Public Universal Base


(hellekin) #1

I’d like to draw your attention to a project I’m currently working on that involves some design for a couple of free software projects such as Caliopen and the pEp Engine. A larger picture involves an old idea of mine to federate open source designers around the need to create common interfaces for decentralized social media in a way that enables current users of free software solutions such as Mastodon, Diaspora*, GNU social, Friendica, etc. to share some user experience in a way that would enable seamless transition to peer-to-peer backends when they’re available, hence my interest in joining Caliopen and pEp. I recommend having a look at Contributopia for a good idea of what’s cooking.

I’m not asking specifically for designers because this aspect is only a small part of the project. But I’m looking for awareness and expressions of interest for the larger project.

Public Universal Base: Libre Infrastructure Consortium (PUBLIC*) responds to the European Commission’s H2020 ICT-28 call on “Future Hyper-connected Sociality” that is set to envision a positive role for future social media to play in our society.

(* There’s another site coming at a funkier URL: https://public.cat/)

Public Universal Base refers to the idea that it’s desirable to create a public digital infrastructure that is a commons – not public in the institutional sense carried by the English term, we’re still struggling with polysemy in the free software world :hot_pepper:set on a few pillars: open collaboration, ethical design, free software, open hardware, the commons and popular education for digital literacy.

I have published a short comment on Timbl’s open letter stating our values and calling for interested parties to support our work. The OSD community should be interested, as well as many of your respective organizations working in the field of decentralized social media. The project is in its infancy but places itself in the continuity of previous advocacy I’ve been doing over the years. I presented it at FOSDEM this year, so you can check there for more information.

Thank you for your attention!


(Allan Nordhøy) #2

There is a fallacy at play here.

You could call it “Libre software” in English, and avoid the problem all-together.
More-so deeply troubling is the forced marriage of free software meritocracy and what proposes itself to be “ethical”. For reasons why the two don’t go together at all.

It isn’t so that just because some countries have fewer women online than men, that it is true for other countries.
The error here courtesy of Tim.
No less so is it a result of what is on a systemic level an equal opportunity playground, which Tim himself is no longer a proponent of when it comes to DRM.

The proof offered does not support the premise. The divide between sexes for Internet access in these non-western countries is not in place because of the newfound polarity of the internet.
They didn’t all of a sudden change the balance, and it is present in every other facet of their current culture.

If one wants to brand this in-part new addition onto the Internet as “diversity”, I say all the merrier, but don’t accept it all as good. I would in terms of adoption and access, want it to be the exact same as anywhere else, sans of-course the newfound sophistication in dragnet surveillance and freedom of speech violations.
There i welcome any diversity away from a totalitarian state, disparity as it were.

To quote the supposedly “ethical” side of things.

At its very base we need to build things that are decentralized, private, open, interoperable, accessible, secure and sustainable, so not just fitting the need of able-bodied white men, right.

This begs the question of whether these words, make for something that wouldn’t befit to equal degree, non-white women. (I will grant disability on account of “accessibility” being mentioned.)
At a core level, which they paradoxically amount to, this is the fallacy of assuming a problem to be that of design. (Not that there weren’t other limitations to design that one supposedly need to accept, but this is not ethical in the slightest.)
Also, it is fairly un-ethical at that. One needs look no further than away from this warrantless invocation of race and gender to come to terms with what is ethical, only to find this is also
the provided argument is also counterproductive.

The only way to design solutions for a diverse audience, for a diverse citizenship, is to have diverse groups designing for themselves.

Oddly enough, the maintained position that diversity can only be achieved through preserving it artificially, or in the very least reining true for any other group than white able-bodied men, is puzzling.
Substitute here the current meaning of “diversity”, for either of these positions, and it is nonsensical nonetheless.
To send this message to the world at large via the Internet, is a richness that transcends mental poverty right into satire.

Not studying a group, not being colonialist in their approach, but having diverse groups that design for themselves.

It is a very depressing idea that the supposedly only result of designing for others is the wish to extend authority over said group.

Diversity is not a charity. Diversity is competitive advantage, that we need to start taking advantage of.

It would logically follow here to say they need to start taking advantage of.
If there are no problems at a level deeper than what accommodates the individual, i want to invoke the former, not studying a group, but rather leave it to the individuals therein to both self-identify and do something themselves.

So we build things that respect human rights, but we don’t stop there, we go on we build things that are functional and convenient and reliable.

If there ever was a western concept one could conveniently employ as the basis of an argument of propaedeutics.
For a variation upon the theme “ethical”, and “competitive advantage”, this is where I don’t want to force the issue, because it is a moral view not supported by others, much to the point and beyond, of “competitive advantage”

Because, again, it is about respect. This time it is about respecting human effort. But we don’t stop there.
We build things -that -are -delightful, because that is about respecting human experience, and that is very important. That is what we overlook in the free and open source world, a lot of the time.

I see we have moved from pure design onto code. Free software, by its very nature, does not take a stance on the ‘tragedy of life’.
Following a line of words that together form conjecture, I don’t see diversity playing a role in what is for the sake or argument a group subjugating members of itself. Breaking human rights doing so, is not a valid point to call out for someone who entertains that a group will naturally and only subject others to colonialism by engaging in trying to extend a helping hand.
The thin veneer of “respect” is not something i would offered by those that do engage in it, violating human rights as they go, nor is it something i offer in return.

We have to respect human experience as-well, if you think about it, experience is all we have in life, and then we die.

The earlier complete lack of empathy towards another group, seems only fairly rational from the point of view of complete empiricism. To draw it down to genetics is consequentially also only short of amoebic.

Whether those are experiences with people, or with objects, they are like the grains of sand in the hourglass of your life. Each one of them deserves respect. Our respect.

If all there is amounts to experience, and all experience commands respect, then respect becomes meaningless.

And it is a huge responsibility for those of us who build those experiences to respect, to respect those grains of sand, to respect the lives of people that we are building for.

Following what semblance of logic there was, you only build for yourself, not studying others, meaning your group, if not to engage in colonialism. Here I only extend respect to the premise
of people designing for themselves.

And this is where we fail though, at the very beginning, in mainstream technology.
That, is where we fail. Because we are building things that don’t respect human life.

Who is we if everyone is to design for themselves. The people who study their way into engaging in colonialism? If it doesn’t exist for you, then you adapt it from somewhere else, for yourself. In the very least study must be allowed there, because that is what human rights are. The observed notion that they matter. Respecting this enough not to impart it on someone else, is what makes it work.
If the experience of being homogeneous with a group is enough to design for it, then the idea of open source design becomes meaningless. “We” become meaningless.
One can either play a game of overarching community that is indifferent to all qualities other than actual merit, which is what libre/free software is, or one can engage in intersectionalism, dividing people to the point of denying cognitive abilities. It would be mildly amusing if it wasn’t so disturbing.

And when you do that, you are not building things for people, you are building things on the backs of people.

If therefore, now because. (!) All-though i agree with the last bit here onto itself, as I do with the building blocks of the pyramid.

TL; DR the supposedly “ethical design”, is a pillar so corroded it serves as a fifth columnist, incompatible with itself and the meritocracy that got us here.


(Jdittrich) #3

I tried to understand but I don’t get what this is about –

@how: what kind of conversation did you want to start?

@kingu: How does your post relate to the one above? (There are quotes, but they are not from the starter post)


(hellekin) #4

Hi @jdittrich,

Thank you for asking. I did not look for some specific conversation, hence I posted in the #lounge.

I had the same feeling. @kingu seems to deny the approach we chose to take based on the assumption that free software builds on sole meritocracy (and not ethics nor altruism), and that inclusiveness is therefore exclusive to free software. Needless to say I completely disagree, and don’t even want to go that way.

There are power struggles in this world and feminism is one of them, that goes against the idea of meritocracy. For one, the worthy often have women taking care of them while they sit and hack away, feeding them, loving them, washing their clothes and their environment – why would the visible man get all the attention and reward? ; second, there are plenty of worthy women in computer history who don’t seem to deserve a tenth of the attention worthy men do – and that’s just computing. Women empowerment is against meritocracy, you see? That might be because women don’t care so much about meritocracy, than they care about humans.

So no, stay away from me with your “meritocracy that got us here” being incompatible with ethical design – all the quotes from @kingu came from the Ethical Design manifesto.


(hellekin) #5

FYI the deadline of the EC call is today, and the SMILE proposal was successfully submitted!