China goes for a nosedive?

On reading about China’s social credit score… My mind instantly thought about Black Mirrors S3 ep1 Nose Dive.

social credit is an attempt at a softer, more invisible authoritarianism. The goal is to nudge people toward behaviors ranging from energy conservation to obedience to the Party

Zhima credit, well I guess at least its more transparent than the scores mainly hidden by the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, etc. Although most are being more open about the scores now.

 

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

It all started when I tweeted some chocolate I bought from Takk coffee shop in the northern quarter.

I was showing Brian Suda (Never was sure if Brian actually saw the original tweet, as I missed a space in the original tweet) that they have Icelandic chocolate from Omnom in Manchester. Out of the blue Molly (who I’ve never met or spoke to before) jumped in with

I was slightly shocked, Hershey’s KitKat is one of the worst Chocolates I’ve ever tasted. Of course I quested how she could make such a statement but at the same time savvy Takk jumped in, saying their partners Cocoarunners supply many types of Chocolates and they are doing a chocolate tasting night in December. I was sold!

Having been to another Chocolate night under Funnzing, I was very happy to see the format was very different and much more interactive. The whole thing was fun and less of a lecture. My worry about nuts was crushed when I asked at the start, to which the answer was none of the chocolates have nuts but may contain traces.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

Cocoarunners ran through the different types of chocolates and dispelled a load of myths including the cocoa percentage myth. Higher percentage of cocoa doesn’t always equal more bitterness. The first two chocolates were similar percentage but from different locations changing the nature of the taste quite a bit.

She also talked about why we should consider artisan Chocolate over the others, comparing the choice to artisan coffee and artisan wines.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

She showed us how to really taste chocolate (snap, smell, place on the tongue and let it melt). It was a great night and found some chocolates I certainly want to have.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

A few of my questions I came with were answered including;

  • Why is there little chilli really dark chocolate?
    Trends in chocolate making have just moved on, some stick some don’t. Most people who have very high percentage chocolate want to taste just the Chocolate.
  • Why is American chocolate so horrible/why does Molly like Hershey Kitkats?
    Hershey tried to copy chocolates from elsewhere and got the milk slight wrong but it was too late to change the formula (that would be brand suicide if they did, as cokecola found out with new coke)
  • How is 100% chocolate classed as chocolate, and if its 100% how does it gel together without something else? The definition of chocolate is everything from the bean and doesn’t include fat, milk or sugar. Out of the bean you get cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Both combined keeps the whole thing stable enough to make a bar.
  • What is the trend for Raw Chocolate? Marketing nonsense and likely a not very safe one if it really was raw.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

Ultimately I was half convinced of artisan chocolate before I even went along, and still like a UK Kitkat and Maltesers. But life is too short for rubbish wine, coffee, tea and chocolate. Even some of the white chocolate surprised me to be honest.

I was introduced to some very nice chocolates and I will be adding a category for great chocolates to my notes. From the same evening…

65% Naive Ambrosia from Boliva/Lihuania was good, balanced and tasted quite sweet.

100% Manufaktura Czekolady from Czech Republic was so smooth and took quite a few people by surprise. As they assumed 100% would be like “eating dirt” – someone said surprised. To me it was like eating a 85% dark.

70% Solomans Gold from New Zealand had a smoky Lapsang taste and was wonderful to eat. Can imagine it as a late night treat while drinking lapsang tea.

Chocolate Tasting Evening with Cocoa Runners at Takk

I’m signing up for a monthly chocolate delivery! Can’t wait! Just need to make sure they don’t send me any Hershey nonsense, no matter what others say/like…

Riding the Bitcoin bubble up and out?

Bitcoin market price over last 8 years

Bitcoin is something everyone is talking about right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if my parents asked me about it soon.

It was a while ago when I received some bitcoins from a friend via tipjar.  I added the tipjar link on my blog and every once in a while I received a very small amount of bitcoins as tips. The amounts were so small that I didn’t really take note till I needed to move the wallet.

That was when I noticed the amounts were adding up to less decimal places  in bitcoin and the value in British sterling was also starting to add up to a few coffees. After the move to blockchain.info (no matter what I thought about the founder), I decided to keep an eye on the figure but forgot about it. Wasn’t till about a week ago, when I decided to have a quick look at the amount it was worth and was pretty shocked.

The tips were adding up to something quite big and thats when I decided maybe I should convert some to sterling and ethereum. I have never put any money into bitcoin, its all been donated or paid to me in return for something, I treated it as a bit of a joke to be honest. But over the last few weeks it became very real as I transferred quite a bit out and still had some left over, just in-case the bitcoin bubble keeps growing. But i’m simply not motivated enough to track its progress and put money into it. Ethereum I’ve found interesting since I first saw the videos about it so I’ll keep an eye on that too.

Thanks to everyone who tipped my blog or paid into my wallet over the last 3 years,  I owe a great gratitude to all those people. I’ll keep writing… feel free to keep tipping.

I’m a digital nomad facing Brexit?

Tallinn old town

Interesting blog from the Estonia E-residents team.

Its been 3 years since the scheme launched and nearly 30,000 people from 139 countries signed up. I only signed up earlier this year but still love the idea and keeping an eye on what else I can do with a EU state backed identity.

Estonia launched it’s e-Residency programme three years ago tomorrow so that anyone on Earth could apply for a secure government-backed digital identity and gain access to our e-services.

Understandably, no one was entirely sure back then who would actually sign up and why. Many of the first e-residents were simply excited to join our borderless digital nation and had no plans to use their digital ID cards.

What interests me is the classification of the people who signed up.

  • Digital nomads
  • Entrepreneurs who want EU access
  • Entrepreneurs within the EU
  • Entrepreneurs facing Brexit
  • Startup entrepreneurs
  • Freelancers from emerging markets
  • Blockchain entrepreneurs

I’m more a Digital nomad facing Brexit I guess.

Due to rapid advances in digital technology and more flexible working cultures, a rapidly increasing number of people are choosing to live as ‘digital nomads’ because they can work anywhere there’s an internet connection.

There’s been a sharp rise in applications from the UK since the country voted to leave the European Union. Many British entrepreneurs discover e-Residency while searching for a way to ‘stay in the EU’, but soon discover that the benefits of e-Residency are bigger than Brexit as it can often enable them to more easily conduct business globally.

What would Jane Jacobs say about the Public & Private internet?

Found this via colleagues at work; the idea and possibility of a adfree public space.

Being from Bristol, I am all in favour of the points made by Adfree Bristol. I grew up with banksey, subverted advertisements and a protesters of golden hill.

Looking at it from a internet view, I find the tension between private & public so apt for what is happening right now. You only have to look at the fight over ad-blockingnet-neutrality and copyright reform.

The internet for most people is the private internet. Its the property of the 5 stacks and the wanna-be startups fighting for position in the patriarchy (hey lets call it what it is). Its a place of attention grabbing, advertising, monetization.

Tony Ageh, Bill Thompson and many others talked about the need for a digital public space. A speech by Tony Hall was clear for me that, another kind of space; not an alternative but an equal to the normal most people experience is needed.

Silicon Valley has remade our children’s world – but they need British culture too
Instead of restricting young people’s activity online, we need to focus on equipping them with the right tools.

I’ve starting to think broadly about the internet in two halves (it shouldn’t be that way, but it works)

Half Moon

Public internet & Private Internet

They have different business models, different motivations, different network topology and different functions. The thing is, the public internet is mainly dark and largely unknown by most because we don’t spend much time there. You could say eclipsed by the private side.

Mozilla Glass Room

Have a look at the physical graph at the glassroom, to see how eclipsed. (see The Alphabet Empire & Apple Towers).

It doesn’t help that most of the gatekeepers also rely on private internet business models. Cue, Jonathan Zittrain the future of the internet and the friction between the two, but generally the private internet wants to expand into the established public spaces; just like the real world. Who would have thought Jane Jacobs would be extremely fitting for the internet age?

Anaphylactic shock from walnut-based sandblasting

When I first heard this news

I was shocked and horribly sadden by the nature of what happened.

An Edmonton man died of anaphylactic shock after being exposed to a walnut-based product being used for sandblasting in the same building where he was testing air quality. On Oct. 2, David and Mabel Mathews received a call that their son, Justin Mathews, 33, had been taken to the University of Alberta Hospital.

When they arrived he was unresponsive, on a breathing machine and in a coma. “The doctors said 80 per cent of the brain is not active at all,” Mabel Mathews said.

Then came the tough decision to take him off life-support, as doctors had suggested. He died after being taken off a breathing machine five days later. Walnut dust prompted an anaphylactic reaction, causing Mathews’s throat to swell up and leaving him short of breath.

I always worry about being in a small room with any nuts, but to imagine the room being sandblasted with nuts is frankly terrifying.

MCR Talks: Neuroscience of Decision Making with Gabija

Dr. Gabija Toleikyte

Last time I went to a Funzing event I wasn’t that impressed (talk was good but the setup was a bit crappy) but I thought I’d give it another try as the Neuroscience of decision making is too good a talk to miss. I find the Funzing weird as its promoted through Facebook and after clicking the link you are led to the funzing site which isn’t as smooth as Eventbrite. Especially since you finally get your ticket only a hour or so before the actual event via email or text (which leads you to a funzing microsite)

The talk was in Texture (the cool nightclub venue in the northern quarter). The place was full of chairs and most was already sat on. Interestingly I would say its about a 65% female audience. Grabbing a odd chair with a drink after not spotting anyone I recognise (this is a good thing, getting out of your comfort zone).

Just before Dr. Gabija Toleikyte suggested, a early warm up exercise encouraging us to talk to the people around us and ask what brought them to the event. The woman behind me, was generally interested but not so interested in chatting. I turn to the woman in front of me and we talked for a while about her thoughts on the illusion of reality. I threw in my thoughts on memetics and we chatted for a while.

We also briefly talked about my brush with death,  and how I have  found a stronger interest in how the brain works and how we use.

When Gabija started with a proper warm-up she asked us to greet people next to us with a gesture of 1, 2 or 3 fingers. 1 being a hand shake, 2 being a bow and 3 being a hug. On giving the gesture, you have to pick the lowest number between the two. Most of mine were hugs and bows.

When Gabija started she ran through a lot of things in a short amount of time but broke it down in a easily digestible way. It was a good talk and based on a number of things I had heard or read but not really connected in this way… Here are the books I read which she mentioned.

Something new for me was the Triune Brain model

  • Lizard brain – lowest level regulates breathing, heartbeat, digestion, etc.
  • Mammal brain – system 1 regulates emotions, memory, habits, etc
  • Human brain – system 2 regulates rational thinking, learning, problem solving, assessing pros and cons

There is different decision making systems in the brain: slow (rational, system 2) and fast (intuitive, emotional, system 1) its about deciding which system is best as rational decisions with system 2 require a lot more energy. While system 1 is prone to the unconscious biases as its using pattern and basic logic. Emotions are important so we don’t get stuck with indecision; and understanding our emotions can help us to make better decisions. However emotions are quite different from mood which can distort decision making.

Lots to think about and well worth the money and time, thank you to Gabija and hope to check out her next talk about productivity.

Do you trust grammarly?

grammarly - better writing made easy

Been looking at Grammarly for a while and to be fair they have been massively advertising too. Obviously Google & Facebook know I’m dyslexic and I imagine Grammarly are targeting people like me.

But I’m not keen on the process of sending the text to their centralised server. I understand but I think there is another way to do this, however that way conflicts with their business model. Maybe its a another case for something which should be a public service not left to the private sector?

I’m not the only one asking questions; I have been browsing the terms and conditions too and not keen on what I’ve read so far, the privacy policy alone speaks volumes.

I’ve been using Language tool as their privacy policy seems more reasonable to me and it can work offline and in a more decentralised manner.

Be interested to hear how others get on with it, maybe the benefits greatly outweigh the data ethical concerns?

 

Harry and Meghan good for black culture?

Suits TV show backdrop

I’m anything but a royalist and rarely care what the royal family are up to, but I did hear the news that harry & meghan are going to get married. Yes even I saw that news, although I first heard about they were actually an item only few days earlier while listening to The Nod podcast from Gimletmedia,

In the podcast, the panel ask if Meghan & Harry getting married is good for black culture or not; This might sound weird to many people but let me give you a couple of scenarios.
Barack Obama, good for black culture or bad? I would say its a yes but I understand the debate. While, Bill Cosby is not good for black culture. You get the idea!

So is Harry & Meghan getting married forwarding black culture or doing damage?

Well worth a listen as I don’t think the announcement was made till way after the podcast?

BONUS: A Royal Good For The Blacks

BONUS: A Royal Good For The Blacks
Is the relationship between American actress Meghan Markle and the UK’s Prince Harry good or bad for Black culture?

Running the labyrinth mix

New mix recorded on the pacemaker device while on the plane back from Madeira. Big fan of the labyrinth (part one), even if I got a take down for it when uploading a mix to Soundcloud. I found the other mixes good too, especially the new paul keyen remix. Likewise I love jerome isma-ae’s remix of Placebo’s Running up the hill. Hence running the labyrinth mix.

Enjoy!

  1. Eternity – Ferry Corsten
  2. Running up the hill (jerome isma-ae bootleg) – Placebo
  3. Cuckoo – Jon Mangan
  4. Humming the lights – Armin van Buuren pres. Gaia
  5. Intution – Marninx Pres Ecco
  6. Running Up that Hill (Extended Mix) – Markus Schulz Presents Dakota Ft Bev Wild
  7. The labyrinth (part one) – Moogwai
  8. Stella – Jam & Spoon
  9. Labyrinth (paul keyen remix) – Lee Cassells
  10. Into the unknown – Yves Deruyter
  11. Super cool – Tempo Giusto, Jace Headland
  12. Megalodon – Dash Berlin
  13. Language (Santiago nino dub tech mix) – Hammer and Bennett
  14. Reflection (extended mix) – Ferry Corsten
  15. The labyrinth (part two) – moogwai
  16. Dissolve – Simon Patterson feat. Sarah Howells
  17. The Dark Knight – KhoMha
  18. Summer_Melodies (Frequence Remix) – Frequence
  19. Empty Cities, Dead Ghosts (Chronosapien Remix) – Fictitious Riceboy
  20. Daemoni Miserere – Dr. Clarke

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zoxcleb/12708086944/

Airbnb: What should be declared upfront and is simply illegal

Shocking tweet about a Airbnb host which setup a IP camera in the visitor bedroom. It very much reminds me of the camera in Simple which was ultimately the downfall of the Manchester restaurant.

The whole thing is just wrong but to make things worst is Airbnb’s customer service (they call it customer experience) which seems to want to keep it all under-wraps. This is surely a criminal offence and suspended isn’t nearly enough!

Of course this isn’t the only case, heres another one.

Shocking stuff! Of course my Airbnb has no cameras, no listening devices and I don’t even have a Philips Hue light in the spare room. I was going to install the Google Home mini for the purpose of controlling the lights but decided it wasn’t going to work, as it refuses to stay local.

It does raise the question of what should be declared upfront on the site before the guest books.

Rethinking Podcasting

Reinventing podcasting
Ok maybe less reinvent and more rethink?

I hinted at Perceptive Podcasting previously in a post about being busy. I have finally come out of that busy period and am UK bound as my passport is due to expire.

Just before the busy period, I drafted a post about Perceptive Podcasting and why it’s not simply another unique project. It went up on the BBC R&D blog recently which is wonderful because I can point to that rather than the other way around.

Perceptive Radio v1

Since we first launched the Perceptive Radio v1 in 2013 as a concept of what Perceptive Media (implicit interaction from sensors & data, adapting media objects) could become; the radio’s have always been a framework to explore further into adaptive object based media experiences. But we have always acknowledged the growing power of the smartphone and how it could be the container for so much more.

Even when we created the Perceptive Radio v2 with Lancaster University and Mudlark, it was modeled around an android phone and extending the sensors. The possibilities of IOT Storytelling with object based media was deep in my mind, along with research questions.

As a person who saw the revolution of podcasting in 2000, I was always interested in the fact its downloaded audio and generally consumed/created in a personal way, unlike radio in my view. I’ve also been watching the rise in popularity of podcasting again; heck Techcrunch asks if it could save the world 🙂

Of course I’ve started a few podcasts myself (recently Techgrumps and Lovegrumps) and love the fact it’s quite easy to get started and it can feel quite personal. I also found the diversity of podcasting quite interesting for example I’ve been listening to the guilty feminist, friends like us and risk, for quite sometime and find them fascinating every time.

Why a client for podcasts?

In 2017, you are seeing more webservices hosting podcasts like stitcher, (heck even Spotify is hosting some). At the server-side there is a lot you can do like dynamically change adverts, geo-fence media, etc. 60db are one such service doing nice things with podcasts but they are limited in what they can do, as they said in a comment on a similar post. But doing this all server-side is a pain, and tends to break the podcast idea of download-able audio (even if you have 4g everywhere), it feels more like the radio model of tuning in.

Imagine if you could do the server-side type of processing but on the actual device and even unlock the pools of sensor/data with the users consent? And imagine if the creators could use this in storytelling too!

Its Personal, Dynamic and Responsive without being creepy or infringing personal liberties, It adaptives to changes in context in real time. It dances with Interactivity and we are also exploring the value and feasibility of object based media approaches for engaging with audience. We believe that this offers the key to creating increasingly Immersive media experiences as it gives more story possibilities to the writer/director/producer. But also provides levels of tailored accessibility we have yet to imagine.

So many possibilities and its made in a very open way to encourage others to try making content in a object based way too.

Keep an eye on bbc.co.uk/taster and the bbc.co.uk/rd/blog for details soon.

Life isn’t lived, through the end of a filter

Snapchat photos of author of the vice piece

Interesting piece from Vice about Snapchat camera shots, replacing standard photos. I tend to put snapchat in a similar category as Instagram which I’ve written about previously. I picked out some of the highlights…

Writer Arushi feels similarly, and has written about the way Snapchat has started to make people view themselves. “I’ve found myself becoming dependent on filters to validate my appearance in selfies on more occasions than one. Honestly, it scares me because that’s so screwed up,” she said over Twitter DMs. “We’d rather have a digitally obscured version of ourselves than our actual selves out there. It’s honestly sad, but it’s a bitter reality. I try to avoid using them as much as I can because they seriously cause an unhealthy dysphoria.”

“This behavior supports the vision that a social body—self objectified—is more relevant than the real felt body.”

Plus some questions about self-objectfication

New Girl

Dr. Giuseppe Riva, a professor of communication psychology at the Catholic University of Milan, told VICE that social media activity promotes self-objectification. “This is particularly true for Snapchat and Instagram, which provide a mirror-like vision of young women, which is also altered and shared,” he said. “This behavior supports the vision that a social body—self-objectified—is more relevant than the real felt body.”

Those taking Snapchat selfies aren’t just experiencing the effects themselves. Talullah, from Kent, described how men were starting to believe that Snapchat-filtered photos were accurate portrayals of the people in them. “Some guys I speak to say stuff like, ‘You don’t look like your Snaps,'” she explained. “It’s like, ‘Dude, I’m not walking around with a headband of sparkly stars around my head.'”

These apps are too new for any proper scientific studies to have been carried out on the potential long-term consequences for some users. But Dr. Riva flagged eating disorders, alongside body dysmorphic disorder, as possible effects. “Self-objectification—thinking about and monitoring the body’s appearance from an external observer’s perspective—is the largest contributor to both the onset of eating disorders and its maintenance. This is what we discovered in our research,” he told me.

I mentioned on a work slack how much I find people who use Snapchat and Instagram filters on dating profiles close to deplorable. It sounds harsh but I feel like they are deliberately trying to deceive (consciously or unconsciously).

Of course I find dating sites partly responsible for encouraging people to connect their instagram accounts, in the hope they can ram-raid another pool of personal data. The whole thing feels misguided and maybe irresponsible. Another thing I read shared from a colleague at work, might start to explain how these things are held up and thought to be a good idea.

…mathematics, engineering and computer science are wonderful disciplines – intellectually demanding and fulfilling. And they are economically vital for any advanced society. But mastering them teaches students very little about society or history – or indeed about human nature. As a consequence, the new masters of our universe are people who are essentially only half-educated. They have had no exposure to the humanities or the social sciences, the academic disciplines that aim to provide some understanding of how society works, of history and of the roles that beliefs, philosophies, laws, norms, religion and customs play in the evolution of human culture.

The problem is the rest of us are just ignoring the “disconcerting sociological phenomena that are embedded into the very nature of today’s social media platforms” or we can’t be bothered to think deeply about this all? Although as I’ve said before, there is a massive industry wanting to keep the thinking that way.

https://twitter.com/RealMoseby96/status/855165277985804289/

Suddendly the term “disconcerting sociological phenomena” seems a lot more apt…!

What is slide design really about?

Meme/idea transfer?

I first saw Melinda Seckington’s blog post about the art of slide design on her blog. I had meant to reply with a blog post but never quite finished the blog post. Luckily during the run up to Mozfest, Mel was due to redo her talk. Mel is lovely friend and it was great to see her and Cristiano again.

The talk gives practical tips, focusing on making it stick in an increasingly busy and complex ecosystem which Mel picks up in the cogative load slide. Basically how do you make people give a crap and not forget once the presentation is over? Something more people should think about but don’t.

Over the last few decades, its become clear one of the best ways is storytelling. Humans are attuned to storytelling from a very early age. This is something Nancy Duarte has down in practice and in many decades of experience. Duarte’s TED talk about storytelling is the key for me.

Love to hear/see where Mel goes next… I’m sure shes planning a follow up to this great talk..

On a side point… while talking about slides and meme transfer

It’s also interesting to see where people are sharing slides too. I’ve always used Slideshare.net which is part of linkedin group, mainly because I can reference one single slide, makes the whole deck available and it does automatic textual export. But I do find speakerdeck.com interesting and I quite like slides.com after a few speakers used it during Mozfest.

I would like to use something more web like but its a pain presenting using html5+js when not using your own laptop. Google Slides is good but not perfect. Like to see something better not just in decoration/aesthetics (looking at you Keynote) but more web native (do not say prezi) which can automatically adapt between presentations, web viewing and notes. It would also allow for a longer lifestyle than just the slides its self. For example sometimes I have added the youtube link of me talking to the end of a slideshares. Bit kludgy but it at least links the two together.