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title: Documentation - Conversations with Daniel Gultsch
title: Worksession with Daniel Gultsch - documentation
Category: worksession
author: Cristina Cochior
slug: conversation-with-daniel-gultsch
@ -8,7 +8,9 @@ date: 02-06-2018
# Conversations workshop
https://pad.vvvvvvaria.org/WttF.The-Ecosystem-is-Moving.worksession
[https://pad.vvvvvvaria.org/WttF.The-Ecosystem-is-Moving.worksession
](https://pad.vvvvvvaria.org/WttF.The-Ecosystem-is-Moving.worksession
)
## Implementing conviviality in multi-user chat environments
@ -162,4 +164,4 @@ The final outcomes cater to the perspective of the general user over that of an
## Further reading:
XMPP Multi-User Chat Extension: https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0045.html#roles-default
[XMPP Multi-User Chat Extension](https://xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0045.html#roles-default)

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Title: Ecosystem Is Moving Documentation
Title: The Ecosystem Is Moving - documentation
Category: documentation
slug: documentation-conversations-gultsch
tags: instant messaging, conversations, xmpp
tags: instant messaging, conversations, xmpp, documentation
featured_image: images/fi_im.jpg
@ -20,6 +20,4 @@ For notes taken during the talk have a look [here](https://pad.vvvvvvaria.org/Wt
## Worksession
The worksession itself was based around rethinking and designing the way Conversations displays information about chat groups. Arguably one of the most important features of any chat system, the groupchat view had been underdeveloped in Conversations. During the worksession we discussed the various types of groupchats that exist in the XMPP ecosystem, ranging from public topical rooms to private chats of groups of friends. By comparing what choices other chat applications make and getting a sense of what is (im)possible in the XMPP ecosystem (see [Cristina Cochiors writeup for more details](#liiinknaarartikel)) participants got a good idea of where to go. Then we spent the afternoon doing a few different wireframes. These different designs all made different choices in accessibility, UX, customization.
For notes of the worksession have a look [here](https://pad.vvvvvvaria.org/WttF.The-Ecosystem-is-Moving.worksession).
The worksession itself was based around rethinking and designing the way Conversations displays information about chat groups. Arguably one of the most important features of any chat system, the groupchat view had been underdeveloped in Conversations. During the worksession we discussed the various types of groupchats that exist in the XMPP ecosystem, ranging from public topical rooms to private chats of groups of friends. By comparing what choices other chat applications make and getting a sense of what is (im)possible in the XMPP ecosystem (see [Cristina Cochior's writeup for more details](conversation-with-daniel-gultsch.html) participants got a good idea of where to go. Then we spent the afternoon doing a few different wireframes. These different designs all made different choices in accessibility, UX, customization.

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content/have_you_considered.md

@ -23,7 +23,7 @@ Summary: *This article first appeared on <https://homebrewserver.club> on the 9t
Pattern Recognition
---
===
WhatsApp started out full of dreams: "we want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake...and that you reach for in the morning. No one jumps up from a nap and runs to see an advertisement"[^4]. When they thought of WhatsApp, Brian Acton and Jan Koum were very keen on *not* selling our user data for targeted advertisement purposes. So they charged a nominal rate for the use of their service, rightfully pointing out the hidden cost of using free services.
@ -34,12 +34,12 @@ Facebook does this for the simple reason that it needs to increase its market sh
Every time there is a breach of user trust —read: a change in the Terms of Service— or news regarding network surveillance, people are on the lookout for an alternative, and rightfully so. In these moments there are many also willing to promote such *alternatives*, usually in the form of yet another disruptive app. After the purchase of Whatsapp, for example, Telegram was advertised as the alternative. After it became clear that Telegram had dreadful security, people promoted Viber. Then Snapchat, then Threema, then Allo and now Signal. There is a reason why we’re falling into this pattern of needing alternatives to the alternatives. And that is because...
There are no alternatives.
---
===
There's a tendency to oversimplify the issues related to the use of these apps as merely a privacy matter, and not even that is sufficiently addressed. While each of the aforementioned apps are alternative companies and brands, what these alternatives all have in common is that they share the same model. A model that revolves around centralized services, vendor lock-in and marketing related surveillance, and all of that within a neoliberal context of the free market. These alternatives therefore promote themselves as more than just an alternative, but also as competing products, usually highlighting a particular feature lacking in rivals' products. Remember that ill-fated, super cool, nice looking alternative to Facebook, Ello? It gained a lot of traction out of legitimate concerns with Facebook's modus operandi, promoting itself as an alternative for its nice features and its promise not to use advertising. But as Aral Balkan was quick to point out, allowing investments by venture capital firms meant the project was dead before it really began[^7]. Taking these investments, which allowed them to scale as a platform, also meant that they would, at some point, *have* to make a lot of money for their investors. How? By selling ad space or information about their users. The reason the pattern keeps repeating itself is not because the makers of these apps always secretly intended to sell your data while saying they wouldn’t. The reason is that they have no choice within the economic system they choose to operate in.
Cryptography matters, but then it also doesn’t
---
===
The latest competitive feature—one might even say, marketing trick—to make concerned users switch from one alternative to another is cryptography, the act of coding messages during communication. This strategy works well because the vast majority of people are not really informed when it comes down to the technicalities of cryptography, so this discourse mostly serves to throw bedazzling sparkles in our eyes. To be sure, cryptography is fundamental for privacy. However, the main privacy threat in the context of using these apps isn't the potential of a government eavesdropping on our communications. The privacy threat is the wholesale and increasing dependence on centralized services which revolve around the surveillance and monetization of user information. In 2016, both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger enabled end-to-end encryption[<sup>?</sup>](http://homebrewserver.club/beginners-guide-to-xmpp-speak.html#e2e) to address increasing privacy concerns. Adding *crypto* to a communication app in this case merely obfuscates a concern about the hegemony of these platforms. In essence, the issue of privacy is much larger than just the lack of cryptography; the conditions that threaten privacy are structural and economic and not resolved by a *patch* or a new feature.
@ -48,7 +48,7 @@ This issue is further stressed when looking at the question of metadata, that is
In short, both Whatsapp and FacebookMessenger can afford to deploy end-to-end encryption for your messages because it won’t hurt their bottom line, which is making money based on the surveillance of your behavior and your social graph. Adding crypto thus merely patches your privacy worries, but not the threat to it.
The Wrong Signal[^10]
---
===
The end-to-end encryption enabled in WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger has been developed by Open Whisper Systems, a non-profit run by crypto-celebrity Moxie Marlinspike. OWS also developed the algorithm for their own instant messaging application, Signal, and then open-sourced it. Signal itself is now the latest app being promoted as an alternative to WhatsApp and is hailed as the panacea of both security and usability. It even has the backing of members of the dissident elite such as Edward Snowden.
@ -57,7 +57,7 @@ While OWS provides thorough expertise in the field of cryptography, Marlinspike
Daniel Gultsch is an important counter-voice because he is the main developer behind Conversations[<sup>?</sup>](http://homebrewserver.club/beginners-guide-to-xmpp-speak.html#conversations). This open-source instant messaging app tries to be both accessible for new users as well as provide enough flexibility for more advanced users. In that regard, Conversations itself does not manage to escape the logic of competition and the discourse around *alternative* superior apps discussed previously. However, its approach is significantly different because unlike any other apps, Conversations is not a complete solution, nor does it present itself as such. It is a client that relies on federation, which means that it allows for people to chat with each other regardless of what provider they are using. In concrete terms, there is no central server directly connected to Conversations, but Conversations can connect to different chat servers. This is possible because Conversations is built upon a long-lived messaging protocol called XMPP[<sup>?</sup>](http://homebrewserver.club/beginners-guide-to-xmpp-speak.html#xmpp).
XMPP, the federated messaging protocol
---
===
Up to a few years ago XMPP and its implementations were lagging behind in terms of mobile features, usability and interface design[^13]. That was the so-called lack of evolution Moxie pointed out. But recently Gultsch and the other contributors to Conversations have managed to bring XMPP up to speed with the functionality of well known mobile messenger applications. Not only did this demonstrate that bridging the gap could be done technically, but it also had the effect of breathing new life into the XMPP community. An example of this new energy was the initiative to create and implement OMEMO[<sup>?</sup>](http://homebrewserver.club/beginners-guide-to-xmpp-speak.html#omemo), an XMPP Extension Protocol[<sup>?</sup>](http://homebrewserver.club/beginners-guide-to-xmpp-speak.html#xep) that provides multi-user end-to-end encryption and which is based on Signal's own encryption algorithm. Ever since a growing number of clients have started implementing OMEMO, including Gajim[<sup>?</sup>](http://homebrewserver.club/beginners-guide-to-xmpp-speak.html#gajim) for desktops and ChatSecure[<sup>?</sup>](http://homebrewserver.club/beginners-guide-to-xmpp-speak.html#chatsecure) for iPhones[^14].
@ -66,7 +66,7 @@ If economically sustainable XMPP federation were to scale to the point of being
Approaches not Apps
---
===
Given the different problems mapped in this text, it becomes difficult to blindly recommend Conversations as the superior alternative, that is to say, a near drop-in replacement to Signal or any other competing secure communication software.
The reason is not technical but is linked to the fact that, as discussed earlier, Conversations' own success relies on an economic model that is quite fragile, and the success of which—and it's a paradox—could potentially undermine the cultural diversity of the XMPP ecosystem.

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Title: agenda
slug: agenda
##Upcoming events
### Friday, June 1st 2018
**['The Ecosystem Is Moving'](conversations-gultsch.html)**
An evening on XMPP, federated chat and Conversations with Daniel Gultsch.
Start: 19:00h
### Saturday, June 2nd 2018
**['The Ecosystem Is Moving'](conversations-gultsch.html) - worksession**
A hands-on dive into the affordances and challenges of Conversations as part of a larger free software ecosystem.
Start: 10:00h, end: 18:00h
### Location [varia](https://varia.zone/en/), Gouwstraat 3, 3082BA in Rotterdam

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Title: colophon
slug: colophon
[*Welcome to the � Federation*](/welcome-to-the-federation.html) is a project by [Roel Roscam Abbing](http://roelof.info/), in collaboration with [Manetta Berends](http://manettaberends.nl).
[*Welcome to the � Federation*](/) is a project by [Roel Roscam Abbing](http://roelof.info/), in collaboration with [Manetta Berends](http://manettaberends.nl).
This project is made possible with the support of [Varia](https://varia.zone/en/) and [CBK Rotterdam](https://www.cbkrotterdam.nl/).

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Title: Welcome to the � Federation
Title: i-introduction
Category: an introduction
slug: welcome-to-the-federation
tags: Wtt�F, software, design
@ -7,29 +7,20 @@ Over the past few years there has been a renewed interest in 'alternative' on-li
Some of these alternatives are that in name only. These alternatives promise to be something else from the start, but often end up being more of the same since they use similar or identical business models as the platform they pretend to be an alternative to. In essence a different brand serving the same product.
<!-- PELICAN_END_SUMMARY -->
Others projects take a different approach. They challenge the current state of affairs by putting effort in building fundamentally different ecosystems based around free software and open protocols.
One of the ways this current state of affairs is challenged is by insisting amongst on federated, as opposed to centralized structures. Federation is the idea that various actors decide to cooperate in a collective fashion to make a network. Distributing responsibility and power as they do so.
These software practices can be understood as forms enacted criticism, developing a theoretical critique of systems into concrete and practical responses.
The interest of *Welcome to the � Federation* is to consider software projects that are working towards these alternative ecosystems. In particular those projects whose activities have reinvigorated interest for their underlying protocols, in part by their focusing on design, language and user experience (UX).
The interest of *Welcome to the � Federation* is to consider software projects that are working towards alternative federated ecosystems. In particular those projects whose activities have reinvigorated interest for their underlying protocols, in part by their focusing on design, language and user experience (UX).
The Wtt�F question is to explore how arts and design communities can play a supportive role in these processes by contributing skills, knowledge, time and exposure.
## Wtt�F in 2018 & 2019
Wtt�F will host a series of two-day gatherings that invite developers of these software projects and people active in arts and design. After an evening of presentation and discussion on the first day, the second day will be dedicated to a hands-on worksession.
For these worksessions the invited developers will introduce and outline a few issues in the context of language, design and ux that participantes are invited to address. Concrete *contributions* are explored as a way to introduce these critical software practices in a tangible way.
## Coming gatherings
### June 1st 2018: ['The Ecosystem Is Moving'](conversations-gultsch.html)
an evening on XMPP, federated chat and Conversations with Daniel Gultsch.
### June 2nd 2018: ['The Ecosystem Is Moving'](conversations-gultsch.html) - worksession.
A hands-on dive into the affordances and challenges of Conversations as part of a larger free software ecosystem.
[^1]: Any time there is large scandal relating to privacy or the concentration of power of cloud companies, there are attempts and campaigns to delete social media. This was notable after the Snowden revelations, most recently #deleteFacebook was a popular item.

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Title: ii-gallery
slug: gallery
[![](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.worksession-0.jpg)](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.worksession-0.jpg)
[![](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-0.jpg)](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-0.jpg)
[![](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-1.jpg)](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-1.jpg)
[![](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-2.jpg)](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-2.jpg)
[![](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-3.jpg)](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-3.jpg)
[![](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-4.jpg)](images/the-ecosystem-is-moving.conversation-4.jpg)

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Title: iii-agenda
slug: agenda
<div class="event box">
<a href="conversations-gultsch.html"><h1>'The Ecosystem Is Moving' - worksession</h1></a>
Saturday, 2 June 2018 (10:00 - 18:00) <br>
@ <a href="https://varia.zone/en/">Varia</a> - Gouwstraat 3, Rotterdam
<br><br>A hands-on dive into the affordances and challenges of Conversations as part of a larger free software ecosystem.</div>
<div class="event box">
<a href="conversations-gultsch.html"><h1>'The Ecosystem Is Moving'</h1></a>
Friday, 1 June 2018 (19:00) <br>
@ <a href="https://varia.zone/en/">Varia</a> - Gouwstraat 3, Rotterdam<br><br>An evening on XMPP, federated chat and Conversations with Daniel Gultsch.</div>
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