You call that positive discrimination?

Becky, Rosie, Jasmine - The R&D girls

Rosie recently wrote her feelings about women speakers at conferences and the small backlash against encouraging women to speak.

Most people I’ve spoken to agree that attempts to increase diversity are a goodthing. Inevitably however, there are some that immediately cry ‘positive discrimination!’. I find myself trying to combat the same old misconceptions time and time again

So she runs through some of those misconceptions people cling to when talking about women at conferences. The big one which I hear over and over again is… positive discrimination.

Conflating terms: positive discrimination, quotas, and diversity targets

People often use the phrase ‘positive discrimination’ when they mean something else entirely. Positive discrimination, otherwise known as affirmative action, is the process of; given two equal candidates; preferring the one who is usually disadvantaged by discrimination. This is different to quotas, where a certain number of places are reserved for disadvantaged minorities. This is different again from diversity targets, which as they describe, are a target, not a mandate. Targets often involve simply trying to attract a wider, more diverse range of people to apply for a role, with no preferential treatment after that stage. For brevity, I shall group these under the term ‘diversity measures’. You may take issue with one kind of diversity measure and not with another, but let’s get our definitions straight from the start.

Rosies right, there’s too many people calling things by the wrong name. Sometimes they do it cause fuss and confusion, sometimes its by accident. What ever the reason,  the choice of words tend to strike up visions of people getting ahead not on their own merit and blah blah before you know it, there’s the sliver of anger and before long the rest of the terms come to the minds and out pops…

  • I just want the best person, regardless of gender
  • We should be blind to gender!
  • Women don’t like diversity measures, they’re patronising
  • There just aren’t enough qualified women around
  • It results in a drop in quality
  • Diversity measures are inherently unfair

Yes I know you all have heard this from people we know, and should know better… Ugh. So what we going to do about it?

300 seconds is back in Manchester on Adalovelace day 14th October. Last time we hosted it at the BBC and it was a great night full of enjoyment and a real good chance for some great women to gain some confidence public speaking.

If anything Rosie or I have said chimes with you, and you want to make a difference. Apply to be a speaker, its rewarding and you will be doing something positive which will help pave the path for others to follow in your footsteps.

Do you know how to flirt?

Geeks talk sexy flirting workshop

If the answer is yes, then great…

However if the answer is maybe or simply no… You might want to consider it a gap in your knowledge and its time to learn?

Flirting is one of those things nobody ever really teaches you, as a human being you are expected to know how to flirt. If your lucky friends in school will guide you in the right direction but if your not, you are wondering how it all works…

3 years ago as part of the Geeks Talk Sexy series we did a practical session at the closing. That closing session was run by my good friend Nicole, who once took me on a flirting tour in London. It was fun and I learned a interesting side of me when it came to flirting. So years later, we got talking and Geeks Talk Sexy workshop was born.

Now to be fair Nicole used the flirtology workshop format without really asking permission and we tacked a discussion with a friend about pickup artists and the game on the end. The thought was to guide people through the fun of  flirting and then expose them to the darker side.

The event went well and although some people did get asked to leave the cooperative supermarket, the group bonded well and there was a real sense that together everybody learned something new about themselves.

So I’ve been thinking ever since, maybe its time for a proper official flirtology workshop in Manchester? I have been in touch with Jean Smith and we’ve agreed Manchester’s screaming out for a official flirtology workshop.

Details are still being worked out but look out for a workshop before the end of the year…

Wearables are now, oh? OK now?

Google Glass in CEX

The one thing Apples Watch announcement did this week is legitimise the sector of wearables, people are saying.
This might be true but frankly just because Apple joined the many other companies building products which are made to be warn.

I personally think the Apple watch is a little ugly and the route Apple’s taken of bundling more power into the watch than others isn’t ideal. In my mind what will define wearable is power and interface.

Although Apple may make a big deal about its interface, I have deeper concerns about the power usage. Same as I have for all the ideas to put a computer in a wearable product to be honest.

Laugh at Google Glass all you like but its limitations were actually interesting and the crappy applications all seems to be about using Glass for things it was never meant to do, like augmented reality. Wearables have strong limitations and should do one or two things really well. This is why I still like my pebble watch. It does notifications really well.

Creativity in the limitations and less is more, is something I feel Apple may have missed? Regardless, its good hear all the years/decades of other wearable tech are now legit thanks to Apple (snark)

Through the Illusion of the Apple distortion field

iCow Syncing

You got to hand it to Apple, they always have the press eating out their own bowl. You only have to look at the latest apple announcement for the apple watch.  This use to be termed the Steve Jobs distortion field then when Steve died, there was a fear that Apple may not be able to keep things up without their leader.

However this turned out to be not true (to a degree).

How does Apple manipulate the media and press has been a question which many have asked, and very have been brave enough to come forward and explain how. Those who do tend to get put on the blacklist and starved…

Apple can already tell what a review is going to say from [a publication’s] pre-coverage, and they’re not going to give you a review unit if you’re not going to play ball.” In other words, Apple feeds the writers who will do its bidding, and starves the ones who won’t follow its messaging.

One such brave people is Mark Gurman from 9to5mac. Who wrote a super detailed look at the distortion and absolute manipulation Apple roll across the media. 9 indepth pages of stuff everybody kind of guessed or knew but dare not write about? Don’t expect to see Mark at any Apple press events for the next 10 years at least.

Perceptive Radio on BBC Radio 4

Official Perceptive Radio photo

It finally happened… Perceptive Media  and more specifically Perceptive Radio got a mention on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours today. Now to be fair this isn’t the first time its been mentioned on the BBC but to have futurebroadcasts.com mentioned live on air, should increase the sample size for feedback which is critical for our research into Perceptive Media.

In usual style I made an archived version on archive.org. Although to be fair the You and Yours stays on iPlayer for about a year at a time.

Islington Wharf, a 1gig fibre internet wonderland

Fibre optique

Yes you heard me right…

You may have a nice view, a large balcony, heck a swimming pool on top of the building. But have you got 1gig bit fiber to your flat?

No? Thats a real shame for you. Maybe you should give a hyperoptic a call now…

I just got conformation that Islington Wharf will be getting hyperoptic’s 1gig fibre connection to each and every flat. Yes thats 1GIG per flat!

This is perfect timing as I’m just about to order myself the Almond plus router. I’m just hoping I can move with UKFSN or Andrews and Arnold’s too.

What will I do with this much bandwidth? Well self hosting is a consideration along with being able to access all my media anywhere and everywhere with Plex. I’m also wondering if a more distributed model is viable, cutting out the 5 stacks?

Pick up vs Flirting, where do you stand?

BBC Merseyside radio studio

I had the pleasure of joining Jody again on Nguana’s Upfront show.

If you have not heard the other times we have been on the show, do check them out. My favorites being Who pays on the first date and the height debate.

We touched on pickup in part which was the less sleazy side of pickup (more seduction I guess) and how it blurs with flirting. It was a lively discussion and lots of fun, just right for a Sunday evening. I even got the question suggested to me by Coldclimate ages ago in as a conversation starter.

Question: Who would win in a fight at the beach between a Giant Squid and a Bear?

You can answer and give your reasons using the google form we setup. Maybe I should put it out to qriously?

Regardless, I finally got Ngnana to pay for a date! This is pretty massive, I’ll be interested to hear what happens… I can just imagine the same experience I had but this time dished out from myself and Jody.

Next time its about long distance relationships… so look out for the same fun, spiky and fruitful conversation in late September…

As usual you can listen to the whole show including the timely love advice for Leomar at the end via BBC iPlayer for the next few days or I clipped a version and ripped out the music for copyright reasons on archive.org.

Smell as an indicator of interest?

DSC00503 alena

A while ago I wrote about the idea of finding partners by smell.

In the modern world of dating theres a lot of gimmicks setup to catch the eye of the potential singles market. Everyone knows about the free weekenders online daters get sucked into. But sometimes something seems so far fetched it might actually work…

One such idea a friend had was the idea of picking someone by smell. Now this concept isnt’ actually new. Pheromone parties were all the range a while back.

The get-togethers — which have been held in New York and Los Angeles and are planned for other cities — ask guests to submit a slept-in T-shirt that will be smelled by other participants.

Then, voila! You can pick your partner based on scent, or so the theory goes.

Interestingly enough,  Zoe sent me a link to a experiment the science museum are doing around the same concept. Nick named, sensory speed dating.

Forget love at first sight – what about love at first sniff?

Feel and sound out your match as we explore the invisible hormonal magnets that draw us together.

Who knows, you might even get lucky…

First of all I’m confused. Is it really speed dating? Is it aimed at getting people together? Why is it open to all ages? Why is there a adult only version?

I did call it a gimmick but frankly anything which puts single people in one place and good to talk will generally get a higher success than doing nothing.

I mean it works for other animals, so go figure!

Mistakes are simply opportunities missed

Mistakes

I am in love with this idea right now… It comes from something I heard on NPR’s Ted hour about making mistakes.

The show is made up of a few TED talks but groups them together under one general theme. In the part which made me pick up my ears, a bunch of jazz musicians, improvise around each other and their mistakes (as such).

HARRIS: So someone could conceptually perceive that as a mistake. And the only way that I would say it was a mistake is in that we didn’t react to it. It was an opportunity that was missed. So it’s unpredictable, we’ll paint this palette again, he’ll play it. I don’t know how we’ll react to it, but something will change. We’ll all accept his ideas or not.

Mistakes are simply opportunities missed!

Collaboration or as I’m reminded by Jon, CoDesign is based on these principles. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

It’s much more organic, much more nuance, it’s not about bullying my vision or anything like that, it’s about being here in the moment, accepting one another, and allowing creativity to flow.

Beautifully said…!

Do you want to join Scoblebook?

Robert scoble at London's Geek DinnerIts worth watching or at least listening to this week in tech. Robert scoble tries to explain the twisted logic of the Facebook algorithm live. For 40+ mins!

Scoble says… “Facebook is running away with the game!

Really? As Clayton Morris says, the amount of curation Robert needs to do is shocking… Out of the 1 billion people who use facebook, the percentage who use lists is so close to zero even Mark Zuckerberg admitted it was kind of broken (thanks Nicole).

Nice try Robert but I certainly won’t be following suit… I’m actually trying to get off it or at least using it as a dumping ground again.

#ALSIceBucketChallenge not accept…

#ALSIceBucketChallenge

To be clear this isn’t an attack on ALS the charity, and you can choose to do what you personally like. However these are my views and opinions, what you have is a choice…

Shane nominated me and Chris for the ALS Ice-bucket challenge on Twitter and Facebook.

I heard about the challenge but that was about a year ago, so I looked it up on wikipedia. And also looked around the web to find out what people were saying about it.

I personally hate and reject social pressure, it tends to bring out the   rebel in me. The Icebucket challenge on the surface of it seems to be harmless but deep down it seems to have the same tones as a pyramid scheme and a whole dollop of social engineering. Strong words but as I said this brings out the worst in me.

As of Thursday the “Ice Bucket Challenge” had raised over $41 million. And yes, it’s probably true that this kind of cash would not have been raised if a long list of famous people hadn’t videoed themselves dumping ice water on themselves.

But a couple of points. First, wasn’t the original idea that you were challenged to EITHER dump water on your head OR make a charitable donation? Because that’s what President Obama did when he was challenged by Ethel Kennedy. (Which was, admittedly, a pretty big guilt trip. Ethel Kennedy is 86 years old and she’s also, well, a Kennedy, so ignore that challenge at your peril.)

Guilt trip…! Yes and because its public and in the open, it adds social pressure.

At a recent dinner party, I discussed with friends and Shane why I hated the idea and compared it to things I mentioned before. Most seemed to think it wasn’t a big deal, why was I getting so worked up about the whole thing? Just do it or don’t? To which I started to go off on one comparing it to the confidence tricks and the problem with compliance (complete story)!

Well to cut things short, I decided after reading and sleeping on it. I’m not going to take part, not because I’m scared of getting ice cold water over my head (although its been suggested someone like me may pass out?). Not because I don’t want to donate money to charity and not because I don’t care.

Cornering me into a corner and saying pay or/and put ice water over your head is not something I recommend. I can already imagine all the other charities trying to come up with their own versions, although you can suggest the no make-up selfie was similar? Guilt tripping and social engineering the general public into going along with the flow for a quiet life. I wonder how many of them, actually paid the charity? Did Shane? He did. But have we sunk to such a level that charity can only get money by social engineering and compliance techniques ? (I imagine yes but this feels a step further that I’d like to think)

As I said its not about the money, so I have paid an extra sum to the open rights group (the UK  equivalent of the EFF) instead of to a charity which uses social engineering to convince people to donate to them.

I imagine there will be backlash against my decision but I’m sticking with it and leave the question to everybody getting involved in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, are you doing it because you care, think it will be a laugh or feeling the social pressure? Deep down, if nobody recommended you for it, would you do it?

Think about it and don’t take the easy way out, do what feels right to you! Donate if you want to, take the icebucket if you want, but don’t be a sheep, think about it!

Another video which must be watched…

Aral Balkan – Free is a Lie – Thinking Digital 2014 from Thinking Digital on Vimeo.

Aral drives me a little crazy, I end up writing massive long blog posts about his talks. But I have to give it to him, the showmanship and underlying ideas are pretty much good. You can see for yourself in the talk which got me writing about the 5 stacks.

Don’t forget to check out my blog for BBC R&D connected what happened at the Quantified self and Thinking DigitalThe panel discussion which I made reference to, is also up and Tom Scott’s video telling us its all going to be ok.

Maybe next time you should come to Thinking Digital and experience it for yourselves?

We’ve all danced on a treadmill

Blame Herb and Laura. It kind of looks like me (same kind of build I guess?), but trust me its not! I use to be a slick dancer but no longer. However, I posed this comment,

“…although I have experimented on a trendmill me and Sarah bought many years ago. Mainly dancing on it rather than smooth moves… You tell me you’ve never tried moonwalking on a treadmill!?”

And as I thought, I can’t be the only one to try it… Quick dive into the vast ocean which is youtube

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you the not new concept of… Moon walking on a treadmill.

Thoughts and ideas of a dyslexic designer/developer