39 days till Brexit and we still don’t know whats going to happen…

Its super depressing and even with 39 days left till Brexit, we still don’t know what on earth is going to happen. Even Jon Oliver can’t express how painful it is to watch the news everyday and see the PM of the UK trying to act strong with a crappy deal and following the will of the UK people.

Its a crappy situation the PM stepped into but I’m far from forgiving as she could delay article 50 and delay this clusterf**k. There is no way we should be allowed to leave without clear plans and a proper deal, if thats what we must do (I of course don’t buy it, I want to stay in the European union and always have done).

All I can do is put my head in my hands and think about how to escape the UK.

Moon Festival: 50 years since we landed on the moon!

The Moon 50 Festival

Every once in a while delight of getting involved with something from near the start of its journey. These types of projects tend to have some very driven but cool people behind it.

Livia Filotico is the founder/creative director of the festival and been my main contact. She started the whole thing with a kickstarter. She didn’t get the money she requested but is pursuing the whole thing anyway, looking for other funding elsewhere.

So why the moon festival?

Celebrating people’s relationship with the Moon across cultures, time and disciplines and coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing in July 2019.

This year it will be 50 years since we first landed on the moon! It feels like lifetimes ago but actually its 50 years this July. When Livia explained this to me, I was shocked there was more celebrations planned for a massive achievement of human engineering and spirit.

Moon 50 Festival

Plans are a foot including a magical first event with Margaret Atwood. The festival was recently in the guardian’s 10 european art anniversaries in 2019 alongside some incredible art events.

I have been in talks with Livia for the BBC to be involved in some way too, but more importantly helping her out by connecting her with different people I know. We tried a number of things including attempting to put on a TEDxMoon! How amazing would that have been?!

The whole festival has a human storytelling emphases, which fits well with some of my research. But I was very happy for Livia to take me on board as a digital advisor recently…

The whole thing is shaping up well but could be massively accelerated with a few more sponsors behind some of the planned events. Interestingly its not just happening in birth place of modern time (London greenwich/woolwich) but also a couple of other places in the world. Maybe if you are interested in running a part of the moon festival in your city/country, get in touch with Livia. Would be amazing to see more international connected events.

Sharing really is caring? Something we seem to have forgotten?

Sharing is caring

I haven’t been to a Manchester Futurists for a long while, But I saw the topic of The Future of Transportation with Nick King and Gary Barker and decided it would be a good one to attend with my petrol head partner. Now to be fair Nick and Gary did say it was going to be all about the car and it makes sense with them both coming from Autotrader. So will forgiven them for talking about cars and ownership not transport.

During the Nick and Garry talked about many things but one of their main points was about how selfish we are as a nation/culture. This is why ownership of cars is still going to be a large part of the future and things like car sharing, pooling, etc will still be a rarity.

I can’t remember the exact questions but generally they asked;

Who has used Airbnb? Quite a few yes were heard
Who has booked an Airbnb in the last year? Fewer people say yes
Who has booked a place with a stranger? People smile and giggle but theres about one or two yes’s.

Conclusion people value their privacy and the sharing economy will be mainly lost on Brits because of this. Now thats quite a step but lets go with it… They used Airbnb but also suggested similar for Uber, Zipcar and all the carpooling systems.

Future of transport slide

Now I was slightly seething at this. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of problems including diversity with the sharing economy if you like to call it that (how ironic).

I don’t disagree with what was said or pointed out but its worrying. As populations move into cities, the very idea of sharing resources is critical.

Over the last year I’ve watched when people talk about their ideal homes, default to a physically detached house. Then watched the confusion when I talk about a duplex flat. Why would you want that? Surely you want your own garden, your own space, your own…. Well actually no. I like shared gardens, I like real public spaces. I like public transport and as a host of Airbnb a shared spare room.

I do like doing Airbnb in a similar fashion. Some of the best Airbnb’s I’ve been in are when there is one host and myself. For example when I went to Madrid and Copenhagen. I spent a bit of time in the company of the host but never too much time. We both understood, when to back off and give some room.

i know its just me but the difference is the planet is becoming over populated and resources are getting tighter and more costly. The ability to sharing is not just important but is becoming critical. In the future of transport there was a suggestion that autonomous cars will have their own lane. I shook my head thinking when is there going to be room to fit another lane in. Most of the lanes are being converted to bus and bike lanes.

Through out I felt like I needed to remind people being human is a team sport. If sharing isn’t part of your thing, its time to fight it out with the millionaires in New Zealand.

Update

I noticed the latest NPR/TED radio hour is all about Finite resource, something I was thinking while listening to the original talk and writing this blog post.

In a world with limited resources, can we find ways to salvage what’s disappearing? Can we innovate our way out of a finite landscape? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about living with less.

Rather than living with less, can we also share more and make our limited resources go further?

Wired Live: Why We Need to Talk More About Mental Health

When rapper Professor Green was a kid, the word ‘mental’ was chucked about carelessly – but the phrase ‘mental health’ was something he never heard mentioned. When he was 24, his dad took his own life – and there began a course towards greater self-awareness about mental illness and understanding of the need to talk about mental suffering collectively. He speaks to journalist Stephen Armstrong about his work since then, and why things still aren’t getting better.

I found this really good and refreshing to hear. I know very little about Professor Green but its really good to hear his thoughts, in this short wired live interview.

10 years of data surveillance challenge

So many people are doing the Facebook 10 year challenge and I’m so happy to see the Wired’s piece asking the question of what Facebook could be doing with the photos.

Of course some people think its all blown out of proportion, cue Jeff Jarvis on Twit recently. As Leo says at the end of the clip, Facebook and others will lie and claim one thing, but from past experience we have caught them lying.

More gender issues I’ve spotted

http://nobaddatesjustgoodstories.tumblr.com/post/173444153673/the-insecurities-of-mankind

I had planned a series of blog posts about different gender items I’ve seen in blog posts, the news , etc but never got the time. Instead I kept adding them to wallabag and tagging them to blog.

So think of this blog post as a series of micoblog with little comments after each link.

No baby slings or bananas: are these the new fragile masculinity rules?

This one sums up so many things I hear and can’t stand. Shes right, how fragile is masculinity that eating a banana in a certain way can cause idiots to worry. Its frankly so stupid I can’t bring myself to say anything more that what I’ve said before.

We can’t want gender equality and still expect guys to pay for the first date and Viewpoint: ‘Why most men should pay on first dates’

Dare I say anything more…? To be fair its been a long time since I mentioned who pays on the first date. But to be fair there is arguments and tensions, which is why it keeps coming up. For example if you take the massive gender pay gap and then exercise it in who pays for the bill. Most heterosexual dates would have the man paying 20-33% more for the bill. This was noted to me and I pointed out the minority pay gap is pretty awful too making things even more tricky on a first date.

How thrillers offer an antidote to toxic masculinity and Flirting and you’ll be called a rapist? Oh please grow up, Superman

Lessons in how to be a good man? Maybe? Not so sure as the old-fashioned view from Superman actor Henry Cavill says it all. Generally the men in  thrillers I’ve seen, might be better than the toxic masculinity you see now but not exactly enlighten to feminism.

What Do Men Think It Means To Be A Man?

So this is very interesting research. I originally heard the love, sex and money issue a while ago, but didn’t dig into the survey till recently.

When I read,

Pop culture was a source of inspiration for an understanding of manhood for younger men (42 percent of those age 18 to 34), while only 17 percent of men 35 to 64 and 12 percent of men 65 and over said the same.

My instant thought was something of a worry, as I’m not seeing the best examples in pop culture (although I have to admit I don’t spend much time in pop culture so maybe I’m automatically biased).

The society pressure and daily concerns was another key one, which I’d love to have similar results from a decade ago and a decade before that.

The question How would you say it’s an advantage to be a man at your work right now? Blew my mind…

59% of men surveyed didn’t think Men are taken more seriously, Men make more money, Men have more choice, Men have more professional development opportunities, Men generally have more support from their managers, Men are explicitly praised more often?

This is delusion at its worst, even Even with the #metoo movement making this super clear. But it is consistent with a conversation I had in my barbars a while ago to be fair, when I mentioned going to see the Guilty Feminist live recording in Liverpool.

All of the survey data is on Github, which feels like could be more data to add to the Modern Romance reddit data. Some of this may appear in my book one day.

I’m in the Inclusive top 100 #IB100

I’m extremely happy to be announced as one of the top 100 most influential Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) leaders in the UK tech sector. The list, produced by board appointments firm Inclusive Boards, was released today at the House of Commons as part of the official launch of the Inclusive Tech Alliance.

I have been sitting on this news for quite some time as it was embargoed from publication.

Inclusive Boards Logo

I’m unsure who(m) nominated me (lots of names come to mind) but I am very pleased they did. Maybe it was something to do with my keynote at Afrotech earlier this year? Maybe it might be something to do with Afrofutures a few years ago? Or maybe its a combination of different things and just me and my outlook. Its clear as day I have been fighting for diversity and inclusion at work and everywhere I go, its critical and I’ve become less and tolerant when theres a willful lack of it.

I say tolerant and it might be a strong word, even the wrong word but I do feel very strongly about it and every-time I read the figures of actual levels of racial diversity it just eats me up inside. There’s a real push to increase gender diversity which people keep confusing with actual diversity.

I’m always reminded of this picture when thinking about gender diversity in tech. Like gender, like sexuality, etc (Likewise for Neuro-diversity but thats another story.). Racial diversity needs an equal amount of people pushing for it too. The inclusive tech alliance can help make this a reality. Never underestimate how important this can be for young BAME children living in forgotten parts of the country wondering about their place in the future. I was reminded of this very recently in Macedonia of all places…

The Alliance has been set up in response to new research by Inclusive Boards that will show the sector is significantly lagging behind others on diversity within senior leadership. The founder of the Inclusive Tech Alliance (ITA), Samuel Kasumu, who is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Race Disparity Advisory Board said:

“Technology is increasingly playing an important role in driving our economy and there is a great need to ensure that everyone can fully participate in the jobs and opportunities technology brings. Ian Forrester and others featured in this list today are role models that will inspire the next generation, and hopefully help to improve diversity within the sector.”

I can do better, we can all do better, and being part of the inclusive tech alliance, will help greatly to get the message of diversity and inclusion out there. Especially in the tech sector which seem to shy away from the arts. A sector which dominates so much of our modern lives but fail badly with diversity.

Without technology I would be a very different person and I want to help many others realise there true potential without prejudice and without fear. If I can be a part of this, I will hopefully inspire others to join us as we drive the much needed change…

I won’t be at the event in the house of commons, unfortunately. But look out for the full list of people in newspapers and online.

Thank you!

When Berlin was raw, unresolved and club culture ruled

90's Berlin

I am quite lucky to have visited Berlin in the 90’s. Ok it was at the very end of the 90’s but only 10 years after the Berlin wall had separating East and West Berlin (1999). It was quite a different place from now, but thats true of most of the cities in the world right?

I happened to have been in Berlin during the nineties.berlin exhibition last week and unlike Helsinki’s Amos Rex, actually got a ticket and visited.

It was quite something, the first room blew me away and taught me things I hadn’t really thought about but Carl (my East Berlin friend) had mentioned a few times. For example the impact of the clash of west and east on the police force and law. It was amazing to see and read about the world famous Tresor, which I never visited partly because I was somewhat musically intimated by such hard techno at the time.

90's Berlin

My dreams of visiting the Love Parade were lifted and then sunk as I read about the parade then heard about the commercial downfall of the parade. A lesson other parades should consider. When I actually planned to go in 2004 but it was cancelled. Always put Burning man and Love parade on my wish list but Love parade was actually do able. At least it was till it was shut down in the late zeros. Missed out on that one.

90's Berlin

I personally found the talking heads really interesting to hear, as there were a variety of them including a artists, swatters, police officer, hooligan, politician, djs, etc. I found Westbam and Danielle De Piccicotto really interesting as they mentioned Dr Motte, who I had heard of but completely forgot about. Also Westbam mentioned Eastbam, which makes sense there would be a Eastbam.

90's Berlin

My only issue I felt was the Berlin wall and the selling of parts of the wall. It felt really strange especially since the whole exhibit felt very critical of the whole gentrification of Berlin. I wasn’t the only one who felt this too.

90's Berlin

As a whole the exhibit is mind blowing and well worth the money to go visit. I would like to spend more time there next time as I got rushed through the last part due to the exhibit closing. The bot info system worked good and beats downloading some app or relying on QR codes.

It certainly captured some of the rawness of Berlin in the 90’s and made me realise how unresolved everything was back then. Still love Berlin.

A spy under the tree for the holidays?

The Observer on IOT and spying

Quite enjoyed Guardian’s piece about the raff of home iot devices coming to the home these holidays.

If you’ve so far withstood the temptation to install a smart speaker in your home, worried about the potential privacy pitfalls and a bit embarrassed about the notion of chatting aimlessly to an inanimate object, brace yourselves. This Christmas, the world’s biggest tech giants, including Amazon, Google and Facebook, are making another bid for your living room, announcing a range of new devices that resemble tablets you can talk to.

It was a real welcome surprise to read/hear Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino too. Her new book Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life is pretty much on the money.

“It’s very clear what they’re trying to do: sell you more stuff through third-party use of your own information,”

The fear about whether or not such devices are actually always on causes some users to relegate their smart speakers to corridors. “Think about where in the home you want to use these things, particularly if you think they might be listening all the time,”

I had the joy of capturing some of Alexandra’s early thoughts while putting together the ethics of personal data video interviews back in 2015.

I think the only thing missing from the article is a link to Mozilla’s buyers guide, which charts in a friendly consumer fashion whats actually going on underneath the surface of the iot devices we may get over the holiday period.

50 years since the Olympics Black Power salute

1968 Black Power Salute

The 1968 Olympics Black Power Salute was a political demonstration conducted by African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony on October 16, 1968, at the 1968 Summer Olympics in the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City. After Smith and Carlos won gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the 200-meter running event, they turned on the podium to face their flags, and to hear the American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Each athlete raised a black-gloved fist, and kept them raised until the anthem had finished. In addition, Smith, Carlos, and Australian silver medalist Peter Norman all wore human rights badges on their jackets. In his autobiography, Silent Gesture, Smith stated that the gesture was not a “Black Power” salute, but a “human rights salute”. The event is regarded as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games.

One of the most powerful statements in history and its so weirdly ironic looking at the NFL players taking the knee at the same national anthem.

Actually… in the same article

John Carlos and Tommie Smith made headlines across the world when they raised the black power salute on the podium after winning in the 1968 Olympics. That protest brought them death threats, and they were expelled from the games.

Lot to take away and think about…

Its time to regulate Airbnb…

No Tourists allowed - thanks for your collaboration

There has been a lot said about Airbnb in the media and to be fair I have talked about it myself a few times. But I keep on reading them anyway. Then I read the comment is free piece in the Guardian, right before I go to Barcelona too.

Barcelona is a city-break destination practically all year round, which means it’s struggling with more than just a surfeit of drunken stag parties and queues outside tapas bars. Landlords have realised they can make more money out of short lets to well-off Airbnb users than from renting to conventional tenants who live and work in the city year round, so when contracts come up for renewal it’s not uncommon to find the rent suddenly shooting up to levels that young Spaniards can’t pay. Once they’re forced out of the neighbourhood, the empty flat promptly disappears into what’s still sometimes euphemistically known as the “sharing economy”, although what happens next sounds like the antithesis of sharing. Those lucky enough to own a desirable property get steadily luckier, by pimping it out to the highest bidders. Meanwhile, those who don’t have such an asset become ever less likely to get one, as property prices are pushed up across the city. Thus does inequality harden, and resentment deepen, while the failure of mainstream parties to solve the problem drives the young and frustrated ever closer to the political fringes.

All the stuff mentioned in others but then, but then the killer to my hippyish ideas for Airbnb.

So much for the earnestly hippyish vibe of the original Airbnb model, which was supposed to be all about creating a cosy-sounding “global community” by linking up adventurous strangers in search of more authentic, home-from-home travel experiences. And so much, too, for the idea of democratising the travel industry by letting the little guy make a buck on the side. In some tourist hotspots Airbnb is now morphing from an amateur operation into a slick professional one, with landlords amassing multiple properties just as they once did with buy-to-let, and using agencies to manage their burgeoning empires.

The romantic, if sometimes risky, fantasy of swapping lives with a local for a few nights and seeing the city through their eyes is being replaced with a more corporate, impersonal experience. Sign here for the keys; check out promptly in time for the next guest to arrive. Too bad that what could have been a young couple’s starter flat is now just another asset to be sweated, and one that probably stands empty half the time.

As the piece says and I am somewhat in agreement about regulation in this sense, as things have gotten out of hand. But the pressure needs to come from both sides and I don’t know if people care to do the right thing? For example there are still a lot of listings on Airbnb for Barcelona which don’t have the LUT number which is required for Barcolona Airbnbs now.

it’s uncomfortable knowing that your cheap getaway comes at such a hidden cost, guilt seems unlikely to put many travellers off

It would make sense if Airbnb would check this somehow or even more fundamentally, provide a space to input this info and highlight it to potential Airbnb guests. Right now you have to tack it on the end of the description which isn’t ideal.

When looking for somewhere, I asked a few Airbnb hosts for their LUT number and one all but laughed in the message back. If Airbnb really gave a crap about whats happening to these cities and locations its the least they would do.

What is the Public service internet?

Myself and the Hon's

Its been thrown around a lot and if you search for the term public service internet you will click on something from Adrian Hon or Dan Hon. You will see stuff from others like chromatrope and even my own posts in searches. Or good searches will reveal related terms like Digital public space from newspapers like the Guardian and of course straight from Tony Ageh.

But not much from the BBC, so its quite exciting to finally see something more official.

BBC R&D researching the public service internet and looking for partners who share similar values.

My Edinburgh Fringe festival 2018

Mark Thomas

Its been 11 years since I really went to the Edinburgh festival. Back then I was running BBC Backstage and via some smart people decided to put on the Edinburgh TV Unfestival. I got to a few events but never really got going. So 11 years later, with my partner I was back.

The comedians make a living from word of mouth, I felt it would be wrong not to write a quick summary of what I thought of each one.

Friday 3 Aug

  • Abigoliah Schamaun: Do You Know Who I Think I Am?!  – Underbelly Cowgate at 21:00
    She was great, very funny and the smart deconstruction of comedy was just awesome. Well worth it
  • Werewolf: Live – Underbelly Cowgate at 22:50
    I saw this and just had to be there, werewolf has so much potential to be funny and this 8 person game with the audience was hysterical. Hate getting voted off first and there was a weird sense of something going on. So I raised the stakes with black lives matter which really got things going. If you love werewolf, you will love this. Good stuff!
  • Hate ‘n’ Live – Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters at 0015
    People put topics in a hat for the 4 comics to hate on, what could go wrong? Well ask Chris McGlade, who took it too far and had to be told not to sexually attack the audience. It was uncomfortable to say the least and I did notice some people leave. Luckily Leo Kearse and Nick Elleray kept things enjoyable. Sure Hate’n’live could be fun but that night was so-so, even with jokes about who pays on the first date… Wonder who put that one in the hat? (my partner said laughing to herself)

Saturday 4th Aug

  • Robin Morgan: Honeymoon – laughing horse at 1600
    Recommended from one of my partners friends, it was enjoyable mainstream comedy, nothing edgy, just nice. Well told too.
  • Kevin Quantum: Vanishing Point – Cow Barn in Underbelly Bristo Square at 18:45.
    This was likely one of the worst things I saw the long weekend. Kevin was good but not a derren brown or penn & teller. The magic was further spoiled by sitting in the front row. But it could have been worst I guess.
  • Chris Henry: Around the World in 80 Dates – Clover in Underbelly Bristo Square at 20:10
    Ok Chris was funny his comedy did strike home with me but it wasn’t as good as some of the other acts on the other days.
  • 2 Girls, 1 Cup… of Comedy – Just the Tonic at The Mash House at 23:15
    It was another good comedy stand up from two women.. Things were going well for the second one till someone threw up at the back. The already hot room started to smell badly. Good fun regardless

Sunday 5th Aug

  • Mark Thomas – Check Up: Our NHS at 70 –  Traverse Theatre at 10:00
    I hated waking up early and I was cursing Mark Thomas for a 10am start especially after 2 girls 1 cup less than 10 hours before. But Mark Thomas was incredible and likely the best of my weekend. Thoughtful, funny and something to take away from the 90mins.
  • Brexit stage left – Cannons gait at 1610
    Reasonable free gig with some good laughs, nothing about brexit however. Wasn’t bad but nothing noteworthy for me
  • Good Grief – Tolbooth Market at 1730
    Such a good stand up story with a audience of me, my partner and a stranger. The storytelling was told very well and really took us for a ride around her life. Deserves a watch for sure!
  • Holt and Talbot: Mansplaining Feminism – City Cafe at 2000
    Oh boy, this was funny and I get the whole point. It was like the guilty feminist’s opening played out over a series of comically role play. Fun and interesting.
  • Terrible Sex Tips: Live and Uncut – Grassmarket 4 at 21:10
    Remember when I won 2nd prize at Smutslam? Well the host Cameron took to the stage with her sex tips or rather a deconstruction of the sex tips you get in magazines and other places. It was a rallying cry for diversity of thought, communication and emotional intelligence. Next to Mark Thomas, I think it was one of my highlights from the fridge. Lots to take away for anybody.
  • Kitchen Party Action – Laughing horse Espionage at 2245
    In a cramp almost bunker like room only saved by the massive fans, was some good standup comedy. Nothing too much, just standup which makes you chuckle and laugh even when its so late. Glad we saw the 6ft 5inch comic on a stage which gave him about 1-2 inches of headroom. Good show lots of and smiler
  • Best of the Fest – Assembly Hall at 0000
    Things on Sunday were going great, so I decided to pay for the best of the festival and see 5 acts on a big stage. Didnt enjoy the MC (Charlie Baker) but the acts got better and better. Here’s who was on stage… Felicity Ward, Lloyd Langford, Catherine Bohart, Christ Kent, Fin Taylor. You can see why they were chosen the best for the day.
  • Late nights LOLs – Laughing Horse at 0130
    I thought after coming out the Assembly hall I should do one more before heading back to the Airbnb. So on the way back I went to the laughing horse for some free but not great comedy. The 5 comedians tried but to be fair it was late and lots fell flat. Heck  it was 2am by that point

Monday 6th Aug

  • Eat sleep shit shag – City Cafe at 1345
    Certainly a fun show in a very hot and busy venue. She was relentless with the jokes and comedy, I think in a cooler room she may have more of the audience clapping and laughing. It was good but I wouldn’t seek it out especially.
  • Sara Barron: for worst, Just the tonic at 1540
    This was great comedy, a bit for everyone and really refreshing to before the train ride back to Manchester. Highly recommended for those endless laughs. Another one of my best from the weekend.