VPRO documentary: How did Brexit happen?

Brexit: The Uncivil War
The UK left the EU on January 1 2021, big ben chimed and there were fireworks at 2300 on December 31st in some places.

There are so many things I have said and want to say but I found the VPRO (Dutch public service broadcaster) really worth watching.  As always its good to see Brexit from the view of our neighbours.

Good documentary, hard to watch but very fair leaning on Brexit: civil war, the horrible class divide in the UK, the lies of the Boris bus, targetted advertising, the problems with nostalgia, etc..


Whats really changed?

Print, The Black Experience in Graphic Design, 1968.

It was a hard read/listen but I’m glad to have read through the article which Leena suggested for me.

The Black Experience in Graphic Design: 1968 and 2020, has a number of black designers read through a hard copy article written in 1968 to see how much has changed or rather reflect on how little has changed.

As I started it was a hard read as there was a lot I recognise in my experiences as a designer in the earlier days of 2000. Like most of the designers featured, I stay hopefully too However I also listened/read the wired article – Five Years of Tech Diversity Reports—and Little Progress.

So little progressive… 

George Floyd mural in Manchester's Northern Quarter
At least george floyds mural stays in the northern quarter even today – Oct 25th 2020

Its coming up to 6 months since George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis police. One of the things I am planning is a look at all those pledges to make a change by companies to see if they actually did what they pledged.

Part of my work is to extract the data from this amazing presentation. Put into a form where others can add to it, likely a airtable, mutliple google sheets or github somehow? I think what the original authors did is amazing but it they limited its impact by not separating the data from the format. Not a criticism of course, but I could really help if they provided the data or sources.

If you can help or can point at places which might help a XML type person like me, do shout. If you are interested in joining what happens next, drop me a message.

Little update

I started a google sheet, after pretty much manually pulling the data out of the Google Slide. There’s lot of room for adding others. I’ll likely drop the sheet somewhere, so others can add without messing with the existing data.  I’m testing the protected cell feature in Google sheets, although I have a copy if it all goes wrong. This gives me the chance to mess with Airtable I guess?

BBC Backstage needed to close, for BBC Taster to happen

BBC Tatser front page

It is my opinion. BBC Taster could not happen if BBC Backstage was still running.

A long time ago there was BBC Backstage, it was great and did a lot for the BBC and the licence payers who didn’t quite fit in the SME/Company bracket but were also not just consumers of the BBC’s output. I would suggest they were the 9% (I don’t think this figure is correct but go with it as it fits the 1% theory) which the BBC had a harder time understanding.

BBC Backstage was a great success and lasted 5 years achieving some incredible things including the first UK hackday. It changed the relationship with the tech & media-savy 9%, who frankly had enough of being treated mere audience members.

But it had to end, for good reasons as explained in my blog about why I shutdown BBC Backstage.The BBC Connected Studio and the newly launched creative playground BBC Taster. Would have been a very different proposition if BBC Backstage was still around. It would also been an injustice to the changing and diverse 9%.

I said in a previous blog

Things need to end (such as BBC Backstage, Innovation Labs, etc) for others to spark, grow and mature like BBC Connected Studio.

Well you can add BBC Taster to that list of others to spark, grow and mature… I know its not every-bodies cup of tea but change never is, but give it some time.

“Times change, people change, situations change, relationships change… the only thing constant is change.”

Lets change the world?

I won't change the world....

Its not unknown for me to say “Lets change the world

But Umair Haque writes about why this kind of thinking drives him up the wall.

Auughhh. Like yours, my skin crawls every time I hear it. “Changing the world” is the latest nails on the chalkboard of Modern Life…an eye-rolling platitude…a gut-churner of a buzzword…shouted daily by thousands of high-fiving business-class wannabes in chinos…the worst invention since the Company Theme Song.

Ebola? Who cares!! Dude!! We’ll call them emergency Ubers!! Climate change? Buddy, chillax!! We’ll send the flood victims tacocopters!! No life? No problem!! Everyone can have robo-friends!! They’re better than humans!! Unemployment? Let them Taskrabbit!! Who needs a career…an education…a life…when you can be a butler?!

Don’t worry, bro!! Dude!! Don’t you get it? Digitally connected superwatches will rescue us!! They’ll make us transcendent superbeings!! The Human Condition?! We’ll app our way out!! Glory be!! Hallelujah!! Sing it with me!! We’re not just here to make money, we’re…changing the world!!

I do see what he saying and his examples picking out the mentality of Uber, Taskrabbit, AirBnB and Tinder is spot on. Maybe the creative disruption these guys hide behind isn’t really creative disruption at all?

Think about it for a moment. Do you think Travis from Uber or the creepily misogynistic guys from Tinder “changed the world” more than Jonas Salk…Galileo…Einstein…Gandhi…Martin Luther King? Do you need a brain transplant…and asoul? Are you a dummy? There have always been billionaires, tycoons, hucksters. But there haven’t always been polio vaccines…cosmologies…theories of relativity…civil rights.

Those are the guys who really changed the world, and to be fair they didn’t shout creative disruption as they went about it.

Changing the world isn’t helping your bro find a date by coding an app. Changing the world isn’t feeding your frat house by building a tacocopter. Changing the world isn’t turning life into a perma frat party by making a shot that can fulfill all your daily nutritional needs.

Things that make people…butlers, chauffeurs, maids, courtesans…debtors, sharecroppers, zombies…don’t change anything. They are merely more of the same. They redeem no human suffering; enhance no human potential; spark no human accomplishment; transform no human being. They do not create anything truly worthy that might not have been otherwise. There is no greatness, nobility, goodness, justice, or truth in them. There is merely the same old ugliness, cruelty, despair, and self-deception that has always been.

I think what I took away from everything Umair wrote is the empowerment for all. Even I have been thinking a lot more about the gotchas when using Uber and even AirBnB. Everything is tied into an algorithm, how fast you reply, how slow, collecting and build reputation for you which you have no control over. Even when you decide to opt out, its a problem. This is all without even looking at the overall societal, social and humanity effect of dancing with algorithms (as I am now calling it).

Its all very good critique and quite a bit to think about next time I shout “lets change the world!

Digital Assassins and the BBC changes

So once again under one of those should I be talking about BBC (work) on my personal blog type questions. I can't help but talk about the things which happened yesterday (Tuesday 25th April) at the BBC. The Guardian calls it a radical revamp of the site, but internally it was known as the Creative future or how the BBC is going to address the challenges of the on demand world? It seemed to be pushed as a launch but actually it was more like just a event to publise audience research and the thinking which has gone into how we should be moving forward. I have no problem with this, but I can see how people got confused or even frustrated with the lack of a solid plan. Not that I'm saying there is no plan.

In my mind, it seemed to be saying, we know were going in this direction but we honestly do not know what the future holds, so we need to be very flexable to changes. I'm sure the Cluetrain something like this too.To me itts the BBC way of saying change is the only constant. There also seems to be a true commitment to onlline as our future and the push to open up the BBC is being taken very seriously now. Metadata was also mention highly and I'm really happy this has been communicated from high. Now this makes metadata authoring a even more valuable piece of time in our journalistic practice. I picked up on this quote from Mark Thompson and wrote it down.

The BBC should no longer think of itself as a public broadcaster of TV and radio and some newmedia on the side. We should aim to deliver public service content to our audiences in what ever media and on whatever device makes sense for them

On a different but actually realted topic, the we media conference rolls into London for the first time in May. The conference attracts people from all the leading online publishing houses including the new york times, washington post, bbc, retuers, etc. Its a high cost ticket affair which someone like myself couldn't even imagine affording on my current BBC salary. But I do have the chance to spend the afternoon with some of these publishing heads in a session called meet the digital assassins.

As part of this session I have been asked to document a week worth of media consumption. So far this is what I've drafted

The first thing I do when getting up in the mornings, is play the daily 15min podcast Slashdot review. This usually lasts the time i'm in the shower and gives me a great overview of what's going on. I'm using a simple FM transmitter on my workstation which means I simply have a cheap shower radio tuned in on the right frequency.
In the hour it takes to get ready and eat breakfast, etc. I tend to leave iTunes playing in most recently added order. Like the cheap shower radio, the radio downstairs in the kitchen also plays whatever iTunes is playing. I've never known a time when I've switched over to a Traditional radio station in the morning or evening.

My home workstation automaticly downloads, podcasts, video, everything. It then syncs the latest content with my laptop and I manually copy stuff to my mobile phone's flash card.

Every work day on the train for my 30min journey from Woolwich to Charing Cross, I have my laptop out reading through my general news and blogs category in my RSS reader (GreatNews). I mark anything which needs more of my attention “to be read later” or “to be read sometime in the future.” Recently I've been blogging on the train more than reading.
At the same time, during the in total hour journey, I have my mobile phone playing podcasts or once in a while video content if I have to take the tube to White City.

During lunch times I turn to my laptop and either blog, read more news from all the other categories or watch one of the main videocasts which are freely available. These include Rocketboom, MobuzzTV, DLTV, Diggnation, etc.

I find my offline social network usually fills me in on anything I've missed, and I can usually catch up by downloading it the day after. The only newspaper type thing I pick up and flick through is the Ariel (internal BBC paper) while making Tea.

The train ride home gives me equal time to read through feeds and I usually try and go a little later so I can get a seat and sit with my laptop on my lap and read. If not I have a RSS reader on my pocketpc and mobile phone. But I miss being able to tag content/entries with these devices.
When at home, me and my wife usually settle down and watch something via our modified xbox while eating dinner. The content viewed is a real mixture of publicly available video, downloads of states programmes and globally available content from the web. It all comes to me over my broadband connection, and is the reason why I don't own a PVR or DVR.
UK nova is well known about and I guess highly watched by UK broadcasters but the service they provide is simply fantastic and fits with the way I and my wife consume and engage with video content.

The video content is a real mix of mainstream content like Lost, Daily Show, Simpsons, etc, and content from the net (such as Hak.5, CommandN, etc) mixed in. We tend to just pick and choose depending on our moods.

On the weekends, if were in and doing things around the house. We tend to stick on a playlist of podcasts. My Subscriptions includes the simply amazing IT Conversations, Engadget, Security now, This week in Tech, Digital Planet, etc.

And I guess, thats my usual week.

Pretty weird to some I guess, but thats pretty much my week.

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Geek and Geekhag podcast number eight – Black White

Chess piece

My and Sarah's 8th podcast is now available online. Enjoy and please leave a comment if you've enjoyed it or simply hate it. This is really part two of podcast number seven but its unique enough to simply make it another number. As always, enjoy.

This time me and Sarah explain what happened after the last podcast and spend most of the time talking about Black White, a TV series we've been downloading recently which tries to tackle black and white culture in America. We talk about the difference between Black American culture and Black English culture. The weirdness which is simply the extreme American way and how I love to mess with people stereotypes and perceptions of young Black men. We settle on the fact that a whole range of things keep up the perceptions and that people hate change.

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Some thoughts on the Wikipedia changes

I like many people have not said much about the recent stuff with Wikipedia but this post by Danah Boyd pretty much sums my thoughts and position on this subject. A few choice quotes.

Welcome to being a public figure – people will say mean things about you on the web. None of it is guaranteed to be true – its the web. (Of course, my view probably stems from being a native web kid – no one likes the meannies but weve gotten used to it.) Wikipedia is better than most of the web because YOU CAN CHANGE IT

I watched Internet Researchers take up the same anti-Wikipedia argument. I was floored. These arent just academics, theyre the academics who study the web. The academics who should know better. But they felt as though it was a problem that Wikipedia would allow for a man to be defamed

Its searchable and in the hands of everyone with digital access (a much larger population than those with encyclopedias in their homes). It also exists in hundreds of languages and is available to populations who cant even imagine what a library looks like. Yes, it is open. This means that people can contribute what they do know and that others who know something about that area will try to improve it. Over time, articles with a lot of attention begin to be inclusive and approximating neutral. The more people who contribute, the stronger and more valuable the resource. Boycotting Wikipedia doesnt make it go away, but it doesnt make it any better either

It will be truly sad if academics dont support the project, dont contribute knowledge. I will be outraged if academics continue to talk about having Wikipedia eliminated as a tool for information dispersal.

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