Asking for help by Brainjamming…

Back row

Marc Canter, the founder of Macromind the company which became Macromedia. Messaged me recently as he wanted to let me know about a new type of event called a Brainjam. Marc is fantastic guy and I had the joy of having him talk at London Geekdinners way back near the start of it.

Join a community of your peers who are committed to the development of a better world by building bridges between diverse perspectives and differing opinions in order to develop solutions cooperatively, instead of through activism by opposition. Following our first event in Washington DC on October 9, and a second one in San Francisco, CA on October 22, our movement’s founder, Chris Heuer, will briefly share his vision for We Are the Solution and facilitate one of his signature unconference conversations, a BrainJam, to connect you with other people, ideas and resources that will help you to accomplish your goals and live your life’s purpose.

What does that mean? Well, to put it simply, we are building a community of communities for leaders, concerned citizens and others interested in social good so that you may help each other in ways big and small. So it’s a kind of networking event with a specific emphasis on ASKING for help from each other and finding opportunities to share your gifts by making connections that might not otherwise happen if we didn’t sit face to face in conversation with each other.

Reading about it… Sounds something between the original spirit of BarCamp with a bit of the share one moment events.

I do wish I could be in London for it but with the week of events and talks coming up, theres no way I can do this too. I mean my life packed solid with too much already. Of course if you are in London or Dublin. You might want to check out the events.

It also kind of reminds me of which recently went into public beta and the well loved Google Schemer but  in real life. Maybe brainjam is a inspiration network? Very fitting as the workshop  at Thinking Digital Manchester is all about shared opportunities, genuine connections and collaboration.

There was also a conversation about what next after BarCamp, some people were kicking about a long while ago.  Maybe Brainjams? Maybe a brainjam in Manchester is a good idea? Sounds like something we tried to do with common ground a while ago.

Lots to think about… but if you are in London or Dublin, get yourself down to one!

Dating in the 21st century: Free ragged uni talk this Sunday in Manchester

Save The Date

I know most of my friends have heard me rave on about the state of dating in the 21st century, but this Sunday after your Halloween parties on the 31st October. Why not grab some brunch in the Northern Quarter and then head to the Royal Exchange in Manchester, to hear a whole hour of me talking about the affect of the internet on mating and beyond.

Royal Exchange (hall)

Its a totally free event and what better place to discuss the future than the Royal Exchange theatre in central Manchester.

It starts at 2pm and if you had enough of me talking about dating, fear not theres a great talk from Amber about the Mafia and what you think we know.

Hope to see you all there on Sunday, with or without your Halloween costumes…


A busy few weeks between dating, personal impact, #tdcmcr and #mozfest

Tokyo rush

The next few weeks are going to be pretty busy…

As usual its kinda of stressful but ever-so exciting!


The global connected village at Mozfest

Mozfest 2014

In two weeks time (November 7-8th) I’ll be spacewrangling once again in for Mozfest 2015.

Sometimes I think I must be crazy but its always amazing how everything comes together on the weekend. You are literately fielding the water with your hands into channels, but far down the river, it all collects into a massive lake of tranquillity and calm.

This year, we are not just running an area, like last year. Oh no that was too easy (I of course joke) nope this year its the global (connected) village which is about 5-6 connected spaces.

What is the Global Village? A collection of self-contained but interconnected places from around the world where participants at Mozfest meet, learn and tinker with tomorrow’s places. The Global Village cultivates leading practitioners to build, teach and advocate for an Internet of things that empowers its users.

Turn off your screen. Close your book. End that meeting. Pick up a sketchpad, a pair of scissors, a hot-glue gun, some parcel tape and come cry “If We Build It They Will Come.” This is a springboard for tomorrow and welcoming place for those inclusive citizens and communities.

The spaces each take a part of the home (note I say home not house) and are then run by friends of  For example our big space which connects to all the others is a library (or even study if you restrict it down to a house). Each unique space will explore the future of that space and challenge the typical notions which make up the future home. The spaces will be littered with provocations and there will be themes around narrative, diversity, inclusion, connection,  wellness and humanity.

If you don’t have a ticket for Mozfest 2015 yet, its time to get one before they sell out.

Graceful degradation of apps via permissions under android 6.0

Android 6.0 Marshmallow has a very nice feature, something I have been wanting to see more across all services and applications. Granular permissions, which can be applied and revoked by the user at anytime.

It was obvious that iOS had it right as far as transparent, granular app permissions were concerned, and Android Marshmallow admits as much, because it now has a very similar system. Permissions are asked for as and when they’re needed, rather than all at once during installation.

That gives you a better idea of what’s going on and also let’s you, for example, give Facebook access to your camera but not your contacts. If you want to check which apps have what permissions (and edit them), go to Settings: tap Apps then the cog icon, then choose App permissions.

Android 6.0 permission system

Why does BBC iPlayer Radio need access to my phone?

Since android 6.0 marshmallow, i’ve wanted to try out the app permission tweaker. I’m interested to see what happens when I block certain apps from key permissions. Will they explode will they gracefully handle it and still operate without it?
For example could I run facebook app and deny access to the internet, or local storage? OK that might be a little too far but what about facebook without access to the mic and camera? Surely that would work right?

So I tried it with the Amazon kindle app, which I always thought had too many permissions anyway. I mean why does the kindle app need access to my contacts and my telephone?!

Android 6.0 permission system

Haven turned them off, I thought I’d better see if the app still actually worked?

Android 6.0 permission system

It did! So I started revoking permissions from apps which I felt didn’t need the permissions. For example Fitbit, which I refused to upgrade in the past due to the permissions.

Android 6.0 permission system

Why does Fitbit need so many permissions anyway!

Android 6.0 permission system

Andorid warms me the app may break as its not written for Android 6.0. But it still works as I want it to., so this has to be a case of them over reaching with the data they want to consume?
Say hello to your new permissions Fitbit, and it works fine when syncing data from the Fitbit.

Android 6.0 permission system

Fitbit better get use to the sandbox I put it in, and they are not the only one!

Android 6.0 permission system
Android 6.0 permission system

This for me is a key part of the VRM infrastructure as Adriana said

If you cannot reject them, if you cannot actually say well, I’m fine with that but not with that, what’s the point?

Great to see it working as expected, graceful degradation of applications based on permissions. I might be able to install Facebook again.


I installed Facebook messenger again with the permissions I felt comfortable with.

Then decided actually I want to break FB messenger as its meant to be written for Android 6.0, so denied it access to my location too.

Installing Facebook messenger under Android 6.0

I can say everything  works, and I haven’t seen any problems so far with my permissions. I did notice you can start to mess with the data usage too, which maybe a way to restrict network usage.?

Dating couple awkwardly argues over who should pay bill

First dates argument

Remember First dates? and remember when I thought about going on Channel4 first dates?

Well I’ve always wondered when there was going to be bust up about who pays since I learned the whole dates are not paid for by Channel4.

Yes Crisitano this once again… after the ignite talk, radio debates, presentations, polls, etc, etc

Blame Tony who sent me the link to Mashable, where they cover the difficult exchange about payment for the meal and drinks.

Things seemed to be going okay until right at the very end of the date when the subject of paying for the meal came up — and everything suddenly got very awkward, very fast.

“Oh, we need to pay the bill,” said Elle, before moving the paper over to Mark’s side of the table.

Mark then asked if she was giving the bill to him, and Elle replied by saying: “Of course I’m giving it to you. I never pay on dates, why would I?

Finally I watched the whole episode myself and frankly I’m firmly shocked at her behaviour.  In my mind he did little wrong and frankly he went in with the right idea of splitting the bill or going dutch.

Now I’m fully aware TV has a massive habit of slicing and dicing  footage to make/add drama  or make somebody look a certain way. But in this case, it could be the drink talking but I would have cut the date short. Aka no shots of tequila and certainly no after party.

But I still reject the notion that money shows interest. Aka the idea that I would pay the bill if I wanted to see the person again.

But I will say there is no doubt this was a painful date and highlights the different way people think about how this should work. This is why I prefer to just take it off the table by both paying half.

Is it really wasted human effort?

Si Lumb once said something like

“We could be on Mars by now but instead we’re wasting effort stopping people stealing Coldplay records!”

Theres been a lot of focus on VR recently and I found Philip Rosedale’s Ted talk interesting in relation to si’s thoughts above, especially since Si is a fan of VR.

ROSEDALE: Why build a virtual world at all? For me, I know that when the Internet came around and I was doing computer programming and generally trying to run my own little company and figure out what to do with the Internet and with computers, I was just immediately struck by how the ultimate thing that you would really want to do with the Internet and with computers would be to use the Internet and connected computers to simulate a world to sort of recreate the laws of physics and how to make things, and do that inside a computer so that we could all get in there and make stuff.

The next frontier may not be space (no Mars or interstellar space trips yet sorry si) but instead the inner space of the virtual reality or rather a space we create and imagine for ourselves and others. Can be equally interesting?

Dope: Its hard out here being a geek


I watched Dope on Sunday afternoon only a few hours before I gave a talk about the lack of black people in the technology sector at Afrofutures.

Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself.

There is much I can say I loved about the film which currently has a rating of 7.5 on IMDB (stick that in your IMDB party game)

Warning mild spoilers ahead

Malcolm and his friends are teenagers growing up in LA, they are geeks, play in a rock band, get picked on at school, etc. You would be forgiven for thinking – “this is the start of a typical hollywood coming of age film..
The big difference is they are black americans and living in a culture which doesn’t encourage geekness.

The film starts with the excellent point of, looking at the definition of Dope.

  • Slang for an illegal drug (you got any dope?)
  • A stupid person (you are such a dope!)
  • Affirmation of something’s greatness (that is so dope!)

These themes run through the whole film and connect everything. Malcolm attempts to try and avoid being pulled into the society which surrounds him. There is no doubt this is a coming of age film but the class discrimination and racism really lifts it way above the rest. Even when Malcolm is forced into the world of drug dealing, he uses his brain to get out ahead of the crooked society.

I won’t lie, dope reminds me of some of the dilemmas I faced while growing up (of course to a far lesser degree). I use to think everybody faces these things but it seems not.  The conflict of being geeky and not wanting to make the mistakes others fall into featured in my mind a lot. I came out on top but like Malcolm, there are things which I won’t forget and certainly shaped my personality.

The presentation I did for Afrofutures is here., the link with Dope comes in about slide 18. I certainly feel its not good enough to blame the tech sector alone. No, we got to look at the the way things shake out in the culture too. Yes there is a big lack of black people in tech, especially in higher positions but also the culture doesn’t exactly encourage people to embrace our geeky side. Its almost discouraged I feel.

This has lines or connections I believe with the fact their are amazingly senior black people in many other professions including law,  financial services, pharmaceuticals, etc. But very few in the tech sector, especially at CEO level.

I know this is all a massive generalisation but from what I have seen growing up, it was a fight to be openly curious, interested and switched on or as I prefer, geeky. I imagine lots of black people bury it and ignore it. Or it gets beaten out of you at some point verbally or even physically. You literally have to fight. Some give up fighting and forever regret doing so for the rest of their lives…

When looking at the diversity figures, in every case I found. White people were followed by Asians people.  You only have to look at the CEO of Microsoft and Google to see this in full effect. From a outsider view, their culture encourages geeky people. However in black popular culture (generalising again) I am almost embarrassed by the negativity to being geeky and different.

Its was depressing to research but it was worth it because its out there now and its a start of a important conversation for me.

I can only hope the next generation will see right through all this all and make positive strides ending up with a diverse workforce. Originally I was going to submit this to Singleblackmale but I didn’t feel it was the right place to host this at this stage. Maybe I’ll do a more critical blog for them in the near future.

As the tagline to Dope says: Its hard out here being a geek…

Programmatic media sounds a bit like Perceptive Media?

Kill Bill Advertising

I swear Tony sent me a tweet with a pointer to this piece titled Programmatic Beyond Advertising: A Not-So-Distant Future in CMF trends.

Its mainly about advertising including a bit about the just in time advertising space which is coming about because of the lightening speed of data and the ability to replace advertising/content on the fly.

Heard it all before but then there was this part…

…what if programmatic could be used for content other than advertising?

If we extend this thinking (and our imagination) a little further to consider the possible emergence of a new distribution method for cultural or editorial content based on programmatic logic and methods, we could ask whether these new “programmatic” models could be applied to the automated distribution of film and television content based on audiences and their data.

Based on this logic, “programmatic content distribution” could be imagined as a flow in which the data collected from users would trigger an automated rights transaction and content delivery process between right-holders and broadcasters. The final result would be the broadcasting of content corresponding to the preferences of the targeted user.

Yes indeed, this is the start of Perceptive Media, if you haven’t already guessed. Its always good to hear others make the same leaps in thinking of course…

Perceptive media in wired magazine

Programmatic media?  Don’t think that will fly as a term, I’m sorry to say. Although I have to say, this description would be more like responsive media than perceptive media.

It was in make do share warsaw that I first heard Lance Weiler talk about them in quite different contexts and it did make sense. Phil has been grouping them together as contextual media which works as a superset of both, although I worry about the previous examples of contextual media clouding things.

The next part of the article I’m less interested in but something I have thought about a tiny bit…

Moreover, it would be possible to monetize this video content by attaching superimposed or pre-roll ads to it, as commonly seen on video aggregation platforms.

This valuable collection of user data and preferences for viewing a movie or television show could be done on a voluntary basis; for example, users would simply answer a few questions on their mood, the type of movie or series, and the desired language and duration so that the platform can preselect and “program” content that meets their criteria.

But we know that the Web, which is very advanced in big data collection, is already capable of gathering this data using algorithms. Users’ actions on a given site—the keywords they search for, the links they click on, their daily search history—can indicate to the platforms what type of content they are likely to be interested in.

The problem they will get is the explicit nature of the input, I feel. Yes its easier on the web but the person is leaning forward interacting most of the time anyway. When you get into the living room it gets a little more tricky, and a implicit approach is better in my mind. Yes it can get creepy but it doesn’t break the immersion and in my mind thats very key.

The essence of the programmatic distribution mechanism would therefore be as a recommendation super-engine, more sophisticated than that currently found on various platforms.

Why is it everybody thinks fancy recommendation engines? If this is the ambition of the industry, I feel we should be breaking into another dimension. Hopefully some of the things I’m responsible for will match that ambition/moon shot.

Reach out, connect with somebody and #share1moment

The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment: Sheffield

Remember when I wrote about the sharing your humanity with strangers? Well I did just that…

I took my scooter along snakes pass to Sheffield, today (Sunday 4th October 2015). I haven’t really drove around Sheffield before, only gone by train and walked it. So it took me a long time to find somewhere to park and finally head to the Barkers Pool, next to the city hall.

When I got there things were in full flow, with about 8 people sitting on the cushions and 4 others sitting on bbq chairs. I found Frank and noticed Brendan filming with Elizabeth deep in eye contact with somebody.

The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment: Sheffield

After a little chat I dived in to my first eye contact. It was surreal but strangely calming and relaxing. The only reason I had to break it off after about 5mins was because my knees could only take so much. The lady was great and so friendly, she gave me a nice warm hug afterwards, we certainly shared a moment. Her eyes were wonderful and deep. In that time, I thought about the existence of humankind. It was a tiny bit like when I first got out hospital 5 years ago. I think in a quieter place, I could imagine feelings would be higher strung and more intense.

I moved to the chairs and had some eye contact with a older woman, a woman in a electronic wheel chair. and of course Elizabeth (which was odd, as I knew her and see her everyday pretty much).

The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment: Sheffield

By the time I had gone to the toilet in John Lewis and got a  takeaway mocha, things started wrapping up and I got one last eye contact with a red haired woman. She sat close to me and I won’t lie, I felt we could have sat for far longer. Her eyes were blue and quite different from each other. Looking at the density of the strands which make up the iris was so fascinating. Once again I started wondering about humankind and the person I was sitting opposite… if only my knees didn’t hurt once again.

The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment: Sheffield

The whole experience although short was wonderful and the connection  with fellow human being was stronger than I imagined it would be. I highly recommend it to everybody.  I could kind of see why the 36 questions thing could work with the eye contact to finish it off.

Thank you to Frank, Sarah and Liberators International. I’m already thinking about Manchester for the 15th and maybe something at Mozfest to fit with the theme around humanity, citizenship and diversity.

It was a experience I enjoyed and made the trip over to Sheffield well worth the time on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Can’t wait to see the edited video Brendan…

Afrofutures in Manchester next week

060/365: Afro Halo

Manchester is running Afrofutures next weekend

Afro Futures UK, a collective of researchers, artists, programmers and activists exploring new ways of examining blackness and futurism. We are hosting an  FREE all day Afrofuturist Conference and Exhibition on 10th October 2015 at MADLAB with a special rosta of speakers and workshops from the USA, Europe Africa and the UK.

Thoughts and ideas of a dyslexic designer/developer