I believe in a free and open web. Over the past 3 years, friends and I have been growing and shaping an ecosystem for that purpose — for many, it’s now our primary way of communicating. It’s built with cryptography and is p2p. The result is a system with fundamentally different behaviours than the old web.
This is part of a series exploring the sociological and technological ramifications.
I call it “The Medium is the Message: Cypherspace Edition”.

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Speaking at a recent re:publica conference, my friend Rich Bartlett voiced his lack of faith in blockchain as a solution for all…

Protozoa is a tech coop, and we write open source code. This is a little bit about what that means, and how open source is the foundation on which we’re building an aspirational future.

I recently published a new feature for Patchbay — an open source project I maintain. It allows you to easily @-mention people in the scuttleverse (a p2p social network). This isn’t straightforward because it’s a decentralized space where identity is subjective and many people have more than one use-name. (I gave a whole talk on subjectivity here).

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I mention Mikey by a name that people in our coding context will be familiar with (dinosaur).

Why is this significant?

I’m proud of this feature…

I’m a critical thinker. I’m a coder with a background in maths — I excel at taking ideas and problems apart. The blessing of this is that I understand systems I work with intimately, perhaps even better than others. The curse is that sometimes my deep-analysis means I present like the guy who “just points out all the problems”; a nay-sayer; a devils-advocate.

If you relate to any of these things, welcome. Having a Black Hat is a super-power, but if you’ve got one you’re probably deploying it sub-optimally. …

As a programmer, part of my job is to spot ‘code smells’. Like being alert for musky over-ripeness somewhere in your fridge, or unwanted acridity of burning plastic coming from your computer, smells hint that nearby, something is amiss, and it’s probably going to get worse.

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an anti-pattern

In code it’s usually that you’ve used a pattern that seemed good when you started, but as you continue to add things, suddenly it gets volatile. An everyday example would be running too many appliances off a multi-board.

Patterns of coding that lead to future instability we call anti-patterns.

Code smells are the whiffs…

I estimate state education has set my technical ability as a coder back about a decade. This is annoying, but I think I now have my finger on a core thread that really needs pulling.

I value conciseness so here’s what I think the essence of it is:

power dynamics hamper learning; what a waste of potential.

As an inquisitive (and naive) teenager, I judged IT largely by what was offered at school. Touch typing, some HTML maybe, but none of the really beautiful stuff. The offering was boring and unchallenging compared to centuries-old maths and sciences.

My inquiry led me to study neuroscience, which turned out to be…

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If you’re still using email for direct communication, you’re probably facing some well known problems : spam, provider lockin, privacy, and reliability (doesn’t work without the internet).

I’ve helped build an app called Patchwork which sidesteps these problems. Patchwork is built on an open gossip network. Here’s how it works:

  • In the network everyone has a diary which only they can write to.
  • When you bump into a friend, you can make a photocopy of their diary.
  • To send a message to a friend, I leave a message in my diary and scramble (encrypt) the words using a code only…

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I’ve been exploring participatory education for a while now. I started teaching at Unlimited, a school in Christchurch, where students were just as likely to be doing kickflips as studying chemistry. These days, I’m working with Dev Academy, teaching humans how to be empathetic cyber wizards.

Having spent a fair amount of time falling asleep in tedious classes, I’ve thought a lot about how to make lectures less crap.

I’ve noticed lots of lecturers fall into the trap of just filling the time available. So normally, lectures look something like this:

mix irving

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