We got to do better than this…

I know its a first world problem but theres an issue with microphones while doing talks on stage. The problem I have is the head mics which are always too small and therefore squeeze around my larger skull. Or if they are loosen, then tend to slip and make things awkward.

Skin coloured mics right & wrongs

But the big problem I have with them is they are always pink. I get the idea that pink head mics are meant to blend in with speakers skin tones. Except my skin is not pink, so it always looks super weird on top of uncomfortable.

Skin coloured mics right & wrongs

Hummmm, looks good right? Not at all! Looks like my head is partly cut from my body?

Skin coloured mics right & wrongs

Thankfully some conferences get this right by using clip on radio mics but I also know this is a big problem for some women who sometimes don’t have anywhere to clip the mic or hold the radio unit. Some are happier with a handheld mic too. To be honest I don’t mind holding a mic but have experienced the issues of using a handheld while operating a clicker at the same time. Luckily I’m quite Ambidextrous.

I would suggest options for the diversity of your speakers. A headset mic, radio mic and a handheld mic as choices… I know it seems like a lot of work but at the very least a radio mic and handheld mic? Forcing one type of mic on all your speakers will not get the best out of them.

There are a few conferences which have given me the choice thankfully… maybe the rest will follow suit if we complain more.

Urban legend says facebook is listening

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There so much talk about Facebook and other west coast megacorps (the 5 stacks) listening in on our conversations. To be fair its part of the reason why I don’t like Whatsapp who own and can do what ever they like to the metadata of your conversations. It’s all become a bit of an urban legend, but to be fair the megacorps are doing an incredibly bad job explaining how things are happening (little to no transparency, but to be fair it’s not fitting with their business model).

Even a recent episode of Reply All tackled this field – #109 Is Facebook spying on you.

You can look & listen to the rising concern the public have around their privacy; and the increasing number of stories. I you can’t help but think maybe there is a change coming? Or at least I’d like to think so… but its clear there is a lack of understanding of data by the general public.

For example

“One of the things that Facebook can do is if you like something, it can advertise that thing to your friends. So the brother-in-law obviously signaled to Facebook that he was into white supremacy somehow, and Charles’ friend was liking a lot of the guy’s posts, and they were friends on Facebook, so Facebook was like, “Alright, well, why don’t I advertise this white supremacist stuff to you.”

If you actually read the Facebook EULA, it actually says this but certainly not in such clear human readable words (its been a long while since I skimmed the FB eula, so may have changed – but doubt it). In my own experience, it’s also very hard for people to envision scenarios where the links matter, hence it may not be the actual data but the links between the data which suddenly make people worry and care; the data taken out of context. Most have no idea how many categories of data Facebook alone are sorting us all into.

This is hard to show and demonstrate without going; without going all black mirror or someones eyes glazing over. In my experience when talking about data most people shrug and say things like, “nothing to hide.”

Glass room recipt

During Mozfest this year I got the chance to walk around the Glass Room on Charing Cross Road, with the people at the ingenious bar giving out data detox kits. The kits are interesting because it’s aimed at a mass audience and the advice although simple is generally useful. I also found some of the installations good, especially the one where you are swiping through your facebook timeline (it was twitter for me) and 2 mins later, given a printed receipt of your work. (Funny enough, it felt like a lot longer than 2mins but then again, its not really the thing I do regularlly)

We certainly need more of this!

Hopefully more of these public interjections will start to move the discussion on from urban legends to a proper informed discussion about ethical data use. I believe FB and others are capitalising on the general public ignorance and its got to stop.

Why the future of online dating is a bigger deal than you think

Mozilla Festival 2017 was great and I’m hoping to write up details as usual, but I wanted to give another pointer to Evan Prodromou for giving the session about dating on the open web.

I realize it seems trivial to people thinking only of press freedom, but romance and sexuality are a huge part of human existence. Almost all major dating sites are owned by a single company (Match.com). It’s an area that requires privacy and gradual disclosure. Open dating systems are fascinating — posting one or more profiles on the open web in a way that preserves your privacy but allows gradual disclosure and connection.

Evan’s slides had a lot in it but as there was a lot to cover, there wasn’t enough time for much discussion. On top of that, when talking about personal & sensitive topics, it sometimes takes time for people to warm up and join the discussion.

Almost 24 hours later in the same space (learning forum 2), I talked about the same subject. I started by flicking through Evan’s slides, looking at Tantek’s blog and throwing in my own thoughts about decentralised dating. As Evan said, it seems trivial to most people but it’s having a major effect on our society.

We had more discussion and although it doesn’t seem like it from the photo, had quite a few people joining. It was good to finally have that critical discussion about not just the technical make up of online dating but its good and bad effects on society and the core of our identity.

Another thing Evan started was to submit the problem space of online dating to the W3C as a community interest group. Although I couldn’t find it in the list of submitted, although he did start adding to a etherpad.

Whats that? Peer pressure?

Whatsapp on a phone

I recently came back from mobile roaming in Sarajevo; its been a while since I’ve been to a county where data roaming wasn’t as straight forward as its become. Even doing the standard replying to the automatic text didn’t work. (Although this isn’t about roaming data, although I have a long history when it comes to international roaming data).

It was kinda weird the assumption that everyone would be on Whatsapp. I understand the limitations of text messages and the greed of the mobile operators in the past around MMS and EMS, has crippled its use. Especially at 50p per message when internationally roaming on EE.

My colleagues ask over and over again, why am I not on Whatsapp? To be fair many others have asked the same question. So here’s some of my reasons.

  1. I simply don’t trust Facebook (owners of Whatsapp); I removed FB from my mobile devices and only put the lite version of messenger with all its permissions removed (inlcuding contact access)
  2. I read the Whatsapp End User Licence Agreement, a few years ago and then didn’t  agree with the terms especially around who they share the metadata with. I assume its changed but I don’t see a compelling reason to do it again.
  3. I don’t trust Whatsapp’s security implentation of Signals end to end message encryption; and is it all mute if Whatsapp is sharing the metadata anyway?
  4. This isn’t just because its FB; I don’t use Googe Allo either. I use certain systems for certain things. I get for most people Whatsapp is their ICQ but the benefit isn’t enough to make me use it.
  5. I don’t like the net neutrality issue, with certain mobile operators giving it priority over other services.

End of the day, everyone needs to make their own decision based on real information; not on social & peer pressure. Happy for you to be on Whatsapp but I won’t be joining you.

Is silicon valleys dystopia the public sectors utopia?

I was listening to the start of This week in Tech on Monday morning as they talked about the Guardian piece titled Smartphone addiction, Silicon valley dystopia and other related stories. I couldn’t help but feel something was missing from the discussion.

The discussion focused on how to solve some of the points about unethical attention manipulation, filter bubbles, smartphone addiction, etc; all from an North American point of view. There was a sense if this was left to the government to regulate it would be a very bad thing but they were searching for a middle ground and failing. They acknowledged companies need to make money and making their services addictive/sticky is a part of this, but there was a feeling there has to be something in the middle?

Of course they never mention the public sector, as it doesn’t really factor? Its very binary and thinking about it, even in Tristan’s essay there is little notation of the middle ground.

I wonder if silicon valleys dystopia could be the public sectors utopia? However if the message is North American, it’s very unlikely to include anything about the public sector, just governments and business?

Taking the redpill and washing it down with some cool-aid

Redpill

 

Myself and Elisa were on Ngunan’s upfront Radio show on Sunday. I made a clip of our discussion minus the music.

A lot was said but I found Elisa’s views looking at the manosphere quite surprising. I did hear that the 2016 documentary, Redpill is well worth watching because of Cassie’s video diaries which show the conflict she has in her own mind and believes.

So I watched it, unfortunately the day after the show, it would have been really useful to be clear when on the radio.

From the documentary;

  • Mens rights – Want to change the system
  • Men going their own way (Mgtow) – Want to leave the system
  • Redpill community – Want to take advantage of the system

Its a interesting distinction.

I do agree there are differences in the manosphere, just like there are differences in the feminist-sphere.

But through-out the documentary I could see elements of truth, some were blown up and smudged into a complete argument. This is classic misinformation technique, elements of truth are mixed in with lots of falsehoods.

A large part of the documentary is around paternity (fathers rights which was touched upon in the show) which is a big issue just like domestic violence, mental illness, self-abuse and suicide. But although its a large problem some of the theories are built and discussed with too much misinformation. It is clear that there is a lot of fighting between the different groups, even on core issues which effect both sexes like genital mutilations, cancer, etc.

But even with all that I’m still calling myself a feminist.

I wish I remembered to bring up clear cut things like gamergate.

I wonder about the effect of Instagram on our minds

I have been having a discussion with Tim about Instagram recently. Interestingly its also the launch of Ingrid Goes West.

From tmdb

Ingrid becomes obsessed with a social network star named Taylor Sloane who seemingly has a perfect life. But when Ingrid decides to drop everything and move west to be Taylor’s friend, her behaviour turns unsettling and dangerous.

It doesn’t sound great, something like Friend Request and Unfriended.

Anyway…

I don’t use it because I have issues with the whole setup of instagram. Without going into too much detail, here’s the main points.

  1. I don’t agree with Instagram’s end user licence, which includes using your photos in almost anyway they like.
  2. I don’t like the creation of instagrams is all within the same app (for example I use a Plume on Android and Corebird on Ubuntu) to access Twiter and I create, edit and post to twitter not within twitter (it a important distinction)
  3. I don’t like the fact Instagram isn’t really public, indexable or accessible unless you are on instagram.
  4. I have a problem with filtered views of real life. Its bad enough that every photo you see has been doctored/photoshopped/filtered/algorithmicilly messed. But I don’t want to see them everyday.

Photoshopping

And the last point is a key one, as its clear there are serious problems with seeing this level of fakeness everywhere. Like it or not, it becomes normalised.

I hear some of you say this is no more than what Twitter or Facebook do/enable? and I would somewhat agree… but I have built ways to deal with this partly due to being able to use other apps or types of behaviours which run against the way it was engineered.

For example I don’t really look at the Facebook timeline, as I know its trying to lock me into a filter bubble, somewhat of my own making. Yes I could do a Robert Scoble and manage it into a better bubble, but I just don’t think its worthy of attention; plus Facebook doesn’t share this data in their data portability exports meaning all that work isn’t transferable at all. I know being without Facebook makes things very tricky but I can manage my activity within it right now, this might change of course as FB gets more greedy

Its easy to blame Instagram for all types of ills but its not solely them. Its a combination of Instagram and its share holders, the silicon valley push for winner takes all adoption of everything (dare I say anything about Uber in London) but most of all; ourselves for being suckers to peer pressure, advertising and patterns which are so established others are telling us exactly how they work!

We blindly follow suit without thinking about the long term effects. Mark Manson suggests the smartphone is going to be this generations cigarettes. When thinking about most peoples experience of the smartphone with Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp preloaded, I can’t help but think actually he’s got a good point. Its the perfect Black Mirror episode, total fantasy as Rachel said!

Black MIrror s3ep1

We seem to be playing with fire without a true understanding of the consequences. Even if we do, how do you make this clear to others who are suckered in? How do you make this clear in the face of peer & social pressure? How do we make this clear to the next generation, the ones born with visions of a unattainable perfection all around them?

I’m not a sucker and won’t be joining to be a poster or lurker just so I can scroll through my friends fake reality pictures.

The city mouse and the county mouse from Bill Maher

Bill Mahar’s piece about City, Country and Trump is spot on (it doesn’t seem to be geo-blocked in the UK for me). Funny, insightful and sadly true. You can apply a similar idea to the Brexit vote.

if you want to understand why America is so divided don’t talk about Republicans and Democrats or red states and blue states read the story the city mouse and the country mouse currently being sold under the new titled what happened but the original was about two mice who learn that you’re either one of the other city or country and the same really could be said for America when you fly over it you don’t see red states and blue states you see vast stretches of land where there’s nothing and then every once in a while a city.
Its also interesting to contrast this with City Boy and Country girl discussion had for the listening project.

Is it wrong to resent going Dutch on a date?

First Dates

I’ve made my thoughts about who pays on the first date pretty clear. But I have been party to conversations with women who say they would like it if the man did pay. Without judgment, I listen and there is something of a tear between the mind and heart.

They class themselves as modern and subscribe to a lot of the feminist ideas (mind) but deep down in their (heart) they would like the man to pay. I can see they are conflicted about the whole thing.

No better to see some of this than in the guardian piece Is it wrong to resent going Dutch on a Tinder date?

It started successfully enough. The conversation was flowing in the semi-swanky restaurant my date had invited me to. We talked jobs, family and travelling. He wanted nibbles, I picked at them and, when the bill came, I offered to split as I always do. But later, when he got uncomfortably touchy-feely on the dance-floor (there was live music) and asked me back to his (I politely declined), I was weirded out – but not all that surprised.

Although I have to say @GeorginaLawton does point to some of the power struggle I have heard my friends talk about. (although I have to say, going to a semi-swanky restaurant on the first date and getting touchy-feely is certainly a problem regardless)

Would I have been less offended at his suggestive behaviour if he had whacked out a wad of £50 notes? Admitting “yes” suggests that I’m prepared to let dating turn into a “buy and sell service” placing myself as the “commodity”

And this is the issue!

Taken in isolation, going Dutch and being asked for sex are two semi-expected outcomes of a mad, mad, Tinder-tinted world. But combined with all of the above, they create a cringeworthy hybrid of poor dating etiquette that is worthy of ghosting, where you simply disappear (don’t ever ghost – it’s brutal).

I blame Tinder for a lot of things but this isn’t a time for blaming Tinder or any other site/service (although I’d love to)

This is a societal legacy and I feel it has some similarity to the Stockholm syndrome. Turning dating into a buy and sell service, as Georgina admits is exactly what it use to be and there are still echos/reflections of this in dating and way beyond in society. Back then things seemed simpler, the man bought the dinner therefore proving he was interested, could pay for the women and his statute in society? (i’m trying ok…). Legacy & nostalgia is hard to get over but it is the enemy of progress.

I certainly wouldn’t blame Georgina for how she feels, I understand but I don’t agree. I guess the fact she can verbalise it is a good thing and maybe in the black and white of guardian she will shake off the shackles of the legacy past?

Its almost perfect Guilty feminist material.

The new state of geek chic?

Would you date this man?
Would you date a 36 year old divorcee who is a left-leaning feminist and self confessed geek? If so you should contact me

I subscribe to being a geek and not a nerd or a dork. I’ve written about nerd values in the past (which I obviously say is geek values now)

In work I’ve been having this ongoing discussion about not wanting to be rich and famous just making the world a little bit better a place to live. Its easy to be singled minded and follow the money where it leads, but the harder thing is to live in your means and try and make the world a little better.

Some have boiled this down to, Do what you love, love what you do. Which is a nice but feels a little generic?

So rethinking this… I’ve started to add to this by describing the geek chic/lifestyle as…

Always living life, always learning and always on the go.

This seems to fit well no matter your siltation.

  • Always living life, can be anything from climbing a mountain, soaking up the atmosphere around you, helping others, what ever; as long as you are living life and pushing yourself, living in the moment and enjoying it.
  • Always learning, is a hat tip, full head nod (or heck a dab if your into that) for lifelong learning. Never too old to learn and if you are not learning then what are you doing? That is unless you are educating/helping others, although the act of helping others is a learning experience too.
  • Always on the go, doesn’t necessarily mean going physical places. It can mean other types of progress like reaching out to more people with works, getting ahead in your career, etc. Getting mentally ahead and never settling unless you are ready for it.

Intersectional Feminism…

Don't forget white women voted for Trump

I can’t really believe I missed this term and thoughts around this photo.

Washington Post

New York Tines

I first heard about the term when listening to the podcast what mom never told you.

There is a great interview with the woman in the picture

TR: Why did you decide to create the sign “White Women Voted for Trump”?

AP: We need to be really honest about why we’re here. There was a sense for me of being at the march and in community with folks that were wanting to resist this horrifying reality, but also not wanting folks to get complacent.

TR: How did people respond to you and your sign?

AP: Most were saying, “Not this white woman,” or “No one I know!” I’d say, “[Fifty-three percent] of white women voted for Trump. That means someone you know, someone who is in close community with you, voted for Trump. You need to organize your people.” And some people said, “Oh, I’m so ashamed.” Don’t be ashamed; organize your people.

That’s why the photo was such a great moment to capture, because it tells the story of white women in this moment wanting to just show up in a very superficial way and not wanting to do the hard work of making change, of challenging their own privilege. You’re here protesting, but don’t forget: The folks that you live with every single day—and probably some of the women that decided to come to the march—voted for Trump, made the decision to vote against self-interests to maintain their white supremacist way of life.

Its something I’ve thought a lot about, especially when thinking about diversity and inclusion. Its one of the things which has bugged me when thinking about the numerous women in tech events. Not taking anything away from them but if all the women are white, middle class and went to the same university – then we got a long way to go.

Maybe it also starts to explain why a lot of the women (of colour if thats what you prefer) I talk to are unsure about the term feminist?

Rather than weight in to this topic with limited insight, I thought I’d share some things I saw and heard.

Want to Learn More about Intersectional Feminism? Watch Shows created by Black Women

Why feminism can’t ignore race

100 Women 2016: Is feminism just for white women?

A split in sisterhood

Story of privilege and entitlement… why gender equality is good for everyone

Yes, we all know it’s the right thing to do. But Michael Kimmel makes the surprising, funny, practical case for treating men and women equally in the workplace and at home. It’s not a zero-sum game, but a win-win that will result in more opportunity and more happiness for everybody.

This is such a great talk, so well told and so many things I can pull out but this one sums it up perfectly…

Feminism will make it possible for the first time for men to be free.

Why VPNs are essential regardless what others say

I tweeted during a ride on the Manchester Metrolink tram but things didn’t seem to come across as I was hoping.

My main point is the image from the mainstream media is VPNs is for pirates and the darkweb. But in actual fact its part of modern day web usage.

I was trying to tweet something but needed to look for a slide presentation which I thought I had on slideshare.net. When looking at slideshare on the metrolink wifi I got a Cisco page about content filtering.

I thought this was just because some of my slides might trigger something but nope its the whole of slideshare.net.

I was pretty annoyed about the whole thing and fired up my home VPN.

Done…

Only took my journey from MediaCityUK to St Peters Square to do all this, hence the confused tweeting. Plus I couldn’t work out where the new Google assistant saves the screenshots.

Didn’t find what I thought I had on my slideshare but I did find it elsewhere, I’ll go into details in my next blog post.

 

Are we still asking who pays?

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I have expressed my opionion on this for many years and it seems more and people are catching on.

Maybe Ngunan will catch on too… till then, here’s some sensible rules for those who are a little more liberated. The thing you should always do on a first date if you want a successful love life

  1. Leave gender stereotypes to Donald Trump
  2. Whilst it’s kind for someone to offer to pay the whole hog, for the sake of ease it’s always better to split or take turns buying rounds, regardless of who asked who or who has a nicer handbag
  3. Save champagne and caviar for another time, or at least until you know their last name.

A couple days to still enter a proposal for Mozfest 2017’s decentralization space

MozFest

Its always the case that on the run up to a deadline, things go a little nuts and every year Mozfest proposals are the same. I have already made calls for people to submit proposals in the past and we have got some very interesting proposals through including one which has really got me going.

So you have 2 and a bit days to submit a proposal for the decentralized space still, what should you do?

  1. Read the space description!
  2. Have a read through the submitted proposals by others.
  3. Find something which hasn’t been mentioned or a unique take on a existing concept. For example if you submit another what is blockchain talk, its highly likely to be dropped.(I do find it ironic no one has linked decentralization with net neutrality for example. We actually have no talks about this important issue)
  4. Submit your proposal! It doesn’t need to be complete, it can even be a placeholder to something unique and wonderful. Its also worth bearing in mind theres 3 types of sessions (workshop/talk, hackspace and gallery space). We are on the look out for things which can run for longer periods of time than just a hour too.
  5. Think if you really need a travel stipend. This is usually a big filter as we only have a few and only give it to those who really really need it. London is expensive but maybe theres a way to use Airbnb or Couchsurfing? I would also point out South East London hotels are far cheaper than central London hotels. Transport to North Greenwich is also less bad too.

I would also say most of this applies to the other spaces too…

So what you waiting for? Get writing…!

If you need some ideas… have a read of these

I especially liked what Stowe Boyd said in a interview which sums up some of our thought and direction for the decentralized space. He was answering a question about the future of work, but talked about what happens when you have decentralized networks.

Work can be thought of being two overlapping spheres: the personal and the organizational. Organizations are becoming looser because there is a need for increased agility. This translates into what I call the 3D workforce: decentralized, distributed, and discontinuous. Decentralization increases autonomy of sub-organizations and individuals. Distributed work means both distributed in space but also an increasing reliance on freelancers and partner companies linked in cooperative networks. And discontinuous because we are constantly lifeslicing and workslicing – shifting from one project to another ten times over the course of a day, working wherever we are, and blurring the distinction between work and non-work. This has changed everything in our personal sense of work, and is leading us to have more connections, but of weaker strength, which may sound bad but it isn’t.

This is the kind of thing we are after… the effects on people, places, society not just the tech.

If you have any questions please reach out to us the team running the decentralization space on twitter or via github.