Hello 👋

What if we imagine a world without borders?

I’d like to ask you to suspend your disbelief and to imagine a world without borders. Often I think we don’t use our imagination enough and that really distorts and restricts our sense of what is possible. Let’s just imagine a world without borders, a world where we can cross territories without passports or awkward questions from the discriminative border police. I’m asking you to use your imagination, I’m not suggesting that you should just abandon reason altogether, obviously in order to argue for a world without borders we have to understand what borders are and what they do, we haven’t always had borders in the same way we do today and also the way they work is actually very different from how they used to.

To put this into context, here’s an example, 200 years ago we used to transport undesirable subjects of the kingdom, people like rioters and looters. Today we deport undesirable non-citizens, as you can see, how borders work and who they affect doesn’t change, it’s just simply this urge to control the mobility of poor people. Starting from 1388 onwards if you were a poor person who wanted to travel in England from A to B, you needed to have a set of papers that proved that you were not leaving your master in search of higher wages and a better job. By the late 1600s a set of those false documents, would cost between two and four pennies and no self-respecting vagrant would leave home without at least two sets. In the 20th century, just because you had a British passport didn’t mean that you had access to the British Isles.

As you can see, what borders do changes from time to time. Today, one of the functions of borders is that they create international migrants, you’re not an international migrants until you cross a border, that said, it’s important to remember that not everyone who crosses an international border counts as a migrant. There’s a very particular idea of who a migrant is. When we’re talking about American bankers, city traders or even Australian working holidaymakers, these groups are not perceived as migrants, purely because really to put it very crudely a migrant is imagined as a poor person.

Something else happens to international migrants very often, this is the case whether we’re undocumented or if we’re documented migrants which is that you become very dependent on particular people. If you’re an illegal migrant typically you become dependent on a sponsor, that sponsor could be a spouse or it could be an employer or even an educational institution such as universities. What happens then if the sponsor withdraws from the relationship? Then you typically lose your rights to stay, that makes people dependent, this might mean wives dependent on husbands, domestic workers dependent on the families we work for and it makes workers dependent on employers, so it’s not really very surprising that we so often hear employers extolling the virtue of foreign workers. Some people say that migrant workers are so much more reliable and hardworking than in our case British workers, of course they are because if we leave then we’re going to have to leave the country, a place where we’ve already established some roots and probably a place that we already feels it’s our very own.

Lamp post with sticker saying 'Open Borders now'

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

I’m not asking you to imagine a world with the free market gone mad a race to the bottom for wages and terms and conditions where the poor will suffer the most, this is I think where we do have to use our imagination because to imagine a world without borders is not to imagine a world where migrants and citizens have equal access to low-wage insecure poor work, is not to imagine a world where migrants and citizens have equal access to stingy heavily surveyed and demeaning benefits.

I’m asking you to imagine a much better world that is possible based on the principle that if we share, there is enough to go around. To be clear, It might not be enough to enable us all to live like Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch it may not even be enough to enable us to sustain the kind of relentless consumerism that really does characterize many of our societies today, but, I believe there is enough to enable us all to live exciting fulfilled ambitious human lives.

I think to imagine a world without borders is really to imagine a world that is dramatically different from the kind of world that we live in today. It’s to imagine a different kind of economy, a rather different kind of society and different kind of politics, where political debate really does matter and make a real difference. I want you also to imagine different kinds of social relations between us, a social relation that in the end isn’t based on fear and this is mine and there’s not enough of it and I’m not going to share, but a social relation that is based on the idea that this is a project we are together and let’s do it together. A common project, true team work.

Now, I know that’s all very well for you and your ivory tower in London as white middle-class man but some of us live here in the real world. I’m a migrant myself, I’m well aware of the nervousness of border control and visa applications and also what is like to be rejected, the frustration and the internal anger. We need to remember that actually borders, are a fantasy. I might be utopian but borders are dystopian, are we ever really going to be able to have hermetically sealed nation-states with with those coming in and coming out being counted knowing exactly who’s here and who’s there?

Let’s just think just for a moment about the tens of thousands of undocumented children who are born around the world and who are living their lives about normal. Now, what are we going to do about them? Are we going to just close our eyes and hope that they go away and ignore this kind of injustice and alienation that’s growing up amongst us? Or , are we are we going to spend billions of pounds of taxpayers money deporting them and their families while evermore undocumented children are being born? Is that rational? Is that sensible? Is that really being realistic? Let’s think about the tons of people crossing borders because they feel threaten in their countries of origins, let’s think about the tons of people who risks their lives by getting on an inflatable boat to cross the sea in the Mediterranean. I think we have to remember that borders are a fantasy, they are a fantasy that sustains inequality and only benefit a small group of people, the rich and the elite at the very top.

There are lots of people working towards a world without borders, even if they’re not actually working on no borders initiatives, there are people who are working on global minimum income, end to prison, end to injustice on the rights to housing and on more just political communities. I believe that actually migration is relevant to all those struggles for social justice and people who are working on those issues need to really be thinking about how migration affects those even if it poses some very difficult questions.

I hope that reading this small article made a sparkle and pose some interesting questions in your head. Keep your mind open, until the next time 👋

Moving forward to the future with a circular approach

I grew up in the South of Spain in the 90’s, back then people were a lot more resourceful in my personal opinion, they didn’t have very much but what they did have, it was precious, valuable and they didn’t waste anything, it didn’t matter if it was food, clothing or household appliances; things were actually build to last and if they did break, things were designed and built on such way that they could be repaired so their usage could continue on.

So from that resourceful time were my family has lived everything from having donkeys on the streets, to carry the water that will come down from the nearest spring of water to now having cars on every driveway, they were telephones plug-in in the hallway and people have even walked on the moon. Everything seems to have be invented by then, it seems like my parents lived through the best times where all the big discoveries were made and all the good music was composed.

Only recently I come to realised that I was wrong, it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come as society and broke those standards that were completely normal back then to what’s normal now, not just cultural changes but we’ve experience that technological revolution were we now have smartphones in every pocket, driveless cars, space travel almost a past time for some people, things have moved forward at such a pace that we see as humans we’re contantly evolving, adapting and changing. On that note, we’re a unique specie and that all other specie adapt to their enviroment, adapt to their habitat and change to fit into that, as specie we actually change our enviroment and our habitat to suit us better. We’ve been doing that for so long that we gained such dominance on our planet that no other specie before has had, with great dominance comes great responsability; it’s very easy to argue that with the past years and decades we’ve not been good keeping up with that responsability.

How do we change that story so when we move forward to the future we can create a society that is more resourceful and with less waste in it?

First of all, we need to take a look at what we have now. We live in a society that follows a linear model of take, make and dispose; so it’s taking the resources from raw material from the earth, it’s making products out of them with a manufacturing process and then at the end we dispose, creating massive levels of waste.

When we look at that line we see that there’s a number of problems in each area, at the raw materials level we’re extracting the materials at a rate that is faster that they can be replenish to the extend that we’re actually running out of some critical raw materials already, other things that we consider a given like sand in the construction sector is becoming problematic. We don’t need to wait until we run out of materials until we make a change. When we decide to look at the other end of the line we can see that we’re producing mayor amounts of waste, large amounts of pollution, one of the studies shows that at the current rate our oceans will have more plastics than fish by 2020 so we need to take action to change this models. In the middle of this we have this manufacturing and processing that is driven by fossil fuels they themselves are a natural resource but unfortunately by using them they release these emissions that are drop on our atmosphere and are driving cathastropic climate change, the effects which we’re already seeing across the planet.

An alternative model goes beyond a line, it goes in a full circle, it’s what we know as circular economy. This circular model is not about turning the line and converting it into a recycle model, it’s more systemic than that, it’s a more fundamental and radical change on how we think, behave and how we consume.

First of all, we need to short that line, we need to stop extracting raw materials from the ground and stop producing waste at the other end. After that, we have a very different model, one that we call secondary raw materials, which is stuff that is already in the system that is being used. If we take a look at the circle and we take a look at the features, we find what is called eco-design were products are designed to be repairable and built to last and they have a third element which is products that are designed on a way that after their usage is finished you can take them apart and get back down to the very core of their components and take all the raw materials that the product was made of, so we retrieve the materials from the products rather than extracting the materials from the ground. What this looks like for us as users and consumers it’s a shift on our behaviour, we change the idea of ownership and instead of owning something, we actually become users. One quick example of this it’s your smartphone, instead of replacing your smartphone when it goes out of style, breaks or you just simply want a new one, the circular model it’s more of a leasing model, the manufacture of the phone company lends you the use of the service, whatever that might be, sending messages, scrolling on social media endlessly, jumping around on YouTube… Whatever use you give to your product, you can continue using it until it’s full, breaks or you want to change it and when you do instead of throwing it away it goes back to the manufacture as resource for them so the device could be either repaired, sold again or taken apart so the vital raw materials could retain a value because once we have retained value within the materials and products they no longer become waste. Within the circle there’s an impact to the manufacturing, of course we will need to switch to renewals to make an impact on there but also it means that instead of manuafacturing in one part of the world and shipping products all over the place, we can start to think about growing local economies and think about localising this manufacturing that brings jobs and prosperity to areas that traditionally might not have had them.

There’s great multiple benefits across the entire circle as we move into that type of model. It’s not just a mobile phones or smartphones that we can talk about in terms of change of ownership, some companies have already started to embrace this circular model even Philips who provide lighting, on some of their contracts instead of providing physical ligthbulbs they provide the service of lightining and they’re in charge of maintaining the service, making sure that they replace any bulbs that are broken and making sure that the raw materials are reused in their chain. We can look at the model of clothing for instead of Mud Jeans, a company from the Netherlands, were you pay a subscription to have your jeans made of organic and recycled denim, once you’re done with your jeans they shred them into small pieces, blend them with organic cotton and turn them into new pairs. Cutting down on water and waste.

We shouldn’t be wasting things, we should be retaining the value in products and on what we have, it’s a no brainer. Models like this gives me great hope as we move into the future on how stories are going to develop for future generations.

Thanks for reading 👋

EU Parliament vote on copyright reform

Lawmakers in the European Parliament have voted to turn their backs on key principles on which the internet was built; namely openness, decentralisation, and collaboration.

Parliamentarians have given a green light to new rules that will compel online services to implement blanket upload filters, a crude and ineffective measure that could well spell an end to the rich creative fabric of memes, mashups, and GIFs that make internet culture so great. The Parliament’s vote also endorses a ‘link tax’ that will undermine access to knowledge and the sharing of information in Europe. I would like to add some of the facts on why we should be alarmed about this reform and what this means for everyone:

Mandatory upload filters and copyright licensing provisions in article 13 of the proposed law are unworkable for open source software firms and the open source ecosystem generally. The obligations cover all forms of copyright-protected content, including software. Indeed, the cost and legal risk associated with these new rules would push smaller open source software developers out of Europe and threaten the code-sharing platforms (e.g. GitHub, GitLab…) on which they depend to innovate. The fluid nature of technology and software development means that any carve-outs — say for software development platforms — would still risk creating a risk-laden environment.

When internet users want to share a witty meme online, or a home movie in which background music is audible, or even a photo of themselves wearing a t-shirt with an album cover printed on it, they may well find that their favourite online service blocks the content upload. Internet services of all sizes will be forced to implement automatic filtering technology, likely suppressing anything that looks like it might be infringing copyright, irrespective of whether the user has a right or permission to use the content. Given the crucial role the internet plays in citizens’ everyday lives, the impact on creativity, communication, and free expression from such blanket filtering would be palpable.

Article 13 demands that online services build or buy specific technology to monitor and categorise each and every user upload. At a time when the EU is showing global leadership on privacy and data protection, it is deeply regrettable that lawmakers are nonetheless seeking to codify a regime that would compel service providers to monitor European internet users’ activity with even more vigour.

Article 13 will be used to restrict the freedom of expression and creative potential of independent artists who depend upon online services to directly reach their audience and bypass the rigidities and limitations of the commercial content industry. Sadly, the fight over this legislation has been construed as giant rights holders versus giant online platforms. But in reality, the true victims will be creators and fans themselves. There’s a bitter irony at play: the directors, actors, songwriters, and artists who benefit from the viral sharing of their creations are now pitted against their fans, who in fact do some of the most efficient online marketing artists can hope for.

Smaller online services – and not giant platforms – will be hit hardest by the new rules

In addition to it’s impact on user experience, this law will have another, more insidious impact: it will further entrench the power of the biggest online platforms. Only a handful of the largest tech companies have the technical and financial means to operate the sprawling filtering systems that this law demands. Ironically, the companies at which this law is aimed are already filtering content — and so will have a competitive advantage vis-a-vis their smaller rivals and startups, who will need to invest heavily to comply with the law. In addition, the biggest platforms also have the resources and clout to mount legal defences when larger corporate rights holders seek to suppress legal content. This is not an option for smaller players who will face a high-stakes game of legal risk.

More than ever, we need to think about how we build a truly decentralised internet. There’s great technologies and ideas out there now such as the utilisation of the protocol dat:// for peer-to-peer websites or the usage of TOR as network. That said, we should raise our voice and let our local governments know that we’re not happy with this decision and fight to change it and make our voices hear.

Together as a group, we can make a difference ✊

I have nothing to hide

We are living in remarkable times. We can make pictures of places and people we like by pressing a button on our phones; shop from our homes for literally anything from needles to cars; reach hundreds of thousands of people through social and blogging platforms, and consume information on any topic in any volume at any time of the day just with a tap of a fingers.

But all that comes at a price. And that price is our privacy.

Many people believe that if they have nothing to hide, why would they have to worry about their online privacy? This is understandable and is absolutely normal. We expect that some companies know a lot of info about us (mainly because we provide it to them ourselves), but it might be a huge surprise that other companies collect far more sensitive information about us that we might not want to share with anyone.

To make matters worse, advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in recent years enable companies to find very interesting patterns and create fine-grained physiological and psychological profiles of people based on their online behaviour. There was a case in 2012, when a company knew a girl was pregnant even before her family knew that or companies like Facebook that can predict if a relationship will last. Now imagine what can be done with AI and lots of data about people nowadays.

There are a sets of reasons to care about your privacy even if you’ve got nothing to hide: ideological reasons and practical reasons.

Ideological reasons

 1. Your privacy is a right you haven’t always had.

  Just like the right to interracial marriage, the right to divorce, female labor, the freedom of speech, same-sex marriage and so many others, we didn’t always have the right to privacy. In several dictatorships around the world, they still don’t. Generations before ours fought for our right to privacy. Not caring about it shows little knowledge about history and the importance of it.

 2. Privacy is a human right.

  Article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “No one must be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation.”

It’s a human right just like the right to equality, justice, freedom, a nationality, the right to religion, etc.

 3. Having nothing to hide is not true nor realistic.

  Don’t confuse privacy with secrecy. I know what you do in the bathroom, but you still close the door. That’s because you want privacy, not secrecy.

You have a passcode or some sort of security in your phone. Same goes for email. Nobody ever handed me their phone to allow me to read their chats or see their pictures. If you didn’t have anything to hide, you wouldn’t care. But you do. Everybody does. Privacy is something that is part of us as human begins.

Practical reasons

 1. Information in the wrong hands becomes dangerous.

  You might be okay with governments or security agencies or companies having your private information. You might trust Google and Facebook. But what if these get hacked and your information falls in the wrong hands? (See Yahoo or Ashley Madison.) Let’s say, someone targeting your family, your company, your wife/husband. Would you still be okay with that? Would you be okay knowing that your photos, emails, or chats are in the hands of someone who can blackmail you? Or even think, what if any of these uses this information to control and even to influcence the way that you think and the way that you act?

 2. You can’t predict the future.

  Right now you may not have a lot to risk. But what about 10 or 20 years from now? Let’s say you are running for a political position or administration of a public company. If Sony’s hacking has told us anything is that your private information has impact in your life. Amy Pascal, co-chairman of the company, lost her job because of it.

It’s not just your job or potential job, it’s also the integrity of your company. Can you imagine what it’s like to have your company torn apart because of a conversation you had 5 or 10 years ago? What would it be like to lose your job because of a conversation you had by phone with your wife?

 3. Your private life out of context becomes a weapon.

  We’ve all joked with things we consider sensitive. But, among friends, it’s something we all do. In fact, our behavior changes depending on the people we’re with. I bet I could find something offensive you said in a group chat that you have with your closest friends. Because they’re your friends and it was a joke or a sarcastic remark. But take it out of context and it is not longer a joke. What would happen if this “joke” fell in the hands of someone trying to harm you?

 4. Your information has value.

  A company like Facebook or Google that actively practises Surveillance Capitalism allows you to upload unlimited data to their servers, for free. What’s their business model? How do they make so much money? They sell your information to advertising companies. But they never asked you if you wanted to sell your information. If someone asked you in person 100 questions about your personal life to sell it, would you answer them? Probably not, right? But you let this happen every time you use a service that makes money selling your information. That’s not all, you’re also allowing them to profile you and get to know better so they can create a version of your data-self.

Hopefully after reading this brief story about protecting your privacy and respecting your digital self now you’re in a better place to think about how you share information online and how you share it.

Stay private 👍

It's OK say goodbye to Facebook

👋 Hola, it’s great to have you here.

Mark Zuckerberg probably thinks it was good PR to say sorry so many times. For Millenials however, we’re so over Facebook. So much so, that Facebook now advertises to us in Messenger and on Instagram, by default.

While our grandparents have a grand old time on Facebook in their discovery of the internet, dating or the blockchain won’t likely lure us back. Millennials have never been so aware of how social media time takes away from important real-life interactions.

When you have the most talented people working for an organization like Facebook and your task is to steal features from other platforms and create tools that make your platform addictive and make people dependent, you know real innovation is probably not taking place in that ecosystem.

More people are now talking about Facebook as if it’s an invasive species that’s overrun our once-polite society. At best, silly games like Candy Crush and cat videos have eaten hours of our day — time we could have spent with friends and family. Imagine a world where we can put those hours to something, fun, productive, for the good or just simple for self-caring and self-awareness.

Deep down you always knew it. On the edge of your perception, you always heard the people who talked about the erosion of privacy, that there was no such thing as free cheese, that if you don’t pay — then you’re the product. Now you know that it’s true. Cambridge Analytica has sucked the data so kindly and diligently collected by Facebook and used that data to influence the US elections and Brexit (and who knows what else).

Some say, “I don’t want to stop using Facebook, I want them to change.” And that is wrong. Keeping up with your friends is good. But Facebook’s business and data model is fundamentally flawed. For you, your data is who you are. For Facebook, your data is their money. Taking it from you is their entire business, everything else is fancy decoration.

For the ordinary user there are more clear benefits of leaving the platform than staying, so why don’t I mention a few gains?

  • Improved privacy
  • Less exposure to advertisements and fewer data harvested on own activity
  • Less exposure to harmful undesirable activities
  • Fewer comparisons with other people
  • Less insight on “fake friends” who wish you happy birthday, and nothing else
  • More resilience to mobile addiction and notification checking behavior
  • Less interaction with feeds and stories ad nauseam
  • More time for the real-world, and building and nurturing real relationships
  • Less exposure to political unrest, weaponized algorithms, misinformation, and echo-bubble reinforced opinions
  • More time for yourself, to be at peace
  • Less exposure to the news that’s not enlightening, helpful or inspirational (like, at all)

Person scrolling through Facebook app on an iPhone

Facebook photo by Thought Catalog

Let’s not feel guilty about leaving a social platform that captured us when we were more vulnerable. When we were young.

If you haven’t said this to yourself before, It’s OK to leave Facebook.

There, I said it for you.

  • Less creepy fake accounts and people you don’t know trying to “friend” you
  • Less News pivots from the dead “Trending” to news in micro video from “reputable” publishers
  • Fewer interruptions
  • Less voyeurism without social contact, which I think is extremely unhealthy and chronic now
  • Less evidence of how people drift apart as they get older, which is both normal and kind of sad
  • Stopping to support an advertising Duopoly that is out of control
  • Being free from so much spam
  • Being disconnected from the artificial sense that your digital cohort is a social safety net
  • Avoiding face-to-face meeting less by relying on social media for “social snacks” that isn’t fulfilling, to begin with

Ok Javi, so now what?

Are you a Cambridge Analytica victim? You can find out by visiting this page on Facebook while you’re signed in. Let the irony of that sink in. Still, it’s the only way to be certain. Now you know.

Take your data back. You can download it from Facebook and keep a copy. Here’s how to do it. Look at all that data. That’s why everyone’s so upset.

Deactivate — or delete? You have two choices. You can deactivate your Facebook account, which is like putting the account on “pause.” People can’t see your timeline or search for you when you’re deactivated. Or you can go all-in on the #DeleteFacebook movement. This page explains the differences. (Again, um, it’s on Facebook.)

Consider more detoxing. There, did that feel good? Now you might want to do a more thorough digital detox, using a site like Account Killer or Deseat.me. Because this Cambridge Analytica thing — it’s just the beginning.

Build a better internet. As internet users, we have the job of making the digital world a better place, using services that are not controlled by corporations will help us to fight back and gain our freedom of expression, privacy and rights back. You might want to check services like Mastodon, Write.as, Signal to help and build a better web that is decentralized, ethical and privacy-conscious; but this might a discussion for the next time that we see each other.

Give it a shot. Pick up your phone right now and delete Facebook. Why not? You might be surprised how liberated you feel. Shrug off the weight of digital big brother and the web corrupted by profit and Silicon Valley greed.

Prove to yourself that you can do it.

Social media doesn’t decide how you use it.

Social media doesn’t share your priorities.

Social media doesn’t care about you. Only you can do that.