in post

February 16, 2021

Protocols and interactivity

I was thinking to blog my interesting experiments with connecting between hubzilla and mastodon, but I'm sure that somebody, especially the persons who worked on this, has spent hour upon frustrating hour setting up this interaction and knows very well how it works, what sometimes works, and what causes it to fail.

Protocols and their interactivity seem like an emblem of our era. In information systems we have so many examples, starting with email. Though I try to use Thunderbird and plain text, quite often when quoting lines from a sender, gmail will render unquoted lines as quoted or vice-versa. On the web, HTML and CSS will interact strangely and browsers will render the result wrongly. LibreOffice will render MS Word formatted documents in unpredictable ways. And on and on.

These mirror examples of interactivity in the real world. We read about how British industries are currently falling foul of the complex bureaucracy entailed in exporting their products to the EU following Brexit. We anxiously watch how our coronavirus vaccines need to trick the immune system into generating antibodies that prevent the virus, and how the virus is finding ways to get around these defences. In the environment, we see how our pollutants and emissions interfere with our delicate climate system to create extreme weather, melt polar ice and threaten the existence of life on the planet.

Not so long ago, we were fairly ignorant of such interactions in the natural world. Nobody thought about them and, if they did, they would not have framed their description in the same language. We did not know about viruses and antibodies and did not understand the immune system. Trade and the protocols governing it were much simpler. Information systems did not exist. Yet farmers still needed to know when to sow their seeds and harvest their crops. Sailors needed to watch the stars and predict the weather. Hunters and fishermen needed to understand the behaviour of their game and the influence of the tides.

We can try to simplify, but cannot avoid interactivity and complexity. We can't magically transport ourselves to a more simple world where we can act autonomously and without regard for our environment. But perhaps we can handle complexity without being overwhelmed by it. This probably involves intuitive understanding, wisdom, zen, rather than trying to catalogue and predict every connection and interaction.


I was experimenting with screencasting from my computer to the Xiaomi Mi Box connected to my TV and stereo system. I was hoping it might be possible to, say, play the music on my computer through the Mi, thereby taking advantage of the better quality speakers connected there. It wasn't so easy, though. VLC is supposed to be able to do this, but didn't work in my case. There were a couple of Linux programs which I downloaded but didn't really know how to use. The Mi uses something called Miracast. It's easy to screencast, for example, a YouTube movie from a Chrome-type browser to the Mi. But outside the browser, I did not succeed. There is a way to cast music in my file system through Vivaldi, using a website ( Of course, it would be possible to cast through Spotify or a similar service, but I prefer not to use streaming services if I can avoid it. This may not be the end of the story, but life is short.

Links Blog

✭How China Is Changing Your Internet | The New York Times - YouTube
How China Is Changing Your Internet | The New York Times
by The New York Times on YouTube

In China, a sheltered internet has given rise to a new breed of app, and American companies are taking notice. What was once known as the land of cheap rip-offs may now offer a glimpse at the future.

✭Italian mayor warns public after black panther sightings | Italy | The Guardian
This is not the first time a panther has been hunted by authorities in Puglia. In January 2020, in the San Severo area of Foggia, authorities searched for a big black cat believed to be a panther that, according to investigators, had escaped from the home of a local mobster who kept it as a pet.

The authorities have not ruled out that the panther sighted in Bari could be the same one that was spotted in Foggia and never found.

✭Install alfacast screen mirror for Linux using the Snap Store | Snapcraft
Share and split your screen to many devices simultaneously. App allows you to broadcast and to watch any content from desktop.

Lagrange is a desktop GUI client for browsing Geminispace. It offers modern conveniences familiar from web browsers, such as smooth scrolling, inline image viewing, multiple tabs, visual themes, Unicode fonts, bookmarks, history, and page outlines.