Be Safe Online

The American government recently repealed laws set to protect your privacy online, clearly the government doesn’t care about private communication. This impacts people around the world because a lot of internet traffic travels through the states via various online services. Safe and secure conversations are needed to keep a democracy running and we all deserve the right to not have our private conversations listened to. Still, we need to protect ourselves online. As a result of the recent privacy change, there is a lot more information published about online safety and easier ways to use implement practical solutions. Check them out and do what you can to keep yourself safe.

Use a Virtual Private Network

“The best option is going to be using a VPN, a virtual private network,” says Dillavou. VPNs are tools installed on a user’s device, like a phone or a laptop, that encrypt the traffic from that device, and mask the user’s IP address and online behavior from tracking tools.

VPNs are already a standard security recommendation for anyone working over unsecured WiFi—like what you might find in a coffee shop. But with ISPs now collecting data, and not just routing it, the workaround makes sense for home use as well. (They also come in handy when you’re trying to get TV streaming to work overseas.)

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Building the WikiHouse of the Future

housing
Affordable housing is a problem for every country and over the years there have been initiatives to lower the cost of being a home, today some of those are efforts in digitization. The WikiHouse project is all about lowering the cost to design a house by providing people the files needed to plan and build their new home. The cost of construction is obviously up to where the house is built. The goal is to lower the capital costs through the digitization of knowledge.

Their mission:

  1. To put the design solutions for building low-cost, low-energy, high-performance homes into the hands of every citizen and business on earth.
  2. To use digitisation to make it easier for existing industries to design, invest-in, manufacture and assemble better, more sustainable, more affordable homes for more people.
  3. To grow a new, distributed housing industry, comprising many citizens, communities and small businesses developing homes and neighbourhoods for themselves, reducing our dependence on top-down, debt-heavy mass housing systems.

Read more.

What It’s Like to Use the Internet in Cuba

The internet is a great resource for connecting people to people and connecting people to services and new ideas. Cuba, like other developing nations, has had a hard time connecting to the internet because of the sheer cost (laying cables underwater isn’t cheap!); and for Cuba the costs are higher since they can’t connect to the internet via nearby Florida. Despite these issues Cubans are getting online.

Over the past couple of years wifi has been made more accessible thanks to chapter technology and lessening of laws. Cubans are getting online in a way that is very unfamiliar to the rest of us and over at Huck Magazine they wrote about the experience.

There, demands overlap out loud like a public protest in which each person calls in their wish for a different future to come true.

The stories of the crowd emerge, each with its own voice, volume and hopes for a life that might some day include them.

From the other side, they are shown rooms, the view from a window, the neighbourhoods where their children or siblings have managed to settle.

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Drone Built By A Small Tribe Is Protecting Land

We Built a Drone from Digital Democracy on Vimeo.

In Guyana there are a lot of illegal mining and logging operations that the government doesn’t pursue due to a lack of evidence. To protect their lands from such activity a small tribe, the Wapichan community, have built a drone to record the damage being done. They used videos on YouTube to find out how to build the drone and designed their drone to be repairable using locally found products (like discarded plastics). It’s a good story about how access to technology and knowledge by small groups can have a big impact!

“With the drones, we can go into really inaccessible areas,” Fredericks told Quartz. Using its footage, the Wapichan are assembling a “living map” to document their customary land use—and to demonstrate to the government how outside interests were impinging upon lands the Wapichan have safeguarded for centuries.
Their drone confirmed what the Wapichan had long suspected: In the south, close to the border with Brazil, illegal loggers were harvesting trees in lands that were supposed to be protected. And the gold mine at Marudi Mountain, to the southeast of Shulinab, appeared to be leaching pollution into the headwaters upon which the Wapichan depend.

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The Web Makes You Humble, Not Stupid

In the early years of the internet people worried that it would make people stupid and people would sit around not contributing to society. It turns out that the internet is not as bad as TV. Indeed, the web may make us more humble and help us realize our own ignorance.

One possibility is that the internet actually makes us more humble. “We suggested that people might be engaging in a sort of social comparison between themselves and the internet,” Amanda Ferguson, one of the study’s authors, writes me in an email. “This would reduce their ‘feeling-of-knowing’ the answer (since they’re comparing themselves to the all-knowing internet), and ultimately lead them to answer fewer questions.”

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