Day-After-Report: Personal Digital Home Meetup, July 30

Future Posts For PDH Will Be On DHMN Civic Hacks Blog, Not On Events Wrangling

tl;dr — Three of us met and discussed the Personal Digital Home project for 3 hours on July 30. We decided:

[If you’re not familiar with the Personal Digital Home project, it is “the starting point for your digital life.“ The PDH concept is essentially One Site To Rule Them All, your data storage shed, control panel and cyberspace digital presence. A PDH website is intended to let you Own Your Data, give you more control your presence in the metaverse, and make you more effective at interacting with all things digital. Two other projects closely related to PDH are IndieWeb and The Decentralized Web initiative.]

July 30 Meetup Summary

Three NE Wisconsin TIME community members met on July 30, 2016, from 1 – 4 PM CDT at Tom’s Drive In on Westhill Boulevard in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA, to discuss and work on the Personal Digital Home (PDH) project. This post is an overview of the July 30 meeting.

I had proposed an agenda for this meetup, but we pretty much ignored it. This was Chris’ first exposure to PDH, so Mike kicked off the meeting by explaining to Chris what Mike’s understanding and vision of the project is. Unfortunately, I can’t repeat here what Mike said, so for now only Chris and I got the benefit of how Mike sees PDH.

[At the next PDH meetup, I’m going to record Mike (and others if they’re ok with that) when they paint a picture of what PDH means to them. Then I’ll put that in cyber-writing, and we can refine the descriptions. That will help us see what the commonalities are between people working on the project and how each one aligns with the big picture I’m working to solidify for PDH.]

To me, Mike’s description of PDH sounded pretty close to the IndieWeb project, with a strong emphasis on OYD (Own Your Data) and POSSE (Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere). So I expanded on what Mike said and explained that PDH is intended to help people better manage all their digital “stuff” online and offline now and twenty years from now when people’s lives will be even more digital than they are now. That means it will include things like:

  • Your own website (using a URL or domain name you registered for yourself ).
  • The POSSE content you create, e.g. for Twitter, Facebook, other social media, blog posts, Google Docs, photos, etc.
  • A reliable, secure, and private backup system for all the digital data you don’t want to lose.
  • A portfolio or repository for all your education, learning, knowledge, and expertise.
  • An umbrella site for all your ventures, side gigs and residual income streams.
  • Whatever other digital components your life has (or pointers to those components if they are under your control elsewhere).

Think about your digital and online life ten or twenty years ago. Then think about how much more digital, cellular and internet-connected you are today.

NOWextrapolate forward twenty years. The concept of PDH is to be the digital interface you’ll want to have twenty years from now, when even more of your life is locally-networked and internet-connected via cellular, WiFi, and other wireless or wired protocols, blending reality, augmented reality, virtual reality, holography, wearable computing, robotics, and other digital-life tools that haven’t been imagined yet.

After Mike and I told Chris how we see PDH, he asked a few questions, then we started talking about different components of PDH and how the overall concept might function. That was sort of Talking Point 1 on my agenda, or at least part of it. Mike and Chris didn’t have an interest in talking about or working on secure and reliable backup systems for people’s current digital data and lives, so I’ll have to connect with someone else if PDH is going to create a reliable, secure and private backup system people can build in upcoming months.

Toward the end of the meeting, we talked a bit about Next Steps for PDH. All in all, it was an excellent meeting, and I feel we made good progress. I’m looking forward to working on PDH over the next few weeks and meeting up again in person in a few weeks.

PDH Communications

We agreed that, for now, most of our communications will happen via the NE Wisconsin Slack team in the #dhmncivichacks channel.

I’ve been publishing posts about the PDH project on the Events Wrangling blog, but will move those to the DHMN Civic Hacks blog since we’re putting it under the DHMN (Distributed Hacker/Maker Network) umbrella, at least as a starting point. I’ll leave a pointer on the Events Wrangling blog telling people interested in PDH to look at DHMN Civic Hacks.

For communicating and collaborating regarding software, firmware, hardware, services, and project design, we’ll use GitHub as a central point for now. I’ll probably do some work on a GitHub wiki. The IndieWeb project appears to use a MediaWiki wiki as their central organizing hub, with two freenode irc channels for their discussions (you can also connect via Slack).

We also agreed that the success of PDH is dependent on it being a hybrid project — some online interaction and some in-person, some asynchronous communication and some synchronous. The majority of the work will be done in a distributed fashion with online collaboration and communication. The distributed functionality will enable the project to build a global team if we can develop a good project base and effectively communicate compelling reasons to participate in the project.

But we’ll also have periodic in-person meetups, especially for recruiting new members to the project, for working together on hardware and other physical aspects of PDH, and for FUN and general relationship building. Plus maybe some Stuc’s pizza and Great White or Moon Man beer…

Security And Privacy

Security and privacy are critical to PDH being a viable concept and a usable digital tool. A couple NE Wisconsin infosec people expressed interest in the project, and I hope to have them at one or more of our upcoming meetings. My approach to PDH is that it will only be reliably secure and private if we have security people involved right at the beginning. It makes no sense at all to build PDH with only casual and incomplete or incorrect security measures, then expect to bolt on true security as an intermediate or last step. Won’t work.

We also discussed how security and convenience are, to a certain extent, on opposite ends of a spectrum. What I’d like to discuss with the security specialists is the concept of designing for the most secure system possible at three different levels of convenience.

  1. Convenience Level 1 — very convenient; preferred by 90%+ of the people who are online.
  2. Convenience Level 2 — medium convenience, preferred by tech people who want a middling amount of convenience with as much security as possible at that convenience level; 3 – 9% of people who are online.
  3. Convenience Level 3 — only use Tor or similarly-secure browser, use auto-obfuscation tools, encrypt all email and other communications if available, etc; 0.01 – 1.0% of people who are online.

Gravatar / IIRW / Pluggable Software Components

Mike’s goal is to figure out and build some type of elemental software chunk that performs along the lines of Gravatar, which is, I think, a POSSE widget. I’m not a coder, so I’m sure I’m mangling terminology. Mike can unmangle this paragraph to explain what his first PDH goal is. Or even better, he can write a separate post for DHMN Civic Hacks or a description for GitHub to describe what he’d like to initially work on for PDH.

We talked about creating modular pluggable software components for PDH, maybe along the lines of plugins for WordPress or extensions for the Chrome browser.

In addition to the Gravatar analogy, Mike used the example of the “Is it recycling week?” (IIRW) Android app civic hack he spearheaded. He started out by writing the AppletonAPI, based on some things he learned from a Madison civic hacker. Then he wrote the IIRW app. Along the way, another Mike got plugged into the civic API and recycling civic hack, and he developed a civic API discovery service with standard contracts, then he wrote a Greenville API. Chris and Ross also jumped in building a web interface for the recycling information, an Outagamie county API and a Pebble Watch app.

So Mike wants to figure out a small but useful component or building block of PDH that he and others can improve, build off of, and work toward the big picture of a fully functional PDH.

IPFS

Chris is starting on PDH by figuring out whether IPFS can be a useful component or building block for the project. IPFS is the acronym for InterPlanetary File System. (TechCrunch article about it for background)

As with Mike and the Gravatar / IIRW starting goal, I’ll let Chris write a paragraph to explain how or why he wants to build IPFS into the PDH. Or he can write a post instead of a paragraph! 🙂

Raspberry Pi 3 Hdwe Stack / AWS Virtual Stack

Raspberry Pi 3 was discussed as a possible hardware first demonstration platform for PDH.

I see the PDH development process as a dual-focus iterative process.

One focus is the design of the system. We don’t know exactly what PDH should look like yet, because we’re just starting to figure out what we want it to do. So part of the time we’ll be thinking about, researching and discussing what PDH should do, and what components will enable it to do those things. We’ll keep working on the design until we get to a v.0.1 design. Then we’ll iterate on that design and come up with the next incremental version.

Meanwhile, the other focus of the PDH project is building the modular pluggable components we think we want to use. Some of those components will be hardware, some will be software, some might be firmware or services. But we will be building things, not just discussing and designing them. What we learn from building and using those components will inform the next iteration of design, which will then inform the next iteration of build.

Based on what we discussed on July 30, Mike and Chris think a Raspberry Pi 3 might be an interesting starting point for PDH hardware. The three of us will research and think about that more and if, after the next PDH meetup, it still looks like the Pi 3 is a good hardware starting point, I’ll get a Pi 3 and start on the hardware build cycle.

Mike and Chris also mentioned the possibility of a minimal hardware instance of PDH which would likely use AWS, so one of them may start defining and developing that in parallel with the Pi 3 or other hardware-focused solution.

Other General Discussion

Since I didn’t record the meeting or take extensive notes, I’ll just include bullet points for the rest of the discussion we had on July 30. Mike or Chris can expand on these if they want, and I’ll update the post with their verbiage. Or the bullet points below can just stand as reminders to the three of us, as well as potential starting points for questions from others who are interested in PDH.

  • Blockchain; contracts for all components — Mike P can explain to Mike R his view on those being part of PDH
  • Make Something People Want
    • Mike’s example of group of students who are friends coming up with new uses for Minecraft and Pi
    • Josh G can help by giving input re what students he works with might want
  • Pluggable components for both software and hardware
  • Consumer WiFi router ⇒ consumer server
    • Chromebook update and near-zero maintenance model ⇒ consumer server
  • Minimum personally-owned hardware is encryption key (Mike)
  • Chrome profile (Mike)
  • ownCloud (Chris)
  • Sandstorm (Bob)
  • Folding At Home (Mike)
  • HTML local storage (Mike)
  • GitHub / Git (Mike)

Next PDH Meetup

The next PDH in-person meetup will be a Monday night — either August 15, 22, or 29. I will contact a few people this week to see which of those three work best, then I’ll publish a post and make a whole bunch of people aware of the date for the next meetup. PDH will be the main topic for Coder Cooperative (CC) on the Monday we select. CC runs from 7-9 PM at the Appleton Makerspace, but I’ll be there at 6 PM if a Makerspace member will have the door open by 6 — I’ll highlight in the pre-meetup post whether to come at 6 if you want to talk about PDH before the 7 PM official start time.

Ten people were interested in PDH and the July 30 meetup, but due to typical busy summer weekend schedules only three could make it. So I’m looking forward to having somewhere between five and fifteen people talking about and working on PDH in a couple weeks! 🙂

Future Posts For PDH Will Be On DHMN Civic Hacks Blog, Not On Events Wrangling

——————–

[contact Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail {dott} com if you have questions about PDH]

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Personal Digital Home Meetup, July 30, Appleton, Wisconsin

Tom's Drive InThe second meetup to work on the Personal Digital Home (PDH) project is tomorrow, Saturday, July 30, 2016, at Tom’s Drive In, 501 N Westhill Blvd, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.

We’ll meet from 1 – 4 PM in the upstairs area at Tom’s — it’s a little bit quieter up there and we can put a couple tables together.

As mentioned in an earlier post, this meetup will be a discussion-work session. If interested in more PDH background, see “IndieWeb and PDH: Talking Points For Coder Cooperative June 20 Meetup.” My proposed agenda for the second meetup has three main items, but I’m open to talking about or working on other aspects of PDH. The three tentative talking points are:

  1. Refine definition of PDH.
  2. Develop reliable backup system.
  3. Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH.

Here’s an expanded version of what we’ll talk about to start the work session, and we’ll see what happens from there.

  • Refine definition of PDH
    • Functional description — what will it do
    • Component description — what parts we think are needed for above functions
    • Hardware, software, services
  • Develop, document, and build reliable backup system
    • Learn from recent Google account deactivation and take action
    • Secure and private
    • Onsite and offsite
    • Maximum automation, minimum user responsibilitiesWordPress Personal Digital Home, tagline
    • Long term plan (50-year?)
  • Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH
    • IndieWeb has done a lot of work on using a WordPress approach for the Decentralized Web
    • WordPress powers 25%+ sites on the web; immediate traction for PDH
    • Philosophy of Automattic and Matt Mullenweg appear to align well with PDH
    • Quicker start for alpha version because we’re not building from scratch

A number of people expressed interest in learning more about the PDH project and maybe working on it, but they had previous commitments for July 30. To accommodate busy summer weekends, we’ll probably schedule another meeting for a weeknight in a couple weeks.

Hope to see you at Tom’s tomorrow!

Tom's Drive In, Google Maps

Tom’s Drive In, Westhill Blvd, by Woodman’s (see also Google Maps link on address above)

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Next Meetup For Personal Digital Home

2nd Meetup For PDH

It’s time to organize the next meetup for the Personal Digital Home (PDH) project.

red flagThe recent articles about Google deactivating an artist’s account, essentially deleting over a decade of writing and art, raised a red flag and were the kick in the butt I needed to schedule the second meetup for PDH.

What’s PDH?

PDH is “the starting point for your digital life.“ The PDH concept is essentially One Site To Rule Them All, your data storage shed, control panel and cyberspace digital presence. A PDH website is intended to give you more control and make you more effective at interacting with all things digital. The first step for each person who wants a PDH will be to create their own website.

You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain, but you feel it.*

You want to be in control of your digital life, and you’re not. PDH changes all that — it puts you in control of your digital life!

Matrix, you know something

To learn more about PDH, see “WordPress: Default Personal Digital Home (PDH)” and other posts linked at the bottom of that initial post about the PDH project.

The first PDH meetup was at the June 20, 2016, session of the Appleton Makerspace Coder Cooperative (CC).

2nd Meetup — What We’ll Do

2nd meetup PDHThe second PDH meetup will be a three hour discussion-work session on July 24, 30, or 31, depending on which day works best for others. During the next couple days I’m going to contact a bunch of people who might be interested in getting involved with PDH to see which of the three days are open for them. If you’re interested in participating in the second meetup, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

There are so many different concepts and issues involved in the PDH concept that it’s hard to prioritize what to work on first. My proposed agenda for the second meetup has three main items, but I’m also open to talking about or working on other aspects of PDH. The three tentative talking points are:

  1. Refine definition of PDH
  2. Develop reliable backup system
  3. Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH

We’ll definitely start out by talking about what PDH is or should be. But depending on what others are interested in, we might spend the rest of the meetup on aspects of PDH other than a reliable backup system and alpha version of WordPress PDH. Below is an expanded version of what I’m proposing we consider working on.

  • Refine definition of PDH
    • Functional description — what will it do
    • Component description — what parts we think are needed to have the desired functionality
    • Hardware, software, services
  • Develop, document, and build reliable backup system
    • Learn from recent Google account deactivation — take action
    • Secure and private — foundations of backup system
    • Onsite and offsite
    • Scheduled data recovery / restore
    • Maximum automation, minimum user responsibilities
    • Long term plan (50-year?)
  • Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH
    • WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineIndieWeb has done a lot of work on using a WordPress approach for the Decentralized Web
    • WordPress powers 25%+ sites on the web; immediate traction for PDH
    • Philosophy of Automattic and Matt Mullenweg appear to align well with PDH
    • Quicker start for alpha version because we’re not building from scratch

We’re still working out the details of where we’ll meet. I’ll post an update after the location is determined.

If you’re interested in the concept of the Personal Digital Home, I hope to see you at the second meetup!

* paraphrased courtesy of The Matrix and IndieWeb

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Personal Digital Home & The Dangers Of Google

Red Flag Warning!

red flag 2A red flag warning was issued by the internet last week.

That red flag said you CANNOT rely on Google, Facebook, Apple, Dropbox or similar tech companies to store your data or files and always make it available to you.

If you want to always have your pictures, writings, songs, ebooks, email, and other data, information, files, or content available, you need to backup your data and consider getting involved with a project like IndieWeb, the Decentralized Web, or the Personal Digital Home.

Google Deactivates Artist’s Account

Last week I saw the Fusion.net article “Google deletes artist’s blog and a decade of his work along with it.” The article told how an artist and writer can no longer access deactivated google accountmost of his personal data and files from more than a decade of his life because Google deactivated his account. This article reaffirmed my commitment to developing the Personal Digital Home. According to the Fusion.net article:

Artist Dennis Cooper has a big problem on his hands: Most of his artwork from the past 14 years just disappeared. It’s gone because it was kept entirely on his blog, which the experimental author and artist has maintained on the Google-owned platform Blogger since 2002…”

A friend of mine saw a related Guardian.com article, “Dennis Cooper fears censorship as Google erases blog without warning,” and sent me a link to it. He is interested in working on the Personal Digital Home and knew I’d want to read about Cooper’s problems. The Guardian.com article gave a few more details regarding Cooper’s data “loss.”buh bye

Two weeks ago, writer and artist Dennis Cooper was checking his Gmail when something peculiar happened: the page was refreshed and he was notified that his account had been deactivated – along with the blog that he’d maintained for 14 years…Cooper updated DC’s blog six times a week, highlighting film, fiction and music he enjoyed…

The ramifications of the deactivation are severe. His newest gif novel, Zac’s Freight Elevator, which he’d been working on for seven months, was exclusively hosted on the blog and is now lost. His deleted email account also contained more than a decade’s worth of contacts, as well as offers to talk and perform…”

Free Speech Not In Terms Of Service

The Guardian.com article makes the point that Cooper’s account deactivation by Google may be related to censorship. It also points out that although the US Constitution (as ammended) guarantees free speech, that applies to public censorship, not censorship by a private corporation such as Google, Facebook or Apple. Those companies are free to define the terms of use for their services, and you have to decide how those terms of service may free speech noaffect you.

“…First amendment rights to free speech in the United States are constrained when one is operating in the world of corporations such as Google or Facebook. “In America you have first amendment rights but that only protects you against public censorship,” said Pati Hertling, an art lawyer and independent curator. “Because it’s Google, they’re a private corporation, it’s a private realm, they can do whatever they want.”

Google’s terms of services state they can “suspend or stop providing our services to you if you do not comply with our terms or policies or if we are investigating suspected misconduct”…”

Smokey The BackupBear: Only You Can Prevent Data Loss

smokey the backupbearFusion.net’s article points out this isn’t just Cooper’s problem. It’s not just the problem of the miniscule 0.0001% of Google’s users who have had their accounts deactivated. And it’s not just Google. Facebook and other tech companies work the same way. It is simply unwise and foolish to blindly expect Google or other companies on the web to store your data and rely 100% on them to make your data available to you for the next 100 years — or even for later today or tomorrow.

“…this doesn’t just reflect the archival woes of an experimental writer. It’s another reminder of Google’s role as arguably the world’s most powerful organization when it comes to preserving and storing information.

Google says that its “mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But whether or not it’s interested in maintaining a record of the past, or helping others do so, remains unclear…most of the archival projects Google touted in the early 2000s, such as Google News Archive and Google Groups, were quietly abandoned several years ago…

So the removal of Cooper’s blog doesn’t necessarily feel like a surprise so much as it does part of a quiet trend. As Baio puts it, “We can’t expect for-profit corporations to care about the past.” It’s a trend that suggests a conclusion that’s at once obvious and sad: if the internet is your archive, your archive isn’t safe.”

Even some people who work at Google are upset that Cooper’s Google account was deactivated, that Cooper can no longer access the writing, artwork, emails and other content he created, and that neither Cooper nor anyone else can view the artist’s blog. Guardian.com’s article says:

“…Three followers who work at Google launched simultaneous internal investigations into the blog’s closure. One senior Google staffer worked with Cooper to resolve the issue until 2am one night to no avail….”

data backupIf you want your data to always be safe and available, you need a reliable data backup system.

Most people don’t know how to set up and maintain a reliable data backup system. Also, people are lazy and they procrastinate, so even if they know how to set up and use a reliable backup, they might not do everything they should to keep their data safe.

Technology changes. Frequently. So the reliable-when-designed backup system will inevitably, at some point, no longer be reliable.

A reliable backup plan for data must include periodically copying your files to new data storage media. Your computer files have a limited shelf life on data storage media, like floppy disks (remember those?), CDs (remember those?), USB flash drives and hard drives. You can’t copy files onto storage media and expect it access it 50 years from now. Your grandchildren certainly won’t be able to access it 75 or 100 years from now. The data may be corrupted on the storage media. Or you might not even have the computer hardware, like a 5.25” floppy drive, to try and access the file.

Cooper was like just about every other computer user and internet services user. It is certain that the number of consumers who have a reliable system for backing up all their data and files is less than 10%. The number is probably less than 1%. Cooper knew he should have his data and files backed up. He just didn’t do it…

Back Up Today (And Tomorrow…)

In closing, the Guardian.com article quoted Cooper.

“…His advice to other artists who work predominantly online is to maintain your own domain and back everything up. “As long as you back everything up. I don’t see really the danger,” he said. “But if you’re at the mercy of Google or some place like Google, obviously I’m a living example of not to be blind like that and think that everything is hunky dory.”

Cooper lost his digital life.backup

If you don’t want to lose your digital life, do the work required to set up, properly maintain, and update a reliable backup system.

Somewhere between 90% and 99.999% of the people who read about Cooper losing his digital life will not change and do the work required to make sure they won’t lose their digital life.

IndieWeb, Decentralized Web, Personal Digital Home

If you want to help improve the web so people can own their data and not be in danger of losing their digital lives, start working on a project like IndieWeb, the Decentralized Web, or the Personal Digital Home.

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Google TakeoutFor starters on your data backup work, if you use Google services, like Gmail or Blogger, go to Googe Takeout RIGHT NOW and create an archive of your Google data, then download it to your personal storage media (probably an external hard drive?) as soon as you get the download links from Google.

If you’re interested in discussing the issues in this post, including the Personal Digital Home, contact Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

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Day-After-Report: 920_sec Meetup, July 2016

July 920_sec Meetup

Last night was the second gathering of 920_sec, the monthly Information Security meetup network for NE Wisconsin infosec professionals, IT professionals interested in learning more about security related topics, Researchers, Hackers, and all things in-between!

920_infosecThe meetup happened at The Bar Holmgreen Way in Green Bay. When I arrived at close to the listed start time of 5:30 PM, the meetup organizer and one other participant were sitting at a large table between the front door and the pool tables. Between 10 and 15 people came to the meetup, with some of them showing up pretty close to 5:30 and others straggling in between 6:30 and 7 PM. If you thought about coming but decided not to because you could get there fairly close to 5:30, no worries. Just show up whenever you can make it. I think the people who arrived at 7 PM enjoyed themselves just as much as those who got there close to the listed start time.

As of July 14 there are 28 people registered for the 920_sec meetup group, and 8 had RSVPd for last night’s event. Most people seemed to be from the Green Bay area, but Appleton and Milwaukee were also represented. As word spreads about the group, we should be able to get people participating from a variety of NE Wisconsin cities. The first few meetups moon man 2will likely be in Green Bay because that’s where the group organizer lives and where a majority of participants are located. If there is significant interest in the Appleton and the Fox Valley, 920_sec might schedule a meeting there.

There was no agenda last night, just talking with the people sitting near you, getting to know each other a little or catching up with those you already knew, chatting about random topics, and telling war stories or tall tales whilst swilling water, soda, and beer and eating supper or munchies (mozzarella sticks were my favorite). Last night was strictly a social gathering. It was fun to meet some new hard-core geeks from NE Wisconsin and hear what things they were working on or interested in.

Future 920_sec Meetups

social meetup in barI’m looking forward to seeing what happens at the next several meetings. The format of future 920_sec meetups will no doubt take a few months and a number of side conversations to figure out. The group has a lot of really smart people in it, but they’re also busy people, so they’ll have to find significant value in the meetup if they’re going to add another event to their already-full schedules. That’s a perennial problem for Meetup.com groups and for member groups in general. Some of the group’s members may just want a social gathering, while others might prefer a short presentation followed by group discussion, an informative talk, just an organized group-presentationdiscussion about a high-interest infosec topic, or other type of coordinated group activity.

The meetup organizer, with input from group members who strongly prefer specific types of meetup activity, will need to decide whether to push the group toward one meetup format or a combination of formats. Then the group members will decide if they get value from that type of infosec meetup, and they’ll vote yea or nay with their feet. A few topics that a coordinated group activity could involve are:

  • Security challenges or incidents related to NE Wisconsin companiescybersecurity digital lock
  • Security incidents outside NE Wisconsin
  • Open source security practices
  • 920_sec organizing an infosec event for local organizations or general public
  • Meet onsite at NE Wisconsin companies (w/ food and beverages sponsored and delivered)
  • Invite lead security people from NE Wisconsin companies to talk to the group or to discuss a security challenge with the group to get their input
  • Group members sharing infosec skills in demo or workshop
  • Discuss and work on an infosec presentation topic for a NEWDUG meeting, NEWCodeCamp, at a school or university, or to local organizations
  • Ethical hacking session
  • Practice CTF wardriving in preparation for Cyphercon
  • Acceptable-risk variant of walll of sheepishness to demonstrate mobile device insecurity at a public meetup location
  • Distributing Playboy flash drives in random parking lots
  • Building well-designed Unsubscribe buttons to get high click-through rates
  • Security-related Pokémon Go outing

Connecting The NE Wisconsin Infosec Community

I’m not an infosec practitioner, just a tech enthusiast who is aware of some of his shortcomings in the area of security knowledge and practices, a tech community builder WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineand events wrangler who sees value in a connected NE Wisconsin infosec community, and someone who is working on a major initiative which has a foundational need for strong security. There is also a second major initiative I’ve proposed which has infosec as its primary focus. It would be fantastic if that initiative could get some traction, but the project requires a lead infosec person with a passion for improving the overall security of organizations and residents in NE Wisconsin.

There are probably 100 to 500 NE Wisconsin people who didn’t show up last night who are responsible for infosec in area organizations or who are or would like to be (think “students”) involved in security as a personal interest. Seems like at least 25% of them would want to connect and participate in periodic meetups. So that’s at least 25 more people, and possibly 100+, who should know about the 920_sec meetups!

The dual challenge ahead for the group is (1) to develop a high-value meetup format and culture and (2) to make all the right people in NE Wisconsin aware of 920_sec.

Cyphercon Tickets!!!cyphercon

Tickets are scheduled to be available starting August 1st for Cyphercon, Milwaukee’s first and only hacker conference. The event sold out quickly last year, so make sure to get your tickets right away this year!

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Personal Digital Home Background Research

D-Web Movement: Widespread, But Below Tipping Point

So I was going to write a post today about the WordPress Personal Digital Home (PDH). To help me write the post, I first did a little reading about the Decentralized Web (D-Web) movement for which Brewster Kahle and Tim Berners-Lee are two of the leading proponents.

SisyphusArgh… I ended up spending a couple hours reading about projects related to the D-Web and thinking about how they relate to the PDH. And that couple hours of reading is just barely scratching the surface. It feels like I’m just beginning to get a picture of how many technologies and people are involved in the D-Web effort. Sort of makes the PDH project feel overwhelming, or Sisyphean…

But I’m still going ahead with the PDH project!

It’s something I want and need. And if PDH is designed and built well, it will be something other people want and use daily.

But the rest of today’s post will just be a reading list for people new to the D-Web movement and the projects and technologies involved with it. If this topic seems important to you, take the time to go to the source items and read them in their entirety.

Locking The Web Open

The first item to read is “Locking the Web Open: A Call for a Distributed Web” — a clarion call from Brewster Kahle in August 2015, urging people to come together to build a clarion callDistributed Web (that name changed over the next few months to the Decentralized Web).

Over the last 25 years, millions of people have poured creativity and knowledge into the World Wide Web…

It turns out that the World Wide Web is quite fragile…We now know that Web pages only last about 100 days on average before they change or disappear. They blink on and off in their servers…And the Web is massively accessible– unless you live in China…And other countries block their citizens’ access as well every once in a while. So the Web is not reliably accessible.

And the Web isn’t private. People, corporations, countries can spy on what you are reading. And they do…So we need a Web that is better than it is now in order to protect reader privacy.

But the Web is fun. The Web is so easy to use and inviting that millions of people are putting interesting things online; in many ways pouring a digital representation of their lives into the Web…

We got one of the three things right. But we need a Web that is reliable, a Web that is private, while keeping the Web fun. I believe it is time to take that next step: I believe we can now build a Web reliable, private and fun all at the same time…

What we need to do now is bring together technologists, visionaries, and philanthropists to build such a system that has no central points of control. Building this as a truly open project could in itself be done in a distributed way, allowing many people and many projects to participate toward a shared goal of a Distributed Web….”

Decentralized Web Summit

decentralized webJoin us for the first Decentralized Web Summit — June 8-9, in SF” by Brewster Kahle in May 2016.

The first Decentralized Web Summit is a call for dreamers and builders who believe we can lock the Web open for good. This goal of the Summit (June 8) and Meetup featuring lightning talks and workshops (June 9) is to spark collaboration and take concrete steps to create a better Web.

Together we can build a more reliable, more dynamic, and more private Web on top of the existing web infrastructure…”

Break Open The Web

How To Break Open The Web” by Dan Gillmor and Kevin Marks in June 2016.

break open the web

Break open the web…

One of us is writing this piece from an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean. The other is working from his home in California. Not long ago this would have sounded like science fiction. Today it’s becoming routine in a world where we do more and more with amazing digital tools on far-flung networks.

But there’s a catch. We’re doing this on an Internet that is breaking its original promise.

…this government-created, radically decentralized network of networks, which has spawned so much innovation at the edges, is rapidly being re-centralized. Control is being captured by governments and corporations and taken away from—or being ceded by—the rest of us.

…What’s at stake here? In a word, permission. People should not need permission to speak, to assemble, to innovate, to be private, and more. But when governments and corporations control choke points, they also control whether average people can participate fully in society, politics, commerce, and more.

That’s why we spent three days earlier this month in San Francisco with technologists and activists who are determined to re-decentralize or redistribute the web (and by extension, the broader Internet), by returning control and permission to the edges…the Decentralized Web Summit brought together some of the graybeards who invented it all with millennials who see beyond the boundaries of Facebook. (You can watch the talks and discussions on the Internet Archive’s video player.)…”

Bringing Back The Blog

Bringing Back The Blog” by Tantek Çelik in August 2010 (early days of IndieWeb).bringing back the blog

8 years ago this month I started blogging my thoughts on tantek.com. That lasted just 6 years; there was no seventh year of blogging.

I continued publicly posting to Twitter, Pownce (moment of silence), Flickr (currently 7 months behind), my PBWiki, and comments on others’ blogs. But it wasn’t the same. I had gone from owning (most of) my content, to digital sharecropping…

Last year I told myself this year would be different. Among personal struggles perhaps I’ll recount someday, I thought about how should personal publishing work? How did I want it to work?…

Encouraged by the energy, enthusiasm, and optimism of the implementers at the Federated Social Web Summit (presentation) a month ago, I decided little text notes were not enough, it was time to rebuild my blog…”

IndieWeb Movement Importance

Why the Indie Web movement is so important” by Dan Gillmor in April 2014.IndieWebCamp

Suppose you could write in your personal blog and have a summary of your post show up on popular social-media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook – and then have responses on those sites show up as comments in your blog? You can, and if some talented programmers have their way you’ll soon be able to do so easily…

Why would you or I want to do this? Simple: We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history – a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks – that would be you and me – don’t need permission to communicate, create and innovate.

…when we use centralized services like social media sites, however helpful and convenient they may be, we are handing over ultimate control to third parties that profit from our work, material that exists on their sites only as long as they allow…”

It looks like I’ll be doing a bunch more reading, absorbing, and figuring out how the myriad of D-Web efforts relate to PDH and might influence v.0.1 of the product. I’ll get back to you with more on PDH in a week or two…

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The Meaning Of Life Comes From How We Interact With Each Other

Connecting And Interacting With Each Other

A post I read today quoted Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn and one of the PayPal Mafia, as saying:Reid Hoffman

What is a meaningful life, and what kinds of social systems enable it?

Broadly, the meaning of life comes from how we interact with each other. The internet can reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other. The internet was this new medium where anyone could be a publisher, so what did that mean? What kinds of information would people want to publish about themselves? Traditionally, publishers had often built communities of interest around specific topics. But that didn’t mean all the people who were subscribing to Golf Magazine could easily find each other. But the internet made that possible…

The web was a place where millions and millions of people would create their own media identities, share information about themselves, and look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

When he said “how we interact with each other” and “the internet was this new medium where anyone could be a publisher,” Reid was talking about internet-enabled social connections, but his comments are highly relevant to organized events and to a couple other topics I’ve discussed on this blog.

From my point of view, interacting with each other is a tremendously important facet of events. Events wranglers should facilitate participant interactions and optimize the value of those interactions.decentralized web

With regards to publishing, WordPress, the Decentralized Web, IndieWeb and the Personal Digital Home (PDH) are all about democratizing publishing and giving people control of their online presence and content.

Reid’s words and ideas got me thinking about three different areas related to interactions, events, and internet publishing.

  1. Collaborative development of events.
  2. Democratizing publishing: WordPress, Decentralized Web, IndieWeb, PDH.
  3. Connecting a community of disruptive innovators in NE Wisconsin.

In today’s post, I’ll just mention a couple points about each of the above three items. They’ll be addressed in more detail in the future as I have the opportunity, especially if I connect with others who are interested in those topics.

Collaborative Development Of Events

What I’m thinking about with this first item is taking participant-driven events (like unconferences) to the next level. There’s no need to organize large events that almost no one wants to participate in. And there’s no good reason not to have an event which many people are interested in and would go to. Taking the quote above from Reid, you can combine a couple of his ideas in a way that points to internet-enabled collaborative development of events.

“…publishers…often built communities of interest around specific topics…The web was a place where…people would…look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

collaborative development of eventsSo a web service could be created for automated and collaborative development of events — let’s call it EventsOrganizer.blog. Anyone who wants to go to an event centered around a topic they’re passionate about could go to EventsOrganizer.blog and find out what events are coming up. If they’re interested in electric aircraft and want to participate in an electric aircraft one-day event in the Midwest USA within the next eight months, they can see if something like that is scheduled.

If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they can be an event founder by filling out a form listing the details of the type of event they’d love to be part of. Or they can find an event that’s close to what they’re looking for, and they can propose changes or maybe indicate alternate event design factors that would make the event one they would participate in. They could select drop-down criteria to say that they would go if the event was a one-day electric aircraft event that has a registration fee of <$50 and is being held in the next eight months within 800 miles of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA, rather than being a two-day event with a $495 registration fee being held in California ten months from now.

[Speaking of electric aircraft, here’s an article about a new electric aircraft motor — “…One of the main implications of this work…is that hybrid-electric aircraft possessing 4 or more seats will now be a possibility within the near future…Siemens and Airbus will reportedly be using the motor for the development of regional aircraft…”]

electric aircraft

People who wanted to go to an event can promote the one they suggested or one that’s close to what they want. Algorithms, bots, or some level of artificial intelligence could be built in to suggest changes that would be acceptable to a minimum number of participants. Conversations and communities could be built around upcoming events. There is much more that would go into the design of EventsOrganizer.blog, but the idea is that people will be able to co-create the types of events they truly want and will benefit from. No need to have events that people don’t really care about.

Here are some of the issues and criteria needed for collaborative development of events.

  • Overall theme.
  • Three to five sub-themes.
  • Length, date, time, location.
  • Min and max participants.
  • Total event cost per participant.
  • Partners and sponsors.
  • 1/9/90 rule.

Democratizing Publishing: WordPress, Decentralized Web, IndieWeb, PDH

IndieWebCampThe second item, democratizing publishing, is a topic being approached from many angles and worked on by many people. WordPress has had a mission of democratizing publishing for over ten years. IndieWeb was launched in 2010, Brewster Kahle organized the Decentralized Web Summit in 2016 (although people have been working on aspects of the D-Web for years), and I launched the PDH in June 2016. Each of these approaches to democratizing publishing, and many more that aren’t listed, feel that, at a time when internet companies are doing their best to isolate you in their silo, these words of Reid’s ring a bit hollow:

“…The web was a place where millions and millions of people would create their own media identities, share information about themselves, and look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

If you feel the web has become too centralized, that there are too many silos or walled gardens, or that you don’t really have control over the content you put on the web, consider getting involved in one of the initiatives or projects related to the Decentralized Web.

Connecting A Community Of Disruptive Innovators In NE Wisconsin

The third item, connecting a region’s disruptive innovators, is of very high interest to me. Reid’s comments speak directly to this issue.

“…the meaning of life comes from how we interact with each other. The internet can reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other…Traditionally, publishers had often built communities of interest around specific topics…that didn’t mean all the people who were subscribing to Golf Magazine could easily find each other. But the internet made that possible…millions and millions of people would…look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

Here are a couple points about NE Wisconsin to consider:wisconsin red NE

  • Conservative Midwest culture.
  • Major business sectors include agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, insurance and finance.
  • Relatively small technology sector, with the focus on IT — not CS, emerging technologies, or disruptive innovation.
  • No major research university.
  • Long cold winters; major geographical attraction is Lake Michigan shoreline.
  • 1.2 million residents.

I’m convinced that a small but significant number of those 1.2 million residents are disruptive innovators who would be highly interested in “opportunities to connect with” other disruptive innovators “in ways that could truly enhance their lives.” The number of disruptive innovators is probably between 5 and 500. Maybe there are as many as a couple thousand. Can you imagine what would happen in NE Wisconsin if 500 disruptive innovators were connected and interacting on a regular basis with even just a few like-minded people!

Our challenge is to use the internet to “reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other.” Once we’ve done that and built a community of disruptive innovators, the next step will be to facilitate events and other interactions to connect them with each other in ways that will truly enhance their lives.

It just so happens that I discussed this very topic with a disrupter last Saturday at Starbucks on Northland Avenue in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA. We’re working on Next Steps…

If you’re interested in discussing disruptive and destructive innovation in NE Wisconsin, or if you want to help make that kind of thing happen in our region, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

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PDH & Events Impacting The Future Of The Internet

[This post was sparked by two emails I received today. One was about people who are working to change what the internet looks like. The other was about the Personal Digital Home concept (PDH). Both these topics could have a big impact on events wranglers.]

Events That Could Change Internet’s Future

How do you find out about or keep track of events that are coming up?

This question is relevant to all events wranglers and to every person that wants to go to events involving topics of high interest to them. Each events wrangler and every event goer has some way to find out about events and keep track of what’s coming up.

internetThe topic of high interest to me today (and on many other days) is the future of the internet. The internet is still in its early years and will continue to change as technological innovations happen, as more of the world becomes connected through the internet, and as governments and corporations develop new policies affecting the internet.

Do you know what events are happening in the next four weeks that will impact the future of the internet? How about events in the next three months? In the next two years?

After reading my email about people working to change the internet, I dove down the rabbit hole and read a slew of related posts and articles. That rabbit hole excursion created a strong desire to develop a better way to find out about and track events impacting the future of the internet. Of particular interest are events focused on the decentralized web and on giving people more control over their digital lives and their activities in cyberspace.

decentralized webIf the decentralized web is of interest to you, the event you should have been at was the Decentralized Web Summit in San Francisco, California, USA, on June 8 – 9, 2016. Chances are good that a second summit will be held next year about the same time. Watch the Internet Archive blog — the 2016 event was announced on that blog.

(Further reading about the Decentralized Web: “How To Break Open The Web,” “Locking the Web Open: A Call for a Distributed Web,” and “Decentralized Web Server: Possible Approach with Cost and Performance Estimates.”

Personal Digital Home

So people are working to change the internet, but what does that have to do with the PDH initiative? Well, the future of the internet will very directly impact what a PDH is and how it works.

WordPress Personal Digital Home, tagline[Previous posts on Events Wrangling, such as “WordPress: Default Personal Digital Home (PDH),” have talked about the Personal Digital Home (PDH) concept. The PDH is meant to be “the starting point for your digital life.“ The first step for each person who wants a PDH will be to create their own website. That website will give them more control over their web presence and make them more effective at interacting with all things digital.]

The PDH email I received today was from a smart computer geek who’s also an internet tech wizard. He cautioned against building the PDH on popular existing website platforms that have recognized technical debt from their overextended legacy systems (my interpretation of his email). His actual words were,

I’m an old school sysadmin who wants to work closer to the file system. I want to store pictures, music, videos, documents as objects in the native file system, not have their access paths held hostage in a database…”

His email got me thinking about the foundations of a PDH and how it will need to:

  • Be designed for effective data import and export.
  • Be designed for adapting to future technologies.
  • Be aware of, and design around, key limitations of existing website platforms.

PDH Involvement With Internet-Changing Events

2016 2017 calendarTo the extent possible, people involved with the PDH project need to be aware of upcoming internet-changing events which are likely to influence PDHs. This includes events like the Decentralized Web Summits and IndieWeb Summits.

A new goal for me is to learn more about upcoming events designed to change the internet in ways relevant to the PDH initiative. An associated goal is for me or others on the PDH project to assist on or participate in those events when possible. And when it’s not possible, we need to stay informed on what happens at the events.

A tall order, but an interesting and enjoyable one…

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Diligent Digital Homesteaders, Natural Born Bloggers, & Motivated CyberWriters

Website Content In Their DNA

WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineIn the past couple weeks, I’ve worked a bunch on the WordPress Personal Digital Home (PDH) initiative and the Blogging: Fundamentals virtual course from Blogging University. Those two projects have caused me to think long and hard about who the ideal candidates are for launching PDHs and for starting and maintaining blogs or other websites for writers.

It seems worthwhile to develop generic profiles for three general classifications of high-potential website owners who would be good at creating website content:

  1. Diligent Digital Homesteaders
  2. Natural Born Bloggers
  3. Motivated CyberWriters

Events Wranglers & Website Owners

An events wrangler benefits in several ways from being able to understand if someone fits events wranglers &amp; website ownersinto the above categories. Consciously figuring out whether an event goer is a diligent digital homesteader, natural born blogger or a motivated writer will be low on most wranglers’ to-do lists, but consider these three scenarios concerning an event participant who fits into one of these categories:

  1. If they don’t already have their own website, they’re likely to be thrilled if you put them on the path to establishing their site, thereby making your event a special moment for them.
  2. If they enjoyed your event, they’re probably open to publishing cyber content about the event which could help your SEO, provide a compelling story about the event, or make your event more successful by catalyzing or facilitating post-event follow-up activities.
  3. If they have or develop a highly successful site, they might be able to help you improve your own website.

As an events wrangler, you’ll have opportunities to see the websites of speakers, attendees or vendors. Be aware of how you or your event might interact with or learn from those sites. If you are conscious of the criteria for the three groups described in this post, you can probably spot five or ten people involved with each event who are perfect fits for one of the three groups. Once you’ve identified those people, whether you personally connect with them depends on your motivations and interest in exploring a mutually-beneficial relationship that begins with a focus on them as a website owner.

The three lists below are admittedly draft versions, being incomplete and inelegantly worded. Over time I’ll edit this post to improve the lists. At some future time, I also plan to write an impactful post that more effectively communicates the jumble of thoughts found in a rough form in today’s post.

Diligent Digital Homesteaders

A draft list of criteria for diligent digital homesteaders (as of June 2016).

  1. digital homesteadersEnjoys having a place online that they can call their own.
  2. Early adopters
  3. Enjoys playing the domain name game.
  4. Wants to earn money through online activity.
  5. Willing to pay money for their own domain name and hosting service.
  6. Probably has a long term cyber-viewpoint. If younger than 20 years old, probably still transitioning from short term digital thinking to a long term cyber-viewpoint.
  7. Has a strong sense of digital or online content ownership.
  8. Willing to learn the technical skills needed to create their desired online home.

Natural Born Bloggers

A draft list of criteria for natural born bloggers (as of June 2016).

  1. bloggersEnjoys having a place online that they can call their own.
  2. Probably doesn’t hate writing assignments in school, at least not when they pick the topic.
  3. Writes at least partly for their own enjoyment; doesn’t need constant feedback from others.
  4. Interested in developing a regular writing and publishing routine or schedule.
  5. Probably knows others bloggers or reads blogs occasionally.

Motivated CyberWriters

A draft list of criteria for motivated cyberwriters (as of June 2016).

  1. cyberwritersEnjoys having a place online that they can call their own.
  2. Has written at least a moderate amount in the past; not starting their writing career from scratch with their website.
  3. May have ambitions to be an author, journalist, poet, or other type of professional or dedicated amateur writer.
  4. Has a specific desire to benefit from some aspect of online writing or publishing.
  5. Probably doesn’t have a desire to publish their writing online on a frequent or regular basis (such as a blog).
  6. May know other people who write or publish online.

The value of developing these profiles is that they will:

  • Help the PDH initiative be more successful.
  • Help me more effectively introduce WordPress to people who are likely to enjoy it and benefit from using it.
  • Reduce the abandonment of new WordPress websites.
  • Help improve the overall quality of active websites.

If you know of criteria I should add these lists, or revisions I should make to them, please contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

Democratize publishing more effectively by connecting high-potential website owners with WordPress! 🙂

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Day Thirteen: Build Your Brand

blogging universityHere’s my Blogging U class assignment for today:

  • Reinforce your blog’s image and brand by creating a custom blog icon.
  • Create an icon to represent your blog — a small photo, your initials, or a piece of your header image all work well.
  • Go to your blog’s General Settings tab by typing /wp-admin/options-general.php on the end of your blog’s address.
  • Finally, click “Choose File” under the Blog Icon tools on the right to upload your image, and follow the prompts to save it.

wrangler iconWell, even though I suspected the results would be disappointing, I tried using a small section of my header picture as my custom blog icon. The results were…disappointing. A tiny new personal goal is, therefore, to be aware of custom blog icons on other blogs I visit. I’m hoping to spot one or several custom icons that inspire me to create an icon for my blog that makes me smile. (My custom blog icon is the graphic on the left — it looks ok when it’s that size, but…)

If my virtual instructor for Blogging: Fundamentals asks — tell them I finished the assignment completely and promptly.

Developing a custom icon that truly makes me smile may have to wait until I take Custom Blog Icons 101 or until I meet a designer who wants to collaborate on little projects. Who knows. Maybe I’ll even connect with a designer who wants to consider BIG projects…

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WordPress Personal Digital Home & Meeting The Neighbors

New Home, New Neighbors

welcome to neighborhoodMeeting the neighbors is a good idea when you move into a new home.

Even if it doesn’t require industrial-strength events wrangler skills, meeting the neighbors qualifies as a type of event. It can be fun and worthwhile to meet new neighbors, but it can also be a bit intimidating and easy to put off until “later.” For most people, it’s easiest to get to know those neighbors if someone helps you out or gives you a gentle nudge to get you started.

My WordPress.com Blogging University class gave me a gentle nudge today — my assignment was to meet my cyber-neighbors by leaving comments on a few blogs.

When someone creates their WordPress Personal Digital Home (PDH), there will be virtual neighbors they should meet, so today’s Blogging University class assignment is highly relevant to the PDH initiative.

Blogging: Fundamentals — Day Eight

blogging fundamentalsThe virtual assignment for Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Eight — Introduce Yourself To The Neighbors is:

  1. Browse the blogs and topics you already follow.
  2. Check the Recommendations and Discover tabs to find great posts we think you’ll love, or browse the bloggingfundamentals tag to see posts from other new bloggers.
  3. Leave comments on four of the posts you read.

Today’s assignment is one I find both straight-forward and of high interest. The part which is moderately challenging is writing comments to be of high interest to the blog author and to initiate a meaningful conversation. Writing that type of comment will take a non-trivial amount of effort, and it may generate replies of equal or higher quality only 20% or 30% of the time. But finding even a small number of simpatico souls is well worth the time and effort you put into writing your comments.

I haven’t completed the three steps above yet, but I’ll finish today’s assignment as soon as I publish this post.

WordPress PDH & Virtual Neighbors

WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineThe WordPress PDH concept is essentially One Site To Rule Them All, your data storage shed, control panel and cyberspace digital presence. A PDH website is intended to give you more control and make you more effective at interacting with all things digital. It is also intended to democratize publishing by helping you write and publish things of interest to you on your digital “home.” A significant part of the value and purpose of what you publish is helping you connect with like-minded and complementary-minded virtual neighbors.

One step in connecting with your virtual neighbors is looking amongst the millions and billions online to find compatible cyber citizens. You don’t need to locate a clone or near-clone of yourself, but it does make sense to find people who have one or several interests in common with you, people with whom you can have a fun, respectful, and mutually-satisfying conversation.

The Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Three assignment helped with finding compatible neighbors by having the virtual students use the WordPress.com Reader to locate other blogs of interest to them. Today’s assignment extends the compatible-neighbor finding skills by having the student use the Recommendations and Discover tabs for locating more neighbors they might like to get to know better.

neighbor nametagOnce you’ve located neighbors you might have something in common with, leaving comments on their blogs is the best way to get to know them. In addition to the excellent Day Eight lesson suggestions for writing comments, the lesson also pointed to the post “Making Conversation: How to Think Up Good Comments.”

If you write posts in line with the lesson suggestions and with the Making Conversation post, I guarantee the blog author will be thrilled. High quality comments will help start real conversations with the type of neighbors who are interested in building meaningful relationships with like-minded or complementary-minded people.

Blog authors who participate in an engaging conversation with you are the type of neighbors new owners of a WordPress PDH want to meet. During beta testing as the WordPress PDH is developed, the early users will be encouraged to go through the Blogging: Fundamentals class, with extra emphasis on Days Three and Eight to help get to know their virtual neighbors.

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at one real-world event which can have several purposes, one of which is meeting the neighbors.

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