I watched a part of the ThisIsUnfinished conference (partly because I assumed the timezone were New York time and made the manual change to my calendar and I attended another conference in person on the Friday)
Anyway all the talks are online (Vimeo) to watch now. I did a little sum up for work but found the conference fascinating, especially when Baratunde Thurston filling in for time asked a member of the audience what they felt so far.
You couldn’t hear the reply but it was longer than expecting. Baratunde summed it up, saying the member of audience had found the contrasts of the talks interesting. I would agree, because in some talks you had people talking about web3 (internet 3 really) in the scope of DLTs (blockchain tech) and on the other hand you had talks like Eli Parser’s section of talks about what we can learn for the future.
Take a look at the phone in your pocket. Take a look at the tabs in your browser. Ask yourself. How many of those apps were made by people who you know, of know who they are there from your community. Maybe they’re local homegrown organic, just like the food that you eat, you know, where it’s tourist and do they share your values and care about the things you care about? And if you don’t feel good about what you’re putting in your eyes, when you put it in your mouth and make some changes. We do have a lot of power to make that thing a lot better.
This leads nicely into the potential of web3 beyond the short sighted put everything on the blockchain stuff.
I have to give credit to Bill Thompson for his thoughts around the public service internet. In one of our conversations Bill suggested a need for a picture to sum up the internet now and where we are going.
It feels like two pictures, but images can be powerful and stoke up vivid responses in the mind. Its a challenge I have been thinking about quite a bit and put it on the Publicspaces international matrix chat (#PublicSpacesInt:matrix.org).
Challenge for you all… If there was one picture which would sum up the state of the internet now, what would it be? Also what picture would sum up the internet if things go the way you would like what would it be?
Theres been a few entries but my favorite so far has been Erik who posted the one above.
This image would probably sum up my ideal internet as a magical portal to empower yourself with all the knowledge, and a connection to all the people in the world.
Others saw this as a way of breathing new life into the internet. While I started thinking about modifying the picture into something with multiple people breathing life into the internet (closer to this in nature). I like this image but don’t like the fact shes looking at her phone, likewise this image is striking but hands behind her back feels less participatory that where I think we are going. This is better but needs multiple people working together.
Good to see Data-portability working as it should. About 2mins to export my reading lists and books out of Goodreads and then about 3mins to pick an instance of Bookwyrm and setup an account, then about 5mins to import the books and lists.
You might be wondering whats happened to the book I’ve been writing: The fictional dating book. You might remember in my new years resolution I had planned to get it done by next year. Of course this is an aim rather than a absolute deadline.
This is whats happened so far…
I wrote a bunch of interesting dates down (only the ones which were memorable because something note worth happened, this is no judgement – but we all got dates when you can’t believe that happened)
Hannah approached me after a presentation about the future of dating. Hannah took my very rough drafts, rewrote them and turned them into actual stories (I can’t tell you how much hard work Hannah put into this)
We went back and forth for a while but got to a place where it was making a really good read. Totally blew me away when I read (listened to) the whole thing in one single night.
We looked for someone with fresh eyes to read the book and make comments and edits. Valeska agreed and has done a great job.
I am currently going through Valeska’s comments and suggestions (there is a lot of them). Shes also echoed Hannah’s thoughts for more clear structure too.
I have also looked around for an illustrator for the chapters and sections. I may have found someone really good for this.
So that’s where we are now. 8 core sections with 2-4 stories and a introduction and conclusion for each. 34000+ words and 94 pages (if they are standard A4 and JB6 format?). Originally I was planning to self-publish through Amazon, its something I have done previously with a ebook for thinking digital as a test. but multiple people have convinced me I should share a few chapters or a section with a book publishers. Who knows what might happen? Speaking to a few printer friends and there were good offers to print off a small run of about 25 full bounded books. So who knows at the very least I will have a book and ebook.
The biggest question is what is the book, whats the elevator pitch for the book? This is a very good question and one both Hannah and Valeska have asked me over and over again.
I have described it as a modern take on Adrian Moles diary but its certainly evolved a lot and includes so much more about myself within the book. Even which category would you find the book, is a tricky question. Its mainly fiction (informed by experience), part non-fiction, slightly political and touch of self-help.
Personally I am excited but also a little concerned. Its one thing to write a blog about these things but for it be published is something else. Of course its the work of fiction, which I don’t personally read that much (last fiction book I read was a Cory Doctorow book), making things even stranger.
I’ll also be retiring datingyarns.com for now, which had a couple of my own stories on there. I won’t take them down because the ones in the book are a million times better and who knows I may use the site to promote the book in the near future. Although the book is no longer just dating yarns…
I never fully read it but I liked the name and liked the concept, plus I did read a couple of his other books in the past. Recently I have been thinking about the critical narratives in this space right now.
I’m sure there are many more but these seem to be the ones many people have read at least 2 or more. It was something I noticed while watching the chatter and the sessions during the publicspaces conference and some key sessions at the Mozilla festival.
At the start of March, the Mozilla Festival 2021 started for 2 weeks of Mozfest joy. Unlike previous years this was the year it went completely virtual. There was a lot of concerns how it would work in a virtual space? But we didn’t need to worry, it kinda worked.
I got a early bird ticket so the schedule was opened up to people like me. It was extensive and downloaded all the calendar events for sessions I was interested in. Unfortunately I missed the book a seat part and when I went back weeks later most of it was booked up (my own fault).
The Mozilla team worked very hard to keep the feel of Mozfest with a central place to start (the Plaza), the schedule with all the sessions, a number of social spaces (Mozilla slack and spacial chat), skill shares everyday and art/media tracks running throughout the whole 2 weeks. It was full on, just like Mozfest always has been. Its FOMA overload, but don’t worry there is a help desk – which seemed to be almost 24hours a day via slack.
I did go into a couple spacial chats and check out a skill share but most of my time was sat on zoom and many miro boards during sessions. To be honest I have a love hate relationship with miro but I finally got around to half liking it once I spent time with it for my own session. I did find miro bugging me to signup kind of annoying however.
One shame this year was the Mozhouse events seemed to be dropped from the schedule. This meant the publicspaces conference was missed from the schedule, although it was scheduled around Mozfest months ago. The festival has always been a big magnet for people and the 3rd party events which sit around the festival for example 2 years ago.
Because Mozfest was over 2 weeks, I paced myself and made the decision to carve out time for the festival. It was a good idea as my working hours were running to about 10hrs a day. Luckily most of the sessions had a hour break between them, allowing time to catch up with emails, slack and other work stuff.
Sessions ran from a early 7am – a late 11pm GMT, hopefully catching a lot of countries around the world. I imagine over that 14hours, only New Zealand might have been tricky to attend sessions?
I left project immerse to the very last day and was my last Mozfest event I did. Lance Weller blew my mind with things I have never seen Miro or Zoom do before. The future of immersive virtual theatre, I reckon so? I wish I could blog about it but I don’t want to spoil it. Lance also has a ongoing virtual show which I’m signed up to for April. It was fantastic end to 2 weeks of the Mozilla festival.
The 2 weeks of Mozfest was great. It was a shame some of the sessions which claimed to be full were not. I noticed this changed a little bit later but I missed the social aspect, which slack and spacial chat just doesn’t cover. I quite liked the vibe of BarCampManchester 10 which could be done if narrowed down by the spaces. I noticed Creative AI had aspects of this but its something which could apply more widely if next year is the same?
There is a question which came in 2017 when Mozilla picked Slack over Matrix & Mattermost (which they were using internally). The questions comes up again, about using Zoom, Miro, Slack, etc. Like the publicspaces conference, balancing the practicalities with the values is hard work. But maybe next year if its virtual/hybrid, Mozilla could really lead the charge here.
When I first knew it was going to be 2 weeks (well really 12 days), I gulped but it worked out well. I never felt rushed and having most of the sessions recorded is super handy, as I’m finding now watching the ones I missed (plus I found the youtube secret playlist which means I can easily watch them back on my chromecast). Not every session was recorded of course and its a little strange when the breakout sessions happen. Ideally the recording should have been paused but the whole festival is community focused and I’m happy its not clean cut because that would have gone against the ethos of the Mozilla Festival.
Talking about the community, it was great to see a minimal amount of sillyness/zoombombing. Also the welcoming of so many different people, cultures, languages, etc. This was also the year when neurodiversity really kicked into high gear!
Where does the festival go from now, is a big question…
I’d like to see a hybrid conference next year. I certainly want to see a combination of the reach of Mozfest 2021 with the social parts of the last 10 years. However, please Mozilla keep the pretext system as it worked so well and hopefully we can finally have a permanent record of all the sessions over the years (one of the things I quite liked about using Github)
Massive thanks to everyone who made the virtual festival so good (especially looking at you Sarah & Mark!). Those working behind the scenes making sure things run smoothly. To all those spacewranglers who likely didn’t know if it was going to be in person, hybrid or virtual. Of course all those people who ran the sessions.
Really making good on ethos of… Arrive with an idea, leave with a community!
I have been asked by friends and family what I do and I reply with a number of research questions. One of them boils down to researching what is the public service internet? When you start to break this down, theres a number of aspects including the physical network, protocols, apis, etc. But theres also the network of collaborators.
The Publicspaces conference kicked off in fine style. Originally Thursday 11th March was the European conference with Friday 12th March being the Dutch one. However things changed, which worked well. Heck I even learned a tiny tiny amount of Dutch during the conference, while managing a panel and taking part on another one.
Everything I thought about after seeing the first dotcom/bomb era and seeing many friends chasing the dream of Silicon Valley’s unicorn. I struggled to come up with an alternative to the completely unsustainable growth charts going up and to the right. A few times I would talk about something which sounded closer to social entrepreneurship and Bcorps, and won’t lie drove my decision to work for a public company.
The economist Kate Raworth makes beautiful analogies with nature in her book Doughnut economics. She says for instance that any living organism – let’s say a tree or a dog or a child – grows very quickly, almost exponentially at the very beginning of its life. At a certain point in time that growth starts to flatten off. Then it stops growing and starts thriving. If that tree wants to keep growing even though it already has reached its maximum size, it drops seeds. Then these seeds can grow again until they reach their maximum size. And so on. If this is how nature does it, why should it be any different with our businesses?
Exponential growth curve
This exponential curve is ubiquitous. You will find it in every MBA programme, every start-up incubator, pop culture, etc. It is very hard to get away from this curve. It’s the Silicon Valley model of entrepreneurship. There are three parts to this model:
One speechmaker inspired millions with his words, the other utterly destroyed his own multi-million-dollar business with just a few phrases.
Civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr (played by Jeffrey Wright of Westworld, The Hunger Games, and the James Bond films) and jewelry store owner Gerald Ratner offer starkly contrasting stories on when you should stick to the script and when you should take a risk.
I was talking to a friend/colleague recently about presentation styles.
When I first started giving speeches and presentations I would create a script but I quickly dumped that idea as it just didn’t work for me. I also use to write notes but found myself reading the notes out rather than focusing on the audience. Finally I also use to do run-through’s with other people but found myself frustrated or even annoyed that in the run run-through’s that I said one thing but am saying something else while on stage.
I do subscribe to the jazz/improvisation approach with guard rails, which is the slides. Without them I tend to go off in many different directions. Although with some time constraints its all good.
I can finally tell you two of my three submitted sessions were accepted. The big one is a workshop around adaptive podcasting which will happen Monday 15th at 2015-2115 GMT. Don’t worry there is calendar invites for all the sessions including mine.
I recently did a video for the EBU about Adaptive Podcasting (use to be called Perceptive Podcast). I say I did but it was all done by our BBC R&D video powerhouse Vicky. I did plan to get to work in Kdenlive or openshot but it would have been pretty tricky to emulate the BBC R&D house style.
I recorded the video, once another colleague sent me a decent microphone (and G&B dark Chocolates), wrote a rough script and said the words. I also decided I wanted to change my lightening to something closer to how I have my living room lights to encourage a level of relaxation. Vicky took the different videos and audio, edited it all together and created this lovely package all before the deadline of what the EBU wanted. If you want more you might like to check out the Bristol Watershed talk I gave with Penny and James.
Wished I had shaved and was a little more aware of the wide view of my GoPro, lessoned learned. Hopefully the video will get an update in the near future but the video should serve as a good taster for my Mozilla Festival workshop in March.
Now we can reveal more details for the conference and you can get your tickets now. The conference runs from late afternoon (5pm CET/4pm GMT) of Thursday March 11th (English speaking) and Friday March 12th all day (partly English mainly Dutch speaking).
After a short break there will be several community announcements, followed by a panel discussion on an open letter launched by the SDEPS calling for digital European public spaces. Before a summary and plans for the Friday.
On Friday (10am CET/9am GMT) which is mainly Dutch language but has English tracks, the conference continues with 4 tracks.
Track 1: Towards an ethical internet
Most of the essential applications on the internet have turned into vehicles for political control and economic profit, in which citizens are no longer subjects, but objects. How can public organizations reclaim again the internet as a public space and offer their audiences services that embody public of which they subscribe the ethical values?
Track 2: The Digital Public Spaces Ecosystem
We are seeking to build digital public spaces that are in line with our common values: we want them to be open, democratic, and sustainable. Many initiatives exist that work on alternatives that can be part of this ecosystem of change. In this track, we will get both an overview of what organisations and projects are already out there, get a sense of how they can work together, and build new connections between initiatives and networks that operate in this ecosystem. Central to this track is a map that we are working on and build on during the sessions in this track. We invite participants to join us and add to this map as well as to find new potential collaborations so that together we can make these digital public spaces a reality. Ian Forrester, BBC R&D, will moderate the sessions in this track and invite you to join us on the shared ‘map of change’.
Track 3: Meet the disruptors
Silicon Valley and the world of venture capital revolve around the notion of radical disruption. Those ideas that change the world instantaneously. The question: ‘what comes after the break?’ is deliberately postponed until a later date. First, innovate, then improve is the device. In order to move towards a better internet, incremental change is not enough. In fact, it may actually be the mentality of ‘ship first, fix later’ that may have led to the problems that we are currently facing. In this track, we want to highlight the trailblazers that aim to create a different form of disruption. People that do not only want to change the world for a moment but those that have the stamina and patience to persist.
Track 4: Matchmaking track
In the matchmaking track, supply and demand come together and new alliances are forged and partnerships are built. The purpose of the round table sessions is to bring new parties from different disciplines together around one topic. The conversation serves as an introduction and starting point for a workgroup or collaboration, also after the conference.
This project, led by the BBC, seeks to try out a more human-centric focused approach to measuring audience engagement by putting human values at its core. It will do so by putting into practice longer-standing research work on mapping the kinds of values and needs their users care about the most, and developing new design frameworks that would make it easier to actually track these kinds of alternative metrics in a transparent way.
The project will run a number of design workshops and share its findings through a dedicated website and other outlets to involve the wider community.