Your place in the new trusted data ecosystem keynote for #UCDgathering

Chris Spalton's sketch from my keynote

Last Thursday 15th October I gave a keynote talk at the UCD gathering. It was quite a challenge for me as I have become very busy with work especially around the human values work (details and post one day soon).

Regardless I wanted to give the keynote because I felt I had a lot I wanted to say to the UX design sector. With a past in interaction design, I have been frustrated by designers and the traditional approach to design. UX is truly powerful and can make a service/product be the greatest thing since sliced bread or the worst of the worst. But I also did my design course with books aimed to maximise attention from users. I also couldn’t grasp how designers refused to look deeper and think about the systems (technical & business) they were building on top of.

A previous manager once said “designers are the prostitutes of capitalism…” He was being deliberately controversial with a big smile on his face. I rejected that notion but I understand the thinking. Its about time we got deadly serious about design and user experience. We the industry can do much better and as we throw around our craft, we need to be much more conscious about the bigger effect on society, the environment and democracy.

I have been critical of Aral in the past but I like smalltech’s approach of building new experiences which take advantage of the unique characteristics and opportunities inherent in free, open and decentralised technology. We need more designers like Aral and Laura! I would go as far to say, although they are on the right side of history. The data ecosystem is changing bit by bit.

I have uploaded the slides to slideshare now as you can see below. There are 96 slides and I tried to not come across preachy. That was certainly not my aim, but something needed to be said. It most likely makes more sense when I’m talking but thats my style of presentations, so you needed to be there. I believe the video will come soon.

After the keynote I was really happy with the response from the conference who really got it and asked some really detailed smart questions. I was in the UCD slack for about 90mins afterwards just answering questions and chatting about concepts in the slides. I was blown away by the sketch from Chris Spalton (at the top of the post), massive thanks to Chris which nicely summed it up.

The twitter feedback was positive as well and I love this tweet

At the end of the day I wonder how many will consider signing the tech pledge, think more about the ethics next time they are asked to deploy a dark pattern and consider building on top of decentralised systems? My hope is even if one person does, this is a win and worth the time and effort of writing those attractive slides (if I don’t say so myself)

Of course BBC R&D have been researching this for some time but I’ll save some of this for a bigger blog post next weekend around the new forms of value deep dive videos which are being released.

My one regret is not being able to attend much of the rest of the conference. I had too much work which I put on pause for the keynote and they needed my attention. I also learned from the Nesta next generation internet policy summit that only some types of work I can work and watch at the same time unfortunately.
Massive thanks to all who attended and engaged with me afterwards in the slack channel. I will check again to see if theres any more tomorrow. Thanks to my moderator and it seems all female team who made me feel welcomed at 8:30am.

Telepath, yawn…!

Friendcamp

I have been hearing a bunch of stuff about a brand new social network called Telepath.

…Richard Henry and Marc Bodnick are. The duo, who previously worked together at the question-and-answer community Quora, today announced a wider release for Telepath, a new app for discussing your interests. The app, which like Clubhouse is available only in private beta and requires an invitation to use, resembles a hybrid of Twitter and Reddit. As on Twitter, the app opens to a central scrolling feed of updates from people and topics that you follow. And as on Reddit, every post must be created within a group, which Telepath calls a “network.”

Hearing about it, I was almost yawning. Another centralised social app trying to make its self bigger and better than whats come before using the tried, tested and very abused dark pattern of growth hacking.

For a very short moment I thought, maybe this is built on decentralised technology or works alongside other fediverse platforms? Something like hometown which powers friend.camp but heavily funded? That moment passed very quickly.

Who cares???

Its the same centralised system with a new face, its boring and I’m fed up of it all. Seriously! Don’t send me an invite, it will go straight in to my virtual bin.

 

Whats happened in Islington Wharf over summer?

The test window in the garden
The test window in the garden with the UV screen

You might remember I blogged about the potential works at Islington Wharf.

So a little update, we received a letter about securing a different location for the builders yard. Originally Waterside Places was planning to take over our garden for 2+ years but I gather the council stepped in and they found another site. Where exactly isn’t very clear, like a lot of the comms from Waterside places.

Waterside places letter Sept

So with this there has been a lot of talk about the alternative, would releasing Laing O’Rourke of their obligation be the worst idea? Each person has different views on this all. To be fair now the garden is off the table I feel slightly better about things. Although its not super clear (I have asked directly this question).

As it seems typical in 2020, a blackswan event like the Covid19 pandemic? just hit Islington wharf.

HS2 the high speed two train system wrote a letter to most of Islington Wharf.

I am writing to you today to advise you that following further development of the design for High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, some or all of your land and/or property may be required in order to build and operate the railway for the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b.

Manchester Piccadilly East
The shaded area is my suggestion for the HS2 expansion. It also indicates a part of the red light zone

Its a proposal and its not clear how much of Islington Wharf will be affected as I thought the inner ring road and Ashton canal would be problem if they wanted to expand Piccadilly Station. On top of this, there is a lot of land around Piccadilly Station currently the Red light zone or Piccadilly East if you been watching Manctopia.  Between Fairfield Street, Chapeltown Street and Great Ancoats Street theres quite a bit of room and a lot of it is made up of old commercial places. Places which would be cheaper to move and are generally not that occupied either.

Its a interesting dimension on top of the saga with Waterside places. Wonder if they were even aware of the HS2 change?

A unforgettable summer in the city: the mix

A unforgettable summer in the city mix

Its been one heck of a summer, from the covid19 pandemic, national lockdowns to the protests for .

Every once in a while I have been putting out a few mixes under the new album/category of locked down and mixing out. The mixes have been good but I felt they each had something missing, so this is the best bits of previous mixes put together into something extra special.

Its the mix I am listening to when I get out with the Diabolo or go for a long walk.

Enjoy!

  1. A new beginning – Marcus Schossow
  2. Chinook – Markus Schulz pres Dakota
  3. Opium (Quivver remix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  4. Open up – Leftfield
  5. Intruder – Armin Van Buuren vs M.I.K.E
  6. My Beat (Ambassador extended remix) – Blaze
  7. Follow me (Jerome Isma-Ae Extended remix) – Jam Spoon
  8. Floyd (Extended mix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  9. Opulence – Simon Patterson
  10. Numb the pain – Will Atkinson
  11. Seven Cities (V-One’s living in the cities mix) – Solarstone
  12. Halcyon – Andy Moor
  13. Tears (Protoculture remix) – Dakota
  14. Outlaw (Extended mix) – Fatum
  15. Amino Acids – Tau-Rine
  16. Freedom (Extended mix) – ARTY v Muvy
  17. Indigo – 4×4

Its Dyslexia week

80% of people do not get diagnosed with dyslexia

As a proud man with dyslexia, I’m always happy to talk honestly about it with people willing to really listen about my superpower.

If you spend any time with me, you will get a sense of how my mind will blend from one thing to another. Its that flow state which my mind feels comfortable in but others wonder how I made that leap? I actively have to stop myself from doing it. Thinking about what I should write for the week I just started writing as my mind works…

One important thing to say always is, each person is different and each person with dyslexia has different experiences and different ways of managing or thriving. Some struggle all their lives trying to fit into a neurotypical world. I remember when I heard Dr Jonathan review Disability: the book, there was a quote which stuck me.

“some people have physical impairments, but it’s society through exclusion, through stigma, through oppression that makes people disabled”

I found this quite powerful. Dyslexia is classed as a disability and the quote above summed up a lot. The stigma of dyslexia from a stereotypical society is what makes people with dyslexia disabled… Although its exactly right, I don’t feel disabled in anyway, except when I rub against societal norms.

All the thoughts over the weekend

Last year I asked at the Mozilla Festival in the brand new Neurodiversity space. What do people think of when they think about when thinking about dyslexia? The results were different from what I was expecting. Zero of them said disabled or indicated that. However I had put up a bunch of the M.I.N.D strengths straight out of the Dyslexic Advantage. A book I recommend and lend to other people with Dyslexia when ever I can.  I recently subscribed the dyslexic advantage site as it helps fund more academic research, which is very much needed.

When they asked me to be interviewed, I of course happily said yes!

I will never forget the conversation myself and Kate (two dyslexic minds in conversation) had for the listening project. A conversation which you could hear on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Manchester and finally in the national archive. Only half the dare/bet/conversation has actually happen with Kate taking me to Ireland in a bright yellow camper van.

Ian and Kate

We just bounced off each other and it sums up the good things which can happen when you have confident dyslexics in a room. Of course its not all positive as describe in the posts what is daily life like and what its like to love someone with dyslexic (something I was expecting a lot more criticism about, although I likely did most of the damage previously).

A lot comes from experiences and talking with other people with dyslexia. Lots cover it up or won’t reveal it to others, but they have good reason. Like lots of others I was finally diagnosed in University not junior school although they had thought I might be dyslexic. I do wonder about what might have been different if I was rightly diagnosed back in junior school?

Think about all those young people growing up (even now) not aware of their strengths. All those people who don’t understand how powerful it can be. Of course there is a petition for this.

This is my pacemaker editor running on a Chromebook

Chromebook running Linux, Windows and ChromeOS

I won’t lie, I was up till 2am getting the pacemaker editor to work with my Chomebook. But honestly it wasn’t so bad, most of the time was unzipping and moving things around in ChromeOS.

It all kicked into gear when I saw you could install Wine5 on Linux on ChromeOS. I gave it a try on my chromebook, as I could never quite get it working correctly on my Dell XPS13 (likely the something to do with the Pacemaker app being 32bit or something?). However it worked on ChromeOS and my only issue is the Pacemaker app makes everything super tiny even when changing the DPI settings in Wine. Luckily I have very sharp eyes and can actually see it ok without changing the native resolution of the chomebook.

Its a bit of testament to my knowledge of Linux, one thing lead to another thing, including copying the settings from my other wine running machine, changing config files, mounting the SD card full of mp3s in Linux and pick up my Pacemaker maker device in wine.

For reference I have my music collection on a external microSD and the chromebook has one USB A port, meaning I can plug my Pacemaker in without a USB C to A converter. Wine 5 is installed under the ChromeOS – Linux beta. I launch the Pacemaker editor (windows app) from the command line using

wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files\ \(x86\)/Tonium/Pacemaker/Binary/Pacemaker

Although I have made a pacemaker.sh for it now. Of course this doesn’t show in ChromeOS’s own launcher but thats not too much of a problem. Its not like I will need it every day.

Now its all working, it means when we can finally go away more easily than right now (written during the Covid19 pandemic). I can record mixes and put them out before going home to transfer them. Which was always a bit of a pain to tell the truth.

Next steps is to see what happens when I use the other pacemaker device which has the upgraded firmware.

What centralised systems could learn from the fediverse when it comes to trolls

This video from the activitypub conference 2020, is a perfect example of what I have tried to explain to friends and colleagues. The moderation isn’t just people but a system which is baked into the infrastructure of the fediverse. As the video explains its not perfect but its likely more effective than the centralised systems of Twitter, Facebook, etc.

I do remember when I heard about gab joining the fediverse and the outcry by many who didn’t fully understand how the fediverse works.

Its fascinating to see how the question, how normal am I hits home

How normal am I?

I was watching the NGI Policy Summit last week and it was good. Lots to take away but I found What your face reveals – the story of HowNormalAmI.eu. Stuck out as one of the highlights.

Dutch media artist Tijmen Schep will launch his latest work – an online interactive documentary that judges you through your webcam, and explains how face detection algorithms are invisibly pervading our lives. Can we really asses someone’s beauty, BMI or even life expectancy from just a photo of their face? After experiencing his creation, we’ll dive into the ‘making of’ and emerge with a better understanding of what face detection AI can – and cannot – do.

If you haven’t seen it, give it a try.

But I found the social media responses really interesting. It seems half the people are talking and sharing their data, while the other half are talking about the details. People can’t help themselves and compare the details although they know its bias.

Its a provoking art project and deserves to be watched fully. Theres plenty of details here once you watched/experienced it.

The ActivityPub Ecosystem talk, some quick thoughts

I was watching Evan Prodromou giving a talk at the ActivityPub conference and jotted down a few rough thoughts along the way.

Slide 3 – We don’t need to do things the way commercial social networks do.
He’s right theres an opportunity for different types of business models but everybody keeps comparing it to the commercial business models. Heck even myself, I have been writing a presentation and have a slide with number of users.

Slide 5 – What kind of experience would you have with the provider of the software if it was trusted?
This is a good question, my experience with different software and systems is quite different because its under my control or is more trusted. It does change the way you use and what kind of data I’m willing to share?

Slide 8 – What kind of client apps? Evan talks a lot about the fun type of client events which would benefit from a good client API. Reminds me what ever happened to the poking or the old twitter nudge

Slide 9 – More free accounts.
Evan talks about many different local and small groups which could do with something more smaller and local. For example churches, neighbourhoods, cities, families, schools and universities. I would add teams, leagues, local committees, residents committees.. This is something which drives me bananas that we have to use facebook groups for a local residents group. Then have to protect it from external others. Most of the residents are sitting on high speed fiber. It should be super easy to run a local system. Slide 10 – Talking of running a local system, Evan is right, there is something good and powerful about simple self contained devices. I would happily buy a raspberry pi like system where I plug it into my network and I get a activitypub/fediverse server. Add the ability for zeroconf and zero-maintenance and you got something which could have a great user experience and that would be very welcomed. Its why I use Xbian for Kodi on my raspberry pi. Right now I’d happily install Funkwhale on a Raspberry Pi because trying to use docker has been a endless battle.

Slide 11 – Federation of things not internet of things.
Its something I’ve been thinking about a lot, in a recent project with Lancaster and Edinburgh University, I described a system which sucks up your personal data and just makes a copy of it but under your control.. That device (we ended up calling the pebble) is pretty much what Evan is talking about but at a larger scale and static within the home.
The pebble device was meant to copy your personal area network (PAN) communication like your phone, headphones, smartwatch, smart ring, steps, etc.

Slide 12 – Quantified Self
Perfectly timed Evan describes the project for the pebble system I just mentioned. Capturing, runs, food, heartbeats, etc.. But what for? Slide 13 – Lifestreaming! One of the reasons for is because of lifestreaming. If you haven’t heard this term for a long while, its something I and others use to talk about a lot. Iys lost its meaning a bit but also fell out of favour.I do collect a lot of data and maybe for the same reasons as Evan, some kind of digital legacy? The last 3 slides make this much more possible than currently requesting data or scraping it.

Slide 14 – We don’t have to get people hooked!
This goes without saying right?

Slide 15 – Optimize for happy
I like where this is going, always thought there is something in the long time de-funked happiest network. The network seemed to fail because of the weight of investors and the need for a business model. but if we take some examples from slide 16, like helping people, making things, getting enough sleep and wrap them up in a network which doesn’t need business model as such. Now that could be something.

Seeing feel gratitude, also got me thinking about a simple gratitude client which posts in activitypub. Feels like something I could write but surprised no one hasn’t already done it? Been also thinking about a mashup of happiest, gratitude status, google’s defunked schemer and the BBC R&D human values.

Slide 17 – Optimize for connection.
Yes indeed, right on the  human values train. The deepening of friendships and relationships can be massively powerful. And likewise…

Slide 18 – Optimize for meaning
Love the idea of Awesomescrolling oppose to doomscrolling! Not like Tiktok but something with substance which isn’t about entertaining you or being popular (what ever else the tiktok algorithm is optimised for).
Something which aids you in finding purpose and finding out whats really important to you, not just what advertisers want to put in front of you. Also love the idea of walking away with a sense of accomplishment not just happiness (not that this alone wouldn’t be enough of course).

Lastly Evan makes a good point about scaring people into the network. Important point made well…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2020)

the social dilemma

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the endless press about Bytedance’s tiktok distracting us from the more important developments.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with people rethinking systems they are using such as Zoom for Education and android without google.


The net of a thousand lie in full

Ian thinks: Cory pretty much covers Surveillance Capitalism but then turns to focus on the problem of monopolies as the heart of the problem. He’s got a real point which he builds very nicely on throughout this free book. I know Cory’s kickstarter for the next little brother book could do with some support too.

The start of a manifesto for digital autonomy?

Ian thinks: This sums up a lot of the issues people have with technology today by seeking to empowering people, focus on privacy by design, increase legibility and avoiding lock-in. Its version 0.1, and can learn more in their talk.

Mozilla CEO urges EU Commission to double down on a better internet

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s interest in Europe is clear to see. The recommendations from Mitch Baker are well reasoned although I haven’t heard much since. One to watch for the future.

Ransomware isn’t just painful its a killer

Ian thinks: Its clear the ransomware wasn’t deliberately sent to kill but the death in Germany does raise a possible scary future. Man slaughter, murder, what would you call this?

The thriving and wilting worlds

Ian thinks: Been recently discovering Anand Giridharadas and this brave talk to the wealthy Aspen Institute criticising them is where his book winner takes all started.

How Tiktok works and how it fits with the splintered internet

Ian thinks: I wasn’t going to talk about Tiktok but I found this Vox video documentary raised much deeper profound questions about the splinternet.

Refreshing look at Citizenship

Ian thinks: Its always refreshing to hear important discussions in different places. Citizenship discussed on the guilty feminists podcast is a mix of fun and deeper conversations. Well worth listening to, always but especially this one.

New open source tool for Tracking Disinformation

Ian thinks: Mozilla are regulars in my public service internet notes and for good reason. The Social Media Analysis Toolkit (SMAT) could be extremely powerful to shine a light on the social dilemma we all face looking at in our timelines. On a related note is data futures lab launch.

Our social dilemma?

Ian thinks: Good Netflix documentary, however I felt like it wasn’t as good as the HBO’s after truth. The family sections make it more tangible but I felt the dilemma was being told the problem by creators and investors of the problems. Problematic? I’m not the only one. Also worth listening to Team Humans writer Douglas Rushkoff’s thoughts too.


Find the archives here

Pulseaudio filling my flat with sound

Pulse audio DLNA in action
Pulse audio DLNA in action while watching the NGI summit and using the picture in picture feature

I usually listen to podcasts during the morning but with Covid19, I have been listening to a lot more podcasts and audiobooks. I use Xbian (Kodi) to listen to podcasts and Yatse without needing to look at a computer screen.

Its a good setup, as it does my bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. I recently removed the FM transmitter and replaced it with a bluetooth transmitter finally avoiding all the interference I was getting. However when I’m watching something on my laptop, I then wish I could send the sound through the same system.

This is when I discovered puslseaudio-dlna, allowing any output from the laptop to be sent over DLNA to my Xbian and to my Kodibox in the living room. Perfect, the only issue I have is the delay which can be sometimes as high as 10seconds. I also learned it can be used to interface with the chromecast, I’m also found out its possible to wire it up to send to two or more outputs at the same time, meaning I could have a sonos type system. Extremely useful to know when next I have a party?

BarCampManchester 10 went virtual

Obviously in the middle of a pandemic, it would be a awful idea to bring together a bunch of people from different households to spend 2 days and a night together. Lucky as we all are, we have the internet.

The bright sparks running BarCampManchester decided it could work online and they made it happen with some custom coding for the session wall and a clever setup of Discord.

I haven’t been a fan of discord but was surprised once I downloaded the Flatpak version for Linux, how effective it was. Before long I was barcamp as usual. Except I had some things I needed to do in the morning. I left a note saying save me a spot on the session wall, knowing how they fill up in the afternoon. Chris pointed out, its all virtual, it would be trivial to create another space/room. Of course I mistakenly was thinking with my physical brain, welcome to the virtual. It was like Eames in inception to Arthur

Dream a little bigger

You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

Once back I threw myself in with a number of other people not just from Manchester but around the UK. Why limit yourself to just Manchester right? Old friends showed up and we had a good old natter. The sessions were good and even ran a couple myself (one about adaptive podcasting and the other about my gratitude habit).

Of course at the end after the end talk, some diabolo time, some food and a catch up with my family. There was still enough people to play werewolf on werewolv.es with discord.

I got to say it was all good, ok its not going to beat a physical in person barcamp but once I got use to discord it worked quite well. I enjoyed it and as potentially we are looking at another 12-18 months of this pandemic, this could potentially be a good community way to run barcamp.

There was talk about a BarCampManchester11 during winter and if there was, I certainly would get a ticket and make sure theres nothing clashing. Its tricky for sponsorship but I was thinking maybe if people paid between £2-10 maybe that could really help if you were able to get upwards of 50-100 people? This could be done with Eventbrite too, making things less friction.

Could you run a conference this way? Potentially but it would depend on what kind of conference. Good luck getting the public to install discord I would think.

OkCupid doesn’t like my profile picture?

Ian's Profile picture

What could be wrong with this picture?

I got a email from OKcupid the other day and it took a little while to work out which one was removed from my profile.

Hi,

OkCupid’s photo rules are in place to make OkCupid enjoyable for everyone. We are letting you know that we have removed one or more of your photos that were found to be in violation of these rules.
The most common reasons for a photo being removed are:
1. Your face is not visible, but the photo is in your “profile photos” album
As long as the photo doesn’t break any other rules, feel free to upload it to one of your profile essays instead. We love pet photos!
2. The photo is copyright/ not yours
All photos must be of you or taken by you. No copyright material allowed, including memes.
3. The photo contains erotic content
We ask that you appear in your photos as you would in a normal public context. Because of that, we don’t allow sexy bedroom photos, underwear photos, nudity, erotic poses, etc. Swimwear photos are ok only if they are in public at a beach or pool.
4. The photo contains inappropriate content
We don’t allow advertising, publishing of private information, photos of children alone, or hateful, threatening, or upsetting imagery. Profiles with inappropriate photos may be banned in addition to having the photo removed. See our full photo rules

Please note that if you disregard our photo rules multiple times, it could result in your account being permanently banned.
If you’re shy or concerned about privacy, you might want to check out our Incognito feature, which allows you to only be visible to people you have Liked first.

Thanks, and best of luck on OkCupid!

Sincerly,
OkCupid Support

Okcupid always be selling… They can take their incognito and stick it.

Worst thing is I can’t actually get a proper answer why the computer/algorithm says no. Love to know if its gotten it all wrong and why? I thought about making some changes but don’t fancy my account getting banned.

Great to see nothings really changed…