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Jonas Voss

Jonas Voss

Consuming Instagram differently

5 min read

I've been looking for a different way of consuming Instagram. Facebook has introduced more and more features in their neverending quest to wrestle users from Snapchat and onto Instagram, and I don't care for those. I like Instagram, the photo sharing part, not so much the TV and Stories part. The other reason is that whole privacy thing, of course. Turns out big social media players weren't quite the stewards of our personal data we were hoping for, and spending less time on actual social media websites seems like a good thing.

Except for some musicians and photographers, I don't follow brands on Instagram. I mainly follow people I know. Family, friends, and tags. Being a camera and photo enthusiast, I enjoy looking at photos taken with a variety of cameras and film, and a lot of people use Instagram to show their analogue makings.

For a while I used an app called Hermit on Android. Hermit is a wrapper that turns mobile web versions of websites into apps. It has ad blocking, and a bunch of other nice features. Using Hermit helped me get rid of ads on Instagram, and their algorithm somehow works differently on there as well. I liked the ordering better, it seemed to be more chronological. Only downside: I had to consume it on my phone. It was good, but not great.

Granary.io and Atom to the rescue

Thankfully, people much smarter than me are creating tools for consuming silo'ed social media in different ways. One such tool is Granary.

To be able to get the feed of your friends, and not the feed of your own damn self, you need to find your sessionid cookie value from Instagram. Do the following:

Edit: There's actually a much easier way to do the below, by using https://instagram-atom.appspot.com/ - thanks to Ryan for pointing it out.

  • Open the Chrome Browser
  • go to instagram.com and login with your account
  • after logging in, open the developer console of your browser, and reload the page
  • find the "Application" tab and click it
  • in the left hand panel there's a "Cookies" item, click the chevron to the left of it to expand it
  • click on the line that says https://www.instagram.com
  • in the list of cookies like csrftoken, ig_cb, mid, and rur, there should also be a cookie called "sessionid"
  • copy the value of sessionid

Next, open Granary.io, and click on the Instagram logo. Granary will load up this url, and then you have to fill out some fields. You need to fill in your Instagram username, select @friends from the dropdown, select "atom" as your format, and paste the cookied ID you gathered above, into the last field where it says sessionid cookie (for @friends) and hit the GET button.

When Granary has done its thing, you'll end up with a link below the form. With the cookie value removed, mine looks like this:

https://granary.io/instagram/l3traset/@friends/@app/?format=atom&cookie=

This link holds your liberated Instagram photo feed. I plugged mine into my Feed Reader and into Aaron Parecki's Aperture and now I can read my Instagram feed on my phone using Indigenous, and on my desktop, all with no ads and no stories. Glorious!

Is anything lost?

Besides losing the ads and stories, you also lose the ability to favourite a post on Instagram, and to add comments to a post. However, I don't necessarily see this as a loss. If I want to Like a post, I can just do it on my own personal feed, and it ends up looking like this. Sure, if it's a post from a friend of mine, they won't know from their post, that I liked it. But you know how you can fix that? Write them an email. If your feed reader lets you email a post, you can email your friend saying you liked their picture.

Not being able to comment might be the biggest loss, but if you can live with that, then I think you should do it, go forth and liberate your Instagram feed.

This will definitely be the way I will consume Instagram until we've all moved over to Pixelfed.

P.S. I'm not sure how long the sessionid cookie lives for, so you might have to reconstruct the link in Granary once in a while, but that should be about it. Also, don't share that sessionid with anyone. I'm pretty sure it can be used to log into Instagram as you.

Jonas Voss

Phenomenal visualisation of data breaches done by Information Is Beautiful: https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/worlds-biggest-data-breaches-hacks/


Jonas Voss

Maps is a stripped down version of maps.me

A fork of maps.me which allows for track recording, and removes most of the commercial integrations that has made it into maps.me in the last year or so.

   

Jonas Voss

Sticky links - May 7th, 2018

2 min read

  • Take the power back is about how we can work our way back to the independent decentralised internet we were supposed to get. The method? "Changing from passive, to active. From scroll to search, from react to rethink, from like and retweet to write and link."  Also, turns out that teenagers today don't know what browsers or URLs are. To them, a browser is this weird app that sometimes pops up, and URLs are these cryptic things you have to write to go somewhere, it's just bad UX really. Proprietary apps is where the internet is, according to them [insert "old man yells at cloud" image here].
  • Want to leave Facebook, but don't want to lose the easy access to your friends, relatives and acquaintances? Do you also find it a bit FOMO inducing to leave it all behind? How about making it not worth going there in the first place? I followed a tip on Quora to effectively unfollow everybody in my newsfeed. Now, even when I load Facebook, my feed is empty, but I can keep Facebook as my interactive, self-correcting address book, which it is still very good at.
  • Last time I recommended installing EFF's Privacy Badger. I should have also recommended the Disconnect browser extension, which stops a lot of trackers from working on the sites you visit.
  • In Cuba, where internet penetration is at 5%, the Sneakernet is one of the most efficient ways of getting information to the rural areas. It's pretty much a weekly "Best of the Internet" on a USB stick that gets distributed around the country. It's called "El Paquete Setimanal", and shows what a curated, infrastructure-less internet can look like. You can see a directory of what was in the one from October 10th, 2016. Informational 7 mins YouTube video on the topic. Academic paper on Cuba's offline internet.
  • Do you think it's ok for your 9-year old to take public transport on their own? If you do it in the US, you might end up getting the Child Protection Services sprung on you by concerned citizens, while in Japan, your kid could be part of a TV show about sending kids on their first errand. The reason? A larger sense of social trust and self-reliance in the latter.

Jonas Voss

Publishers Haven't Realized Just How Big a Deal GDPR is - Baekdal Plus

On May 25, 2018, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (better known as GDPR) comes into effect, and I'm quite worried about how this will impact publishers because most don't seem to be even close to compliant.

The problem with GDPR is that most publishers see it as an IT/administrative burden. They think the only thing they need to do is set up some databases and do some other IT things ... and then redesign their privacy page.

What I'm not seeing, however, is any real change to the way publishers use data, the business models they have that rely on data, or any consideration as to what impact this will have on their editorial strategies.

So, in this article, I'm going to talk about GDPR as a concept in relation to media trends, and consider what this means for your editorial strategies. I hope I can help you realize just how big a change this actually is.

 

Jonas Voss

Sticky links - April 14, 2018

2 min read

  • Ad nauseam is a browser extension meant to click on all the ads that you come across when browsing the web. The philosophy behind it is, that if you click on all the ads that you come across, the advertising profile that will be built from this data, about you, is useless. You have no characteristics. You like everything. If that kind of stuff is interesting to you, you should read the article “Monkeywrenching the Machine”, it's about how you can make it harder for corporate AIs to mine your data. Both are relevant in this day and age. If you prefer something less reactive, you should install EFF's Privacy Badger in your browser. It minimises how much of your activity is trackable online, by blocking ads and trackers. You can also make some internet noise to confuse data collection algorithms.
  • I recently spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica on vacation. Fascinating country, warm people, and exotic animals. The Costa Rican address system is also exotic. They don’t really have a formal one, as you do in a city like London. One guesthouse we stayed at had the address “200 meters past the intersection with the church, on a particular road, in this town.” Their address system typically uses recognisable landmarks, and navigates you from there via directions. It turns out that 4 billion people in the world, live without an address, and one company trying to tackle this is What 3 Words. They do this by putting a 3mx3m grid over the entire world, and give each square a unique name, which is a combination of 3 words. It’s genius. We should all use it, it’s even good enough for Switzerland! Surprisingly Awesome did an episode on postal addresses worth a listen if you find this interesting.
  • More geography fun. The United States has 10 cities where the population is more than 1 million people. For China, that number is 102. I might know a handful of them. This helped me better understand exactly how populous China is, and how concentrated the population in the US is.

Jonas Voss

Profile engine

The Profile Engine has now been donated to the Internet Archive (31st March 2018)

Knowledge is power and all the power is concentrated in the hands of a malevolent force - corporate Facebook. 

We sued Facebook, fought hard in a David and Goliath battle and won a good settlement. One day, maybe we'll have time to tell the whole story - you'd be utterly shocked what goes on inside Facebook - what you've already heard is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have a Facebook account, we strongly recommend that you delete it completely, without delay. Learn more about Facebook 

We are freely and lawfully transferring this database to the Internet Archive (archive.org) as they have a long track record as a suitable, responsible long term custodian and we have the legal right to do so. 

Making this data freely available and preserving it serves many purposes. Here are a few: 

* Helping to reunite old friends with powerful search tools (Facebook don't provide powerful search tools because if you have to search through hundreds of pages of profiles then you view more ads than if the tools take you straight to who you want).

* Helping you to find and meet new people with common interests

* Exposing the interests and group memberships of politicians and public figures (What did they really like ten years ago before they were famous?)

* This snapshot of the early days of social networking will be invaluable to Genealogists, Social Historians and perhaps even Archaeologists in ten, fifty or even 1000 years time.

* Most importantly, this will break Facebook's monopoly over social data. People chose to make this data free and public, yet Facebook still charge for it. Not any more!

I'm not sure what to make of this. Terrible move or great move, and for who? Are these really the reasons they donated the content to archive.org?

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