On The Fediverse, No One Knows You're A Liar

Screenshot of the Mastodon interface. It claims the user has 97 million posts, follows 97 thousand people, and is followed by 97 billion accounts. It's join date is March 1997.

One of the reasons I'm still on the original Mastodon.social instance is that I am vain. I joined shortly after the project was announced and, as a consequence, I have a "joined" date of 2016 and a user ID of under 10,0001. This doesn't make me an "elder statesman" and is rarely useful beyond bragging […]

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You can have user accounts without needing to manage user accounts

A slide from a presentation which says "Avoice side projects with user accounts."

The inimitable Simon Willison has a brilliant presentation all about managing side projects: It is all good advice. But I gently disagree with the slide which says: Avoid side projects with user accounts If it has user accounts it’s not a side-project, it’s an unpaid job I get the sentiment. Storing passwords securely is hard. […]

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A Quick Guide to Filters on Mastodon

The settings page with lots of options.

I do not care for the game of Rugby. After many wet and cold days on the school sports field, I had any latent enthusiasm for it beaten out of me. There is nothing you or anyone else can say which will convince me to take an interest in it. You may feel the same […]

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Why is there no Semantic Ontology of Sentiment in Academic Citations?

Screenshot from Google Scholar. The book On farting: Language and laughter in the middle ages by V Allen has been cited by 106 other authors.

About a million years ago, I was discussing the FOAF (Friend of a Friend) ontology with its early proponents. It allowed you to define a machine-readable semantic relationship like "Alice is married to Bill" and "Bill is Carol's child" and "Carol works for David". That sort of thing. At the time, all the FOAF relationships […]

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Towards a Taxonomy of Twitter Tropes

The Twitter logo drawn in circles.

If you hang around on a social network long enough, you'll find the same tropes being repeated again and again. So, I thought I'd document some of the ones that I personally find annoying. This blog post is an extension of my moderately popular Twitter thread - with a bit more detail about why they […]

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The existential terror of LinkedIn

People on linkedin wanking themselves dry over how clever they are.

Several years ago, I applied for my dream job. Not quite ice-cream tester on the International Space Station, but pretty close. I was astounded to get a first interview, and crushed to flame out at the second round. That's the way it goes sometimes. Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried […]

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What is "Social Media"?

Rows of icons - each one has the size printed next to it.

All humans can be divided in two groups - those that love categorising things, and those that like criticising other people's categorisations. It seems that humans have an in-built desire to put things in firm categories. This causes a great deal of arguments. Let's have an argument today! Here's an excerpt from a recent IOPC […]

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The follow-but-mute antipattern

The Twitter logo drawn in circles.

I received a rather distraught DM from a Twitter friend last week. They were upset that I was following an account which did nothing but spew out racist bile all day long. Did this mean that I endorsed their hateful views. I was confused. I didn't recognise the specific account, and didn't recall seeing any […]

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How do I know you?

Geoff Don't Answer.

I don't have a great memory. I often meet people who remember me, but I don't remember them. I've had whole conversations with people who clearly know me, but on whom I've drawn a blank. My phone's address book has a "notes" field, and mine is peppered with little aide memoirs about the people I've […]

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Should Twitter tell you if you've been following a fake account?

A report from Twitter saying an account was suspended.

I get a lot of random Twitter DMs from attractive women who are desperate to make friends with me. I usually report the obvious spammers. But a few weeks ago, one nearly slipped through the net. The woman was wearing a military uniform - a proper one, not a sexy Hallowe'en costume - and was […]

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