Interview with Mozilla Storyengine

Storyendiner interview in Wallabag

A long time ago I agreed to do a in-depth interview with Mozilla’s storyengine.io.

We did a audio interview but had to redo part of it due to running over time. I did warn them, I do tend to chat a lot. But when I saw the transcript, even I was shocked at how much I do say and the amount of “like” & “ummms” was scary.

After some solid collaborative editing and some hard deadlines. We got it down to the 66mins of reading (according to my wallabag reader).

Its a good read and I like the storyengine project, which includes many of the other people I have spacewrangled alongside or met through Mozilla.

Massive thanks to Christine & Alecia

Also on the side, its good to learn about hypothes.is, which is a open platform/software,  non-profit annotation system, based on the w3C’s annotation recommendations.

A shared passion for the brain

How To Retrain Your Brain Funzing talk in Manchester

How to Retrain Your Brain was my 3rd Funzing talk I have been to. The 1st I wasn’t that impressed with, while the 2nd one (Neuroscience of Decision Making) was great. With my interest in power of the brain. I’m happy to say retrain your brain was

I had no heard of Lisa Upton but during the evening hosted at MadLab, we got to learn a lot more about her.

Just over a year ago, Lisa was faced with a decision that would change her life forever. She had to decide whether to have awake brain surgery to remove a tumour which lay deep inside her brain in the left temporal lobe, close to the area responsible for speech and language. This decision came with extremely high risks – having the operation meant that she could have a stroke, may have to learn to talk, read and write again, or worst-case scenario, not survive the surgery.

Not having the operation meant living a life with four/five epileptic seizures every day and the chance that the ticking time bomb inside her brain could go off at any moment and this could take her life.

Lisa made the brave decision to have surgery.

It was weird hearing Lisa talking about her experience and noticed some interesting parallels in my own experience and outlook on life.

In the months following her operation Lisa’s life changed beyond measure, she thought about life in a completely different way, she approached things with a different attitude and as a result of this, saw new and amazing opportunities presenting themselves every day.

Its incredible to see the opportunities just presenting themselves. I’ve lived by those opportunities ever since. I always remember Derren Browns show about the secret of luck, facing my fear of injections (Belonephobia), facing the fear of rejection, going on dating shows and much more…

Lisa wanted to understand why this was happening and couldn’t accept that it was just “all part of the recovery”. She spent months researching the brain and its many functions, spending time with neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-researchers, neuropsychologists and patients at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

Now thats really cool, if I hadn’t spent so much time in hospital and had the issues I had; I likely would have gone back to Salford Royal to thank the staff again years later. But spending time would have been amazing (too be fair it still would be).

With a heart filled with gratitude, Lisa will share with you the amazing things that she learnt about the brain, and how we are all capable of reprogramming our brains so that we can achieve greatness and euphoria.

I reflect back on a blog I wrote years ago, while trying to explain to others how different life was since. My parents always thought I’d want to forget about the whole thing but I refuse to forget. I didn’t put my cards away for a whole year and still have them stored away even now. It gives me power and brings a new emphasise to life. Some people near me noticed how much I changed and some couldn’t quite comprehend the changes.

Lisa and others have called it living a conscious life. Its something I’ve noticed in myself, but weirdly very fitting with some of the dyslexic advantages, especially living in the moment. It might not come as a surprise the doctors also found an increase in the right brain activity (usually commonly associated with dyslexics, I know this is massively contested!) in Lisas brain. This  reminded me of the early months after my brush with death, it was suggested by the professionals that I might have forgotten/unlearned a lot of my coping mechanisms for dyslexia. Almost switched back to my natural state of some kind?

It also reminds me I need to do more about writing my gratitudes down following Sarah Raad’s workshop at Thinking Digital Newcastle last year.

I honestly really enjoyed the talk and it was a joy to hear from someone else as interested in the brain/mind due to similar reasons…

Clubbed: a kickstarted visual history of UK club culture

It was Tom Morris who first pointed me towards this kickstarter project for a visual history of UK club culture.

The shots look so good and its a great thing to have captured, I wish there was one for the early UK rave culture too but I’ve pledged as I’d love to have this in my book collection.

So much good at AfroTech Festival 2018

Afrotech Fest 2018

When I first heard about Afrotech festival, I was impressed with the idea. I’ve always been in the minority at tech conferences. Its been so common that I just don’t (try not to) think about it. Its very common for tech events to try and encourage more women to be involved but even with gender diversity its poor to bad. Calls for racial diversity tend to end up falling on slightly deaf ears. Its not always unwillingness but it does have a slight effect, and makes you think… should I be here?

In actual fact the only times I have been in a tech event where the dominate people weren’t white males has been the girl geekdinner events. For example last week Sunday I was a girl geek tea party with all women and myself, I felt comfortable enough and hopefully everybody else felt the same (there was no indication to suggest any issues).

Its very rare when I haven’t been in the minority, especially around tech. At Afrotech fest, for the first time I was in the racial majority although interestingly a minority in gender.

I was giving one of the two keynotes and I’ve posted the slides and thoughts in a previous post. The other keynote was given by Ade Adewunmi who talked about similar issue I brought up.

Afrotech Fest 2018

The festival ran over Friday & Saturday. It felt more like a unconference with clear tracks. The sessions were varied with topics ranging from An introduction to cryptocurrency to What the Matrix can teach us about Diversity & Inclusion. There were panels for example The Good and Evils of Machine Learning. All the sessions focused on a slightly different view, for example the machine learning panel included lot about algorithm bias and transparency. Issues which directly effect the lives of minorities.

Afrotech Fest 2018

Another great thing beyond just the make up of the people was the diversity of personal backgrounds. There were developers, artists, people working in law, etc, etc. There was also a youth track on Saturday afternoon (which I obviously didn’t attend) it was great to see young people wondering around like you see at Mozfest.

I was impressed with everything especially the 6 black female organisers and lots of helpers, who made everyone feel at home in Richmix. The festival was very welcoming to those not from the black community with everybody was respectful alongside the lines of the code of conduct. Its also the first time I’ve had to agree/sign my presentation and keynote will not break the code, something others should do.

I had a great time, learned a lot and even my non-technical sister took away something. The conversations I had were great and look forward to the next one.

Little update

Myself and Ade Adewunmi are on BBC Click briefly talking about Afrotech Festival.

Afrotech Fest is a two-day tech and digital festival in the UK by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage. It explores the intersection of technology, the arts, history, news, activism and representation. In particular Afrotech Fest aims to provide a platform for people across a variety of backgrounds to imagine a future free of the present biases whether conscious or unconscious. Click talks to Ade Adewunmi and Ian Forrester about Afrotech.

15th Feb, a evening about the future of dating with myself?

Future of dating with Ian Forrester

I was asked by Ahmed and other Manchester futurists to talk about the future of dating. Of course I said sure thing…

So I have combined a few of my blog posts, thoughts and foresights into a combination which I actually think could be or could lead towards a possible future of the way we match and connect in the future.

Should be fun as it won’t be just a talk like the TEDX talk 2 years ago but a workshop involving people in creating their own dating service on the night.

What WordPress & Medium could have been?

extreme sports and blogging

For ages I’ve wondered if WordPress was going to do something more decentralised/interesting with all those blogs loosely connected using WordPress?

The answer seems to be no, which is a crying shame but I recently noticed Standardnotes, added a new sub-service which seems closer to what I imagined from WordPress

We’ve put a lot of work into our note sharing platform called Listed. Listed allows you to publish and share notes directly from the Standard Notes web and desktop app. Best of all, it allows readers to subscribe to your new posts. Your subscribers are immediately notified by email any time you publish a new post. Unlike Medium, Listed allows you to own your content source, and have a more direct communication channel with your readers.

You can imagine this could be a neat way to keep a group of people connected, outside the prying eyes of a centralised service. For example it could be a neat email mailing system like mail chimp. Imagine something like NTK in this way?

Ok so listed is still in early days but theres some interesting decentralised blogging systems like Steemit which are doing something different with the community of writers.

Shooting the Proscenium Arch

Stillwell Theatre, Brooklyn NY in 1927 - Proscenium Arch and curtains

I heard the term but never really understood what the Proscenium Arch actually was…

In his 1997 book “Architects of the Web,” Rhapsody founder Rob Reid calls this phenomenon “shooting the proscenium arch,” referring to the “proscenium” that frames a traditional stage. It’s the idea that when new technology arrives, the first thing people do is try and force old technologies onto the new format. He writes:

“The proscenium arch has many forms, and it lurks at the birth of all media. Early radio broadcasters whose announcers read directly from newspapers were shooting the proscenium arch. TV broadcasters who pointed their cameras at chitchatting radio announcers were shooting it as well. But the proscenium arch’s day always passes quickly, as famil­iarity with a new medium grows, and content evolves in directions that its earliest pioneers could not have foreseen.”

MCR Talks: Neuroscience of Decision Making with Gabija

Dr. Gabija Toleikyte

Last time I went to a Funzing event I wasn’t that impressed (talk was good but the setup was a bit crappy) but I thought I’d give it another try as the Neuroscience of decision making is too good a talk to miss. I find the Funzing weird as its promoted through Facebook and after clicking the link you are led to the funzing site which isn’t as smooth as Eventbrite. Especially since you finally get your ticket only a hour or so before the actual event via email or text (which leads you to a funzing microsite)

The talk was in Texture (the cool nightclub venue in the northern quarter). The place was full of chairs and most was already sat on. Interestingly I would say its about a 65% female audience. Grabbing a odd chair with a drink after not spotting anyone I recognise (this is a good thing, getting out of your comfort zone).

Just before Dr. Gabija Toleikyte suggested, a early warm up exercise encouraging us to talk to the people around us and ask what brought them to the event. The woman behind me, was generally interested but not so interested in chatting. I turn to the woman in front of me and we talked for a while about her thoughts on the illusion of reality. I threw in my thoughts on memetics and we chatted for a while.

We also briefly talked about my brush with death,  and how I have  found a stronger interest in how the brain works and how we use.

When Gabija started with a proper warm-up she asked us to greet people next to us with a gesture of 1, 2 or 3 fingers. 1 being a hand shake, 2 being a bow and 3 being a hug. On giving the gesture, you have to pick the lowest number between the two. Most of mine were hugs and bows.

When Gabija started she ran through a lot of things in a short amount of time but broke it down in a easily digestible way. It was a good talk and based on a number of things I had heard or read but not really connected in this way… Here are the books I read which she mentioned.

Something new for me was the Triune Brain model

  • Lizard brain – lowest level regulates breathing, heartbeat, digestion, etc.
  • Mammal brain – system 1 regulates emotions, memory, habits, etc
  • Human brain – system 2 regulates rational thinking, learning, problem solving, assessing pros and cons

There is different decision making systems in the brain: slow (rational, system 2) and fast (intuitive, emotional, system 1) its about deciding which system is best as rational decisions with system 2 require a lot more energy. While system 1 is prone to the unconscious biases as its using pattern and basic logic. Emotions are important so we don’t get stuck with indecision; and understanding our emotions can help us to make better decisions. However emotions are quite different from mood which can distort decision making.

Lots to think about and well worth the money and time, thank you to Gabija and hope to check out her next talk about productivity.

Rethinking Podcasting

Reinventing podcasting
Ok maybe less reinvent and more rethink?

I hinted at Perceptive Podcasting previously in a post about being busy. I have finally come out of that busy period and am UK bound as my passport is due to expire.

Just before the busy period, I drafted a post about Perceptive Podcasting and why it’s not simply another unique project. It went up on the BBC R&D blog recently which is wonderful because I can point to that rather than the other way around.

Perceptive Radio v1

Since we first launched the Perceptive Radio v1 in 2013 as a concept of what Perceptive Media (implicit interaction from sensors & data, adapting media objects) could become; the radio’s have always been a framework to explore further into adaptive object based media experiences. But we have always acknowledged the growing power of the smartphone and how it could be the container for so much more.

Even when we created the Perceptive Radio v2 with Lancaster University and Mudlark, it was modeled around an android phone and extending the sensors. The possibilities of IOT Storytelling with object based media was deep in my mind, along with research questions.

As a person who saw the revolution of podcasting in 2000, I was always interested in the fact its downloaded audio and generally consumed/created in a personal way, unlike radio in my view. I’ve also been watching the rise in popularity of podcasting again; heck Techcrunch asks if it could save the world 🙂

Of course I’ve started a few podcasts myself (recently Techgrumps and Lovegrumps) and love the fact it’s quite easy to get started and it can feel quite personal. I also found the diversity of podcasting quite interesting for example I’ve been listening to the guilty feminist, friends like us and risk, for quite sometime and find them fascinating every time.

Why a client for podcasts?

In 2017, you are seeing more webservices hosting podcasts like stitcher, (heck even Spotify is hosting some). At the server-side there is a lot you can do like dynamically change adverts, geo-fence media, etc. 60db are one such service doing nice things with podcasts but they are limited in what they can do, as they said in a comment on a similar post. But doing this all server-side is a pain, and tends to break the podcast idea of download-able audio (even if you have 4g everywhere), it feels more like the radio model of tuning in.

Imagine if you could do the server-side type of processing but on the actual device and even unlock the pools of sensor/data with the users consent? And imagine if the creators could use this in storytelling too!

Its Personal, Dynamic and Responsive without being creepy or infringing personal liberties, It adaptives to changes in context in real time. It dances with Interactivity and we are also exploring the value and feasibility of object based media approaches for engaging with audience. We believe that this offers the key to creating increasingly Immersive media experiences as it gives more story possibilities to the writer/director/producer. But also provides levels of tailored accessibility we have yet to imagine.

So many possibilities and its made in a very open way to encourage others to try making content in a object based way too.

Keep an eye on bbc.co.uk/taster and the bbc.co.uk/rd/blog for details soon.

What is slide design really about?

Meme/idea transfer?

I first saw Melinda Seckington’s blog post about the art of slide design on her blog. I had meant to reply with a blog post but never quite finished the blog post. Luckily during the run up to Mozfest, Mel was due to redo her talk. Mel is lovely friend and it was great to see her and Cristiano again.

The talk gives practical tips, focusing on making it stick in an increasingly busy and complex ecosystem which Mel picks up in the cogative load slide. Basically how do you make people give a crap and not forget once the presentation is over? Something more people should think about but don’t.

Over the last few decades, its become clear one of the best ways is storytelling. Humans are attuned to storytelling from a very early age. This is something Nancy Duarte has down in practice and in many decades of experience. Duarte’s TED talk about storytelling is the key for me.

Love to hear/see where Mel goes next… I’m sure shes planning a follow up to this great talk..

On a side point… while talking about slides and meme transfer

It’s also interesting to see where people are sharing slides too. I’ve always used Slideshare.net which is part of linkedin group, mainly because I can reference one single slide, makes the whole deck available and it does automatic textual export. But I do find speakerdeck.com interesting and I quite like slides.com after a few speakers used it during Mozfest.

I would like to use something more web like but its a pain presenting using html5+js when not using your own laptop. Google Slides is good but not perfect. Like to see something better not just in decoration/aesthetics (looking at you Keynote) but more web native (do not say prezi) which can automatically adapt between presentations, web viewing and notes. It would also allow for a longer lifestyle than just the slides its self. For example sometimes I have added the youtube link of me talking to the end of a slideshares. Bit kludgy but it at least links the two together.

Firefox 57, flipping fast!

Firefox 57: Flipping fast!

I have been a fan of Firefox for a long time and heck, I’ve given plenty of time to Mozilla through the Mozilla Festival over the years. I would regularly use Firefox & Chrome back to back on my Ubuntu laptop, but only firefox on my server (its been the default for Ubuntu for years). Tended to use Chrome for Google type operations like Docs, Spreadsheet, Mindmup, etc. But I started using the Firefox beta after the word got passed around that version 57 (Quantium) was a total rewrite.

Once I tried it, I was blown away! Tweeting…

I was so impressed that it picked up my profile, passwords, sync, everything; even when running it from a totally different location. It meant I could just run it and use it – and why not? Its that fast and smooth. There were some addons/extentions which didnt work but most of them I uninstalled when I switch Firefox 53 to multi-threaded mode, so I was already running it pretty lean.

It was all good…as I could switch to old firefox easily enough by just loading that one no problem, not that I did.

It was during Mozfest time, when I got a email asking if it would be ok for Mozilla to use my tweet in a special New York Times double page spread they were planning on launch day. Of course I said sure thinking not much more about it except remembering the moment when Firefox 1.0 launched with the name of all the backers.

Then today, I saw while in Maderia…

It had slipped my mind this was actually going to happen and frankly was quite proud to be one of only seven quoted. Its also not like it was misquoted! I’m acutally writing this blog from my hotel room on Firefox 57 right now. Its still not default yet (firefox 56 currently is), but expecting it will be very soon once Ubuntu update the distro.

Stellar work Mozilla and I love the catchy tagline – Fast for good…

firefox 57 quantum

Mozilla Glass Room exhibition

Mozilla Glass Room

I talked about the Glass Room in a previous blog.

I can’t really give it justice but I did take some pictures which are good starting points. Theres a nice summary of all the exhibits here. Here are the ones which stuck out in my mind.

Mozilla Glass Room

The Alphabet Empire

All the different sub-companies which fit under the Alphabet (Google) megacorp, there’s so many you needed a magnify glass to see them all.

Mozilla Glass Room

Apple Towers

This physical infographic compared the amount of money Apple accumulated in offshore accounts against the amount of money the UK and EU governments spent on various things in 2016. Really interesting to see the BBC’s total budget of £4.8bn totally eclipsed by Apples tax bill.

Mozilla Glass Room

The Data Detox kits

These paper kits are whats meant to help you clean up and take more control over your personal data. As previously said, I found them interesting as they are simple and effective like a Ikea manual and I’ll be interesting to hear how my sister got on with her data detoxing.

Mozilla Glass Room

How Long Does It Take to Read Amazon Kindle’s Terms and Conditions?

Australian consumer advocacy group Choice hired an actor to read all 73,198 words of Amazon Kindle’s Terms and Conditions. It took just shy of 9 hours and the video of all that time illustrates exactly how much time you would give up to fully understand what you are agreeing to. The other interesting point is the frustration and doubts the actor has while reading it aloud, especially later in the agreement.

Mozilla Glass Room

Data Production Labour

By the Institute of Human Obsolescence, this is what I blogged about previously. I found it fascinating to see it working. Basically you put your phone down in front of a camera and scan through your facebook timeline. As I don’t have Facebook on my phone, I scanned through my Twitter friends timeline which I hardly ever do. After 2 mins, the results of your activity are fed back to you in a receipt print out. I think of it like clickclickclick but there is something quite powerful about using your own phone and something you might do all the time.

Mozilla Glass Room

Smell Dating

That whole of idea of smell based dating will never die and this exhibit was oddly placed but I wanted to give it a try as it was causing a bit of a fuss. It would be good to see the results over the course of a day or week, but even watching the woman and man before me had some very different results from me.

Mozilla Glass Room

A data-day in London

Good little summary of all the points when we have to make a decision to agree with their terms and conditions, during a typical day in London. Really interesting to read through.

Mozilla Glass Room

MegaPixels

Visually querying yourself was interesting but didn’t do a good job on me at all. A friend thought it would pick up photos of myself but it didn’t happen. Instead I got a lot of low results for Kanye West. It seemed to work much better for others.

Other notable exhibits were Tor Access Point, Facebook Algorithmic Factory, The listener and Unfit bits.

Unfortuanlly by the time you read this, it would have closed its doors but I look forward to seeing more of this type of exhibit.

Exploring the living room of the future in Sarajevo?

Yesterday I posted about being very busy over the next month or so and I mentioned going to Sarajevo unlimited. Some of you might be scratching your head, thinking why?

Well it starts with a better question than simply “Sarajevo? why?

If its possible to adapt, customise or even personalised media to a person and their context (we know it is – if you not been paying attention, check out object media and some of the perceptive media work); how does this work with a few to many people experiencing at the same media?

No more shared experience?

This is a question I get a lot on the road. I clearly remember when I first presented Visual Perceptive Media at This way up (conference about the future of digital cinema) in 2015. Most felt I was breaking the shared moment and therefore breaking the very idea of cinema.

Is this the shared experience you are talking about?

I always like to joke a little and remind people the shared experience was/is broken. You only have to look at on-demand, the huge amount of channels, ways to consume content and the ever growing diversity of sources. Honest media makers know you can watch the exact same thing and take away different things, due to your experience, background, culture, etc. But the question of the share experience is a fair point, especially as we drift further into our filter bubbles?

A different shared experience

So the question is, knowing all this, is there a different shared experience which can be enabled with the technology and research we have now? Something which people will have a hard time explaining and ultimately throw up their hands saying “…you had to be there!

Internet of thing - Perceptive Radio

I obviously say yes! I point at physical connected things as a potential way to bring people together and create new types of connected/shared experiences. This is why the Perceptive Radio was a big deal and what it stood for back in 2013, a whole year to half a year before the Amazon Alexa by the way!

Even before seeing things like the Good night lamp and BBC R&D’s dalek prototype. It was clear enchanted objects have the potential to connect people with the media in a bi-directional manor (media affecting the objects and objects affecting the media). With that in mind and the concept of the tiny theatre buzzing around my head from Jasmine and Vicky; it became clear that our living rooms are so packed full of connected objects could be ground zero with its diverse groups of people and contexts.

The living room of the future?

Very cool but what has this to do with Sarajevo?

It was during my talk at Future Fest when I met Caroline from the British Council. We briefly talked about the plan which I had already had support from FACT in Liverpool and the Nottingham Databox team. Then early  in 2017, we spent much more time talking through the project and its fruitful aims for research and user experience design; especially with the synergy of Object media and Databox which was demonstrated as homelab kitchen at Mozfest 2016.

Mozfest 2016

The British Council loved it and suggested a collaboration with their Western Balkans office as they have been monitoring some great creativity in the area. What better way to inject some much needed creativity into, on the face of it quite a technical project? Its pretty easy to forget its about the experience not the technology.

From my personal point of view, its great to have a more diversity outside the usual places. From my short time spent in Romanian and Estonia with Mozilla, I’m convinced this will be a collaboration with surprises and breathtaking results. Ultimately together we will explore what the living room of the future could be, when the media and connected objects (IOT) in the room talk to each other seamlessly but in data ethical way.

There is a blog post drafted for the BBC R&D blog with more details, but as the British Council have already started the process by advertising for 20 creatives to join our special workshop at Sarajevo unlimited. I thought I’d add some background to this incredible project… I’m very much looking forward to updating everyone as the project moves forward.

A very busy period coming up soon…

Reinventing podcasting

I am preparing myself for another really busy period of time. From Sunday 22nd right through to Sunday 19th November (yes almost a month).

This will mean the usual warning of being busy and not really replying in a timely fashion (what ever that really means).

Some will look at this list and say “ohhhh check you out… lucky devil!

My reply is yes I am grateful (my gratitude habit) that I can go to these amazing places, but even more that I will get the opportunity to talk to new people (audiences, future producers and maybe potentially co-creators). There are some amazing research projects in the pipeline, stuff that once again makes me very excited.

An amazing well loved colleague recently died. It was a shock but further reminds me and hopefully others our time is finite; We need to spend it doing what we love and making positive things happen. Inspire others to do the same and find their inner geekness.

Can’t say too much right now but in Cardiff & York recently, I share my a couple of ideas in the talks. There are slides which are good pointers to the ambition.

If you want to know more reach out (don’t be shy) or even join Storytellers United Slack.

Using Twitter in online dating….

I was reading about Loveflutter Relaunches With A Surprising New Way To Meet Your Match: Twitter.

Once upon a time, the world’s great lovers wooed with songs and sonnets. Today, we express our deepest feelings in 140 characters or less.

Or at least you do if you’re on Loveflutter, a dating service that has partnered with Twitter to prove social media feeds are the new windows to the soul.

Originally founded in 2013, London-based Loveflutter relaunched this May with an updated approach to modern matchmaking. Like other popular dating apps, users swipe left or right on candidates in hopes of scoring a mutual match. But unlike the competition, where singles pay attention to little more than looks, Loveflutter takes appearance out of the equation.

Images on Loveflutter are blurred until you click on them. Instead, users are invited to swipe left or right based on each other’s 10 latest tweets.

Its a interesting idea and similar to some of my thoughts way back when… Soon as heard this I thought about Tweetfoxxy, which is the thing I was trying to find on the tram wifi last week.