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

Fuel 2018 was fantastic

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/40970033904/

What happens when you put a firestarter in the middle of a load of fuel? Only good things right?

The thing about FUEL which surprised me was how massive the conference was. The production values were huge too. It makes sense from Belgium’s biggest commercial broadcaster. Usually when conferences say 1000 people I expect it might be closer to 700 but FUEL was  either 1000 or very close to that. The conference in its 2nd year was a mix of their clients, invited guests from the broadcast industry and 200 broadcast students. All single track with Q&As broken out over 30mins during lunchtime allowing for deeper questions and answers without using up valuable time.

FUEL 2018

The speakers were great, really interesting talks and great people. There was a speakers dinner the day before the conference which really helps gel the speakers along with the rehearsals. I don’t usually like rehearsals but it was good to see the converted slide deck and also get the superstar dj walk through on the massively long stage. If only they had customised sound tracks, because prodigy’s firestarter would have been perfect.

FUEL 2018

Most of the event was captured in a live blog but heres a few pointers from the speakers

Dietmar Dahmen made some quite compelling points about creative disruption and getting too comfortable with the status quo. I liked the analogy to superman facing a new world with no grounding. The climax involved sawing a chair with pillows in half on stage with a chainsaw. This simply wouldn’t happen in the UK, I thought as I filmed from my phone…

Simon de la Rouvière confirmed my thoughts about using Blockchain & Smart contracts for music. Also made me consider the dating site/app I talked about in the past.

Cathy Hackl is a xR (VR/AR/Mixed reality) expert who taught herself how to code joined HTC vive as a evangelist. Now shes a xR Evangelist and is one of a few people who has seen Magic Leap but of course didn’t say a single word about it (I hear their NDA is deadly serious). Such a passionate woman and it was a joy spending sometime with her the day before talking about diversity.

Rana June talked about creating and generating emotional human data for better experiences. It was interesting especially with some of the quantified self work I’ve been involved in. Loved to have talked to her more and its a shame I will miss her while in London.

I can’t do justice to all the speakers who made Fuel 2018 incredible, all were great and the format is well thought out and executed. Like Futurefest 2016 I was pleasantly surprised by the pretty much everything. The only down side was Brussels traffic, which the organisers have no control over.

We got to do better than this…

I know its a first world problem but theres an issue with microphones while doing talks on stage. The problem I have is the head mics which are always too small and therefore squeeze around my larger skull. Or if they are loosen, then tend to slip and make things awkward.

Skin coloured mics right & wrongs

But the big problem I have with them is they are always pink. I get the idea that pink head mics are meant to blend in with speakers skin tones. Except my skin is not pink, so it always looks super weird on top of uncomfortable.

Skin coloured mics right & wrongs

Hummmm, looks good right? Not at all! Looks like my head is partly cut from my body?

Skin coloured mics right & wrongs

Thankfully some conferences get this right by using clip on radio mics but I also know this is a big problem for some women who sometimes don’t have anywhere to clip the mic or hold the radio unit. Some are happier with a handheld mic too. To be honest I don’t mind holding a mic but have experienced the issues of using a handheld while operating a clicker at the same time. Luckily I’m quite Ambidextrous.

I would suggest options for the diversity of your speakers. A headset mic, radio mic and a handheld mic as choices… I know it seems like a lot of work but at the very least a radio mic and handheld mic? Forcing one type of mic on all your speakers will not get the best out of them.

There are a few conferences which have given me the choice thankfully… maybe the rest will follow suit if we complain more.

Loving my first Tech Open Air Berlin

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/35867186991

I was invited to talk at Tech Open Air Berlin (TOA Berlin) a while ago and the week of the event came around much quicker than I thought it would. Because of plans a while before, I had planned to be London to pick up my Estonian e-residency card, go to a semi-internal BBC AI event, visit “into the unknown” at the Barbican and host a lecture about Databox in R&D London (phew!). It became clear it was better to fly from London Gatwick to Berlin and fly back to Manchester (I couldn’t work out how long it would take to get to Stanstead and Ryan Air worked out more expensive once I factored in luggage). This did meaning 3 hotels over 6 days but it was acceptable in my head.

When I finally flew over to Berlin, the storms delayed the flight and when I finally made it to the hotel I was exhausted but noticed that I hadn’t sent my presentation to TOA or at least my updated version. So spent quite a bit of time checking my email to make sure.

I was on at 10:10am in the main conference and was pretty tired by the time I made my way to the venue which was way in the east and required a few changes from Rosenthaler Platz to Funkhaus Berlin Nalepastrasse. On arrival I was taken to the buzzing speakers lounge where I met Laura, who helped sort things out with some serious help from the tech support guy.

Human & AI Powered Creativity in Storytelling

A look at how Human and AI-powered creativity can be combined to build better storytelling

I felt the talk went ok, but it wasn’t my best because I took too long giving only room for 2 questions from the moderator. I certainly felt if it was a hour or so later it would have been far better. Regardless, it was captured and should be on the TOA Berlin youtube channel soon.

After the talk I was locked in conversation with 3-5 people about the data ethic considerations of adaptive media and how on earth this can work. All fascinating conversations which had to get cut a little short as I signed up to do a Ask Me Anything

TOA Berlin

This took part in a plastic dome within a busy room below the speakers lounge. I wasn’t expecting anyone to show up but there were 2 people waiting for me. I was asked about my role in the BBC and some of research we are conducting. Then a 3rd person dropped in. He said he had read my blog and suddenly there was a moment of “uh oh!” But it was fine, although we talk about data ethics and dating. I’ll be honest the AMA was fascinating and quite refreshing.

TOA Berlin

After this and a lack of lunch (my own fault, talking to people), finally started going to different sessions. Most were rammed and I remember going to Why Supermarkets Must be Replaced, Creators & Audiences: An Open Relationship, Motivating Behavior When Attention Is The World’s Reserve Currency, How far can VR go to enhance your sex life? Future of Sex Podcast with BaDoinkVR and The Future of Collective Governance and From Trump To Universal Basic Income: Leveraging Technology To Understand What Europe Thinks.

TOA Berlin

So quite an amazing cross section of talks and sessions!

I can’t emphasize enough how big some of the spaces are and the whole place just felt like it was buzzing. The engagement was high and everywhere I went people were getting involved. I don’t know the total amount of people, but it felt like a few thousands at least. I can only describe it as what I imagine South by South west is like but in Berlin. Theres so much happening and besides the conference there is a whole music track, expo, corporate spaces and even a thing called open circle only for speakers and vip’s. Its pretty overwhelming, but in a good way.

One of the other fascinating things about TOA was the amount of Fridge events or as they call it Satellite events. You can also apply to do a satellite using a online form and a video chat with TOA.

I attended two and had to miss a few because I needed to move hotel on Friday. Here are the two I attended.

Propellor | Forum #1: Using Tech to create the future of Film

I first met Erwin at the Documentary and Factual World Congress in Sweden late last year when he told me about the Propellor film tech hub.  We kept in touch and when he mentioned the Forum would be during TOA Berlin, I was happy to say I would be there too. I agreed to help by encouraging people to think about adaptive media in a workshop of ideas.

Propellor | Forum #1

The event was a satellite to TOA and was hosted at Price Waterhouse Coopers building only minutes from Berlin Hauptbahnhof (if unlike me you go out the main entrance and not the back exit). It started with networking and some canopies then an introduction followed by 3 5min pitches by myself (Adaptive Media), Jannis Funk (distribution of AV content) and Aljoscha Burchardt (Curation of AV content).

Once the pitches were out the way there was time for a few questions. Most of the questions I got were asking how on earth is adaptive media possible, I answered in a quick 1min breakdown of object based media.

TOA Berlin

After this, people grouped around the pitches they were interested in and the DO school took control.

TOA Berlin

It was good workshop with enough push to get things done in time but also allowing things to emerge from the grassroots. At the end of the workshops ideas were presented to the pitch group and the best was then presented to everyone at the forum.

TOA Berlin

I found the Friemily film a great idea so very fitting for adaptive media.

All the results have been written up at propellorfilmtech.com.

TOA Berlin Satellite: Machine Learning, Trust and Public Service

Machine learning, trust and public service

Myself and Ahmed from the BBC Blueroom put in a proposal around a idea/concept of the public service internet and machine learning. Only a few days earlier the Blueroom had put on a AI & society conference titled BBC Blue Room presents Artificial Intelligence & Society. So fresh from that and some ideas from myself and others in R&D, we proposed the question; where does public service fit in the age of machine learning and the business models which come along with automation and algorithms.

Machine learning, trust and public service

TOA provide the space and we provided the workshop/talk under their brand. The space was an amazing co-working space called Mindspace and they were really helpful with everything. The only down side was the workshop was meant to be more participatory but the room set up didn’t quite work for this. The central chairs were not move-able at all. Ideally more of a circle would have been better really.

Machine learning, trust and public service

We were not expecting a huge turn out but thats exactly what we got. As me and Ahmed got started we focused on the business models which are most associated with machine learning. To be honest we spoke maybe too much and by the time the discussion got going, we ran over time. This is also where the layout of the room became a disadvantage. Regardless I drew up thoughts on a piece of paper and mapped out connected ideas (mindmapped it) while people talked and discussed.

Machine learning, trust and public service

There was a lot of discussion about public service and the point of public service. We got talking about why people choose to work in the public service oppose to commercial companies.

The discussion about trust thew up a whole lot of discussion about fake news and disinformation; someone suggested maybe a trusted public entity could have a trusted index score for sources? Something like snoops which are currently having their own problems. This lead nicely on to the transparency question and the fact public organizations should be more transparent than other companies. Which people felt could mean public organisations could benefit from the transparency in choices and algorithms. I earlier called it xray mode in the conference talk.

Collaboration came up again and again, there was a discussion suggesting we should work with not just ARD/ZDF but also Fraunhofer and others like Arte. There was also a feeling, some pioneers in this sector could share insight and new models with less forward thinking public organisations, who are struggling to keep up with the internet age.

TOA Berlin

As a whole I was very impressed with TOA, its really a festival of tech, art and ideas. I saw solar panels made into art, a stage made in the wood and far too much free redbull.

I would highly recommend TOA to others, think SXSW with a strong European backbone, I will make my way back next year.

Back at the Quantified Self conference in June

Quantified Self 2011

I’m back at the Quantified self conference and it’s been a few years since due to scheduling and other conflicts. It’s actually been a while since I talked about the Quantified self mainly because I feel it’s so mainstream now, few people even know what it is, although they use things like Strava, fitbits, etc.

The line up for the Quantified self confidence is looking very good and there’s plenty of good sessions for almost every palette and I’ll be heading up this session while at the conference.

Using Your Data To Influence Your Environment

With home automation tools, it is now possible for your personal data to influence your environment. Soon, your personal data could be used to influence how a movie is shown to you! Let’s talk about the implications and ethics of data being used this way.

Its basically centered around the notion our presence effects the world around us. Directly linking Perceptive media and the Quantified self together. Of course I’m hoping to tease out some of the complexity of data ethics with people who full understand this and have skin in the game as such.

I’m also looking to report back on this conference and restart the manchester quantified self group which went quiet a while ago.

A recent write up about Object based media while in Babelsberg, Germany

Feeding the giants panel at Changing the Picture

I have recently been talking in quite a few places to get the word out about the great work BBC R&D are doing around the future of media. One of those places was at the Changing the Picture conference in Babelsberg (near Potsdam and Berlin).

They did a quick review of the conference and the panel I took part in was featured. I have to say it was one of the most lively panels which was perfect for the after lunch slot. Oh and theres a few mistakes like me being from London UK, but I’ll over look them.

Ian Forrester, Senior Firestarter Producer at the BBC (London, UK), and journalist Jan Lerch addressed in the Fireside Chat “Feeding the Giants: Storytelling for Social Media Broadcasters” the controversial question whether and to what extent large corporations in the technology sector and social media can establish themselves as new, major actors in the entertainment industry and how content producers can cooperate with them. Forrester introduced BBC’s innovative new strategy of  “Perceptive Media,” to be tested in 2017, which allows content to be reshaped based on information about the viewer, creating a unique and profoundly affecting viewing experience.  Lerch gave insight into the way technology platforms set requirements for creatives. Nevertherless creatives can push the limits of  existing platforms of social media giants in new and exciting ways.

Another busy period

Ordinary life does not interest me

For the next few weeks I’m pretty busy. My calendar looks like I may have eaten something I’m allergic to and threw up. Leaving you with that pretty nasty thought.

Some of the highlights include…

Its not so much that I’m doing lots of big stuff, rather all the little bits in between some interesting events. For example getting Visual Perceptive Media on BBC Taster in a sensible way. Writing a paper for TVX 2017, arranging DJ Hackday 2017, etc, etc…

The amount of blogging and tweeting might drop as a result. Sure my 5.5 tweets a day has seriously dropped, but I’m blaming Twitter for that.

I always said an ordinary life does not interest me, and there is a certain amount of hustle involved with this all.

Best of Thinking Digital Newcastle 2016

Thinking Digital 2016 Newcastle

Yes I know its actually Gateshead but Herb Kim did call it TDCNCL after the newcastle train station short code? This also cuts out the confusion with Thinking Digital Manchester & London.

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get to Gateshead for this years Thinking Digital as its harder to justify with the Manchester one right on my doorstep. But there is something about the venue and atmosphere in the Sage which just makes a already excellent conference, great! Hall 2 in the Gateshead Sage is compact but the arrangement of seats just makes everyone feel like part of the event. This year was different as this year Thinking Digital went ahead with the 1.5 day format. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work but it seemed to work…

The workshop on the first day kicked off procedings. I signed up to the clearing the air workshop which I felt could have some good tips for running workshops and meetings in a more formal manner.

I wasn’t disappointed as I came out with lots of different techniques for getting a constructive meeting for all. At one point, I asked a question of Alison and she got where I was going with it down to a tee. You mentioned neurodiversity and started to give tips considering a range of diverse people.

It was Saul Cousins I think, who said this workshop wasn’t his first choice but he was very glad he choose it as a second place. Because I got agreement to come at the last minute, I had less choices but I was very happy with what I got back. I also found parallels with what me and Marie had done at Thinking Digital Manchester last year. We all seemed to be hovering around the same ideas.

As usual I tend to pick out the best talks and give them credit.

Thinking Digital 2016 Newcastle

Mikko has spoken at Thinking Digital Newcastle a few times if I remember correctly and everytime I have nothing but praise for he talks. He’s got a endless supply of stories from the dark side of data security. This time he’s focus was on ransomware, this seamenly new type of crime. Seamenly because as Miko pointed out the AIDS malware was writen many years earlier and did the exact same thing.

During the end of his talk, I was also thinking about the lack of diversity in devices and services. This came after Mikko mentioned some ransomware which searches for Apple time machines and encrypts that too. I guess the job is made easier by most Apple users using the defaults? Easy of use or opionated design being exploited?

Lots to take away, but the main one being don’t click those links in emails (yes this was drummed home through-out the talk)

Thinking Digital 2016 Newcastle

Sarah I hadn’t actually come across before in real life but I was a little bit aware of her in passing through things I had read surrounding ethics of data, blockchains and idenity blogs. Herb set her up and she explained not only what a blockchain was but also why and where they are useful. It was a hard task but Sarah did a good job without getting too lofty.

I caught her briefly afterwards and said what a great job she had done and that we must get together and talk about the databox work, which I believed UCL are a part of. Hopefully next time I’m down in London and schedules work out.

Thinking Digital 2016 Newcastle

Edward is a drummer influced by the prodigy album Music for the Jilted Generation, who then wanted to create house music using drums. Yes it sounds kind of insane but true. I mean how do you bang out a consistent 130 beats per minute over the course of 4-8 minutes? Thats pretty serious before you even consider all the other stuff which goes into house music.

Luckily with the advances in technology, its become a lot easier to control more elements from any interface you are happy to use. Ed performed and showed how it all works. I was certainly bouncing my head around as he played.

Ed contuned the great legacy of music at Thinking Digital.

Thinking Digital 2016 Newcastle

James talk frustrated me mainly because Microsoft Bing seemed to be capturing contextual data but for the simple (I say simple but compared to more interesting uses) sake of a better search result. This wound me up because I’m sure I tweeted something like…

This is only half the puzzle.

This is something I’ll touch on in my presentation in Bucharest. You need both contextual data and adaptive narratives. Google’s effort to understand the semantic meaning behind web pages, allows them to adapt the search results. Hence I ask (regularlly in Manchester) “should I take my umbrella with me?” It knows where I am, knows roughly where I’m going and the weather report. Rather than send me a weather pre made weather report, it answers back with a tailor answer drawn from the data its understood.

I’m not saying this isn’t what Bing is also trying to do but it didn’t come across that way. I felt they were missing the bigger picture.

Thinking Digital 2016 Newcastle

Tom is usually the final talk but after 9 years doing many things including lighting his sweater on fire, coming back from the future and many other interesting antics. He injected his style of famous style of humour into the emoji debate.

Funny and enlighening? Thats Tom Scott.

Thinking Digital 2016 Newcastle

Katherine talked dispelled the crap (litterally) of whats going on in our gut. She talked about the microbiome and how it all worked. It was a good talk which honestly I hadn’t really considered or thougth about before. It was good to hear most fermented veg was as or even better than those probiotics yogurts which are all the rave now. More Kimchi and Miso is something I wrote into my mindmapped notes. Never really been a fan of those yogurts, always left feeling slightly sick.

The best image has the be the one below which sums up more than anyone would ever want.

Thinking Digital 2016 Newcastle

With Tom moved from his regular slot, I was wondering who could possibily end Thinking Digital on a high like previous years? Step forward MT Rainey OBE.

I knew nothing about MT, but it become very clear that she had worked with Apple and Steve Jobs in the very early days. I simply can’t do her talk any justice in my review as she covered many accounts of meeting Steve Jobs. She also touched on the multiple films including the latest one (steve jobs) and the Ashton Kutcher one (Jobs). She felt the latest one (Aaron Sorkin’s) was more correct but Micheal Fassbender got steve very wrong. He was more like Ashton Kutcher, which to be honest makes a lot of sense.

Lovely quote to consider in her talk about Steve Jobs…

Ideas are a powerful patient for a brand

And the observation about lack of woman in Apple and the movies

It was another great Thinking Digital and I got to give John Thorp, Irini Papadimitriou,Will Dracup and Joe Faith credit for some very good talks too. I believe all the talks can be now watched here.

The 1.5 day format worked, my only grumble is when I go to Thinking Digital Newcastle, I tend to take most of the week. This means I’m fully present in the conference, open minded to all the talks and thinking about the connections. With a day lost, I felt the need to get back into emails during my stay, when usually I would leave it to next week. But I do totally understand. So over all it worked…