Dating, Lies and Algorithms the conference talk?

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Thayer is a wonderful woman and when she emailed me asking if I would talk at her conference, The Best of British. I thought for about 2mins before agreeing.

I’m going to do something to connect some of the thinking I’ve had about algorithms and dating. Into a unique one time talk. Never to be repeated I can say… Exclusive! So go support.

“Support you say?”

What makes this conference special is its going to be funded by kickstarter…. I know how crazy is that? Confirm speakers include…

    • Alice Taylor, MakieLab, London
    • Chris Thorpe, I Can Make, Oxford
    • Matthew Somerville, mySociety (& many other great things), Birmingham
    • Mazz Mosley, freelance technologist, previously a tech lead @ GDS, Leighton Buzzard
    • Ian Forrester, BBC R&D, Manchester
    • Dan Fairs, SecondSync, Bristol
    • Dr Tom Crick, Senior Lecturer in Computing Science, Cardiff Metropolitan University
    • Priya Prakash, Founder, Design for Social Change, London

 

Well Thayer is the Prime, so trust in her we do.

Eich steps down from Mozilla

MozFest

Most of us asked for Brendan Eich to step down and today he finally did

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

This has been a long running battle with people from different sides weighing in… But frankly if the Director General of the BBC, not only felt this way but actively tried to stop Gay people getting married. I would end up leaving. Some views are so too out of step with modern reality. He may be great at everything else he does but this for me is a breaker.

Equality isn’t something we should be wishing for, we should be actively be seeking.

I know Mozilla will bounce back from this and find a better CEO who is modern in thinking and values. Looking forward to going to Mozfest again now.

OkCupid protest for equal marrage rights…

Okcupid protest for equal gay rights

Good on OkCupid! Text reads…

Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience.

Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.

Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together. If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal. Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.

If you want to keep using Firefox, the link at the bottom will take you through to the site.

However, we urge you to consider different software for accessing OkCupid:

Rollercoasters the safest moment of impeding doom

On the eve of me riding the smiler at Alton Towers, I saw this video and thought absolutely! That massive rush of adrenaline I get when riding roller-coasters is so great. Its really makes you feel so alive,  because as they say… Nothing makes you feel more live that being so close to that moment of impeding doom but without over stepping the mark…

Can explicit big data replace implicit chemistry?

20130101 Experimenting with a Lott's Chemistry Set c.1956

I’m happy to say the BBC News business section has a piece which I found via ZoeIs big data dating the key to long-lasting romance? Of course I have many thoughts about this whole piece including the memory that I still need to read Love in the Time of Algorithms.

Dating agencies like OKCupid, Match.com – which acquired OKCupid in 2011 for $50m (£30m) – eHarmony and many others, amass this data by making users answer questions about themselves when they sign up.

Some agencies ask as many as 400 questions, and the answers are fed in to large data repositories. Match.com estimates that it has more than 70 terabytes (70,000 gigabytes) of data about its customers.

Applying big data analytics to these treasure troves of information is helping the agencies provide better matches for their customers. And more satisfied customers mean bigger profits.

US internet dating revenues top $2bn (£1.2bn) annually, according to research company IBISWorld. Just under one in 10 of all American adults have tried it.

Just look at those numbers! 1.2bn a year and 70 Terabytes of data plus its growing all the time! You can just imagine the shareholders hovering up the profits… However this is all explicit data, stuff you got to type in. Stuff that people tell porkies about, specially when having to fill in 400 questions…!

Dr Zhao’s algorithm can then suggest potential partners in the same way websites like Amazon or Netflix recommend products or movies, based on the behaviour of other customers who have bought the same products, or enjoyed the same films.

The facebook angle is good and recognised by the likes of Tindr and Grindr. Collaborative filtering of people implicit actions is good but its still not the missing element, aka chemistry.

We already know there is something to the theory that opposites attract. How does this work when your algorithm is based on matching? You almost need a inverse of that but you need to understand human needs and wants, and thats not as simple as copying what we do. Its the whole don’t do what I say and don’t do what I do problem? Imagine somewhere someone is looking at this thing in a totally different way, via a different lens. Because frankly I think all the explicit and implicit data in the world won’t describe why people get together. It looks to be unquantifiable and thats quite surprising from someone like me.

I love this game… Volleyball

If you don’t already know, I love Volleyball and have played it from a really early age in Bristol. Unfortunately when I moved to London, I couldn’t find anywhere to play and frankly I gave up Volleyball and Basketball to get serious about my studies and career.

However when I moved to Manchester, I seeked out Volleyball and was rewarded with lots of opportunities to play at different levels. Right now I play in 2 teams and play 3 times a week, and I love it. But what really got me going Sunday was playing in a tournament with a great team.

Nothing better than feeling your up against the best and feeling you may actually have the skills, knowledge and wisdom to beat them.
Yok are a very good team and maybe the best at the tournament, but we gave them a proper scare. First game we won by 2 points, Second game we lost by 3 and the Last game we lost by 1 point. It was a nail biter and amazing to be on court hustling for every ball. This is why I love this game!

Moss side mens did very well to almost beat Yok and enter the final stages but you got to give it up to the Moss side womens for beating all the other women and being champions on the day. Well deserved win and who knows next time the men including myself, will be along side the women holding the other side of the cup.

Geek history worth keeping

Early in the evening

While talking to Martin, Sam, Chris and others over the last few weeks. I have been thinking how things have been forgotten.

The history of geek culture seems to get forgotten too often. Recently a discussion about the tech community in Manchester with Martin raised a bunch of questions in my mind.

How much of geek history is still available now? What do I mean?

Great people have said….

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

And to be honest I’m seeing the same thing over and over again in the limited time I’ve been around the geek scene. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this… But no one seems to be documenting the past… Which seems crazy with the amount of social media or in the past user generated content created. But the issue seems to be putting it all together. For example if you search geekdinners on my blog, theres quite a few posts. But its a mishmash of stuff. Look for the same on Flickr (assuming you knew flickr was where most geeks uploaded stuff in the past and flickr had not gone dark) and you get a mishmash again. If your smart you might try the clusters and find the London geekdinners.

Geekdinners.com is actual up for sale at $2.5k. But this isn’t so much my point. In the past we would write blog posts about events (don’t get me started on the blogging) but this is a bit like throwing a pound in a tip jar. Whats need is something to aggregate the blogs, tweets, photos, videos, etc together. Tell the whole story in long form. This is what me and Martin were discussing, and the natural place seems to be wikipedia and archive.org.

I had a discussion recently with Tom Morris who is very knowledgeable about wikipedia. I was discussing the recent addition of a page about myself. But it got me thinking Wikipedia is a great place for the type of thing I was hinting at before.

So I’m going to start filling in pages on Geekdinner, LondonGeekdinners, BarCampLondon, BarCampManchester, Geekup and Over the Air. Hopefully people who go on to write pages about Technights, Social Media Cafe, Tuttleclub, etc will link and reference. Then we can start to trace back events and community efforts. Give attribution where its well deserved and encourage more people to get more involved in shaping the future of geek culture.

A flashback: Hurting America

Theres quite a few things which I have mentioned in the past few weeks. One of them is the Jon Stewart vs Crossfire incident.

In the middle of October, Jon Stewart took his usual complaints about partisan hackery to his appearance on CNN’s Crossfire (transcript here | streaming video here). From the beginning of the discussion, Stewart took aim at Crossfire and other media shows, saying (at first with a smile) that they “hurt America” by making politicians’ lives easier by failing to “hold their feet to the fire.” The gist of Stewart’s complaint was that shows that were purportedly “hard” and “cutting” were really only theatrical performances of talking points and sensationalism. The incident is now famous, and little needs to be said about it.

Such a great point in media and news… Something we really shouldn’t forget ever!

Moneysavingexpert asks: Should men still pay on a first date?

Josh tweeted me today… Seems the moneysavingexpert Martin Lewis wants to understand if men should still pay on the first date.

Of course you know my views and to be honest its interesting to see the answers and the results.

Currently (19:27 on 18/3/2014) 1,556 votes have been received

I’m a man (506 votes)
Yes. The man should always pay – chivalry’s not dead yet! 125 votes (25%)
Yes. The correct etiquette is the man offers, the woman says “let’s go Dutch”, the man says no and pays. 131 votes (26%)
Yes. But only if he earns more than his date. 14 votes (3%)
No. It should be split equally. 136 votes (27%)
No. The person who invited the other should pay. 57 votes (11%)
No. In the modern world, the woman should pay. 6 votes (1%)
Don’t care either way. 37 votes (7%)
I’m a woman (1050 votes)
Yes. The man should always pay – chivalry’s not dead yet! 222 votes (21%)
Yes. The correct etiquette is the man offers, the woman says “let’s go Dutch”, the man says no and pays. 371 votes (35%)
Yes. But only if he earns more than his date. 22 votes (2%)
No. It should be split equally. 251 votes (24%)
No. The person who invited the other should pay. 132 votes (13%)
No. In the modern world, the woman should pay. 3 votes (0%)
Don’t care either way. 49 votes (5%)
This is of course kind of good news but I think the balance of males to females might be causing the sway. I expected a lot more people to be thinking the man always pays. However, it also shows we are driven by tradition and social etiquette more than the fear of rejection etc. Its also interesting that money plays less of a role in the voting that I would have thought on a site all about saving you money.
The last couple of dates I have been on, we have split the bill and theres been no issues or concerns. I’ll stick to that for myself…

Hate gentrification? Think about the community

Warning in lift of Milliners Wharf

There has been a number of issues around the New Islington (Ancoats and Northern Quarter) area as of late. including Mans body found in the Ashton Canal and the calculated mugging of someone at 7pm a few weeks ago. The later, took place on the tow path under the bridge by VividLounge and I say calculated because their were 4 people involved and they locked a gate forcing people to walk under a bridge, straight into their trap.

Warning in Islington Wharf lifts

Although not good for those involved, its a careful reminder of the not so nice side of living with gentrification.

Theres been a ton of tension in San Francisco recently, which was going to write about here but opted to write on Single Black Male if they accept it.

Woolwich

I’m under no illusion that we are the outsiders moving in on what many have classed as their home forever. You can feel the tension in the air sometimes, specially as planning permission is given and locals see another highrise which they can’t ever dream of living in. Its not the first time I have experienced this. When me and Sarah moved to Woolwich, we lived in a small set of houses in the shadow of some council estates.

The only real trouble we ever saw from some young kids, who decided to throw stones into our garden while we were having a BBQ with friends. Which to be fair is nothing compared to the Beckenham Halloween incident.

They were planned to be knocked to the ground (not sure if it ever happened?) but Woolwich centre is a different place, as I witnessed when I went back 2 years ago. This mainly due to the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) which connected Woolwich with the city of London in all of about 25mins and the Olympic games which had money filter down from Stratford (East London). One of the last deprived areas of London suddenly became pricey and we sold our house at the right moment, getting a buyer pretty much straight away. That is the upside of gentrification… and to be fair it was quite a nice place to live if you were careful and avoided trouble.

Neither me or Sarah were attacked or even hassled from memory. We knew our neighbors and some people in the area. We also took part in the residents committee when possible. Woolwich wasn’t bad, it had a nice local market and I could get a haircut at 10pm.

New Islington to Brixton via San Francisco

The problems with New Islington, seem to stem from property developers who have gone into the area and I gather promised a lot and failed. Not only that they screwed over a lot of the locals and refused to enter into a dialogue with them. Not only that they have carved out a section for themselves rather than opt for a softly softly approach. Ask anyone about the promises for new islington by Urban Splash and the Ancoats medical dispensary.

But its not always the tensions are the fault of building developers. Sometimes you get a community of people who refuse or don’t get the idea of joining a existing community. I would say this is whats happening in San Francisco from what I have been reading and heard. I’m not blaming the geeks, startups and general people. But I am saying if your company starts to put on special transport and security (yes I’m pointing the finger at the BBC too) this is not a good message to the local community. It basically reads, the local community can not be trusted. Trust is essential for community to grow.

My next stop is Brixton, South central London. Lovely diverse area with a rich history and some very troubling moments. When I was in London, it was a good place but like Woolwich, there were places you don’t go. Having spent some time on the jury there, I have seen what happens when you ignore this and go looking for trouble. However I recently went back to visit my sister who lives on the outskirts of Brixton because she can’t afford to live in the area anymore. We met next to the station which had a small Starbucks! This alone was shocking for me but then we walked around the Brixton market/village? which had transformed from a standard market to South London’s Shoretditch or Northern Quarter.

Trendy makeshift bars and restaurants selling over priced food and drink. Don’t have a problem with this part so much. But my sister told me the tale of how locals are being forced out in favor of more bars and restaurants to cater those who wonder from the tube, 200 meters into the market and back.

Novelist Alex Wheatle describes how his native Brixton has changed from being an area where many outsiders feared to tread to somewhere where south London’s young professionals can now go for an £8 burrito. But has Brixton lost its unique vibe? ‘It’s very pleasant,’ says Wheatle, ‘but I do miss that constant pounding of reggae’

Alex is right on the money, its cool but something might be missing, be it pounding reggae or something else.

If you haven’t heard Spike Lee’s gentrification rant about Brooklyn, New York its a must… Here’s just a few of the snippets I found interesting…

You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code.

Or even move them all out…?

You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!

Like I said originally, Ancoats was the Italian quarter, and although its changed. You got to have some respect…

That’s another thing: Motherfuckin’… These real estate motherfuckers are changing names! Stuyvestant Heights? 110th to 125th, there’s another name for Harlem. What is it? What? What is it? No, no, not Morningside Heights. There’s a new one. [Audience: SpaHa] What the fuck is that? How you changin’ names?

Remind you of New Islington or Brixton Village anyone?

Spike is kind of right in what he says, its a rant but most of the points are good. But I’m not so sure gentrification is 100% bad.

My hope is for communities to form and connect becoming stronger together. I mean who doesn’t want to live in a strong community where people look out for each other and their space? I am personally starting to do more to unite the residents but we do need to think bigger picture…

I think this is where the study of familiar strangers comes in to play nicely. I also heard about a hyper local project around microblogging, which I think could do wonders if people are engaged enough to get involved. Of course throwing Technology at a social problem is never the solution but it can help if used in the right way.

I mentioned recently in Return of the JFDI, the Ancoats Canal clean up project. James actively works with the local community on the project. He’s very active in the Ancoats area and adores where he lives.

The project is a great example of how two communities can come together to help bring together a better community. I will spell it out if you’re not aware, a tight community generally face less crime. Yes you’ve all heard it before, its all part of the Broken Window phenomenon. Want more… have a read

My point is… Gentrification doesn’t have to be aggressive or seen as them vs us. It can be nice and gentle, where everyone is involved and everyone is happy with the changes. I’m also not saying the local community are to blame for the crime but it in the interest of both communities to come together to push out the undesirable behavior.

The firey drive mix

The firey drive mix by Cubicgarden on Mixcloud

Time for another one of my mixes, done with the Pacemaker Device rather than the Pacemaker App. Still loving the device and this mix is a slower mix at 135bpm over the usual 140. A few brand new tunes mixed with some older classics. Nice beat friendly mix with plenty to keep you going on those long drives in the mountains.
Tracklist is below…
  1. Breathe (Blake Jarrell Remix) by Anna Nalick
  2. Take me away into the night (purple haze remix) by 4 strings
  3. Humming the lights (radio edit) by Armin van Buuren, Gaia
  4. Stella – Ferry Corsten vs Markus Schulz
  5. The Evil ID – Max Graham
  6. The Spring – Ernesto and Alex Fisher
  7. Orbion (Max Graham vs Protoculture Remix) – Armin Van Buuren
  8. 3rd Earth (heatbeat remix) – Solarstone vs Scott Bond
  9. Megalodon – Dash Berlin
  10. Attention – John 00 Fleming Vs Christopher Lawrence
  11. The Storm – Eco
  12. Sundown (Sneijder remix) – Thomas Bronzwaer
  13. Rainmaker – Des mcmahon
  14. Shadow World - Thomas Bronzwaer
  15. Big Sky (Signum vs RAM Remix) – John O’Callaghan feat. Audrey Gallagher
  16. Solarcoaster (protoculture Remix) – Solarstone
  17. Wonder of Life (f & w remix) – Tukan Light
  18. Diss! – Ferry Corsten
  19. RoseGarden 2.0 – JS16

Moo made, werewolf cards

Since I made werewolf cards way back when… I kept meaning to finish the set by ordering the rest of the pack.

Well finally after about a year, I ordered the rest and made them on Moo.com again. I got the feeling Moo might actually be phasing out their make your own feature, but thanks to Moo’s help and some URL hacking, I got it up again.

The complete pack splits down to two packs of…

  • 5 Witches
  • 5 Shape shifters
  • 5 Revivers
  • 5 Oracles
  • 5 Mediums
  • 5 Psychiatrists
  • 9 Hunters
  • 5 Cupids
  • 4 Healers
  • 4 Seers
  • 8 Werewolves
  • 37 Villagers
  • 3 Invalids

So in any game each pack can hold roughly (based on 1 werewolf per 4-6 villagers) 40 villagers and a whole bunch of special roles. To be fair the biggest game I’ve ever moderated has been 48 people in BarCampBlackpool and that was insane. One pack should give plenty of scope for interesting games and fun times.

Some of you may ask, wheres the little girl? I say to hell with the little girl… (smile)

I know the art work on the cards isn’t beautiful or creative as other werewolf projects such as Leeds Werewolf master Martyn. But there small simple to understand and easily carry-able in my laptop bag.

Where Storytelling and Internet of Things cross over

If you know anything about the kind of work I’ve been researching for R&D. You may know Perceptive Media is big deal in my world and as my motto seems to be, my world is not mainstream yet. However this world crosses over with a couple other areas. Internet of Things, Quantified Self and Object media are a few of the obvious ones, which come to mind.

Tomorrow I’m fortunate enough to take part in another one of the Future of Storytelling weekly hangouts. I took part in one a while ago but I regularly watch on Wednesdays (1730 GMT) before heading to Volleyball. Make sure you tune into the hangout

 join us this Wednesday, March 12, as we explore “the story of things” with Alexis Lloyd, the Creative Director of the New York Times’s Research and Development Lab. The “Internet of Things,” has ushered us into an age where physical objects have the potential to talk to us – and each other – in a way that rapidly transforms our most basic understanding of what gadgets are.  Llloyd, informed in part by her background designing immersive and exploratory experiences, believes these “enchanted objects” have within them a world of narrative and poetic potential: The R+D lab exists as a laboratory for the staff of the “Grey Lady” to study the implications of these emerging technologies and behaviors on news-media and print. In the hangout she, alongside an audience of industry experts, will explore the storytelling potential of tools and devices as unassuming as a simple bathroom mirror.

The video sums it up well and gets right into the depths of storytelling and the Internet of things. It begs the question, what would objects around you say if they could talk?

Love what Alexis is doing and who knows what might happen in the future? Sure Perceptive Publishing would be right up their avenue? And some of the guys from the NYtimes office came to Hackday and Mashed back in the day… I wonder what they would make of some more of the object things were up to?

Thoughts and ideas of a dyslexic designer/developer