Mozilla - What makes a healthy Internet?
Categories: Internet Health

Step into the “Internet Health Clinic” @ re:publica 17

Have you ever wondered if the Internet is healthy? Wouldn’t you love to know if efforts against centralisation, censorship or surveillance are succeeding in making the Internet healthier? How can we not only assess the impact of our actions, but compare and learn from each other?

With the launch of the Internet Health Report, Mozilla has started an open process to document and explain the health of the Internet ecosystem across five issues: Openness, Decentralization, Privacy and Security, Digital Inclusion and Web Literacy.

On Monday, May 8, during the re:publica conference in Berlin, Germany we are bringing the concept to life for the first time in an interactive installation called The Internet Health Clinic.

Visitors will see five “examination tables” (one for each of the issues) where they can learn more. We will be seeking input on ideas for research topics for the Internet Health Report as well as for what actions could contribute to improving global Internet health.

Our partners for this installation are the Global Innovation Gathering (GIG), a network of makers, hackers, founders and innovators from nearly thirty countries. Every hour between 2-5pm, GIG experts and Mozillians will have “visiting hours”. By sharing their research projects and initiatives they will help exemplify “Internet health” across continents.

When and where to find us!

As an ecosystem, the Internet is always evolving and adapting. So must our conversations about Internet health. Are you an engineer, advocate, academic, journalist, maker, or innovator working to improve or advance digital life and freedoms? Then meet us at re:publica 17!

Mozilla’s Internet Health Clinic will open its doors in the Labore:tory building at re:publica on Monday, May 8, 2017 from 12pm to 9pm for walk-ins throughout the day. Open visiting hours with our global experts will be conducted every hour between 2pm to 5pm.

Visiting hours | 2-3 pm

Privacy and Security:

Michelle Thorne @thornet
Internet of Things Program Lead,
Mozilla, USA

Michelle Thorne leads Mozilla’s Open Internet of Things Studio, a professional learning network committed to making IoT more healthy and open. Together with Peter Bihr, she co-authored the book Understanding the Connected Home, and exhibited in The Good Home Project. Michelle co-founded Zephyr Berlin, a clothing label making pants that look great, perform and travel well, and are built to last for years.

Digital Inclusion:

Cathleen Berger, Global Engagement Lead, Mozilla, Germany

Cathleen Berger currently works with Mozilla where she is leading the organisation’s global engagement. In this position she is responsible for analysing global developments on digital issues, strategizing engagement across different teams, identifying partnerships and ensuring Mozilla’s ongoing presence in international key fora. Previously, she worked within the international cyber policy coordination staff at the German Foreign Office.

Digital Literacy:

Mishi Choudhary, Legal Director, Software Freedom Law Center, India

Mishi is a technology lawyer and an online civil liberties activist. She is the Legal Director of the New York based Software Freedom Law Center.  At SFLC, Mishi is the primary legal representative of many of the world’s most significant free software developers and non-profit distributors, including Debian, the Apache Software Foundation, and OpenSSL.

In 2010, she founded SFLC.in, since which time she has divided her time between New York and New Delhi. Under her direction, SFLC.in has become the premier non-profit organisation representing the rights of Internet users and free software developers in India.

Openness:

Martín Restrepo, Co-founder and EdTech Director, Appiario, Colombia

Martin is a social innovator and specialist in Transmedia for Education and Mobile Learning. He’s Cofounder of Editacuja, develops programmes and projects to access to pervasive and ubiquitous technologies for educational, cultural and social initiatives, integrating communities and schools, training a new generation of teachers, empowering leaders and digital content creators, with the applications of innovative and disruptive technologies. He was recognized by MIT with the TR35 Award, as one of top 10 young innovators in Brazil .

Decentralization:

Gilberto Vieira, Observatório de Favelas, Brazil

Gilberto Vieira holds a bachelor in Social Communication (2008) and specialises in film and video (2010), he also received a master’s degree in Culture and Territorialities (2015). Gilberto studies the mechanisms and articulations of cultural production in Brazil, uniting citizen policy and empowerment through new technologies, digital tools and artistic creation in production processes. He also analyses tactics developed by young cultural producers in favelas.

Visiting hours | 3-4 pm

Privacy and Security:

Jon Rogers, Professor of Creative Technology, University of Dundee, UK

Professor Jon Rogers holds a personal chair in creative technology at the University of Dundee and is a senior research fellow at the Mozilla Foundation. His work explores the human intersection between digital technologies and the design of physical things. He balances playful technologies with cultural and societal needs to find new ways to connect people to each other and to their data in an approach that explores not just what is possible but also what is responsible. Jon has a PhD in neural networks from Imperial College London and built up his knowledge while being a tutor and researcher at the Royal College of Art. He is currently based in Berlin’s Mozilla office, working with the Foundation to build the Open IoT Studio.

Digital Inclusion:

Achol Jok Mach, project manager #defyhatenow, South Sudan

Achol is a South Sudanese/Canadian, born 1984 in what was then Sudan. In the early stages of the Sudanese civil war she moved to Cuba with her family, where she lived for 8 years before moving to Canada in 1997. In Canada she finished her education earning a B.A in Literature from the University of Alberta. Today, she is working with #defyhatenow, an initiative Mobilising Civic Action Against Hate Speech and Directed Social Media Incitement to Violence in South Sudan, both raising awareness and finding ways to counter this ‘epidemic’.

Digital Literacy:

Solana Larsen, Editor, Mozilla Foundation

Solana Larsen is the Editor of Mozilla’s Internet Health Report, an open source project to collect research from different sources to document and explain the health of the Internet. Until a few years ago, Solana was the Managing Editor of Global Voices, an international community of writers, bloggers, translators reporting on citizen media, digital activism and current events in more than a dozen languages. In 2016, she worked with The Web Foundation on the Web We Want.

Openness:

Denise Karunungan, Communications and Engagement Strategist, Open Data Lab Jakarta, Indonesia

Pursuing expertise in design, communications and marketing, Denise works for the Open Data Lab Jakarta (a project of the Web Foundation) building, strengthening and implementing communications and engagement strategies. Denise has roots in information design and digital media, a background thoroughly used as she worked several years in the advertising and creative industry.

Decentralization:

Esther Mueni Ngei, Member, wHack, Kenya

Esther Ngei is a Kenyan studying Economics at the University of Warsaw in Poland, with interest in Political Economy. Esther is interested in global economy and researching international strategies for technology transfer and cooperation between groups/communities/NGOs in different countries.

Visiting hours | 4-5 pm

Privacy and Security:

Katarzyna Szymielewicz, President Panoptykon Foundation, Poland

Katarzyna is an expert in human rights and technology, and an activist. She is the co-founder and president of Panoptykon Foundation – a Polish NGO defending human rights in surveillance society, with mission to control the controllers. Since 2012 she is also vice-president of European Digital Rights, Board member of Tactical Technology Collective, Amnesty International (Poland) and Coding Rights.

Digital Inclusion:

Renata Avila, Senior Digital Rights Advisor, Web Foundation, Guatemala

Renata is the Senior Digital Rights Advisor for the World Wide Web Foundation. She is a Guatemalan human rights lawyer and digital rights advocate. Specialising in Intellectual Property and Technology, she works in the intersection between human rights, information, technological change and the power disparities between the Global North and South. As a lawyer in Guatemala, she has represented indigenous victims of genocide and other human rights abuses, including the indigenous leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum, and was a fellow at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Digital Literacy:

Markos Lemma, Co-founder, iceaddis, Ethiopia

Markos Lemma is a techie, activist, and co-founder of iceaddis – a community oriented innovation hub in Ethiopia and co-founder of Glihub – a startup company working on primary education and literacy. He specialised in ICT consultancy and community management. He is also an advocate for startup movements, social and environmental innovations & blogging. Markos is a coordinator on a research program on literacy, a project running by MIT, OLPC & Tufts University with a direct supervision of Nicholas Negroponte, Dr. Cynthia Breazeal & Maryanne Wolf. He organises Barcamp Ethiopia once a year, the biggest tech community event in Ethiopia.

Openness:

Raegan MacDonald, Senior EU Policy Manager, Mozilla, Canada

Originally from Canada, Raegan is based in Brussels, Belgium, where she leads Mozilla’s Public Policy work in the EU, and specialises in copyright, net neutrality, privacy and data protection. Prior to joining Mozilla, Raegan established and led Access Now’s Brussels Office. Prior to that, Raegan worked with European Digital Rights (EDRi), an association civil and human rights groups from across Europe.

Decentralization:

Dalia Othman, Gender and Tech Coordinator/ Co-Founder, Tactical Tech Collective/ VecBox, Palestine

Dalia Othman is the Gender and Tech project coordinator at Tactical Tech Collective and a Research Affiliate at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. For the past few years, Dalia has been researching online civic engagement in the Arab World, focusing on analysing the Arab Blogosphere and Twitter networks of various countries within the region. She is co-founder of the data storytelling resource site Netstories.org, VecBox, a hackerspace in Palestine.

See you all in Berlin!!

1 comment on “Step into the “Internet Health Clinic” @ re:publica 17”

  1. Mark Langdon wrote on

    A focus on “internet health” is probably a good idea. It is clear now, even to the most casual user (let alone anyone who is trying to build/maintain/design any sort of software product) that the internet is becoming remarkably toxic – and this trend seems to be advancing at an increasing rate. The internet has always been an open landscape – with an attractive frontier optionality. With the P/C, we broke free from the data-centre, with the internet, we broke free from the telephone companies. Since the ‘net was designed to survive nuclear attack, and have no “central boss”, it has been possible for it to evolve in ways that are attractively organic. This is both good and necessary. The full range of human activity is enabled by the ‘net.

    But lets be very clear about what we mean by “health”. It looks like that this idea of “internet health” may be interpreted as being related to the nature of the communications content. And if this is the case, then that is just dangerously wrong. Internet “health” should really be understood to be the “health” of the software infrastructure. We should not focus on censorship. Better to try to keep the technology working right, as usage growth rates spike. A significant portion of our global commercial activity now occurs on the internet. Yet a lot of really awful software is used to make the experience of the internet actually happen.
    And the rapid ongoing change means that nothing is very stable or reliable.

    See, as the rate-of-change is driven forward ever-faster, the quality degrades, and even experienced “users” face system instabilities and ever-increasing security risks just for engaging their activity on the ‘net. We are *never* allowed to have stable, reliable, de-bugged systems. It is just getting silly. We just get something working nicely, when a new “upgrade” cycle is forced by those who profit from the churn.

    Look, as we use new code, it is just plain breaking more often. Developers are using the public at large, as a giant test-bed, and ordinary folks as their beta-users. Users are expected to upgrade mission-critical software monthly or even weekly. Designers and developers are dropping ever-increasing amounts of nasty gunk upon their users – websites with extraordinary abilities to effectively track all usage and identify users, re-direction trickery, obfuscation, explicit mis-direction and mis-representation, and so on. The “browser” is the front-line of this ever-growing assault on stability. The blizzard of advertizing used to support the modern business models became so awful, that an entire new industry of “Ad-Blocking” developed – and brought more problems.

    In earlier times, the complexity of a big software effort was understood, and detailed development gates existed, with high-thresholds that had to be crossed, before a project could advance to production status. Now, a bunch of bug-ridden code which introduces more problems than it solves, is flung against the wall, and if it sticks, it is rolled out into prodcution by the end of the week. Or maybe even by the end of the day.

    A focus on “internet health” might be a useful exercise, if it can help the open-source “community” understand that it is digging it’s own grave by fast-wrecking the stuff that actually works. There is *great value* in something that is solved, stable, widely-used, and reliable. THIS BASIC FACT NEEDS TO BE UNDERSTOOD. (Let me pound the table here a bit. This is *really important*). It is wonderful to build and hack the very new. But it is also very good to have tried-and-true, reliable products which we can use, without re-starting development efforts back at ground-zero again. For an example, look at the differences between the US and Russian space-transport efforts. The American Space-Shuttle was a brilliant, innovative piece of technology, and the Russian Soyuz capsule looked small and primitive compaired to it. But the Shuttles blew up – one on launch, and the other on re-entry. But the Soyuz is still flying – a basic design, but with continual improvement. The Soyuz spaceships now ferry astronauts to and from the ISS space-platform safely and effectively, while the Shuttles are all in museums now.

    If you want to understand “health”, you have to understand this basic dichotomy. It is an age-old issue, and as the internet becomes a mature technology, it would be good for it’s health, and the health and wealth of those who use it, if it could be allowed to actually *become* a mature technology – with all the stability, reliability and moderate rate-of-change that this concept of maturity implies.

    I am concerned that instead of focusing on enhancing system stability and reliability, the whole “internet health” issue will become another opportunity to waste time in political debates about content. Since communication is easy here on the internet, there is this growing tendency to apply censorship, since it has also become easy to do now. Yes, we should probably restrict violent images and child pornography, but what I am concerned about is if we all argue about content, we will miss the opportunity to address some “toxicity” issues that we actually can do something about.

    We can’t change the ugly realities of human nature, but I believe we can make better products, with better code and clearer methods. And by better, I mean *more stable* and *more reliable* – not more feature bloated. Look, I used to really like the early class of products around 10 years back. I think proprietary closed-source software is dangerous and nasty. But the everybody-do-anything + everybody-change-everything model of open-source has its own risks and issues. I actually found this page, during a simple research project to figure out what had gone so wrong with Firefox, a product I really used to love. Now, I hate using web-browsers. The experience is so awful, the information offered everywhere by everyone is so misleading, distorted and click-hijacked, that the entire UX is simply one of gritted-teeth frustration and anger. Web-pages that take forever to load (worked well a few weeks ago…), devices that worked fine, now rendered non-operational, “ruined-by-design”, we call this… Simply facilities that were nice, simple and elegant, now bloated and polluted with dancing animated visual vomit.

    Firefox is not the only web-browser which has degraded itself. Safari use to work nicely – now it does not. With early browsers, we used to have tools to control our own UX (User Experience), but those have been removed or degraded. I have this really wonderful iPad version 1.0, a marvelous world-changing product, now degraded into a (not-so-cheap) plastic piece of crap by the hardware maker, and the elegant aircraft-aluminum version 1.0 of the device, ruined by feature-polluted gunk-laden software, so that all my critical banking and other financial sites no longer function on it.

    I got so disgusted by this annoying fraud, that I undertook to hack the thing, and “jailbroke” the toxic ring-fence of software-barbed-wire that the orginal makers had erected around their little monopoly-space device, and once freed and opened, I found this wonderful Linux-like platform that can run ssh/scp and a proper terminal shell, and a sane file-browser. And after some serious work, I even determined how to download video material, build a local file library, and run VLC on the device, so it can again function as what I had purchased it to be. I also was able to put several useful programming languages on the thing, and run them there. I documented this on the gemesyscanada com website, for any who might be curious.

    Please understand: the awful “unhealthy” toxic nasty ugliness that was done to the iPad by its manufacturer, is also now being done to modern web-browser and web-publishing software. It is just being made awful. Just today, I have had at least 4 sites play this trick of going dark, and popping-up a big modal box demanding information, or making a demand I accept an email-subscription for more gunk. And since Firefox version 44, there is this new brand of “web push” technology (WC3) which is being used to force gunk down onto your machine, regardless of user action. We are basically back to two horrible things – pop-up menus and “push” activity that I thought had been dealt with years ago. No sane person wants this.

    This approach makes for an unstable, annoying, toxic internet. Control of the user’s own machine, *must* remain with the user. Various content-providers will always have financial incentives to lie and mislead. But if we are to begin to address this issue of “internet health”, we need to deal squarely with this “crapification” of the software infrastructure. This trend towards the retrograde evolution (devolution?) of the (mostly) open-source products that make up the infrastructural foundation of the internet is really the key “internet health” issue. It is like toxic waste. It starts out small, but ends up being everywhere.

    We need to stop wrecking stuff that works, and especially avoid the toxic feature-bloat that turns simple, effective and elegant solutions into complex, mal-formed fragile failures.