In one picture: The internet now and into the future

Breath in and out the internet

I have to give credit to Bill Thompson for his thoughts around the public service internet. In one of our conversations Bill suggested a need for a picture to sum up the internet now and where we are going.

It feels like two pictures, but images can be powerful and stoke up vivid responses in the mind. Its a challenge I have been thinking about quite a bit and put it on the Publicspaces international matrix chat (#PublicSpacesInt:matrix.org).

Challenge for you all… If there was one picture which would sum up the state of the internet now, what would it be? Also what picture would sum up the internet if things go the way you would like what would it be?

Theres been a few entries but my favorite so far has been Erik who posted the one above.

This image would probably sum up my ideal internet as a magical portal to empower yourself with all the knowledge, and a connection to all the people in the world.

Others saw this as a way of breathing new life into the internet. While I started thinking about modifying the picture into something with multiple people breathing life into the internet (closer to this in nature). I like this image but don’t like the fact shes looking at her phone, likewise this image is striking but hands behind her back feels less participatory that where I think we are going. This is better but needs multiple people working together.

Like my colleagues in BBC R&D looking to change the way AI and Machine learning are displayed in the general media. I think I might take it upon myself to craft something using inkscape/glimpse and lots of creative commons media. Just something which speaks closer to what I think I’m going for when I talk about public service internet.

Love to know what others come up with?

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.

Join us at one of our Human Values framework workshops

Human values

Recently we released a number of podcasts surrounding the human values work from BBC R&D. Almost all the human values podcasts are available on BBC Design & Engineering’s 2LO Soundcloud account, as mentions previously.

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There is much more to whats happening within the new forms of values work as you can see in the videos we recently put out. But another critical part is the work around the human values framework.

The framework is exactly that and is made to aid and support more a more human focused outcome. Of course this can’t be done alone and it was always made to be used alongside other frameworks. Frameworks such as Agile, OKR’s, Lean Canvas, Double Diamond, Doughnut economics, etc.

Digital WellbeingA few of the human values

How this exactly works is the research we are looking for creative people to help with. People like you!

Because of this we are opening up virtual workshops to explore how human values can sit with with the frameworks you are currently using or have used in the past. You are the experts by experience and we want to learn and collaborate with you all.

You can register your interest by going to our event page on tito.

Hope to see you in one of the workshops soon!

My Data: Public spaces / Private data

Mydata 2019 conference card

I’m back at Mydata this year, this time with more colleagues, Publicspaces.net and the Finnish public broadcaster YLE.

If you are at Mydata, our event is in Hall H from 14:00 – 15:45 on the opening day of Wednesday 25th September.

More and more people live their lives online, and we are encouraged to view the internet as a public space. However the personal data we bring to this space can be used in many inappropriate ways: Instagram stories are scraped to target advertisement; faces in family photographs are used to train the ML systems that will scan crowds for suspects; the devices we thought we owned end up owning us; and our browsing histories are stored and scanned by governments and private companies. This creates a tension for public service organisations as they try to deliver value to audiences and users online.

In this session experts from the BBC Research & Development, Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, and PublicSpaces will consider how to resolve these tensions, and look at some specific interventions aimed at providing value to audiences and communities through the responsible use of private data in online public spaces.

The format will be four brief talks and a round table discussion.

Chair: Rhianne Jones (BBC)
PublicSpaces and an internet for the common good: Sander van der Waal (PublicSpaces)
The Living Room of the Future:  Ian Forrester (BBC)
How public service media can engage online; Aleksi Rossi (YLE)
Data Stewardship and the BBC Box:  Jasmine Cox/ Max Leonard (BBC)

If this interests you, don’t forget to add yourself to the London event with a similar name. Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?

Computational photography is just the start

Tree scene with sunlight
Far Cry 5 / A Run in the Park

I found it interesting  to read how Virtual Photography: taking photos in videogames could be imaging’s next evolution. A while ago I mentioned how computational photography was pretty stunning a while ago when using my Google Pixel 2’s night sight mode.

Theres a project BBC R&D have been working on for a while, which fits directly into the frame of computational media. We have named it REB or Render Engine Broadcasting. Like OBM, Object based media theres a lot of computational use in the production of media, but I think theres a ton of more interesting research questions aimed at the user/client/audience side.

Its clear computational media is going to be a big trend in the next few years (if not now?). You may have heard about deepfakes in the news and thats just one end of the scale. Have a look through this flickr group. Its worth remembering HDR (high dynamic range) is a early/accepted type of computational. I expect in game/virtual photography is next, hence why I’ve shown in game photography to make the point of where we go next.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice / Up There

Its clear like every picture we see has been photoshopped, all media we will have to assume has been modified, computed or even completely generated. computational capture and machine vision/learning really is something which we have to grapple with.  Media literacy and tools to more easily identify computational media are what is missing. But the computational genie is out of the bottle and can’t be put back.

Theres also many good things about computational media too, beyond the sheer consumption.

While I cannot deny that my real world photography experience aids my virtual photography through the use of compositional techniques, directional lighting, depth of field, etc. there is nothing that you cannot learn through experience. In fact, virtual photography has also helped to develop my photography skills outside of games by enabling me to explore styles of imagery that I would not normally have engaged with. Naturally, my interest in detail still comes through but in the virtual world I have not only found a liking for portraiture that I simply don’t have with real humans, but can also conveniently experiment with otherwise impractical situations (where else can you photograph a superhero evading a rocket propelled grenade?) or capture profound emotions rarely exhibited openly in the real world!

Virtual photography has begun to uncover a huge wealth of artistic talent as people capture images of the games they love, in the way they interpret them; how you do it really is up to you.

Its a new type of media, with new sensibility and a new type of craft…

Of course its not all perfect.

https://twitter.com/iainthomson/status/1165755171923587072

What do the general public think about the internet?

https://vimeo.com/331179758

We (BBC R&D) helped NESTA to explore what the general public think about the internet. It was during a bitterly cold day but me, Rhia and Vicky took to the streets of Manchester to ask the public in a series of vox-pox interviews.

The results surprised me, as it was clear most were concerned and have serious but diverse reasons. Some gave short and some in-depth detailed experiences. The video only scratches the surface.

Over the past few decades, the internet has become the most important infrastructure of our time, radically rewiring how our societies work and how we interact. We asked the BBC to find out how ordinary people feel about these changes – watch their varied answers in the video below.

The video is a small part of NESTA’s Visions for the future internet work.

In March 2019, the World Wide Web turned thirty, and October will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the internet itself. These anniversaries offer us an important opportunity to reflect on the internet’s history, but also a chance to ponder its future.

Massive thanks to the people of Manchester who answered our questions even with the weather at close to zero degrees!

Re-decentralising the internet recording at Futurefest

Futurefest 2018 panel

I had the pleasure of being on the panel of re-decentralising internet at Futurefest, last summer. (when England was still in the world cup and the weather was super warm) Feels like so long ago. I’m quite glad its audio only because I was sat in the sunshine sweating a lot!

The internet isn’t where we want it to be. With power increasingly centralised in the hands of very few players, citizens have little say in where we want the internet to go next. But challenging existing dynamics won’t be easy: we find ourselves caught in the crossfire between the dominant American models (driven by Big Tech) and the increasingly powerful Chinese model (where government reigns supreme). Is there scope to create a third, European model, where citizens and communities are in charge?

In this session, we discuss alternative trust models for the internet. This session is part of the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet initiative. We will hear from Manon den Dunnen, strategic specialist at the Dutch National Police, Ian Forrester, Chief Firestarter at BBC R&D and Marta Arniani, innovation strategist and founder of Futuribile / Curating Futures. Chairing will be Katja Bego, senior researcher at Nesta and coordinator of the Next Generation Internet Engineroom project.

Thanks Katja!

27-28th Feb is Manchester’s first Storytellers United Hackjam

storytellers united hackjamOn the Wednesday 27th – Thursday 28th February in Manchester’s first Storytellers United Hackjam.

The hackjam is run with support from BBC R&D and BBC Academy, MMU’s School of Digital Arts (SODA), Storytellers United, Popathon, University of York’s Digital Creativity labs and Creative England.

Its a 36 hours hackathon around responsive/perceptive/adaptive media experiences. Participants work as a team to brainstorm ideas, create prototypes of their own storytelling experiences. They will compete against the clock, not against each other sharing knowledge and expertise as they go. They won’t be alone, as they will have some excellent mentored by industry experts sharing their knowledge and experiences. Its all part of BBC Academy’s Manchester Digital Cities week.

The hackjam is only part the story. On the late afternoon of Thursday 28th Feb there will be a mini-conference titled Storytelling in the Internet Age. Where promising prototypes will be demoed to the audience.

Collaborating together

Ideal participants are from the creative sectors such as,

  • Freelancers, Sole-traders and SMEs working in new media fields combining data with media,, may have tried twine, eko, inkle, etc
  • Producers and Directors interested in adaptive and non-linear narratives, may have tried twine, eko, inkle, etc
  • Developers and Designers with an interest in audio & video combined with data and used javascript libs like the VideoContext.js, Seriously.js, etc
  • Students and Academics with a deep interest in object based media, adaptive narratives, interactive digital narrative
  • Artists exploring mixed media and non-linear narratives

Tickets are free but an expression of interest, with no guarantee entry.

See you there!

A spy under the tree for the holidays?

The Observer on IOT and spying

Quite enjoyed Guardian’s piece about the raff of home iot devices coming to the home these holidays.

If you’ve so far withstood the temptation to install a smart speaker in your home, worried about the potential privacy pitfalls and a bit embarrassed about the notion of chatting aimlessly to an inanimate object, brace yourselves. This Christmas, the world’s biggest tech giants, including Amazon, Google and Facebook, are making another bid for your living room, announcing a range of new devices that resemble tablets you can talk to.

It was a real welcome surprise to read/hear Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino too. Her new book Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life is pretty much on the money.

“It’s very clear what they’re trying to do: sell you more stuff through third-party use of your own information,”

The fear about whether or not such devices are actually always on causes some users to relegate their smart speakers to corridors. “Think about where in the home you want to use these things, particularly if you think they might be listening all the time,”

I had the joy of capturing some of Alexandra’s early thoughts while putting together the ethics of personal data video interviews back in 2015.

I think the only thing missing from the article is a link to Mozilla’s buyers guide, which charts in a friendly consumer fashion whats actually going on underneath the surface of the iot devices we may get over the holiday period.

Another busy month or so

Its going to be another busy month or so…

Tomorrow we start to Build a healthy public service internet in the first forum during Mozfest weekend. This will be further explored at Mozfest in the decentralised space on Saturday afternoon.

Not long afterwards I’ll be going to Skopje along the same lines as last year when I was in Sarajevo. This time we have the results of last years workshop, the living room of the future.

Then Berlin for Most wanted music with a adaptive narrative conference talk more focused on audio than video and our first perceptive podcasting workshop. Now this exciting but scary as its completely beta and being developed right now.

I’m back in Berlin not long afterwards for a look at object based media and how machine learning can work together for the future of storytelling, quite similar to TOA 17 but more exploring and more I can talk about now compared to then.

Finally wrapping up with a critical panel discussion titled New platforms, new ways of storytelling at the future of the book in London. I expect a few things I said at Oreilly’s Tools of Change in 2012 are still very relevant. But also Perceptive podcasting will be much more mature by then.

All exciting but quite a bit in one go…