on the freeway), away from the stories of fear that were rooted in generations of racism and isolation. I’m thankful that I was able to break the cycle of stories that are told in rural parts this country, where boys do not know their fathers, they worship their guns, fear brown people, and never trust those people over there in the city, or in that other country I have never actually ever been to.


I Have To Comply With DJI Update Or My Drone Will Be Crippled

I received this email from DJI about my drone this weekend, telling me about an upcoming update this week where I will be forced to comply with an update that is designed to limit where I can operate my drone. It is a pretty interesting look at the future of this Internet of Things beast we’ve unleashed.

Dear Customers,

DJI will soon introduce a new application activation process for international customers. This new step, to take effect at the end of this week, ensures you will use the correct set of geospatial information and flight functions for your aircraft, as determined by your geographical location and user profile. All existing flight safety limitations, such as geofencing boundaries and altitude limits, remain the same.

Even if you have registered when activating your aircraft upon purchase, you will have to log in once when you update the new version of DJI GO or GO 4 App. If you have forgotten your password since your initial login, you can reset it using a function within the DJI GO and DJI GO 4 apps.

You will need a data connection to the Internet for your smartphone or tablet when you log in, in order to verify the account information and activate the updated software or firmware. If this activation process is not performed, the aircraft will not have access to the correct geospatial information and flight functions for that region, and its operations will be restricted if you update the upcoming firmware: Live camera streaming will be disabled, and flight will be limited to a 50-meter (164-foot) radius up to 30 meters (98 feet) high.

The feature applies to all aircraft (except standalone A3 and N3) that have been upgraded to the latest firmware or when using future versions of the DJI GO and GO 4 apps.

DJI encourages pilots to always follow applicable laws and regulations in the countries where they operate, and provides information about these regulations on its FlySafe website at flysafe.dji.com.

Sincerely,

Your DJI Team

I find it really fascinating that if you do not comply with the update your device will be limited in where it can operate, and taking away some features. That “this new step, to take effect at the end of this week, ensures you will use the correct set of geospatial information and flight functions for your aircraft, as determined by your geographical location and user profile.”

This email provides us with a look at the future, where all our devices are connected to the Internet, and if we don’t comply with all updates, and forward motion, the objects in our lives can be turned off, or limited in what they can do.


The Oil Industry Waking Up To Data Being The New Oil

When you hang out in startup circles you hear the phrase, “data is the new oil” a lot. Getting rights to the mining and extracting, and generating revenue from data is big business, and VC, Hedge Funds, and even government are getting in on the game. Whether it is gathered from private or public sectors, or in your living room and pocket, everyone wants access to data.

One sign that this discussion is reaching new levels, is that the oil industry is talking about data being the new oil. That is right. I’m increasingly coming across stories about big data and the revenue opportunities derived from data when it comes to IoT, social, and many other trending sectors. The big oil supply chain has access to a lot of data to support its efforts, as well as generated from the exhaust of daily oil production to consumption–the opportunity is real man!

To entrepreneurs this shift is exciting I’m sure. To me, it’s troubling. Wall Street turning their sites to the data opportunity, and hedge funds getting in on the game worried me, but big oil being interested an even greater sign that things are reaching some extreme levels. It is one thing to use data is the new oil as a skeuomorph to find investment in your startup, or acquire new customers. It is another thing for the folks behind big oil to be paying attention–these are the same people who like to start wars to get at what they want.

Anyways, it is just one of many troubling signs emerging across the landscape. Many of my readers will dismiss as meaningless, but these discussions are just signs of an overall illness around how we see data, privacy, and security. Remember when we’d topple dictators to get at oil resources in the world? Well, welcome to the new world where you topple democracies if you have access to the right data resources.


Liquid To Filter Out The Future On My Blogs

I created a little hack on my Jekyll-driven websites to allow me to publish a week’s worth of posts (or more) ahead of time. I’ve been scheduling these publishing using my homebrew CMS, but I recently ditched it for Siteleaf, and one of the things that were not possible with the CMS was scheduling–so I needed a hack.

I wanted to be able to just publish at least a weeks worth of blog posts, but then just trickle them out somehow using Jekyll, and avoid using the CMS layer. I got to work publishing a couple of “future” posts and tightening up any holes where the future might leak out into the present–specifically the blog and RSS/Atom listings.

First I set a variable to tell me what the date and time were for any given moment:

Then I translated the publish date for each post into the same format as my definition for now (seconds):

Then you just check to make sure each blog post that is being displayed using Liquid is truly from the past:

Voila, a filter for the future on my blog listing page, and the RSS or Atom feeds. After this, I published a schedule.xml feed which showed all my blog posts, even for the future. I use this to schedule Tweets, and other social media posts for my blogs throughout the week–allowing my social media management tooling to see into the future when it comes to my blogs.

It is a hack for achieving a blog schedule, but it works. It allows me to schedule my world days or weeks ahead, and stay focused on project work. One of the reasons I abandoned my homegrown CMS is I wanted to be forced to find solutions within the cracks of a variety of SaaS tooling, using feeds and APIs. I feel like these approaches are going to be more valuable to my readers, as I can’t expect everyone to deploy a custom solution like I was doing.


Observability Is Needed to Quantify A DDoS Attack

The FCC released a statement from the CIO's office about a Denial-of-Service Attack on the FCC comment system, after John Oliver directed his viewers to go there and "express themselves". Oliver even published a domain (gofccyourself.com) that redirects you to the exact location of the comment system form, saving users a number of clicks before they could actually submit something. I am not making any linkage between what John Oliver did, and the DDoS attack claims from the FCC but would like to just highlight the complexity of what is DDoS, and how it's becoming an essential tool in our Cybersecurity Theater toolbox.

According to Wikipedia, "a denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) is a cyber-attack where the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to the Internet. Denial of service is typically accomplished by flooding the targeted machine or resource with superfluous requests in an attempt to overload systems and prevent some or all legitimate requests from being fulfilled." It is a pretty straightforward way of taking down a website, application, and increasingly devices, but it is one that is often more theater than reality.

There are two sides of the DDoS coin: 1) how many requests an attacker can make, and 2) how many requests an attack receiver can handle. If a website, form or another service can only handle 100 requests in any second, it doesn't take much to become a DDoS attack. I worked at a company once, where the IT director claimed to be under sustained DDoS attack for weeks, crippling business, but after a review, it turned out he was running some really inefficient services, in an under-resourced server environment. My point is, that there is always a human making the decision about how many requests we should handle before things are actually are crippled, either by limiting the resources available before an attack occurs or by cutting off scaling up existing infrastructure because it would cost too much to achieve.

There are variations of the DDoS attacks, sometimes called a "cash overflow" attack, where a website operates in a scalable cloud, and can handle a large volume of requests, but eventually will cost a provider too much, and they will cut if off because they can't afford to pay the bill. A DDoS attack can be successful for a variety of reasons. Sometimes providers don't have the infrastructure to support and scale to the number of requests, sometimes providers can't afford to scale infrastructure to support, and other times a provider just makes the decision that a website, form, or device isn't worth scaling to support any level of demand beyond what is politically sensible.

I'm sure that many DDoS attacks are legitimate, but I know personally that in some cases they are also a theater skit performed by providers who are looking to cry foul or stimulate a specific type of conversation or response from a specific audience. I just think it is important to remember the definition of what a DDoS attack is, and always think a little more deeply about the motivations of both the DDoS attacker, as well as those under attack, and the political motivations of everyone involved, as well as the resource they have to contribute to the two-way street that is a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS)


The Value Of Our Digital Bits

I think way too much about the digital bits being transmitted online each day. I study the APIs that are increasingly being used to share these bits via websites, mobile, and other Internet-connected devices. These bits can be as simple as your messages and images or can be as complex as the inputs and outputs of algorithms used in self-driving cars. I think about bits at the level up from just the 1s and 0s, at the point where they start to become something more meaningful, and tangible--as they are sent and received via the Internet, using web technology.

The average person takes these digital bits for granted, and are not burdened with the technical, business, and political concerns surrounding each of these bits. For many other folks across a variety of sectors, these bits are valuable and they are looking to get access to as many of them as you can. These folks might work at technology startups, hedge funds, maybe in law enforcement or just tech-savvy hacker or activist on the Internet. If you hang out in these circles, data is often the new oil, and you are looking to get your hands on as much of it as you can, and are eager to mine it everywhere you possibly can. 

In 2010, I started mapping out this layer of the web that was emerging, where bits were beginning to be sent and received via mobile devices, expanding the opportunity to make money from these increasingly valuable bits on the web. This move to mobile added a new dimension to each bit, making it even more valuable than they were before--it now possessed a latitude and longitude, telling us where it originated. Soon, this approach to sending and receiving digital bits spread to other Internet-connected devices beyond just our mobile phones, like our automobiles, home thermostats, and even wearables--to name just a few of the emerging areas.

The value of these bits will vary from situation to situation, with much of the value lying in the view of whoever is looking to acquire it. The value of a Facebook wall post is worth a different amount to an advertiser looking for a potential audience, then it will be to law enforcement looking for clues in an investigation, and let's not forget the value of this bit to the person who is posting it, or maybe their friends who are viewing it. When it comes to business in 2017, it is clear that our digital bits are valuable, even if much of this value is purely based on perception and very little tangible value in the real world. With many wild claims about the value and benefit of gathering, storing, and selling bits.

Markets are continually working to define the value of bits at a macro level, with many technology companies dominating the list, and APIs are defining the value of bits at the micro level--this is where I pay attention to things, at the individual API transaction level. I enjoy studying the value of individual bits, not because I want to make money off of them, but because I want to understand how those in power positions perceive the value of our bits and are buying and selling our bits at scale. Whether it is compute and storage in the cloud, or the television programs we stream, and pictures and videos we share in our homes, these bits are increasing in value, and I want to understand the process how everything we do is being reduced to a transaction. 


Many Perspectives On Internet Domains

I am always fascinated by how people see Internet domains. I do not expect everyone to grasp all of the technical details of DNS or the nuance of the meaning behind the word domain, but I'm perpetually amazed by what people associate or do not associate with the concept. I like to write about these things under my domain literacy work, saving the research I do for future use, but also using the process to polish my storytelling on the subject, and hopefully being more influential when it comes to domain literacy discussions.

After watching the conversation around Audrey's decision to block annotation from her domain(s), I just wanted to take a moment and capture a few of the strange misconceptions around domains I've seen come up, as well as rework some of the existing myths and misunderstandings I deal with regularly when it comes to my API research, and wider domain literacy work. Let's explore some of the storytelling going on when it comes to what is an Internet domain.

What Is A Domain?
Many folks have no idea what a domain is. That they type them in regularly in their browsers, click on them, let alone that you can buy and own your own domain. This illiteracy actually plays into the hands of tech entrepreneurs, and each wave of capitalists who are investing in them--they do not want you knowing the details of each domain, who is behind them, and they want to make sure you are always operating on someone else's domain. It is how they will own, aggregate, and monetize your bits, always being the first to extract any value from what you do online, and via your mobile phones.

You Don't Own Your Domain!
A regular thing I hear back from people about domains is that you don't every truly own your domain. Well, I'd first say that you never really truly own ANYTHING, but that is probably another conversation. Do you really own your house? What happens if you don't pay your taxes, or use and respect the title company, and other powers involved? What about imminent domain laws? Sure, you don't really own your domain, but you are able to purchase it, control the addressing of it, and decide what gets hosted there (or not). It's pretty damn close to a common definition of ownership for this discussion.

Your Domain Is On the Internet So It Is Public!
Just walk yourself through the top domains you can think of. Does this argument hold any water? Every part, of every domain on the Internet is public because it uses public DNS and Internet infrastructure? No. There are so many grades of access and availability across many domains that use public infrastructure. Domain owners and operators get to determine which portions of a domain are accessible by the public, private partners, and even across internal actors. Even on the public areas, not protected by a password, there can be different levels of content delivery based upon region, individual IP address, or just randomly, leaving it to the algorithm to personalize what you will see. There are no guaranttees of something being public, just because it uses a public domain.

Domain Name Servers (DNS) Is Voodoo
Yes. DNS is voodoo. I've been managing DNS professionally for domains since 1998, and I still think it's voodoo. Even with DNS being a dark art, it is still something the average person can comprehend, and even manage at a basic level for simple domains, especially with the help of DNS service providers. DNS is the address, doorway and even the fence for the perimeter of your domain. DNS also helps you define and quantify the size of your domain, with the number of domains exponentially expanding your digital territory. A basic level proficiency with DNS is required to manage your own domain(s) successfully.

We Own What You Do In Our Domain!
Ok. Sure. Any new data or content that is generated by systems running within your domain can be seen as YOUR intellectual property. However, when you invite people to bring their bits (photos, videos, thoughts) to your domain and don't really educate them about intellectual property, and what you are up to, it can be easily argued that maybe what people generate in your domain isn't always yours. Even with that said, ensuring things happen within a specific domain, so that you can place some sort of ownership claim over those bits is a pretty standard operating procedure for the web today. This is why most of my work is conducted via my own domain(s) each day, and syndicated out to other domains as I see fit.

There Is No Real Difference Between Domains 
As people surf the web, they rarely see the difference between each domain. Unless it's big brands like Twitter, Facebook, Google, and others, I don't think people really ever consider the domain they are on, or who might be behind it. Those of us in the business do a lot of thinking about domains and see the crack in the web, but the average person doesn't see the boundaries, differences, or motivations behind. This all contributes to many different paths people take when it comes to domain literacy--depending on where they boarded with the concepts they'll see domains very differently. While some of us enjoy helping others understand domains, there are many who think it should be kept in the realm of the dark arts, and something normals shouldn't worry their pretty little heads about.

Everybody Gets The Same Experience At A Public Domain
Each domain you visit on the public web looks the same for everyone who visits, is a common perception I get from folks. We are good at projecting our reality at common online domains onto other people. The news I see on my favorite news site is what everyone else sees. My view of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is similar to what other people experience, or rather, I don't think people spend much time thinking about it, things are the way they are through a lack of curiosity. My Facebook is definitely not your Facebook. Our web experience is increasingly personalized and bubbleized, changing how and what each domain will mean to different folks. Net Neutrality is under attack on many fronts and is rapidly being eroded away in our browsers and on our mobile phones via the major providers.

I am captivated by this version of our online world that is unfolding around us. What worries me is the lack of understanding about how it works and some awareness of where they are all operating when online. People don't seem concerned with knowing what is safe, what is not. What worries me the most is that number of people who don't even have the concept of a domain, domain ownership, and any sense of separation between sites online. After that, the misuse, misinformation, and obfuscation of the digital world by people operating in the shadows and benefitting from ad revenue. I know many folks who would argue that we need to create safe spaces (domains) like Facebook where people can operate, but I feel pretty strongly that this is an Internet discussion, and not merely a platform one.

We have a lot of work ahead of us when it comes to web literacy. With the amount of time we are spending online, and the ways we are letting it infiltrate our physical worlds, we have to do better and educating people about the basic building blocks of the web. If we let "them" ruin the web, and platforms are the only safe place to be--cooperations win, and this grand experiment called the web is over. Maybe it already is, or maybe it never was, or maybe we can just help folks just see the web for what it is.


FREE Always Seems To Suck The Oxygen Out Of The Room

I closely watch the value the digital bits being exchanged via the Interwebz--it is what I do. @audreywatters always says that APIs are "reducing everything to a transaction", and I am interested understanding the value of these bits, what people are buying and selling them for, and how it keeps the Internet machine chugging along--for better or worse. As I watch Audrey battle with folks about the availability of content with her domain and experience my own shift in what should be made freely available by API providers, I'm left thinking about the damaging effects free has had on our world.

I feel like the seeds of this were set into motion by John Perry Barlow followers imparting their ideology on the web, but was something that was capitalized on during the Web 2.0 movement by tech giants like Google, Twitter, and Facebook when it came to leveling the playing field, giving them the competitive advantage they needed. It is very difficult to compete with FREE. Only certain companies can operate in this environment. It's a brilliant and cutthroat way of doing business, setting a tone for how business should be done in a way that keeps competitors out of the game. When the free and open Internet armies become wielded by this type of passive aggressive capitalism, the resulting zombie army becomes a pretty effect force for attacking any providers who are left operating in this oxygen-deprived environment.

These free zombie armies think the web should be free and openly accessible for them to do what they want, most notably build a startup, getting funding, and sell that startup to another company. Your detailed website of business listings, research into an industry, and other valuable exhaust that MUST remain free is ripe for picking, and inclusion into their businesses. The zombies rarely go picketing after tech giants, telling them that everything must remain free and available, they go after the small service provider who is trying to make a living and build an actual small business. If the tech giants sucking the oxygen out of space with FREE don't get you, the free and open zombies will pick you clean through a sustained, and systematic assault from Reddit and Hacker News.

I'm always amazed at the bipolar conversations I have with folks about how I manage to make a living doing my API research, how rich and detailed my work is, while also being asked to jump on a phone call to talk through my research, so it can be used in their startup, marketing, or infographic. Never being asked if they could pay me, and when I mention getting paid-- they often just scatter. This continuous assault on the web has pushed me to shift my views on what should be FREE, and what we publish and openly license on the web, as well as make available at the lowest tiers of our APIs. These are my valuable bits. I've managed to stay alive and make a living in a field where most analysts either burn out or are acquired and coopted. My bits are how I make a living, please stop demanding that they always be free. Not everyone can operate like Google, Facebook, or Twitter--sometimes things cost money to do well, and might not need to be done at scale.