AVFTCN 019 - Tap, tap, tap... is this thing on?
Returning from a seven-year hiatus with a new plan - and a new platform...
Tap… tap.. tap… is this thing on??
It’s been a while… 7 years, in fact… since I last climbed up into the virtual crow’s nest, stared out at the horizon to look at what is coming, and sent out an email newsletter. MUCH has changed. We’ve sighted some amazing new things - and we’ve hit some massive icebergs like this global pandemic!
[On that note, I hope you are doing okay during these crazy times. So far I and my family are thankfully okay, but friends have been hospitalized, everyone is anxious, and the path out of all of this is unclear.]
IF YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHY YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS EMAIL, you probably signed up way back at the beginning of this newsletter. Please feel free to just hit the UNSUBSCRIBE link at the bottom of the message! No hard feelings.. I get it. You haven’t heard from me in 7 years. Life changes.
For those who’d like to continue reading, THIS ISSUE WILL BE DIFFERENT from what you receive next time. I want to catch you all up on a bit of what has been going on, and I want to provide some links to some of the things I’ve been doing.
Please watch for the NEXT issue (assuming you stick around, and I hope you do!) to get more of a flavor of the new plan. So… what is that plan?
The New Plan!
I decided to bring this email newsletter back because:
1. Having been online since the 1980’s, I’ve seen the evolution of the Internet from those early services, and I’ve met many remarkable people along the way.
2. I have this amazing opportunity of working for the Internet Society and meeting some truly incredible people doing amazing things to change the world.
I want to share those insights with you.
(Plus, if I’m honest, there’s a “3. I wanted a distraction from the anxiety of the pandemic!”)
In addition, I’ll bring you some of the stories and links that show the edge of what is possible - and also that concern me. I’ll also share some of the tools and services I’m finding helpful.
I’m trying out Substack as a way of publishing. In part because they offer an integrated way to have both email and an audio podcast. We’ll see. This is an experiment. Expect it to be bumpy for a little while.
My goal is to send this out probably monthly (but we’ll see - it could be more often) and to keep it short and *focused* on a topic. I want you to be able to read this from wherever and on whatever device. And I want it to be informative and helpful.
THIS time, it will be a longer issue to mention some of the things I’ve been doing that I think may be of interest to readers.
Emergency Response Grant Programme for COVID-19
If you have an idea for how to use the Internet to improve people’s lives during this global COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet Society Foundation will award grants to non-profit organizations. The deadline to apply is May 17! Please share this information with any non-profits you are connected to - in these unprecedented times, the Foundation would like to help people use the Internet to improve people’s lives.
(I am not directly connected to the Internet Society Foundation, but it is connected to my employer, the Internet Society.)
Help an Extrovert Out!
And a request… DO YOU NEED A GUEST for a podcast or webinar or live stream? While I completely support the need for us to stay at home to fight this virus, it is a bit challenging for someone who loves to teach and speak and engage in conversations… and who feeds off of interaction with other people! 😀 I’d love to join your show, event, or stream to talk about… the Internet (how it works, infrastructure, standards, whatever!) … curling… live streaming… security… DNS… writing… VoIP… markdown… books… IPv6… networking… WordPress… podcasting… Vermont… Wikipedia… or……… just ask!
Now… on to some of my activities over the past 7 years..
My podcast on SoundCloud - The Dan York Report
Since 2013, I’ve been publishing periodic podcast episodes of “The Dan York Report” at https://soundcloud.com/danyork It’s a mixture of technology, Internet topics, observations on society, and personal reflections. Sometimes I just really like the medium of audio versus writing - and it’s also a way to experiment and try out various systems related to podcasting. Some of you might enjoy my three-part series about what I’ve learned in 15+ years of remote working. Of course, that was pre-pandemic, when we could actually work from coffee shops. I also recently recorded an episode about taking virtual coffee breaks using Slack and Zoom. I have a long queue of episodes to record. You are welcome to join in the listening…
Livestreaming on Twitch.tv - to edit Wikipedia and produce podcasts
As an extrovert, one of my ways of adjusting to not traveling and speaking has been to experiment with Twitch, the massive Amazon-owned platform where millions of people watch other people… mostly playing games! I’m not much of a gamer, but I’ve been exploring the whole “IRL” / “Creative” section of Twitch where people are teaching courses, playing music, recording podcasts live, giving tutorials, … or just live streaming their coding work. It’s been absolutely fascinating - there is SO MUCH happening on Twitch beyond gaming.
It’s also been fascinating to watch some of the Twitch gamers - as some are really pushing what can be done with livestreaming. (And a good bit of it done with the open source OBS Studio.)
My own streaming has mostly revolved around either showing people how I edit pages on Wikipedia, or showing the process I go through to plan, produce, and record podcast episodes. I also have ideas about streaming “Watch Dan try to remember how to program in python after 10 years away 😏” and perhaps some other tutorials with Markdown and GitHub. Granted, none of this will bring 1,000s of viewers… but it’s all part of the experiment.
I have a schedule on my Twitch page that I try to follow. I’m usually streaming every day around 11:00am-ish US Eastern for a short period. Please do follow me if you are also on Twitch. I would also like to know what YOU might be doing with Twitch. Are you streaming anything interesting or unusual? Have you found it useful? Or have you thought of it only for gaming?
A Subreddit Focused on Internet Access and Infrastructure
A few years ago I noticed that I couldn’t find any place that listed links and stories about how the Internet was actually put together. There were many sites about Internet technologies, Internet security stories, and Internet companies … but nothing about the plumbing that holds it all together. So, being interested in learning more about Reddit at the time, I created a subreddit, r/InternetAccess, and started posting links there to some of the stories I found. Submarine cables, satellites, Internet exchange points (IXPs), 5G, community networks, research… and even Internet access via balloons!
It’s been going for several years now, and if you are interested in this topic and use Reddit (or want to learn more about it) please do subscribe and join in. I would welcome a few more people contributing articles, and do welcome any comments and conversations. I think it’s important to help spread the word about all the great work people are doing to connect the 47% of the world that doesn’t yet have Internet access!
Open Standards Everywhere
Some big personal news for me in 2020 was that my role at the Internet Society changed and I became the project lead for a new “Open Standards Everywhere” project where we are working to help people operating websites make the sites more available and more secure by using the latest open Internet standards.
We are aiming to explain in plain language a whole alphabet soup of technologies - IPv6, TLS, DNSSEC, HSTS, HTTP/2 and even more. You can see where we have started in a GitHub repository - and more info will be coming soon. I wrote a blog post about the project back in January that gives some info.
No, the Internet Will NOT Fail Due to COVID-19
With everyone shifting to working and learning and doing EVERYTHING at home, there has perhaps naturally been a flurry of hyped articles about how “the Internet is going to collapse with everyone working from home!”
Of course that’s NOT what is happening. The global “network of networks” we call the capital-I Internet was designed in a way that this all works.
My Internet Society colleague David Belson wrote about this back in February “Is the Internet Resilient Enough to Withstand Coronavirus?” and followed up with a new post today (May 13, 2020), “The Internet Is Resilient Enough to Withstand Coronavirus – But There’s a Catch”.
The “catch” is one that Vint Cerf and David Isenberg also hit on in their piece: “The internet isn't broken — but its inequalities need to be fixed”
As David wrote, the network of networks hasn’t failed, but we’ve seen a catastrophic failure in some regions to make “last mile” broadband connectivity widely accessible and affordable.
THAT is what we collectively need to fix.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the Internet is a lifeline we are all depending upon - but what if you can’t access the Internet? or can’t afford to?
Whew… you made it all the way here! Next time it SHOULD be shorter.
A few links for those of you who made it this far:
Shel Holtz documents the terrible experience of what it is like to be “Zoombombed” (I changed my Zoom security settings after reading this!)
Mary Meeker released one of her very-packed-with-data trend reports about COVID-19
A site I’m pretty proud of is - https://news.internetsociety.org/ - it aggregates the feeds of about 100 different Internet Society corporate, Chapter, and Special Interest Group (SIG) sites. It’s a great place to learn about Internet-related activities around the world.
That’s all, folks!
And that is the end of this super-long view from the crow’s nest.. looking mostly down at the ship I’m sailing on. I’ll be back next time with some actual gazing through that spyglass out at the horizon!
I hope you all are healthy and safe - and that you stay that way in the weeks and months ahead. Best wishes to you all!
Until next time!
P.S. The header artwork of the person in the crow’s nest was drawn by my daughter Chloe!