New Thinking for the New Generation

Edward Bono's New thinking book

There is a book I have from a long time ago, New Thinking for the New Millennium by by Edward de Bono.

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.

Theres a bunch of podcasts and projects related to the books too, for example Yancey Strickler’s ideaspace, which funny enough had Kate Raworth and Mariana Mazzucato as guests. The new thinking isn’t quite right because this all goes beyond thinking and more into doing. Kate and the doughnut economics in Amsterdam. Doughnut economics is also mentioned as a big driver for the post growth entrepreneurship. Listening to Mariana and Yancey’s books, I can’t help but point at the BBC R&D Human Values work.

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.

Want to re-watch a session from the publicspaces conference, or the whole conference? They are all uploaded here: https://vimeo.com/publicspaces. If you got a Mozfest 2021 pass? You can still catch all those sessions you missed for a few more weeks.

Its the Mozilla Festival, but not as we knew it…

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).

My calendar 8-14 march
My calendar during the first week of Mozfest

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.

My mozfest Adaptive podcasting miro board

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

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 ran a workshop/session during the 2nd week, which was interesting as chrome took down most of my display in a GPU bug I reckon. There was also the neurodiversity art work but I didn’t get enough entries to make something interesting unfortunately.

The advantages of neurodiversity

In total I went to 45 sessions. Here are some of the highlights in the sessions I went to.

Lasting thoughts

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)

Big thanks

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!

Publicspaces: You are not alone, join us…

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.

One of the collaborators I work closely with is the mainly Dutch publicspaces collective. I’ll be honest they are a amazing group of people and recently worked directly with them on the publicspaces conference as mentioned previously.

I share the interview with GJ which was filmed just before the conference, as a nice summary of Publicspaces but you should read the manifesto.

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.

The conference was excellent and you can see all the videos for all the sessions by clicking the one which sounds interesting. Some of my favor sessions include the keynotes chaired by the incredible Marleen Stikker, building connections, failed encounters and meet in the middle.

One of the main outcomes of the conference was for it to be a start of journey, in the Mozilla/Mozfest words… Arrive with an idea and leave with a community.

I personally have reached out to a few of the speakers and people in the community since the conference including Melanie Rieback. The community came together and we are now hanging out on Matrix.org under #PublicSpacesInt.matrix.org. We also started putting together the map of the network, which is ongoing work. There is also a special meeting happening on the 9th of April following the panel around the need for a digital European publicspace.

Found any of this interesting? Join a growing worldwide community on matrix (not just the Netherlands or even Europe).

How have I never come across Melanie Rieback?

One of the many highlights from the excellent Publicspaces conference today was discovering Melanie Rieback.

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.

Melanie alongside Ethan Zuckerman talked about what it means to be truly disruptive. As you can imagine, its not the startup unsustainable formulaic pipe dream which every startup team/creator is hard sold.

Seeing post growth entrepreneurship, there is a lot here and speaks volumes to the work BBC R&D around sustainability and human values. I found this post a good summary, especially starting with Doughnut economics which I recently read and recommend.

The problem with exponential growth

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:

  1. Capital
  2. Scaling
  3. Exit

I’m coming around to the notion, scale is the enemy of humanity. and likely fits in the unknown unknowns?

Like Kate Raworth who calls herself the rouge economist, I can see why Melanie Rieback’s ideas for post growth entrepreneurship doesn’t go down well with startup incubators, investment angels and VCs.

Looking forward to making the rouge/alternatives the everyday!

 

The freedom and space to hear things

When King made history at UChicago | The University of Chicago

Amazing hearing the story of Martin Luther King’s speeches.

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 WestworldThe 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.

Mozilla Festival 2021 – Its all virtual and you are invited!

Me with a face covering in 2016
Even in 2016, I was ready for the pandemic?

Its finally here, Mozilla Festival 2021 and its looking excellent.

I can’t tell you how long I have spent this evening looking at the hu

My adaptive podcasting workshopImagine being able to craft personalised podcasts which take advantage of data and sensors to wrap the listener in a story. Then imagine being able to do this for many people at once. This is what we call adaptive podcasting and the best part is its free, open…

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.

Its a hour workshop and its unlikely we will get the point of creating podcasts but there will be follow up sessions on the Mozfest slack and Storytellers United community.

Of course Adaptive podcasting will appear elsewhere outside of Mozfest, so keep an eye on the blog for more information around that.

My other session is the advantages of neurodiversity, which is a follow up to 2019’s the advantage of dyslexia, which is highly influenced by the amazing book by the same name.

Advantage of Neurodiversty - ArtLast year we explored the advantages of dyslexia at the brand new Neurodiversity space. This year we are back looking for people to explore and understand the advantages of different types of neurodiversity.

Look out for this one, as this art piece relies on your thoughts around the advantages of neurodiversity.

What is adaptive/perceptive podcasting?

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.

Enjoy!

Publicspaces conference: towards a common internet – March 11-12th – tickets now available

Publicspaces conference - towards a common internet

I previously blogged about the publicspaces conference.

On March 12, 2021, PublicSpaces, Pakhuis de Zwijger and Waag are organizing a conference to save the internet.

This event will happen mainly in a virtual form of course, however there might be something in person in Amsterdam’s Pakhuis de Zwijger. The conference will make up part of the Mozilla Festival 2021, also in Amsterdam and mainly virtual currently.

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).

I’m really happy to say I’m one of the people behind Thursday evening and we have some great keynote speakers presented by the amazing Marleen Stikker of Waag. Paul Keller of the Open Future foundation, Katja Bego of Nesta and Eli Pariser of Civic Signals; will all present short keynotes followed by a communal Q&A.

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.

Publicspaces conference - towards a common internet

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.

Sounds great? Go get your tickets now.

Whats been happening with the human values work?

Human values framework

After the podcast series which you can still hear on the BBC 2LO Soundcloud account. You might have noticed a few workshops we did around the human values.

Right up till now, we couldn’t say exactly why or who was funding it. However yesterday we can finally say, we won a Nesta NGI policy in action bid along with a few others. In short…

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.

You can learn a lot more about the project in a longer interview with Lianne. But do keep an eye on the BBC R&D project page, humanvalues.io and for future workshops/opportunities to help us shape the research project into a tangible resource for all.

This is exciting stuff…

Essential black authors to read

I realise its Black history month in America, while in the UK its November but regardless this is a really good list of black authors with plenty of interesting subjects for reading over the year. I have already added a few to my 12 audiobooks to read this new years resolution.

Once again don’t read the comments, who down votes something like this? Actually don’t answer that, I know too well.

Adaptive bedtime lullabies

Oura  lullabies

I gave Oura’s sleep story a try the other night. It was pretty good, I was pretty much a sleep in under 10mins. I say 10mins because I couldn’t help but think how this could be so much better as a adaptive narrative or even a adaptive podcast?

Especially with the subject being around the moon.

I get the bedtime/sleep story is meant to be something to fall sleep to, but imagine it fitting/adapting slightly to the moon phase, how your day has been, etc. Oura is sitting on a ton of personal data and their system keeps that secure to the user.

Perfect for personalised adaptive narratives.

Some of the excellent books I read in 2020

I watch a lot of TV and Films but I also consume a lot of Audio (likely more than visual media). As mentioned in my new years resolution for 2021, I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks now I’ve been working from home for 10 months now.

Its worth noting I don’t really read fiction books for entertainment (this seems to be a common thing with some dyslexics?) because I think I get the fiction or entertainment part from TV & Films? Or maybe I was put off in earlier age by stuff like Lord of the rings?

So I thought I’d share some of the great books I read/listened to, not in order as such.

  • Winners Take All
    Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas
    Anand’s book is a excellent look at the corruption of power. Its a great true story which is inter-sliced with cases from history of how Anand came to tell the people who he points the finger at, during their own conference.
    Anand also makes clear the problem of inequality and how its driving a lot of the ills, just like the book the inner level which I also read and highly recommend to everyone!
  • The Inner Level
    The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being by Pickett, Kate E and Wilkinson, Richard G.
    This book is incredible, I can’t stop not thinking about it and recommending it. There is so much in the book but the examples really make the overall backbone of the inner level and the previous book the spirit level. Inequality is the bedrock of so many problems and ills in this world, I’m very convinced by this now. For example here is the start of chapter 5: The human condition.

    Larger income gaps make normal social interaction increasingly fraught with anxiety, and, as we have shown, stimulate three kinds of response. Some people are overcome by low self-esteem, lack of confidence and depression; others become increasingly narcissistic and deploy various forms of self-aggrandizement to bolster their position in others’ eyes. But, because both are responses to increased anxiety, everyone becomes more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol and falls prey to consumerism to improve their self-presentation. As social life becomes more of an ordeal and a performance, people withdraw from social contact and community life weakens. Crucially, we have seen that the bigger the income differences between rich and poor, the worse all this gets.

  • How To Be an Antiracist
    How to Be an Antiracist by Kendi, Ibram X.
    What a book, as said elsewhere its not great if its your first book on systematic racism. Ibram X, makes some excellent points and later gets right into the subjects of feminism, LGBTQ+ and ultimately intersectionality. He makes very clear you can’t be antiracist if you are against queer rights for example.

    To be queer antiracist is to understand the privileges of my cisgender, of my masculinity, of my heterosexuality, of their intersections. To be queer antiracist is to serve as an ally to transgender people, to intersex people, to women, to the non-gender-conforming, to homosexuals, to their intersections, meaning listening, learning, and being led by their equalizing ideas, by their equalizing policy campaigns, by their power struggle for equal opportunity. To be queer antiracist is to see that policies protecting Black transgender women are as critically important as policies protecting the political ascendancy of queer White males.

     

  • White Fragility
    White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – Robin DiAngelo
    I read this book again just after the murder of George Floyd. I know some people are not keen on it but I found the examples and approaches extremely useful when talking about racism. For example the notion of white women tears.

    …well-meaning white women crying in cross-racial interactions is one of the more pernicious enactments of white fragility. The reasons we cry in these interactions vary. Perhaps we were given feedback on our racism. Not understanding that unaware white racism is inevitable, we hear the feedback as a moral judgment, and our feelings are hurt. A classic example occurred in a workshop I was co-leading. A black man who was struggling to express a point referred to himself as stupid. My co-facilitator, a black woman, gently countered that he was not stupid but that society would have him believe that he was. As she was explaining the power of internalized racism, a white woman interrupted with, “What he was trying to say was . . . ” When my co-facilitator pointed out that the white woman had reinforced the racist idea that she could best speak for a black man, the woman erupted in tears. The training came to a complete halt as most of the room rushed to comfort her and angrily accuse the black facilitator of unfairness. (Even though the participants were there to learn how racism works, how dare the facilitator point out an example of how racism works!) Meanwhile, the black man she had spoken for was left alone to watch her receive comfort.

     

  • The Guilty Feminist
    The Guilty Feminist: From Our Noble Goals to Our Worst Hypocrisies, Deborah Frances-white
    I am a keen listener to the podcast with the same name and the book is well written with guests injections now and then. Like Ibram X, Deborah talks a lot about intersectionality and its absolutely importance.
    In a earlier chapter Deborah breaks down feminist by waves (second wave feminism for example) its quite powerful and makes super clear how different things have been over time. She also dispels some of the awful common stereotypes (bra burning & men hating for example) but thoughtfully uses intersectionality too.
    I listened to most of the book while waiting in long queues at Alton Towers. Well worth the read even if you listen to the podcast.
  • This Could Be Our Future
    This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World by Yancey Strickler
    Previous co-founder of Kickstarter Yancey Strickler’s book is a welcomed read while looking at the state of the mainstream internet. Its a rallying call for longer term focus and is a refreshing read coming out of the epicentre of America’s hyper-capitalistic silicon valley. Yancey starts the book this way

    This book is about a simple idea.That a world of scarcity can become a world of abundance if we accept a broader definition of value. We recognize that there are many valuable things in life—love, community, safety, knowledge, and faith, to name just a few. But we allow just one value—money—to dominate everything else. Our potential for a more generous, moral, or fair society is limited by the dominance of money as the be-all and end-all. It puts a ceiling on what we can be.

    On a similar topic, I also had a read of Amy Lui’s Abolish Silicon Valley. Both are good reads and fit right alongside the R&D work into human values. Yancey is also one of our extremely knowledgeable guests in our Human values podcast series.

 

Publicspaces conference #1 towards a common internet – March 11-12th

How can we achieve public spaces on the internet?

On March 12, 2021, PublicSpaces, Pakhuis de Zwijger and Waag are organizing a conference to save the internet.

This event will happen mainly in a virtual form of course, however there might be something in person in Amsterdam’s Pakhuis de Zwijger. The conference will make up part of the Mozilla Festival 2021, also in Amsterdam and mainly virtual currently.

Of course I will be organising, joining the conference and the pre-conference on the evening of the 11th March (more details will come soon)

Conference 2021

The internet is broken, but we can fix it and replace broken parts. In this conference we will look for ways how we can make the internet a healthy public space again. With a day program for professionals from the public sector looking for a way out of big tech, and for developers of alternative systems for a safe, open and fair internet. We conclude the day with a talk show for everyone about the dangers of the current model, but also the concrete possibilities for a future internet without surveillance capitalism, and with healthy alternatives that we can use immediately.

Together we answer the impossible question: how do we create a public space on the internet?

Mark it down in your calendars… and expect more details soon.

Mapping the ecosystem but in a collaborative way?

This map of Dyslexia associations went around a few social circles recently but I got to say its quite impressive work.

I’m currently looking to do something similar but for organisations working in the space of the public service internet (best way I can describe it right now). But its got to be collaborative and the connections between them isn’t just their location, but their focus, their specialities, etc. On top of all this is the common connections between them.

I’ve been considering a number of things including Tagtool, some light semanticweb technology, a distributed model like Friend of a Friend and Human.txt. Been also considering scraping or getting the data from other sources like linkedin too.

What I’m doing is really recreating a customer relationship management system (CRM) like Salesforce but open, collaborative and distributed. Someone must have done this already?

Channel 4’s Deepfake queens speech raises tons of questions

When I first heard Channel4’s alternative speech was going to be a deep fake of the queen. I laughed but had a ton of questions. Some of them are covered in their behind the scenes video.

I felt the deep fake was a good thing to do, as so many people can’t tell the difference between real and fake. This has a big impact on the democratic process. But of course if you are reading this, you most likely know this already. It was good they made it deliberately fake rather than pass it off as a real speech, but of course some felt it was disrespectful.

Deep and shallow fakes are here and getting better every day, there is a important public service angle putting this front and centre. We got to get better at understanding what we see may not be what’s actually true.