Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2021)

Behaviour & Reasons

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

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

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


This can not be the future of social media

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

New types of social networks

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

Wisdom of crowds for Fact checking?

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

A view of BBC R&Ds prototype personal data store

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

The Framework Laptop

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

Imagine if Crypto was used for more than Capitalism?

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

Metrics and society

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

Human rights are not a software bug to be removed

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

The frankly scary ideology of the billionaire technocrats

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

What are Silicon Values?

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


Find the archive here

Building safety crisis picked up by the BBC

I have written about Islington Wharf so many times and even had my thoughts committed to the Sunday Times. Its good to see the BBC covering the systematic problem of the British building industry when it comes to buildings in the UK. Its not just cladding, the whole construction industry is a total mess and peoples lives are in tatters because of it. Its just not on!

Does it go far enough? Not really, but its a start. Hopefully there will be follow ups and other media outlets jumping in because there are so many people (like myself) who need the pressure on the industry to fix the massive latent defects and drive out the cowboys.

Sexy beasts, another fad dating show, yawn…

I heard Netflix had commissioned the dating show, Sexy beasts (Remember it was a BBC Three show in 2014)

Sexy Beasts is a new dating show where real-life singles sport elaborate makeup and prosthetics to put true blind-date chemistry to the test.

There seems to be a bit of stir about this one, although lets be honest its another fad dating show. Will it go beyond a couple of seasons? I very much doubt it. Its certainly not a first dates, which just keeps going and going.

People need to remember just like dating services/apps, everything is very fickle. Anything new gets attention and is seen as innovative. Well I guess they couldn’t strip any more clothes off people. Sex has been done, doing it in the dark had mixed success, trying to turn dating into a soap has had mixed sucess and attempted to go large has had zero success. Bring on the next fad, tons of make up and masks to hide their true looks.

Yawn!

17 years at the BBC

Ian PORTRAIT at work

I never thought I would stay at the BBC so long but today its been 17 years.

I have talked many times how little the BBC impacted in my young life as a young black man in inner city Bristol, immersed in the underground rave scene. So won’t drag that up again, except to say that drive to change the BBC is still very much there.

What keeps me going? Being in a the research and development department is key for me. Its fitting with my personality and my ambitions for a better world. A world where public service can be the viable alternative to the surveillance capitalism and government surveillance. We need different models to keep each one honest, accountable and transparent.

Working with personal data stores, human values, decentralised protocols/systems, in a collaborative manor with the likes of Publicspaces, Mozilla, Nesta, universities like Lancaster, Nottingham, etc. Keeps me excited.

So here’s to another year, maybe one day it will be 20?

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!

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…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Jan 2021)

Snowdon tells us we can fix the internet for all

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, hearing how much Salesforce have spent on Slack, the news about Solarwinds and Airbnb’s IPO (why exactly?)

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

You are seeing aspects of this emerging with Snowdon telling us its possible to fix thingsthe Economist’s look to 2021, this inspiring list of books of hope and the final end of proprietary Adobe Flash.


The Solid project hits a mile stone in development

Ian thinks: Following BBC R&D’s new forms of value, one of the key research aims is using personal data stores. Solid is one such personal data store and its hit a mile stone with a number of different partners.

The ODI Summit 2020

Ian thinks: The ODI’s summits are always full of great talks and discussions. This years virtual summit is no exception with talks ranging from how we collaborate across border (perfectly timed as the UK leaves the EU) to Elizabeth Denham on who decides how we can use data.

The 3rd way: liberalism, Europe and a antivirus for the mind

Ian thinks: Yuval Noah Harari’s speech about the state of liberalism and Europe is worth listening to even if the panel is less so. Its a German conference but the subtitles help, while Yuval speaks in English throughout. His points are strong and worth remembering, especially the Netflix one.

Nicer businesses reap the bigger rewards

Ian thinks: A good summary of different businesses which operate in a more human fashion and the benefit they gain from this approach. Doesn’t include the usual B-corp names like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia.

Has your local Coop been tracking you and fellow shoppers

Ian thinks: We hear so much about this happening elsewhere, not your local supermarket. Although its adopted a closed loop system, there’s still questions about the bias set in the algorithm being used.

Facebook is another US Corp avoiding EU privacy laws around UK data

Ian thinks: Brexit has far reaching ramifications, but many didn’t foresee their personal data being moved to American law. First Google and now Facebook. Look out for more in the new year.

The nation state as a subscription?

Ian thinks: It was during a conversation with the Future Today Institute about my Estonian e-residency and potential digital nomad visa. Than the notion of a subscription to nation states was considered a possible future. Might seem strange but its clear the idea of a nation state is overdue a change.

TechCrunch editors choose their top stories of 2020

Ian thinks: I found the choice of stories quite different and varied for 2020. I imagine every other year previously in Techcrunch would be much less focused on the effect of technology on society.

The biggest hacks of 2020

Ian thinks: Hearing the numbers of affected people increasing as Shannon gets closer to number one, is just unbelievable. I expected Solarwinds to be number one but yes number one is absolutely deserved. So clear how integrated the digital & physical are.

The future of social media, content moderation and censorship with the EFF

Ian thinks: Good honest discussion with EFF on topics affecting the internet right now. On a similar vein, you may also like a podcast Manchester Futurists recorded with Derek Caelin too.

Some things to take forward into 2021

Ian thinks: Lets be honest 2020 was a awful year, but there was lots of good things within the year which do need to be remembered and taken forward into 2021.


Like this, find the archive here

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2020)

Jessica gordon nembhard

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, watching people shaming others for not working extra hard during the pandemic, employers spying on their employees and our continuing reliance on centralised servers.

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

You are seeing aspects of this happening with Google implementing Signal’s open source E2EE protocol and Google loosening control of the Chromium project


BBC R&D’s New forms of value research explained by MaxAlexLianne and myself

Ian thinks: Yes this is a bit meta but its great to deep dive into the cutting edge research of BBC R&D’s lab. Remember its all for the benefit of the citizens of the UK and far wider. Worth also listening to the Human Values podcast series if you want to know more about what Lianne talks about.

The Solid project hits a mile stone in development

Ian thinks: Following BBC R&D’s new forms of value, one of the key research aims is using personal data stores. Solid is one such personal data store and its hit a mile stone with a number of different partners.

Hacking society for the sake society

Ian thinks: Bruce Schneier’s talk from Tech Open Air is well worth 20mins of your time. Its a combinations of what goes into these notes. Security, privacy, hacking, dis-information, policy and the internet.

The key for securing our shared water future

Ian thinks: In this sobering Tedx talk, Seth makes clear we are running low on shared water. Seth talks about a rethink of our policy, technology and cooperation around this space.

What black ideas from the past we could take into the future

Ian thinks: Jessica and Douglas talk about how black communities already developed circular economic mechanisms and how effective they have been.

Technology always transforms ethics

Ian thinks: Juan’s thoughts are important to take in, he touches on so many points from ethics to politics. All framed within alongside technology disruption. I did find it strange he never used Brexit in his last reply about example of breaking up a nation.

An unscientific look at algorithms and my phone is still listening to me

Ian thinks: Wired magazine creates a quick and dirty test looking at Youtube’s recommendation algorithm. Plus that classic notion that your phone is listening to you.
Both are crude but if the social dilemma has taught me anything these actually help convince people

The challenges of IP in the coming world of ubiquitous game engine use

Ian thinks: Found via Simon Lumb, a real in-depth look at the challenges around IP in a world of game engines. There is also a podcast if like me you prefer audio

A musical trip into Nerdcore *explicit language

Ian thinks: Hip-hop artists talk about their reality and Nerdcore is no different. Its impressive and fascinating to hear how integrated internet & hacking culture has become in these artists life.


The archive is available here

Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?

Public value

Back last year when we could go to conferences and festivals without fear of the covd19 pandemic. BBC R&D, Mozilla and Publicspaces put on a conference during the Mozilla Festival week.

It was a great conference but unfortunately it never was written up. Its a real shame but you can understand with all the build up to the coming pandemic. So I thought it would be worth writing something short at least because it was enjoyable and full of great speakers.

We started with a keynote from Rachel Coldicutt – Doteveryone – previously CEO of Doteveryone

Rachel talked about the importance of public value, what’s at stake if we leave it to the market and the notion of just enough internet, which I mentioned previously. It was great keynote and really kicked off the day of panel talks in the right manor. Its still a shame doteveryone is no more.

Session One – Public-Controlled Data

Public-Controlled Data panel

Rhianne started the session with a look at the new forms of value work in R&D before Jeni and Katja followed in discussion with a look at the challenges facing the industry in which public controlled data can be ethically and unethically used.

Session Two – Equal Access for Everyone

Equal Access for Everyone panel

Bill kicked off the conversation looking at the important issue of inequality with Laura and Isobel looking at it from their points of view. All very enlightening with the different views coming together into we can all do better.

Session Three – A Healthy Digital Public Sphere

A Healthy Digital Public Sphere panel

Solana started things with a look at what makes up the internet heath report with Miles and Tim talking about the looking further and deep into what we mean by healthy and society

Session Four – Public Service Networking

Public Service Networking panel

Paulien kicked off the last session with a look at Publicspaces,net and their projects including the badges project. Ira followed up by exploring the notion of publicservice networking through the Redecentralize organisation. Alexandra then followed with her experience looking at the internet of things with a more ethical lens.

The whole event was very well attended and served as good follow on from the previous year. So what about this year? Well as you know Mozilla have moved the festival to Amsterdam but the pandemic has shifted things to a mainly virtual festival next year in March. Plans are a foot to follow up with something in collaboration with Publicspaces.

Bill thanks everyone

The complete human values framework podcast series

https://soundcloud.com/2lorebooted/sets/human-values-framework

A little while ago I mentioned the work myself and colleague Lianne have been conducting around the BBC R&D Human Values project.

I can happily say they are all uploaded to the BBC’s 2LO Soundcloud account, thanks to Bill. All of them are a good listen.

Episode 1: Human value discussion

What is the human value framework, and what are the intentions behind it?

Episode 2: Applying the human value framework

How is the human value framework used?

Episode 3: Exploring the underlying philosophy

A discussion of the philosophical model that underpins the framework

Episode 4: Measuring success using the framework

Are human values the new way to measure success and value in a digital age?

Episode 5: The impact of Covid-19 on the Human Values Framework

Considering human values in the current pandemic, and in the longer term

The BBC R&D blog post has updated details for each episode and who is in each episode. But I wanted to thank again our guests.

What I do at BBC R&D, explained in 2 videos

Its always tricky to explain what I do at work to my parents and some friends. I usually start with my research aims/questions.

  1. What is the future of public service in the internet age?
  2. What is the future of storytelling in the internet age?

They are high level research aims but within each one is a whole stream of projects and questions which need to be understood. Of course they lead to new questions and goals. One of the most important parts is the impact of the research.

Today I was able to demonstrate a part of both of my research questions and they were nicely captured on video.

What is the future of public service in the internet age?

I explain how the research around centralised, decentralised, and distributed network models helps us to understand the notion of a public service internet and how public media can thrive within it. I talk about the dweb without touching blockchain (hooray!) and finally make it clear the research question can only be answered with collaboration.

Of course I’m only part of a bigger team focused on new forms of value and the other pillars are covered in the 4 part BBC R&D explains.

What is the future of storytelling in the internet age?

I have been responsible for the community of practice around object based media/adaptive media for quite some time. Although not my primary research, I still have a lot of interest in the research and keep the fire burning with adaptive podcasting (use to be perceptive podcasting). Exploring new tools, the new craft and possibilities of truly connected storytelling. Most of all I’m keen to see it in the hands of all and what they will do with it.

Hence why I’m part of the rabbit holes team, considering what this could mean when in the hands of young people exploring the natural world around them.

Ian PORTRAIT at work

Yes I do love my career/job and I’m very fortunate to be in such a position. But it didn’t come easy, but extremely glad I could share

Imagine a public service video conference service

Its pretty disheartening to hear about people who seeking/getting help for addiction being trolled. Business insider’s article about Trolls breaking into AA meetings held on Zoom and harassing recovering alcoholics. Speaks volumes about where we currently are with our technology and society.

Its easy to blame the people who would troll people who are seeking help and support. Yes but also Zoom are to blame? Well thats a very easy target and they are not doing themselves any favors although they recently seem to be sorting themselves out. The problem with default settings is a well known problem and the easy thing to do is switch to another platform right?

Looking at the list in the Guardian, its clear the amount which are profit making businesses just like zoom. Its not exactly their fault, the scenario of the public using your service for to run a help group wasn’t in the business plan.

Maybe its time there was a business which did have that in their plans? Maybe not a business at all? Maybe an organisation with public interest & benefit at the centre of its remit?

This is something I was thinking through with Herb the other day, as we talked through the problems with Zoom. Could an organisation like for example the BBC run a video conferencing system for the benefit of the public?

Wouldn’t this conflict with existing commercial businesses and be a problem? Nope not if done correctly. I used healthcare when talking with Herb.

The NHS is a catch all and provide baseline health care. If you want to pay for better/quicker healthcare you can pay BUPA or someone else. In the same way, could the BBC or others provide baseline video conferencing aimed to give everybody a free platform which is  basic but focused on important things like privacy, security, anonymity, etc. This means no custom backgrounds, no filters, no full HD, etc. Thats the realm of the  commercial providers.

I know its a thin line but we can’t such important public services be hostage to commercial factors/models.

There is another aspect to this, the public sector could finally double down on services which preserve privacy and security of the public with software which is audit-able, has levels of transparency and is decentralised & distributed in nature.  For example I was checking out Jitsi with its webRTC support. Jitsi meet might struggling if everybody is hitting the main site but as its self installable, suits a more decentralised model. A public company could easily set it up and run it for under-served audiences?

Thoughts?

Every once in a while its a win win for all, except the algorithms

Tampon box in disabled loo

Every once in a while I like messing with the algorithms which rule our world. As Cory says in this critical piece, found via Ade,

Machine learning is fundamentally conservative, and it hates change. If you start a text message to your partner with “Hey darling,” the next time you start typing a message to them, “Hey” will beget an autosuggestion of “darling” as the next word, even if this time you are announcing a break-up.

This isn’t a new thing and I have to thank Miles who gave me the idea a long time ago to mess with the algorithms every once in a while.

Every once in a while, when I feel the recommendations are getting pretty good I buy something completely different. For example with Google I’ve done some very strange things, but the impact isn’t so clearly felt as with shopping algorithms.

Recently I bought tampons which were 2 for the price of 1 on Tesco online. I bought them because I wanted to screw up the algorithm but more importantly I wanted to support my female colleagues (extra special shout out to Jasmine) who have been fighting the good fight to provide women & girls with free sanitary products in BBC buildings. As they really should have!

Maybe this is a triple win, one for my colleagues, two for messing up Tesco’s recommendations and three for my pocket? What ever it is, I noticed Tesco recommendation now includes pointers to shampoo products which I certainly don’t need  but makes me laugh the algorithm is so easily manipulated.

Already planning similar on Amazon and Ebay…

You should disclose smart speakers to guests

Someone at Mydata mentioned this interview during our panel last month and finally had a read. Very happy BBC got the Google’s Rick Osterloh to say “I disclose smart speakers to guests.

After being challenged as to whether homeowners should tell guests smart devices – such as a Google Nest speaker or Amazon Echo display – are in use before they enter the building, he concludes that the answer is indeed yes.

“Gosh, I haven’t thought about this before in quite this way,” Rick Osterloh begins.

“It’s quite important for all these technologies to think about all users… we have to consider all stakeholders that might be in proximity.”

And then he commits.

“Does the owner of a home need to disclose to a guest? I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.”

I very much agree and I think everybody should do this. Will people do this? Not a chance, although I wish they would. I do tend to go into a room and jokily say the different wake words. Just incase…

I remember writing about my Airbnb in Barcelona experience and I have to say Airbnb’s criteria of what a camera is good.

This area of social data surveillance is tricky but something which is being researched/explored by the likes of myself at BBCR&D.

Core human values not eyeballs

We identified a set of 14 human values
We have researched core human values by conducting user studies, empirical research, and cross-referencing this with psychological theory and evidence. In doing so, we have identified a set of 14 human values (shown above); scientifically-evidenced psychological drivers that characterise what is fundamentally important to people in life.

Its one of the best pieces of research happening in BBC R&D at the moment I would say (heck and that includes some of my own research).

99% of the internet ecosystem is currently based on surveillance capitalism and the dopamine economy. This can change but will only change by creating something new, which obsoletes the previous. Or as Buckminster Fuller says

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

There is so much going on with this on-going research but the core is identification of the human values at different stages of life, not age.

People prioritise different values at different points in life, which refers to value priorities. Changes to value priorities vary in response to different stages of life (e.g. school to university), new environments (e.g. relocating), and specific events (e.g. facing a significant life event).

This is powerful as there is too much research pointing to ages. Its clear my values changed when I was a student to where I am as a full time employee for 15+ years. Life events can also include things like (I would argue) Brexit, which has me personally strongly valuing growing myself and exploring the world more than I use.

Its a good starting framework and we are only at the start of this research… And I have to say massive kudos to Lianne who pushed well-being from a long time ago when most didn’t fully understand the relevance. She was right on the money and waited for others to catch on.

Theres so much more to do, but the aims are high and important for not just the BBC, but all public service entities around the world. Measuring the impact and quality on peoples lives beyond the shallow meaningless metrics for public service is critical.

IMG_20190730_151339

Just imagine….

if the NHS doctors was measured on the impact of healthcare not number of people they saw in one day?

If programmes were focused on genuine impact to peoples lives not filling time with meaningless filler?

If libraries could see the long term impact of the people who did their research years ago and made critical decisions about drugs use years later? Like myself!

But this is just the start of the journey…

This is big research and something we are not doing alone. If you are doing similar get in touch, we could all make a difference! Noticeable initiatives include Nicola Sturgeon’s TED talk recently.