Vikshepa Blog

Mental Distractions

09 Dec 2022

Hubzilla, links

On Hubzilla, I have now created a channel in order to reconnect with the people over there. Epicyon does not federate well with the Zot networks. For now, it's on

At the same time, I have created a channel there for my community:, as why not? It's time we had a fediverse presence, and I can manage both of these from the same place.

I am thinking today that I'm not diligent enough in my writing efforts, either for myself, my community or my interests. I should write, write, write, and photograph, and document, rather than introspect so much. Reflecting the universe, we become the universe.

Interesting Links:

Tags: fediverse hubzilla
07 Dec 2022

fediverse thoughts again

I've been thinking that from a practical point of view, there is probably something wrong with my conception that decentralization should be as fine-grained as a universe of individual servers in communication with one-another. I've had this conception for the last twenty years at least, so it's hard to shake. But recent posts I've seen about the Fediverse seem to demonstrate that this conception is expensive in terms of resources: at least, with regard to the way that federation of instances works: the more instances, it seems, the more expense.

There are other arguments as well for a federation that would be built on communities; professional, by interest, geographical, linguistic, whatever. Human beings are tribal by nature. And yet, if this is the basis for division and affiliation, there will always be a choice to make, because we live in more than one world. Do we choose an instance based on locality, or upon profession, for example? Outside of Mastodon, this choice is mitigated by the existence of groups that one can join, regardless of the instance. Groups have been around since at least GnuSocial and Friendica I believe, and have worked quite well.

I hope that the Fediverse will be built upon co-ops and volunteers, rather than on companies. Yesterday I discovered, which enables one to find small servers that are not established on a profit motive. Internet co-ops have always been popular in France. I first hosted my blog on Ouvaton, an early co-op that still exists today. And in Holland is similarly based on voluntary effort and good will. My other Fediverse instance is with them.

I still think that for websites, decentralization can exist at the level of the individual household, but there too, it is more practical to gang together and host a few websites on a single server; preferably one that uses renewable energy and has a low carbon footprint. If I didn't have a personal interest in doing things myself, I would probably go with something like that. I still might, if I find a good offer.

Epicyon, meanwhile, has as its underlying philosophy the concept of small groups of no more than 10 people. Except for families and maybe small housing cooperatives, that's probably too few. A hundred or two would probably make more sense - maybe larger, if one wants to establish a community server. For example, if we would create a Mastodon server for every member of our smallish community, we would need a few hundred accounts.

Zot versus Mastodon

I have no doubt that despite all the interest around Mastodon, the communities built upon the Zot networks are more friendly and durable. The tools are somehow more conducive to community-building: the mentioned groups; the cloning of channels upon each other's servers, etc. make for a more connected group of people, though it is small. I would stay there, but seem to have jettisoned myself from the community by stops and starts, fickle changes of mind, as well as server troubles.

So for now I will stay with Epicyon. Its technological simplicity is attractive. Today I was experimenting with the Lynx terminal browser. Epicyon works very well with it. What websites, let alone other fediverse sites, work well with a terminal browser these days? Only the ones that do not depend upon Javascript and a lot of CSS styling. Bob Mottram is building something very nice here. I wonder how well it will be appreciated by those who he sees as its primary usership: small groups of community activists, neighbours and volunteers?

I'm not a very social person, but I have always believed in the value of community, indeed have lived all of my adult life in communities. Perhaps I should do more to help the community in which I live use free open source software; in that I have not succeeded. Everyone around me wants to use the conventional commercial products of the big companies.

Tags: fediverse FOSS
04 Dec 2022

Trends I'm seeing

Rightwing pushback

Israeli TV news reported that homophobic hate speech and attacks are up 75% since the last elections, which were a victory for religious rightwing extremists, who want to reinstate "Jewish values".

Elsewhere: Indonesia is about to make sex outside marriage an offence punishable by jail

Growing disfavor with centralized services / parallel flowering of decentralized services

Telegram: In India, Telegram just lost an important court case:After Delhi High Court Ruling, Telegram Discloses Names, Phone Numbers & IP Addresses Of Users Accused Of Sharing Infringing Material

Because their platform is inherently unsafe, and the information is available on their system, they could be forced to comply.This is why we should not be using services like Telegram for sensitive communications.

Meanwhile, Russians were able to get what they needed without bothering with a court ruling: Russia is spying on Telegram chats in occupied Ukrainian regions. Here's how

Everyone’s Over Instagram - The Atlantic

F-Droid: Why curation and decentralization is better than millions of apps

Most Chinese people have more than one app store on their phone, so there is no monolith there, whereas “outside of China, Apple and Google control more than 95 percent of the app store market share.

Many people seem to be talking about starting new services that take advantage ActivityPub protocol. Among these is Ben Werdmuller, who says in his blog post The Fediverse and the Indieweb

So I’m newly-invested in implementing ActivityPub and building end-user tools that join the network. I’m excited to build things that people can use to, in turn, build something new. There are a ton of opportunities here: we’re in a particular moment where the fediverse looks like it could be the future, and the more tools and onramps we build, the more likely that becomes. That fits directly into those indieweb principles of owning your own content, and my additive principles of devolving wealth and ownership.

Werdmuller also says that he is turning away from an old concept of the Indieweb, POSSE ("Publish on your ownsite, syndicate everywhere"):

I want my site to connect to the indieweb; to the fediverse; to people who are connecting via RSS; to people who are connecting via email. No more syndication to third parties. My own website sits in the center of my online identity, using open standards to communicate with outside communities.

I reached the same conclusion a long while back, and have been trying to keep my posts out of search engines too.

WikiLeaks' Website is Slowly Falling Apart

That too sounds like a problem of centralization. Didn't they release their documents over file-sharing networks?

Push to free Julian Assange; sanctuary for Snowden

I've read of three separate efforts. Major world newspapers have published together an appeal for his freedom and against extradition to the US. The Australian government has been appealing to the US government against it too. And his lawyers are making an approach to the European Court of Justice. Let's hope these efforts succeed.

Meanwhile, Edward Snowden has got his Russian citizenship after swearing an oath of allegiance. It was the US itself that pushed him towards this step by revoking his passport while he was in transit in Moscow. But since it is the only country in which he is safe and can remain united with his family, I can't say that I blame him.

If Russia seems currently like the epitomy of an evil state, the US has perpetrated, and continues to perpetrate deeds that are no less evil.

World governance somehow needs to develop independent mechanisms that single out crimes against humanity whereever they occur, at all times. Right now, we seem to have the opposite. People like Assange can be prosecuted for revealing crimes, even if they are not citizens of the nation that is guilty of those crimes and live somewhere else in the world. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court is unable to prosecute war criminals in countries like the US.

Tags: current-affairs fediverse
02 Dec 2022

Our truth and our persona

Are we just who we think we are, or do we always represent something - some group; some nation; some identity? There are things we would like to say, but then we remember that as a "privileged white male" or as a citizen of a former colonial power, or something else, it is probably better to keep our mouths shut. That's what I'm reflecting on now, with regard to that Israeli film director who raised a furor at the Goa film festival (see my previous post). What he said, regarding the "vulgarity" of the film ("The Kashmir Files") may (or may not) be true. On the other hand, if one is a foreigner and, on top of that, speaking about a highly sensitive issue - well, maybe there are places you might not want to go.

But besides even those aspects, there is a question of one's own identity. The director, I assume, sees his podium to be that of a filmmaker, given the honor to chair a prestigious panel of judges. His professional credentials are the source of his courage in speaking out. However, those who hear him are no doubt aware of other aspects of his identity - perhaps more aware than he?

Being an Israeli Jew carries a certain excess baggage in the world, that is added to the baggage of just being a foreigner. Among its sources are, on the one hand, the history of persecution against the Jewish people, including the Holocaust of the last century; modern-day antisemitism, and, on the other hand, the perpetration of terrible injustice towards Palestinians today. These heavy bags cannot easily be left behind.

No matter which group we belong to, even when we are eager to rid ourselves of this group identity, we can't, because this does not depend on us. We will always represent more than ourselves to the other. If we disavow, say, imperialism, or chauvinism or Zionism or whatever identity we want to disassociate with, we cannot shake off the attibution. So we had better be aware of it in our speech and our behaviour, and do our best to compensate.

Our sense of identity has to include both what we see in ourselves and what other people are likely to see too. This is only fitting. We are speaking about persona, whose original meaning was "mask" (the mask that was worn by actors), yet we cannot function in this world without one. It's a Greek tragedy, but still just a play. The error, and the source of our confusion, is in taking the play, or our role in it, too seriously.

The Kashmir Files: Israeli director sparks outrage in India over ‘vulgar movie’ remarks | Kashmir | The Guardian

Israel condemns Netflix film showing murder of Palestinian family in 1948 war | Israel | The Guardian

Israel strips Palestinian-French rights lawyer of Jerusalem residency | Palestinian territories | The Guardian

Tags: thoughts
29 Nov 2022

A film, thoughts about Epicyon and federation, links

Cinema Sabaya


Went with Y and D to see Cinema Sabaya, which is amazing. I didn't feel like making the effort to see it and D almost had to drag me along - it would have been insulting as Y had already bought us the tickets. But I was immediately caught up in the film, because it's simply so well done. A mixed group of Arab and Jewish women take part in a video-photography course. From class to class and exercise to exercise they learn about each other and themselves; where they can relate to one another as sisters and where they cannot agree; where they can support one another and where they shouldn't press too hard. There are layers on layers of complexity. The film is utterly engaging and unfailingly authentic.


I decided to support Epicyon with a modest monthly donation on Patreon, because I like how this software is developing - and developers, especially those who do not have a big support base, deserve to be supported.

I still find lots of problems there, which will need to be ironed out; however, it's working for me, and I do enjoy its simplicity. The UI looks better on the phone than on the computer.

That said, there seems to be a worse problem with federation itself. I don't think this is unique to Epicyon, but may be more prevalent the further you move outside the Mastodon scene. I noticed also with Hubzilla that some posts do not seem to federate well, and I'm seeing it now with Epicyon, because I have duplicated my follow lists from fe.disroot to my epicyon instance. When I examine the timeline I see that my posts on Epicyon rarely reach my account on fe.disroot. I also see that not all of the posts from the people I follow on fe.disroot reach my instance on Epicyon. In other words, I cannot depend upon Epicyon (and probably not on fe.disroot) to see everything that someone has posted.

That's a problem that does not exist in RSS, for example, which works mostly flawlessly.

My interim conclusion is that (a.) If I really want to know what someone is saying, I need either to subscribe to their RSS feed, or to look directly at their instance. (b.) My instance on Epicyon is still a valuable source - I find many interesting posts there. It's just that I cannot depend upon it as a single news source.

I have yet to try using RSS feeds on Epicyon itself (which seems to be one of its features). That will be my next experiment.

Israelis in Qatar

It's funny that Israeli journalists are shocked by the way they are being shunned by the people they try to interview during the World Cup in Doha. And it's good to see that Palestine still finds lots of support in the Arab world. If not from the leaders, then from the man in the street.

I don't think that these journalists should be shunned: it would be better to use the opportunity to speak directly to Israelis. A message like "Please tell the people in your country that I will be happy to speak to you once Palestinians can enjoy freedom and dignity in their own country. We Arabs are waiting for you to stop the oppression, the apartheid and the occupation of Palestinian lands. When Israelis learn to treat Palestinians as equals, we will welcome you in our countries as brothers." Something like that. You can't just boycott people - you have to adopt a carrot and a stick approach and state the conditions under which the boycott can one day be lifted.



‘Extinction is on the table’: Jaron Lanier warns of tech’s existential threat to humanity | Technology | The Guardian

“If you make a dismal prediction and it comes true, it means you’ve failed to have utility. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I do believe that our survival depends on modifying the internet – to create a structure that is friendlier to human cognition and to the ways people really are.”

‘Publishing is not a crime’: media groups urge US to drop Julian Assange charges | Julian Assange | The Guardian

Israeli Filmmaker’s Critique of ‘The Kashmir Files’ Draws Fierce Backlash - The New York Times

This is marvelous. One guy had the courage to tell the truth*, unlike all the fawning diplomats who were left trying to clean up the mess.

  • (I haven't seen the film so I should say his truth.)
Tags: film epicyon current affairs
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