Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2020)

Greta Thunberg

Good day, happy new year and looking forward to a new decade with you all!

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the next US election or at the endless denial about explainable algorithms.

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

You are seeing aspects of this happening with Finland’s new prime minister, Sanna Marin at the age of 34, focusing on climate change.

 

The threat of quantum computing explained

Ian thinks: This is a serious challenger for so much of the encrypted systems we rely on daily.

Why do people listen to Greta?

Ian thinks: Makes a really strong point about creativity. It something I also worry we forget as it doesn’t conveniently fit our tired metrics.

A critical look at economical value

Ian thinks: Mariana makes some great points about different types of value.

Anarchy, Federation, IndieWeb the Fedverse

Ian thinks: Defining yourself in opposition to something else, doesn’t give you enough conceptual space is why I always quoting Buckminster Fuller

EFF’s deep dive into public key encryption

Ian thinks: Its one of those things which is banded about but few people when asked can explain it as well as the EFF

Webxray gives an insight behind the webpage

Ian thinks: The Webxray tool which runs on Linux & Mac is quite impressive to use. Gives a real insight into whats going on in the web when it comes tracking and the advertisement ecosystem

Decentralisation isn’t just about the internet

Ian thinks: The importance of decentralised networks applies to more than just the internet

Jason Silva interviews Kevin Kelly

Ian thinks: Technology, drugs, spiritualism its all in there and its quite a interview too.

Real People, Doing Real Things segment on teamhuman

Ian thinks: The new segment is welcomed on teamhuman and botsentinel is a good project to start with.

Jack Dorsey funding a decentralised twitter

Ian thinks: When I first heard this I almost fell off my chair, then thought this is classic innovators dilemma or twitter seeing the writing on the wall?

2010’s the decade when drugs online became the norm?

Drug choices online

Have to say the Vice’s thoughts on the rise of drug dealing powered by the internet is quite compelling.

Starting with Meow & Meow or Mephedrone in 2010 – 2011, moving to the rise and fall of The Silk Road in 2013 – 2015. Who could forget the outrage of silk road! In 2017 like a duplicate of the war on drugs, the Silk road was closed down and the drug dealers hit the underground with 100’s of new online shops on the darknet using reputation systems like ebay. Then in 2018, how do you advertise to new customers? Well you copy what others do, taking advantage of the influence of social media to showcase your wears.

“This is the new public space and the ideal platform for dealers,” says Liz McCulloch, director of policy at Volteface, who curated the study. “They can advertise in really creative ways – pictures, prizes, reaching out to people’s friends, building organic relationships. Among young people, there is a perception that they can ’vet’ them, get a sense of whether they are trustworthy.”

Its worth 5mins of your time

Welcome to the 2020’s, some quotes to live by?

Seeing New year 2020 across Manchester
Seeing New year 2020 in from my windows in central Manchester

The 2010’s are over and its now the 2020’s… Happy New Year all…

As we enter the next decade, I’ve been thinking about what things I certainly want to bring forward. At the same time while writing Other things to know about me in my user manual, I used a cluetrain rule number 7.

“Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy”

― Cluetrain Manifesto

I think quotes are a useful to convey some meaning in to the future. Something which may be useful when looking into the 2020’s.

“Sometimes I forget that my world is not the mainstream (yet)” ― Eric Nehrlich

“We expect more from technology and less from each other.”

“Technology challenges us to assert our human values, which means that first of all, we have to figure out what they are.”

― Sherry Turkle

“ Sometimes the most modest changes can bring about enormous effects.”

“People who bring transformative change have courage, know how to re-frame the problem and have a sense of urgency.”

― Malcolm Gladwell

“Do the unexpected. Find the others”

― Timothy Leary

“In the future that the surveillance capitalism prepares for us, my will and yours threaten the flow of surveillance revenues. Its aim is not to destroy us but simply to author us and to profit from that authorship.”

― Shoshana Zuboff

“When you don’t have to ask for permission innovation thrives.”

― Steven Johnson

“Freedom is about stopping the past.”

“If the Internet teaches us anything, it is that great value comes from leaving core resources in a commons, where they’re free for people to build upon as they see fit.”

― Lawrence Lessig

You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

– Steve Jobs

Despite their good intentions, today’s businesses are missing an opportunity to integrate social responsibility and day-to-day business objectives – to do good and make money simultaneously.

– Cindy Gallop

“If you entrust your data to others, they can let you down or outright betray you.”

– Jonathan Zittrain

“By viewing evolution though a strictly competitive lens, we miss the bigger story of our own social development and have trouble understanding humanity as one big, interconnected team.”

― Douglas Rushkoff

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.

The more the data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.

– Marshall MuLuhan

All food for thought, and there are so many more I could add…

I can’t believe I forgot my favorite of them all

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

– Buckminster Fuller

The 2010s: When the Media Lost Their Gatekeepers

Reason’s video post is spot on and charts how the 2010’s started with such promise but ended on such a low. However there are options on the horizon if we can get our heads around decentralised and distributed technologies.

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s work best explains how the world changed in the 2010s—and what we can expect in the decade ahead.

I’m doing what I can to fore-fill that mental shift in the 2020’s by focusing on trust, transparency, accountability, data ethics, etc.

Have you ever noticed the overwhelming whiteness? Yes!

Employees stand up to racism

I remember reading through Dan Lyons archived blog entries after reading Lab rats recently.

He asked the question in this entry while looking through the Business Insiders “50 Best Small Companies to Work For of 2017, According to Employees.”

The companies that end up on lists like this are often the pep-squad types who work really hard to get on lists like this. It’s free marketing. It helps them recruit. But mostly, they totally think that they’re totally awesome. They’re the best.

Presumably the photos you see above were provided by the companies themselves. Which means someone gathered up the whole gang, took a bunch of photos, chose the best one, and sent it along.

Then concludes with …

And no one ever noticed the blinding, overwhelming whiteness. Which kind of says it all.

This is old (2017) but its every day I see this all the time as I scroll through pictures of cool new startups. The 2019 version is better but its not massively different?

 

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2019)

Mr Robot: control is an illusion

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the next UK general election or at the endless denial about explainable algorithms.

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

You are seeing aspects of this happening with the 2019 turner prize cooperatively shared between different 4 artists.

Meet the real Mr Robot

Ian thinks: Listening to Elliot, you can’t help but be quietly impressed with where his curiosity takes him. Which came first Mr Robot or Elliot?

Lancaster University’s Gogglebox of the future

Ian thinks: Lancaster University’s take of the living room of the future is quite something. Really getting into the meat of the smart home data ethics conversation in a fun, accessible but critical way. Look out for their next research

A more generous world?

Ian thinks: Heard Yancey talk a few times, wasn’t convinced but he making the right noises about values. However still not convinced about Bentoism.

Mozilla explains the possibilities of facial recognition

Ian thinks: stealingurfeelin.gs is in a similar vein to do not track, Mozilla expose the effects of facial recognition which the big corps hide in their EULA’s. One reason why I’ve never willingly used snap chat ever.

Are we all to blame for the state we are in?

Ian thinks: I quite like rushkoff’s post-rationalisation, but more importantly his call for us to be adults and make things right.

Roar for the public-interest technologists to unite

Ian thinks: Technologies for the public benefit against asymmetrical power systems that lead to the weaponisation of technologies against vulnerable communities.

What obligation do social media platforms have to the greater good?

Ian thinks: If we are talking about the mainstream ones, then its got to be a big fat zero. How many state their principles and actually back it up with yearly accountability and transparent reports?

Password patterns

Ian thinks: Our passwords say so much about ourselves and its time we stopped using them when possible. Time for the alternatives.

Where the human race needs to be

Ian thinks: Umair’s thoughts about turning money back into life is spot on, as he points at the problems in the metrics we have regarded highly for so long.

Questioning why is there only one winner?

Turner prize winners 2019My partner today told me about the annual turner prize and how they all clubbed together and wrote a letter to the judges asking to share the prize.

I could imagine some people would say this is awful, there has to be a winner But this is great….

The status-quo says there must be a single winner but thats not true. As we move into the next decade, its time for more collaboration, more understanding, more sharing, more human?

Welcome to #teamhuman.

Why is airbnb only just waking up to this?

being told off by airbnb

Although what happened over the weekend in New York was awful, I find Airbnb’s response too slow and too late.

CEO Brian Chesky announced on Wednesday at The New York Times DealBook Conference four changes the company will be implementing. The changes were also announced in an email to employees Wednesday.

Here are the four key changes:

1. All listings will be verified by the end of 2020 by a combination of the company and guests. Chesky said that he wants to “make sure we can stand behind every single listing and host,” for photo accuracy, the correct address, and safety.

2. Airbnb will now have a guest guarantee in the scenario that guests arrive at a listing and the listing does not match photos and descriptions.

3. A 24/7 hotline with real people will be available to address issues that come up.

4. Airbnb will review what it calls “high-risk” listings.

Its like they only just woke up to the fact people are doing very bad things with their platform. I mean why does it take loss of life for them to finally wake up?

The importance of human values research

The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band - Brian Eno
The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band

I saw this quote and thought it was perfect fuel/fodder for why the human values research is so massively important.

Only 10,000 copies can be seen as poor sales (attention metric) but the impact on music culture (human values) was huge.

You should disclose smart speakers to guests

Someone at Mydata mentioned this interview during our panel last month and finally had a read. Very happy BBC got the Google’s Rick Osterloh to say “I disclose smart speakers to guests.

After being challenged as to whether homeowners should tell guests smart devices – such as a Google Nest speaker or Amazon Echo display – are in use before they enter the building, he concludes that the answer is indeed yes.

“Gosh, I haven’t thought about this before in quite this way,” Rick Osterloh begins.

“It’s quite important for all these technologies to think about all users… we have to consider all stakeholders that might be in proximity.”

And then he commits.

“Does the owner of a home need to disclose to a guest? I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.”

I very much agree and I think everybody should do this. Will people do this? Not a chance, although I wish they would. I do tend to go into a room and jokily say the different wake words. Just incase…

I remember writing about my Airbnb in Barcelona experience and I have to say Airbnb’s criteria of what a camera is good.

This area of social data surveillance is tricky but something which is being researched/explored by the likes of myself at BBCR&D.

Carole Cadwalladr’s thoughts on our broken society

At the MyData 2019 conference in Helsinki. I had the absolute pleasure of talking with Carole Cadwalladr after seeing a panel discussion about the great hack and also taking part in a workshop about it.

I realised I had not actually shared her TED talk on my blog, and only shared the great hack via the July public service internet newsletter.

I can change that easily enough, and I want to share some of the workshop resources, but not totally sure they are for sharing…?

Move fast and break society?
Sander Van Der Waal’s slide from a later mydata session

In an unmissable talk, journalist Carole Cadwalladr digs into one of the most perplexing events in recent times: the UK’s super-close 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Tracking the result to a barrage of misleading Facebook ads targeted at vulnerable Brexit swing voters — and linking the same players and tactics to the 2016 US presidential election — Cadwalladr calls out the “gods of Silicon Valley” for being on the wrong side of history and asks: Are free and fair elections a thing of the past?

Open rights are human rights

Wish I could have made ORGcon, but I was away again and haven’t been to a ORGcon for quite a few years now. Regardless I’m a supporter (you should be too) of the Open right group since they started many many moons ago.

Brexit: Stay or go and to where?

Flags of Europe

Facing no deal and the abuse of democracy which is happening in the UK. I’m rethinking again my plans for the future of living in the UK. I think its getting to that point when I need to think about cutting my losses?

It doesn’t seem on paper not too horrible but of course there’s a lot more to it than just the logistics…

After much thought, it seems these are the biggest things which are stopping me. Not to say family, friends, my partner, etc are not a big consideration.

Career progression

If the right company/public service organisation got in touch and offered me a position/career similar to my current role but in Europe. I would seriously think long and hard about it; then in this Brexit climate likely accept the offer. Its hard to say, as I love what I do for the BBC and there are great people I work with; but there is no way I can ignore whats happening in the wider country. I’m sure colleagues, management, etc would understand and wish me the best.

Language

I’m not totally sure why but languages don’t come easy to me. I have been to many places in the world, and each time I struggle to remember even the basic stuff (please, thank you, etc). I read there might be difficulty being dyslexic with learning languages. However I’ve never let it hold me back and in a Brexit climate, I believe its certainly worth the struggle/effort!

Looking across

… and where?

Where would I go is a little more fun to think about, but realistically the freedom of movement means I could be flexible… Ideally it would be somewhere with a lot of interest in technology but with a strong public ethos. Somewhere with its own strong creative sector and well thought out public transport system. It would be a place of eventfulness and cosmopolitan culture.

If I was pushed to name a few places, the cities in the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and even France? After visiting Antwerp, I have to say the second cities are quite attractive, just as Manchester is to London. (Yes I know Birmingham is the 2nd biggest but thats only one type of metric).

I was reminded that I have friends in many cities who could be extremely useful to ask practical questions and visit sometime.

Re:Creating Europe at the time of a dictatorship

One of the very best Manchester International Festival events I went to this year was Re:creating Europe by Ivo Van Hove.

I can’t even express the living nightmare the UK is being dragged into by a  calculated Boris Johnson. Its clear Europe isn’t perfect but in this 90min play, you get a real sense of how momentous the building of Europe was and hope for a better Europe. However (sadly) it will be a better Europe without the UK…

Don’t forget to sign the petition for Parliament not be prorogued or dissolved unless and until the Article 50 period has been sufficiently extended or the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU has been cancelled.

Re:Creating Europe – MIF from De Balie on Vimeo.

What is Europe? Is it a continent or a culture, a bygone dream or a thriving reality – or all of the above? In a year when a deeply divided Britain is set to leave the EU, De Balie and Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA) present the performance Re:Creating Europe in Manchester.

Community parks for the community of inner Manchester

IMG_20190817_125834

Cities are always in flux however, our values/needs as humans don’t flux so much. Green space is important to us, even a total city boy like myself loves green nature space at times. This is beyond gentrification and more about city planning. Something Jane Jacobs knows plenty about.

Its clear green spaces are essential and lets say Manchester like London doesn’t have a lot of them. There’s got to be a connections between the mental health epidemic and the state of our biggest cities.

There are 3 spaces in the very local area which have been marked for building of some kind of redevelopment.

  1. Former Central Retail Park Great Ancoats Street Manchester M4 6DJ
  2. Green space at New Islington tram stop
  3. Mayfield train depot park plans

IMG_20190817_133240

I joined the talk yesterday at Central Retail park

From friends of the earth Northern Quarter

Currently Manchester City Council plans to turn the old Central Retail Park on Great Ancoats Street into a 440 space carpark with the application going to planning on 22nd August, we have until 17th August to make our voice heard.

This is a 10.5 acre space, half the size of Whitworth Park.

There will around 1000 cars moving in and out onto already busy Great Ancoats Street. This will increase pollution including known carcinogens such as Nitrogen Dioxide, in a city of appalling childhood asthma rates and one which consistently ranks amongst the worst air quality in Europe.

This space is right next door to a Primary School.

This seems in total contradiction of Manchester’s campaign for clean air when Manchester City Council has declared a Climate Emergency.

Legally the land is owned by Manchester City Council making it public property, meaning you can walk on it. The fence around the old units is fenced off and there is a security which keep an eye on the space; but the advice from the talks was to build a park on top of whats there already.

Currently the plan is to use the space to show potential use. Events, guerrilla gardening, market, skateboard park, etc. I’ve already been thinking about a massive community bring your own BBQ type event – if I could sort out the toilets?

Anyway you can learn more at treesnotcars.com, and if you get a chance do drop in and see the space and the chalked ideas people have for it.

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