Not long to propose a workshop for #Mozfest’s things on the web

Ravensbourne

This space could be yours!

Last month I talked about what we’re doing for Mozilla Fest 2014. Some people have mentioned how vague the whole call for participation thing sounds.

Its deliberately vague because we don’t want to be restrictive as this is a new area we’re exploring.

If somebody had to tie me down, I would describe like this…

Taking a humanistic and ethical approach to the new experiences and tension points of 6 billion people and 2^128 things on an open web.

There are massive challenges and drives to give access to everyone of the current 6 billion humans. But there equally a massive challenge for the 2 to the power of 128 potential things to also sit on the same web. Its not good enough to just sit on the web, they need to act and behave in ethical and humanistic  ways.

Its not really fair to just create things which talk to the web and not consider its place in the grand ecosystem of the web. It would be like unleashing a new parasite into our oceans, without consideration about whats it role, is it going to kill everything else off, feast on coral reef, increase the number of jelly fish in the ocean?

Yes its just a ardunio and some loose code but where does it fit? Whats its role? Whats its ethics?

When we built the Perceptive Radio, we thought long and hard about this and decided it was just the tip of something far bigger. The balance between what things can do in the real world crossed with what they can do online really is almost like magic. Magic which can and will be easily abused. For example can you imagine the incredible things we could do if there was a wifi sniffer on board. Can you imagine the incredible experiences we could create and the terrifying experiences others with far less ethics or concern could do without your consent.

Theres been a little news following Facebook messenger permissions and some people talking about the actual permission systems of Android vs iOS. This is a scratch of the surface again…

As somebody said to me, yeah yeah so what this has been a long running problem for 20 years! Yes I know but things we carry around with us, plus the reliance on the network and these things strikes myself as something Jonathan Zittrain was talking about over 10 years ago.Back to Mozilla Festival – Its not all about being negative, honestly! We want to get away from..

Hey cool man, here’s my 3D printed thing I created…

Oh right, where does that fit in the world? Have you thought about where?

How does this forward human potential? How does it empower somebody? Myself, Jon and Jasmine feel it should empower and if it doesn’t, why does it exist? Maybe to enslave?

We’re pass the stage of novelty, lets think about how these things exist and work along side us.

Agree or disagree, we want to hear it…

Sign up to do a workshop, session or special performance in our cafe/bar we’re planning for Mozfest. And to be clear it doesn’t matter where you live in the world, if its that good, Mozila will find a way to get you over to London on the weekend of the 24-26th October. Not sure how to get started… go to the live coaching or just get in touch to ask more questions… You got till the Friday 22nd August…

We need more social and community focused startups

I wrote about a number of people who JFDI and how this may have the ability to make gentrification and other social conflicts a little more easier on a community.

On top of that I’ve been thinking how the traditional business models of shareholders wanting continues growth year on year is causing so many issues (well that and diversity). Anyway it got me thinking, maybe social and community startups are the new (ecstasy! I’m kidding, just following my previous post) thing. Don’t get me wrong theres been social enterprises for many years but this is something slightly more appealing.

ROI Pam Warhurst-10

Just flipping do it already!

Without knowing it, they are embracing the same approaches and plans as startups. Crowd funding, flat structures, lightweight project management tools and an attitude of just fucking do it . All are the hallmark of the following projects. James Headifen who runs the Ancoats Canal Cleanup project. Pam Warhurst  who started something  in Todmorden (still need to visit) by simply doing something  which is highly copyable and makes people happy. Homebaked a co-working space, bakery and the cornerstone of the local community, MadlabUK and DoES Liverpool a hacker and community space, giving room to a number of different types of niche hobbies and activities. Run very much in a JFDI style.

Closing the Deal

Chewing the fat with Chris

Me and Chris Northwood were in Vividlounge having breakfast thinking/talking about where startup culture starts to go wrong. We talked about the built to flip mentality and how that mentality is poisonous. Build your algorithm, get your users and market for me users. Nothing new and interesting for developers or designers to be involved in. Chris thought suggested it might be anti-developer , while I think it might be ultimately anti-human and progression.

Too many entrepreneurs, he believes, have a “built-to-flip mentality, as opposed to a built-to-last, built-to-change-the-world mentality.”

I mentioned this blog post I was writing in my mind, and talked about the examples I listed above. Social enterprises, ethical startups, what ever they are called… We need to foster and support more of them (this links to Adrian Hons talk from TedxLiverpool about supporting those who are brave enough to take up this challenge). But if you were starting a social enterprise, where would you go?

When I show people around Manchester’s northern quarter, I tend to have a story which I tell people. If you are setting up a business, the coffee shops of the northern quarter are a great place to get inspiration and get work done. But if you wanted something a little more focused,there is a co-working spaces in Madlab on Friday and there is the classroom. If you wanted more, the next step would be Techhub Manchester and beyond that you could get yourself a little office.

Dreamy Saturday Morning.

The local spaces on your doorstep

Chris suggested Libraries could have a role in this? University libraries are fruitful places supporting students for hours and hours working alone and together. Why is the public libraries not the same? Unlike Techhub which is driving you towards a more traditional startup outcome. Imagine a library as a co-working space with focused advice on how to run a social/ethical/community business… In return you get a free space and access to more resources including maybe funding?

For example we have our islington wharf residents meetings in the local NHS centre which has plenty of rooms not in use after 5pm. Because we are a local and non-profit organisation, we can rent the rooms for free. Certainly beats trying to hold a residents meeting in bar/cafe or one of our living rooms. There are tons of places like this which are underutilised but we pay for out of our taxes. These places can be the difference between a small gathering in a coffee shop and a place to actually bring people together. The library is ideal in my mind.

I’m aware of things like the Coworking directory but there is something interesting about supporting other non-profits in a public space.

Talking to Davemee one of the founders of Madlab, this blog might seem slightly simplistic, native and may misunderstand the extreme difficulties in getting a social/community/non-profit business off the ground. But I argue it should be as simple as setting up a startup and what a time to do it

Touches of Perceptive Media in odd places

Virgin toiletsVirgin talking Trains toilet

I wrote about the idea of Perceptive Media at a theme park a  while ago and frankly theres some equally fun places it could be used.

Every time I go to London and use the Virgin trains, I laugh inside to myself about the Virgin toilet signs. It reads..

“Please don’t flush Nappies, sanitary towels, paper towels, gum, old phones, unpaid bills, junk mail,  you’re ex’s sweater, hopes, dreams or goldfish down this toilet.”

In the bigger toilets the sign-age is spoken aloud, and you’re ex’s sweater is swapped with your *friends sweater. Its always gender specific.

My first thought was that it could be randomly done then maybe every other one it cycles? If it was up to me, I would hook it up to the toilet seat. If the seat is down, play the boyfriend version if the seat is up play the girlfriend version? I assume it wouldn’t be noticed by most, but those who did would think it was great!

A little bit of game-play in real life.

The spotlight effect in times of the #selfie?

_T5P1267

Having a great little conversation with Alexandra deschamps-sonsino about how she doesn’t like watching herself giving talks and presentations. I expect that applies to most of us (including myself), but I did say this could be the the spotlight effect in full effect?.

…we tend to overestimate how much our actions and appearance are noticed by others, something social psychologists call the “spotlight effect.”

Alex had a look at the wikipedia page about the effect and asked me how does this work with the craze for selfies?

I was totally stumped… I have no idea but some PhD research student needs to look into this… Seems like a fruitful area of research? I’m sure Sherry Turkle (again) would have lots to say about this.

Mobile as a proxy for awkwardness?

Phone Guy

You know the situation when you get into a lift and try not to make eye contact with anybody? The 21 century equivalent has to be, stare at your phone… Check your notifications and see what else is going on with your email or facebook. Because most lifts are mainly mirrored inside, its easy to see someone, looking for something to do. I hate to say it but its shocking how many people don’t have a lock on their phones and the simplicity of the code is crazy (4 ones anybody)

Oh no not you or me! Although to be fair I do when getting the lift down from the carpark at work check google now for what I’m going to be doing today. Not because I feel awkward, but I can’t check when I’m on the scooter driving (even with the pebble watch)

Not you? No of course not!

How about this one then?

Dinner, lunch, tea, coffee, breakfast, $whatever.  with a friend or date, you don’t check the phone as your eating and chatting. No because that would be bloody rude (although I have had a few dates do this and its driven me crazy inside, to the degree that I have had to say something like “oh sorry am I keeping you from somewhere?“)

No… they get up to go to the toilet and the first thing you do is reach for your phone. Either to text, tweet, check your notifications, check you don’t have something out of place in your teeth or just pass the time staring at the screen.

We all have done it! If you haven’t how about the other person. The person in the toilet. You’re all done with what you are doing then after washing and drying our hands (if your one of those flipping filthy people who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet, I have only nasty things to say to you!) After drying your hands looking in the mirror, we tend to reach for the phone. Same reasons text, tweet, check your notifications.

I’m sure you can think of many different other scenarios! Public transport for one. Social anxiety builds and its easier to just stare at the phone and be else where, anywhere? The viewing is different from wanting to retrieve and actively do something.

Our phones have become a proxy for awkwardness not just boredom… Sure Sherry Turkle would have lots to say about this.

How to lucid dream?

I have to say this Verge video about is actually pretty good… Also shows shadows which is the dreamboard wannabe app only for ios.

Have you ever had a dream that you knew was a dream? Were you able to control it? What did you do? In this week’s episode of Top Shelf, Katie Drummond dives into the world of lucid dreaming and the technology that’s helping people reach the holy grail of dreaming.

Watching the video, I remembered Inception’s totem is actually the same as the reality checks. To be honest I do it (the reality check becomes a habit) so much it just washes over me now. Although I have to say if you really want to learn and get really into it, you got to check out lucidpedias guides.

But generally I have to say its all about practice!

Neurodiversity?

I haven’t really heard the term neurodiversity before and from what I read, its a controversial term for many reasons. But dyslexia would be covered under Neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity is an approach to learning and disability that suggests that diverse neurological conditions appear as a result of normal variations in the human genome

This term was coined in the late 1990s as a challenge to prevailing views of neurological diversity as inherently pathological, and it asserts that neurological differences should be recognized and respected as a social category on a par with gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status. Neurodiversity is also an international online disability rights movement that has been promoted primarily by the autistic self-advocate community (although other disability rights groups have joined the neurodiversity movement). This movement frames neurodiversity as a natural human variation rather than a disease, and its advocates reject the idea that neurological differences need to be (or can be) cured, as they believe them to be authentic forms of human diversity, self-expression, and being.

Interesting stuff, I guess a label is always going to cause people to shout fowl. But for me its nice to have a label for mind based abilities (or disabilities if you prefer). Regardless, the diversity of ideas and thoughts still applies…

Best bits of Google now

Nearby Tasks - UI Mockup for a Google Now To-Do

I won’t lie. I do love google now and he’s my favourite google now commands…

“Ok Google, What’s this song?” - Goodbye Shazam and Soundhound

“Ok Google, Remember to call Jane when I get home” – The reminder system is good but not bulletproof as it doesn’t seem to go into my task list. However…

“Ok Google, note to self copy files to a USB drive for work” – Does go into my google tasks.

“Ok Google, how many hours difference is it between Boston and London ?” – Useful when planning virtual meetings and hangouts

“Ok Google, What am I doing tomorrow? – Useful but my calendar is clogged up with USA TV show schedules, so I usually get that first. But at least I can see the rest in one complete overview. Great for when taking the lift in the morning.

“Ok Google, do I need a umbrella today” – Very useful in Manchester!

“Ok Google, where is the nearest petrol station” – this was useful when driving through Wales a while ago.

Redecentralize this…

Nurri-network

Adewale once said  (I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives me a kick next time he sees me, but I think this quote sums up so much. And its only the start of the smart things he thinks and talks about)

People’s enthusiasm for federated decentralised $WHATEVER seems inversely proportional to the practicality of their plan for achieving it

However a share I recently was tagged on to revealed Jon Udells post and a giant list of projects trying to solve the problem decentralised social networking.

Going under the notion of the Alternative Internet, there are some quite interesting projects including…

Ampify is an open source, decentralised, social platform. It is intended as a successor to the Open Web and as a replacement for closed platforms like iOS and Facebook by providing a web application framework to create social apps on top of a secure, decentralised core.

ClearSkies is a peer-to-peer file sync program. It is inspired by BitTorrent Sync, but has an open and fully-documented protocol. ClearSkies is a sync program similar to DropBox, The protocol is layered in such a way that other applications can take advantage of it for purposes other than file sync.

Movim is a decentralized open source social network based on XMPP.

Peerm Anonymous P2P inside browsers, no installation, encrypted and secure. The browsers are talking the Tor protocol extended to P2P and are connecting to the nodes using WebSockets, multi-sources and streaming are supported.

Trovebox community edition. Wrote about this many times but didn’t know there was a community edition too.

Twister is a secure and fully-decentralized P2P microblogging platform based on concepts and code from Bitcoin and Libtorrent (as described in this whitepaper).

pump.io Self described as “a stream server that does most of what people really want from a social network”. It’s a social stream with support for federated comunication.

trsst looks and feels like twitter but encrypted and anonymized and decentralized and only you hold the keys.

Plenty of cool projects but very little traction unfortunately, however theres quite a few which can be used to connect to the centralised networks. Looking at the list, I’m left wondering if Diaspora*, Wave and  Tent has gone through the trough of disillusion and might be coming out the other end? A while ago I thought WordPress was going to make moves in this area of decentralised social networking.

Do you really think Facebook will be around in 15 years?

me on facebook

I still have this strange relationship with Facebook. I don’t really like it but I end up using it because lots of friends are on it and for them its a core part of the Internet (rightly or wrongly). My volleyball teams also use Facebook to book sessions (yes so popular is volleyball in Manchester) and I do get comments from many more friends when I post things into  Facebook.

In the past I used Facebook as massive dumping ground and didn’t really care to login. My view that Facebook is the modern equivalent of the walled gardens of AOL. Although I still stand by this, I have also noticed my usage increasing too.

So when I read the piece titled I Left Facebook, And You Can Too. I reflected on my own increase usage.

Imagine, for a moment, that you must quit using Facebook forever, starting right now. No more posting to Facebook or checking Facebook for the rest of your life. But don’t worry, you can still e-mail all those friends. Does that make you feel panicky? If you’re panicky, it’s a clue. Maybe you’ve been on Facebook for most of your life, so this kind-of-addicted feeling seems normal to you. It’s not normal. I was talking with a woman in her 50s this weekend, who said to me, “I wish I could quit Facebook but it’s so addictive: ‘Oh, this person said this, that person said that, and oh, this person is taking boating lessons, let’s look at all the pictures of the boat,’ and then before I know it two hours have passed and I don’t even KNOW the person taking boating lessons!” This is what it feels like when your connections with a platform are being strengthened, as opposed to the connections with the people you love: you can spend two hours on Facebook looking at the boating lessons of people you don’t even know. This is very convenient for Facebook.

I barely look at the timeline/newsfeed as I’m generally just looking at the notifications. I can feel the lure of the notifications in facebook, this is why I removed Facebook from my mobile phone and only had it on my tablet (plus it was a massive battery hog). Then very recently I removed Facebook messenger from my phone too.

One of the things I have been thinking about recently is, Facebook as a dating site? The evidence is lots of people meet through facebook and lets be honest, its not any worst than the dating sites? The same sites which say they don’t really know what they are doing

Anyway the question I pose, is if Facebook will be around in 15years? Their move to split up the mobile app is frustrating but I can imagine a Facebook dating app in the next few years. Along with their photos app (I said it first!).
The next 15 years, I expect it will still be around but I’m expecting the innovators dilemma to come into effect at some point. And even splitting up the experiences into more niches won’t save them.

Instapaper added video support, since when?

The Magazine

I switched from Pocket/Read it later ages ago when instapaper started supporting Kindle deliver. I use it all the time and at some points, its been the main reason for having my paperwhite kindle. The nice thing is its pretty much automatic, and I tend to just turn the kindle on and it automatically gets the latest instapaper over wifi.

I side stepped the Kindle’s annotation system by having the same document on my phone and being able tweet it directly. Its all pretty great, although I did consider using diigo’s readitlater feature, especially now the mobile app is better.

However I have wanted a solution for saving non youtube videos (I use watch later for youtube at the moment). The amount of times someones posted a video to Vimeo and I have had to bookmark it or something else.

Well it seems somewhere in the updates, they added support for video from youtube and vimeo! Great stuff my pro payment is well spent, not only that the ifttt channel has been updated with a number of improvements, but I really need to start using the highlights/annotation feature more.

Little social test, how men on tinder react to makeup?

graffiti, Shoreditch
Tim is once again on a roll with this  little test of the effect of makeup on profile pictures in the domain of online dating. Or how men on tinder reacted to three different levels of makeup.

As many of you know, on Tinder you cannot view any reciprocated likes (matches) until you indicate your interest in that person by swiping to the right. So, when planning my experiment, I decided to swipe right for the first 100 suggested matches per account, then allow one hour afterward to see what kind of messages and matches it turned up. I then counted the reciprocated likes, messages and ages of my matches to see any general trends when it came to my level of cosmetic “enhancement.”

To be clear this isn’t a scientific in anyway… but the results did surprise me and the conclusions were slightly interesting… I say slightly…

Despite my reservations about the entire concept, however, the guys on Tinder surprised me. More men flocked to a bare-faced girl than a heavily made up one, yet they seemed most aggressively interested in a face adorned in average levels of makeup. Their language seemed to reflect what they thought of the woman behind the makeup, treating my bare-faced account as a friend before a hook-up. While it’s unfortunate to me that many of these men treated a woman as more sexualized because of her cosmetics, their cordiality in most of the messages was refreshing.

Part of this could be the out of your league thing? Or maybe its a good thing for once…? Because heck nothing else good seems to come from Tinder :)

Dropbox as furniture design company

This Alabamiana Library Is A Beaut

Dropbox as furniture design company” – @iledigital (Jon Rogers)

When Jon first said this to me, I had to think for a second. Then I got it.

Amazon, ibooks, etc all have their own proprietary ways of holding your ebook. But imagine if you  used many different sources to gather books and organise them. Some digital and some physical (like I do) These are sync’ed using Dropbox or other syncing systems and instead of being displayed as files, appear like dropbox’s photos stream. A far more useful way to display books you have and heck why not make it sharable while your at it?

Next leap… Instead of it being just a digital thing, how about as a physical manifestation? Dropbox could sync the physical and digital together, like a wispersync for binding digital and physical items. Maybe it slots a bookmark into position or folds over the top edge of a page?

But one thing you don’t want is some ugly as sin apple skeuomorphism bookshelf in your living room. It would need to fit with the rest of the furniture and surrounds. Making Dropbox a furniture design company. Not such a massive leap in imagination I would say…

Expectation control on deploy or die!

Joi Ito at SIME'08

Somebody pointed me at a piece from Oreilly’s Solid conference. Like most others I would have loved to have gone but to be fair there would have been people I would rather have gone ahead of myself.

Joi ito I have a lot of respect for and I remember meeting him in London over 10 years ago. But I take a little issue with something Joi says

the Media Lab’s emphasis is on projects that go all the way to manufacturing and distributing: moving from “demo or die” to “deploy or die,” as Joi puts it. Projects that deploy can be vastly more impactful than those that just demo — putting thousands of devices into the hands of users rather than just a couple. Plus, the manufacturing process is a crucial source of both constraints and creative possibility. Joi says, “Understanding manufacturing is going to be key to design, just like understanding the Internet has become key to running a company.”

Deploy or die is a nice idea but there’s issues which are associated with deployment. I understand the cost of manufacturing is getting cheaper however you need to be open and honest with the end user. User experience needs to be great otherwise people will simply drop it or kick it to the bin. Whats the point in putting it in peoples hands if they just put it in the bin?

Saying this is a demo, beta or prototype sets the expectation and this is a important stage which you shouldn’t ignore. Its the reason why Gmail had a beta tag for 10 years.

I’m in agreement the prototype shouldn’t be thrown away once you go into production. The prototype should embody as much of the real thing as possible. Its important to remember, someone needs to support the final thing. If you’re a research institute, this is not what you should be doing… This is the kind of thing which gets in the way of progression and researching the next problem/question.

Also I would point out that Joi is mainly talking about physical things which has always had a problem with being open and putting things out there for people to play with. This is something the internet has over the real world… A place to try stuff in the comfort of your own home.

Whats really needed is a safe place where people can play and try new things, which people understand don’t have the complete story or supply chain behind it. That space shouldn’t be a lab tucked away, it should be somewhere neutral like the number of community spaces which are popping up all over the place. In such a space, you can deploy or die to your hearts content. It shouldn’t be a genius bar either, it should be something comfortable and welcoming.

Yes it doesn’t scale too well but I think you will get more qualitative and qualitative feedback as a result

HBO’s Rethinking Dyslexia

Somebody suggested I seek out HBO’s one hour special on rethinking dyslexia. The special is called the big picture movie and had me in slight tears to be honest.

From IMDB

Successful leaders in Business, law, and Politics reflect on their Dyslexic experiences as we follow the story of Dylan, a high school senior who is must overcome the challenges of Dyslexia to achieve his dream of getting into a competitive college. By following his journey as well as other children, we come to see how many myths and misconceptions there are about Dyslexia, and how it offers gifts as well as challenges. Recent findings in neuroscience reveal for the first time that Dyslexia is physiological challenge, and Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, top experts, explain how Dyslexia works and what the opportunities are. Written by bronyaur

And the two reviews are excellent too.

The film does a great job at allowing the viewer to understand many of the challenges faced by dyslexics. Most don’t realize what dyslexia really is and how many people it effects. I wish the film offered solutions or let people know that they can deal with dyslexia if their school teaches them correctly. People need to know that they can learn to read and spell much better if the proper method is used. Specifically the Orton-Gillingham method or the Wilson method works. Whole language method is an absolute failure for anyone with dyslexia or a dyslexia related issue. This film is inspiring for dyslexics but should be watched by all. Fight for your children. Don’t let the school systems label your kid as LD, instead make sure they know your kid is dyslexic, and as such needs specific OG methods to learn properly.

The documentary is excellent and I have already sent a link to my parents and sister. Hopefully give them more insight into how I think and go about things.

I recently bought the Dyslexia the advantage (although I got to say its not very dyslexic friendly from a quick look, so as usual I got the ebook version too) and am looking into different methods which I have never heard of including the the Orton-Gillingham method and  Wilson method. The more I learn, the more I wish I knew back when I was in school. There is a level of regret but like in the documentary my character was changed (maybe) for the better because of the mountains I had to climb as a result?

Thoughts and ideas of a dyslexic designer/developer