Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (June 2024)

4 people standing (3 female and 1 male) look into their phones

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed while seeing the latest shiny AI device as simply a Android launcherFUD pointing at Signal & Proton and AI bots dating other each other?

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 with Meta sued under section 230Microsoft providing passkey support for all its users and finally some agreement around Bluetooth tracking.


Is the C-suite at fault for the current tech problems?

Ian thinks: This new series by Zittron looking at how the tech industry is being run by people who have far less interest in the technology. Some call it the maturing of the sector but its clear from the Zittron this isn’t necessarily a good thing

We need a public service internet. no really!

Ian thinks This is not going to come as a surprise to many readers but iit really unites a number of the different initiatives. Futher adding fuel to the slowly burning fire.

GoFundMe is worst that you can imagine

Ian thinks: Most people have seen a range of crowdfunding profiles/sites/apps for tragic healthcare cases, Even I pointed at the lack of public healthcare systems but the podcast goes so much deeper, pointing out who gets funding, how and ultimately how Crowdfunding sites profit from the misery.

Not heard about Deadbots?

Ian thinks: Digital recreations of dead people or deadbots, is on the rise and this Guardian piece highlights the rise and problems with them. The idea of them haunting others could be a real big problem in the future.

Is Passkeys a dream too far?

Ian thinks: Reading this flags a lot of alerts, MicrosoftGoogle and many more have thrown weight behind it. I still use them but alongside other multifactor authentication.

Time to own your own home page?

Ian thinks: Reading about the return of the home page is a interesting read but I can’t help but remember Steven Pemberton’s presentation from a long time ago.

Use the artificial creativity

Ian thinks: I found Ruskoff’s monologue about Gen AI is quite balanced and reminds us all of the problem with the wider ecosystem. Gen AI will create generic stuff but won’t create the next generation of anything without human creativity.

A public bid to acquire TikTok?

Ian thinks: The Tiktok bans are popping up everywhere and I found this news quite unique. With a billionaire buying Tiktok for the public good? There is a lot more detail on project liberty..

Does Data Colonialism exist?

Ian thinks: One of the most thought-provoking talks in Re:Publica this year, I felt. When layed out in a new book data grab, the professors make a compelling case for how the only word to describe now is data colonialism.


Find the archive here

Urban Artistry presents… at Cultplex Manchester

 

 Martha: A Picture Story

Urban artistry is putting on a series of Street art documentaries every month at Cultplex.

The Streetart / Graffiti documentaries starts on Thursday the 4th of July.

Tickets are £5.50 and all screenings are 18+ Cinema doors will open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start. Food and drink are available from 6pm – 10pm.

The first one starts with Martha: A picture Story Year: 2019

If you are in Manchester and into street culture, this has to be a must!

I will be at MozFest House Amsterdam 2024

Woman sat on a chair in front of large screen in a light room

Less than a week after the PublicSpaces conference in Amsterdam is the Mozilla Festival House also in Amsterdam but just north of central station in Tolhuistuin on 11-13th June.

I will be part of the team running the Mozilla/BBCRD ethical dilemma cafe. You maybe asking what is the ethical dilemma cafe? Well there is more here and if you are deeply interested, we started pulling everything together here in this public github (barcamp style)

Panel discussion of 7 people sat on a chairs on a small stage with a host standing in front talking to the audience
Mozhouse AMS 2023

The Mozhouse schedule just went up and its looks great and matches the theme of solidarity and togetherness. Between the keynotes, workshops and talks, is some excellent people to spend time with.

As its a Mozilla House event, the event will focus on the issues with the Netherlands and the EU but have a heavy dose of the wider internet health concerns.

Get a sense of last year and book your tickets here.

I will be at PublicSpaces conference 2024

On June 6 and 7, PublicSpaces and Waag Futurlab will organise the annual PublicSpaces Conference. This year’s theme is ‘Taking Back the Internet!’ We’ll all be thinking and working towards a internet where we determine the rules, rather than it be dictated to us by the existing gatekeepers.

PublicSpaces conference with people sitting looking at a panel of speakers on stage with a large screens behind them all

Of course I’ll be there again and looking forward to getting right into the weeds of the technical stack to enable the vision. I’ll also be talking directly with someone quite special following their keynote speech.

Tickets are on sale now and keep an eye on #PubConf2024 for much more.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2024)

Undersea internet cablesWe live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed while understanding the risks of wearable technologyDiscord public messages sold for profit and seeing the Investigatory Powers Bill approved.

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 with America finally getting a online privacy billBitwarden and Proton giving away passkey support to all users including the non-paying ones. Finally Fairphone shows up the consumer tech industry with new levels of sustainability.


The long con of the XZ backdoor

Ian thinks: This video really explains whats known about the XZ backdoor and the Microsoft employee who saved so many in the industry from a unthinkable backdoor. The social engineering side is also fascinating and chilling.

Encryption in the age of surveillance

Ian thinks: This lightening talk is a harsh reminder of the current state of encryption law in the UK. Whittaker’s talk is aimed at the EU, which are facing similar legal objections around encryption and privacy,

Fast fashion under the limelight

Ian thinks: Not tech as such but related as I was looking at larger effects of social media on our collective conscious.

Enshitification explained in a way we can all understand

Ian thinks: When a very popular youtuber covers a issue such as enshitification, you know its hit the mainstream (plus it was word of the year last year). This is perfect to share with many other people.

Who looks after those undersea cables?

Ian think: The Verge’s piece about the importance and health of those super important internet cables is a good read and reminder of how important the physical cables are to so many.

Are we at Peak AI and can you say AI bubble?

Ian thinks: Zittrain’s recent podcasts looking at AI is worth your time. Although he use the metric of revenue & profit most of the time, there is parts across both podcasts asking about the public benefit. There is also a clear question about the problem of booms and bubbles.

Why men shouldn’t control AI?

Ian thinks: Although a very clicky headline, there are some really good points raised about the fragile egos of some men and the clear pointers to the lack of imagination and cooperation in a patriarchy. Read with a open mind.

Fediverse gets new Threads

Ian thinks: In the latest dot social podcast, Mike Cue is joined by Meta employees to talk about joining the fediverse. Techcrunch have a good cover of the conversation, Regardless of Meta, its clear the fediverse isn’t something which can be ignored.

23andMe? A welcomed update

Ian thinks: I have always been concerned about DNA testing, especially in the tech space. In this update the Freakonomics play an existing interview and update it with the very public downfall. I can’t help but think public health was ignored from the start.

You may know Transhumanism as another name?

Ian thinks: To understand Transhumanism is to understand the almost unwritten motivation of so much of the tech billionaires. Recently renamed techno-optimism, longtermism and even effective altruism, it crops up so much. Where better to listen to a critical view of it than on tech won’t save us?


Find the archive here

Oslo euphoric ascendancy mix

Oslo's fjord at sunset
Oslo’s fjord at sunset

After the more darker Torp-Ekspressens mysterium mix, I felt more chilled out from the Saunas and relaxing atmosphere of the Nordic sky. This mix on the way back on the plane needed to be more lighter and joyful.

The euphoric ascendancy, really stokes the fires and has more super high trance tunes than any other mix I have done? 2 hours of hands in the Nordic air watching the sun set over a beautiful country.

I love this mix and it was done all in one go with no retakes, just hit record and go.

Enjoy here or on Peertube or in full quality on my mixgarden

The list of tunes used

  1. As The Amazon Rush Comes (Armin van Buuren vs DJ Commisad Bootleg) – Motorcycle vs Midway
  2. Peace (Original Mix) – Yves Deruyter
  3. On Air (Tau-Rine Remix) – Jan Miller
  4. Constellation (John O’Callaghan mix) – Thomas Bronzwaer
  5. Music Is More Than Mathematics (extended mix) – Protoculture
  6. Time (Sean Tyas Remix) – Paul Webster Feat Angelic Amanda
  7. Shapes – Maor Levi
  8. We Are One (Instrumental Mix) – Dave202
  9. Resound – Thomas Bronzwaer
  10. The Legacy – Push
  11. Tears (Protoculture Remix) – Dakota
  12. Arganda (Chris Schweizer rockin mix) – Heatbeat
  13. Gamemaster (Original Lost Tribe 1997 Remix) – Lost Tribe
  14. Big Sky (Agnelli & Nelson remix) – John O’Callaghan feat. Audrey Gallagher
  15. Shadow World – Thomas Bronzwaer
  16. Megalodon – Dash Berlin
  17. Anahera (extended mix) – Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella

Torp-Ekspressens mysterium mix

Lights trails along a darken road
Travelling along in the dark to Oslo

On a new visit to Oslo, I had the joy of a long tiring coach ride from Torp Sandefjord airport to actual Oslo. It was very late and although I did a mix on the plane with the pacemaker device, the long winding journey with a closed motorway was perfect timing to redo what I had done on the plane with little disruption.

Its a little bit of a dark mix but it certainly moves at the speed of 138bpm, not the speed of the coach but kept me very entertained at the back.

Enjoy here or on Peertube or in full quality on my mixgarden

The list of tunes used

  1. Gouryella (From the Heavens mix) – Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella
  2. Hole In The Sky (Arctic Moon Remix) – Tonny Nesse
  3. Stresstest (John Askew Remix) – John O’callaghan
  4. Killer Instinct (Original Mix) – Sneijder & Bryan Kearney
  5. Tears (Protoculture Remix) – Dakota
  6. Dolores – Indecent Noise
  7. Erase – Brooks Alexsander
  8. Fiction (Extended Mix) – Jerome Isma-Ae & Alastor
  9. Seven Cities (V-One’s Living Cities remix) – Solar Stone
  10. Chinook – Markus Schulz Pres Dakota
  11. Inferno – Carl Cox
  12. Club Quake (Oliver Klein Hard remix) – 5 Below 0
  13. Arrival – ANU

Inequality, narrative and Gary Stevenson

Me standing next to Gary Stevenson holding his book Trading game
Photo of myself and Gary after he signed the book for me and Dave

It started with my friend Dave, who lives in America talked to me about buying a copy of the Sunday telegraph because some guy called Gary Stevenson was featured in the magazine.

Who is Gary? I asked him. This lead to a series of long conversations, and I remember saying have you never read the Spirit & inner level?

Gary’s book the trading game, has had a lot interest. Which meant a tour to further encourage people to buy the book, obviously not in America. So I ended up buying a book and a ticket (all the tickets only were gone) and went to see him in Manchester. Similar to when I interviewed Cory Doctorow in Manchester.

Having only watched a few of his videos on YouTube I wasn’t sure what to expect. The room was packed to the maximum, I got the very last seat and it started. It was full of people who have read the book already so questions were quite defined. Everything from a question about a film/tv adaptation, will there be another book, etc.

I had two questions which I never got to ask but there were asked in similar fashion by others

  1. There must be organisations he wants to work with in a similar vein?
  2. Why a narrative over a non fiction book about inequality?

To the first one, Garry pretty much said there are but he’s going to focus on what he can bring to the space. His experience was quite unique and he wanted to focus on that angle.

The second one, Garry made a really good point about the lack of interest in economics and non-fiction books with people who could benefit the most from hearing his story. He felt the narrative was the way to reach many more people. 

I recently started the audiobook and about 30% through now. I have to say the narrative makes for an interesting story. As I learn more about the characters, history and context.

Is Gary economics going to answer the epidemic of inequality? Not likely but in combination with others (hence my first question). I can see him being like the Martin Lewis of economics. Speaking sense to busy people who are distracted by the underlying problem of inequality in every day life? I mentioned to him in the pub afterwards… find the others, as this is too big for one person.

20 years at the BBC today

Media City UK

Its incredible to say those words but in April, I have my birthday and also my work birthday.

20 years ago, I accepted the position as a XSLT developer for BBC WorldService in London, I did apply for two positions, the other one under BBC New Media central, which I did also got a offer for, but turned down.

20 year with some great and challenging moments. Everything from setting up RSS on 40+ language services BBC Worldservices, BBC Backstage, Perceptive Media, Perceptive Radio, Databox, Living roon of the future, Public Service Internet, Human values, Adaptive podcasting and so much more. Some of the best stuff has come from non-sanctioned collaborations and works, for example with BBC & Mozilla’s ethical dilemma cafe. beebcamps. barcamps. etc…

MyPDS and Perceptive Raido
MyPDS and Perceptive Raido in the museum of science and industry in Manchester (personal highlight)

Although there is lots of good, there has been a lot of frustration in those 20 years. Moving a public service corporation known for broadcasting and news to one leading the future of the internet, is something I compare to the innovators dilemma. My lack of interest in TV has been tricky but always thought it made sense if I focus on a public service internet.

In the last few months a lot of people I have worked with in BBC R&D, have left for new positions in other organisations. Some of them I have worked with for a long time and respect greatly (heck one saved my life).
I have been through many different BBC restructures and seen 5 different director generals (Mark Byford, Mark Thompson, George Entwistle, Tony Hall and Tim Davie) outline their plans for the future.
The pandemic changed working practice sometimes for the better in my own view and sometimes worst in other ways.

Being in the BBC R&D advisory team is still the best place for me currently. I still have the belief, its the place a public service internet can be realised in collaboration with others.

However, 20 years certainly makes you think… I didn’t plan to be at the BBC so long and certainly don’t plan to be around for another 20. I’m very aware of the industry changes but have an eye on where could be next? What ever I do, it needs to be to the benefit of a future public. My current research is focused on the future of social (not social media) something few organisations have the true time to look at in detail.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Apr 2024)

Back of 2 robots approaching the united nations

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed with Klarna’s ai chatbot 700 people foot in mouth statement, hearing the unlikely but technically possible Meta VR inception attack but Meta caught snooping on users via a VPN app they bought previously is chilling stuff

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 with the FCC adopting Cyber trust labelling, discussion about norms for wearables and Mozilla’s change in privacy partner.


Revisiting the dark forest filled with Gen AI

Ian thinks: A little while back, the dark forest theory was heavily mention and quoted. Followed up not long afterwards with thoughts about GenAI last year. I have found it useful to re-read it and reflect on where we are now in 2024.

Are you afraid? The race for AI robots

Ian thinks: Watching the race for AI robots, honestly makes me feel slightly defensive. Its harder to work out the real from the hype, and this video helps a lot with this. My defensiveness reminds me of a scene in War of the Worlds and the Animatrix second renaissance. How would you react?

Deep concerns about nostalgia

Ian thinks: I have always had a real problem with nostalgia and this episode of tech won’t save us really speaks about my concerns I see/hear too often.

Ian thinks: Open AI says its impossible but they are wrong, proven by nonprofit Fairly Trained and zero copyright material. Expect many more court cases around this all soon.

How the digital divide looks in the UK post pandemic

Ian thinks: This guardian short video highlights some of the deep dividing issues which are easily forgotten in the forever pace of technology

Anger and disillusionment with Ed Zitron

Ian thinks: I recently subscribed to better offline with Ed. Its refreshing to have a good informative rants about the state of the tech industry, however I found this interview with Paris a lot more constructive.

Retiring the Mozilla’s privacy aware location service

Ian thinks: Its sad news for a privacy service by Mozilla. Most major location services which end up inside of other applications/service, generally track the users. MLS went out of their way to minimise the tracking and now its going away.

Dodds is confused about SOLID, are you too?

Ian thinks: Although I’m less confused by SOLID Its worth reading the comments which include a almost confession. Leaning in on the community

Japan plan to restrict seniors at the cash point?

Ian thinks: When I first read this, I thought about what the UK does in this space. None of them use age, however there is good argument both ways in Japan. Anything to make all people think is a very good thing, when you consider the way these scams work.


Find the  archive here

Lazyweb: Kinetic powered LED Diabolo

I have been thinking a lot, regarding the idea about kinetic powered LED diabolos,

A while ago I bought some inline skate wheels and they work exactly how I thought. However trying to attach them to the diabolo is more tricky that I thought.

Really I need to sit in a hackspace and just go at it for a day or so.

LED diabolo plan

In my head there are two ways to go about this.

  1. The standard diabolo route with a spinning axle.
    I could extend the diabolo axle and attach the inline wheel loose to the outside. In theory, the diabolo would spin as one piece and the loose inline wheel which has a bit of weight would generally spin far less than the diabolo axle. With this, the dynamo will light the wheel. Of course this might not work.
  2. The geared diabolo route with a static axle.
    This one is much more complex but a geared or bearing diabolo gets incredible speeds because the axle has a bearing within it. The big question is to either extend the bearing out to the inline wheel or add a bearings to the inline wheel’s dynamo?
    I also been wondering if the cups could be used to hold the inline wheel?

Ultimately it seems all possible but it just needs time. I write this encouraging others to give it a try. Maybe I’ll get some time off and get myself down to Hackspace Manchester (hacman) or DoES in Liverpool?

Someone tell me the physics don’t work one way or another, heck tell me how it could actually work…

Black coffee Jupiter vermouth

Black coffee Jupiter vermouth in a small container
Black coffee Jupiter vermouth

During a interesting time in Barcelona recently, me and my partner went to the University of Vermouth. A workshop about vermouth, where you get to learn about it, how its made, where it came from, taste a selection and even make your own. It was really good, as I hadn’t really thought much about Vermouth beyond sweet, dry and rosso (which is just added caramel), in cocktails I make or order.

Like cocktails there is a wealth of differences and unique tastes. (I will be looking out for Noilly Pratt Vermouth), although it was a interesting point of Vermouth as a lower alcohol alternative, especially when mixed with just ice cubes.

Anyway, we got to make our own Vermouth and I got to say, I really enjoyed this part and thought quite a bit about what I’d put into a Vodka or Gin Martini (if you don’t know, its generally 1 part Dry vermouth and 4-6 parts Gin or Vodka)

How to make the black coffee Jupiter vermouth

Making the Vermouth quite important.

So I made Black Coffee Jupiter Vermouth, which includes.

  • 10 droplets of Blueberry
  • 10 droplets of Strawberry
  • 20 droplets of Juniper
  • 5 droplets of Rosemary
  • 10 droplets of Coffee
  • 10 droplets of Chilli
  • 10 droplets of Cinnamon
  • 10 droplets of Black pepper
  • 10 droplets of Hyssop
  • 10 droplets of Black radish

I can’t explain the taste but its smooth and long lasting, I can’t wait for the next party to use the rest of what I have left. Although I may try making it at home? Yes its that good…

Airbnb: New rules for using security cameras and other devices

Airbnb monitoring warning

I just spotted this in my inbox, airbnb has updated their policy on security devices.

We’re updating our policy on the use and disclosure of security cameras, recording devices, noise decibel monitors and smart home devices for all Airbnb listings.

Starting on 30 April 2024, these rules apply to the presence of these devices, even if they’re turned off:

  • You’re not allowed to have cameras that monitor indoor spaces.
  • You must disclose the location of outdoor cameras. For example, “I have cameras monitoring the front door and the pool”.
  • Outdoor cameras are prohibited in spaces where guests expect greater privacy, such as enclosed showers and saunas.
  • You must disclose noise decibel monitors, which may only be present in common spaces.
  • You can have smart home devices like TVs and voice assistants. You aren’t required to disclose these devices, but we encourage you to tell guests that you have them and how to turn them off.
  • These requirements don’t apply to devices in common spaces outside your home that you don’t control, such as cameras in the foyer of a block of flats.

We’re making these changes after carefully considering how to best balance the privacy and security concerns of our community. Read the full policy on the Help Centre.

I have to say its a good and well needed change.

Interesting point about disclosing smart devices, as I think this should be the case full stop when entering a space. I don’t know about other people but I tend to be guarded with what I say when under surveillance.

Slow down in blog posts here

Over the last few years things have slowed down when it comes to blogging on my own site. Don’t worry I’m not stopping as its been over 20 years of blogging but life has caught up with my limited spare time.

My task list is pretty huge and although I have lots I want to write about including getting the replace for my old Oura ring in a plastic bag, some of the micropayments changes and my thoughts on AI partners in regards to loneliness and isolation. I just don’t seem to have time.

The biggest draw on my time right now is writing my dating book, which is in its later stages of drafts. Right now I’m running through at least 1000 changes with grammarly. Although its very tempting to just accept all, it would ruining all the work which has been done. Plus its restructuring of some of the sentences are just plain wrong within the contexts of whats being said. Its a slow slog through all the suggestions but means I’m not blogging as much and heck not even doing many mixes right now.

Bear with me but things will adjust over time.