A few cool events over June

I don’t know about you but my June is pretty packed solid. But theres a raft of events which you may not know about. Here’s a few… (I really feel like I should turn them into microformats or rather RDF/a)

The Best of British Prime Conference – Friday 13th June at The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London. I will be talking about Dating, Lies and Algorithms, as I mentioned before.
Tickets and details are available and if you use the discount code of iknowaspeaker you may get a nice little surprise on ordering tickets.

Sheffield Documentary Festival 2014 – running from 7th – 12th June in Sheffield. Myself and Tony will be presenting at the Shefdocfest (8th June) about Perceptive Media. And Matt Brooks and Rhianne will be showing off a research preview/alpha of the previously mentioned variable length documentary (11th June).

Film Data HackathonAbandon Normal Devices (AND), in partnership with the BFI are running a weekend (28 – 29 June) hackathon about everything cinema  – from selecting the right movie, to how we watch them, and what we think to how we share our thoughts afterwards and everything in between. Tickets are available now.

More Bubbles Than Balls reception – for drinks, conversation and a celebration of all things Urbanista. Tuesday 24th June 5:30pm – 7:30pm at Velvet Central, 2 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5WQ.
Tickets are free and can be booked.

House Party 14 – is the first unofficial housing fringe event, providing a grassroots alternative to the annual CIH housing conference in Manchester on Tuesday, 24 & Wednesday, 25 June.
The waiting list is available.

Re:Fest! – Tuesday 17th and Wednesday,18th June at the Black-E Community Centre in Liverpool. This is the second Re:Fest! event, building on the success of last year’s event in Nottingham.
Find out more and book free tickets.

TVX Hackfest – June 25th at Culture Lab, Newcastle University. ACM international conference into interactive experience for TV and new media experiences is 26-27th June but there is a hackfest before hand.
To find out more including team sign up.

Derren brown is back in the Lowry theatre in Salford Quays with the new show infamous. Very limited seats left…13-21st June

Thanks Jane and Hwayoung for the heads up…

Uber for public transport…?


Chris writes

…there’s been lots of innovation around the open data of public transport, but not of public transport itself – where are the startups aiming to disrupt First and Stagecoach?)

When I first heard it I thought well that can’t work but the more and more I think about it. It certainly can with the right data access.

I want to go to MediaCity, I’m walking in the right direction from Piccadilly and the app knows where I’m going because its in my calendar. Rather than show me a load of options, it should show me the public transport which I could catch to head the right way. As I keep walking the options change as I walk near a tram stop, a new option is highlighted but its going to cost me more and I’ll have to change more. The option goes away as the tram pulls way, leaving me with the option to wait for the next one or walk around the corner for the bus. Its easy to imagine, so why has it not happened?

As Chris indicated earlier in the post. Google now, could do a lot of this. But it strikes me as something you use in passing rather than spend lots of time looking at. The bulk of such a thing might rely on Googlemaps?

What ever happens, it will be powered by people like Opendata Manchester. Lazyweb make it so…!

The best of the rest of Thinking Digital 2014

Thinking Digital 2014

As mentioned in the previous 2 blog posts. Thinking Digital 2014 was excellent and further proves this conference is getting better everytime.

I pulled out 2 great talks and already wrote about them previously…

But there were more great talks, worthy of talking about.

Thinking Digital 2014

Jeni Tennison
Got to love Jeni, shes wonderful, warm and so down to earth. I’ve known her from my XML/XSLT days. Her talk reminded me of the struggles and endless fight to liberate data when I was leading BBC Backstage. Those fights are almost never ending… Glad to hear some of the battles are finally being won.

Thinking Digital 2014

Meri Williams
I have known Meri for years and years and always associate her with Newcastle. But I knew she worked very internationally. Her talk was great and had me thinking alot about my own position. She said we should all be asking ourselves, “Can someone like me can be successful here?” I specially like pointers to Dan Pink’s Drive and the term seagulls management. Great talk Meri, lots to take away…

Thinking Digital 2014

Mariana Mazzucato
Never heard of Mariana but after an introduction from Chi Onwurah the local MP for Newcastle or Gateshead. Mariana launched into a massive talk, outlining how the public sector should/could act more like the private sector. Ultimately she started to debunk the myths of public vs private as she does in her book entrepreneurial state (must look into this). This renew my faith in the public sector again.

Thinking Digital 2014

Erin McKean
Returning to the Thinking Digital stage again, Erin this time turned her talk towards new types of discovery. She said discovery should be ambient and contextual. Almost feeling like serendipity. I would suggest perceptive as a way to think about this stuff?

Thinking Digital 2014

Jennifer Gardy and Peter Gregson
Another returning speakers and this time teaming up together to do something new. This time Jennifer and Peter decided to visualise DNA through the medium of music. Some artistic direction was applied but the result was beautiful.

Thinking Digital 2014

Hayley Parkes
Hayley provided more music and what stunning music. So stunning that I dare not take a picture while Hayley was playing because the sound of the prism spinning might distract from the music. I was amazed at the story of Hayley and further provides me with the joy to know that the debate over nature vs nurture is wide open.

Thinking Digital 2014

Suzy Muclahy
Following Jennifer and Peter, Suzy Muclahy explained a number of the processes in the brain and body. The most interesting one for me was the stroke, which is something like #mybrushwithdeath. I later spoke to Suzy about a number of things including #mybrushwithdeath. Such a shame we didn’t get to spend more time talking, because we were bouncing from subject to subject.

Thinking Digital 2014

Steve Mould
Wasn’t expecting much but Steve’s talk about science and ultimately self siphoning beads was funny, witty and entertaining. I especially love the dubstep remix.

Thinking Digital 2014

Jemima Kiss with Christian Payne and Meri Williams
In a nice turn around for Thinking Digital, Jemima chaired a panel discussion mainly about the post-snowden era and whereables. As you can imagine, it was all about post-snowden and Aral’s recent talk. The last 5mins was about whereables and to be fair it wasn’t anywhere as interesting as the rest of the debate. Great to hear Jemima go through the timeline of what changed since last year.

Thinking Digital 2014

Tom Scott
After Aral’s talk and the panel discussion with Jemima Kiss, the mode and tone was low. Not because of the great talks but because there was a feeling that things were not right in the digital world.

Tom Scott’s finishing talk was Tom in 2030 looking back and talking to us in 2014. The main message was don’t panic, humanity will live out and we will prevail. And he’s right, don’t get me wrong. Everything is worth fighting for, but in the end we will prevail. We owe a lot to each and everyone of the whistle-blowers, hackers, journalists, etc which help us make sense of whats happening out there. Privacy is a human right and there will be a massive backlash once people feel its gone too far. The question is when enough people think its gone far enough…?

Thinking Digital 2014

A very fitting and uplifting end to another fantastic Thinking Digital conference. I’ll be clear and say all the speakers were great and although they may not have gotten on to my highlights list, they were all great. Thanks Herb and his wonderful team for putting on yet another great show, I especially like the Q&A by the way (more questions from the crowd please!)

Tickets for 2015 are live now by the way. Looking forward to another exciting thinking digital…

TDC14: Forget skynet, female-kind is ready for the shift

Thinking Digital 2014

I love conferences which have me almost punching for the sky in a FTW! (for the win) style. Thinking Digital 2014 almost had me at points punching the sky. Now in its 7th year! Thinking Digital hasn’t lost any of its impact and is still a pleasure to attend and take part in.

There is always great talks from the stage and I always have a hard time writing up the best ones to me. But this year I have had to separate out a couple of talks which really got me going for different reasons.

The one previous to this post is Aral’s talk from Thinking Digital and my personal thoughts interleaved. The next one I had to separate out is part two of Blaise Aguera y Arcas’s talk about machine intelligence and social changes. I got the feeling Blaise, had wanted to do this talk for a long while but never really had the platform to do so till Herb Kim allowed him the space to bring his thoughts together.

The basic talk was…

machine intelligence + (gender selection + sexual and lifestyle freedom) = post subsistence economics.

Each one Blaise wrote about on his blog a while back.

He started off talking about everybody is worried about machine intelligence over taking human intelligence, the singularity, etc. Replacing jobs isn’t new and actually the move away from back breaking jobs isn’t such a bad thing. The move away from these back breaking jobs which require a lot of testosterone to jobs which are collaborative in nature is a good thing.

Then on to trends showing what females earn as a whole against their male counterparts is increasing but the amount of females university and beyond educated is growing massively compared to the males. Aka there will be many more women earning much closer to what men earn. We may see the end of the glass ceiling at long last?

Thinking Digital 2014

Right with all that in mind, less testosterone driven jobs and finally a culture more accepting of collaboration plus a workforce to suit. You got a different mindset writing the machine algorithms and code to power the machine intelligence.

Thats the basic premise (and I know it hinges on a lot of stereotypes and questions, I may be doing Blaise a disservice but to be honest you need to hear Blaise talk about it and making the points. The crux is that women will dominate economically and society will reflect and favor a less testosterone driven approach going forward. The idea of machine intelligence given a cock and balls was floated as a very bad thing. Interestingly

This for lots of male kind is worrying as they suddenly feel the strangle hold they held for so long slip away. There will be a backlashes and your already seeing some of it including the redpill community.

Thinking Digital 2014

In a surprising move by Herb, he opened the floor for questions. Of course knowing me I had to ask a question. I thought about it but had to tell the question is something I didn’t really think too much about because there was plenty of thoughts and connections floating around my head. The question came out and with some clarification I made the hole a little deeper for myself.

The question I was trying to ask was about the social backlash from female-kind (Blaise had only talked about the male backlash). I also used stereotypes to illustrate the point including the height factor, suggesting women may want a testosterone driven man over the alternative. By this point it was pretty much over and I gave up making the point. But interestingly Jemima understanding where I was going with the question, chimed in and gave a better question based on what I meant.

It was a truly fascinating talk and my number one highlight of Thinking Digital 2014. I really feel like I’ve not done Blaise’s talk enough justice… Hopefully once the videos are up, I will link to them and revisit this one. I said Blaise’s talk could be summed up like this. Machine intelligence + (gender selection + sexual and lifestyle freedom) = post subsistence economics. Somewhere in there diversity of ideas and thought is changing the way we think about machine intelligence and this is a very good thing. Not everything has to be zero-sum and like it or not that seems to be a testosterone fueled thing.

Here’s Blaise’s thought from his blog which gives a lot more insight and information, than I could.

Documentarlly did a great little interview with Blaise on Audioboo

Machine Intelligence

I think that just as the Inter­net has been such a great dri­ver of change across so many spheres over the past 20 years, we will see machine intel­li­gence in the same role over the com­ing decades.

Today, we are as an intel­li­gent species essen­tially sin­gu­lar. There are of course some other brainy species, like chim­panzees, dol­phins, crows and octo­puses, but if any­thing they only empha­size our unique posi­tion on Earth— as ani­mals richly gifted with self-awareness, lan­guage, abstract thought, art, math­e­mat­i­cal capa­bil­ity, sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and so on. Many of us have staked our entire self-concept on the idea that to be human is to have a mind, and that minds are the unique province of humans. For those of us who are not reli­gious, this could be inter­preted as the last bas­tion of dual­ism. Our eco­nomic, legal and eth­i­cal sys­tems are also implic­itly built around this idea.

Now, we’re well along the road to really under­stand­ing the funda­men­tal prin­ci­ples of how a mind can be built, and Moore’s Law will put brain-scale com­put­ing within reach this decade. (We need to put some aster­isks next to Moore’s Law, since we are already run­ning up against cer­tain lim­its in compu­ta­tional scale using our present-day approaches, but I’ll stand behind the broader state­ment.) When we reach this point, we will find our­selves no longer alone. It’s dif­fi­cult to over­state the impor­tance that moment will have in our future history.

It may well result in fur­ther non­lin­ear­ity in the “rate” of his­tory too, since minds and what we’ve dreamt up with them have been the engine behind his­tory and its acceleration.

Gen­der Selection

For many thou­sands of years we’ve lived in a male-dominated soci­ety. I don’t think that we’re shift­ing toward “female dom­inance” so much as I think that the whole idea of dom­i­nance is a male par­a­digm, and that it is this par­a­digm that is being selected against— by increas­ing pop­u­la­tion den­sity in the urban cores, increas­ing edu­ca­tion, larger work­ing groups, increas­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion, ris­ing tech­no­log­i­cal lever­age, global trade and so on. It may be dif­fi­cult to imag­ine this now, when the vast major­ity of the world’s cap­i­tal is still in the hands of men and many of the STEM fields (which are also among the highest-paid) are still over­whelm­ingly male, but I think that men— and espe­cially “manly men” exhibit­ing many of the clas­si­cal cor­re­lates of high testos­terone— will be at a dis­tinct dis­ad­van­tage in 30 years time. This rep­re­sents a pro­found upset of the patri­ar­chal sys­tem that has defined vir­tu­ally all of recorded his­tory, so … it’ll be a big deal.

Post-subsistence Economics

As machine intel­li­gence, robot­ics, and tech­no­log­i­cal lever­age in gen­eral increas­ingly decou­ple pro­duc­tiv­ity from labor, we will con­tinue to see unem­ploy­ment rise even in oth­er­wise healthy economies. The end state is one in which most forms of human labor are sim­ply not required. In 30 years, if not sooner, we will be fac­ing this unprece­dented sit­u­a­tion— and whether it’s heaven or hell depends on whether we’re able to let go of cap­i­tal­ism, eco­nomic Dar­win­ism and the Calvin­ist ethics that implic­itly under­lie these sys­tems. With­out a change of course, we will see mass unem­ploy­ment drive a rad­i­cal accel­er­a­tion of the already dra­matic imbal­ance between the very wealthy few and every­one else, lead­ing to ugly con­di­tions in the cities and ulti­mately vio­lent uprising.

On the other hand, if we are able to set aside our Calvin­ism, we will real­ize that given the tech­no­log­i­cal effi­cien­cies we have achieved, every­one can live well, with or with­out a job. Cap­i­tal­ism, entre­pre­neur­ship and other sys­tems of dif­fer­en­tial wealth cre­ation could still func­tion on top of this hor­i­zon­tal base; but every­one must be fed and housed decently, have access to free health care and edu­ca­tion, and be able to live a good life. I assume the nation-state will still be a rel­e­vant legal and eco­nomic con­struct in 30 years (though I’m not sure, as cor­po­ra­tions or pos­si­bly other struc­tures will com­pli­cate the pic­ture); my guess is that we will see both paths taken in dif­fer­ent parts of the world, lead­ing to mis­ery and war in some, where either the ben­e­fits of accel­er­at­ing tech­nol­ogy are slow to pen­e­trate or Dar­win­ian eco­nom­ics are left unchecked.

Sex­ual and lifestyle freedom

In 30 years, I think that not only will the more pro­gres­sive places in the world have fin­ished rec­on­cil­ing them­selves to the wide spec­trum of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and expres­sion, but also to a wide vari­ety of life con­fig­u­ra­tions beyond the nuclear fam­ily built around a sin­gle life­long pair-bond. There are many forces con­tribut­ing to this shift, and I sus­pect that an empir­i­cal case can be made for this in much the same way as for the gen­der ideas above. This is the least devel­oped of my six ideas, but one that I think will have pro­found implications.

How can we ever trust the 5 stacks?

There is a lot to be said about Aral Balkan‘s talk from The Next Web conference (I gather his RSA talk had less technical problems). However I heard and saw it live at Thinking Digital 2014 a few days ago. Like when I heard him talk at Thinking Digital 2013, there was so much I wanted to say in return.

I agree on some level that its about the user experience, I disagree open source and free software is a lie, waste of time and not really free (Aral cleared up the fact he was talking about cost not freedom) Picking the low hanging fruit is certainly entertaining but is unfair, for example Mozilla’s dependence on Google is eye watering but there was no mention of Ubuntu, with their own phone, tablet, TV and computer operating system. I mean Ubuntu totally redesigned their operating environments to work consistently across all of them.

Thinking Digital 2014

During Thinking Digital most of the people I spoke to after Aral’s talk were unaware of most of the problems. I was frankly a little shocked and annoyed this was news to many smart people. But thinking about it some more, Aral’s calls to action afterwards were missing, so most people just felt like it was hopeless. (Maybe a little scaremongering?) Just what you want to ponder over at lunch time…?

I don’t blame Aral (although it always sounds like I have beef with him always), he highlighted the problem but if he included a few thoughtful practical actions (Although as Aral points out, his main takeaway/action was to create Indie Tech alternatives), it could be less gloomy and less fearful…

  1. Read the EULA (End User License Agreement) even skimming it will help you understand whats going on. (although I totally understand how verbose and how hard they are to understand.
  2. Take some responsibility for your own actions
  3. Take an interest and set your limits for issues like net neutrality, copyright, security, privacy, etc.
  4. Support the Open Rights Group (and others fighting for your online rights)
  5. Evaluate the services you use on cost in time, cost in privacy and cost in ownership. Everyone has a figure/percentage, if you don’t… get one!

The Big Picture - Open Rights Group

As mentioned in my post from the quantified self 2014, everyday its becoming even more difficult to trust any of the stack/cloud providers. Not only is the EULA changing more times that is reasonable but there’s some seriously messed up (law breaking) things happening.

Google, Facebook and Amazon have shown us again this week why the combination of a quasi-monopoly, vested interests and an inscrutable algorithm can be a dangerous thing for internet users, since it allows them to influence what we see, know and buy.

Don’t even get me started on Facebooks new messenger app which listens and Apple’s EULA which Norway agrees is over convoluted. The 5 stacks just can’t help themselves but comb through our data and when that runs out they want even more. Its certainly the main business model of the early 21st centenary but it doesn’t have to be that way. Very interesting when put in the context of Mariana Mazzucato’s fast paced talk from Thinking Digital 2014.

public vs private sectors

Even quasi-monopolies can be toppled or made to operate within the realms of public good and moral acceptable. We just need to be smart and work together. This is partly why I’m going to make my way down to Brighton for Indie Tech summit.

Although I’m writing about Aral’s talk again, he’s wasn’t the best of the conference. Sure I’ll go into plenty of detail in the next post.

Update – Jo from Indiephone has wrote a follow up piece about this post clearing up some of my points.

Imagine Uber for Hugs

sometimes, a hug is all what we need

Not sure where alexis lloyd heard it from but I love the concept… and could easily team up with the free hugs campaign.

Imagine watching your hug coming in on google maps, 5mins, 2mins, 1min… text comes in saying your hug is waiting outside the door for you… You could rate the hugs and get a nice description of the hugger before hand.

If I understand correctly, the engine which drives Uber is already being used elsewhere and could be re-purposed for many things including hugs.

Maybe thats what the world needs right now? Lazyweb make it so?

Keeping your Quantified Self on the right track

I had the joy of attending the Quantified Self Europe 2014 in Amsterdam. It was amazing and I feel kind of gutted its over so quick.

Its amazing to think it was only a year since we talked about sharing data and the joy of data at the Quantified Self Europe 2013. In the year between the two a lot has happened, especially when Edward Snowdon revealed to the world that we were being hoodwinked into something not even George Orwell could make up.

The big unofficial theme of the conference was about data privacy and security. To be honest I’ve been loosely calling it data ethics, which hopefully will make sense in the near future. During the opening of the conference, Gary and Ernesto made a point of talking about photoblogging/lifeblogging and made reference to last years session about lifeblogging. It was common sense but good to be clear right from the top.


The amount of devices like Google Glass, Autographers and Narrative Clip was interesting in its self. Number-wise, I spotted 5 Google Glasses, 4 Autographers (including myself) and about 30+ Narrative clips. The narrative clip was certainly everywhere and with no status, you have no idea if it was on, off or taking a picture right then. I wore the Autographer and the pictures have been useful to remind myself of things and people I spoke to. I will admit I did leave it on by accident when in the loo but nothing was captured (ooer! lets leave at that)

Rami Albatal explaining the technology of image processing

The QS guys, asked their keynote speakers to talk without slides and the talks were passionate and engaging. Dana Greenfield and Kaiton Williams talks were well worth  listening to again. Dana’s talk about grief was personal and really seemed to divide people. I heard someone say it was soooo personal they felt a little uncomfortable. Which I said is a good thing and unique to QSEU. Kaiton talked about self image and posed the question, what happens when being healthy is no longer about not being sick? He’s point was the conflict between business models and self image. What we do now, will effect the future as QS races to the mainstream.

The Conference is structured like a Unconference with filled in slots. At some points there is up to 20 things happening at once. I decided to avoid the eHealth type talks and applications, because they wouldn’t be much use to work and its already quite developed an area.

Here’s my other highlights


Data Futures: Possibilities and Dreams by Alberto Frigo

This discussion was about data reuse beyond the 5-10 years. What happens to our data, where does it just get stored? Does it get deleted? What is the weight of this data? Ethics were in effect again, and interestingly this was right before the EU rule came in about removing links from Google. Kaiton was in the room and said a bunch of interesting things but it was interesting to hear spooky consequences of automated systems. Like someone getting a request to send birthday greetings to someone who had died 5 years previously. This sounds kind of crazy but its going to happen more and more.

Personal data: Attack & Defence by Magnus Kalkuhl and Kley Reynolds.

This two part session started more like a workshop but found its feet in part 2, when Kley ran through a European project (which I’m still trying to get the details for) it turns your quantified state into a finger print securing your devices using a PAN model. This really fascinating for a number of reasons including if it was stolen, only person who could use it would be you or a thief who spend weeks emulating you. At some point Kley mentioned how it could hook into BitCoin but by that point my head was blown already.

Kley also later when talking, said how much he liked the idea of Perceptive Media. He offered up a scenario involving a live view of your house being monitored by an external person like you can do with taskrabbit. You don’t want to necessarily tell that person where your house is, so you change aspects of your home so its not clear where it is or even what time it is. Its very much like Ghost in the Shell’s ghost hacker, the laughing man

The Laughing Man is an expert hacker, able to hide his physical presence by editing himself out of video feeds and cybernetic eyes, concealing his identity by superimposing an animated logo over his face, and hijacking cybernetic brains altogether, all in real-time

Basically your able to manipulate the video feed in real time. If you want to see basic evidence of this, check out diminished reality. It can be simple things like change the angle of the camera,  removing certain objects, changing a dog into a cat for example but these little things all add up to the person watching not quite sure when they decide to come and rob the place. Thanks for that Kley and I certainly look forward to hearing more about the project because damm it could be a disruptive.

It was interesting to hear the term lifejacking in the context of hacking quantified self data. Actually even I was slightly worried…


Is Open Privacy the Next Open Source? by Laurie Frick

Another good conversation resulting in lots of viewpoints including the viewpoint shared with John Wilbanks. Very interesting in the light of the health health caredata upset recently in the UK.

One of the things I never really considered in so much is the linked-data. When I was running BBC Backstage, linked data was a pleasure and joy. The ability to link data to make new and interesting insights was mind blowing. Mashup and create new insight was great but with personal data the insight takes on a much more scary and much more sinister tone.


The other aspect is the amount of insight you can tell over time. A small subset of data can tell you little but a year or more of location data can tell you loads more than you may really want to consider. This was further backed up in the session, Passive Sensing on Smart Phones with Jan Peter Larsen and Freek van Polen. Passive sensing or as I prefer implicit data is the next battle ground.


It was a pleasure to meet PBS’s Sesame Street innovations team too, further proving the quantified self is grow for the betterment of all plus they seem to be trying to archive a similar goal to our project.

Privacy in the cloud

Its aggregation which was the other big trend trend I noticed at QSEU14. Everyone had their own aggregation dashboard to collect your data and make insights. Pryv looked pretty good with a ton of useful clearances and the ability to store exactly which country your data sits. There were even companies offering to make insight of your data for you, bypassing the inputing data part. Even Intel had their own in beta service. I have been a fan of Fluxstream because its the most developed open source dashboard I’ve seen to date. There are many others but I don’t feel confident recommending or using something closed source to store my private data.


I actually had the pleasure of meeting the people behind the fluxstream project and I was very impressed with her ignite talk which highlighted and answered a lot of the issues I had with it. Main one being unambiguous timestamps and a better API. Afterward my talk at the end of the day, we caught up and we discussed how they Flux could work with Trakt.TV, something I’d like to have, as part of a very early Quantified Self project in R&D. Its worth mentioning the project in part but I’d rather do that officially on the R&D blog, although you can get a sniff of the presentation here. Its low on details because its mainly about my own consumption and its auto advancing slides, which I hate so much!

Quantified Self Europe 2014

There was touching finish to the proceedings with a public mention about the work of Seth Roberts (who recently died). Its fitting to end with his moto… The Best Way to Learn is to Do. This sums up the Quantified Self movement more than you can imagine. Even when I finished my presentation, Ernesto asked me the question of what I personally got out of the insight into my own media consumption. We might be the edge cases and even deeply curiosity but as Kaiton said, we will define what the rest of the world does in the near future…


It was an exciting event and I’m very glad I could participate in a small way. It didn’t quite have the buzz of the 2013’s QS Europe but I think its because the diversity of the subjects was so wide, while this year it was much more concrete around the subjects mentioned before. I’ll look forward to telling more on the R&D Blog and going into more depth in internal talks and in the QS Manchester meetup on the 6th June.

Thanks to everyone who took part and made it a great event… Look forward to seeing you all in 2015?

Coma hallucinations and dreams


Its almost 4 years since mybrushwithdeath. And about this time is when I tend to remember how lucky I am and of course remember what happened during that whole period. As I say in the TEDxManchester2 Talk, that whole period is pretty much blank but I do kind of remember some of the dreams I had.

From Mindhacks,

Intensive Care Medicine has published a wonderfully written and vivid account from a teenager who spent time brain injured and hallucinating in an intensive care unit.

The writer describes how he was admitted to intensive care at the age of 15 after suffering a head injury and had intense and bizarre hallucinations which are, as we know now, surprisingly common in critical care patients.

Have to agree, when I was in ICU, I had some crazy dreams and hallucinations. The weird part is looking back on what I can remember, some parts I starting to question they were actually real. I won’t talk about my dreams because they were disturbing and slightly worrying.

But a couple weird things which I assume were hallucinations include thinking how super clean the hospital was, in my head a cleaner would clean every hour regardless of the time or day. Somewhere along the line, I also thought the hospital was owned by Google (I assume the Google IO and Google Health must have been  more than just playing on my mind)

I remember having a real conversation about USB/HDMI power and the maximum load with Tim at some point? Heaven knows why…

I knew when something really nasty was going to happen. I could always hear the same alarm going off. It was a signal for the monsters to appear, for the centipede to attack, for bombs to be dropped, I would be sacrificed…I was very afraid.

I guess the scary part looking back is the blend from reality to mild hallucinations. I wasn’t seeing stuff coming out the wall or anything like that but I certainly had some odd thoughts about the world cup based on my curtain which surrounded my bed in ICU (a few weeks before it had even started). Maybe I was picking up on something being talked about or something?

Its interesting to hear how common hallucinations are in ICU, I assumed it was just the high powered drugs.

When will social networking dethrone online dating?

Year of making love professionals

On the plane I read a number of posts including, Could Instagram Dethrone Online Dating?

The latest word is that online dating may be on its way out – and that even includes explosively popular mobile apps like Tinder – and that social networks may be on their way in.

Which leads to a post from the same people asking… Is Facebook Becoming an Alternative to Online Dating?

…over 19,000 people who had been married between 2005 and 2012, and asked them how they’d met. Those who met on social networking sites were more likely to be younger and married more recently compared to those who met online in other ways. He was surprised to find that those who met via social networking sites were just as happy as those who met online, and those who met online in general were happier than those couples who met in more traditional ways, such as through friends.

I’ve been banging on about this for yonks

No matter what the online dating sites think or even say (and I’m surprised how short sighted OKcupid and PoF CEOs are on this). They should be worrying about facebook.

So rather than go on about the obvious, I did spot something interesting in another related posted, Why Mobile Dating Is So Popular?

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of psychology at University College London, told The Times: “[Using a dating website] is almost like booking a holiday or a job application, as you try to customize your partners. Mobile dating – and Tinder is a good example – is different. It is more linked to impulse and emotions and focuses on attractiveness and looks, which is more realistic, even if it is a bit more lazy. It replicates the traditional version of dating more closely than Match.com or eHarmony as it allows for more serendipity.”

Now you may already noticed Tomas’s name from the Year of Making Love that crazy show I was involved in (well somewhat…). Anyway passing over that, its a interesting point. I don’t think its necessarily true but who knows, the behavior of people on Tinder and Grindr is questionable and addictive. Not far off a night on the town? Or at least the last part of the night when you look around for someone to hook up with?

The browsing and snap judgments are somewhat part of Tinder and Grindr. If they happen to have something in common, thats a bonus. If a friend of a friend, then thats certainly a +1.

Inspiring the next generation of coders

Remember this in 2011? Remember BBC Micro for the 21st century? Heck do you remember BBC Code Club? Then finally it was announced

BBC Connected Studio are setting the challenge of a new way to teach Coding to Teenagers.

Inspiring young people to realise their creative potential through technology

This all links and is inspired by the amazing and tireless work (at times) people such as Ant Miller, Michael Sparks, Mo McRoberts, Alan O’DonohoeKeri Facer, Adrian Woolard, Jo Classens, Howard, etc, etc to name just a few. (maybe would be a good time to share that mindmap?)

If you’ve not been paying attention, here’s some background…

The UK is facing a severe skills shortage in the technology sector and the BBC wants to work with partners to help change that. Martha Lane Fox recently said: “We are going to need a million more people who can work in the technology sector over the next ten years. We don’t have them. We’ve got to help people be encouraged to go into that sector.” So we want to inspire Britain’s next generation of storytellers, problem solvers and entrepreneurs to get involved with technology and unlock the enormous creative potential it offers, both for each individual and for all corners of UK industry.

Digital literacy is a highly valuable skill – and in future could arguably become as essential to a successful career as reading or writing. Some young people in Britain have already discovered the power and range of their creative potential in coding, programming and digital technology, but many have yet to try these things.

Digital literacy is essential…

The call is out! And I’m expecting this to be one of the biggest BBC connected studios ever. Who would be interested in working with me to come together around a fantastic idea which could work for a wider audience that just the typical stereotypes.

Who’s with me? No seriously who’s interested in being part of my team?

Embracing the unquantifiable self?

The Quantified Self scene panel

I’m sat in Manchester terminal 3 airport using the free wifi (for one hour with a sign up to some bothersome news letter) anyway I’m on my way to the Quantified Self Europe Conference in Amsterdam for the 2nd year (reasons why you should be coming too). I gather the popularity of the conference and area has obviously started to rise with a sharp 50% increase in the ticket price. Fair dues but further proves its getting popular and breaking into the mainstream.

But I wanted to reflect on aspects I’ve touched on many times in my blog. The unquantifiable.

Its one of those lunch time chats in R&D. This time I was talking to Matt Brooks and Jasmine about the Quantified Self and some of the smart data wearemoment.us were able to understand from patterns of usage. Matt stopped me and said how much he hated recommendation systems.

“I want a system which doesn’t give you what you want or even the opposite… ”

The perfect example being spotify…  Before long we were talking l about something which is dear to me and my blogging.

The unquantifiable! Or as Matt likes to call it the “unquantifiable self” credit to Matt for that one.

There seems to be somethings which are simply unquantifiable. Two come to mind instantly. Dj mixing and Chemistry when dating. Everything can be right on paper but when meeting that person in real life or hearing that mix, something just isn’t right. Not only that it can be a total rejection of something you should in the data, adore?

Although I love the quantified self: knowledge through numbers. I feel like I appreciate the unquantifiable even more now. I know there is those who believe we just need more data or more computational power (they may even be right) but in the meanwhile lets have fun with the unquantifiable self.

See you at the quantified self europe. By the way I’ll be talking on Sunday afternoon about my media consumption and maybe a tiny bit about how this relates to perceptive media.

Uber drives its way on the UK scene

2014-01-26 | 23-52-16

Uber has soft launched (I guess, is the best term for it) in Manchester and the impact is interesting to watch. Uber is basically a ride sharing network (legally I don’t believe they can call it a taxi service Thanks Chris for pointing out UberX is a legal and licensed Taxi service).

Its quite simple, you sign up and install the app and you can see all the uber rides around you. To order one, you simply request that one pick you up from your exact location. Then say where you want to go. That simple. Unlike most taxis, you can see exactly when and when your ride is coming and heck you can even start walking somewhere and the driver will see your exact location change (great for when trying to get out of the rain for example). No phoning an operator, trying to get through and trying to explain where you are.

There have been apps for taxis but most of them suck and although Uber isn’t perfect, its better than 99% of whats out there.

The fact your payment is done through a connected credit card rather than cash or even debit card is a massive advantage. Frankly these guys have something which is pretty useful. I can’t tell you the amount of times, I have had the taxi driver pull over at a cash machine because I don’t have the cash or they don’t cards. Heck once I stopped at my destination and then had to get back on the road to find a cash machine because their card machine wasn’t working! (seriously!)

But its not all good news, I’ve been tracking Uber’s problems in America and theres even recent problems in Europe.

However, Uber is the perfect example of how the internet when embraced is disrupting traditional business forever…

From the Cluetrain manfesto… rule #89

We have real power and we know it. If you don’t quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that’s more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.

I do feel for the taxis company’s but they had their chances and may have blown it? Just like the music business and many others, they really need to up their game or feel the heat from Uber, as their drivers leave for the Uber deal…