Like a dull, hungover college kid at 8am, I’ve dropped in to the 900-member strong NeoNetwork to ask a noob question. Ramiro plays the part of a patient professor, answering me promptly about degoogling my phone (try https://t.me/NoGoolag) or the most decentralized and privacy friendly email service (hint: Protonmail aint no saint. See the deep dive on his channel). The responses I got were prompt and professional; superior to the paid humanbots from Malaysia.
Ramiro creates content for his free-to-join telegram channel Ramiro Romani’s neo-network and moderates the community chat https://t.me/neo_network_chat . He is heavily involved in the Freedom Cell movement and the Greater Reset. While all these radical freedom communities might have a few angry cryptopunks but everyone seems behave in all the right ways. Ramiro and his allies have little tolerance for shills and outright trolls… exceptions if your are trolling the Fed.
Ramiro is a freedom-loving tech warrior enmeshed in the ‘space’ for quite some time. I have to point out that it is a shame that we need an ‘activist’ in the Privacy & Security ‘space’. It’s very 2021, no? Still, we are happy to have him, his stellar research and his excellent community. If you aren’t hip to the game, it is all about keeping data away from those that would do us harm. That’s my impression. He seems better at the words, so I asked him. I’ll shut up now.
Dave: Why is privacy and security so important to you?
RR: Privacy to me is the other half to freedom. If your actions cannot be observed, then they never happened, as far as anyone else is concerned. This allows you to be free in your actions.
Of course when it comes to the internet, nothing is ever 'unobserved', but we can still take measures to make external observation difficult.
When people get together and start taking these measures, as the good folks at @neo_network are doing, the challenge to spy on everyone will become insurmountable.
People at @neo_network are savvy, social, and driven - they all have their own fields of knowledge and projects they share from time to time. I learn just as much from them as they do from our posts.
Dave: Characterize the active members on your channel? How do you cultivate a healthy, low-noise community like this?
RR: I manage a lot of communities in addition to @neo_network and have felt comfortable in my philosophy of 'digiculture' which is just formatting the adapting of permaculture to the internet.
It starts with setting boundaries of whatever network you have created and then letting nature take its course. I try to answer any questions I have the answer to and promote a culture of sharing. I see plenty of others taking the lead as well.
When you've got a lot of good discussions growing, you'll need to trim the weeds from time to time. Off-topic, spammers & scammers, and individuals interested in nothing but self-promotion.
Oftentimes even without moderation and if the community is strong enough, discussions will carry on without needing moderation. Both are fine, and both are imperfect.
Dave: Right on. I’ve seen some folks go off-topic but it was somewhat relevant and funny so it fit. Where is your activism taking you?
RR: Right now my main focus is Above Agency (https://above-agency.com/) which provides freedom focused office servers, web hosting, design, security, marketing, and AI services. Our office server is our main product, which is essentially a server you have complete control over that runs all the software services you use on a day to day basis, like cloud storage, email, chat, documentation, video conferencing and more.
We are developing our office server offering by donating office servers to Freedom Cells in our network. They will be the first to try out this 'community computing' concept, where communities run private applications for their own benefit.
Dave: I know you are doing more than that.
We are launching a content initiative as part of our work called #TakeBackOurTech, which will have guides to help walk people through each part of the privacy stack, from installing their own operating system to encrypting their communications. You'll be able to read it at takebackourtech.org
Dave: Yes! I’ve been slack on my conversion to Linux. That sneak peak you sent me was spot on. How do you manage it all?
What is your biggest challenge in being a moderator and content creator?
Got any advice for those of us hoping to build a community?
RR: Biggest Challenge:
- Making regular posts that are actually interesting, relevant, useful, and actionable. This is super hard.
- Start with topics that interest the hell out of you, write all you can, and then distill the useful knowledge out of it later.
- Make friends & build relationships in all communities!
- Brand your personal community and be inclusive & engaging.
Our vision is to have a private office server for every family, organization, and community that relies completely on its own services, not abusive third party services.
Dave: You are full throttle! They say that if you have a strong enough “why” you can figure out the “how”. When/what made you decide to follow this educator/activist route?
RR: [After] I did my first major expose on ProtonMail [a few months ago], I began to see how companies used marketing to mislead their users. People were sold on privacy oriented products and services without being told the potential risks for back-doors or tracking, and it seemed like there was an organized effort to silence any questioning of their narratives.
Seeing people taken advantage of by companies like this stirred up something deep inside me. I decided would do my best to get to the source of the truth and provide alternative viewpoints to their marketing.
This activism is part selfless, but its also selfish too. The more people that get off these services that are actively spying, or have a built-in potential to spy, the better it is for me. The better it is for the rest of us .
Even if your privacy is on point, you have to consider your communication partners & community with each message you send. Each email I send to a risky email service, even if its a friend's email account, I consider compromised.
I look forward to the future where we create connections, sharing our words, thoughts, and creations with our chosen people, and no one else. That is freedom to me.
Dave: Yes, I’ve been on a privacy and security journey lately, which is how I found your channel. I do what I can, but I look at my friends who willingly fuck away their privacy and data sovereignty. Sad! It’s almost like I trust them less. This is a sad but also very optimistic time in Humanity. We gotta find and keep good communities of new friends and your channel is one I keep consistently pinned. Keep it up!