British Digital Corporation? Radical thoughts?

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour

You might have noticed I haven’t been blogging much recently (there are many reasons) but I’ve been doing a lot of reading and have a ton of things to blog.

One such thing is Jeremy Corbyn’s 2018 Alternative MacTaggart Lecture or rather his big, bold, radical thinking on the future of our media.

Big and bold maybe, radical? I’m less convinced but the interesting part is section 4, where he outlines plans for a British Digital Corporation.

The final idea I’d to share with you today, which I hope will generate some new thinking, is about how we, as a public and the media, as an industry take advantage of new technology.

I want us to be as ambitious as possible. The public realm doesn’t have to sit back and watch as a few mega tech corporations hoover up digital rights, assets and ultimately our money. This technology doesn’t have an inbuilt bias towards the few. Government is standing by and letting the few take advantage of the many using technology.

So, one of the more ambitious ideas I’ve heard is to set up a publicly owned British Digital Corporation as a sister organisation to the BBC. The idea was floated by James Harding, former BBC Director of Home News in the Hugh Cudlipp lecture earlier this year.

A BDC could use all of our best minds, the latest technology and our existing public assets not only to deliver information and entertainment to rival Netflix and Amazon but also to harness data for the public good.

A BDC could develop new technology for online decision making and audience-led commissioning of programmes and even a public social media platform with real privacy and public control over the data that is making Facebook and others so rich.

The BDC could work with other institutions that the next Labour government will set up like our National Investment Bank, National Transformation Fund, Strategic Investment Board, Regional Development Banks and our public utilities to create new ways for public engagement, oversight and control of key levers of our economy.

It could become the access point for public knowledge, information and content currently held in the BBC archives, the British Library and the British Museum. Imagine an expanded Iplayer giving universal access to licence fee payers for a product that could rival Netflix and Amazon. It would probably sell pretty well overseas as well.

I find this interesting mainly because I still think the BBC is still best placed to do this, rather than set up a new corporation. If I didn’t think this was still true I’d be rethinking what I’m doing at the BBC.

The thing I do think could work is a collaboration between different existing companies/institutes/organisations to a make something like Corbyn is talking about.

Now that would be radical…?

A world written by one slice of a very big pie

Diversity in the digital sector, its the thing which I and many many others are banging about. In recent times, I have been thinking about this a lot and even more in regards to the Mozilla Festival.

This year one of the ambitions in Mozfest is…

How can we leverage the web to include more people, across gender, class, race and age? How can we be humble yet proactive in overcoming real discrimination and exclusion?

On a related note… , sent me a tweet to his idea to put together a digital diversity alliance.

I do want to make the digital world diverse, I am seriously worried about where we are going. There are signs that things will get better for some but its clear we need to look diversity not just one segment of the whole pie. I understand this is incredibly hard but its so important that the aim is the moon not just the upper atmosphere.

Mr Robot says Fcuk society

Recently I watched Mr Robot and a few other films (I promise no spoilers) but it emphasize the problem with a mono culture for me.

A young computer programmer (Malek) who suffers from social anxiety disorder and forms connections through hacking. He’s recruited by a mysterious anarchist, who calls himself Mr. Robot.

The problem with the mono culture around the digital industry is in my mind self evident. This is bad but its going to get way worst

As software makes its way into more services and those services in turn become a larger part of our lives through law, economics, social norms plus practically through the internet of things, synthetic biology, etc. It’s important to think about software as having an opinion of some kind.

Larry Lessig

Lawrence Lessig wrote a fantastic book called code: and other laws of cyberspace. Where be talked about code as law because the law is always playing catch up to the code, algorithms, systems and ultimately opinions baked into the code. Imagine trying to reason with a drone carrying guns, when you naturally act outside of the parameters set by somebodies idea of how people should act (or is that the American police force now?). Reminds me of a colleague at work who during BarCampMediaCity somebody thought was drunk and should be told to leave. But anybody who knows him, knows thats his natural state.

united colours of benetton advert
Ah Remember those united colours of benetton adverts? Maybe Tech needs more these…?

Sounds extreme but the example is pointing at the same thing. Its unconscious bias and unfortunately its being baked into software, hardware and the services we use. But unlike us its not got the chance to recognise the bias and correct its self (as such).

THIS IS BAD!

Why am I not taking Toby up on his ask?

Simple

You have time to help create the best Digital Diversity Alliance in the whole wide world.  It’s not a full-time job but we need committed individuals brimming with passion and drive.

I am time poor, I have a lot of things happening including helping out at a dyslexia group in Manchester and I’m trying to commit to less stuff till I get things in a reasonable state. Its a shame but I need to be honest with myself and its not fair on those who can do a equal or a better job but can also dedicate more attention than myself. Hate to be the one hold back such a great alliance.Take good fortune Toby and if I can help in future, I certainly would like to feed into the alliance in some way. I’d like to start this by encouraging you to float the idea in a workshop at Mozfest 2015. Equally if you too would like to have a less bleak, diverse and collaborative future. Contact Toby in his post

Forget the pecking order, collaborate

Simon Lumb while talking about leadership in the northern quarter today mentioned.Margaret Heffernan: Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work

Organizations are often run according to “the superchicken model,” where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. And yet, this isn’t what drives the most high-achieving teams. Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes that it is social cohesion — built every coffee break, every time one team member asks another for help — that leads over time to great results. It’s a radical rethink of what drives us to do our best work, and what it means to be a leader. Because as Heffernan points out: “Companies don’t have ideas. Only people do.”

Even before I watch the video I’m in agreement. This reminds me of my favourite cluetrain rule.. #7

Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy and the result of which heterarchy

I’m sure one day I’ll bring all my favourite management and leadership clues together into some kind of manifesto or at least a blog.

Mistakes are simply opportunities missed

Mistakes

I am in love with this idea right now… It comes from something I heard on NPR’s Ted hour about making mistakes.

The show is made up of a few TED talks but groups them together under one general theme. In the part which made me pick up my ears, a bunch of jazz musicians, improvise around each other and their mistakes (as such).

HARRIS: So someone could conceptually perceive that as a mistake. And the only way that I would say it was a mistake is in that we didn’t react to it. It was an opportunity that was missed. So it’s unpredictable, we’ll paint this palette again, he’ll play it. I don’t know how we’ll react to it, but something will change. We’ll all accept his ideas or not.

Mistakes are simply opportunities missed!

Collaboration or as I’m reminded by Jon, CoDesign is based on these principles. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

It’s much more organic, much more nuance, it’s not about bullying my vision or anything like that, it’s about being here in the moment, accepting one another, and allowing creativity to flow.

Beautifully said…!

Your list and my list

I recently discovered Listgeeks via a friend who may want to stay anonymous. I have been looking for something which did what Top10 did. However the guys behind top10 made the decision that a generic top10 site was maybe not ideal for growing a business on. So instead they focused on hotels.

This left my idea of using top10’s for floating emerging tech and designs in the grass.

I found something fascinating happened when I printed out my top10 and stuck it on the wall near me. Conversations would start and develop around the list. After top10 moved towards hotels, I tried to recreate it with a spreadsheet. What a colleague added to her top10 was fascinating again. We spent about 20mins talking about the top10s and questioning what each item was.

This shared knowledge was great and my thoughts is if we can scale it up within a small group of smart people. It can be a great tool for surfacing new ideas and trends.

I do wish there was the ability to track historic changes, so you can see things rise and fall, imagine if you could see it over a few years. On top of that I don’t understand why no one has implemented either OPML or even XOXO? You could have a nice simple exporter and importer?

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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