[HacktionLab] Hacktion Lab workshop proposal

Alan Dawson aland at burngreave.net
Fri Oct 22 01:44:44 BST 2010


Sorry for the long email.  If you can't be arsed please read the last paragraph, otherwise

Over the last 2 years I've become interested in general internet surveillance, both corporate and state.  At last years ( Summer 2010 ) BarnCamp I presented some observations on the levels of surveillance and some strategies on how to avoid being surveilled[0].  When it came to avoiding surveillance from corporate news/social media platforms the general strategy for avoiding surveillance was ( and is  ) abstinence.

But I need to be able to interface with corporate communication platforms.  As communications infrastructure has changed from bangpath store and forward[1] to the current centralised commercial offerings, so the number of people using these systems has expanded.  I need to be able to communicate with these people today; I can't wait for the us all to be mesh networked self facilitating media nodes [2]

I've lurked on facebook and twitter, listened to imcistas[3][4], and  discussed with activists, around their needs to take control of their identity within these corporate spaces. I've particulary followed climate camp and their use of twitter, and the way they have been trolled also[5]. I wrote a twitterbot to troll the trolls.

After much cider and ale and conversations at Barncamp 2010 some of the next steps were becoming clear.  A proxy,wrapper or bridge that allows one to insert content into centralised corporate sites safely, and also can allow content to be extracted and sanitized

After a little research statusnet[6] seems to have a lot of the initial required features already, some interesting other ones

1.  Its decentralised ( ie I can install it, customise it, sanitize its logs )
2.  It can bridge to twitter/facebook
3.  There are several AGPL android mobile apps for statusnet installs ( which it would be feasible to repackage and rebrand as a dedicated "install indymedia " in some mobile app storsome mobile app store )

Here is a bit of trivial ascii art that shows some of these ideas.

User posting	--->	StatusNet 	<-- TwitterBridge --> Twitter
Indymedia 	--->	StatusNet 	<-- FacebookBridge --> Facebook
Mobile Apps	--->	StatusNet 	<-- oStatus --> Other Service		
RSS		--->	StatusNet       --> RSS --> Other Service
		  ^	StatusNet	-->  Indymedia 
		( eg url shortener,regex filter, #tagger )

I've managed to stitch together a functioning prototype of some of this functionality at https://shrtr.burntout.org, where there is a statusnet installation, with functioning bidirectional twitter bridge. 
Together with this I've written a link shortening service with web api at http://grape.rat.burntout.org/shrt/ .  The statusnet service can use this api.  There is an rss to statusnet link based on feed2omb[7].  This is taking the rss feed from https://london.indymedia.org tagging it putting it in twitter at http://twitter.com/charliesimmond
Also you can post from android statusnet applications ( example Mustard [8] , MicroBlog [9] , StatusNet [10] ).  Mustard and Microblog add "Share this" function to the android phones, which allows very quick and simple publishing of files.

Its functionally good enough at the moment for me to use it to proxy my twitter usage through it, and for it to act as a method of injecting content into twitter from an arbitary rss feed (though you cannot do this from the web interface).  If you'd like to test it please do.

Is anybody interested in discussing this further ?
* there is lots of talk about pubsubhub, ActiveStream and oStatus, but I dont know anything about this, can anybody help ?
* How about oAuth and hyperactive, allowing statusnet users to link to hyperactive accounts ?
* Can we repackage a microblog app, strip out all the things we dont need ( like corporate link shorteners), preset publish server details and get it in android marketplace ?
* Jabber XMPP bridges?

If any of this is interesting to anyone else, or you've got  I'd love to be able work for the next 6 months on developing these things to a state where we can release at the next Barncamp 2011 a functional service for people to _really_ use.

[0] http://aland.burngreave.net/presentation/barncamp/ordered/                                                                
[1] http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dga/15-849/store_and_forward.html
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Barley
[3] https://london.indymedia.org/articles/203
[4] http://lists.indymedia.org/pipermail/imc-london/2009-November/1108-t9.html
[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/24/twitter-backfires-climate-camp
[6] http://status.net
[7] http://ciarang.com/posts/feed2omb
[8] http://mustard.macno.org/
[9] http://gitorious.org/android-microblog
[10] http://status.net/2010/09/17/statusnet-for-android-available-in-the-app-market

Alan Dawson
GPG key: http://aland.burngreave.net/files/e81a4bba.gpg.pub.asc
Key Transition: http://aland.burngreave.net/files/keytransition.txt.asc
Further Reading: https://we.riseup.net/alster/openpgp-dsa1-key-rollover
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