The open web and the power of lobbyists

Published Date 2/27/15 1:37 AM is being regulated.

Net neutrality is a good thing the open web works because of it. But legislating around net neutrality is dangerous as it opens up the actuality existing open web to the power of lobbyists. Historically the web has been shaped by undefined “traditions” built on open industrial protocols. This “open web” is starting to become thin with the enclosures of the dotcoms.

We are now resorting to “regulation” which takes this nieve working “open” inside the bureaucracy, historical experiences of this is a bit scary. I understand we need to bite the bullet and do, but with our current politicians toss a coin into the air and hope it lands on its side…

The are some good people working on this lets hope it doesn’t go wrong, the out come will be in the small details…


Citizenfour hiding behind Oscar

A river that needs crossing political and tech blogs – On the political side, there is arrogance and ignorance, on the geek side there is naivety and over- complexity

My videos are on these two youtube channels visionontv 3,832,876 views and undercurrents 22,689,976 views


Lets look for a moment at sanity in grassroots terms

Published Date 2/23/15 3:24 PM

The are a lot of “insane” people in activism and counter-culture, its what makes it exciting, dynamic and affective. However with everything its a question of balance, lets look at how a movement stagnates, fails or growes and blossems.

A short off the top of head list

NGO’ists push limited bureaucratic thinking over everything, they get into bed with anything that can be shaped to their mind set and is fashionably fundable. They take up mind space and squander resources. The vast majority of “institutional” money goes into this.

Encryptionists – service the paranoid fuckists, they have a strong tendencies to reduce usability and create dangerous fantasises of security and anonymity. The are a lot of these as this has been a dominate way of thinking for the last 5-10 years.

Traditional media panderers have there uses for a companion, but soon start to misshape the movement to mainstream agenda’s – hard not to have this outcome.

Horizontal dotcom’sts try to use our movement to jump start their dotcom, fine if its built with the 4 opens, if its not then distraction if  failur and disaster if people use it – so bad outcome both ways.

Insecure and nasty lifestyles are endemic and are attracted like fly’s to any successful grassroots project and they are feed by the felandering of the Traditional media panderist – this can easily tip into being a movement death spiral.

Hidden careerist are good for movement building as tend to be the competent ones, but start to drift to NGO and media philanders to build their careerer rather than the grassroots movement.

Paranoid fuckwists are the bedroock of most grassroots campines and in small doses help hold things together, get to many of them in places of responsibility and you have out of control infighting.

Dogmatic liberals are lovely people, but a strong force for blocking sustainable alternatives, its imposable to meditate the breakdowns with a few of these at the core of any counter-culture.

Now for a corresponding “good” list of activist “insanity’s”

On this subject it helps to be a bit “mad” to stay in grassroot movement for any leaghnth of time

The hand’s off NGO’s the is a long (hidden) history of healthy NGO/atavism synergy

The user focused KISS per2per’ists are working on the uphill project of (re)booting the open web.

Traditional media outreach’sts are promoting grassroots media and technology by linking it into traditional media narratives to build the world rather than misshape it.

Horizontal dotcom’s are working on “open” federated sustainability rather than closed client server “solutions”

Lifestyles are though opening up in the campaigning lifestyle flow and learning to let go and build healthy connected lives.

Open careerist, are bootstrapping the campaign while bootstrapping themselves, they take the open energy like a trosion horse into the belly of the traditional beast. Some one has to do this…

Secure organising crew is everyone job to keep it carm and focus, and help out with the very real “offline” security and communication that activism needs.

Liberal liberals the calm and the balance of “common sense” that’s needed to keep things from going horribly wrong.

Activism is a dynamic and crazy place full of “insane” people doing fantastic things, its a balancing act to hold it all together, to much of the top and not anufe off the bottom and it quickly slides into something few people wont to be involved in – then disappears with little trace.


Grassroots media Building affinity

Published Date 2/18/15 11:39 PM


In the last few posts I have looked at a failed organising strategy realmedia gathering, outlined a positive way out of this failer, the focused unconfrunce. But for wider understanding I think the content so far is lacking some background, lets look at an old post here I outline how we ACTURLY organise alternatives rather than how we pretend/think/do, this is important for a good outcome.

Grassroots as it’s very nature is small, we grow from this smallness like grass, savannah and wide plans, we have loots of entwined grass’s making up the whole. From this distributed and federated ecosystem we compete with the monolithic traditional corporate media.

The link above highlights the ways we organise, only 3 have rarely good outcomes:

Open affinity group

Opaque affinity group

Invisible affinity group

The top is the best, the bottom for its limitations still works, the top is the hardiest to hold in place, the middle the longest lived, the bottom the easy fast/transitory root to social change.

With this understanding in mind, how are the all important affinity groups formed?

The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination spend most of their time forming such groups

Good squats form them, most successful direct action grows them like weeds.

The can come from workshops like LOII which lead to direct action, or from repeated direct actions. They can come from long term working relationships, affinity springs from people interacting around and in places of action, try to do something together and you will know who you have affinity with.

How would we use this knowledge to kick start the (re)growth of alt-media?

* We don’t organises speaker events with top down platform speakers – this is deadening.

* We don’t organise passive workshops were knowledge is thought one to many.

You seed events, with questions and processes then grow DIY

What we do do is get people to do practical things together were ever possible, most useful outcome happen from chopping vegetables in the kitchen than at a big hall event.

We have go rounds at the beginning, middle and end of every workshop were feasible. This is to bring confidence, but most impotently to allow each other to hear each’s voice/sense and sensibility repeatedly over the weekend.

The practical workshops are were the afererty is formed into connections then networks.

Cross fertilisation is needed for grassroots growth this like pixie dust can be liberally sprinkled by thouse who have an art (hart) for it over the weekend.

The weekend will plant seeds, some will grow some will fall on fallow ground, the ones that sprout should be watered with publiserty, conections and funding.

The event should be rinesed and repeted in different areas/diffrent groupings and lifestyes etc.

The whole organic network is then held together by a the 4 open on the web. Do not fall into the trap of failbook at this point.

This is the first time I have seen tredtional media talking about this


Lister Petter LPW3 Marine Diesel service

Published Date 2/14/15 4:20 PM

This is the same model as my engine, have to service it:

* Change oil in engine and gear box

* Drain and flush though the coolant and replace.

* Replace oil and fuel filters

* Check fuel tank for water

* Tighten alternator belt

Have the oil and fuel filters ready.

Humm need some help with this as have little idea of engines.


What would re booting grassroots media look like

Published Date 2/13/15 2:01 PM


Intro to the event

Un-confrunces are called for a reason and are about a subject, generally with an idea of an outcome.

Invite all the existing groups and most importantly representatives from past groups to tell their stories and outline their ongoing projects. Invite groups from outside the activist/NGO ghetto such as London JAVA and hackspaces and many more etc.

The preamble:

Our culture is broken. Start with these two critiques of the failed grassroots media/geek culture and the failings of the NGO solutions to such issues.

A defining of open industrial standards and federation, a look at peer to peer and client / server.

This intro is to set the atmosphere of the event, to increase group feedback that question these streams in the workshops over the weekend.

When people arrive, a brief over view of the event and goto it Then everyone has their workshop/say.

The event would tend to split into 2 streams, Media Creators (story tellers) and Geeks (tool builders). “We” as the “organiser’s” would continuously gentley push to keep the streams entwined as they both need each other and need an emulsifier to combine for any length of time.

The outcome would be wide, we have a note taker (strait to public wiki) and audio recorder for each session (uploaded soon after)

What I would think important is:

* how to make media so it is part of a flow, rather than for a silo.

* Importance of linking, just getting this working would be a big step forwarded.

* using the corporate dotcoms as dumb pipes – not original sources – build peer pressure here – no sin by only posting to failbook and bird seed world.

* recognition of the problems with the widespread use of WordPress as top sites, fine as a blog/source, disaster as top down centre controled group/campaign site.

* importance of seeing media production as a production of media objects to be shared across the expanding network – not to be held as lost in personal silos or spent purely in the dotcom world.

* recognition of the danger and damage from closed (encrypted) working practices in activism/being pushed by some NGOs. The positive possibility of open working on the open web. Encryption has a limited role, encrypt everything is a clear and present disaster and the people un-reflectively pushing this need reasoning with, then pushing off a cliff 😉

At the end have report backs based on the 4 opens. How do the projects/groups meet these.

Concrete outcome:

* Get everyone to front page link to at least 3 complementary groups.

* Get peopule to review alt-media projects based on the 4 opens to spark off wider social debate.

A list from our perspective on good outcomes:

Put out the (existing) visionOntv video embeds, sign up some more moderators – they are a semi working example of the world we want to create.

Look at the newsflash, linking embed and funding site projects.

Find non-loon geeks to help build out the OMN tools, make links to other projects view the tools and micro formats

nourish a non sectarian single sign in for activism and beyond (look at

A geek view of this world

Am going to link to some existing “complex” projects that overlap to THE OMN KISS” project, examples: is the same project, just too far forward to be adopted, that is its not based on the past so would need to much of a jump to adopt, this is why we use RSS as that steping stone. is working from a “single user” perspective on very usable micro formats and standards-based projects. The technology being ( and RSS) used has good peer to peer strengths. same project but again from the “libertarian” camp, making it of limited use for outreach beyond this camp.

Just about all the parallel projects are about individuals first and groups second. For our more communitarian project we need to tweek/expand these code bases to make them useful. Also there is a strong geek start-from-scratch approach which means that their projects cannot lead any change but could become part of the change as it flows. We need to be the flow, otherwise we are all standing around in puddles – the sate of alt-media today.


Real Media gathering how not to re boot grassroots media

Published Date 2/11/15 4:46 PM


Firstly I don’t have any ill will to the people I know organising this event and would love it to succeed in being a part of the kindling to (re)light the fire of alt-media.

But we have 3 main problem groupings/failures blocking grassroots media (culture) from re-booting

Lets look at how they manifest as negative (can do a positive post on this subject, just ask or look back on my blog)

NGO “culture”

Geek “culture”

Activist “culture”

They all manifest in the upcoming Real Media Gathering, lets use this as an example and look at each in turn.

NGO thinking is a malaise that is filling the vacuum left by the catastrophic failings of Alt-geeks and activist spiky/fluffy debate separation. What is NGO thinking? Well in short its the way you HAVE to think to have a continuing payied careerer in a NGO. It in body’s bureaucracy, (respecting) hierarchy, endemic narrow liberal thinking or at the most radical rigid utopian process – leading to deadening bureaucracy.

Geek culture is dealt with here

Activist culture at its worst is bound by life style, the things you do tobe an activist, that looking/sounding/acting like the change is more important than being the change. Some of the people involve understand this, they are just to lost to take a way out of this malaise. This can manifest as a diversion between spiky/ fluffy and a ritualistic on/off spiting contest between these two mindsets. Change is often lost in this.

How do these manifest in the upcoming real media gathering/movement.

The headline main day of the event is made-up of top-down speakers repeating all the things people already know. For a grassroots gathering this is clearly problematic, think about it for a minute 😉 This is how a NGO would organise a “grassroots” event.

Geek culture, the is a tech project going on in parallel with the gathering – its happening in darkness with no knowledge, input or interest. The outcome is likely a black box designed by geeks, now we know for a fact that this NEVER ends well. This is how geek’s like to work, just trust us.

Activist grassroots culture is high on the banner header image but no existence in the headline speakers and a shadow in the workshops. They do have a little documented day after for this. No sparks and no rocking the boat, this comes full cirecal to NGO thinking were we started.

The have been a serease of these “NGO” re-booting activism conferences and gatherings over the last few years. I helped to organise some of them for my sins.

Much of the content of the event is fine, the workshops have content, what it lacks is any spark to light the needed media fire. Rubbing the damp sticks of NGO together isn’t going to do it, we need to break out of this malaise, and it’s easy to do.


The failure of the student loans company

Published Date 2/6/15 3:15 PM

I was at college in the years that the old grant system was faded out to be replace by student loans.

Honours Student Lone 1994-1996 and Erudio Student Loans in 1998.

After I finished the course in 1999 each year you had to fill in a deferment form which needed accounts doing if you were self employed, a letter from the firm accountant if employed, or stamping by the jobcenter if unemployed. This was bureaucratic necessity… but for me this was made more complex by the fact that my loan fell between two different loan companies. If one was deferred then the other was also deferred for the year, but the two companies did not talk to each other for some reason in my case and this was not resolved for more than 15 years.

The Honours student loan company and Erudio Student Loans are the two companies. Every year I have had the same problems with these companies and each year it has been resolved by me takeing the time to force them to talk to each other. That is 15 years of hassle; sometimes by phone calls for weeks at a time. After the same hassle yearly I made an agreement with them that they would talk to each other and synchronise the loan accounts so that the same thing would not happen the next year.

This would allow me to fill in a single form once a year. And each year they failed to make this change they had agreed to do the year before. Each year I would have the same conversations and threats from them and after a lot of hassle the two companies would finally talk to each other and the problem would go away for another year. This went on for 15 years, and each year they failed act to solve the problem after agreeing to do just that.

The loans were up for being cancelled by this time, but in the final year they refused to talk to each other thus, in this final year, they actually went further, the loans had become so much out of sync that the deferment on the Erudio loan was still on going for 3 months – so I was still deferred but they refused to tell Honour student loans of this so I had Honour chasing me for deferment when I was already deferred. I told them to go away and sort this out as the responsibility was theirs for repeatedly not doing what they had agreed to do – synchronising the loan dates.

My response was reasonable – that they had failed to do what they had agreed to do thus it was their responsibility to sort this out. After 5-10 phone calls I put this in writing, they replied with this letter ignoring the point I made:

Hamish Campbell


REF: 6319469992732321

I dispute the arrears on my account. As you can see on my file the reason for current arrears is the failer of the different student lones companies to synchronise their accounts. Yearly I have been repeatedly promised by the student hones lones that this would be fixed so that the same issue would not be repeated but this was never done and each year I would have the same discussions and the same problems. This has been appalling customer service and unprofessional of your organisation.

Can you please finally fix this

Yours Sincerely

Hamish Campbell


But interestingly the accounts had finally been synchronised after 15 years 🙂 Thank you for resolveing 15 years of broken agreements and hassle.

And there is still the sum outstanding of fines (charges) and interest while they were failing to do this simple thing. This 6 month backlog and is covered by the 3 months my loan actually was  deferred (by a correctly filled form by the other company) and the is 3 month back dating so I actually don’t owe them anything even taking into account their behaver.

I would like a full apology from the company for their failures and 15 year delay, and at this stage compensation to cover my time and energy. 15 years of 10-15 phone calls and 5-6 letters each year. At a rate of £200 (my day rate), that would be say 2 full days a year for 15 years – that is £3000 in compensation for my time wasted.

Thank you for your time.

Hamish Campbell

Ps. and the fine written off obviously.



Dangerous thoughts anonymity on the internet

The last 10 years activist technology and its supporting NGO’s have been pushing the encrypted web as secure form of communication. From the Indymedia network “not logging IP’s” to Wikileaks “secure whistleblowing” to numerous encrypted chat and social networks. Not to mention all the corporate dotcoms “solutions” jumbling up the space.

This naiveté working had driven alt-tech into oblivion, by complexity and obfuscation. Has this in any way been worth while? I would have liked to right this up but you will have to make do with the notes – This is a good example summing up of the issue (from SN-493-Notes.pdf)

TOR: Not so Anonymous after all

Our previous coverage:

● SN#70 (Internet Anonymity) – seven years ago, March 28th, 2008

● SN#394 (TOR Hidden Services) – nearly two years ago, March 8th, 2013

● In our earlier “what is TOR” coverage, we primarily focused upon the cleverness of

TOR’s ONION layering cryptography.

● “81% of Tor users can be de-anonymised by analysing router information, research


● Using weak but pervasive built-in Cisco “NetFlow” tech and deliberate traffic

perturbation.● Perturb the traffic from the server a user is connecting to, and watch the exit nodes’


● The point was that even very weak “NetFlow” aggregation was enough. More expensive

“per packet” monitoring and analysis was not needed.

Did feds mount a sustained attack on Tor to decloak crime suspects?



● <quote> Despite the use of Tor, FBI investigators were able to identify IP addresses

that allegedly hosted and accessed the servers, including the Comcast-provided IP

address of one Brian Farrell, who prosecutors said helped manage SilkRoad2. In the

affidavit, DHS special agent Michael Larson wrote:

○ From January 2014 to July 2014, a FBI NY Source of Information (SOI) provided

reliable IP addresses for TOR and hidden services such as SilkRoad2, which

included its main marketplace URL, its vendor URL, its forum URL, and its support

interface (uz434sei7arqunp6.onion). The SOI’s information ultimately led to the

identification of SilkRoad2 servers, which led to the identification of at least

another seventeen black markets on TOR.

○ The SOI also identified approximately 78 IP addresses that accessed a vendor

.onion address. A user cannot accidentally end up on the vendor site. The site is

for vendors only, and access is only given to the site by the SilkRoad2

administrators/moderators after confirmation of a significant number of successful

transactions. If a user visits the vendor URL, he or she is asked for a user name

and password. Without a user name and password, the vendor website cannot be


The Internet was never designed to provide anonymity… and it doesn’t.

● True anonymity is extremely difficult to achieve.

● In a high-latency store & forward system it’s somewhat feasible…

● But in any low-latency near real time network, it’s arguably impossible.

Review… What is TOR?

● TOR is a LOW LATENCY anonymity-enhancing network service.

● The original designers of TOR made some assumptions and compromises that are

coming back to haunt us now…

● One academic paper put it this way: “Tor aims to protect against a peculiar threat

model, that is unusual within the anonymous communications community. It is

conventional to attempt to guarantee the anonymity of users against a global passive

adversary, who has the ability to observe all network links. It is also customary to

assume that transiting network messages can be injected, deleted or modified and that

the attacker controls a subset of the network nodes. This models a very powerful

adversary, and systems that protect against it can be assumed to be secure in a very

wide range of real world conditions.

Tor, on the other hand, assumes a much weaker threat model. It protects against a

(weaker) non-global adversary, who can only observe a fraction of the network, modify

the traffic only on this fraction, and control a fraction of the Tor nodes.

Furthermore, Tor does not attempt to protect against traffic confirmation attacks, wherean adversary observes two parties that he suspects to be communicating with each

other, to either confirm or reject this suspicion. Instead, Tor aims to make it difficult for

an adversary with a very poor a priori suspicion of who is communicating with whom, to

gain more information.

The Crypto Model:

● Choose a “circuit”, default is three nodes.

● Negotiate keys with the 1st node.

● Using the first node, get keys for a randomly chosen second node.

● Using the first and second nodes, get keys for the randomly chosen third node.

● Wrap outgoing traffic in an onion from node 3 to node 2 to node 1.

● The onion model nailed it. No one is attacking that. But…

The Traffic Flow Model: (and the Achilles’ heel)

● Deliberate obfuscation of individual packets with random length padding.

● TCP flows are divided into 512 byte cells… And are sent round robin out of the node.

● The power of the global observer

● Much like metadata… traffic pattern analysis is a POWERFUL tool.

● The power of active vs passive attacks

● Being able to “perturb” the flow makes attacks far more powerful.

The extreme power of active assumption confirmation attacks.

● One academic paper: <quote> “Tor does not attempt to protect against traffic

confirmation attacks, where an adversary observes two parties that he suspects to be

communicating with each other, to either confirm or reject this suspicion.”

● IOW — In any near real time network, traffic confirmation is a killer.

Bottom line… *I* would never rely upon TOR alone.

● Consider it, itself, another layer of a more full “Defense in Depth.”

● The dream is that someone can sit at home and be fully anonymous. But that’s not the


Defense in depth:

● First of all… DO NOT do anything illegal. Do not do anything that you wouldn’t want the

Federal Government to know about.

● Traditional old school & new school.

● Go somewhere as far away as convenient.

● Be anonymous there… Pay with cash.

● Don’t go anywhere familiar, don’t stay long, don’t know anyone, don’t talk to anyone.

● Plan ahead to get in and out. Rehearse for speed. Get it done and leave.

● Don’t do ANYTHING having to do with your own identity.

● Perhaps purchase a cheap laptop just for this. Pay with cash.

● Override your laptop’s default MAC address.

● Use TOR and sacrifice real time performance

● Use widely dispersed global nodes.

● Use many nodes.

● In other words… Tor IS useful, but it’s not perfect. So always act as though it’s not.


What would an open media network OMN look like

Published Date 2/4/15 7:48 PM

Lets do some grounded/blue sky thinking 😉

The internet has been (unbelievably) successful because its libertarian/anacist open/trust peer to peer network with very light centre and governances. How do we (re)build an grassroots-media to flourish in the 21st century remains of this open web?

What would an open media network (OMN) look like?

Ps. this actually already exists in part in the visionOntv project.

Peer to peer is the long term goal, but the whole internet is now largely based on client server and alt-geeks love control, so let’s take a half first step from this spot.

We need to activate the already existing client/server federated scalable human aggregation content network.

* Based on RSS (98% implemented)

* Based on current CMS’s (90% implemented)

* Second tier embed option for legacy sites (80% implemented)

* Constructed with the 4 opens.

1) Content producers are all the current sites – they have to put out a RSS feed of content (98% do all ready)

2) Second level – subject/region/ideology aggregation are run by small groups and individuals. These can be based on current CMS’s with RSS aggregation modules (50% implemented)

3) Top site takes feeds from the subject aggregation. Same CMS as second sites.

Producers/subject (1,2) can take embeds for (3) etc. to help to bootstrap the network tech.

Thus the content is published at the bottom and make its way up to wide distribution on the top sites.

Important to realise that NOBODY is in control of the network and it is completely open to setting up nodes at different levels. It is governed by the 4 opens and a light bit of agreed “set-in-stone” process.

In this set-up we have a horizontal media where everyone is in charge of their publishing, and the different communities organically create their own content flow. Some sites will be highly linked and aggregated and some will be ignored, the whole network will organically split into streams and tributaries of data/content flows. These can and will become communities. If one fails it will be replaced organically with another, the best will rise and the worst will fall, they will criss-cross and settle into a multitude of flows.

The whole network will be based on duplicated synchronised meta-data – the source will reside at the publishing site. Davie Winar has done work on how this is achieved (we can implement some caching into the network to deal with scaling issues when needed).

SPAM is dealt with by trust, as each site makes a decision to trust the sites it links to, If you let spam into your network, people will drop YOU. A data roll-back can be implemented for removing SPAM flows that get though this trust network.

The friction (delay/server load) of the RSS object aggregation is actually a feature driving content consumption to close to the bottom. Each server can have traffic light flags for load, add too many feeds and it goes into the red, drop feeds and it goes orange to healthy green. This accelerates the diversity of aggregation sites – if you don’t wont to be an aggregate you just take embeds from a site you trust.

The top sites are easy to create but slower/hard to add value to, this drives the creation of second(2) sites to build out the wider network.

The successful top sites will grow to compete with the failing traditional media. The health of the network will be at the second level sites that feed the top sites. The content will come from the bottom, rejuvenating blogging and community websites. The closed dotcom’s such as Facebook and Twitter lock them selves out of content production by not supporting RSS – they become declining dumb pipes for OMN distribution.

JavaScript embeds can quickly add the content to a wide range of existing open internet sites to accelerate take-up (we already have this working with a video embed on every page of the New Internationalist website for visionOntv)

As the OMN takes off we can create peer to peer encrypted object flows to move this away from the client server paradigm to make the network more robust against disruption by states and corporations.

The outcome is a distributed data internet of flows. Like the internet itself, it will simply flow round damage/censorship and is open to all.

Hope you found this useful

Hamish Campbell