Category Archives: English

Wire Personal, a Secure messenger for friends, families and small communities

Hackers were able to remotely install surveillance software on phones and other devices using a major vulnerability in messaging app WhatsApp, it has been confirmed.

The attack was developed by Israeli security firm NSO Group, according to a report in the Financial Times.

How was the security flaw used? It involved attackers using WhatsApp’s voice calling function to ring a target’s device. Even if the call was not picked up, the surveillance software would be installed, and, the FT reported, the call would often disappear from the device’s call log.

So if you want a secure messenger for friends, families and small communities, try WIRE.

Wire Personal is a secure, privacy-friendly messenger for personal use. It combines useful and fun features, audited security, and a beautiful, distinct user interface. It does not require a phone number to register and chat.

  • End-to-end encrypted chats, calls, and files
  • Crystal clear voice and video calling
  • File and screen sharing
  • Timed messages and chats
  • Synced across your phone, desktop and tablet



The Guardian

Propositions on Communication

Nederlandse versie

Proposition 1:

Communication is a form of human interaction.

Proposition 2:

According to language philosopher Paul Grice, communication, if it is to be relevant, presupposes a certain form of cooperation (cooperative principle).

Proposition 3:

Communication that is not cooperative leads nowhere.

Proposition 4:

Using computer mediated communication it is very difficult to determine whether or not this communication is cooperative. The transfer of feelings through body language and intonation are missing. We can only guess about the context and intentions … so we can also be mistaken. Feedback is missing. Misunderstandings cannot be solved online in the end.


These propositions fit perfectly into the theory of Jürgen Habermas’ communicative action in the public sphere. Communication between only two parties P2P cannot be considered as part of the public sphere. Either a third party controls the communication, while Habermas advocated complete freedom of action, or the third party acts as an equal, but then it is no longer P2P.

Hoplr going deep, an intro into research about the impact of local social media on our lives

Nederlandse versie

As the saying goes, if you don't pay for the product, you are the product. When looking solely at these corporate products, social media feels like the hellish extreme of late capitalism, Faustian bargains where consumers consume themselves. (Sarah Jeong, 2017)

Hoplr attracted our attention in Ghent on September 17, 2017. Sami Sougir, then the leader of the VLD  in the city council, now the sidekick of the new Mayor Mathias De Clercq, questioned Daniël Termont about its activities. Leaflets had been posted in every house in every street of the city. We all recall Google street view, when spy cameras entered our neighbourhoods. Hoplr doesn’t intrude our privacy that rough, it’s just asking us to do it ourselves, voluntarily… Spoiler alert: more about later.

A Google translated quote of Sami:

“In recent weeks and months, a lot of people from Ghent have received a letter to register for Hoplr, a private social network for your neighbourhood that focuses on social interaction between residents and engagement in the neighbourhood.

Residents can exchange items or services, launch initiatives, announce events, make notifications or simply get to know each other better. In addition, Hoplr allows reports from the city, police, fire department … to be received. In the invitation you can read: “In collaboration with IVAGO”.”

Sami wanted also to know if there had been a consultation about collaboration with Hoplr and:

“Will other city services also use Hoplr to make announcements or to monitor what is going on in the neighbourhoods? For example, the neighbourhood directors of the Policy Participation Department or the neighbourhood inspectors.”

The answer of the former Mayor is very detailed, you can read it yourself, though point 3. should be mentioned because Hoplr is very silent about this. Another Google translation:

“The purchase of anonymous statistical information about the interactions that take place, the topics of conversation that are frequently used, and so on.”

About three weeks later, we read in De Morgen about a completely different proposal from a not-for-profit designer Indienet, for an implementation of Indieweb. This technology makes it possible for everyone to remain the owner of what he/she posts on the internet, he/she always keeps control of its own “content” and makes that content interchangeable with all internet services.  The paper found this important enough to publish two articles on it on the same day: “Gent wil burgers eigen stukje internet geven” (De Morgen, 9/10/2017) and “Surfen zonder uitgemolken te worden is een mensenrecht” (De Morgen, 9/10/201).

Exploratory talks about this proposal between Aral Balkan and the strategic coordinator of the city, Karl-Filip Coenegrachts even reached an agreement to start a first phase of development as you can read on

“Indienet is an initiative led by Indie to explore the development and deployment of Federated Personal Web Sites (FPWS) to empower people with individual sovereignty and a healthy commons in the digital/networked age. The first round of development (Jan-April, 2018) was realised with financial support and development resources from Digipolis at the The City of Ghent.”

Continue reading Hoplr going deep, an intro into research about the impact of local social media on our lives

Free Software, Public Domain and Digital Commons

Since fuzziness and mythology are the ubiquitous ingredients of internet content we need solid definitions. The Free Software Foundation defines free software as follows:

“A program is free software if the program’s users have the four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.



Richard Stallman  is the initiator of free software movement since 1983 and the writer of the GNU licence. He is also an experienced software developer. Stallman explains that proprietary software, the commercial software used on home computers and smart phones, like MacOS, MSWindows, Itunes, Facebook, Amazon is often malware.

Proprietary software is often malware

Continue reading Free Software, Public Domain and Digital Commons

The biological implications of Electronic media use

“We are constantly connected with the world and the price we pay is that we interact with it less, as we are increasingly less able to do so.” (Manfred Spitzer, 2012)

Electronic media and face to face interaction

C. Wright Mills has instructed us that historical perspective and background next to the analysis and awareness of a representative sample of personal histories are the main resources in sociology, we tend to forget history and background when talking about computers and Internet. So when looking for the social impact of digital social networks, the historical impact of television and other electronic media is often neglected. When Internet started to spread in the mid nineties, television had repulsed community life already, largely pocketing face to face communication and impoverishing community life (Aric Sigman, 2009).

Source. Aric Sigman, Well Connected
Source. Aric Sigman, Well Connected

Continue reading The biological implications of Electronic media use

Not on a Social Network? You’ve Still Got a Privacy Problem

Privacy not my problem

When you discuss about privacy in a heteronymous group, there will always be at least one who states he/she has nothing to hide because he/she does nothing wrong. There are still people that cannot afford to be on the Net but some choose deliberately to ignore social networks and claim that privacy is not their problem either. But both categories are mistaken.

The_Bureau Continue reading Not on a Social Network? You’ve Still Got a Privacy Problem

Theories, Practices and Examples for Community and Social Informatics


Tom Denison, Mauro Sarrica and Larry Stillman

1. Internet use and informal help for surrounding communities in Finland
Sakari Taipale, Tomi Oinas and Veli-Matti Salminen

2. New technologies, ageing and social wellbeing in a southern Italian context
Mauro Sarrica, Leopoldina Fortunati and Alberta Contarello

3. Studying crisis communication on social media: Conceptual patterns and methodological concerns
Francesca Comunello

4. Social movements, social media and post-disaster resilience: Towards an integrated system of local protest
Manuela Farinosi and Emiliano Treré

5. Expanding the academic research community-building bridges into society with the Internet
Aldo de Moor

6. What’s so special about the mobile phone? Exploring the mobile phone as a legacy of its ICT progenitors
Jane Vincent

7. Understanding the use of mobile phones in difficult circumstances
Larry Stillman

Continue reading Theories, Practices and Examples for Community and Social Informatics