This is how it looked like last year. Using video and links to blog posts, lots of content can be discussed even while using a short-form medium such as Twitter.
The #el30 course about learning and the decentralized web may be finished for now (there will be new editions), I continue my exploration of all things decentralized web.
One of the projects out there to build a decentralized web, is Solid. The project is led by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. Solid would enable us to store all our personal data, but consequently the question is how we link data with apps and other people’s data (managed by us, the owners of our own data).
Luckily, through URLs and the Resource Description Framework (RDF ), it is possible to link data. It’s like hyperlinks on the classical web, but even more radical since we link pieces of data. It enables automated software to store, exchange, and use machine-readable information distributed throughout the Web, in turn enabling users to deal with the information with greater efficiency and certainty.
But how do we start using linked data? I asked professor Ruben Verborgh (Ghent, Belgium), and he suggested to have a look at Wikidata. Wikidata is a collaboratively edited knowledge base hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation.It’s a linked open data hub and a great place to start learning about data while contributing to the project.
I just started linking Wikidata to this site, by using the plugin Wikidata References for WordPress. Now it’s easy for me to link tags to Wikidata. It mainly involves looking up the Wikidata-reference for a tag (which one can do via the plugin) and adding a description. If Wikidata is incomplete, wrong or simply lacks the entry, I can add it in Wikidata.
The result for the reader is this for instance:
What you see are the ‘tag archives’ (one needs to click a tag to see it), here the tag ‘The Long Now Foundation’, which has the number of the corresponding Wikidata-entry and a short description. Wikidata of course provides more information and links.
This takes more time while creating a blog post (as I noticed writing this one), but it actually helps the learning process. Part of the open learning&publishing workflow I try to develop is making a lexicon, and now I realize that one can do so while contributing to and using one of the most interesting knowledge bases out there, Wikidata. I added this in the workflow I posted on GitHub.
Professor Ruben Verborgh (Semantic Web, Ghent University, Belgium, research affiliate at the Decentralized Information Group at MIT, US) is convinced web apps are deeply broken:
they compete mainly on who harvests the most data, not on who provides the best experience or innovation. This has consequences for developers, who are unwillingly dragged into this rat race, and end users, whose privacy and potential is limited.
Verborgh promotes the Solid ecosystem, the latest project by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, advocating for a different way of building apps that is better for everyone. He will present Solid at the FOSDEM-conference in Brussels, Belgium (2&3 February) and the organization already had an interview with Verborgh.
On his own blog he recently published a long post Re-decentralizing the web, for good this time.
In that post he “explains the history of decentralization in a Web context, and details Tim Berners-Lee’s role in the continued battle for a free and open Web. The challenges and solutions are not purely technical in nature, but rather fit into a larger socio-economic puzzle, to which all of us are invited to contribute.”
Today I became a member of The Long Now Foundation. Here is what they say about themselves:
The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop the [Clock] and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common. We hope to foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.
I discovered them because Bruce Sterling, one of my favorite thinkers and writers, gave a talk at a Long Now event. People involved with The Long Now are Kevin Kelly, Brian Eno, Stewart Brand… They organize inspiring talks and do great stuff like building a mechanical clock which should last 10,000 years. I think it’s a good thing to support them. They help people to think and to debate in a larger context, in a slower and more thoughtful way.
On February 2 and 3 thousands of developers will gather in Brussels, Belgium for FOSDEM, a conference promoting free and open source software. Things interesting me:
- Collaborative information and content management application
- Decentralized Internet & Privacy
- Open document editors
- Open media (video, images, audio)
- Tool the Docs (writing, managing, rendering documentation)
- Blockchain (of course)
There will be keynotes about freedom and ethics, a bookshop etc. I’ll have to make hard choices about what to attend, but anyway, I’ll report about the event on this blog.
The mood seems to be a bit dark. Let me quote the decentralized internet page:
PCs are less and less used while smartphones are soaring and data is collected and stored on servers on which we have very limited control as users. What happened to user’s freedom and privacy in the meantime? The outlook is not so great: we have less and less control over our digital environment. Network neutrality is heavily attacked and mainstream software products are usually proprietary or run on servers we don’t have control over. Modern technology has given the powerful new abilities to eavesdrop and collect data on people – with critical social and political consequences.
Happy New Year everyone! My plans in bullet points:
* Continue blogging on this site, following IndieWeb-formats.
* Learn how to use GitHub and version control in general, including using the command line interface.
* Stay involved with the IndieWeb-community.
* Prepare longer posts and articles using software developer procedures, using GitHub.
* Investigate how decentralized publishing could be applied (Beaker Browser, IPFS, Solid… )
* Integrate this in a general workflow for blogging and learning, based on teachings by Howard Rheingold and Stephen Downes.
More to come… In the meantime, have a look at an emerging article on GitHub, don’t hesitate forking and suggesting changes and additions.