My quick short view on Libra cryptocurrency

Facebook Libra

  • Facebook is full of crap and this privacy first play is just total bull. I don’t trust facebook, but to be fair I don’t trust my bank, however there business model isn’t completely at odds with my freedom as a digital citizen.
  • Cryptocurrency for the masses is not such a bad thing but theres so little information I can just imagine the headlines about being taken for their life savings.
  • A single global currency is a very very bad idea for many reasons not worth going into now.
  • I know Facebook is only spearheading the libra Association which is a not-for-profit organization but its FACEBOOK Remember! I don’t even really think the others are in it for anything more than a punt.
  • Calibra the tools facebook have built to work with Libra do not subscribe to the same ideas as the association and that might not be a bad thing in your book but it clearly points towards the endless dominance of facebook in this association.

Don’t get zuckered into this all, againglad others have push back hard.

The height issue and self-confidence

I was reading a piece about short kings a new coined term for short men.

The whole thing is about how men under 6ft tall are always the brunt of jokes and bullying. There’s also some critical points about the way society,  masculinity and our culture thinks about short men.

Sizeism is hard to avoid on dating apps such as Grindr and Tinder, where users commonly forbid men under 6ft from contacting them. Tinder even made a 2019 April Fool’s joke about launching a “height verification” update that would prevent guys from exaggerating their stature.

Yet short-shaming isn’t harmless. “There’s a host of studies that show short men are stigmatized in many ways, not only in people’s perception, but in actual real world outcomes as well,” says Joseph Vandello, a social psychologist at the University of Southern Florida. “People perceive shorter men as having fewer leadership qualities,” he says, citing findings that majority of American CEOs are over 6ft in and voters prefer tall presidential candidates (including, at 6ft 2in, Trump).

All this starts early – even in kindergarten, studies have found, teachers perceive the shortest boys in their class as less academically capable than their peers.

Height is also perceived to correlate directly with masculinity. As Vandello explains: “Because of [the correlation between height and perceived masculinity], a lot of men feel kind of a chronic sense of anxiety and uncertainty about their manhood status.” Insecurity generally manifests in oversensitivity to insult (which may contribute to the stereotype of short men as angry, resentful, over-compensating Napoleons.)

I’m almost 6ft tall at 5ft 11 so rarely gotten much of the criticism of others much shorter than myself.

It got me thinking about a few things related to height in the past. Okcupids the big lies people tell in online dating and also the discussion we had on BBC Radio Merseyside about height. Even then, I was thinking there’s got to be a connection with self confidence here, for example a lot of the women I spoke to who couldn’t imagine dating someone shorter than them was shocking. Likewise men who wouldn’t dare date someone taller was equally shocking. This is where I started keeping a rough tally on how self-confident they appeared, and it seemed my rough theory might have something about it?

Like many short men, Steven recalls an adolescence spent believing masculinity was defined by a set of immutable characteristics – like being tall and imposing – and that by not fitting that ideal he was “kind of cursed.”

But as he grew up, he began thinking about manhood as something he could develop by embodying his values, rather than a blunt appraisal of his physical self. “I think to be masculine, to be manly, whatever that word means, is about doing good in the world. It’s about contributing. It’s about finding a way to serve other people, to be kind, to be strong in defense of those who need strength in their corner. The more masculinity is an idea of service the more I think it is helpful.

Now happily committed to a taller woman, Brendan hardly thinks about his height at all. “Once you get into that sense of self-confidence the height issue kind of melts away,” he says.

Looking back at Republica 2019 and IndieWebCampBerlin

A personal view from republicamp

It was a while ago now since I was in Berlin for both IndieWebCampBerlin and Republica19. As I needed to report back to BBC R&D, I created a slide deck which I finally gave today at work. It would have been earlier in the month if I wasn’t sick when it was arranged.

I posted a modified version of the slide deck on slideshare, but its pretty much there. Of course like most of my presentations, its better with me delivering it but you can get a sense of what I found interesting and why.

The slides are divided into 2 parts. Indiewebcamp is slides 4-23 and Republica is slides 24-73.

Enjoy!

Less than a month till the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

The Moon FestivalIts less than a month till the world celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing. The moon festival now has a ton of events for everyone including Maverick Women & the Moon with the amazing Margaret Atwood, which I will be at. Some events are sold out but theres a good number of tickets left.

Its also worth saying this is excellent for the Woolwich/Greenwich area of London.

Look forward to seeing you there???

BBC’s role in data-led services

Public Service Internet

Two good blog posts outlining the BBC’s ambitions were posted to various BBC blogs on this week.

First Matthew Postgate (CTPO of the BBC) looks at the BBC’s future role in  a data-led landscape. He mentions the BBC box which then links to work we’ve been researching in BBC R&D around the databox project.

Gizmodo started to unpick this a little, The BBC is Doing Cloud Storage and Wants You to Have Full Control Over Your Data. The interest is a good thing of course…

It was clear to me back when I first spoke to Nottingham University about the databox project, it was something different, a possible way forward following the newly established HDI principles. It was tricky to understand (and you get that sense in the Gizmodo piece) but the box infrastructure kept everything honest. If you told me 4 years later after I first published the ethics of data videos.. I’d be debating with Tim Burners-Lee about the merits of Databox vs Solid at Mozfest 2018… I wouldn’t have believed you.

I look forward to seeing where things go next with Databox/BBC Box, this for me is the BBC embracing the change and doubling down on its public service. But lets not forget the other experiments using databox at their heart as they are also part of the change.

Flight shaming is taking off?

Flight shaming is taking off (nice pun), can travel be more ethical? Is something I read and think about quite a bit (the flying bit of course).

I’m guilty of flying a lot, for example a few months ago I flew to Amsterdam and back in the same day. Besides it being a bloody long day, I did spare a thought about my carbon mileage for the day. I did fly on one of those e propeller planes there and back, which I gather is better than a jet airplanes? But the flight shaming isn’t going away.

I think its a balance of understanding and conscious decisions. I agree with the writer of the guardian piece, that a family of 4 on a train to Spain isn’t at all practical and I personally can’t think of a better way to get there with kids. Yes going somewhere local is a nice idea but thats ignoring the cultural benefits of going to other countries.

Weirdly enough this came up in Re:publica, which I need to blog about fully. Johan Rockstorm’s talk was super sobering and someone asked him how it got to Berlin for the conference (maybe consciously or non-cons iosuly) flight shaming him.

He’s reply was good and balanced.

…so how can you get you know the world to transport itself in a sustainable way I think that the that the solutions is therefore not to go out and simply say stop flying I mean that that would be like the only message because I think that that just just creates a deeper rift between the aware environmental movement and everyone who just says oh no I’m not gonna I’m not gonna sacrifice that and therefore I rather put my head in the sand and and create my own little fake news story of something that will somehow make this not happen so therefore I think the solution for us to succeed to really have even the in does indifferent majority to surf along with us is to you know show that sustainability is the entry point for a better life that we can achieve better quality of life not just through by consuming and unnecessarily flying when we don’t need to yeah of course of course as in all forms of excessive consumption…

In agreement on how to taste chocolate

Join about the way to taste chocolate

So a while ago I wrote about Zotter chocolate’s tasting tips.

Savouring chocolate?

I shared it out as usual via Twitter and Mastodon. But didn’t really think much more about it, till yesterday during TVX 2019 when a Austrian man offered me a bar of  Zotter chocolate from Zotter, who happens to be just around the corner from where he lives..

Zotter schilcher-kurbisnougat chocolate Amazing gift and completely out of the blue, I forget people actually read my posts. I was dumbfounded when he offered me the chocolate and explained everything, so shocked I forgot to take his name while taking the selfie. Hopefully he  will see this post and add a comment.

The chocolate is tricky one, as I’m not totally sure whats in it.

Using Google translate, it says

Schilcher + pumpkin nougat

Two Styrian specialties mix with unique dark milk chocolate with 60% cocoa content. A ganache with sparkling Schilcher rosé wine combined with a tenderly melting layer of pumpkin seed nougat. 

The ingredients translate to

Extra dark milk chocolate ° filled with Schilcher ganache ° (30%) and pumpkin seed

nougat ° (16%) – containing alcohol Ingredients: raw cane sugar °, cocoa butter °, cocoa mass °, pumpkin seeds °, whole milk powder °, butter °, glucose inverted syrup °, grappa °, Schilcher ° (contains sulfites), raisins °, skimmed milk powder °, sweet whey powder °, rock salt 
Emulsifier: soya lecithin °, whole cane sugar °, vanilla 
bean powder °, cinnamon ° Cocoa (cocoa mass and cocoa butter): 60% at least in extra dark milk chocolate ° Tradeed

May contain traces of nuts, peanuts, eggs and sesame.

So nothing I don’t think there is anything I can’t eat in it, except I wonder about Nougat.

Wonderful present and massive thank you…

 

Familiar stranger and wellness

milgram familiar stranger

Theres been so many times in the past when I blogged about the breakdown of social bonds between strangers. One of my favourite books is Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, I still need to read reclaiming conversations. The smartphone is a easy target to point at when thinking about this all.

The thing I hadn’t really considered is the effect of the mental ill/wellness epidemic maybe slightly caused by loneliness.

This is why I find things like Uber quiet ride pretty scary when you take the long view. Which of course Uber isn’t, as they try and make public transport redundant as its not convenient enough for our lives.

You can outsource pretty much every aspect of irritation in your lives. But you can’t outsource loneliness, or pain. Like a dystopian sci-fi plotline, we are allowing Silicon Valley to make our lives as convenient and seamless as possible.

But there’s an app for everything now, which means no more phone calls to the pizza shop, no chit-chat while waiting for the bus. The little white earbuds, and their more aggressive, noise-cancelling cousins, are shielding us from this terrible outside world.

And we are lonelier than ever. Our communities are disintegrating, whether it’s the corner store bought by a billionaire developer or churches being replaced by Instagram or the fact that I have never met or even seen my nextdoor neighbour. We are at a crisis point.

You could easily point the finger at Airbnb too, something which was about people sharing homes with strangers; now is about hotel like experiences. Airbnb haven’t helped things wither with their plus listings. Don’t get me wrong I understand, but airbnb originally was different.

I keep saying it but noticed I don’t think I have ever wrote about it so directly.

Public transport along with lots public services could be the decider between a epidemic of loneliness. I mean where else are you going to experience familiar stranger and that essential head nod. Rubbing shoulders with strangers clearly is good thing in the long run, you wonder why more people are flocking to our over crowded cities? I think there is something in the social object theory and I’m not the only one. Bonding with strangers builds friendships, builds neighbourhoods, building communities, which builds societies?

The data is still not 100% but I think this is essential research material.

Death of conversation

smartphone addiction illustrations cartoons with couple at cafe dinner

I found the piece with 57 Images Of How Smartphones Take Over Our Lives, a fun but also slightly tragic read.

Modern technology has undoubtedly improved our lives in many ways – from curing what used to be terminal illnesses to space explorations, we all must agree that life without technologies seems quite impossible now. Though the technologies make living more comfortable, they are also the culprit of many social issues, with smartphone addiction being the top one.

Its something I’ve written about in the past quite a bit… Smartphones are the new cigarettes, tips for deadling with your smartphones Tamagotchi where the future went wrong? and more…

Manufacturing algorithmic good behaviour?

Taxi sign

I read that Uber is now going to start punishing users with low scores by cutting them off.

Uber is now requiring the same good behavior from riders that it has long expected from its drivers. Uber riders have always had ratings, but they were never really at risk of deactivation — until now. Starting today, riders in the U.S. and Canada are now at risk of deactivation if their rating falls significantly below a city’s average.

“Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability,” Uber Head of Safety Brand and Initiatives Kate Parker wrote in a blog post. “Drivers have long been required to meet a minimum rating threshold which can vary city to city. While we expect only a small number of riders to ultimately be impacted by ratings-based deactivations, it’s the right thing to do.”

For drivers, they face a risk of deactivation if they fall below 4.6, according to leaked documents from 2015. Though, average ratings are city-specific. Uber, however, is not disclosing the average rider rating, but says “any rider at risk of losing access will receive several notifications and opportunities to improve his or her rating,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.

This is another example of the insanity of  algorithmic telling off and the secrecy is stupid.

Airbnb telling off
Airbnb telling off for my 4.8 rating

Airbnb is still telling me off/trying to help with my score of 4.8/5 with 34 Total reviews and 76% 5 star reviews.

Mainly because I don’t accept most people into my flat. There’s no understanding about timing, workload, etc. In the algorithms view, everyone should be maximizing the amount of people using the flat. They keep trying to push auto-booking on me. I expect it will become a requirement one day and I’ll leave Airbnb as its completely unsuitable for me.

The whole idea of perfection is flawed and humans are never perfect. Sure Douglas Rushkoff has lots to say about this in #Teamhuman.

Update June 2nd

Talking of Uber, there was interesting piece in the Guardian around the same time, which could apply to Airbnb too. What is Uber? Forget the sharing economy – it’s just a libertarian scam.

 

Browser vendors now own the web?

On the face of it… W3C hands over development of HTML and DOM standards to browser vendors (WHATWG). Sounds like a good idea, right?

I mean the W3C was pushing for the semantic web, more rdf, more linked data and xml structuring.

Down with XML, down with linked data, rdf and the very idea of the semantic web – uggghhhh! (or something like that? I can hear you all say!).

Well hold on, remember how the web started? Remember the foresight which kept the web free and open. Insights like SVG when the proprietary alternative of flash was ruling the web. I for one really liked XML and the suite of technologies which came along with it. XHTML was a joy to use once browser vendors got on board and sorted there act out.

I was there during the fight from HTML4 to XHTML 1.0. Still remember fighting about Microformats vs RDF at BarCampLondon2 and to be fair WHATWG was likely right at the time but they didn’t have the foresight of looking further into the future. The semantic web was a big vision but whats the big vision of WHATWG now?

My fear is handing the web over to mainly browser vendors will lead us back to where the web was at during HTML 4.0. A mix of unspecified bits and bobs which rely on native browser capabilities. Whos fighting for accessibility, i18n, l10n, old systems, etc, etc? My only hope is because the w3c only handed over control of HTML and DOM, they will double down on CSS and ECMAscript?

I want the web to move forward and I know there was a lot of tension between the W3C and WHATWG but they kept each other honest. Handing the web over, I fear will ultimately make things worst for all?

Google takeout to the rescue?

My Motiv ring on my hand

So recently I’ve gone into Quantified Self overload with my new Motiv Ring, added to my Pebble smartwatch for sleep tracking.

The ring is very good, but the app isn’t the best, its seems to work but isn’t very clear when its not syncing with the ring. Also I knew the 2 day battery was going to be a pain but to date I’ve been charging it every 2 days and never got to the point where its gotten below 44%.

As the app is pretty rubbish, I have sent everything to Google fit. I pretty much have everything synced with Google fit now.

The first time I noticed it was all working, was when I looked at sleep as android which I use with my pebble smartwatch and noticed my heart rate over the top of my sleep data.

Sleep data with heart rate
I warn you the sleep is a mess due to my flu I currently have… also why I’ve not blogged those great conferences I’ve been to recently.

Likewise I recently hooked up my Withings/Nokia iot scale to Google fit. The scale has its own app which isn’t bad but frankly its not great. It suffers from the similar problems as most of the quantified apps attached to a device or service; they want to be the centre of the world. Reminds me of my Fitbit which import everything but export little.

I understand Google fit is mining the heck out of my quantified data but with Google takeout, I can get the raw numbers in one place. Everyone wants to sync with Google fit and the dashboard view is far better than what everyone else right now.

I’ve also set it up to send me an update every 2 months. Now that’s pretty neat. Would I pay for a service to do this? Yes I would, how much is the question…

Google Titan key security problem?

I was sure I tooted/tweet a thank you to the Google team in Berlin’s Re:publica conference. But it looks like it never quite happened due to connectivity issues with the wifi at certain points of the day.

So first of all I want to say thanks for giving me a titan security key for spending time listening to what changes Google had made to their security as announced in Google IO 2019.

I was surprised to see Google there with all the ill feeling about the 5 stacks, their monopoly and business practice.

But before I could get home try the key/system, I saw a bunch of problems with the key.

Google Titan Bluetooth Security Key Can Be Used to Hack Paired Devices

Titan-ic disaster: Bluetooth blunder sinks Google’s 2FA keys, free replacements offered

Obviously I was a little concerned, although I had not added the titan key to my google 2 factor auth yet.

After a bunch of reading, it seems its not completely flawed. The Google security blog confirms my research.

The problem is with the Bluetooth fob which to be honest is super convenient wasn’t the most secure idea in the world. The bluetooth stack is limited in its range but because of that, its not got as much security as most things on the net.

Due to a misconfiguration in the Titan Security Keys’ Bluetooth pairing protocols, it is possible for an attacker who is physically close to you at the moment you use your security key — within approximately 30 feet — to (a) communicate with your security key, or (b) communicate with the device to which your key is paired. In order for the misconfiguration to be exploited, an attacker would have to align a series of events in close coordination:

When you’re trying to sign into an account on your device, you are normally asked to press the button on your BLE security key to activate it. An attacker in close physical proximity at that moment in time can potentially connect their own device to your affected security key before your own device connects. In this set of circumstances, the attacker could sign into your account using their own device if the attacker somehow already obtained your username and password and could time these events exactly.

Before you can use your security key, it must be paired to your device. Once paired, an attacker in close physical proximity to you could use their device to masquerade as your affected security key and connect to your device at the moment you are asked to press the button on your key. After that, they could attempt to change their device to appear as a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse and potentially take actions on your device.

This all being a big mistake, Google has offered a replacement key. However because my key hasn’t been added to my account yet, I get a message saying no action is required but a email to override this. However after double checking my key is a type T3 meaning it wasn’t effected.

Good work Google…

Media Molecule allows you to Dream?

A few people have mentioned Dreams to me especially in respect to interactive experiences and creating your own.

I don’t own a PlayStation 4 (although I just ordered the Playstation Classic) but ever since I saw Little Big Planet’s creation mode, been blown away by the possibilities. So I was impressed they doubled down on this feature in Dreams.

However there is something which bugs me…

Imagine putting all that work into your dream/world (as such), because some of them look incredible. Who owns the dream?

I’m wondering if there is a export mode for the dreams? If there was, how would it be exported? A flatten video wouldn’t cut it. You almost need something like Google Stadia, but thats also a unknown entity too (although maybe this is what the Microsoft and Sony thing is all about?). Ultimately I’d hate to spend hours/days/weeks working on something incredible and for it to be stuck in a world which could die in the next generation of the console or if the game doesn’t sell well enough? I won’t even mention ip challenges of the dreams…

Maybe it was time for a exportable descriptive language for interactive narratives which is platform neutral?

Just a thought…