Had one of those “sitting an exam you haven’t studied for” dreams last night, except it was very much a history student version of it: I dreamt that it was the end of term and I hadn’t started on any of my papers. Glad to not be in that situation, though it had the hilariously opposite effect of prompting me to look into grad school again—maybe I’ll be one day ready again to dive back into the world of exams and essays.
Went out for an amazing foggy, then sunny, bike ride this morning. Felt so good during and after. This body—mind connection stuff, it’s real. Must do more, of course. Perpetual note to self, there. Sigh.
Okay, one section on social media and the crisis du jour (Twitter, Elon Musk, Mastodon), then a quick bit on some interesting documents from the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act, then a few links.
The social media crisis du jour
So, yes, he bought it.
It’s a good reason to leave! Or, at least, to set yourself up elsewhere. (I’m, currently, @firstname.lastname@example.org. The internet is lovely in that we can hold multiple pieces of digital real estate without having to, y’know, put up money for a mortgage or whatever. More on money in a moment.) (It’s also a great time to think about who you follow, and consider actively curating a more diverse or wide-ranging feed.)
But, also, there’s… always been good reason to leave? The rage machine algorithm isn’t healthy—it’s the worst kind of feed. Part of this is because of money: the incentives on a social media site (Twitter, Facebook, etc) that’s financed through ads, whether publicly traded or privately owned, are to entrap your attention (longer time on, or more frequent visits, means more opportunities to sell ads) and to harvest as much data about you as possible (to better target those ads).
The principles at work in Mastodon are undoubtedly healthier, so that’s good, but there’s a real cost to running all these instances, which, if not met, can eventually cause issues! Our (relatively strong, generally) preference for free digital presences make for some uncomfortable compromises, is all I’m saying.
Though folks who end up on Mastodon seem generally better intentioned (read that as you will), Mastodon instances are subject to the same person / position problem as Twitter’s currently experiencing: Twitter’s now gained a more-or-less absolute admin position (whereas previously, admin decisions were somewhat diffuse, subject to investor pressure, etc), and that’s very uncomfortable because the person occupying that admin position is, well, highly problematic; a side effect of the brilliant potential of Mastodon’s federated structure is that each instance is, in essence, its own fiefdom, subject to sometimes inscrutable governance around admin decisions—so if the admin position is filled by a person or people who make problematic decisions, well, we’re in a similar boat. Fortunately, though, you can (relatively easily) float between instances.
So, yeah. “Welcome to hell, Elon.”
Convo dump, continued
I’ve been perusing the documents coming out each day from the Public Order Emergency Commission—as Dean Beeby points out, it’s a very rare glimpse into how police and intelligence organizations actually work, given their protections in transparency legislation, policy, and practice.
Three interesting ones from this week:
- Texts between the RCMP and OPP Commissioners: it gives me some “this is everyone’s reality” pleasures to see that senior people’s conversations are also “got time for a call?” “no, sorry, free now” “just on a call, call you back in a bit”; also, the RCMP Commissioner was apparently emailing (presumably sensitive) copies of reports from the OPP through her (presumably personal) Gmail to her work email, because she was getting them from the OPP Commissioner via text on a phone without her work email on it (page 52)—a whole lesson right there on user needs, government IT, and the tradeoffs inherent in making it work.
- Minutes of an Incident Response Group meeting: continuing my tradition of limiting comment to the typefaces used in the templates, love to see that Cabinet committee (ish) minutes are done in Calibri.
- How do two levels of government settle costs? That most powerful of instruments, the humble invoice.
Links and we’re homeward bound
- Alanna Shaikh on the connection between probably increasing epidemic frequency and environmental destruction (I typo’d “epidemic” as “epicdemic”, which feels frightfully accurate).
- “Elinor Ostrom’s 8 principles for managing a commons”, aka “not every commons is a tragedy, Garrett”. (On the Commons seems a neat project, in general.)
- Simon Willison on what makes a perfect commit: the change, tests to validate it, documentation, and context.
Okay, thanks folks—all the best for the week ahead!