Facebook chooses money over public health

Its not a surprise at all. (If you are surprised, you haven’t been paying attention)

Haugen follows other whistleblowers including Zhang (who didn’t get the press she should have got).

Simple as this Facebook (a company bound by the laws of a company) chooses profit over people. Of course they are not the only company to do this and they won’t be the last (looking at you big tobacco, oil companies, etc). I won’t even get into the other tech companies either.

Its time for the metric of success to change, but before that can happen we need to support some of the alternatives which respect and support human kind not try and end it. I have said over and over again, scale is the enemy of human kind and looking at how much stress Facebook’s outage on Tuesday caused. I’m more confident I along with others are right on point.

Time for different types of institutions which are not bounded by the laws of a company to show the way. Its time for a public service internet…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2021)

Behaviour & Reasons

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed reading what might happen to GDPR in the UK, Russian governments attempts to block other candidates and once again Facebook.

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 seeing Ethiopia building a social network, the password-less future is one step closer and reading the chairman of the BBC’s recent speech.


This can not be the future of social media

Ian thinks: I read this thinking this is not the future of social media, its a future I reject and look elsewhere for a more sustainable/longer term future

New types of social networks

Ian thinks: Talking about the future of social media… I don’t really care about Loot, I do care that people are trying something very different. Our notions of social network is driven by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Wisdom of crowds for Fact checking?

Ian thinks: Following Mozilla’s research into disinformation in Kenya, The study is a positive step for fact checking, but I do wonder how many people you would need to avoid systematic gratification?

A view of BBC R&Ds prototype personal data store

Ian thinks: Having the inside track on this prototype/project, its interesting to see whats highlighted in Wired and the comments from different angles.

The Framework Laptop

Ian thinks: Whats not to love about the framework laptop? DIY, right to repair? The CEO also has a business model behind this all too. I am considering one for my own laptop next year.

Imagine if Crypto was used for more than Capitalism?

Ian thinks: Douglas is somewhat ironically on the money but I’m not certain NFTs are the answer he thinks it is. Worth a read or listen, as the notion is important enough.

Metrics and society

Ian thinks: This video and summary blog, was suggested to me after posting about human values just recently. Its long but spot on with really smart insight.

Human rights are not a software bug to be removed

Ian thinks: I attended this live and found it very useful to explain why infrastructure is a key part in a more fair and equitable internet for all.

The frankly scary ideology of the billionaire technocrats

Ian thinks: Its a thought piece but the lack of originality and care for human kind, makes the link to this philosophy ever so easy and ever so scary.

What are Silicon Values?

Ian thinks: Intelligent conversation about the big players in Silicon Valley and discussion about their real values along side our own.


Find the archive here

If I only knew it was called Parallel play

Parallel play in a coffee shop

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

For the longest time, I have felt slightly guilty when sitting with someone I know but kinda ignoring them while I do something else.

Its something I have apologized a lot for in the past. However it wasn’t till Hannah shared a NYTimes piece which pointed to a social state we currently only apply to children. That social state is called parallel play, and it comes with a massive amount of benefits for both adults.

For adults, what makes parallel play different than two people ignoring each other in the same room is a secure foundation underpinning their relationship, explained Dr. Amir Levine, a psychiatrist and co-author of “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find — And Keep — Love.” “Parallel play is one of the hallmarks of secure relationships, but it has to be done right,” Dr. Levine said. “It’s all about availability. If you know that the other person is available and that, if you need them, they will pay attention to you, then you feel secure.”

Not sure why I felt so guilty about it before, maybe I could track it down to previous relationships (which might not have been as secure). It all made sense in my head but I started confirming everything was ok then feeling guilty?

However I certainly down for much more parallel play and the guilt is gone now.

Voter ID in the UK?

Am

I can’t (but can) believe the UK Government is looking to make Photo ID needed to vote on elections. Has no one ever looked at the reasons why its been such a heated debate in the states?

Voter suppression or discouragement of people of colour’s votes is a big deal simply because they tend to vote more democratic or left.

Of course this isn’t the first time this has been talked about in the UK, and I expect it won’t be the last unfortunately.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Sept 2021)

Metaverse

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the lack of coverage for facebook whistleblower sophie zhang, thinking about those batteries and yet another data breach.

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 seeing twitter crop bias bug bounty, the discussion about removing the landline and the social dilemma free on youtube for a month.


Tech Crunch gets on the moving train

Ian thinks: Reading this, I can’t really take Techcrunch seriously, because for every one of these startups focused on privacy and security. Theres at least 20 more startups covered the opposite. Maybe its just me?

Envisioning the future of social media

Ian thinks: This interview with Ethan Zuckerman is full of some great points to get you thinking, I find it hard to disagree with Ethan especially around using affordances and setting up small town based on Mastodon.

Values not eyeballs please

Ian thinks: Its always interesting to hear from experts in the space, on the work you are involved in. Its a really good read especially if you haven’t come across the Human Values, which also has new podcast interviews.

Apple cares about your privacy?

Ian thinks: I do find it so ironic, Apple making a song a dance about their privacy changes but their own browser Safari, not including any strong level of privacy? Of course Apple are in privacy hot water for much more too.

What is really behind Only Fans new policy? and its Uturn?

Ian thinks: There is a important question about the platform and who has influence over the platform. As this twitter thread says, you really need to think about the platform & infrastructure,

The dystopia which is the metaverse

Ian thinks: There is so much talk about the metaverse but few looking at the privacy, security, infrastructure and trust within this space. Till then I can’t help but think Vice is kind of right.

Its started with a MP3 player

Ian thinks: Dan Hon’s rant starts with a want and spans the internet media ecosystem, pointing out so many of the problems we all know too well.

Blackhat & Defcon happened, here’s the scary flaws

Ian thinks: I always love seeing what comes out of these security events. You can also watch the full videos from Blackhat and Defcon online here.

Web Monetization showcase

Ian thinks:The webmon showcase is a nice summary of some of the projects which came out of the Grant for the web initiative

Mozilla thumbs down Facebooks claims about Ad Observer

Ian thinks: Its so interesting to see Facebook’s concerns around Ad observer squashed in one post by the privacy first Mozilla. This is deeply concerning behavior, what is Facebook worried about?


Find the archive here

A Common question about the Covid19 vaccines

There is a lot of talk about the UK hitting peak vaccine take up. This seems to be even worst in the states with incentives offered to get people vaccinated.

When talking to people I know who refuse to get vaccinated, I try and get into the grit of it. Usually I wonder if the fear of needles is actually the problem, as discussed previously.

But one question which comes up over and over again. Questions over the speed of the Covid19 vaccine and has it been properly tested?

This one always comes up and I describe to people what happened with mRNA. (I’m going to leave out the question of who exactly is credited with being the creator/investor/scientist/etc of mRNA – Although I always credited Katalin Karik).

In short the Messenger RNA method and Adenovirus was developed many years before, the scientists worked very hard on this new method but couldn’t get funding for the research because funder couldn’t see the point. I mean SARS, MERS, etc had vaccines, so the funders didn’t really see the point in funding this experimental method.

Of course this all changed when the Covid19 pandemic started. All that previous research work massively helped accelerate a usually very long process (along with other changes)

These will have a massive effect on future pandemics (you didn’t think this was the last one did you? Oh you are so cute!)

1 in 10 could be Needlephobia?

Warning the video above shows injections/needles!

I have written about my journey having 2 shots/jabs of the Covid19 vaccine as someone with huge needlephobia. There has been a drop off with people taking up the vaccine (at least in the UK and America) so called vaccination hesitancy.

There has been many suggestions what it could be, although I’m pretty sure the amount of people scared of needles is much bigger than once thought. If the study saying 1 out of 10 is right thats pretty staggering, and could be the  real reason why some are so hesitant? They may not admit it to themselves even?

There should be a digital public bench here

Nurse on the wall of the Northern Quarter
Public wall space given over for public wall art in the Northern Quarter

I recently went on a Manchester International Festival tour with the amazing Skyliner (Hayley Flynn). One of them was centered around the history of Manchester’s Northern Quarter (meant to be the Eastside). It was a very good tour but I could tell there was much more Skyliner wanted to talk about in the short amount of time of the tour. Lucky for me, I had booked myself the week afterwards on another tour, There Was a Bench Here Once 

Join us on a search for lost public spaces: places where we could once have sat, pondered and watched the world, vanished benches and much-missed opportunities to interact with the streets around us. Visiting sites where we could once idle and dwell, we’ll talk about the importance of those spaces between places, drawing on the works of urbanists William H Whyte and Jane Jacobs to discover the importance of streetlife as we discover what and who you could once have seen and met at city-centre locations across history.

Its was great tour, where I learned about a space which is Salford’s Green Gate square (the Piccadilly Gardens of Salford). Its a really nice public space but not very inviting although everything is there including good seating, a large open space, fountains and even views of the river (although the river irwell not exactly picturesque at that point)

Greengate square fountains
Salford’s green gate square

The tour went into the Northern Quarter and Piccadilly looking at the lack of public benches and questioning why policy and politics has caused this. The  tour ended at the most advanced public bus stop in the country – Paton Street.

During the tour, I got talking with Skyliner, She asked me about what I do at the BBC on the first tour but on the second one, I could truly talk about what I do in reflection to what she does.

I do what you do but in the digital space. I am fighting for public spaces in the digital world. Fighting for the public benches, library’s and parks where you can relax without requiring payment, personal identification, etc.

We had a good but short discussion about this on the tour, I would love to have a longer conversation with Skyliner about this all. About a week later I had a very similar discussion with good friend Architect Jane, while walking around the old BBC Manchester site now called Circle Square. The Circle Square is private land, just like Skyliner mentioned when talking about Peel’s Media City UK. The impact of private and public spaces is fascinating but also on the flip side really awful if in the words of Skyliner. What you are doing can be easily lumped into the anti-social behavior box and you are moved on with little to no review. For example sleeping on a public bench would be pushed under this broad definition. Under private space all bets are completely off, as 2 black men found out while waiting for their friend in a starbucks cafe in America.

The problem with Starbucks (I mentioned to Jane, as we looked at the awful and good architecture choices in Circle Square) is its attempt to be a pseudo public space with its community noticeboard and policy of join us, kickback and enjoy time here? (I use to work at Starbucks a long time ago and we use to have a older homeless woman come into the shop about a hour before closing time, very rarely did we ever ask her to leave as the conflict of Starbucks policy was interesting)
…pseudo I believe is the perfect word here.

Not actually but having the appearance of; pretended; false or spurious; sham. almost, approaching, or trying to be.

Good use of green blending the space
Interesting use of green blending in a quiet corner of the circle square development. But is it public or private space?

You see the exact same thing happening in the digital space too. From women breast feeding there babies on facebook to twitter blocking accounts for misunderstandings (to be clear I’m not talking about Trump because what he did was stoke fires, promoted hatred is actually illegal).

This got me thinking there are clear parallels between the physical and digital worlds, especially around public spaces. I also think those parallels are really useful to explain to different people why these things are of absolute importance. (I wonder what are the dark patterns of the physical & digital world?)

I have to give credit to many including FutureEverything, Waag, Ethan Zuckerman, Eli Parser’s newpublic, DotEveryone, which does a reasonable job linking the physical and digital aspects of public life. Its all strange because I was recently pointed to this piece which is a summary of this policy paper.

Its strikes me in America, there is a lot of pressure to work along the big tech corps like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. While in Europe there is more of an apatite to build alternatives, rather than position those public spaces them within private lands (thinking about the Starbucks example earlier).

In the ideal world, it would work but we know it doesn’t. Skyliner’s tour makes this super clear. I’m of course not disparaging the efforts to carve out digital public spaces within private digital spaces.

What is the public bench in the digital space? Does it actually exist? Can it exist and whats the norms that surround it?

 Empty Bench during Dusk

I for one believe in public spaces and will continue to create those very important public benches.

 

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2021)

Solar protocol

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing more centralised downtime, seeing a surge of ransomware and hearing about Voice as a vector for attack.

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 reading about the path aware networking proposal (Scalability, Control, and Isolation On Next-Generation Networks), Google providing an element of transparency and artificial intelligence used to restore the missing parts of a Rembrandt.


Digital Infrastructure as the core of the European internet

Ian thinks: There is so much good thinking here from Nesta’s Katja Bego. This why the infrastructure is so important as a base for privacy focused better/smarter systems.

Labelling retouched photos

Ian thinks: This is great news and hope it spreads to other EU nations and further a field. Although it should also cover video and audio and highlight whats in the metadata too.

You have YouTube regrets? Join the massive line

Ian thinks: So many of been horrified by where Youtube recommendations can lead you, and this crowdfunded campaign speaks volumes. Will Google do anything about this, its very unlikely.

Our digital legacy in data

Ian thinks: Elaine is right on the button, if you think the data ecosystem is bad now, what happens when most of the dead outnumber the living on social networks. Those terms and conditions need a massive reform.

Steve Wozniak on the right to repair

Ian thinks: Although its a cameo video and its Wozniak, I do think his thoughts are genuine. Does this make much of a difference in the right to repair? Unlikely.

Have you noticed the price increase of Uber?

Ian thinks: I wonder how much of this is the drivers, public understanding of the gig economy and the investors finally wanting their return on investment?

Those apps are selling your most private data

Ian thinks: Its funny but with a deadly serious message. Its also well researched too, its good to see the data ownership/misuse is getting attention everywhere. Even the daily show.

Its time to make the decentralised systems more common and friendly

Ian thinks: Although I don’t agree with everything said here, there is a need to change things and for me it comes down to user experience.

A new future for Solar power

Ian thinks: Great to see the advancement in the use of solar power technology. Using rocks personally surprised me but makes a lot of sense.


Find the archive here

Climate collapse not Climate change

I have been thinking about this for decades (being from Bristol the environment wasn’t far my mind) but it was mid 2010 (after my brush with death), when I grappled with the true fact.

I’m going to live in/experience climate collapse in my life time (next 10-25 years)

Its really hard to face but I made some peace with this fact over the last few years (using the 5 stages of grief). Don’t get me wrong I absolutely don’t like it and trying to do what I can (maybe I can do more/we can all do more) but the fact is we have passed the point of no change a long time ago. Its been what can we do now to make thing not even worst. I say this in a privileged position in Europe within the global north. But its super clear there is no place on earth which won’t feel the collapse!

The Paris agreement is a long way off and just like the pandemic, countries seem completely incapable of working together.

I don’t have solutions except from now on its going to be called Climate collapse not Climate change. I understand the power of language and I know the language around climate crisis has been discussed to death. Collapse is much more clear where things are going and you can’t help but question disagree or agree, it challenging and starts a conversation.

No more climate change, its time to face up to climate collapse.

Sleep books compared

Why we sleep by Matthew Walker

I noticed there has been a lot of hype and discussion around the book why we sleep by Matthew Walker.

Neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker provides a revolutionary exploration of sleep, examining how it affects every aspect of our physical and mental well-being. Charting the most cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and marshalling his decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood and energy levels, regulate hormones, prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, slow the effects of aging, and increase longevity. He also provides actionable steps towards getting a better night’s sleep every night

Its a good book but I didn’t find it as in-depth and as interesting as

The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience by Dr. Guy Leschziner

The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret world of sleep by Guy Leschziner.

Dr. Guy Leschziner’s patients, there is no rest for the weary in mind and body. Insomnia, narcolepsy, night terrors, sleep apnea, and sleepwalking are just a sampling of conditions afflicting sufferers who cannot sleep–and their experiences in trying are the stuff of nightmares. Demoniac hallucinations frighten people into paralysis. Restless legs rock both the sleepless and their sleeping partners with unpredictable and uncontrollable kicking. Out-of-sync circadian rhythms confuse the natural body clock’s days and nights.

Then there are the extreme cases. A woman in a state of deep sleep who gets dressed, unlocks her car, and drives for several miles before returning to bed. The man who has spent decades cleaning out kitchens while “sleep-eating.” The teenager prone to the serious, yet unfortunately nicknamed “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” stuck in a cycle of excessive unconsciousness, binge eating, and uncharacteristic displays of aggression and hyper-sexuality while awake.

With compassionate stories of his patients and their conditions, Dr. Leschziner illustrates the neuroscience behind our sleeping minds, revealing the many biological and psychological factors necessary in getting the rest that will not only maintain our physical and mental health, but improve our cognitive abilities and overall happiness.

I’m sure many will disagree, but I’d recommend The Nocturnal Brain over Why we sleep. Although I will admit it is a harder read, due to some of the experiences explained in some detail.

When the dead out number the living in social networks

I can’t say how good this TedX talk is, so many good points in a short video.

I noticed in dropbox terms and conditions a while, if you were to die and didn’t make very clear who your designated executors are and that you want them to gain access to your dropbox in your death. They will be denied access.

A valid court order establishing that it was the deceased person’s intent that you have access to the files in their account after the person passed away, and that Dropbox is compelled by law to provide the deceased person’s files to you

In short, if you don’t state your intent, dropbox can/will block access to your files. Or in short its won’t be simply hand over your password, as they can revoke your account if they think its been accessed by someone else than yourself. Of course this will most likely be decided by algorithms not humans.

Thats just the start…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2021)

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Amazon’s destroying unsold goodsICO’s concerns over facial recognition and Tiktok sneakily changing there privacy policy.

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 ethical ratings for fashion brandsthe introduction of the solar protocol and even Google has temporarily halted their privacy sandbox plans.


The future of the browser conference

Ian thinks: There is so much to take away from this community run conference, as I wrote in a blog. I’m sure you will find lots to take away too.

We know what you did last lock down

Ian thinks: The FT’s short black mirror like interrogation feels like drama but its all real and possible now with the cloud of always on IOT devices. Makes some seriously good points

Report those dark patterns

Ian thinks: The Electronic Frontier Foundation goes on the offensive asking you to report those dark patterns. Similar to what Mozilla and others have done too.

Vestager’s vision for the a digital Europe

Ian thinks: I highly recommend the Re:publica conference and seeing Margrethe Vestager again in her new role outlining her vision (with some tech hiccups) is good. I also recommend looking around the playlists to find other good talks including these audio essays and this talk about Silicon values.

Ian thinks: The ICO makes a big change to the EU cookie banner, interesting to hear the American tech view on this all.

When people can sit together

Ian thinks: Enabling physical public spaces with more thought and care for the community. You can’t help but smile and wish playful public spaces existed near you too.

Mozilla puts your data to use for a better society

Ian thinks: This is impressive, although not completely new there no better time to have a trusted company shepherding your data into good causes you choose.

Another internet outage, raises questions

Ian thinks: The outage of Fastly earlier this month has stoked fires about how centralised the internet is for lots of people. I personally didn’t notice much due to the decentralised services I use.

Social graph as a key to change?

Ian thinks: Every once in a while a start up makes some bold but well meaning claims. The notion of the social graph on a blockchain although not new is worth keeping an eye on to see where it goes.

Experience some fairly intelligent machine learning

Ian thinks: A.M. Darke’s piece makes all those silly harmless throw away decisions, very real by the end. There is also a Q&A hosted by the ODI well worth watching to understand more.


Find the archive here

Toxic masculinity at a level I can’t comprehend

Man with wheeled suitcase

A few things have based through my wallabag/read it later which has sadly surprised and sometimes shocked me. I doubt few wouldn’t (but sadly I know there will be a few who are not)

I read about the Mystery of wheelie suitcase (how gender stereotypes held back history of invention) in the Guardian and couldn’t but could believe it.

Why have some brilliant innovations – from rolling luggage to electric cars – taken so long to come to market? Macho culture has a lot to answer for

Ok it was in the past but as the piece says at the end…

Today, less than 1% of UK venture capital goes to all-female teams. Among the very few women who do get funded, a very large majority are white. Of course, venture capital isn’t everything – there are other ways to fund and scale innovation – but the fact that men, more or less, have a monopoly is certainly a symptom of an economy where women’s ideas are not heard.

So lets be honest little has changed, if you haven’t been paying attention.

Talking about history I found Do NOT Pass GO! with Tim Harford, super enlightening.

Lizzie J. Magie (played by Helena Bonham Carter) should be celebrated as the inventor of what would become Monopoly – but her role in creating the smash hit board game was cynically ignored, even though she had a patent.
Discrimination has marred the careers of many inventors and shut others out from the innovation economy entirely. Could crediting forgotten figures such as Lizzie Magie help address continuing disparities in the patenting of new inventions?

Coming back to this decade, this Vice piece titled Anti feminist gen-z boys who hate women, had so much in it I was sadly disappointed. I always hoped the next generation would learn the mistakes the previous had made. Of course as a whole things are getting better, its just disappointing to read.

Half of young men in the UK now believe that feminism has “gone too far and makes it harder for men to succeed”. These are the results of a significant study published in July 2020 by anti-extremism charity HOPE not Hate. The study, Young People in the Time of COVID-19, surveyed 2,076 16- to 24-year-olds on their ideological beliefs.

Then when you think its can’t get worst.

This totally shocked me. I discovered it via A.M. Darke’s fairly intelligent machine learning. It was one of the examples and I wondered what on earth is septic masculinity? I clicked and was horrified at how awful and low some parts of masculinity has gone. Warning its not nice at all.