On his blog, Terence Eden wrote about the Time I Invented Twitter and it's an interesting proposition which would have just been slightly ahead of its time in 2003. Microblogging probably needed Internet enabled phones to take off, like social networking in general.

Douglas Adams was a very intelligent man who liked his gadgets - Macintoshes, synths and left-handed Casio guitars appeared in the first Dirk Gently novel, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, and, with The Book in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy he, at the very least, created the idea of a portable device that knew everything.
When the commercial Internet started, Adams got involved in games, co-founding The Digital Village, developers of the game Starship Titanic, who then started h2g2, a collaborative dictionary project described as the Earth edition of the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.
In his article My Vision for H2G2, written in 2000, he wrote this:

...when you write in something as simple as 'The coffee here is lousy!' the Guide will know exactly what to do with that information and where to put it. And if you see, a few seconds later, a note which says 'Yes, but the cheesecake is good' it might be worth looking round the other tables to see who you've just made contact with.

That resonated with me, and I filed it away. At the time I had a kind of mobile Internet setup, with a Palm V and a Nokia 8210 that communicated by infrared, that I could actually browse the web on, and with a bit of coaxing even use telnet on. Given this experience with the mobile web, I got tipped off about a trial project that involved the Handspring Visor, a PalmOS device that improved on Palm's hardware by adding an expansion slot, that among other things, had a GSM phone module and a TCP/IP stack (my memory says it was actually Trumpet Winsock ported to PalmOS, but my memory sometimes makes things up). For £99 and couple of feedback sessions, I had a connected handheld device.

At the feedback session, they walked me and other trial users through what they had in mind, and from what I can remember, it was fairly grey stuff. Online banking seemed to feature quite a lot, and it turned out that the service was rather limited by the data provider and a relatively high cost for data at the time. It might have even been limited in availability from 8am to 8pm or something like that. Given the lack of ideas coming from the company, I quoted DNA's idea above, which seemed to me to be a logical progression, and it seemed that the idea had never occurred to the company.

The project was abandoned. I heard later that the running cost was unpopular - data pricing was on top of airtime, which wasn't cheap back then, but also that the applications they were aiming at just didn't catch the imagination. I held onto the Visor for a while but it more or less died when PalmOS died, and by the first generation of genuinely smart handheld devices were starting to appear.

To embrace that in 2003 was to look forward from blogging, which, let's not forget, was huge then, to something much more personal, but also that would as Adams imagined, hopefully add to the sum total of global knowledge.

(Without disabling everything else)

My main laptop is a Lenovo X1 Yoga 2nd Gen running Manjaro KDE Plasma. Lovely machine and does what I want it to do. As a Yoga device, it has a touchscreen, which I don't use a lot and have often thought of disabling.

The other day, the laptop had the wrong kind of drop, which has cracked the touchscreen in the corner. This hasn't affected the display at all but has messed up the touchscreen input so that it keeps getting random signals that trigger events, which was sufficiently intrusive to need to turn off the touchscreen

The first thing I found was this from the Manjaro Forum. Tl;dr, disable the module that powers the touchscreen with sudo modprobe -r usbhid and make it permanent by creating a blacklist at /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist/wacom that contains the following:

blacklist wacom
blacklist usbhid

and restart.
This worked fine when just on the laptop, but I have a multi-monitor desktop setup that has a USB mouse and keyboard, and when I came to start work this morning, neither worked. Enabling usbhid in the blacklist just brought the spurious touches back.
There was going to be something that creates rules to selectively allow USB devices, and that something is USBGuard.
The Arch Wiki documents it well, but basically install with pacman -Sy usbguard (or your software manager of choice), and create your ruleset as root with usbguard generate-policy > /etc/usbguard/rules.conf.
This lists all your connected devices as allowed, including the touchscreen:

allow id 056a:50b6 serial "" name "Pen and multitouch sensor" hash "B1HYEaAtN9VpnKbIK5GQeZFfg3XN7EAAeQUvTx5zIhk=" parent-hash "jEP/6WzviqdJ5VSeTUY8PatCNBKeaREvo2OqdplND/o=" via-port "1-10" with-interface { 03:00:00 03:00:00 } with-connect-type "not used"

To disable it, change allow to block to stop it being processed, or reject to stop the device being loaded at all. At the moment I have it set to block.
Start USBGuard with systemctl start usbguard and enable it on boot with systemctl enable usbguard.
This stopped the touchscreen responding but kept the USB keyboard and mouse working. I haven't tested it across a reboot yet but I can't see why it won't continue to work.

The Apple TV series Mythic Quest had an episode in which the game found it had an extreme right wing problem. Their solution was to corral the right wingers in a server where they could shout at each other and fight as much as they wanted without bothering other players.

The Fediverse, running, as it does, largely on free software, came about in part due to Twitter and other platforms' unwillingness or inability to deal with an extreme right wing problem. However, as it's free and open source software, the bad actors were also free to create their own instances and interact. The response was filtering, blocking and defederation.

If you run a Mastodon, or other Fediverse social media instance, even if it's for yourself, it's one of the most powerful tools you have. You can filter hashtags, users and whole instances both personally and globally.

Lists have developed over the years along with the tools to apply them, but they have often been personal efforts. The hashtag can also be used, but it's something of a blunt instrument and is too easily hijacked for personal opinions and even feuds.

The current attempt to deal with this in an effective way is the Oliphant.social blocklist files, created through a consensus of ten of the most active fediverse instances This produces a collection of blocklists that can be applied as an administrator sees fit. Follow the instructions there to download, maintain and apply them. At the moment I apply the Tier 0 blocklist.

In addition, Ro Iskinda's The Bad Space collects the most commonly reported bad actors and new ones that appear, and can be used with an API to check if you encounter a doubtful user or instance.

I got my first Android phone, a Moto Droid, in 2010. It's wasn't my first smartphone as that had been a quest with varying degrees of success for years (I still miss the Nokia E series keyboard phones a bit).

Among the things installed on it was Facebook. Even then I was suitably suspicious so wanted to remove it, except I couldn't without rooting as it was a system app, and this was the awful wrapper-around-the-website version. However, being a system app, it still had full access to your phone. Which was nice.

However, by 2010 it had been being installed for a few years, if not as native app, as phone provider bloatware, and I think this was a major contributor to Facebook's takeup. You took your phone out of its box, went through the welcome screens and there it was. You could sign up and you could speak your brains to your heart's content.

I think this was as important a change in Internet culture as Microsoft putting an icon on the Windows 95 desktop labelled 'The Internet'. No, wait, come back.

Large scale social networks were not a new thing when Facebook went global. Friends Reunited created networks based on school connections in the late 90s. Six Degrees, Livejournal, Friendster, Myspace, Orkut all came and went to varying degrees. Google tried and couldn't get it to work, even when betting the farm on it. In that context, Facebook survived and persisted by learning continually, starting with putting the icon on your desktop/phone screen.

It annoys me that I have to keep a Facebook presence, for a few friends and that the parents of my daughter's school use it for messaging, but it and WhatsApp are the lowest common denominators for messaging, but I've handed that off to a bridge - I'm testing Beeper, but could fall back to Matrix bridges (same thing, self hosted) if it doesn't work out.

Of course, this is little compared to having a whole device under your control, especially when Google has now seemingly decided that it doesn't believe in the open Internet any more.

I'm not going to say 'this is what you should do' on this blog at any time, but I am going to say 'this is what I'm going to do'. I've been online for nearly 30 years, nothing compared to some people, and one of the compelling things about the Internet for me is interoperability. Walled gardens always become overgrown, and when someone decides to effectively turn one inside out, then it's time to do some weeding (yes, I'm prone to that sort of hyperbole, sorry).