A Quickie

The weather has had climate change stamped all over it, but even so, this has been a terrifically busy summer!

has highlighted the importance of guarding our privacy, but I still haven’t mastered PGP.

Over the summer there have been great changes to my main social network, Identi.ca, so I’ve joined the StatusNet federation. (I’ll blog more about that later.)

And of course, Social Media becomes more important all the time. Which is why, after years of resistance, I’ve finally spread out to LinkedIn.  But the fact remains: one of the big problems with this type of online activity is the ancillary sacrifice of our personal privacy.  I find it best to give out as little personal information as possible, but it’s difficult.

One way I deal with the privacy creep is to lump all of the members of all of my social networks together: whenever I’m forced to categorize, I designate everyone across the spectrum ~ from close friends to total strangers ~ as “friends.”

Why should I tell Google we became friends on Identi.ca, even though we’ve never actually met in meat space?

Mr. Zuckerberg, it’s none of your business whether we’re second cousins once removed on my mother’s side, or if we’re total strangers sharing an interest in Free Culture.

And Linkedin needn’t be privy to the fact we volunteered together, or went to the same High School.

You and I know what our relationship is, and that’s all that matters.

But I am starting to realize I am not Wonder Woman.   Yesterday I took the time to transcribe Edward Snowden’s important statement to the Chaos Computer Club.  But my problem is that there simply isn’t enough time for me to write reams of blogs and publish my own novels.  And at this point, publishing my own novels is the priority.

Which is why I’m regrouping, working out how best to reduce my blogging and finish my second novel, which I still hope to publish before NaNoWriMo 2013.

But even with all of that, the single most important thing today is that my chick will fly from the nest, take up residence in another city for a third year of university.  Like last year, I know we will all live through it, but it doesn’t get easier.

It’s a Mom thing.

Mother and baby duck - at Victoria Park, Kitchener

[note: edited for style, not content]


no cyber-censorship, please

Today on Identi.ca I said:

When I was young, freedom wasn’t such a big issue.
Life experience has shown me how really important freedom is.

That is so true. Freedom is important to me on many levels: as a citizen, as a parent, and as a writer.
But the Internet is ultimately a series of tools:   hardware and software strung together. The problem is,
of course, that tools can generally be used for good or ill. Which is why we must all strive to ensure it stays free. That means all of us, not just programmers but all of the users.

World day against cyber-censorship

Reporters without Borders are very concerned with freedom. Naturally. It’s hard to do a good job of reporting without freedom, which is why Reporters without Borders is holding the 3rd annual:

World day against cyber-censorship

Visit the Reporters without Borders World day against cyber-censorship webpage.   The site has been mirrored to allow netizens in blacked out countries to access this information at http://12march2011.org/en/

The site has goodies such as a map showing global geographic boundaries incidence of cyber censorship and the pièce de résistance the 2011 The Enemies of the Internet list.

I have to admit I was more than a little surprised to find the United States absent after all their efforts to take out WikiLeaks. The fact that the United States is not on the list is most likely due to the strong freedom advocacy offered by freedom fighting organizations like the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Public Knowledge (PK), and KEI (Knowledge Ecology International).

Twitter tightens its grip

Ironically, today readwriteweb brings word about Twitter’s decision to cut out 3rd party developers. Existing apps will be allowed to continue… on probabation. Last week my favorite writing live chat on Twitter didn’t work because none of the various third party apps people use to make live chat work could log in. Some of the regular participants gave it up because Twitter does not lend itself to live chat. In the light of this new announcement, the chat problem probably resulted from changes made to the Twitter api to discourage 3rd party apps.

My personal recommendation is that no step is to small to be the first step into freedom.

If you use Twitter, set up an account on Identi.ca.

Setting up on Identi.ca is very much like setting up on Twitter, and you can link Identica to Twitter to stay in contact easily enough. Identi.ca will automatically send your notices and local “@” replies to Twitter, as well as subscribe to your Twitter friends on Identica. [Hint: it is best if you can use the same @name on both services.]

At least for now.

Twitter can pull the plug on that at any time. That is one of the biggest problems with proprietary web platforms… some one else owns it, controlling your access, as well as having access to all of your information. Proprietors like Facebook (or Darth Vader) retain total control, and can alter the rules in a flash.

identi.ca logo
identi.ca logo

Unlike Twitter, Identica is a service that makes up the central part of a growing federated network of microbloggers using the open source Statusnet software. Because the number of individual hostings of StatusNet is growing all the time, Identica far freer than Twitter in much the same way that a federated network of mirrors allowed WikiLeaks to survive the onslaught. You can set up your own, or connect to Identi.ca on their site or download the free version to use on your own. I strongly recommend that anyone concerned with net freedom should set up their microblog home on Identica.

personal security

For some excellent ideas on how to protect yourself, I recommend reading Identi.ca netizen @jimmorgan’s blog about his foray into security: Tor, XMPP, GPG, Internet security


Copyright is another incredibly important issue, particularly as the copyright maximalists are pushing for laws that allow copyright to be used as a tool of censorship. For some insight in why this is a problem in the here and now, I highly recommend watching the important film RiP: A Remix Manifesto I have much more to say about copyright, but the main thing is that it is an issue that we need to rethink. Allowing corporations to impose laws about how we access our own culture is both disturbing and detrimental to the common good.


I have been compiling lists of free culture and Creative Commons options available in the sidebar as I come to them. If you find any such links that you’d like to share, please forward them to me. Allowing corporations to control our freedom may in fact be worse than allowing governments to do so. Big Brother may in fact be wearing mouse ears. We must stand up for our rights, and encourage others to do the same.

We all must do whatever we can to fight for our online rights.

[and now back to editing/proofing my novel]