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

Ocenaudio is my fav. That’s not a typo; it’s not “Oceanaudio”. I use it mainly to downmix recorded audio Dhamma Talks (saving 40% of file size, but retaining like 99% audio quality), but it is a good audio editor also.

Funny comment from the discussion at Hacker News:

So the path was:

Don’t be evil.

Do not be evil.

Do be evil.

Be evil.


Krista for painting, GIMP for photo manipulation for me. But that’s probably an historical workflow leftover.

Thanks for the heads up on Ocenaudio.

There’s this one awesome insight that Elon Musk is credited for, that I’m really grateful for; that of the so-called “3 innovation tokens”. There’s a great explanation of that here.

In a nutshell, it’s very easy to very problematically overextend oneself, by trying to do too many new things with the time, creativity, and expertise that one has at one’s disposal. It’s best to spend these (time + creativity + expertise) as carefully as possible, because it’s as though you only have “3 innovation tokens” worth of it.

Bhante Khemarato said in another thread:

Exactly. When the larger problems of the world come knocking at one’s particular door, not just the door of the world at large, one would do well have one’s “innovation tokens” saved up for that time, such that they are available for deployment. Then spend them! That’s what I did with my poor-man’s-youtube website (mentioned above): spent all my “innovation tokens” there.

From AN 2.98-99:

“Bhikkhus, there are these two kinds of fools. What two? One who takes responsibility for what does not befall him and one who does not take responsibility for what befalls him. These are the two kinds of fools.”
“Bhikkhus, there are these two kinds of wise people. What two? One who takes responsibility for what befalls him and one who does not take responsibility for what does not befall him. These are the two kinds of wise people.”


There’s another option now. Whether it’s a good thing is another matter, but it’s pretty impressive technically.

I mean, sure, but one of the strangest things is how often what they build are precisely sci-fi nightmares. There’s a Chinese surveillance company called Skynet. There’s a “meal replacement” company called Soylent. Not to mention metaverse itself.


Snow Crash was an awesome book! I’m pretty sure you’ve read it too, Ven. @sujato?

Some choice quotations from a pretty good (warning, contains swear words) criticism of “the metaverse”:

The push to create the metaverse, at least from companies like Epic and Facebook, seems entirely built on a teenage boy’s reading of Snow Crash: zeroing in on the awesome vision of future technology while totally missing the book’s satirical skewering of capitalism.

Why don’t the tech billionaires chasing after sci-fi metaverses get that these fictional virtual realities seem great on the page but would be hell to actually live in 12 hours a day? I truly do not know, but I think it may have something to do with their refusal to admit that they are the baddies.

The very first chapter of Snow Crash starts by describing the high tech gear and elite skills of Hiro Protagonist, aka The Deliverator, aka a former programmer who now delivers pizzas, and there is only one pizza company, run by the mafia, and most of America has been carved up into corporate fiefdoms.

Stephenson’s writing is so fun that I guess you could, maybe, misinterpret a society run by the pizza mafia as a good thing. But Tim Sweeney and Mark Zuckerberg don’t see themselves as pizza mob bosses. They keep floating these visions of a utopian metaverse that’s all about people talking to one another in a virtual utopia, even as they sit atop massive companies that use piles of money to reshape the internet as they see fit.

There’s no way for any massive tech company to build the metaverse without becoming the villains.

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I’ve managed to get my “Poor Man’s Netflix” to work with a cheap, decent remote control (in a room with no space for a keyboard and mouse). Everything “Just Worked” for me, no undue configuring required. (Yay, no “Innovation Token” spent there.)

Villians in what sense? Anyway I would support efforts towards Utopia building. Especially if that means the world can unite and put proper efforts to combat global warming, prepare for any AI threat, establish universal basic income etc… Although I dunno if that’s what meta aims to do.

Ha! Yeah, I installed LibreElec on my RaspberryPi. Never actually used it, but was thinking of running a slide show using it. Once installed, the UI is very much within the reach of those used to Netflix. Almost to a fault… apparently there are some shonky folk selling “Kodi Boxes” with many plugins supporting copyright infringement. If you don’t understand the philosophy of open source you might feel that you’ve paid for the “Kodi Box”, so no worries. This is only a problem with preloaded software.

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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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