On Owning Data Apps Use and the IndieWeb
So I came across this post about owning data from apps we use a lot. As I'm reading it, my head's bopping up and down with agreement - I strongly believe that data sovereignty is a important human right; especially with large companies actively using it to dismantle facets of society. In the post, there's a lot of things that companies like Google and Apple are inching towards implementing in their data warehouses to learn even more about you - something I am not an advocate of as someone who interfaces with activists who have to defend themselves against state actors and people who work at companies that are doing this vacuuming. However, the approach that the poster takes requires a bit of programming that might be not friendly for most people.
Now, I don't mind writing code to get off the ground but I don't want to keep writing code to do things. I'd like to have some sort of plug-and-play approach to this and that's where I think the IndieWeb comes into play. Though still optimizing for personal use, the IndieWeb has a lot of people working on ways to track things around what they read, where they go and what they interact with on the Web. I know that I'd love to capture more information so I don't have to rely on companies to keep them up or eventually sell them to Google or Apple (FitBit and Dark Sky). This isn't easy though because of these platforms restricting the level of control people have over the devices in the name of "security".
The original poster mentioned something that I actually use to this day to handle a lot of this stuff: OAuth (namely OAuth2). In the IndieWeb, we lean on an extension (with loosely scoping) of OAuth called IndieAuth. It gives you all of the security and reliability of OAuth2 while reversing the authority to your own choosing. We also use things like Micropub and Microsub to handle how we do storing of content (namely contacts, tags and posts) and what we subscribe to as well as what we follow. I use both of those daily to handle how I interact with the Web. The thing is, at least from the poster's perspective, most of this stuff requires way too much wiring and coding for people to even use. And I agree. There's no pressing interest in the community to get people who don't have a high comfort in writing code since this is not only a community-led effort but one without any big funding behind it. I think that initially can be a good thing because it prevents too much pollution by direction of funds but that's a different conversation.
That post definitely felt like a form of validation that there's interest in this and that the stuff I'm working on can nudge people towards it. I want this to be as "easy" as it was to hop on sites like Tumblr or AIM and communicate with people you know or find new ones. Obviously, that ease of use came with years of work and research but most of that has been done and the hardest part now is the design and implementation - working on user-centric, people-first systems tends to remove the whole "scale scale scale" problem. I'm starting this with a "plumbing level" service and I'll work my way up to meet people with Lighthouse. What do you want to see?
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