A different kind of holiday, thanks Kate

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Almost 2 years ago me and Kate took part in the BBC listening project and part of our recording was broadcasted on BBC Manchester and BBC Radio 4.

We’ve been thinking about how to take each other out of our comfort zones for a while and Kate finally pulled the trigger first. So everything was set, Kate had sent her list of things I should bring without telling me where we were going or what we were doing. Some said it was exciting, some said I was crazy…  What ever it was, I did so and without falling to the temptation to find out exactly where by peeking into my parents email (my parents insistented on knowing, just incase. I may have disappeared without telling them a few times in the past).

Anyway Friday with one last blog warning people that I’ll be offline and not to worry. Kate and myself drove off to Holyhead. She told me a few hours earlier that we were going to Dublin, Ireland on St Patricks day (perfect planning Kate). Once on the ferry and remembering how seasick I get, especially on such stormy waters (so stormy irish ferries cancelled the ferry we origianally were booked on due to the stormy waters), Kate outlined some of the things for the day. Mainly go to the hotel, drop our luggage, grab a nap, then head out and enjoy St Patricks day in Dublin.

That night was pretty hectic and although I remember most of the evening and night, it certainly included a 3am walk through temple bar, finding irish people and convincing strangers that the word estrogen was more sexy that pecs (long story, ask Kate).

The next morning after a lovely breakfast, we hit the road again. I had no idea where but we were going south. It wasn’t till Kate asked to use google maps on my phone to look up a place called Lazydays, google described it as a VW Camper hire site. It didn’t sink in till we got there and we were introduced to our own VW Camper called Daker.

VW camper DAKARI honestly thought we were just going to ride some horses and then head to a another hotel, b&b or guest house. But this blew my mind.

Daker had bedding, electricity, a fridge, gas hobs, 2 spaces for seperate beds, moveable seats, a cold water sink, etc etc. It was full of lots of mod cons. I worried it would get cold while sleeping, oh was I wrong!

I made a joke a few times it was like the cover of layer cake, bright yellow and frankly it attracted a lot of people where ever we went. You could see peoples heads turn as we drive by…

We took to the open road and headed to south Ireland. We stopped a few places to eat, pick up some cheese, wine and supplies; then headed to Hook head lighthouse in Wexford. I learned from Sue (Lazydays) and Kate’s conversation, you can pretty much camp anywhere in Ireland aka we were wildcamping, a concept I certainly wasn’t aware, never would imagine of or ever tried.

Holiday with Kate in Ireland
Look how close we parked to the cliff edge!

I got the full effect of wildcamping when Kate parked up between the rough sea and the lighthouse which was already in full action. That night we had maybe too much wine and cheese from Vine restaurant in Wexford; but more importantly the howling wind shaking the van and there was this fear the top which pops up, would blow away in the middle of the night. On top of this, having no where to actually use the toilet in the middle of the night was just too weird! That night, I tracked a total of 4 hours sleep and only 2.5 hours of deep sleep! On top of that I woke up 9 times and my sleep cycle was a joke.

I certainly was out of my comfort zone….! I have no problem with admitting that!

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Wildcamping certainly isn’t for me, I thought as I sat opposite Kate in the oldest lighthouse in the world and had breakfast. It was challenging waking up and doing the tour of the lighthouse, but I didn’t see the point of leaving before checking out the place we had camped under last night. Afterwards it was a long journey around the River Barrow to Waterford. Yes there is a little ferry but frankly me and Kate agreed it was best not to take the ferry with the rough waters and the journey around would be more fun.

Once we found the camper site, Dunmore East and I could finally have a hot shower, things got better again. There was even sunshine as we walked up and down the small waterfront.

That night I slept far better with 8hrs 20mins of total sleep and about 5.5hrours of deep sleep nicely split up into even sleep cycles. I appreciated being only 10 meters from the toilet block, no stormy winds and there being no chance of the roof blowing away.

Now this is a type of camping just outside my comfort zone but I could cope for a day or so.

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Lots of things happened over those 3 nights/4 days including losing to Kate twice while playing pool, teaching kate how to play texas holdem no limit poker, talking frankly about dyslexia, writing postcards, ordering off the menu cocktails, etc, etc… We squeezed a lot into those days. But although I’m very very happy to be at home in the warm and with hot showers. It was certainly an adventure which I won’t forget.

I was honestly blown away by the camper van and thankful for the night in Dublin. I know Kate spent a lot of time driving and pretty much arranged everything way in advance. I also know she could have picked some really crazy stuff for me but decided not to. She was a great partner in crime to have on our shenanig-tour

Ireland also surprised me, I was expecting some weird looks but generally it was fine and I didn’t ever feel in-danger from people or the environment. Ok the ferries did make me feel sick and that first night of wildcamping was plenty but otherwise I was pretty cool with things.

Holiday with Kate in Ireland

Of course its now my time to take Kate our of her comfort zone on a holiday away. The concluding half may not happen till next year now, as I think a massive eastern metropolis is required. New York & Vegas was an option but it won’t have the same impact I don’t feel. Nope its got to be Tokyo. I mean I’ve always wanted to go back, so this might be the perfect excuse.

As Kates pillow says… Adventure awaits!

Adventure awaits
Kates pillow she slept on throughout the holiday

Massive thanks again to Kate and all the people I met along the way including Sue from Lazydays, the people in Hook Lighthouse, the people we messed with in Dublin, etc, etc… But biggest thanks goes to Kate for making the effort and planning everything out but giving enough slack to allow for flexibility around my own concerns. Thank you again Kate and look forward to raising the bar soon…

Es…tro…gen!

The gig economy is killing us…

banksey Street art

Found via christian heilmann

This sums up so much of the problems with the so called sharing economy. Normalising what is simply not right, even if you are a super millennial and survive on red bull, soylent and bullet proof coffee (heck we all been there, some of even lived to tell the tale).

Normalising this lifestyle is frankly crap and will end up killing more people (especially men who are too proud, stuben, old fashioned, alpha or just stupid to admit there is a problem). I’m see it too much and ultimately the only people who gain are the short sighted, hyper capitalistic services which want you to consume more, act like a there algorithms suggests and live a meanless life of little reward and social capital. Yes and then you die!

Choose a bloody life!

I know trainspotting t2’s choose life speech got slated by some but the core of realism is all there including the zero hour contracts

Choose life
Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares
Choose looking up old flames, wishing you’d done it all differently
And choose watching history repeat itself
Choose your future
Choose reality TV, slut shaming, revenge porn
Choose a zero hour contract, a two hour journey to work
And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody’s kitchen
And then… take a deep breath
You’re an addict, so be addicted
Just be addicted to something else
Choose the ones you love
Choose your future
Choose life

Although not a zero hour contract, its something to keep in tabs on. I would almost go as far as to say this idea they sell is the middle class zero hour nivania. 

Careful who is selling you the candy…

​Cambridge analytica: The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda

cambridgeanalytica

I’ve been studying this area for a long while; when I talk about perceptive media people always ask how this would work for news?  I mean manipulate of feelings and what you see, can be used for good and obviously for very bad! Dare I say those words… Fake news?

Its always given me a slightly unsure feeling to be fair but there is a lot I see which gives me that feeling. In my heart of hearts, I kinda wish it wasn’t possible but wishing it so, won’t make it so.

It was Si lumb who first connected me with the facts behind the theory of what a system like perceptive media could be ultimately capable of. Its funny because many people laughed when I first talked about working with perceptiv whose mobile app under pinned the data source for visual perceptive media; I mean how can it build a profile about who I was in minutes from my music collection?

I was skeptical of course but the question always lingered. With enough data in a short time frame, could you know enough about someone to gage their general personality? And of course change the media they are consuming to reflect, reject or even nudge?

According to what I’ve read and seen in the following pieces about Cambridge analytics, the answer is yes! I included some key quotes I found interesting

The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine

Remarkably reliable deductions could be drawn from simple online actions. For example, men who “liked” the cosmetics brand MAC were slightly more likely to be gay; one of the best indicators for heterosexuality was “liking” Wu-Tang Clan. Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who “liked” philosophy tended to be introverts. While each piece of such information is too weak to produce a reliable prediction, when tens, hundreds, or thousands of individual data points are combined, the resulting predictions become really accurate.
Kosinski and his team tirelessly refined their models. In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook “likes” by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent). But it didn’t stop there. Intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use, could all be determined. From the data it was even possible to deduce whether deduce whether someone’s parents were divorced.

Some insight into the connection between Dr. Michal Kosinski and Cambridge Analytica

Any company can aggregate and purchase big data, but Cambridge Analytica has developed a model to translate that data into a personality profile used to predict, then ultimately change your behavior. That model itself was developed by paying a Cambridge psychology professor to copy the groundbreaking original research of his colleague through questionable methods that violated Amazon’s Terms of Service. Based on its origins, Cambridge Analytica appears ready to capture and buy whatever data it needs to accomplish its ends.

In 2013, Dr. Michal Kosinski, then a PhD. candidate at the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Center, released a groundbreaking study announcing a new model he and his colleagues had spent years developing. By correlating subjects’ Facebook Likes with their OCEAN scores

What they did with that rich data. Dark postings!

Dark posts were also used to depress voter turnout among key groups of democratic voters. “In this election, dark posts were used to try to suppress the African-American vote,” wrote journalist and Open Society fellow McKenzie Funk in a New York Times editorial. “According to Bloomberg, the Trump campaign sent ads reminding certain selected black voters of Hillary Clinton’s infamous ‘super predator’ line. It targeted Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood with messages about the Clinton Foundation’s troubles in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.’”

Because dark posts are only visible to the targeted users, there’s no way for anyone outside of Analytica or the Trump campaign to track the content of these ads. In this case, there was no SEC oversight, no public scrutiny of Trump’s attack ads. Just the rapid-eye-movement of millions of individual users scanning their Facebook feeds.

In the weeks leading up to a final vote, a campaign could launch a $10–100 million dark post campaign targeting just a few million voters in swing districts and no one would know. This may be where future ‘black-swan’ election upsets are born.

“These companies,” Moore says, “have found a way of transgressing 150 years of legislation that we’ve developed to make elections fair and open.”

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down

When it was announced in June 2016 that Trump had hired Cambridge Analytica, the establishment in Washington just turned up their noses. Foreign dudes in tailor-made suits who don’t understand the country and its people? Seriously?

“It is my privilege to speak to you today about the power of Big Data and psychographics in the electoral process.” The logo of Cambridge Analytica— a brain composed of network nodes, like a map, appears behind Alexander Nix. “Only 18 months ago, Senator Cruz was one of the less popular candidates,” explains the blonde man in a cut-glass British accent, which puts Americans on edge the same way that a standard German accent can unsettle Swiss people. “Less than 40 percent of the population had heard of him,” another slide says. Cambridge Analytica had become involved in the US election campaign almost two years earlier, initially as a consultant for Republicans Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. Cruz—and later Trump—was funded primarily by the secretive US software billionaire Robert Mercer who, along with his daughter Rebekah, is reported to be the largest investor in Cambridge Analytica.

Revealed: how US billionaire helped to back Brexit

The US billionaire who helped bankroll Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency played a key role in the campaign for Britain to leave the EU, the Observer has learned.

It has emerged that Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund billionaire, who helped to finance the Trump campaign and who was revealed this weekend as one of the owners of the rightwing Breitbart News Network, is a long-time friend of Nigel Farage. He directed his data analytics firm to provide expert advice to the Leave campaign on how to target swing voters via Facebook – a donation of services that was not declared to the electoral commission.

Cambridge Analytica, an offshoot of a British company, SCL Group, which has 25 years’ experience in military disinformation campaigns and “election management”, claims to use cutting-edge technology to build intimate psychometric profiles of voters to find and target their emotional triggers. Trump’s team paid the firm more than $6m (£4.8m) to target swing voters, and it has now emerged that Mercer also introduced the firm – in which he has a major stake – to Farage.

Some more detail as we know from the other posts previously

Until now, however, it was not known that Mercer had explicitly tried to influence the outcome of the referendum. Drawing on Cambridge Analytica’s advice, Leave.eu built up a huge database of supporters creating detailed profiles of their lives through open-source data it harvested via Facebook. The campaign then sent thousands of different versions of advertisements to people depending on what it had learned of their personalities.

A leading expert on the impact of technology on elections called the relevation “extremely disturbing and quite sinister”. Martin Moore, of King’s College London, said that “undisclosed support-in-kind is extremely troubling. It undermines the whole basis of our electoral system, that we should have a level playing field”.

But details of how people were being targeted with this technology raised more serious questions, he said. “We have no idea what people were being shown or not, which makes it frankly sinister. Maybe it wasn’t, but we have no way of knowing. There is no possibility of public scrutiny. I find this extremely worrying and disturbing.”

There is so much to say about all this and frankly its easy to be angry. But like Perceptive Media, it started off out of the academic sector. Someone took the idea and twisted it for no good. Is that a reason why we shouldn’t proceed forward with such research? I don’t think so…

Scratching the disappointment of masculinity on radio

BBC Merseyside debate

Its been a long time since I was last on BBC Merseyside.  has flown by, but I’ve done a lot in that time. Ngunan has asked a few times if I would come back on the show, and with Valentines day coming up, I agreed.

Theres a lot of history between us, especially when it comes to who pays on the first date. All we needed was Jody to complete the trip down memory lane.

In the middle I did give my 4 things for Valentines day from a singleton to the other million singletons in the UK.

  1. Get busy and don’t dwell on previous relationships
  2. Reconnect with old friends
  3. Get out of you’re comfort zone
  4. Do something constructive

Things took a interesting turn as we started to unpick why… I won’t spoil it but I’ll be back to talk more about the disappointment of masculinity, something I picked up from Trainspotting T2 a few weeks earlier.

Trainspotting director Danny Boyle has revealed that its long-awaited sequel is going to be about “manhood and disappointed masculinity.”

I have clipped the audio without the music on archive.org but you can hear it in full on BBC iplayer.

Just checking its 2017, right?

Day 18/30: Shoes

This certainly fits under John Oliver’s “how is this still a thing?” On last week tonight

I can’t quite remember who first pointed me at the UK petition; but glad they did because I read the petition, was taken a back and signed it straight away.

Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work

It’s still legal in the UK for a company to require female members of staff to wear high heels at work against their will. Dress code laws should be changed so that women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work, if they wish. Current formal work dress codes are out-dated and sexist.

Yesterday I got a email telling me 152,420 people signed the petition, which is great as 100,000 was needed to get it debated.

Parliament is going to debate the petition you signed – “Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work”.

The debate is scheduled for 6 March 2017.

Once the debate has happened, we’ll email you a video and transcript.

Look forward to hearing the outcome on this throw back to the past.

Cindy Gallop at #Futurefest – not so safe for work?

There is so much to say about Cindy Gallop (lots I already said), and this is the talk at Futurefest which really suprised me. Its not quite like other talks by Cindy, which are about one or two things. This one seems to include the kitch sink and each point is a talk in its self.

Its almost a shame I have to add #nsfw to the tags, but objectively it may not be…

Well worth watching as Cindy has plenty to say about a lot. She kind of reminds me of Pam who is also an incredible woman.

Smut slamming stuff in Manchester

Smut Slam 20130603_009

It was through Girl on the net’s blog that I first heard about #Smutslam.

I checked it out and thought it was a great idea, especially since I’ve wanted to go to a Moth live and more #nsfw Risk live events. Both are fancinating insight into the richness of life and human connections.

… the idea is that people put their names down to tell one short (less than 5 minute) story from their sexual past, and then eight to ten names are drawn at random. If you’re picked, you go up on stage to tell your story, and then there are prizes and fun and all the good stuff. You don’t have to tell a story, though – if you’re shy you can just sit in the audience and enjoy listening to other people’s.

I checked out the London one and wrote a task to consider running one in Manchester, as I think its a great idea and theres plenty of interesting stories I’ve heard from others. But when looking into it over brunch in Ezra & Gil, I saw there is a Manchester one already setup.

In actual fact, Cameryn Moore, the “award-winning playwright/performer, sex activist and educator, and former phone sex operator.” is relocating from Montreal to Manchester, so I look forward to more of this. Certainly makes GeeksTalkSexy and Relationships 2.0 seem like a PG-13 movie.

I’m certainly going to check one out, I won’t be putting anything in the pot but listening and enjoying the evening.

Anyone want to join me?

Ancoats… hip? upcoming?

The Ashton Canal by Ancoats

Ancoats is the area just north of the city centre in Manchester. It has a large population of people who have lived in and around that area for generations. From the things I’ve seen, it use to be the Italian Quarter.

When I first came to Manchester 9 years ago, it was seen as a place you don’t want to go too often.

I still remember talking to a taxi driver asking for New Islington (about 5 years before the Tram stop opened), he seemed very confused and when I finally showed him on google maps; he laughed and said “You mean Ancoats!

Although I don’t strictly live in Ancoats, I live between Ancoats and New Islington in the ward called Bradford. Basicilly for aguement sake, I live in Ancoats or on the edge of the northen quarter.

Recently its started going through the genertification phases. I assume it started once different groups of people started making it their homeincluding myself. So many changes than Rudys Pizza place has been named best Pizza place in Manchester and beyond. Vivid Lounge named second best thai restaurants in Manchester, although its a local cafe under my flat. I’m seeing the Ancoasts Coffee company beans appearing all over. Recently theres been a restaurant called squid, matcha tea room and some clean living restuarant called Kettlebell.

Kat with cocktail

And its not just the food places… The area is growing homes, unique flats, schools, hackspaces, nurseries, etc. No wonder its been featured among the hippest places in the UK.

Now listed among the hippest places in the UK , Ancoats has blossomed beyond recognition into one of Manchester’s best areas for independent food and drink.

The district was home to some of the largest mills in the city. It fell into disrepair after the slump of the cotton industry, and was more notorious than it was desirable. But the forgotten corner of the city soon attracted low-budget creatives. As the trendy Northern Quarter became satiated and prices rocketed in the city centre, young entrepreneurs looked slightly further afield to set up innovative new businesses.

Now, old mills are regenerated by indie cafes, restaurants and bars with a focus on high-quality, artisan products. One journalist for the New York Times heaped praise on the ‘ entrepreneurial spirit ’ of the area, while the San Francisco Chronicle named Ancoats as a must-see area for any tourist in 2017.

Some people are calling it the new Northern Quarter. But in reality, it’s an eclectic, inventive, and exciting foodscape all of its own.

Waterside # 2 - New Islington, Manchester

Certainly a shift from Ancoats very different past.

Little diversity changes in the valley?

Nancy Lee

Google’s head of diversity, Nancy Lee, is retiring from Google after several years of leading the company’s global diversity and inclusion team

In Google’s latest diversity report, we saw that overall representation of women went from 30 percent female in 2014 to 31 percent female in 2015. But the overall percentage of black and Hispanic people did not increase at all, with overall representation of blacks remaining at 2 percent and Hispanics remaining at 3 percent. In 2015, only 4 percent of Google’s hires were black and 5 percent of its hires were Hispanic.

It’s not clear who will take over as head of diversity or when Lee’s last day is. Google declined to comment for this story.

Although still (at the moment I write this) not confirmed and this isn’t a criticism of Nancy’s initiatives. But its not great news and looking back at the afrofutures talk I gave a while back, little seems to have changed when it comes to non-white or non-asian people in tech. I would have hoped the increase in women would be higher too, especially with all work and attention.

Seems little is going to change in the valley, at least for diversity and inclusion. I’m sure we will find out about Nancy’s difficult position very soon.

UK’s Investigatory Powers Act now law, UK worst for it

Weekend Walk - 8th August: Protecting the snoopers from the snoopers
In a year where you can’t help but rather it wasn’t, the snoopers bill was passed into UK law. The government has been trying to put this through for a long while and although there were changes, its still really bad. Dare I say chilling effect.

The Bill will mean the police and intelligence agencies have unprecedented powers to surveil our private communications and Internet activity, whether or not we are suspected of a crime. Theresa May has finally got her snoopers’ charter and democracy in the UK is the worse for it.

Don’t play the trump card… America

As American’s goes to the polls to vote for the next president, I along with many others urge americans to make sure they don’t get complacent about Trump not getting into office. Just like #Brexit which we thought wasn’t really a possibility, we were wrong (although it hasn’t actually been triggered yet and the recent court case could bring some interesting challenges). It can happen!

Don’t be leave it to chance, make sure you did everything you can to stop this thug? from taking one of the highest offices in the world. The rest of the world will thank you plus you can sleep better at night; knowing you haven’t just given a green light to a crazed dictator which will inflict endless damage to the states and the world as a whole.

How toxic masculinity makes women feel unsafe

fratcrawl 025

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

I was reading Paging Dr Nerd Love on the tube during the time I was in London for Mozfest (blog post coming soon), I actually missed my stop by one. I was engrossed in listening and reminded me of the blog post I wrote a while back about Toxic masculinity.

There is so much to say but here’s some of the key parts…

Following Trumps grab them by the pussy comments

It’s ok to talk about women this way, as long as women don’t overhear it. It’s guy talk, meant for other guys and thus women shouldn’t be offended. The problem isn’t what Trump said, it’s that what he said escaped the privacy of the “locker room.” Nobody should take it seriously, because it’s not that big of a deal. And besides, women shouldn’t be shocked; all guys talk like that. Right? Right?

Get ready for the cringiest “Yeah boiiiiiii” ever.

The constant refrain of “it’s guy talk” diminishes the impact of what’s being said. It turns the description of sexual assault into mischievous behavior by a puckish rascal, something we should find charming in a roguish sort of way. The chuckles and encouragement offered by Stern normalizes, even encourages, this behavior. Insisting that “all” guys are like that is part of how we excuse the behavior with a knowing laugh and a wink. Boys will be boys after all. Of course guys are going to act like this. Everyone knows that guys are dogs.

It absolves men of any responsibility for their action or the need to control themselves. After all, it’s just “how we are”. And in doing so, we teach others that this expected, even desirable behaviour among men. After all, how awesome is it that this guy just goes up and starts kissing beautiful women? Who among us wouldn’t want to do just that? Why shouldn’t we try to get as much action as we can?

I recently one night was talking to a few people during Mozfest and made reference to the quote from Hackers (yeah it comes to something when you are quoting hackers), but its stuck with me for many years.

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God gave men brains larger than dogs’ so they wouldn’t hump women’s legs at cocktail parties

Unfortunately it seems a large number of men want to over-ride their evolutionary process; and like Dr Nerd Love points out… Why wouldn’t they try to get as much action as they can?

There’s a lot more interesting points but the one which really got me was the confronting toxic behaviour. Its something I have tried to do but sometimes its really hard, so bloody hard. I don’t tell men that I approve but as Dr Nerd Live says…

Everything that isn’t a refutation becomes validation

I certainly have been accused of white knighting and who could forget being called a traitor to the male race for exposing harmful/toxic behaviour. But this is makes a lot of sense…

That ongoing silence from others serves to isolate people who disagree. You don’t necessarily want to speak up only to find yourself alone with your metaphorical dick flapping in the wind. This is why it’s so important for men to speak out – not just publicly but in those “male-only” spaces where men like this assume that everyone agrees. Open dissent sends a message, not just to the assholes but to the others around you – they’re not alone. They have support. They can speak up too. And those men, once empowered, signal to others that they aren’t the minority.

Just as importantly, it sends a message to other men that they don’t have to pay lip service to bullshit ideas of manhood. It encourages men to be better, instead of allowing the default state of man to be “asshole”

Absolutely!

I need to personally, be better at cutting off toxic behaviour and calling attention to the nonsense. We all do! In the Dr Nerd Love’s words…

It’s time to start being better than we are

Why I stopped caring about what most people think about privacy

PUBLIC DOMAIN DEDICATION - Pixabay-Pexels digionbew 14. 01-08-16 Feet up LOW RES DSC07732

Simon Davis’ post about “Why I’ve stopped caring about what the public thinks about privacy” is such a great piece. I’m sorry to Simon but I had to copy a lot to give the full context.

To put it bluntly, I’ve stopped worrying about whether the public cares about privacy – and I believe privacy advocates should stop worrying about it too.

Unless human rights activists and their philanthropic backers abandon their focus on public opinion, the prospects for reform of mass surveillance will disintegrate.

I’ll go even further. Unless human rights activists and their philanthropic backers abandon their focus on public opinion, the prospects for reform of mass surveillance will disintegrate.

I’m aware that these thoughts might sound wildly contradictory – if not insane. Over the past three years I’ve tested them out on audiences across the world and experienced waves of disbelief. That’s one reason why I’m certain those ideas are on the right track.

In summary, my belief is that too many of us are obsessing about whether X percent of people change their default privacy settings, or whether Y+4 percent “care very much” about privacy – or indeed whether those figures went up or down in the last few months or were influenced by loaded questions, etc etc.

As advocates, we should never buy into that formula; it’s a trap. And for funding organisations to think that way is a betrayal of fundamental rights. A program director for a medium sized philanthropic foundation told me earlier this month that her board had “given up” on privacy because “we can’t measure any change in people’s habits”. I don’t see that equation being used as a measure of the importance of other rights.

In the failed rationale of opinion and user behaviour statistics, the relative importance of privacy depends on the level of active popular interest in the topic. According to some commentators, privacy is a non-issue if only a minority of people actually adopt privacy protection in their social networking or mobile use.

Imagine if that logic extended to other fundamental rights. It would mean that the right to a fair trial would be destabilized every time there was a shift in public sentiment. And it would mean that Unfair Contract protections in consumer law would never have been adopted – replaced instead with a “Buyer Beware” ideology.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying public opinion isn’t relevant. Nor am I saying that public support isn’t a laudable goal. We should always strive to positively influence thoughts and beliefs. It’s certainly true that for some specific campaigns, changing the hearts and minds of the majority is critically important.

The struggle for human rights – or indeed the struggle for progress generally – rarely depended on the involvement of the majority (or even the support of the majority).

However, on the broader level, there’s a risk that we will end up cementing both our belief system and our program objectives to the latest bar talk or some dubiously constructed stats about online user behaviour. Or, at least, the funding organisations will do so.

It seems to me we’ve been collectively sucked into the mindset that privacy protection somehow depends on scale of adoption. That populist formula is killing any hope that this fragile right will survive the overwhelming public lust for greater safety and more useful data.

I’ve noticed an enduring (and possibly growing) argument that public support for privacy is largely theoretical because relatively few people put their beliefs into practice. Conversations on that topic tend to dwell depressingly on public hypocrisy, with detractors pointing out that the general population fails to use the privacy tools that are on offer. Even worse, whole populations avidly feed off the very data streams that they claim to be wary of. Apparently this alleged public disinterest and hypocrisy invalidates arguments for stronger privacy.

(As a side point, I don’t believe that the situation is so black and white. People have become far more privacy aware in recent years, and their expectations of good practice by organisations have increased. People change their behaviour slowly over time, and yet there has been real progress in recent years.)

I also (generally) am less caring of what the general public think about these issues. In recent times, people have convinced me to join different services and tactfully decline. I do sometimes forget my world isn’t the mainstream, and wonder why are we still having these discussions.

Don’t get me wrong, its always interesting good to have the discussion, especially because most people still see privacy in a binary way but when pressed are much less binary about their decisions. A while ago I started calling it data ethics as privacy alone leaves the door open to worries about security for example.

Context and experience has a lot to do with it and in the discussion this becomes much clearer. Just ask anyone who has had their idenity stolen, hacked or abused. Most of the public will never (luckily) experience this.

I’d chalk this one up as listen to the experts

No more battling ISIS…

Today I came back to find a letter from ISIS (now called Waterside places). It made me laugh a little.

In light of the current connotations to the militant terrorist group we have decided to change our name. We want to avoid any confusion or offence it may inadvertently cause partners, residents and local communities

The new name will be Waterside Places…

…The new name and branding will be effective from 11 August

I always wondered when they were going to change the name, the embarrassment alone must have devistating?

Don’t worry Waterside Places (Muse and Canal & River trust), you won’t be getting any less slack from me and others regarding the problems with Islington Wharf phase 1, 2 and 3!

Snowden & Bunnie against the law

Quite a few people shared with me Forbidden Research
at MIT Media Lab. It going to be streamed live, which I hope to be tuned into. Its got Edward Snowdon and Bunnie (yes the orginal xbox hacker!)

In a world where seemingly anything is possible, there are still lines of inquiry and research that—for a host of reasons—remain forbidden. Exploring restricted scientific and cultural topics in the face of social and moral constraints requires a willingness to buck the rules; to disobey them conscientiously. You don’t win a Nobel prize by doing what you’re told, but there is a fuzzy line—sometimes obvious only in retrospect—between disobedience that helps society and disobedience that doesn’t.