Free expression, harmful speech, and the future of the internet.

People holding signs in awareness of online challenges like hate speech, child sexual exploitation material and harassment.
People holding signs in awareness of online challenges like hate speech, child sexual exploitation material and harassment.

For all the good it brings — there’s a long list of reasons to dislike the modern web.

The online spaces we use to communicate are filled with hate speech and disinformation. On any given day, we fret about our privacy, wonder why certain voices continue to be amplified, why others are so persistently silenced, why we can’t more easily control what ends up in our feeds, and why in a world of billion dollar companies these problems not only still exist …but just don’t seem to be going away.


For image credits, see prototype in part 2.

In early 2017, yiibu began an ambitious piece of work for a small group of Mozilla stakeholders. This project (which came to be known as Hopscotch by Firefox) was shelved in early 2018, but in the spirit of making the web a better place, we’d like to share some of the research, concepts, and future facing ideas, that led to the project.(Big thanks to Mozilla for allowing us to publish this).

In this final article, we look towards a future inhabited by new tools, behaviours, and standards that champion user agency and creativity on the open web.


For image credits, see prototype in part 2.

In early 2017, we began an ambitious piece of work for a small group of Mozilla stakeholders. This project — which came to be known as Hopscotch by Firefox — was unfortunately shelved in early 2018. But in the spirit of making the web a better place, we’d like to share some of the research, concepts, and future facing ideas that led to the project. (Big thanks to Mozilla for allowing us to publish this).

  • In this, the first of three articles, we explore key research and insights that led to the concept,
  • Part 2 describes the product’s key design…


From WeChat to Messenger and Slack, our future is rapidly being colonized by social networks that effectively mean to function as operating systems. If this is our future, we will need the web more than ever, but it — and they — will have to evolve.

It’s easy to downplay the furore over Twitter’s proposed changes to its Timeline, but I believe it was caused by a much larger, somewhat existential malaise, that coincides well with the second big piece of social news this year (so far) — the downfall of Facebook’s Free Basics at the hand of Indian…


Tod Ehlers: Soothing to your stump, CC-BY on Flickr

Yesterday I ran into TagMe, a toolkit by students of MIT’s Fluid Interfaces Group designed to “turn the personal environment into an extended communication interface”. Similar in spirit to IFTT, the kit combines an all-purpose device (in this case a bracelet) with small, personalised recipes that interface with RFID-tagged objects and surfaces to trigger equally small but useful interactions such as sending a text, flashing a light or recording a piece of data.

Nice little project, but I can’t help but see a disconnect between recipes that are presented as something fun, casual and uniquely personal, but only work…


Photo: Moving Day by Nicolas Huk

Between 2000 and 2010, Bryan and I lived a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. We moved more than fifteen times, including stays of varying lengths in three continents, six countries, three Canadian provinces, and four cities in the UK. After five wonderful years in Scotland, we’ve recently moved once again!

Moving to a new country while running a small business can be tricky, so we’ve also planned (or seriously investigated) moves that for one reason or another never actually happened. …


Spimes — “a location-aware, environment-aware, self-logging, self-documenting, uniquely identified object that flings off data about itself and its environment in great quantities”. — Bruce Sterling, Shaping Things

We’re not quite there yet, but as a wise man once said — few things in our present or future are equally distributed (which IMHO remains a good thing). In the meantime, we’re taking tentative steps in to this world with the Physical Web.

To this end, Bryan and I have just released a preview to a new presentation about the physical web — an open project started by Google that is rapidly…


Image: Treasure Hill, CC-BY

For close to six months (slightly embarrassing ー_ー﹡) we tried in vain to locate an intermittently beeping thing in our apartment. While packing up the house to move to Vancouver, we finally found it (a *huge* relief, let me tell you as I wasn’t looking forward to explaining the unknown beep to prospective buyers).

It turned out that the thing, was in fact four separate thermostats…each in a different room, two on one floor, and two on another, that had each run low in power at a slightly different date and time over the space of a week. …


A satirical promotional blurb for a product you never knew you might need. Inspired by this lovely gem of mid digital era nonsense:

Doesn’t your family deserve, Titanium level piece of mind?

We’ve all heard the stories. A happy family or bright future shattered by legal costs after an unfortunate humming incident. Don’t let it happen to you!

At Titanium Insurance, we’re here to help with flexible and affordable insurance packages that will enable you and your family to hum with confidence.

Bronze Tier

  • One year of public humming insurance cover (£1M liability) in your home country.
  • Our award-winning and Free HumSafe app*. Hum a few bars into the app…

Meditations in sand, @oddwick, CC-BY

The latest Disney Research creation is a robot that draws things in sand.

BeachBot is kind of cute and generally harmless. You can imagine it lumbering along a Disney-owned resort regularly expelling cute characters, twee “Welcome!” messages and advertisements for the benefit of passersby.

Thinking ahead a bit, it’s also a great high level concept that could be hacked in interesting ways once various component bits get smaller, cheaper and less power hungry. (If the sudden rise of high-spec consumer quadcopters is to judge, such a time could be closer than we think!)

Here are a few examples:

  • AdverBot

Stephanie Rieger

Product design + strategy @yiibu . Thinks about futures, algorithms, tech policy, internet governance, and platforms. Writes speculative fiction.

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