Non-evil platforms for Buddhist monks/nuns to post on, escaping GAFAM/FAANG/whatever

Utopia building for whom? I think that’s the first question. A Utopia for your “clan” (and which clan is that?), or a Utopia for the world at large?

Any closed-source massive tech company will build a Utopia for their own “clan” (which is to say, their shareholders, by and large), with a fascade-Utopia for everyone else (which will turn out to be a Faustian bargain in the longer term). It will follow the dynamics of Machiavellianism almost perfectly. That’s the “villianousness” you ask about.

Great examples of this would be Google gmail ruining federated email (explained above), and Google’s leaked plans to make the WWW something which isn’t really open any longer, since you would universally log into it (using a Google Account), using their Chrome Browser (also mentioned above). Plus, always pandering to Google Search (for example, creating a need to develop AMP into any website).

Total pizza mob styles! That aggressive “cementing in” of dependence on Google is highly Machiavellian. So too is the use of facades and excessive reputation-building to woo customers and followers (free email! free web services!), but when you get a close look at what they are doing behind the scenes, they aren’t nice guys at all, but are very ruthless and lacking in scruples, employing a “might makes right” ethos. Machiavellianism is all about creating (and especially defending and expanding) a medieval-style “Kingdom” (or “Principality”, as explained in Machiavelli’s famous work "The Prince), using both “might makes right”, and any sort of behind-the-scenes manipulation and dark psychology which is above the law.

AMP is an interesting case of overreach. Developers universally loathe it, and it got a lot of pushback. These days I think Google is quietly letting it pass away.

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Great to hear, thanks. My AMP example wasn’t a very good one there. But if you want more examples of “cementings-in” (creation of dependence, which ends up having faustian-bargian-style resultants), there are plenty more.

The Network Effects themselves (mentioned above) are an obvious example of a “cementing-in”. Once all your family and friends are using these platforms, who can afford to leave the platforms (without a very considerable switching cost), even if they are Faustian-bargain situations (on those platforms)? It ends up being people like me - painstakingly avoiding those spiritually-ugly platforms in the first place - who carefully dodged around the eventual “switching costs,” which were, to me, as predictable as a bear moving its bowels in the woods. :grin:

Bhante @sujato, thanks for “getting it”, and not ever creating a Facebook/Meta account yourself.

I feel like my feet down touch the ground in the tech I’m using. I’m probably going to end up outpaced by new tech when its conjured up. It feels really dangerous. I just have to trust that people more technical than me can make the right decisions. Thanks for having this conversation. Stops the gate getting shut on us deer.

I have combined all the suttas from the 4 main nikayas into a single tibble/data frame. If you like I can share the .RData object with you - just let me know. There’s a “raw version” with segment identifier and segment text, and a “cleaned version” where I added fields like nikaya, title, sutta etc.

I was trying out things like sentiment analysis with packages like tidytext, or thematically clustering suttas with UMAP using the recipes and embed packages from tidymodels. But then I got distracted. :joy:

But yeah let me know if you want me to share the data.

Oh my god what if we contributed it as a TidyTuesday dataset?? I wonder what people would do with it! :scream:

That could be super interesting to see what sort of models/visualisations people build…


Most awesome Chaz! I’m currently reading Tidy Modeling with R and thinking about how it might be applied to SC. But yeah, I’m a rank amateur at this point. Having the data is a great starting point.

Another thing… people make data sets by binge watching sitcoms. Perhaps we could encourage people to binge-read the canon and gather data on interesting features. If it doesn’t work, you’ve read some suttas anyway. :smiley:

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It turns out there is an anacronym for exactly what it is that I do on my “Indie” website. It’s called POSSE (Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere)


Umm, this is catastrophic, IMHO. For all Windows users, that is. BTW: Some Linux geeks I know over here are finding it really amusing to rename Microsoft Windows to “1984-OS”.

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I’m starting to do some weekend meditation retreats here at Ehi Passiko over the next couple of months. And part of the registration process is that a potential retreatant must install Signal (or create a Mattermost user). Like it’s effectively (although not technically) the price of coming to the retreat.

I send them a link to a registration form within Signal or Mattermost. If I send that link through email, Google classifies the message as spam (even though it’s a totally legit link on my squeaky-clean Nextcloud server)! Google Gmail is very seriously evil, I tell you. They classify things as spam far too easily. They claim to care about web standards/internet standards, but then they tilt the playing field in their favour whenever they can get away with it, owing to their size.

Buddhist monastics do have the power to enforce privacy-literate, GAFAM-avoiding choices, if they are smart.


I’m sure you’ve mentioned this before, but what do you use for email?

I tried Protonmail, but because its encrypted you can’t search your email. I need search!

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I use protonmail, and tutanota (which don’t get unjustly classified as spam). Both allow search, to some degree or other. Protonmail charges a monthly fee, should you want IMAP. You only get 500MB total with protonmail, on the free plan. With tutanota, that’s 1GB free, at present. Both have search, and both seem to work. The android apps are OK, not stellar. Having your own custom signature is fiddly, when you are on the free plans.

Email is broken, I say. There’s some sort of unpleasant, bitter pill to swallow, pretty much whichever way you turn. Someone needs to get paid monthly, if you want everything to “just work”, and not be subjected to all the surveillance evil.

IMHO, Signal Private Messenger is what email wishes it was (especially when you want something like an email mailing list - and for this, Signal has “Signal Groups”).

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Brian Acton co-founded the Signal Foundation in 2018.
Just as he had co-founded WhatsApp for Meta in 2009.
Oh, and he’s but the 836th-richest person in the world.
Those platforms are all made by the same billionaires.
I find it quite hard to trust any of them.

What about the social platform Thinkspot?
Do you consider it to be promising?

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I have a slight doubt about the security of Signal. Why? Because they are storing a user’s messages in so-called “secure enclaves” in Signal servers, but those “Secure enclaves” are a new-fangled hardware feature, which might not be all that secure at the end of the day (kind of like how DDR4 RAM is today). This functionality makes it possible to migrate messages from an old phone to a new phone. Signal had to unfortunately do something, to keep up with how WhatsApp can do it (the end users were whining about the need to migrate messages to new phones).

Since Bruce Schneier, and very credible security experts like him endorse Signal, I defer to their expertise.

Anyway, I’ve devoted way too much time to investigating alternatives in this domain. No matter what newcomers show up at this point, there unfortunately needs to be at least a good 10 million users of any such platform (a milestone of decent usability and stability gets achieved at about that point) for it to have any hope of continuing on to building up a critical mass.

Signal is currently the best shot, IMHO. Having said this, in about a decade or so, something even better, and worth using instead will likely come along. It’s way too early for me to want to “switch horses” at this point, just when Signal is hitting its stride, as it were.

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Let’s think about what is the real root.

People are choosing these elected officials and are voluntarily using the tech services.

They are voting without doing their homework, are over & over choosing instant gratification and come to regret the consequences of their choices.

They have a happy go lucky attitude in regards to so many important issues and ree when it backfires, like children.

I think people are often very irresponsible and it is wise not to get overly involved in solving other people’s problems.

Of course the bad choices of our neighbours are causing us suffering but this we just have to accept and endure as it is the result of our own bad kamma because we too did stupid things.

There is this saying

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

I don’t take this as a call to work against corrupt people but rather as a call to do my own work of purifying the mind, help others where convenient without sacrificing my own welfare and try making good choices.

Evil may triumph but i’ll try to make sure it doesn’t triumph in my mind.


Today I did a Dhamma Talk with all sorts of tips and tricks for avoiding the tentacles of Social media, in the interests of seclusion, sense restraint, etc:

(My “Poor Man’s Netflix” solution above gets mentioned, plus I offered advice on avoiding the ads shown in front of, and just below the Dhamma Talks by Buddhist monastics in the Youtube app)


It’s mind-boggling to even try to imagine how large and powerful Meta is:

If this strikes you as some sort of problem, and wish you could do something different, I suggest considering Nextcloud. I mention this because Nextcloud 23 recently came out:

The new “Nextcloud Office” feature looks interesting, which is an integration of LibreOffice/Collabora Office into Nextcloud (which makes it a competitor of sorts, to Microsoft Office 365, or Google Docs).

I’ve been using Nextcloud (on a near-daily basis, during the appropriate times when Internet is available) since version 13 - which is 10 versions ago now. I contributed a method to do conservative, cautious upgrades of Nextcloud, using snapd (and a method of how to back up Nextcloud first)

PS: I’ve signed up for a email address. This email provider comes recommended by the geeks I know. It costs one euro a month, which I say is worth it.

Yeah, a bit weird they didn’t include Gmail in that infographic. Also: I didn’t realize QQ was still around! and not small either!

A highly insightful (albeit technical) article on the hard-to-believe Dukkha of trying to run your own email domain (as opposed to using a privacy-violating, free account from the likes of Gmail):

“DIY Email”

Choice quotations:

A frustrating element of email deliverability is the inconsistency in the way that email providers handle it. It used to be that it was often possible to get feedback from email providers on your deliverability, but that information was of course extremely useful to spammers, so major providers have mostly stopped giving it out. Instead, email providers typically reject some portion of mail they don’t like entirely, giving an SMTP error that almost universally gives a link to a support page or knowledgebase article that is not helpful. While these SMTP rejections are frustrating, the good news is that you actually know that delivery failed… although in some cases it will succeed on retry. The mail servers I run have been around long enough that outright SMTP rejections are unusual, but I still consistently get a seemingly random sample of emails hard rejected by Apple Mail.

What’s a little more concerning is, of course, a provider’s decision of whether or not to put a message into the junk folder. In a way this is worse than an outright rejection, because the recipient will probably never see the message but you don’t know that. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of ways to get metrics on this.

If you self-host email, you will run into an elevated number of delivery problems. That is a guarantee. Fully implementing trust and authentication measures will help, but it will not eliminate the problem because providers weight their IP reputation information more than your ability to configure DKIM correctly. Whether or not it becomes a noticeable problem for you depends on a few factors, and it’s hard to say in advance without just trying it.

Federated systems like email tend to rely on a high degree of informal social infrastructure. Unfortunately, as email has become centralized into a small number of major providers, that infrastructure has mostly decayed. It was not that long ago that you could often resolve a deliverability problem with a politely worded note to postmaster @ the problematic destination server. Today, many email providers have some kind of method of contacting them, but I have never once received a response or even evidence of action due to one of these messages… both for complaints of abuse on their end and deliverability problems

Yes, it’s just like that! I can verify this first hand. My email servers get perfect scores, when I test them using online services like, and “MX Toolbox”. Despite this, Gmail still treats my messages like Spam.

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A good way to sabotage effective communication is to make up your own abbreviations or user obscure ones:


I didn’t make those up.



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