I wonder how many other titles are due to come and how long it will take till its canned? (my bets are on 12-18 months)
Everytime I go to the Quantified Self Conference, I take away so much more than just knowledge. I will write up what I saw later
But we were in a bar after the conference and people got talking. The conversation turned to the 36 questions (yes those ones) and the answers were open, frank & refreshingly honest (what else would you expect from quantified selfers?). Later in the night, we all started digging into relationships at a much deeper level and the question was asked how people deal with arguements in relationships?
I mentioned the fact I like to buy hour glasses for wedding gifts, because from previous relationships; sometimes you just need a time out for a short while. Maybe enough to stop think, drop the ego, etc.
That was when someone (can’t rememeber her name) pointed me at the Burning Man exhibit above. My mind was blown. Its breathtaking and sums up so much about life and relationships. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since, to be honest.
I can’t quite explain the connection but when I saw it, it made me think about the Watchmen scene with the Nuclear Kiss. I’d say something about revealing the true self in a moment of intimacy or something?
Since the Firejam 2 weeks ago, I’ve been getting more into the diabolo with lights or even fire thing. Today I hit the garden to try out the LED kit on my old diabolo. The results are not bad, but it’s not quite what I was after. I’d like to see more blur with the diabolo moves really but I guess I can do this in post if I like.
I shot the whole thing on my Nikon D3200 using the standard kit lens, manual settings and gorillapod. Next time I’ll mess with the settings and try it during dusk, because then at least you can see what I’m up to and I can see what the heck I’m actually doing!
Fun times ahead!
Especially as I’m starting to crack the Vertex!
I made reference to the decentralised web multiples times in the past but recently I posted a blog about it. I didnt want to say too much because I knew the Mozilla Festival was due to announce the call for participation.
This year things have changed quite a bit; this year its based around the Mozilla Internet health report.
I’m co-wrangling the decentralization space (note the Z not S, I tried but failed…), and of course I urge you all to check out the space narrative below.
In the dystopian version of 2027, the Internet is owned by a powerful few. Big tech corporations, select media companies and closed governments control the content on the Internet, the data that flows across the Internet and how people connect to the Internet. This dystopian future is closer than you may think.
On the flip side, what is the utopian version of the Internet in 2027? What future do we want to build? Where do emerging technologies like AI, mesh networking and Blockchain fit in? How do we ensure people are the most important part of the Internet?
Join us at Mozfest as we look into the future. Dystopian, utopian or somewhere in between—let’s explore the Internet of 2027.
Exciting eh? but you maybe thinking, well this doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in applying for?
Think again… its likely that there is something you haven’t considered which is perfectly fitting for example…
- Power (political or system) distribution
- P2P technology like WebRTC, Torrent, etc
- Sharing economics
- Crowd funding
- Democratizing power
- Open data and apis
- Robustness & Sustainability
- Net neutrality
- Open alternatives
- Networks of trust
- Mesh networking
- The co-operative movement
- Networked intelligence
- Federated systems
So what you waiting for?
Add your proposal to the already growing list of proposals.
See you Mozilla Festival 2017
I was using Wmail for a while since I got a little fed up with using Gmail in Chrome, it was good but sometimes I found it zapping resources. I tried using Evolution, Thunderbird and a few other native email apps but missed some of the nice things Gmail does and supports. So when I first saw Wmail I thought I’d give it a try even with the slight skepticism from some around Electron.
So impressed with Wmail, that I donate to the development for it. It wasn’t long till they got in touch and said they were moving to Wavebox and as a nice extra I would get a year subscription to Wavebox pro.
The things I love about Wavebox is being able to hook up multiple gmail accounts including drive, contacts, calender, etc. Trello works great as does Slack (but I opted to keep the slack app for now). But the killer is being able to hook up any site you like. For example I use Mastodon and WordPress (the official linux app locks up a lot). I was tempted to setup
Evernote and maybe laverna, standardnotes, a few other things but this will do for now.
Its pretty great and the ability to add almost any site is pretty useful, especially with the lack of Linux support for some things. Yes you have to pay for the pro features but its worth it.
There is also a misconception that I won’t pay for software and thats rubbish. Its about the terms, for example Wavebox is actually open source but the terms of what you pay for are fine with me.
This is how you do the diabolo…
The moves are incredible and raw; but its the transfers which are insane. For example about 2:40mins in he does a Gyro-Rotation but the transfers/move to a Vertex then adds a suicide. Don’t even get me started on the fast body wraps!
If you thought that was great check out the smoother 2016 gold final with the same guy.
I was reminded of a book and TV series I saw when I was much younger. It was called How to be Cool. Part of the thinking is influence and the theory of memetics. PBS did a series called The Merchants of Cool, although the one I remember included Douglas Rushkoff.
On Saturday night I finally got myself down to the castlefield arena to join the firejam. I’ve had a diabolo LED kit for a while but never actually installed it to any of my diabolos before. After much work, I got half of one added to my Sundia diabolo and joined the mainly fire poi people down at the arena.
I was amazed at the fire especially with a DSLR camera, I mean the LED is impressive but fire just looks incredible.
My pictures don’t do it justice but I’m seriously considering getting a fire diabolo. I did try it once and of course it requires special strings and a special diabolo but I got a feeling it would be so much fun. Looking forward to the next Firejam already…
I heard about Tristan Harris through Time well spent which some people have been sharing a while ago. Kept meaning to read more about him and the essay he wrote. Its a excellent read and well worth reading. A few times while reading it, I wanted to annotate it some how. I know the w3C have finally sorted out the spec and I could do it via Diigo or even Wallabag if I wanted to; but sharing it seems to need more research on my part.
So instead I thought I’d half blog about it while copying the main points (once again you should read the whole thing yourself). Tristan has sectioned the points so I’ll copy that.
Hijack #1: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices
Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make “free” choices, while we ignore how we’re manipulated upstream by limited menus we didn’t choose.
This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose. I can’t emphasize how deep this insight is.
When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:
- “what’s not on the menu?”
- “why am I being given these options and not others?”
- “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
- “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)
Absolutely, I do this a lot because I’m wondering how to break the system or hijack for my own needs. Usually when going to restaurants I need to hack it because I have so many allergies. If I didn’t hack it then I’d be pretty much dead.
I also find patterns quite interesting and can identify them quickly, so my tesco monthly shop will have every 2-3 months a deal on toilet rolls because I assume thats when they get the new stock in and need to shift some of the older ones. This funny example of understanding allows me to hack the system for my own needs.
I also tend to ignore all the recommendation stuff including the instant reply stuff I seen google has added to gmail. I also start to wonder more and more how this data is being mined to generate these results. Of course I got a big interest in big/linked data, data ethics and opinionated software.
Hijack #2: Put a Slot Machine In a Billion Pockets
One of the most tricky things I’ve seen many people try and deal with is not checking their phones and when they do, they do for what reason? To check out someone has liked something they have done. This comes straight out of the Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together.
If you’re an app, how do you keep people hooked? Turn yourself into a slot machine.
But here’s the unfortunate truth — several billion people have a slot machine their pocket:
When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machineto see what notifications we got.
- When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.
- When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’replaying a slot machine to see what photo comes next.
- When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.
- When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath.
It takes some serious will to break away from the slot machines, especially when every once in a while it actually pays out (as such).
bThis is very much a dark pattern or dark art which drives a huge economy. Notifications like the breaking news banner on news sites tap right into the dopamine sender and the only way to break this is being more conscious. The truth is unsettling and we may not be able to easily change this without both sides being more aware/conscious of this all. Tristan points the finger at Google and Apple and yes they have responsibility but it can’t come from them alone.
Hijack #3: Fear of Missing Something Important (FOMSI)
Creating, inducing or manufacturing FOMO (fear of missing out) is pretty dark stuff.
Another way apps and websites hijack people’s minds is by inducing a “1% chance you could be missing something important.”
If I convince you that I’m a channel for important information, messages, friendships, or potential sexual opportunities — it will be hard for you to turn me off, unsubscribe, or remove your account — because (aha, I win) you might miss something important:
- This keeps us subscribed to newsletters even after they haven’t delivered recent benefits (“what if I miss a future announcement?”)
- This keeps us “friended” to people with whom we haven’t spoke in ages (“what if I miss something important from them?”)
- This keeps us swiping faces on dating apps, even when we haven’t even met up with anyone in a while (“what if I miss that one hot match who likes me?”
- This keeps us using social media (“what if I miss that important news story or fall behind what my friends are talking about?”)
I personally don’t subscribe to a lot of things because I’m wary of the effect of FOMO. I also don’t follow a lot people on Twitter because I don’t use twitter in that way much to the annoyance of some of my friends and followers. I do have a lot of friend connections on Facebook but also don’t read the timeline (its not a timeline, rather a curated feed for you based on algorithms and what FB thinks you want, remember point 1 about what the provider wants out of the deal?)
My friend Jon Rogers left twitter saying I was right about twitter (I can’t find any trace of him on twitter too). I wish I could find the conversation/blog (which seems to be down), but I partly blamed the fact he was using the official twitter client which would do things which were not to the benefit of him in anyway. Similarly Oli who left FB and then joined again after feeling FOMO.
Final example is why I left Bumble; I recognised the pattern of FOMSI being manufactured by Bumble and decided I wasn’t interested in being involved. Its a shame because I liked the concept but it was ruined for me by this forced FOSMI.
Hijack #4: Social Approval
We’re all vulnerable to social approval. The need to belong, to be approved or appreciated by our peers is among the highest human motivations. But now our social approval is in the hands of tech companies (like when we’re tagged in a photo).
Social approval is massive and drives us to do things which we wouldn’t normally do if we stopped and thought. I’d add this mixed with FOMO are a pretty lethal combination.
I wish I could filter out the likes on FB which clutter up my notifications, the little hit of dopamine just isn’t worth it. But then again I also like to click like to almost give my approval. Maybe I should stop doing this? This would also stop helping out the FB algorithm with positive reactions, now that can’t be a bad thing?
Of course social approval goes way beyond the likes and into the scoring stuff which I have talked about before.
Hijack #5: Social Reciprocity (Tit-for-tat)
Now this one really bugs me… I understand reciprocity theory and how it can be hijacked to con/cheat people out of something they wouldn’t normally give. Influence is a great book which I’d highly recommend to everyone.
We are vulnerableto needing to reciprocate others’ gestures. But as with Social Approval, tech companies now manipulate how often we experience it.
In some cases, it’s by accident. Email, texting and messaging apps are social reciprocity factories. But in other cases, companies exploit this vulnerability on purpose.
There was a period of time when the laws of social reciprocity seemed to dictate if you follow someone, you need to follow you back. This was rubbish of course, but pushed by twitters own system which encouraged you to follow back with one click. Twitter was a async follow but the service was changed to encourage something similar to a friend request later – most likely once the money became more important.
Of course Tristan is dead right about linkedin being a shocking example of this. I almost have to give them a award for their use of dark patterns to get you to do more within Linkedin.
orginal LinkedIn wants as many people creating social obligations for each other as possible, because each time they reciprocate (by accepting a connection, responding to a message, or endorsing someone back for a skill) they have to come back through linkedin.com where they can get people to spend more time.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn exploits an asymmetry in perception. When you receive an invitation from someone to connect, you imagine that person making a conscious choice to invite you, when in reality, they likely unconsciously responded to LinkedIn’s list of suggested contacts. In other words, LinkedIn turns your unconscious impulses (to “add” a person) into new social obligations that millions of people feel obligated to repay. All while they profit from the time people spend doing it.
Hijack #6: Bottomless bowls, Infinite Feeds, and Autoplay
Oh boy this winds me up big time, endless feeds. Its very similar to the all you can eat buffets. The quality of the things you are consuming are dubious at best and although you started out with something decent it suddenly drops in quality or go so far off the original purpose or reason.
Another way to hijack people is to keep them consuming things, even when they aren’t hungry anymore.
How? Easy. Take an experience that was bounded and finite, and turn it into a bottomless flowthat keeps going.
Cornell professor Brian Wansink demonstrated this in his study showing you can trick people into keep eating soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that automatically refills as they eat. With bottomless bowls, people eat 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimate how many calories they ate by 140 calories.
Tech companies exploit the same principle. News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave.
This is partly why I prefer to read RSS than get the endless supply of stuff from Google, etc. At least there is a bottom and you can see a number of unread items. With these news feeds, its endless and the quality or value of the content is dependent on the agenda or services current goals (that can be as simple as this advertiser wants to pay us lots of money).
Endless also sucks you into the world that its only available now/its temporary and next time you look it will be gone or different. This is why I use services like wallabag, pocket or even youtube watch it later. If its worth saving its worth spending some time on and not being rushed to the next thing. Yes its hard and there is a social pressure to have watched or read it quickly (skimmed) to keep up with the conversation. In fact coming back to something in twitter usually causes confusion if you come back to a post a few days later. This is why I tend to just blog it to give it context and the effort once I read it fully.
Endless scroll is becoming a bit of thing now too, similar to the swipe forever stuff. Don’t get me started about auto play video, which I have seen cause much problems with presentations in conferences; as you can imagine
Hijack #7: Instant Interruption vs. “Respectful” Delivery
Companies know that messages that interrupt people immediately are more persuasive at getting people to respond than messages delivered asynchronously (like email or any deferred inbox).
Given the choice, Facebook Messenger (or WhatsApp, WeChat or SnapChat for that matter) would prefer to design their messaging system tointerrupt recipients immediately (and show a chat box) instead of helping users respect each other’s attention.
In other words, interruption is good for business.
It’s also in their interest to heighten the feeling of urgency and social reciprocity. For example, Facebook automatically tells the sender when you “saw” their message, instead of letting you avoid disclosing whether you read it(“now that you know I’ve seen the message, I feel even more obligated to respond.”) By contrast, Apple more respectfully lets users toggle “Read Receipts” on or off.
I do generally avoid a lot of these instant messaging systems but even those I use have included this way (Gtalk, Wire and even Signal). If I can turn it off I do but I have observed how Facebook now throws up notification as a window above other stuff like a instant message. Lets not forget those horrible chat heads too.
Respectful delivery is getting rare and even when they are, you need to work at it. I feel quite lucky that I’m running Ubuntu as my host operating system which gives me complete control over the notifications but this doesn’t help when looking at a browser tab like Facebook, which wants to dominate (trust me this is the right word) the view. This is also another reason why I don’t have Facebook on my phones/tablets and why I limit messengers permissions.
Hijack #8: Bundling Your Reasons with Their Reasons
In the physical world of grocery stories, the #1 and #2 most popular reasons to visit are pharmacy refills and buying milk. But grocery stores want to maximize how much people buy, so they put the pharmacy and the milk at the back of the store.
In other words, they make the thing customers want (milk, pharmacy) inseparable from what the business wants. If stores were truly organized to support people, they would put the most popular items in the front.
This is bloody annoying and one of the reasons why a lot of apps dont really care or advertise direct links into parts of there systems. This is why I have to keep FB in a tab otherwise everytime I login, I would need to go via the news feed each time, a total waste of my time.
The whole point of the web is not having to go on a journey each time. Remember when you saw VR shopping malls and thought wtf? Well thats pretty much the same coming back to haunt us all, for whose benefit? Certainly not yours!
Hijack #9: Inconvenient Choices
This is a recurring dark pattern, the roach motel.
We’re told that it’s enough for businesses to “make choices available.”
“If you don’t like it you can always use a different product.”
“If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe.”
“If you’re addicted to our app, you can always uninstall it from your phone.”
Businesses naturally want to make the choices they want you to make easier, and the choices they don’t want you to make harder. Magicians do the same thing. You make it easier for a spectator to pick the thing you want them to pick, and harder to pick the thing you don’t.
For example, NYTimes.com let’s you “make a free choice” to cancel your digital subscription. But instead of just doing it when you hit “Cancel Subscription,” they force you to call a phone number that’s only open at certain times.
Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies
People don’t intuitively forecast the true cost of a click when it’s presented to them. Sales people use “foot in the door” techniques by asking for a small innocuous request to begin with (“just one click”), and escalating from there (“why don’t you stay awhile?”). Virtually all engagement websites use this trick. Imagine if web browsers and smartphones, the gateways through which people make these choices, were truly watching out for people and helped them forecast the consequences of clicks (based on real data about what it actually costs most people?). That’s why I add “Estimated reading time” to the top of my posts. When you put the “true cost” of a choice in front of people, you’re treating your users or audience with dignity and respect.
There is so much more to discuss including the how to fix this all… but thats for another blog post…
Ok before people come down hard on my title, its not an absloute statement rather a general idea. Something which came across loud and clear in Doc Searls blog
By that I mean nobody is going to trap it in a silo. Apple tried, first with its podcasting feature in iTunes, and again with its Podcasts app. Others have tried as well. None of them have succeeded, or will ever succeed, for the same reason nobody has ever owned the human voice, or ever will. (Other, of course, than their own.)
Because podcasting is about the human voice. It’s humans talking to humans: voices to ears and voices to voices—because listeners can talk too. They can speak back. And forward. Lots of ways.
Podcasting is one way for markets to have conversations; but the podcast market itself can’t be bought or controlled, because it’s not a market. Or an “industry.” Instead, like the Web, email and other graces of open protocols on the open Internet, podcasting is all-the-way deep.
He’s right, when Apple weighted in with iTunes I did think here we go, but even after a long time hearing those words…
Subscribe to us on iTunes, give us a rating on iTunes, etc. I’m glad the ecosystem of podcasting stayed diverse and theres some innovation and creativity in the field even after 15+ years. Of course I can easily imagine much more creativity as described before.
Of course its a great thing no one owns Podcasting as some question if podcasting can save the world. Ok super cheesy but Doc Searls did say this which I thought was quite inspiring and fascinating too..
Maybe podcasting is the best way we have to start working out our problems with race, gender, politics and bad habits of culture that make us unhappy and thwart progress of all kinds. I say that because 1) the best podcasting I know deals with these things directly and far more constructively than anything I have witnessed in other media, and 2) no bigfoot controls it.
There is something (in)credible about the human voice. Maybe in the world where we strive for more human connection; real podcasting’s open discussions are a welcomed relief from all the other crap we get fed?
Google once again was in hot water for its algorthim which meant looking up happy families in image search would return results of happy white famalies.
Of course the last time, Google photos classified black people as gorillas.
Some friends have been debating this and suggested it wasn’t so bad, but its clear that after a few days things were tweaked. Of course Google are one of many who rely on non-diverse training data and likely are coding their biases into the code/algorithms. Because of course getting real diverse training data is expensive and time consuming; I guess in the short term so is building a diverse team in their own eyes?
Anyway here’s what I get when searching for happy families on Friday 2nd June about 10pm BST.
This is adapted from the BBC R&D blog post, but I felt it was important enough to repost on my own blog.
I’ve spoken to thousands of producers, creators and developers across Europe about object-based work and the experiences. Through those discussions it’s become clear that people have many questions, there has been confusion about what OBM is, and other people would like to know how to get involved themselves.
So because of this… BBC R&D started a community of practice because we really do believe “Someday all content will be made this way.”
There are three big aims for the community of practice…
- Awareness: Seek out people and organisations already interested in or working on adaptive narratives through talks, workshops and conferences
- Advocacy: demonstrating best practice in our work and methods as we explore object-based media and connecting people through networks like the Storytellers United slack channel and helping share perspectives and knowledge..
- Access: Early access to emerging software tools, to trial and shape the new technology together.
These aims are hugely important for the success and progress of object-based media.
As a start, we’re running a few events around the UK, because conferences are great but sometimes you just want to ask questions to someone and get a better sense of what and why. Our current plan is linked on the BBC R&D post which is being update by myself everytime a new event is made live.
I spent some time in St Anne’s Square to pay my respects and remember what happened almost a week ago. I had thought about waiting till tomorrow but I imagine tomorrow evening/night will be a critical time for loved ones and those much closer physically/mentally.
Of course they have the support of Manchester and the whole world, but the grieving process takes time and can’t be rushed, even with the best will in the world. No one will be forgotten, same as 10 years since 7/7 myself like many others still remember.
I’m back at the Quantified self conference and it’s been a few years since due to scheduling and other conflicts. It’s actually been a while since I talked about the Quantified self mainly because I feel it’s so mainstream now, few people even know what it is, although they use things like Strava, fitbits, etc.
The line up for the Quantified self confidence is looking very good and there’s plenty of good sessions for almost every palette and I’ll be heading up this session while at the conference.
Using Your Data To Influence Your Environment
With home automation tools, it is now possible for your personal data to influence your environment. Soon, your personal data could be used to influence how a movie is shown to you! Let’s talk about the implications and ethics of data being used this way.
Its basically centered around the notion our presence effects the world around us. Directly linking Perceptive media and the Quantified self together. Of course I’m hoping to tease out some of the complexity of data ethics with people who full understand this and have skin in the game as such.
I’m also looking to report back on this conference and restart the manchester quantified self group which went quiet a while ago.
Its been hard keeping on track and not being sucked into all the other things around me. Of course the biggest thing has been the Manchester arena bombing which was shocking and of course ever so sad (especially for those involved or lost their lives to this mindless act of violence). But generally the amount of noise/static, peer/social pressure and people telling you to pay attention to their thing is pretty bad.
Of course this also has a massive bearing on the happiness and wellbeing of people too (feel like I should have been writing this a few weeks ago during mental health awareness week). I’ve watched how colleagues & friends have struggled not to stay distraction free from stuff others have pushed their way. I have offered to help and sometimes suggested removing certain apps or changing certain settings. Sometimes its been useful, sometimes its worked for a short while but theres not the motivation or drive to follow it through.
I totally understand why… heck we’re all human!
It’s not easy, heck there’s a whole industry setup to shift your attention/reality into their world. Some of it is the bubble where you are like Silicon Valley, but also the systems/pressures around us as summed up so well by Tristan Harris and Sherry Turkle. It’s really dark patterns stuff but it’s so ubiquitous we don’t question them. It’s like a friend who messaged me and asked if I was in a place because she couldn’t see me on Whatsapp, or the notion that if it’s not on Spotify it can’t/doesn’t exist. Someone seemed a little puzzled when I mentioned Spotify doesn’t have most music (crazy but true)! Or even when I decided I wasn’t going to do the icebucket challenge.
Once the mind is bought into the system and ultimately their opinionated world, its extremely difficult to leave it. (The book – The confidence game, I’m currently reading which is about cons actually has a bit to say about this all)
I would actually go as far as to say for all the difficulty of stringing together system and services yourself (like free software/open source/decentralised/federated systems). Its forces you to come up with your own world narrative and thoughts; and I’m very sure independent thinking is critical for wellness, health, self-confidence, resiliency and character!
Its slightly ironic only 9 days ago I was in Sarah Raad’s Gratitude Habit workshop during Thinking Digital Newcastle. I’ve been practicing my gratitudes most days including the Monday night of the Manchester arena bombing. Even been thinking of Tweeting them or Tooing them via Mastodon, because most are not secret or really private. I also want to establish that having a gratitude about places which are not full of nature, noisy and busy is as valid as the typical stuff you imagine when you talk about wellness and health.
Its the point of independent thought. I’m sure Sarah would say deep down underneath most of this will be common human traits or those of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is… develop your own mindset and don’t be directed into someone elses. Yes it will be difficult but ever so rewarding in the long run.