Why a code of conduct matters

Paul Irwin at Thinking Digital 2018

I was at the excellent thinking digital conference yesterday when Paul Irwin from trylife took to the stage. Ironically he followed a excellent talk from Tatiana Simonian who made a clear call for more diversity and inclusion within the digital sector.

Sat in the 2nd row with my Nikon camera I was enjoying the story of his life and trylife (I was planning on talking to him afterwards) but I was caught in a state of flux. The words (ones which were not swear words) coming out of his mouth and seemed mismatched with his tshirt or choice of tshirt.

From my view it was a young female adult with a breast on show. Ok from my point of view quite tasteless but certainly something I can’t really imagine someone wearing at a professional conference. And I say that haven given talks about dating, love, sex and hookup culture. I was always sure to make my slides acceptable for a general audience. There is no way, even if I owned such clothes would I wear them on stage. This is all before I even looked at the conference code of conduct.

The last few conferences I have spoke at, I had needed to sign or least explicitly agree to the code of conduct in some way. I hadn’t really considered exactly why the speakers would need to do this, as the speakers should be onboard with this anyway? But now I totally get it.

I hasn’t noticed Thayer had already left for reasons I was still juggling in my mind.

Things got really concrete in my mind as Paul started talking about how he was helping young girls in trylife. I kept thinking how are you helping by wearing that tshirt? Did you not look in the mirror and think? Don’t you see the paradox which you have created?

This is when I started looking at the hashtag #tdc18 to see what others thought. This is when I saw Thayer’s tweets then I saw Christian’s one.

I was struck because she was right and I was a fool to sit there wondering about this paradox which was opening up in front of me. Heck I even gave Paul a token finger clap (indicating how I was feeling at the time) while others cheered around me.

Some people will argue that Mr Bingo’s talk was even more sexualised and he did use the words “fuck it” but the context was very different. The actions, words and clothes of Mr Bingo were not mismatched, like Paul.

The message he delivered was truly soiled by his choice of t-shirt. The swearing I could put up with as it wasn’t aggressive (although also against the code of conduct) and but I couldn’t take him serious, and I know thats on me. But his choice of a sexualised t-shirt reflected badly on him and a great conference; and thats not good!

After the break Herb Kim apologized to everyone on stage and later on twitter.

Someone close to me described it something like this…

People actions should equal what they say, especially on a stage.

What happened next is difficult to say as I wasn’t witness to any of it. But I heard clearly aggressive threatening behaviour from one of Paul’s friends at Thayer when she approached him to talk through things. The best thing he could have done was be understanding about things but judging by his twitter this was the last thing on his mind…

Thayer you have my total support and I’m sorry I didn’t join you when you stood up and left.

Updated – 25th May

Herb the founder of Thinking Digital has issued a statement on his medium to what happened at Thinking Digital 2018. It includes a apology from Paul Irwin about what happened on the day.

Updated – 30th May

Great news.

Remember what Zuckerberg said about its trusted users?

Mark Zuckerberg is “deluded” by his own faith in Facebook’s ability to be a force for good in the world.

I have so many pieces saved in my wallabag archive about the faccebook/cambridge analytica data issues (it is not a breach!). As I read, more information comes to light.

But I am always reminded of what Zuckerberg said about its trusted users… and it sums up so much.

Dumb fucks…

The thing about the statement is although it might be throw away in nature it speaks volumes about the way Zuckerberg thinks about Facebook users. It also interesting to think how Facebook is makes users feel that way, taking the power and control out of their hands. The reactions to the reveals have been so-so like when Edward Snowdon revealed the mass surveillance of millions of citizens around the world.

But its super clear, no matter how powerless we all feel, its super important to not lose sight that these giant companies have weaponised data, algorithms and psychology against us all. Running from one service to another isn’t so helpful in the long run.

We need to be more conscious about our decisions physically, mentally and virtually or be the dumb fucks Zuckerberg talked about.

The third place…

I saw this and thought it was very fitting with the thoughts and arguments about digital public spaces. Especially Oldenburg’s characteristics of the 3rd place.

Neutral ground

Occupants of third places have little to no obligation to be there. They are not tied down to the area financially, politically, legally, or otherwise and are free to come and go as they please.

Leveler (a leveling place)

Third places put no importance on an individual’s status in a society. Someone’s economic or social status do not matter in a third place, allowing for a sense of commonality among its occupants. There are no prerequisites or requirements that would prevent acceptance or participation in the third place.

Conversation is main activity

Playful and happy conversation is the main focus of activity in third places, although it is not required to be the only activity. The tone of conversation is usually light hearted and humorous; wit and good natured playfulness are highly valued.

Accessibility and accommodation

Third places must be open and readily accessible to those who occupy them. They must also be accommodating, meaning they provide the wants of their inhabitants, and all occupants feel their needs have been fulfilled.

The regulars

Third places harbor a number of regulars that help give the space its tone, and help set the mood and characteristics of the area. Regulars to third places also attract newcomers, and are there to help someone new to the space feel welcome and accommodated.

A low profile

Third places are characteristically wholesome. The inside of a third place is without extravagance or grandiosity, and has a homely feel. Third places are never snobby or pretentious, and are accepting of all types of individuals, from several different walks of life.

The mood is playful

The tone of conversation in third places are never marked with tension or hostility. Instead, they have a playful nature, where witty conversation and frivolous banter are not only common, but highly valued.

A home away from home

Occupants of third places will often have the same feelings of warmth, possession, and belonging as they would in their own homes. They feel a piece of themselves is rooted in the space, and gain spiritual regeneration by spending time there.

Weaponised psychology and centralised corruption a tale of two internets?

Public Service Internet
Imagine two sides of a tree. One is private and the other one is public. You have the choice to move freely between both, now thats a park I think is fair to everyone

I was a little disappointed in the discussion I heard during the PsychTech Podcast titled A Digital Attention Crisis? I was expecting a little more in-depth criticism of the digital system. But they seemed to turn against Tristan Harris and the time well spent movement.

Don’t get me wrong some of it did make sense but I felt like they were shooting the messenger not listening to the message. Now to be fair I was listening in the shower and getting ready; so may have missed some key parts while washing my hair. But by the end I was shouting out loud, have they never heard of the Quantified Self?

The point of time well spent isn’t about Tristan dictating some rules from on high. Its meant for us to question our relationship with ubiquitous  connected technology and the way the companies behind them influences our lives.

Ironically a few days before I read Tim Berners-Lee’s rallying call to regulate tech firms to prevent ‘weaponised’ web. Its a pretty good read but I feel slightly muted because thats what Tim is like. I’m much more aggressive about the whole issue, and to be fair Kelli and Josue at the very start say, well its just capitalism, what you going to do about it?

I reject this notion but this is also why my focus isn’t on fixing the over reach of capitalism on our attention, thoughts, relationships with each other and beyond.

What happened to diversity? Just have a look at the apps we all use and whos behind each one

Instead its time to double down on the public sector. This is why I find any discussion related to this from an American point of view slightly painful to hear and lacking of the mention of serious alternatives.

Berners-Lee warned of “two myths” that “limit our collective imagination” when looking for solutions to the problems facing the web: “The myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it’s too late to change the way platforms operate. On both points we need to be a little more creative,” he said.

“I want the web to reflect our hopes and fulfil our dreams, rather than magnify our fears and deepen our divisions,” he said.

He’s absolutely right… Even the concept of a decentralised dating site, gets blank or weird looks. We have hood winked into the centralised model and its not always the best way. I was going say sleep walked but that wouldn’t do justice to the massive influence of the silicon valley tech firms. This is also the part I think the PsychTech podcast misses, this is weaponised psychology not just a happy accident solved by installing an app.

Berners-Lee has always maintained that his creation was a reflection of humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly. However, his vision to create an “open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries” has been challenged as the web has become more centralised.

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

Its very much why I was interested in space wrangling the decentralised space at Mozfest last year. Centralised power corrupts I maintain. Tim is right we need a better vision but rather than spend all that effort trying to reform a horribly broken system of corruption, greed and power. Make an viable alternative which makes the existing model obsolete… (love Buckminster for this great quote)

Its time to build a public service internet which maintains its values, diversity and distributed nature of the public; as an alternative to whats currently seen as the whole internet… We don’t need a new internet, we need competing services with different business models which can talk to each other and give options to the people.

You want a private park which is nicely maintained and don’t mind paying for the privilege? Fine. But if you want a park which is public and has a lively community because its free to the public due to taxes. Fine too. Similar to health care, libraries, transport in Europe, you can pay but there is a baseline.

Critical when thinking about the digital divide and the next 1 billion people.

This still leaves a gaping “digital divide” that exacerbates existing inequalities: you are more likely to be offline if you are female, poor, or live in a rural area or a low-income country.

“To be offline today is to be excluded from opportunities to learn and earn, to access valuable services, and to participate in democratic debate,” Berners-Lee said. “If we do not invest seriously in closing this gap, the last billion will not be connected until 2042. That’s an entire generation left behind.”

Two years ago, the UN declared internet access to be a basic human right on par with clean water, shelter, food and electricity. However, in many places, getting online is prohibitively expensive – the cost of 1GB of mobile broadband in Malawi is more than 20% of the average monthly income. In Zimbabwe, it is nearly 45%.

Straight from the drug dealers handbook

Learning from drug dealer

Recently there’s been a bunch of news pieces about the somewhat dodgy practices of silicon valley funded companies. I’ve found the language use really interesting, and if there was a drug dealers handbook (there might be a few of them to be honest?) they would be in there for sure; likely as case studies.

Free trial to hook new users

#1 – Free taster, hooked forever

While researching and writing my presentation for dating into the future, I found this which I knew was true but good to find the research to back up my assumption.

In a study on the brains of drug addicts, researchers found that the expectation of the drug caused more release of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine than the actual drug itself. Similarly, for those who may be expecting the next swipe on Tinder to lead to reward, serial swiping can start to look and feel a lot like addiction. Not surprisingly, in 2015 Tinder began to limit the amount of daily right swipes to around 100 for users who don’t buy into their premium service

 

Never get high on your own supply

#2 – Don’t get high on your own supply

Classic drug dealer 101 stuff, perfect words for how those involved in the business

Developers of platforms such as Facebook have admitted that they were designed to be addictive. Should we be following the executives’ example and going cold turkey – and is it even possible for mere mortals?

Lesson 2: Don't get high on your own supply

This instantly reminds me of so many films involving drug cutting including women in their underwear?

Does Cannabis Inherently Harm Young People's Developing Minds?

#3 – Get them while young

I was shocked to discover that tinder use to be open to under 18s. This is also going in my future of dating talk.

Dating app Tinder has announced that, beginning next week, they are raising the minimum age of users to 18.

Tinder spokesperson, Rosette Pambakian announced the changes in a statement: “On a platform that has facilitated over 11 billion connections, we have the responsibility of constantly assessing our different user experiences.”

“Consistent with this responsibility, we have decided to discontinue service for under 18 users. We believe this is the best policy moving forward. This change will take effect next week.

When the dating app was launched back in 2012 Tinder was separated into three age categories – under thirteens who were not permitted to use the service, 13 to 17-year-olds and over 18.

Of course since the restriction, others have stepped up to cater for the younger audience. Get them hooked early?

Lets not forget how much impact peer pressure can be in this situation too. Ask many people why they started to smoke while young…

The vulnerability of teens is intensified by the fact that as they move through the rite of passage that is their teenage years, the approval of their friends is increasing and eclipsing the value to them of parental approval.

Vape juice vaping

#4 – Sell the sizzle

or Always tell customers your drugs are the best make up stories about how good it is

Like most of these rules, they are super common across industries but its interesting to think about selling the sizzle. We tend to buy in to the utopian sizzle around these services and platforms without too much questioning. Then are surprised/shocked when we hear about negative behaviours; but think well that won’t happen to me or they were doing something wrong (victim blaming).

I love Tony Hunts idea of what would this all look like if it had warning like you get on cigarette packs? Mark Manson’s been say the smartphone is the new cigarettes, so I guess it makes a lot more sense.

Lawsuits, sell the data and get out!

#5 -Have a exit strategy

or plan escape routes if something goes bad aka Valley talk: pivot or sell

Remember the myspace sell off?

Myspace, once the world’s hottest internet firm, has been sold to an online ad company for around $35m, a fraction of the $100m its parent company was seeking for the ailing social network and billions less than its value five years ago.

or how about the on going story of Ashley Madison’s try to get back into our good books but not really changing at all…

The preferred website to find an affair, Ashley Madison, is teaching better infidelity through fitness in its latest campaign.

The leading married dating website launched its new year campaign advising cheaters that if not getting caught is one of their New Year’s resolutions, then staying fit should be too.

The campaign, titled ‘Morning Run,’ features a woman appearing to be out for a routine morning run. A voice over asks “Why am I out of bed before anyone else? Why do I run faster than I did yesterday?…I just don’t want to get caught.”

We see the woman running behind her chasing her down as she runs from her extramarital partner’s wife as the ad closes and the site’s tagline comes up – “Life is short. Have an affair.”

Ok its all a stretch and quite fun but there is some elements of truth in each rule and linking them to how different companies treat their users and how they think about the whole setup/game.

AfroTech plenary poem read by Nikky Norton Shafau

Really enjoyed Afrotech festival and I really enjoyed Nikky’s poem at the end of the festival. Its always interesting to hear which bits are picked up on twitter, in blogs and if you are lucky in poetry. So cleverly pieced together and made into a

As you can somewhat annotate on soundcloud, I added links to my slides mentioned in Nikky’s poem.

Nikky also recorded a bunch of interesting interviews with people like myself during the 2 days of the festival. Well worth listening to for some interesting insights.

The difficulty of dating with Aziz Ansari in the spotlight

Aziz Ansari

When I first heard Aziz Ansari’s name attached to the sexual misconduct, I was honestly pretty sad and angry at him. How can this man who is a proud feminist and talks so openly  about dating in the age of the internet. However after reading more deeply there’s been a lot more to the headlines.

Here’s my rough thoughts…

I’m happy to not have to put Aziz’s actions in the warped, rampant and unchecked abuses of power like those of Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK and Kevin Spacey; which are simply horrible and deserve the press they have gotten.

I’d say my view is quite close to this podcast which pushed me to finally write something. I think its bad but its not something for the #metoo movement in my view. Its a bad experience and wouldn’t get the press if it wasn’t a big name. Babe.net have blown this up and its damaging to the bigger movement which I would say is about total abuses in power. I’m not saying I don’t have sympathy for Grace and her experience shouldn’t be heard; but its the escalation and which is worrying. Babe.net pushed this and did some harm & injustice to Grace to get short term viewers and attention. Its sadly something which happens a lot from my own experience and what friends tell me.

About the actual date…. I have to lean on Hadley Freeman’s column in the Guardian. Its really a difficult thing to say because I’ve got a few stories from bad dates. Some are misunderstandings, most seemed to be tied to drink, some are just unbelievable and theres no way I could repeat them without changing names/locations/etc . But for each one, I’ve held a certain amount of choice, power and understanding. Being self aware and conscious has really helped. I can only be responsible for my own actions and tend to avoid situations which looking back could be seen as questionable.

Dating involves more than one person, so instead of treating this story as a gladiatorial battle between snowflakes and people who enable rape culture, a more conducive approach would be to rethink the whole hook-up narrative: stop thinking of it as a game; get your head out of your libido when there’s someone else in the room; and when someone says no, they mean no, not, “Mmm, persuade me by sticking your hand down my throat.”

The Ansari story has shone a light on the awkward fault lines in modern dating – fault lines so common that many of us just took them for granted. It turns out that the dress is neither blue nor gold, but grey.

Dating is clearly difficult and I’m in agreement, the dress is neither blue not gold but shades of grey.

Afrotech Fest 2018 keynote: Diversity and the joy of being different

Ian Forrester at Afrotech 2018

The slides are now public on google drive (unusual but I do tend to create and edit them on google slides to be honest) and of course in the usual place of my slideshare presentaion. Its a long one but I could do it with all the videos a tad over 30mins.

They are thought provoking and full of references to some excellent research worth reading and digesting.

Massive thanks to the organisers and the audience for bearing with me through the keynote of 106 slides…

Continue reading “Afrotech Fest 2018 keynote: Diversity and the joy of being different”

Talking at Afrotech festival 26th Jan 2018

Afrotech Fest 2018Afrotech fest 2018I haven’t been blogging much recently, mainly because I am writing 3 different presentations. My first big one is for the Afrotech festival, which I have the absolute joy of keynoting at on Friday 26th Jan. I spoke at a much small one in Manchester awhile ago and you can see the presentation here.

When Florence asked me to talk, I jumped at the opportunity and its turning out to be quite a festival. Love the fact its being arranged by 6 amazing black women too.

The festival is a response to the underrepresentation of black people in the technology industry – especially those who are marginalised in additional ways – as well as tech conferences and festivals being too expensive for many to attend. We want to create a festival that is intentionally diverse and inclusive of those often excluded.

We look forward to welcoming you, whatever your age, gender, class or ability. Whether you’ve never written a line of code or regularly contribute to a huge project, Afrotech Fest is for you.

Tickets are available now, if you are in London end of this month (Jan 2018). Get yourself down to Richmix to discuss and see the future.

If you think this is just for the blacks.

We welcome people of all races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds to attend Afrotech Fest.

So no excuses!

Zuckerberg is so full of it?

Mark Zuckerberg points into space
Look this is where you will be if you use decentralised tech. Outside, cold and no one will care, believe me I have  money and power to make it so!

Mark Zuckerberg started posting his personal challenge/new years resolutions a while ago. He’s got a long way to go to catch up with myself and others, but regardless…

This year he said a bunch of things including this pile of nonsense.

This time, Zuckerberg talked about the importance of “centralization vs decentralization” in tech — in other words, who is benefitting from tech’s tremendous power.

“A lot of us got into technology because we believe it can be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people’s hands,” he wrote. “But today, many people have lost faith in that promise. With the rise of a small number of big tech companies — and governments using technology to watch their citizens — many people now believe technology only centralizes power rather than decentralizes it.”

Oh how observant you are Zuckerberg. Yawn!

Why I became #Mozfest decentralization spacewrangler?

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Back in October I was again a spacewrangler for Mozfest. I haven’t had a proper chance to write-up the experience since I was going from one place to another. Unlike previous years as a spacewrangler, Mozilla themed the festival around the internet health report issues.

Originally during Mozretreat in Tallinn, I was going to spacewrangle the privacy & security space but during the workshops decided that decentralisation was under represented. Under represented as its always seen as technical, too difficult a problem or in the realm of who cares?

Decentralization in Mozretreat
An internet controlled by many, no one actor can own it, control it or turn it off

In the discussions in Tallinn it was clear the root of the issue is Power! Its what lives deep under the data ethics, hence why I keep mentioning data portability (the ability to own and not be reliant on one system/service)

…power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely – Sir John Dalberg-Acton

Big centralised power tends to lead towards corruption. A good example of this is the dating industry which is centralised and treats its customers like cattle. There is something about these centralised services which cuts people off from each other, hence everything is mediated through the centralised server. Of course they would claim its to protect the users, which is certainly partly true (based on the amount of women’s profiles which say please no pix of your parts) but thats not the only thing they do…

So with all this in mind, I switched from privacy and security which had enough momentum; to decentralised with a Z; poor Erika had to hear me joke/moan about it everytime (thanks Erika for being such a sport).

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

The timeline from the Mozretreat to Mozfest is pretty aggressive, and with just me and Viki working on the whole decentralised space at the time. It became clear we needed to have more people. In past Mozfests, its been a team effort of Jon, Michelle, Michael, etc. However earlier in the year Jon told me he wasn’t spacerangling this year. Jasmine had stepped back from spacerangling last year anyway, so I thought long and hard about what people would be ideal. This was all during working out the call for participation. I asked a few other people and luckily 3 out of the 5 people I asked agreed. The wrangler team now included Tim and Jon from BBC R&D, then Mark joined a bit later.

Organisation of time and space

It wasn’t easy as everyone was super busy but we made it work using lots of google docs/sheets, github, google hangout, skype, trello, etc. As I was the most experienced there was a lot of weight on my shoulders but by the time we started getting proposals in, things felt better. After the call closed, we read every single one rated and ranked them all. First cut was the travel stipend ones then the others afterwards. There was something strange that the quality of the proposals seemed to better in the middle of the call. The late & early ones seemed less thoughtful.

The wall of mozfest issues in the decentralisation space
The wall of mozfest issues in the decentralisation space

The months moved on and we slowly cut the list down to 44 proposals. By September there was a lot of logistics work including working out where everything was going to fit (we had selected far too much). We ended up with 3 talk (learning) spaces, 2 workshop (shed) spaces and 1 gallery space; 6 things happening in parallel just in the decentralised space alone. It was going to be tricky but I thought we can manage it with 5 spacewranglers. Unfortunately Viki couldn’t make it but at the last minute Jon convinced 2 trainees from BBC R&D (Kristine & Kristian) to join us, without them it would have been near impossible, very thankful for their help and stepping in at the last minute. If there wasn’t enough challenges, our commissioned artist (Archana Prasad) also ended up not coming from India due to illness. This made us scramble a little to come up with an overall theme to fit, which was the one thing which I knew we didn’t do such a great job on as previous years (the library) & (ethical dilemma cafe)

#Mozhouse (Royal Society of Arts)

Philo talking at Mozhouse

Mozfest this year tried something quite different from previous years. Instead of the weekend festival in Ravensbourne alone, they hosted a week long of events at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). The events were very varied and the space was opened as a co-working space all weekend. This seemed to be very fitting with the RSA’s own plans for a 21st century coffee house?

We ran our first community of practice event in London too, which was well attended and included colleagues from the object based media team.

Databox meet York Uni

I also attended a few other events including Mel’s slidedesign and the glassroom which I wrote about already, it was also a good time to arrange meetings with people including Nesta. Later in the week, spacewrangler duties increased meaning more time at Ravensbourne oppose to the Mozhouse, this means I could only attend the first part of the databox event. But I was able to capture the interchange between Nottingham Uni (Databox) and York Uni (OBM engine). The conversation at the table in Mozhouse will have big consequences for the living room project and more.

Mozhouse was a very good idea and I think with more events using up the space, it could really add something different to Mozfest.

#Mozfest 2017

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Mozfest is always something you are not totally sure will work but it always does. The space was tight but my gut reaction of the layout was just about right. We squeezed in 6 spaces and it wasn’t so bad, although talk space 3’s intimacy was a little lost sadly.

This year Mozilla used Slack to bring conversations with spacewranglers and session owners together, it kind of worked but there was some missed/dropped conversations between slack, github and emails. There was a discussion about Mozfest using the centralised Slack service oppose to decentralised systems like matrix and mattermost, but it was a matter of practicality at the time. Maybe next year Matrix could be be the host? Sure Matrix must have a feature some serious dataportability features.

The reason why I mention Matrix, is I was seriously impressed with the Matrix people. They really got the while Mozfest thing and setup Matrix node (a mini PC) over the course of the festival weekend. It ran for most of the weekend and was perfectly timed for their session. As it was federated, when the PC did hit a problem, the other Matrix servers took on the processing instantly.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

As always I never get the time to wonder around the other spaces due to spacewrangling in one zone. But I did get to see a few other things including the Privacy & Security space (they shared the floor with us), Unbox space and tiny rolling IOT home.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Some of the highlights included when Storj labs failed to turn up and having to announce to a busy audience of people this fact. I said people could leave as the session facilitator was no where to be seen, or they could talk between themselves. Of course being Mozfest, the expert audience started talking and 40mins later they were still talking and Mich Baker had joined the conversation. This sums up the emergent nature of Mozfest, spacewranglers are simply constructing the environment for this all to happen.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Another few sessions were cancelled including the much  wanted connected world of music, which I had planned straight after Kristian’s Smart Blockchain Indie Film Distribution, and the Internet Of Things. Another well attended interactive session with lots of questions and discussion asking the expert audience again instead of speaking at them. Very happy we were able to host the session as we seeked out using decentralised solutions on existing problems rather than just talking about the underlying technology.

Another good non-technical session I poked my head into but knew would be good when choosing it was the co-op talk. On the face of it some might ask whats that got to do with decentralisation? But it fitted the wider theme of power and distributed and federated power.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Although we did have some sessions which were about the technology too. One example was host your data on the peer to peer web with Dat. I walked through the session a few times and was quite enjoying it and wish I could have attended the whole thing.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Seeing a youth led session Introducting Code Club in the decentralised space, Mark talking to a very nervious Abhiram before his session Demystifying ethereum to build your own decentralized app (Ðapp) using blockchain, seeing people around a table wiring their own fibre hosted by Neharika.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Let’s Keep Our Chat Local was the Matrix session and although waking back and forth, I caught enough to learn quite a bit about Matrix service. Earlier that week I had installed riot.im app on my Android tablet and through-out the week finally got myself on the server.

To prove the power of Matrix, they had already setup a bridge to the #decentralized slack channel and made it super easy to talk between the services. On top of all this, I saw audio/video messaging over matrix, something around VR and other very cool things. I took away the need to investigate more, and maybe consider using it for decentralised dating?

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Dating on the Open Web with Evan was good but I’ve gone into a lot of detail in a previous blog post. We needed more conversation, which is why I did a follow up on the Sunday.

Spacewrangling for Mozfest again was really good and maybe slightly less stressful except the unexpected surprises near the end. I think we got a real nice balance of topics through-out the decentralised spectrum. From general interest to deep rooted knowledge, everyone was catered for making decentralisation interesting to everyone. Next time, I would work harder on the theming because although the theming and navigation was mixed together, in retrospective we could have set this much earlier and included the likes of databox project into the experience. I was impressed with the diversity of speakers and audience. There was a deep fear we would end up with all white men and actively worked hard to make sure this wasn’t the case.

Party at #mozhouse

Party time

The night parties at Mozfest have always been great and the Saturday night one was good but I did prefer the creepy one in 2016, however I know immersive theatre isn’t everyone’s bag. The venue of Mozhouse/RSA was great and it would have been great to throw some more of the rooms open to others to do things like host a game of werewolf (for example).

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

We had hoped to secure someone from the decentralised space to play at Mozhouse but it didn’t happen. However on the Sunday night party, I did get to DJ on my pacemaker like previous earlier Mozfests. Unfortunately I didn’t record the mix but I can assure you  it was really good and got quite a few people dancing.

Thank you to all!

Mozfest 2017

I want to thank the wrangler team Viki, Jon T, Tim C, Mark B, Kristine and Kristian. Sarah A, Erika D, Marc, Emse, Dan R, Solana, Sam B, all the other spacewranglers, Ravensbourne’s staff including Claire, our decentralised sessions owners who did a excellent job through all the chaos.

The attitude and spirit of the session was higher than ever before. It might be the fact they could talk beforehand via Slack or something else? Even with the challenging emergent environment, imagine doing a large 50+ people session about digital colonialism with no chairs! This happened and we/they made it all work regardless.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Lastly I’d like to thank the audience who attended this excellent festival and attended a lot of the decentralisation space. The engagement was higher than last year and rightly so, the work we put into getting a balanced set of talks worked out very well.

If it was just Mozfest, it would be great but add the glassroom exhibit and #Mozhouse and you got something much closer to the impressive festivals like TOA Berlin and SxSW. The extra days before the festival really elevated it beyond previous years and likely kept the festival base in London for the foreseeable future?

You can see the whole schedule on Guidebook and of course the proposals on Github.

 

Our liberation as men is tied to yours as women

Jordan Stephens

It was during a Christmas lunch at Pie & Ale, Rachel Wise pointed me towards a post in the Guardian and short video from Jordan Stephens.  Well worth watching and reading. Here’s one of the key parts…

It’s our responsibility as we become adults to acknowledge this pain and gain compassion for ourselves and acceptance of others. But for men in particular, when the patriarchy says that it’s OK to grab a woman’s ass, or tell her what to do, or watch too much porn or deny her space – and you accept this as a way of treating another human being – you deny yourself the opportunity to understand why you desired that comfort of power in the first place. The ego wants dominance and control. And the male ego is currently everywhere.

As far as I can see, this toxic notion of masculinity is being championed by men who are so terrified of confronting any trauma experienced as children that they choose to project that torture on to the lives of others rather than themselves.

What’s even more upsetting is that often when men allow themselves to feel this pain, it’s so new to them that they kill themselves. We live in a society where men feel safer killing themselves than acknowledging pain. Accepting the patriarchy from a place of false benefit will prevent you from ever truly loving yourself or understanding others. It’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to have loved your mum and dad growing up. It’s OK to have missed them or wanted more affection. It’s OK to take a moment when you’re reminded of these truths. When you allow your brain to access these emotions, it knows exactly what to do. So nurture yourself. Talk honestly to the people around you, and welcome the notion of understanding them more than you have ever done before.

This is something I’ve written about a few times in previous posts.
I always refer back to Tony Porters talk

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

OKcupid’s real name policy

Stop Screwing with okcupid

In another one of OKCupids changes. I recieved a message on my pebble smartwatch while shopping today saying…

We’re switching to real names!

Don’t be ClownzRKoOL in a sea of Chads. Add yours now >>phone

After finding the notification and looking things up, I found OKcupid’s post titled An Open Letter on Why We’re Removing Usernames, Addressed to the Worst Ones We’ve Ever Seen

What’s in a name?

You see, DaddyzPrincess29*, we all have names. Good, noble names that took weeks, perhaps months to choose— from Hannah to Jordan to Lady Bird. And what we’ve discovered is that those names actually work best—better than usernames—when it comes connecting with people. So listen closely laidback___stu, because this applies to you — even if you are straight chilling right now on a basement futon.

Ahead of the new year, we’re removing OkCupid usernames. It’s starting with a test group and will soon be rolled out to everyone on OkCupid, so all users will need to update their profiles with what they want their dates to call them.

This instantly reminded me of Facebook real names policy, a few friends of mine have effected by this policy and many more. Of course Okcupid brush around this with…

We’ve also heard from many members of our community that they want to maintain the privacy they enjoy with usernames—with this change, we won’t be collecting full names; instead, we encourage our users to go by the name they’d like their dates to call them on OkCupid.

So this is what you would like to be called? Something like a username?

Is OKCupid going to take on the pain and effort of checking and verify peoples names? If so then they really need to look at the outrages previously.

If not, then whats the point of the change? I can easily call myself something of poor taste

As the Ars Technica calls it OkCupid’s rapid Tinder-ization (I’ve been pretty much saying the same thing) 

In OkCupid’s case, the move follows some other major changes that bring the service far closer to resembling Tinder. This one, for example, mirrors Tinder’s use of Facebook profile data, which thus assigns a “real” first name to a user’s account.

Last month, OkCupid rolled out a change to its messaging system that prevents any user from seeing if they’ve received an unsolicited message unless they stumble upon the message-sender’s dating profile and indicate a “like.” Doing this unlocks that suitor’s ability to directly contact the other person. This is similar to Tinder, which only allows messages to be shared when both users indicate a “like.” For some users (read: the popular ones, as per activity on the site), this feature change can reduce mailbox clutter. For others (read: the less popular ones), this makes receiving messages much more difficult and all but requires constant flipping and swiping through profiles just to raise your chances of unlocking a sender’s ability to contact you.

In July, OkCupid also removed an opt-in feature that showed users who had stumbled upon their dating profile and at what time they did so. This allowed daters, particularly the less popular ones, to passively peruse potential matches of interest. By removing this opt-in feature, OkCupid essentially nudged users to do more browsing and swiping through the entire site’s meat market of available daters.

Although this change doesn’t affect me so much, I support all the people who this will affect. This is another example why online dating really needs to be disrupted for the sake of the future of humanity.

Update

The Verge have a followup which goes into much more detail and hit right at the point of Okcupid’s flippant policy change

Via email, a company spokesperson told The Verge that OKCupid won’t require legal names, but the shift is already unpopular with users. Online, the reaction to the news has been overwhelmingly negative, with users either flocking to Reddit to discuss the change, or leaving angry comments on the post itself.

The change isn’t just, as OKCupid’s flippant post suggests, about users no longer going by aliases like “BigDaddyFlash916.” The allure of a place like OKCupid as opposed to, say, Tinder, is that it was a secure place to share more intimate personal details, including sexual preferences. Dating apps made for phones are generally looking for users to find matches based on proximity, age, and gut-instinct attraction to other people’s photos. OKCupid invites users to answer questionnaires, build elaborate profiles, and describe themselves thoughtfully. For users, this is a double-edged sword: you get to know people better, but you also make yourself vulnerable to strangers who can potentially learn a lot about you.

China goes for a nosedive?

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

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

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

 

I’m a digital nomad facing Brexit?

Tallinn old town

Interesting blog from the Estonia E-residents team.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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