Publicspaces: You are not alone, join us…

I have been asked by friends and family what I do and I reply with a number of research questions. One of them boils down to researching what is the public service internet? When you start to break this down, theres a number of aspects including the physical network, protocols, apis, etc. But theres also the network of collaborators.

One of the collaborators I work closely with is the mainly Dutch publicspaces collective. I’ll be honest they are a amazing group of people and recently worked directly with them on the publicspaces conference as mentioned previously.

I share the interview with GJ which was filmed just before the conference, as a nice summary of Publicspaces but you should read the manifesto.

The Publicspaces conference kicked off in fine style. Originally Thursday 11th March was the European conference with Friday 12th March being the Dutch one. However things changed, which worked well. Heck I even learned a tiny tiny amount of Dutch during the conference, while managing a panel and taking part on another one.

The conference was excellent and you can see all the videos for all the sessions by clicking the one which sounds interesting. Some of my favor sessions include the keynotes chaired by the incredible Marleen Stikker, building connections, failed encounters and meet in the middle.

One of the main outcomes of the conference was for it to be a start of journey, in the Mozilla/Mozfest words… Arrive with an idea and leave with a community.

I personally have reached out to a few of the speakers and people in the community since the conference including Melanie Rieback. The community came together and we are now hanging out on Matrix.org under #PublicSpacesInt.matrix.org. We also started putting together the map of the network, which is ongoing work. There is also a special meeting happening on the 9th of April following the panel around the need for a digital European publicspace.

Found any of this interesting? Join a growing worldwide community on matrix (not just the Netherlands or even Europe).

Presentation problems with Ubuntu, think I might have found the problem?

I have no idea why or what happen, but this is likely the 4 or 5th time my Ubuntu machine has become unstable while presenting live on zoom.

Tonight I gave a presentation for the Mozilla Festival about adaptive podcasting. I did some tests because I wanted to see if I could switch the audio from my headset mic to the Android phone running the app. Things were not working, so I decided to use the audio captures instead. Everything was fine, presentation in Google Chrome using google slides and Miro in Firefox for the workshop portion later. Zoom for video sharing.

Everything was smooth then I started Chrome in presentation mode but remember I need to turn on auto-generated subtitles. I switch to Zoom on my second screen try and turn it on but everything refreshes and freezes except my mouse cursor. The camera light is still on and sound is working (both mic and audio). I am forced to run the whole hour long workshop with no access to my slides, zoom or anything else. So I freestyle it.

I remembered a few times before something similar things happening while giving a presentation at Agile Manchester, UCD gathering, Immersive Arts Lab 8 and last week at the publicspaces conference. However the difference has been the laptop had paused for a short while (couple of minutes) before returning to normal state. This time I ended up rebooting the whole laptop.

Thinking about the circumstances of the other times, I suspected it might be Zoom but then its happened with Hopin too. It can’t be the laptop because I now I have a brand new laptop and although they are both Ubuntu the first three were Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS. While I was running Ubuntu 20.4.2 LTS for the publicspaces conference and Mozilla festival. This leads me to the other common element which is Google chrome, which I use because its google slides (I tend to only sign into my google account with chrome).

Then I found problems with Chrome and fullscreen.

Even if its not quite right, I’ll be testing running Google slides from Firefox instead.

One upside of todays presentation is the amazing response I got from people on the call who really enjoyed the pure storytelling. Although I am glad for my co-host, having shared the slides and miro whiteboard right at the start.

Big thanks to everyone and the lovely words people have shared with me.

Publicspaces conference: towards a common internet – March 11-12th – tickets now available

Publicspaces conference - towards a common internet

I previously blogged about the publicspaces conference.

On March 12, 2021, PublicSpaces, Pakhuis de Zwijger and Waag are organizing a conference to save the internet.

This event will happen mainly in a virtual form of course, however there might be something in person in Amsterdam’s Pakhuis de Zwijger. The conference will make up part of the Mozilla Festival 2021, also in Amsterdam and mainly virtual currently.

Now we can reveal more details for the conference and you can get your tickets now. The conference runs from late afternoon (5pm CET/4pm GMT) of Thursday March 11th (English speaking) and Friday March 12th all day (partly English mainly Dutch speaking).

I’m really happy to say I’m one of the people behind Thursday evening and we have some great keynote speakers presented by the amazing Marleen Stikker of Waag. Paul Keller of the Open Future foundation, Katja Bego of Nesta and Eli Pariser of Civic Signals; will all present short keynotes followed by a communal Q&A.

After a short break there will be several community announcements, followed by a panel discussion on an open letter launched by the SDEPS calling for digital European public spaces. Before a summary and plans for the Friday.

Publicspaces conference - towards a common internet

On Friday (10am CET/9am GMT) which is mainly Dutch language but has English tracks, the conference continues with 4 tracks.

Track 1: Towards an ethical internet

Most of the essential applications on the internet have turned into vehicles for political control and economic profit, in which citizens are no longer subjects, but objects. How can public organizations reclaim again the internet as a public space and offer their audiences services that embody public of which they subscribe the ethical values?

Track 2: The Digital Public Spaces Ecosystem

We are seeking to build digital public spaces that are in line with our common values: we want them to be open, democratic, and sustainable. Many initiatives exist that work on alternatives that can be part of this ecosystem of change. In this track, we will get both an overview of what organisations and projects are already out there, get a sense of how they can work together, and build new connections between initiatives and networks that operate in this ecosystem. Central to this track is a map that we are working on and build on during the sessions in this track. We invite participants to join us and add to this map as well as to find new potential collaborations so that together we can make these digital public spaces a reality. Ian Forrester, BBC R&D, will moderate the sessions in this track and invite you to join us on the shared ‘map of change’.

Track 3: Meet the disruptors

Silicon Valley and the world of venture capital revolve around the notion of radical disruption. Those ideas that change the world instantaneously. The question: ‘what comes after the break?’ is deliberately postponed until a later date. First, innovate, then improve is the device. In order to move towards a better internet, incremental change is not enough. In fact, it may actually be the mentality of ‘ship first, fix later’ that may have led to the problems that we are currently facing. In this track, we want to highlight the trailblazers that aim to create a different form of disruption. People that do not only want to change the world for a moment but those that have the stamina and patience to persist.

Track 4: Matchmaking track 

In the matchmaking track, supply and demand come together and new alliances are forged and partnerships are built. The purpose of the round table sessions is to bring new parties from different disciplines together around one topic. The conversation serves as an introduction and starting point for a workgroup or collaboration, also after the conference.

Sounds great? Go get your tickets now.

Adventures in the Metaverse with Immersive Arts lab – Feb 11th 2021

The Bridge: metaverse

I will be giving a keynote talk at the Immersive Arts lab’s Adventures in the Metaverse

Fancy an adventure in the Metaverse? Or interested in what the next evolution of the internet is going to be?…

As computing becomes spatial, virtual and more mobile, and as the building blocks of the internet changes to a blockchain network, in the next decade – the internet as you know it, is going to fundamentally change. Come and learn more and join the future.

I’m going to focus on the public service internet side of things, rather than the layers on top of it. Other speakers will cover that better than myself. Imagine what kind of data can be collected in Virtual reality systems like the Oculus Riff by Facebook. Imagine the possibilities for awful abuse  There is also the big risk of pushing out smaller platforms who are more focused on civic and public purposes.

We are only scratching the surface here… I recommend getting a ticket and hearing more on the 11th Feb.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Feb 2021)

Survillence everywhere
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, seeing the de-platforming and even the royals snubbing social media.

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 the privacy first search engine duck duck go surpassing 100 million daily searches, the move to Signal messager from Whatsapp causing it to fall over temporarily and Facebook forced to rethinking their strategy.


Its the Internet’s health check up time!

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s well researched look at the state of the internet is a one of those reports which spurs thought and action for the coming year. Its been a tricky year with lots of up and downs, nicely documented in this massively detailed report/playbook. You might recognise someone in the report.

How can we achieve public spaces online?

Ian thinks: on 11-12 March a online conference by a number of partners including BBC R&D bring together organisations and vendors who are interested in the development of a public stack in line with the principles of democratic, sustainable etc. This is all part of the Mozilla Festival 2021 which is in Amsterdam for the next 3 years. Tickets are now available for Mozfest. and the publicspaces conference.

The new state of the self sovereign internet

Ian thinks: A deep dive but also accessible look at the current state of decentralised technology like self sovereign identity. Maybe one of the better summaries.

Some of the challenges to decetralisation

Ian thinks: The post has quite a few errors within it, like how they keep referring to Mastodon as a single network and missed the memo how Gab removed themselves off Mastodon. BlueSky sounds only slightly interesting, but the core of this post is focused around the risk of extreme groups using decentralised technology.

Imagine a Buddhist-inspired AI

Ian thinks: A truly real rethink of AI ethics based around Buddhist ethos is something worth pursuing. There is a lot of modern life which could be re-thought with a eastern view.

Do Facebook really think we won’t notice?

Ian thinks: Will the name change from Libra to Diem make any difference? Its still got Facebook behind the scenes and almost all the original backers have left.

The future of shopping faces the same dilemma as everyone else

Ian thinks: Its later in the video when Ian talks privacy and luxury but also luxury and personalisation. Its good to hear these discussions happening in the retail world too.

(How) will Public Service survive Silicon Valley?

Ian thinks: Although this well written paper focuses on public service broadcasting, I would consider the wider question of publicservice full stop.  Its clear the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook etc are aiming to replace public utilities  Of course I think so but publicservice needs to double down on things which break silicon valley

How eXistenZ, Pizzagate, Qanon and Augmented reality all fit together?

Ian thinks: Mark Pesce is interviewed by Douglas Rushkoff for team human, and its quite a fascinating interview linking all these topics together.

Ring doorbells get on the E2E train

Ian thinks: Well its about time, but expect more E2E and Zero-knowledge buzz words to be thrown around this year. Question will always be, are they actually doing what they say they are? Looking at you Zoom.


Find the archive here

Publicspaces conference #1 towards a common internet – March 11-12th

How can we achieve public spaces on the internet?

On March 12, 2021, PublicSpaces, Pakhuis de Zwijger and Waag are organizing a conference to save the internet.

This event will happen mainly in a virtual form of course, however there might be something in person in Amsterdam’s Pakhuis de Zwijger. The conference will make up part of the Mozilla Festival 2021, also in Amsterdam and mainly virtual currently.

Of course I will be organising, joining the conference and the pre-conference on the evening of the 11th March (more details will come soon)

Conference 2021

The internet is broken, but we can fix it and replace broken parts. In this conference we will look for ways how we can make the internet a healthy public space again. With a day program for professionals from the public sector looking for a way out of big tech, and for developers of alternative systems for a safe, open and fair internet. We conclude the day with a talk show for everyone about the dangers of the current model, but also the concrete possibilities for a future internet without surveillance capitalism, and with healthy alternatives that we can use immediately.

Together we answer the impossible question: how do we create a public space on the internet?

Mark it down in your calendars… and expect more details soon.

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

Your place in the new trusted data ecosystem keynote for #UCDgathering

Chris Spalton's sketch from my keynote

Last Thursday 15th October I gave a keynote talk at the UCD gathering. It was quite a challenge for me as I have become very busy with work especially around the human values work (details and post one day soon).

Regardless I wanted to give the keynote because I felt I had a lot I wanted to say to the UX design sector. With a past in interaction design, I have been frustrated by designers and the traditional approach to design. UX is truly powerful and can make a service/product be the greatest thing since sliced bread or the worst of the worst. But I also did my design course with books aimed to maximise attention from users. I also couldn’t grasp how designers refused to look deeper and think about the systems (technical & business) they were building on top of.

A previous manager once said “designers are the prostitutes of capitalism…” He was being deliberately controversial with a big smile on his face. I rejected that notion but I understand the thinking. Its about time we got deadly serious about design and user experience. We the industry can do much better and as we throw around our craft, we need to be much more conscious about the bigger effect on society, the environment and democracy.

I have been critical of Aral in the past but I like smalltech’s approach of building new experiences which take advantage of the unique characteristics and opportunities inherent in free, open and decentralised technology. We need more designers like Aral and Laura! I would go as far to say, although they are on the right side of history. The data ecosystem is changing bit by bit.

I have uploaded the slides to slideshare now as you can see below. There are 96 slides and I tried to not come across preachy. That was certainly not my aim, but something needed to be said. It most likely makes more sense when I’m talking but thats my style of presentations, so you needed to be there. I believe the video will come soon.

After the keynote I was really happy with the response from the conference who really got it and asked some really detailed smart questions. I was in the UCD slack for about 90mins afterwards just answering questions and chatting about concepts in the slides. I was blown away by the sketch from Chris Spalton (at the top of the post), massive thanks to Chris which nicely summed it up.

The twitter feedback was positive as well and I love this tweet

At the end of the day I wonder how many will consider signing the tech pledge, think more about the ethics next time they are asked to deploy a dark pattern and consider building on top of decentralised systems? My hope is even if one person does, this is a win and worth the time and effort of writing those attractive slides (if I don’t say so myself)

Of course BBC R&D have been researching this for some time but I’ll save some of this for a bigger blog post next weekend around the new forms of value deep dive videos which are being released.

My one regret is not being able to attend much of the rest of the conference. I had too much work which I put on pause for the keynote and they needed my attention. I also learned from the Nesta next generation internet policy summit that only some types of work I can work and watch at the same time unfortunately.
Massive thanks to all who attended and engaged with me afterwards in the slack channel. I will check again to see if theres any more tomorrow. Thanks to my moderator and it seems all female team who made me feel welcomed at 8:30am.

What centralised systems could learn from the fediverse when it comes to trolls

This video from the activitypub conference 2020, is a perfect example of what I have tried to explain to friends and colleagues. The moderation isn’t just people but a system which is baked into the infrastructure of the fediverse. As the video explains its not perfect but its likely more effective than the centralised systems of Twitter, Facebook, etc.

I do remember when I heard about gab joining the fediverse and the outcry by many who didn’t fully understand how the fediverse works.

The ActivityPub Ecosystem talk, some quick thoughts

I was watching Evan Prodromou giving a talk at the ActivityPub conference and jotted down a few rough thoughts along the way.

Slide 3 – We don’t need to do things the way commercial social networks do.
He’s right theres an opportunity for different types of business models but everybody keeps comparing it to the commercial business models. Heck even myself, I have been writing a presentation and have a slide with number of users.

Slide 5 – What kind of experience would you have with the provider of the software if it was trusted?
This is a good question, my experience with different software and systems is quite different because its under my control or is more trusted. It does change the way you use and what kind of data I’m willing to share?

Slide 8 – What kind of client apps? Evan talks a lot about the fun type of client events which would benefit from a good client API. Reminds me what ever happened to the poking or the old twitter nudge

Slide 9 – More free accounts.
Evan talks about many different local and small groups which could do with something more smaller and local. For example churches, neighbourhoods, cities, families, schools and universities. I would add teams, leagues, local committees, residents committees.. This is something which drives me bananas that we have to use facebook groups for a local residents group. Then have to protect it from external others. Most of the residents are sitting on high speed fiber. It should be super easy to run a local system. Slide 10 – Talking of running a local system, Evan is right, there is something good and powerful about simple self contained devices. I would happily buy a raspberry pi like system where I plug it into my network and I get a activitypub/fediverse server. Add the ability for zeroconf and zero-maintenance and you got something which could have a great user experience and that would be very welcomed. Its why I use Xbian for Kodi on my raspberry pi. Right now I’d happily install Funkwhale on a Raspberry Pi because trying to use docker has been a endless battle.

Slide 11 – Federation of things not internet of things.
Its something I’ve been thinking about a lot, in a recent project with Lancaster and Edinburgh University, I described a system which sucks up your personal data and just makes a copy of it but under your control.. That device (we ended up calling the pebble) is pretty much what Evan is talking about but at a larger scale and static within the home.
The pebble device was meant to copy your personal area network (PAN) communication like your phone, headphones, smartwatch, smart ring, steps, etc.

Slide 12 – Quantified Self
Perfectly timed Evan describes the project for the pebble system I just mentioned. Capturing, runs, food, heartbeats, etc.. But what for? Slide 13 – Lifestreaming! One of the reasons for is because of lifestreaming. If you haven’t heard this term for a long while, its something I and others use to talk about a lot. Iys lost its meaning a bit but also fell out of favour.I do collect a lot of data and maybe for the same reasons as Evan, some kind of digital legacy? The last 3 slides make this much more possible than currently requesting data or scraping it.

Slide 14 – We don’t have to get people hooked!
This goes without saying right?

Slide 15 – Optimize for happy
I like where this is going, always thought there is something in the long time de-funked happiest network. The network seemed to fail because of the weight of investors and the need for a business model. but if we take some examples from slide 16, like helping people, making things, getting enough sleep and wrap them up in a network which doesn’t need business model as such. Now that could be something.

Seeing feel gratitude, also got me thinking about a simple gratitude client which posts in activitypub. Feels like something I could write but surprised no one hasn’t already done it? Been also thinking about a mashup of happiest, gratitude status, google’s defunked schemer and the BBC R&D human values.

Slide 17 – Optimize for connection.
Yes indeed, right on the  human values train. The deepening of friendships and relationships can be massively powerful. And likewise…

Slide 18 – Optimize for meaning
Love the idea of Awesomescrolling oppose to doomscrolling! Not like Tiktok but something with substance which isn’t about entertaining you or being popular (what ever else the tiktok algorithm is optimised for).
Something which aids you in finding purpose and finding out whats really important to you, not just what advertisers want to put in front of you. Also love the idea of walking away with a sense of accomplishment not just happiness (not that this alone wouldn’t be enough of course).

Lastly Evan makes a good point about scaring people into the network. Important point made well…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2019)

The Cleaners film

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the state of democracy around the world and closer to home. 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.

With a focus on new models in business, technology, society, policy, processes, etc. I present my public service internet newsletter.

You are seeing more people thinking more critically about the power of public services to transform society again.

Don’t forget if you find this useful, you will find “Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?” at the RSA London on 21st October  2019, right up your street.

Well-being the real metric which matters

Ian thinks: Sturgeon is part of a growing momentum, rethinking what’s important and coming to the conclusion; in the internet age our adoption of attention is very badly broken.
Found via Lianne

The Technology of Better Humans from the founder of the hashtag

Ian thinks: Chris Messina is always a good thinker and the idea of emotional technology by emotional intelligent entrepreneurs is very timely.

Facebook Libra deep dive with someone who knows what they are talking about

Ian thinks: After the dust has settled, a detailed look at Libra from the point of view of someone who understands Libra isn’t a cryptocurrency, no matter what others have said.

The founder of Scruff on breaking up with Google

Ian thinks: Eric gives a compelling rational why he stopped using Google ads; siding with his users against short term profit growth in favour of safety and the support of his users.

Black Hat & Defcon hacking conferences in 12-15 minutes

Ian thinks: Its fascinating to see the diversity of hacks and vulnerabilities in everything from security doors, printers, voting machines, cars and even canon DSLR cameras.

Why we need to think public transport even more in the age of driverless cars

Ian thinks: There is so much focus on individuals in driverless cars, however its public transport and last mile transport which can make the difference to peoples lives in our future cities.

You only need 1000 true fans?

Ian thinks: I have been revisiting alternative business models and was intrigued to re-read Kevin Kelly’s thoughts in the light of recent concerns over attention. Still holds weight I feel.

From Pixels to DNA, biotech needs a careful hand

Ian thinks: One place I certainly don’t want to see the “Move fast and break things” ideology is with genetic engineering.
Whole interview with Bryan Walsh

Have you ever thought about the people who moderation that other content?

Ian thinks: This slow moving documentary opens your eyes to the reality of content moderation and the absolutely awful side of the modern web we all use without too much thought.

The Mozilla Festival is finally moving out of London

Ian thinks: Mozfest moving out of London a few days before Brexit is ominous, however the strategy of moving location every few years is a good idea for all including Mozilla.
Learn more and get involved

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!

Next few weeks, are a busy one…

Ian Forrester

Its another busy few weeks and to be fair few months for me (lets not go there now).

This weekend I’ll be hosting the living room of the future in the V&A Museum in London. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the 150+ people who have signed up already.

Then the week after I’m keynoting about the living room of the future at Hello Culture Remix at BBC Digital Cities in Birmingham.

This right before I head to Bristol for a Object based media workshop at Encounters short film festival. I’m also really happy to be judging the xR short films for Encounters.

After a short break its off to the York Mediale to see a commissioned Object based media project with the University York’s Digital Creativity lab, this may also involve a public talk.

Not too long afterwards, theres Mozhouse/Mozfest (however this time I’m not wrangling) but October/November is another post maybe…

Another thought provoking Thinking Digital

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/42345012351

Thinking Digital is always a great conference and I try to make sure I get to Newcastle for each one. Now in its 11th year, its clear there is no sign of it slowing down.

This year I booked quite late and missed a number of excellent workshops, so ended up doing the startup thing. It was the first time I had been involved in it but it was really interesting. Thinking digital switched to a one and half format a long while ago and I got to say its working well. After the mass dinner on the workshop day it was a early start for the conference.

Herb always does such a great job that I rarely even look at the schedule in advance, and I wasn’t wrong.

In the usual manor here is my highlights from Thinking Digital 2018.

Thinking Digital 2018

Graham Richter

Surprisingly gave a talk about blockchain and communicated it extremely well. I have heard many people try and explain blockchain to regular people and either confuse the audience or do a dis-justice to blockchain technology. Maybe this is partly why blockchain gets such a bad rep by so many people. At Fuel 2018, a speaker who I gather explained blockchain in 2017 had to come back to explain again in 2018, acknowledging how much he confused people the first time around.

I also never heard of tip your farmer but I love the idea and it perfectly illustrates the kind of applications blockchain could empower and drive.

Thinking Digital 2018

Paul Irwin

I already wrote about  which happened at Thinking Digital during Pauls talk earlier which  I needed to address sooner complete with an update.

If I could ignore the tshirt I would be clapping along with everyone else. But Paul’s choice of tshirt made it very difficult to take what he was telling the audience in. As he said before it was removed? (my non-official twitter client still has it)

Think your blog says more about you as a person that me as a speaker. Interesting read though. Keep up the good work.

He might be right and thats on me but its the truth. I wasn’t going to clap along with everyone else if I wasn’t feeling it. I was being true to myself and you can’t take that away from me.  But I did want to say Herb and the Thinking Digital production did a amazing job against the difficult odds. No matter what they did it was going to be criticised by someone, and they did the best in a very difficult place. I seen/heard too many other conferences completely wrong foot themselves into oblivion when faced with such a incident. For example CHI 2018 with OKCupid’s founder, which had a session afterwards to discuss the outrage after the keynote.

Thinking digital 2018

Ravinder Dahiya

Although quite a dry academic talk, the content was quite amazing. The whole idea of e-skin just conjures up so many thoughts and ideas. The videos spoke for themself pretty much and gave me much greater appreciation of skin generally.

Thinking Digital 2018

Yang Dan

On a similar vein, Yang presentated her research on sleep. The power of sleep is getting very well known in the circles of health and wellbeing. So it was quite a surprise to hear Yang’s research as she was able to suggest to mice to sleep with direct amounts of light on identified parts of the brain. If that wasn’t crazy enough, she could reverse the process in a similar way. It was incredible to see and the research felt like something out of inception.

It was a suggestion not a go to sleep now, meaning the mice would find somewhere they felt comfortable like their nests and go to sleep there. Instead of falling to sleep straight away. Like in inception…

Cobb: How complex is the idea?
Saito: Simple enough.
Cobb: No idea is simple when you need to plant it in somebody else’s mind.

This level of suggestion is quite something…

An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.

Talking to Yang afterwards, she was clear its only under lab conditions with mice. Shes a long way from humans but identifying the part of the brain has many promising outcomes for those who suffer with sleep problems.

Thinking Digital 2018

Dave Evans

I first saw Dave Evans at FutureFest 2 years ago and was impressed enough to buy the book designing your life. Designing your life is all about applying the discipline and practice of design to your life. For a designer like me this makes a hell of a lot of sense; especially when you start to question those dysfunctional believes.

Generally I would lean on get curious, talk to people, try stuff, tell the story then repeat.

Dave was gracious enough to run a session over lunch time on a aspect of designing your life. To be honest I really enjoyed the workshop and learned something about myself which I hadn’t really considered before. Most of designing your life is online but the book is once again great to lend to  friends and family.

Thinking Digital 2018

Tatiana Simonian

Tatiana approached the subject of wellness and mindlessness in our digital lives. Although not ground breaking, it was a welcomed talk and likely quite new for lots of people. It certainly felt like there was a whole load more to be said, as she touched on the area of diversity, diverse thinking and inclusion. Certainly would have liked to hear much more about her thoughts in that area.

Thinking Digital 2018

Sarah Wiseman

Sarah had the audience in giggles as she talked about the new language of emojis. From their incredible popularity to groups & communities repurposing emojis for different purposes. There was a very serious point made about trying and failing to interpreting language, emojis  and emotion. Something I picked up in Rana June’s talk from Fuel too.

Thinking Digital 2018

Julie Freeman

Its great to see data being used beyond the screen and Julie’s project exploring data as art material and objects enriched with data; gave me new insight for the objects of immersion work I’ve been working on for a while.

You know when you should work with someone, Julie is that person and luckily I got to spend another day with her during University of York’s data stories hackday.

Thinking Digital 2018

Mr Bingo

Now to be fair Mr Bingo always steals the show and this thinking digital he did it again in Newcastle. I never question Herb’s excellent curation skills but Mr Bingo as the last speaker would have been great as a nice light end to a already excellent conference.

If you haven’t been to thinking digital before, next year get your butt in gear and save a date in your calendar for 15-16th May 2019.

Why a code of conduct matters

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/41467627044/in/datetaken-public/

I was at the excellent thinking digital conference yesterday when Paul Irwin from trylife took to the stage. Ironically he followed a excellent talk from Tatiana Simonian who made a clear call for more diversity and inclusion within the digital sector.

Sat in the 2nd row with my Nikon camera I was enjoying the story of his life and trylife (I was planning on talking to him afterwards) but I was caught in a state of flux. The words (ones which were not swear words) coming out of his mouth and seemed mismatched with his tshirt or choice of tshirt.

From my view it was a young female adult with a breast on show. Ok from my point of view quite tasteless but certainly something I can’t really imagine someone wearing at a professional conference. And I say that haven given talks about dating, love, sex and hookup culture. I was always sure to make my slides acceptable for a general audience. There is no way, even if I owned such clothes would I wear them on stage. This is all before I even looked at the conference code of conduct.

The last few conferences I have spoke at, I had needed to sign or least explicitly agree to the code of conduct in some way. I hadn’t really considered exactly why the speakers would need to do this, as the speakers should be onboard with this anyway? But now I totally get it.

I hasn’t noticed Thayer had already left for reasons I was still juggling in my mind.

Things got really concrete in my mind as Paul started talking about how he was helping young girls in trylife. I kept thinking how are you helping by wearing that tshirt? Did you not look in the mirror and think? Don’t you see the paradox which you have created?

This is when I started looking at the hashtag #tdc18 to see what others thought. This is when I saw Thayer’s tweets then I saw Christian’s one.

I was struck because she was right and I was a fool to sit there wondering about this paradox which was opening up in front of me. Heck I even gave Paul a token finger clap (indicating how I was feeling at the time) while others cheered around me.

Some people will argue that Mr Bingo’s talk was even more sexualised and he did use the words “fuck it” but the context was very different. The actions, words and clothes of Mr Bingo were not mismatched, like Paul.

The message he delivered was truly soiled by his choice of t-shirt. The swearing I could put up with as it wasn’t aggressive (although also against the code of conduct) and but I couldn’t take him serious, and I know thats on me. But his choice of a sexualised t-shirt reflected badly on him and a great conference; and thats not good!

After the break Herb Kim apologized to everyone on stage and later on twitter.

Someone close to me described it something like this…

People actions should equal what they say, especially on a stage.

What happened next is difficult to say as I wasn’t witness to any of it. But I heard clearly aggressive threatening behaviour from one of Paul’s friends at Thayer when she approached him to talk through things. The best thing he could have done was be understanding about things but judging by his twitter this was the last thing on his mind…

Thayer you have my total support and I’m sorry I didn’t join you when you stood up and left.

Updated – 25th May

Herb the founder of Thinking Digital has issued a statement on his medium to what happened at Thinking Digital 2018. It includes a apology from Paul Irwin about what happened on the day.

Updated – 30th May

Great news.

https://twitter.com/Thayer/status/1001569579607392256