Black and British in America

Daniel Kaluuya talking surrounded by the black panthers
Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah

There is something I have observed for decades, its being Black and British. Its something got to reflect on while reading this piece form the Guardian.

The piece is mainly about American & British cultural differences which I got to experience early in the 2000’s.

I hadn’t even reached Ithaca, the tiny university town in upstate New York – my home for the next six years, as I studied for a PhD – when the confusion over my Blackness and British accent began. I was ill-prepared for Matt, the skinny white American in a cap sitting beside me on the plane. “But you don’t seem like you’re from London,” he said (I’m from Hackney, and very proud). Matt had never been to the UK, let alone London.

I got a lot of this in a different ways.

My best story in this space (which I have told too many times, but can’t seem to find on the blog) is when me and my ex drove into a fast food place in the mid-west. She parked the car and I went in to order in advance.

I walked through the door and up to the counter to order. The young short white woman with blonde hair said to me…

“Yo-yo, brother whats up? How ya doing? What can I get ya?”

In that moment, I was really confused thinking this isn’t the way to greet someone at all? And let out a “Uhhhh, what?!” in my typical British accent.

At that moment you could see the staff member’s face descend into utter confusion. The confusion was made clear as my ex followed me and made it clear what I was thinking.

Although its quite different from the Matt story, there is still something of a disconnect/confusion which is happening. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly. Maybe a light touch of stereotyping? (depending how you look at it)

I remember always being called African-American and trying to explain, nope I’m black or UK-Black. Some interesting discussions were had too.

Colston does not represent Bristol!

Remember in the summer heat of 2020 when Bristolian’s tore down the Edward Colston statue?

Well although the police did the right thing on the day, there were of course going to be arrests and in the court of peers months later, the 4 people were found not guilty.

Justice was served I’d say, but alas some would say I’m bias…

Why is healthy only associated with morning people?

Someone doing yoga in the open air
Took me a long time to find a good picture, and when I saw it I thought about someone doing yoga in the evening. Although it could be someone doing yoga in the early morning – dammit!

So this bugs me… and I can’t be the only one?

When ever there is advice on being healthy, there is the typical advice of going to bed early and wake up early. Indicating the only way to be healthy is to be a morning person? (if you don’t subscribe to the notion of morning larks and night owls then this might sound like bull to you from the start)

I’m not the picture of health but I think its something which needs a rethink?

It’s clear some people are morning people, some are night people. Heck some are evening & afternoon people. Equating this with health feels like lazy nonsense.

I understand in the age before electricity, indoor lighting and 24hour access to a lot of things (including gyms, travel, etc), it made sense that maybe healthy people fitted the profile of someone who went to bed during darkness and got the most sunshine during the day. However maybe things are different now? Especially now Owls can work the hours which fit their natural circadian rhythm. Surely the effect of trying to fit into a world made for Larks has a negative effect and so the amount of people who are healthy Owls will increase over future generations? Just a thought?

Looking into the universe
Look what you are missing out on…larks!

Maybe if I read the scientific papers, I might be convinced one way or another. Although this or this doesn’t help my case. Although… there is this and this ha!

But I’m more thinking about the perception of larks as the image of health, pictures of people doing yoga during the sunrise, etc. My nonscientific advice follows this one, should an owl try to turn into a lark?.

Whether you’re a lark or an owl, you still likely need seven to eight hours of sleep.
• If you don’t get enough sleep, what time you go to bed or rise won’t matter-you’ll still experience the side-effects, from depression to a lack of concentration to problems with coordination.
• If you break your natural sleep cycle by forcing yourself to get up early, you’ll be tired, less attentive, and not nearly as productive throughout the day.

Something else to keep in mind: Not all “high-powered” people are early risers. Though we do hear stories about tycoons who don’t need more than four hours of sleep at night, these are the exception-not the rule.

Last year, scientists discovered that our skin cells may hold the clues to whether or not we are larks or owls. That’s right: you’re internal clock may be pre-programmed to be an early riser or late-nighter. So don’t mess with Mother Nature. Go to bed when you are tired, and get up when you are well-rested. Period.

This is consistent with everything I have read to date, also begging the question I answered at the start?

Of course I wrote this at night and published it at night.

Long live the night owls!

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2022)

Mozfest 2022

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed thinking about the security & privacy of live facial recognition, Qualcomm’s always on smartphone camera and the erosion of community over convenience.

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

You are seeing aspects of this with seeing the work around better AI pictures, Lush closed down its social media accounts. and even Elon Musk & Jack Dorsey’s doubts about Web3.


Mozilla Festival 2022 tickets now available

Ian thinks: There is so much to love about the Mozilla festival and 2022 will include a virtual mozfest and a more distributed programme over months. Its exciting to be part of something special.

App tracking via tunnel technology

Ian thinks: I always found tunneling technologies like VPNs powerful ways to understand the characteristics of networks. Duck duck go’s app tracking uses the technique to shine a light on app surveillance on Android devices.

WordPress Matt’s humble thoughts on saving the internet

Ian thinks: Personally I find Matt Mullenweg one of the most humble and thoughtful people out of the valley. I would never underestimate him and the open interconnected services he’s creating. I find this profile of him clearly one to watch.

Technocultural through the eyes of black technology

Ian thinks: This talk by Dr Andre Brook is a strong talk given at Microsoft with a lot of pointers to positive alternative technologies and approaches which benefit all minorities.

1000 true fans, back with a vengeance?

Ian thinks: Kevin Kelly’s original blog was well thought out and this follow on looking at coming technology does give Kevin’s original blog a lot of legs.

Sleep walking into an advertisers dream

Ian thinks: Although very much early days, the studies so far are alarming and needs a lot of consideration. They had me, as someone who tracks their sleep every night.

Calculating the true environmental impact of AI

Ian thinks: Quantifying the carbon impact of different aspects of our lives is critical. What I like about this is not just applying it AI systems but the different practical methods being developed.

Could Filecoin be used for more public service purposes?

Ian thinks: Within this interesting discussion, there is aspects which could be useful for the public service internet. Shame Kevin pulls Mikeal off talking about it in detail.

The Economist’s 2022 look ahead has a couple of good points

Ian thinks: These prediction type things are everywhere at the start of the year. However I did find 2 stories about African fashion and Hybrid work, had some good points.

The last word on Meta

Ian thinks: This Vice documentary pretty much sums up everything to be said about Facebook/Meta. Even includes Lawrence Lessig along other smart people.


Find the archive here

The toxic masculinity experience

Macho is bullsh*t

On Saturday something happened which irked me.

Unisex toilets have become common with cubicles for each person. They sometimes have a shared hand wash area. It makes a lot of sense, I mean how many times have we seen the queue for the female toilets, while the male toilet line is non-exist. For the trans people it cuts right through all the toilet nonsense you hear in the fear mongering parts of the media.

The cafe was closing and I popped into the toilet before going home through the pouring Manchester rain. I put my mask on, walked to the toilet and opened the door which contains the hand wash area, baby changing and 2 cubicles. As I open the door and walk through. I’m facing 4 white men and one of them has their (I’ll be blunt) dick out and the rest are fooling around, laughing. I was not impressed at all!

The only thing you respect is stupidy

I’m shocked but also very annoyed because I’m thinking what if a young person had come through the door instead of me? Heck what if any one had come into the toilet expecting to go to the bloody toilet?!

They all laugh and the one with his private parts out, jiggles around like a flipping idiot. They say something I can only describe as laddish nonsense but I had my headphones on with my mask (so they can’t see how angry I was and likewise I couldn’t hear them well).

They parted as I look at the far open door cubicle, half expecting me to play along with their disgusting stupidity . The cubicle I head towards has the door open but with another one of the men peeing on the toilet seat which is down. I hear the others laugh saying something about I might want the other one as he’s busy trying to aim for the toilet.

So I disappear in the other cubicle, lock the door behind me and use it like a decent respectful person. But during my time in there I was even more angry about everything which just happened. When I came out, the men had left the hand washing area and were sitting by the cafe exit.

As I left they said something along the lines of its funny eh? I just shook my head with my headphones on. Kind of a shame on you all, shake of the head. They were not impressed and kidded around with each other. I left thinking what a bunch of (literally) dicks.

Your whole way of life is bullsh*t

On the walk home, I thought about what I really wanted to say and maybe I should have done more. In the end I got about 5mins into my journey home and turned back to tell the cafe what happened, knowing they would likely be long gone, I was right.

I told the serving staff and they were pretty shocked but said they were getting a bad feeling about them when they complained about why everything was gluten free. One of the staff made a good point that once the door to the toilet space is opened can be seen by anyone sitting eating their brunch not even going to the toilet. We were agreement, if they ever (not like they will) enter again, they will be told to leave. There was a suggestion to look through the CCTV, but unsure if they went ahead and did that after I left. Part of me thinks this could be important as it is a crime and maybe I should have reported it to the police?

The whole thing really annoyed me but I think I handled it the best I could. The easier thing would be to lash out (I really wanted to kick them in a certain place) or worst still  play along. But I made it very clear they were out of order without getting into a dispute. Maybe I could have done more but not sure what else?

That macho enough for you?

Its been a long time since I faced such blatant toxic masculinity. I am very aware this isn’t news for a lot of women who experience flashing and worst.

I’m interested what others would have done in my position?

You might wonder why the pictures of one eight seven? When ever I think about Toxic Masculinity, I always remember how great the film is at uncovering the macho nonsense.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2021)

Morpheus with agent smith

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed how Google & Deepmind used patients data without permissionhow aesthetics has dominated technology reviews and comparing social media’s effects to alcohol.

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

You are seeing aspects of this with seeing the EU’s first steps in creating a Interoperable Marketthe open source approach to solar power and the understanding technology won’t solve the coming climate collapse.


The metaverse is a zoo and a silicon valley surveillance dream

Ian thinks: I have many thoughts about the metaverse, but there is so much about the matrix which is apt for Silicon Valley’s metaverse, Agent Smith says “I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it.” While Morpheus says “What is the Matrix? Control.” Both fitting.

The absolute importance of trust and accountability

Ian thinks: As more and more of public services go online, the absolute importance of trust and accountability needs to be established. We can’t leave it to private enterprises as you see with meta, to provide trusted services

Rushkoff & Javis’s invite to redesign the internet

Ian thinks: I like the idea of the course, the reading list is very good. With such heavy weights I’m keen to see what may come from it?

What comes after the social feed?

Ian thinks: Its good to see some early positive public research about aspects of social we all take for granted. Look forward to further development.

The goldmine of data on our phones

Ian thinks: The EFF’s latest podcast on what the police and malicious actors do with the data on our phones once they have it for a short while is quite something to hear and think about.

Is Venture Capital as harmful as we suspect?

Ian thinks: The Freakonomics give a balanced view on venture capital. I’m less positive but also hopefully with some of the details in the podcast.

Can crypto provide wealth to black communities or is it all a trap?

Ian thinks: I’m personally deeply conflicted about crypto but very concerned at how its being pushed as a way to rebuild generational wealth within the black community. Especially by the community its self. Crypto and the Neo-liberalism narrative doesn’t seem to fit neatly.

Whats the difference between Sky, Whatsapp, Anom, Signal, etc?

Ian thinks: Sky suing the US Government is a interesting point of reference, but also begs the question of whats ok and not in the encrypted messaging future.

The enemy in the home breaking relationships?

Ian thinks: The amount of IOT device in our home and their impact on our homes and human relationships is a ongoing concern, with no little good outcome on the horizon. On a similar branch Stacey outlines her problems with her IOT home.

 


Find the archive here

Those grey advertising boxes in Manchester

Those grey advertising boxes

There has been a lot said about Manchester’s grey advertising boxes. For a lot of people it will be annoying but as someone living in the city centre, having one right outside your flat isn’t annoying but damn right stupid.

The patch of pavement is already full of parked cars which you need to dodge, then Manchester council add to the problem reducing pavement space.

No wonder why people are culture jamming them.

And you can even imagine that lovely highline in Manchester. Which just got official backing. Hopefully without the advertisement…

https://twitter.com/Paul_SLG/status/1463582931243442186

Facebook’s metaverse is a petting zoo for control

Matrix Deus Ex Machina

Right, there is so much about the metaverse, I can’t help myself but comment.

Although I do love the Iceland tourist video piss take.

Lets be clear, the metaverse and what Facebook (bloody Meta) are planning is not a metaverse any one really wants. I’m calling it the corporate metaverse, as I do think there is some useful parts which are worth exploring. However there is too much which isn’t because its always described in a commercial/capitalism space.

Neal Stephenson who coined the term in Snowcrash, did proposal a virtual real estate owned by a global commercial group. So Meta isn’t that far off the mark, especially with Ernest Cline’s Ready player one making the metaverse the literal Oasis from the real world. Leading me to the conclusion that the metaverse is not a good idea for humanity.

So I thought about it and picked out some parts, framing it within mainly the Matrix.

The metaverse under capitalism

Morpheus with a battery

This is pretty damning but in the arms of a commercial company or market, you don’t need to look far to realise the Matrix has a lot of the answers.

Quoting Morpheus in the Matrix

“What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to turn a human being into this.” *Holds up a battery*

I won’t go as far as to say a battery but rather a resource of data or funding (almost a cash cow?). The computer generated dream world is apt and the control statement is spot on!

While immersed in the computer generated dream world, we can/will  be controlled. Complete surveillance of movement, emotion, discussion, everything. Something of the big data pipe dream, but within the tight (fist) environment of a corporate provider (overlord). The temptation is there to maximize all the data (batteries).

Morpheus with agent smith

Quoting Agent Smith also in the Matrix

“I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it.”

Agent Smith complains about the Matrix the computer generated dream world. What got me was the idea of it being in a zoo (although prison and reality is perfect too), and even more so the idea of a petting zoo. The animals are always surveilled and controlled with fences and systems. So much so, it changes their behavior, the way they think, react, etc.

The reason why a petting zoo is because the corporate owners allow their extra paying customers to pet/play with the animals. Remember this is on top of the on-going surveillance. Petting zoos are fun for the customers but I’d say less so for the animals?

Some will laugh but frankly I’m not the only one (thankfully) thinking this.
While the rest of the media does its cheer-leading and stone throwing of meta’s metaverse. The debate (its not really a conversation) isn’t going anywhere useful.

The metaverse for the public interest?

I have thought quite a lot about what public service elements could exist within a public metaverse (oppose to one owned by a corporate entity, although I don’t actually think this will happen because companies don’t want to share and we know monopolies are very bad).

I remember when I first came across the fediverse, which thanks to the use of interoperability at different levels, allows you to move between different instances with minimal pain. The other absolute fantastic thing is being able to have different friends on different instances and having no real differences (Just like email). Whats this got to do with the public interest? Do you think the corporate entity would be interested in supporting this free form of communication? Can the animals in a petting zoo, talk to each other?

Thinking about the Matrix (there is a loose theme here).

“Your appearance now is what we call residual self image. It is the mental projection of your digital self.”

Residual self image and portability of identity is something a public metaverse could/should provide. Your self image is something you control and manage and across different instances/nodes/spaces or within the bigger metaverse. I can see modification based on the public space, in the same way most people change the way they look at a funeral or wedding. There will be spaces/nodes/instances where rules/cultural/ethos. Similar to the way, Mastodon have instance/server level rules.

There is a ton of real/virtual places type things where I’d lean on public architecture, thinking of Jane Jacobs incredible book.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

There must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.

The metaverse must be created by everybody not just a privileged few or a corporate overlord. In a interconnected virtual space, it should be much easier to build your own and work together in a public way but this needs a lot of thought. There are lessons to be learned from our semi-democratic physical city/town planning.

With the metaverse being placed directly in the xR (extended reality) space. I certainly think its time we got to the infrastructural side of the metaverse. Everything from how data is used, how, where, etc. A long time ago I talked about X-Ray mode, so you can see the underlying data & infrastructure. Something like when Neo can finally see the Matrix code while still inside of it.

Matrix code of agents

Part of the data/code is of course the algorithms which should be public and transparent for the public benefit. Is something I’ve seen in parts elsewhere but not really in the xR space. It certainly would even up the scales. Its something we build into the living room of the future funny enough.

In summary

Although very messy thoughts, there are parts worth exploring. As mentioned at the start I think there is interesting parts to a metaverse but the corporate petting zoo is something which has become the dominate view. I see similar when people talk about social networking and social media. Their frame of reference is pinned to a dominate corporate wet dream and it clouds what it really could potentially if you start from the public interest at the core.

Mia Mottley’s speech at COP26

I found this incredible speech from the Prime minister of Barbados via Derek on Mastodon.

Am I convinced about what came out of COP26 will make a difference? Not really. The problem is we have pretty much run out of time. Channel4 said it best.

The big picture, I leave you tonight with some analysis from the international energy agency which suggests that if the promises made at this COP 26 are fully delivered then global warming shifts down from around 2.7 celsius to 1.8.

We all know all those promises are going to be broken again. Maybe Ece Temelkuran is right because Climate collapse looks almost impossible to avoid now and capitalism & inequality plays a massive part in this all.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2021)

Digital Nomad

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed hearing about decentralized blogging, reading through the twitter thread of underacted google & facebook advertising complaint and of course  Facebook and its effect on gen-z with yet another whistle blower leaving the sinking ship.

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

You are seeing aspects of this with seeing John Oliver covering misinformation outside the English language, some young people questioning our capitalistic society, Mozfest 2022’s call for proposal and experiencing unified messaging on my devices


Personal data stores in the lime light

Ian thinks: Wired do a reasonable job explain some of the benefits, there are a lot more important aspects of personal data stores than beating others, like sovereignty and trust. Said as someone who worked on related work in the past.

The future of social networks with James Vasile

Ian thinks: James is a seasoned expert in this space and this interview is good covering a lot of ground including Project liberty’s DSNP. Even if you are new to this space, its accessible and understandable.

Visa & Mastercard regulate the internet by stealth?

Ian thinks: No matter what you think of adult sites, there is a complicated problem which should not be left companies which are only interested in maximising their own profits.

Misinformation works in all languages

Ian thinks: Its good to see mainstream John Oliver covering the huge problem of dis/misinformation outside the English language. Also great to see them not jump to the conclusion encryption is the problem.

The clear amplification of social media

Ian thinks: Adrian’s kickback is something I wasn’t super aware of but its a clear sign of the massive amplification of social media for good and bad, depending where you stand.

Digital nomadic dreams and border-less countries

Ian thinks: Although the digital nomad lifestyle is something I am personally interested in, I think the notion of Plumia is a worrying trend of a new kind of digital elite dream. Which needs to be put in check before it runs wild.

The mystery of Satoshi bitcoin creator, solved?

Ian thinks: I have to say this is the best case for the mystery of Satoshi (the creator of bitcoin). Recently it looks like his wallet has been used too?

Facebook: a little empty, a little sad; a place where a few voices get most of the attention

Ian thinks: Although turning your Facebook timeline back into a timeline doesn’t even start to touch the fundamental problems. I loved the end quote, which speaks volumes.

NFTs challenging the status quo

Ian thinks: Beyond the hype, scams and general nonsense. I am seeing signs of NFTs being used to genuinely disrupt the status-quo. From the portability of bought in game goods, new models of film making and of course the new NFT royalties standard.


Find the archive here

Facebook chooses money over public health

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

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

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

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

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

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2021)

Behaviour & Reasons

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

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

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


This can not be the future of social media

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

New types of social networks

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

Wisdom of crowds for Fact checking?

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

A view of BBC R&Ds prototype personal data store

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

The Framework Laptop

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

Imagine if Crypto was used for more than Capitalism?

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

Metrics and society

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

Human rights are not a software bug to be removed

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

The frankly scary ideology of the billionaire technocrats

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

What are Silicon Values?

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


Find the archive here

If I only knew it was called Parallel play

Parallel play in a coffee shop

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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