oda: zombie face on a blue-violet plane (personal)
2011-09-11 10:08 pm

Not Much, Really

What I have been up to:

Not a lot.... Health issues, mostly, have had me at basic day to day. Which isn't bad, really, but it means I haven't had a lot of cognitive surplus. I want to be doing more, but pushing it won't help, so I am not.

Because it's mostly busywork and hence can be done as a bear of very little brain, I've done a major cleaning of my Facebook account, because I am still using it (for now) to keep in touch with family, but I don't think their privacy is going to get any better either. So: fixed a lot of settings there, and deleted all of the fluff from my Wall, likes and things, and tried to zap everything that my name points to in public. Ruthlessly deleted anything I'd posted that no one had touched. While none of it is earth shattering in the least, I am not really fond of having a bunch of "I like pie" trivia under my full legal name.

I am not hardcore enough to do some of the things described in danah boyd's post on how "Real Names" Policies Are an Abuse of Power like deactivating my account when I'm not actively logged in, or scrubbing everything off my wall even if other people have commented, or scrubbing my comments off other people's posts. That feels like it's going too far.

Not sure how I feel about Google+ right now. It's a marathon, not a sprint. And hard to think clearly about when I'm on a bad part of my particular health curve.

I would like to be able to think of social networks as only fun and only about the people, and not about the enormous amount of work it takes to have a modicum of privacy, because it wasn't designed in from the beginning. The privacy issue is enormous, and bigger than these sites, and it's going to quietly (and not so quietly) hurt people and a lot of people don't even realize it yet.

I wish it were easier to get my family over here, where I actually feel comfortable, welcome, and included. I like the community on Diaspora, a lot, but still have concerns about the privacy. I like the vibe and community on Subjot. It's short-form and fully-public now but will including private later, and it has delicious topics, just like I wanted baked into Google+. Oh yes, that's another thing I'm trying out, Subjot, but it's been so low-key and easy that I find it's very natural. Though now I tend to reach for it instead of twitter. Longer form than twitter with topics and real comments and a restful UI? Yes, please. I was only going to look but I thought I'd just post one thing and there I still am; I like it a lot.

I've also switched to DuckDuckGo, which is hardly even-minded of me as I didn't try the other alternatives, but I tried it, liked it well enough, liked some features very much indeed, and stopped. Even just switching search engines is a pretty big change for me right now.

The amount of rambling I am doing is probably some indication of why I haven't been posting anything structured lately.
oda: Chrome tab with a sad face on blue-violet field field (degoogle)
2011-08-26 01:17 am

De-Googlefication: Checkout, Android App Queries

I really haven't been getting much done, but I got a little bit done tonight, at least.

Here are some links to excellent blogs by people also doing the same thing:

Another very helpful tool is the Dashboard, which can show you where Google is storing your data.

Google Checkout

On the plus side, this had a nice little summary of all of my Android purchases, so I ended up not having to dig through my gmail box as I had feared.

On the minus side, I cannot fully delete my data! I tried deleting my credit card, and while it deleted the credit card number it refuses to delete the address and phone number attached to that card. If I try to edit it, then it tells me I need a valid card number to do so. I tried various permutations including re-entering my card to see if I could then remove the address data, but it does a credit card verification against the number, so I simply cannot edit the data away or delete it. Did anyone ever test card deletion? This is a serious privacy failure.

I'm going to leave this on hold here with the credit card still in place, since I might end up getting credits as part of my app transfer process, and come back to it later.

Android Apps

Having received my app summary via Google Checkout, I used the 'Contact Vendor' links to send mail inquiring the best way to transfer an app off of a Google account, so that I can re-download it even without the account attached on my phone and still receive future updates. This has to be done individually to each vendor.

New Google Account

Given that I might need to transfer apps to a new Google account, I have set up a new GMail account so I have a place to send them. I used an invite and didn't need to authenticate SMS. Remember to check 'Always use HTTPS' under General settings. I also like to turn chat off and set it to only let people chat with me if I explicitly allow it.

Buzz: It appears to be turned on, but I don't yet have a profile set up. It throws a 404 if I try to disable it from GMail without a profile.
oda: monochromatic field of blue-violet (Default)
2011-08-18 10:18 pm
Entry tags:

Use of Pseudonyms by IRS Employees

On the topic of government workers, here are the guidelines for IRS workers taking on pseudonyms. They do have to get permission and prove expectation of harm, but I suspect that is not an uncommon expectation for an IRS case worker, and they can use past history of threats or violence.

When I worked at an ISP we had a more informal policy for this; we simply used our first names, or if we felt we were at particular risk, or if two people had the same first name, chose a unique first name. We also each had a numbered email account for work only. This kept us accountable for what we said and did, but protected us from a customer base that did indeed often threaten us with physical harm, among other things. That and the locked garage were both a relief, given the kind of vitriol we used to get on a regular basis. Most of the threats weren't credible, but it was still rather disturbing.

Internal Revenue Manual - 10.5.7 Use of Pseudonyms by IRS Employees

(Crossposted to https://plus.google.com/u/1/102376799902430080799/posts/7psEX2nBpUE and https://joindiaspora.com/posts/391588)
oda: monochromatic field of blue-violet (Default)
2011-08-13 02:06 am
Entry tags:

Ways To Take Action

My Name Is Me

Are you someone who uses a pen name? An author, an actor, a musician, an artist? Do you change your name for business? Do you know anyone high profile who does?

My Name Is Me can use contributors.

Original post by +K Robert (Skud): https://plus.google.com/103325808503679220346/posts/LpCFPG1AezL
More thoughts on strategy by Skud: https://plus.google.com/103325808503679220346/posts/LpCFPG1AezL

Submit Feedback

1. Go to your profile page. Click 'send feedback'. Highlight your name. Submit your suggestions.

NOTE: It is very important that you submit your feedback exactly like this. If you do it elsewhere (e.g. highlighting names in a post, instead of your name on your profile page), then it won't get collated as accurately.

Original post by +Sai .: https://plus.google.com/103112149634414554669/posts/9mbQq6gvwqp

Build A Better Mousetrap

Sadly I am not really flush with VCs in my contact list, but +Shava Nerad has even written a pitch for this.
oda: monochromatic field of blue-violet (Default)
2011-08-13 01:35 am

Criticism and Commentary (a small subset)

"Google can not continue with a policy that is so arbitrary that people's real names are rejected, and people's "known as" names are approved one time, and then rejected the next time they are challenged. Nobody wants to invest in a social network which may arbitrarily ban them at any moment."
+Kee Hinckley on the inconsistencies of how the common name policy is enforced.

Video: Is Google+ Killing Anonymity?
+Doug "Krikket" Krick posts EFF's +Eva Galperin's interview on Russia Today.

satiricalbite posts a video "Satire: An Interview with the Folks Behind Google+" -- I find it kind of hard to see the satire in this one, because it's basically what Google is saying. I can't remember who shared this one with me, sorry!

"2007 study says removing anonymity increased hostile interactions by four times that of pseudonymous online discussion."
from +Jay Blanc's post

"Google thinks the freedom of expression is most important value to uphold on the internet. ... We concluded in the end that it is impossible to provide benefits to internet users while observing this country's law because the law does not fall in line with Google's principles."
-- Rachel Whetstone, vice president of Global Communications & Public Affairs at Google, Freedom of Expression on the Internet.
from +Brandon Blackmoor's post on how Google resisted South Korea's real names policy

+Rainyday Superstar, active Buzz user and Trusted Beta Tester, was invited to test Google+ and has had her entire Buzz history vaporized as well as everything else Profiles-dependant. She can't roll back to her pre-test state. If she wants to un-brick her phone she will have to do a factory restore and give it a new account, losing any apps she has purchased through the Marketplace.

"Until Facebook came along, there was hardly anywhere on the public Internet where you had to operate with your real name."
-- +Jeff Iverson

Mirrored to Google+
oda: monochromatic field of blue-violet (Default)
2011-08-12 07:00 am

Non-Progress Progress

Punted on much of yesterday; health is acting up, so no real progress on data liberation other than to do a bit of research. Android liberation in particular is reminding me of how much fun it is to deal with Monsanto; the more I look, the more of a tangle it seems to be. Here, have some links!

Alternatives to the Google monoculture
"Monocultures are unhealthy, whether it’s a crop or an informational system, and privacy is a fundamental necessity to democratic institutions. The Internet is arguably one of the most democratic places ever to have existed, but tracking users – not to mention forcing them to use a government-accepted name – threatens that." -- Leaf and Steel

"They knew exactly what they were getting into, and chose to do it anyway. The stalling, avoidance of the issues, and all-too-rare weasel-worded statements are exactly what I would expect from Vic and the rest of G+ management based on their behaviour pre-launch" -- +K Robert in a comment highlighted by +Collette Lynner

Own Your Own Identity
"But all of these proprietary networks that want to own and hold in your content are reversing much of the web’s progress in some other areas, such as the durability and quality of online identity." -- Marco Arment

Mirrored from Google+
oda: monochromatic field of blue-violet (Default)
2011-07-16 10:10 am
Entry tags:

Potential Pseudonym Options

Backdated crosspost from Google+; intended to explicate the various options that Google might be considering; original post has comments.

Potential Pseudonym Options

It's been clarified that using an initial for one or another of your real names is all right; that still hasn't been posted as policy but it is part of policy (or likely enough to become part of policy that we can operate as if it were already posted.)

So the major clarification pending is on true pseudonyms. I see the likely choices as being between:

1) Only Real Names but you can use initials, and if someone challenges your name you have to show Google a paper trail proving you have the right to it. This is the most restrictive but does afford privacy to those of us with unique real names and will allow many people with privacy concerns to operate here, as long as they do not possess both a unique first and last name. (Perhaps they could use middle names.)

2) Pseudonyms are allowed but they must somehow "look" like real names by some criteria that is likely going to end up being subjective by necessity. These may or may not require a paper trail if challenged, i.e. pseudonyms will be allowed for people with pen names or who have operated a business or published works under their name, or who have subscribed to other major Real Name sites with their pseudonym (presumably lying to get in if they don't have any other paper trail?)

2a) If there is policing of "real names" then it seems likely that the "legitimate namespace" will need to be modified to include names from other cultures that aren't formed from two words, to support people whose legal full names have unusual construction, etc. There are lots of different name constructions all over the world.

3) Full pseudonyms such as Second Life avatar names that look like constructed names are allowed. Likely this option will not require a paper trail, recognizing that it's hard to provide one for such names and that it's a double standard to enforce a paper trail only for names that "look funny." These names will need to be well-formed without numbers or symbols, formed from alphabetical characters only, and will likely (IMO) be machine-screened for offensive language, which is less subjective than for "looking like a real name". I would hope that there is an appeals process for the screening so that people with a last name like 'Woodcock' could operate under their real name here if they desire.

I think we're going to have one of these. I prefer (3), and would feel that (2) was "quite good" as long as there was no paper trail requirement but only the normal requirement to act in good faith (no spamming, operating as a business on non-business profiles, harassment, griefing, defrauding, etc.) (1) addresses my basic privacy concerns but doesn't at all help people who are better known under psuedonyms, which is why I prefer the other two options even though my own profile has been clarified to be safe from suspension for using an initial.

This is an edited comment from this very long thread: https://plus.google.com/102376799902430080799/posts/9pPNgN6wbzk