Will breaking up GAFFA do any good?

Elizabeth Warren wants to break up the monopoly of the big tech companies (GAFFA) nothing that new as Tim Berners-Lee’s been saying similar for a year or so.

I do find it interesting watching the calls for Europe to get in the game, but then applying the same metrics to the European market? Something is not quite right there? Why would you want a copy of GAFFA’s, therefore recreating the cycle again?

Best of the recent TEDxManchester’s

TedX Manchester 2019

Last year I never got a chance to write about TEDxManchester 2018, partly because I tend to take pictures with my camera and its the new venue (Bridgewater hall) policy not to allow cameras in.

Regardless I went to TedXManchester 2019 (without my DSLR), and thought its about time I got back into blogging some of the best talks, especially as they are put on youtube now. Because they are on youtube so quickly, I created a playlist with the best TedXManchester videos. There are a number missing and its worth saying the list is highly opinioned. Theres some key ones from previous years gone by including my own and Carrie’s super popular one.

But I wanted to give credit to the best ones this year and last year.

2018

Last year the outstanding talk was form Vikas Shah’s How to save your own life.

A year later Vikas tweet is a perfect description.

I felt the talk was extremely brave, powerful and honest. The mental health message was powerful.

2019

This years outstanding talks were difficult to pick one. I was torn but decided although everyone loved Ged Kings talk I wasn’t super keen. I found Andrew Szydlo and Jon Carmichael’s fantastic but its not online yet so decided Katherine Ormerod spoke to me like Emma Harvey’s “Whoops, I changed the world” at TedxBradford.

Although I don’t let social media run my life, and use it a certain way which bother some. I find the continuously running theme of living life with these digital tools interesting. There was a talk just before with Chris Bailey (this is from TedxLiverpool) which was good but felt too preachy for my palliate. As I write this blog post in a coffee shop, I’m watching a woman taking a selfie with her tiny dog to a social network. She took about 12 photos before finally settling on one to post. I find the whole thing strange as posted about before, and I wonder how many are in control, following fashion, doing so out of peer/social pressure, etc…

#web30: The world wide web at 30 years old

We owe a lot to Sir Tim Berners-Lee on the 30th Anniversary of the web.

Tim Berners-Lee helped invent the world wide web 30 years ago. And he has consistently pointed out that the original dream that gave rise to it is under threat.

It is exactly 30 years since Sir Tim submitted a paper to his colleagues at CERN, suggesting a way of sharing data across networks, under the title “Information Management: A Proposal”. The humble title belies the importance of what was contained inside, which included a complete sketch for the networked information system that would on to become the internet we know today.

But its really important to think about the next 30 years.

Surveillance capitalism and governmental/state control are hot topics which very much threaten the fabric of the web. But so does our use of the web and the way we treat each other.

I had a really good 10min talk with Sir Tim Berners-Lee during the last Mozilla Festival, while talking about Solid, Databox and data trust. What got me as we talked, was ultimately we were talking about power and where it lies. Power in the hands of governments (Chinese model) , corporations (American model) or people? (could be the European model?)

I think remembering their are humans, not eyeballs, not lefties/rightwingers, etc is so important. Lets celebrate the people of the web!

Chidi and The Good Place

The good place cast

A podcast listen to now and then is the Nod, the latest episode (doesn’t seem to be on the site yet) talked about Chidi from the good place.

This week Eric talks with Cord Jefferson, a writer for NBC’s The Good Place, about how Blackness is depicted in the afterlife

Its a  good interview exploring stereotypes of black characters and I got to say Chidi is a excellent black geek. Just what we need more of…

Re-decentralising the internet recording at Futurefest

Futurefest 2018 panel

I had the pleasure of being on the panel of re-decentralising internet at Futurefest, last summer. (when England was still in the world cup and the weather was super warm) Feels like so long ago. I’m quite glad its audio only because I was sat in the sunshine sweating a lot!

The internet isn’t where we want it to be. With power increasingly centralised in the hands of very few players, citizens have little say in where we want the internet to go next. But challenging existing dynamics won’t be easy: we find ourselves caught in the crossfire between the dominant American models (driven by Big Tech) and the increasingly powerful Chinese model (where government reigns supreme). Is there scope to create a third, European model, where citizens and communities are in charge?

In this session, we discuss alternative trust models for the internet. This session is part of the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet initiative. We will hear from Manon den Dunnen, strategic specialist at the Dutch National Police, Ian Forrester, Chief Firestarter at BBC R&D and Marta Arniani, innovation strategist and founder of Futuribile / Curating Futures. Chairing will be Katja Bego, senior researcher at Nesta and coordinator of the Next Generation Internet Engineroom project.

Thanks Katja!

Gender diversity on twitter?

Results of who I follow on twitter

I rarely read twitter due to the API changes which I’ve talked about in the past. But I saw Teknoteacher talking about changing his followers after reading about Male tech CEOs follower accounts. I thought I’d share some things I discovered too. Especially reading this a while back.

So my results are above, using the online tool – https://www.proporti.onl.

But a while ago I used Open Human’s twitter archive analyzer by Bastian Greshake Tzovaras. It was super sobering!

Here is my replies by gender from when I first started using Twitter back in 2017. As you can see there was a massive spike of conversation with males in 2012, I also generally talk to more men than women on twitter.

My replies & gender Likewise when retweeting based on gender its mainly males. Recently its a lot closer to 50% which is great but I wonder with my lack of twitter use, how that will effect things? (I have requested a new update of my twitter data)

My retweets & genderOf course my instant thought is there is noise in the figures as its not always clear if people are male or female for many reasons. But its disappointing to read Elon Musk’s tweet.

And read about others such as…

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, follows 267 accounts on Twitter. Of those, 238 appear to be men. He follows nearly as many Twitter Eggs (15) as women (21).

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, followed the most women (39) of any of the accounts examined by the Guardian, though that is still half the number of men he follows (78) out of a total of 165 accounts.

I’d really like to see this applied to race not just gender too. It reminds me how I was going to learn more Python so I can create this as a Juno personal notebook in Open Humans.

Updated…

I updated Open Humans with my latest Twitter data export and here are the results.
Once again very sobering to see. Got to make some changes.

Screenshot of replies for 2019

Worth adding from TwArχiv site.

The graph shows you the number of replies to Twitter users that are classified as either male or female. The classifications are predictions based on users’ first names as given in their Twitter accounts. The predictions itself are performed by the Python package gender_guesser . It uses name/gender-frequencies from a larger text corpus. mostly male, mostly female, andy and unknown classifications are ignored. To decrease the noise the daily values have been averaged by a daily average over a 180 day window (dataframe.rolling('180d').mean()).

Ideally these graphs would include non-binary folks. Doing this is a bit trickier. It is thus a work in progress.

Screenshot of retweets for 2019Also worth mentioned…

Even more interesting than whether replying to people might be gendered can be the question which voices are being amplified . On Twitter a good indicator of amplification are retweets. These can be gender balanced or show biases, similarly to the replies to other users.

The graph shows you the number of retweets to Twitter users that are classified as either male or female. The classifications are again predictions made by the Python package gender_guesser . To decrease the noise the daily values have again been averaged by a daily average over a 180 day window (dataframe.rolling('180d').mean()).

Ideally these graphs would include non-binary folks. Doing this is a bit trickier. It is thus a work in progress.

We should all believe in better masculinity

I never got the chance to write about the Gillette advert and the absolutely insanity of the outcry by some men around it. Theres a ton of discussion, press and frankly shouting about it.

The best commentary/deconstruction I found of the debate is from Dr Nerdlove.

I released a video where I touched on the fact that Gillette released a new commercial that directly addressed toxic masculinity, asking men to do better and the reaction that a lot of people, mostly men, had to it.

As it turns out, I have a lot more to say about it because, well, it’s made people lose their goddamn monkey minds. This is an ad that is literally just saying “hey, men can do better” and people are acting as though this was the announcement that XY chromosomes have been made illegal and having chest hair means that you’re going to get rounded up to camps.

When I first saw the advert I felt impressed by the tone and expression.  Yes they must have known calling out toxic masculinity was going to have a big backlash but they did it anyway. Hopefully knowing how important it is.

The accusation that this is an attack on men and manhood is kind of absurd on its face. Because we see a lot of traditional positive masculinity in here. We see dads barbecuing over the weekend with their kids, dads propping up, teaching and encouraging their sons, nurturing their daughters. We see the guys calling out bad behavior and ending fights and showing respect for others. And we see fathers protecting other people and — importantly — teaching their sons to be brave.

It’s a little disingenuous to say that this is an attack on men when the point of the entire ad is all but literally spelled out for you:

We believe in the best in men.

If I was to add anything else to the advert it would be Tony Porter’s words.

My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman

Imagine if the Curve card supported all those transport and store cards?

The Curve CardI have been using Curve for a while now. I first came across it when Tom Cheesewright talked about it at a second degree dinner I hosted. I was still amazed by Monzo but it lost its shine once it became a current account for me. So I finally got a Curve card thanks to Tony Churnside for the referral.

Its been very good to me, and the trade off in sharing my transactions in return for not carrying around all my cards is good for me. I do generally carry around one more just in-case, but its been fine except a couple times, where I needed to tap again.

If I had a company credit card, a curve card would be essential, especially since the receipt feature works almost as I need it for my expenses.

Having used it for a few months, I started thinking it would be great if curve supported NFC travel cards like Oyster. Its something I’ve thought about previously. Of course the London Oyster system supports NFC payments directly, so maybe I should return my Oyster cards anyway.

But imagine if it supported other NFC cards? Yes you can use your phone to do this but I don’t want to use my expensive phone compared to a cheap piece of plastic which I can freeze in a instant? Store cards is more tricky as most are still swipe not NFC but could be very cool?

Update…

Hooray, audacity files are XML

Plumbing for the next web, by ian forrester

I’ve been looking for a way to create SMIL files with an editor for a while. Main reason being to speed up the creation of creating podcasts for the Perceptive Podcast client and make it easier for those who don’t understand markup/code.

One of the techniques we deployed during the Visual Perceptive Media project was to export final cut xml out of final cut/premiere pro then transform the lot with XSL/Python/etc to something else more usable. Its something I’ve had in mind for a long time, as you can see with this paper/presentation I wrote 12 years ago.

There was a point when Wmas, could create an editor for our director/writer (Julius) or allow him to use tools he was familiar with (non-linear editor like Finalcut/Premiere). Of course we choose the latter and converted the final cut xml (which isn’t really an official spec) into json using python. We were able to use markers and zones to great effect, indicating the interactive intentions of the director in a non-linear editor. This meant the intentions can exist and run completely through to the very end, rather than tacking it on at the end.

So with all that in mind, I started thinking if I could turn Audacity into a editor in a similar way? Is there a final cut xml format for audio? Thats when I came across this article which made perfect sense – Audacity files are just XML documents, sooo

Structure of a empty project

<?xml version=”1.0″ standalone=”no” ?>
<!DOCTYPE project PUBLIC “-//audacityproject-1.3.0//DTD//EN” “http://audacity.sourceforge.net/xml/audacityproject-1.3.0.dtd” >
<project xmlns=”http://audacity.sourceforge.net/xml/” projname=”blank-audacity_data” version=”1.3.0″ audacityversion=”2.2.1″ sel0=”0.0000000000″ sel1=”0.0000000000″ vpos=”0″ h=”0.0000000000″ zoom=”86.1328125000″ rate=”44100.0″ snapto=”off” selectionformat=”hh:mm:ss + milliseconds” frequencyformat=”Hz” bandwidthformat=”octaves”>
<tags/>
</project>

Just the title ignited my mind, the actual content of the blog is less interesting but I realised I may have a free & open-source editor which runs on every platform and with a bit of XSL magic could be the start of the editor I was looking for? The idea of it being a pipe, which leads on to more is something which fits in the bigger pipeline chain

I also found a GIT project to Parse audio track times from an audacity .aup projects. Its uses XSL to do the processing, so I may spend a bit of time playing with it to make something useful.

Just need to dust off my old XSL development skills… Which reminds me what happened to XPROC (XML pipeline language)?

56 Black men changing stereotypes

56 black men

I first heard about the 56 black men project through a podcast by the resource group’s Jonathan.

In the podcast Jonathan talks about archetypes and stereotypes, defining them very carefully.

Archetypes & Stereotypes are similar but not the same

“I find when people think of positive stereotypes, they are more likely to use the word archetype”

Humans find Archetypes And Stereotypes Useful

“Stereotypes are great examples of heuristics or mental shortcuts that we use to help us negotiate our day-to-day lives.”

Archetypes & Stereotypes Can and Should Evolve

“existing archetypes and stereotypes have led to the world we live in now, new archetypes and stereotypes could lead us to a new world”

This all leads nicely in to his role taking part in the 56 black men project.

Reading through the twitter feed and hashtag, there’s some really interesting comments from others. I personally have avoided wearing hoods slightly because of the stereotype and I don’t find them that comfortable to wear. I like seeing around me (being aware of my surroundings is important for me).

I’m super aware of my presence on people around me, especially females. Its been drummed into me from a very early age mainly media like films and tv. Anything to help change this stereotype especially around black males, is very welcomed!

Follow up from MyHeritage GDPR request

Shadow profile
I got this from MyHeritage today… after submitting my GDPR request to them to find out the history of my account.
We apologize for this breach and the fact that your email address might have been part of it. The email addresses were included in the breach along with a hashed password – not the actual password (which has been expired and can no longer be used to access the account on MyHeritage). Other than this, there has not been a violation of the data. See our official statement here and an updated statement here.

Please be advised that this incident does not affect the privacy of any sensitive information you have on your online family site, including DNA information and family trees. Only hashed versions of passwords were stolen, which means they cannot be used to log in to your private account on MyHeritage.

There has been no evidence that the stolen information was ever used by the perpetrators. Since Oct 26, 2017 (the date of the breach) and the present we have not seen any activity indicating that any MyHeritage accounts had been compromised.

The privacy and the security of your information is our highest priority and we continually assess our procedures and policies and seek the best methods to secure information. The work on adding two-factor authentication to MyHeritage is completed and you can read the full explanation about this feature here.

In addition to that, I have carried out a search within our system, and I was not able to locate an account using your email address: **********************************

If you had an account using this email address and the account was deleted, we currently do not retain any information from your registered account and therefore, I cannot provide you with any information regarding it as it no longer exists.

However, if you registered to MyHeritage using another email address, please let me know with which so I will be able to locate it. In addition to that, as an extra security measure, if you still have access to this email address would you please be so kind to send us an email using that address?

If you run into any further issues, by all means, please don’t hesitate to reply. I’m here for you.

MyHeritage Support team

Maybe I deleted my account too soon, unfortunately giving them a easy out. I should have done the GDPR request then deleted my account afterwards! I was looking forward seeing proof the account was a shadow profile

Shadow profiles and my Heritage security breach

Shadow profile

I received a email from have have I been pwned that my email address and password had been exposed in breach from My Heritage.  Most breaches are somewhat worry-some but as I don’t use the same passwords because I have a password manager with lengthy random passwords; its less of a problem.

MyHeritage Statement About a Cybersecurity Incident

What was shocking about the myheritage breach for me, was that I have never logged in to or used myheritage ever. If I had an account, I would have an entry in my password manager. To confirm this I have requested my data via GDPR.

I believe a member of my large family entered my email address and then added details about me into myheritage, therefore creating a shadow profile for me to log into. It makes sense, as others in the family can fill in details they have for me. So the password which was leaked isn’t even set by me, but rather auto generated by myhertiage? The only way I could get access to the account was via a password reset. Once in I deleted my account straight away, but I thought about it some more.

The leaked/breached password and login would give the buyer access to any information my family member entered including date of birth, relationships with other members of the family, etc.

If I’m right this is deeply troubling and a worrying precedent!

The horizon dating experiment on TV again…

Horizon dating

It was Valentines day a little while ago and while I was busy. I guess someone at the BBC thought it would be a good idea to put up the Horizon Dating Experiment again.

I got a whole bunch of people asking me if they saw me on TV recently… Well yes you did and there is a story worth reading behind it all. I’m not the only one who blogged about it too. To be fair it all started with Rachel Clarke who pointed it out the call to me after my bad experience with the Year of making love.

Horizon dating experiment

To be fair although its back on Telly again, the best example of where the Horizon dating experiment popped up has to be on a plane at 36000 feet. Found via my good friend Claire

Back of a airplane seat

 

39 days till Brexit and we still don’t know whats going to happen…

Its super depressing and even with 39 days left till Brexit, we still don’t know what on earth is going to happen. Even Jon Oliver can’t express how painful it is to watch the news everyday and see the PM of the UK trying to act strong with a crappy deal and following the will of the UK people.

Its a crappy situation the PM stepped into but I’m far from forgiving as she could delay article 50 and delay this clusterf**k. There is no way we should be allowed to leave without clear plans and a proper deal, if thats what we must do (I of course don’t buy it, I want to stay in the European union and always have done).

All I can do is put my head in my hands and think about how to escape the UK.