Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (June 2020)

Boy looks at a possible cure

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by re-reading Anil Dash’s the web we lost essay and hearing doteveryone is closing up after 5 years.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with Luxembourg becoming the first country to provide free public transport.

 


The way Covid19 is changing how we use the internet

Ian thinks: Seeing the charts on how Covid-19 has changed our use of the internet is quite telling and could be a forecast for the post Covid-19 future? I’d like to see different countries than just America of course.

Mozilla puts $75000 into Fixing the Internet

Ian thinks: Mozilla works by actively doing, and their new Incubator programme targeting the toxic venture capital problem of new startups chasing the unicorn dream.

Malcolm Gladwell’s thoughts on how people adapt to radical disruption

Ian thinks: Channel4 news piece with Malcolm Gladwell has some good news how people react and adapt to radical disruption like a pandemic.

Genuine world changing ideas

Ian thinks: Its impressive to see genuine smart and sustainable world changing ideas all lined up together (here is 2019). They deserve so much more attention than some of the junk some other CEOs tweet.

How Indigenous Thinking Can Save The World?

Ian thinks: Thoughtful conversation about where western culture made the wrong steps. Another good episode of team human.

China’s proposal for a new internet explored by American security expert

Ian thinks: Didn’t get around to reading the China proposal for the redesign of the internet in last months newsletter? Let American security expert Steve Gibson talk you through the main points in 20mins instead.

Cory Doctorow foreshadows his next book?

Ian thinks: Hearing Cory talk about corruption, monopoly in the midsts of the covid19 pandemic; sounds like the perfect start for his next science fiction book. Or maybe like Charlie Brooker said about Black Mirrror, its all just too real right now.

Could a state run Airbnb actually work?

Ian thinks: There are many startups which grow to a point they could be better off state/public owned. If France do go ahead with their own Airbnb, it could be a blueprint of what or not to do for the future. Silicon Valley will make a point of saying this is why Europe isn’t financially competitive of course.

What is the optimum ethical public media stack?

Ian thinks: Matt and many others have been talking about an ethical guide for public service media for a while. Now its launched theres a lot to learn and like about the approach taken. Really interesting timing with doteveryone closing its doors.

CRISPR: the movie

Ian thinks: I haven’t seen a better way of explaining how important the Crispr revolution is and ultimately the concept of programmable genes. (here is nature review ) if you can’t access it elsewhere.


Find an archive of previous public service internet notes here.

The status quo is gone and its not coming back

Flattern the curve of health careI tooted/tweeted a few days ago…

We live in incredible times…
#COVID19uk

There is a lot of panic & uncertainty at the moment with the global pandemic of Covid-19.  But there is also a number of opportunities which are fundamentally changing our society, some good and some bad. To me its clear the status quo is gone, there is no way we can go back to the way we use to live (just like world wars). Simple things like our use of remote working is going to shape culture, society, human existence going forward; that is clear!

There’s been more chatter about universal basic income, but with a stronger emphases considering the huge numbers of people on low income, in the gig economy and self employed; hit hard trying to manage with the chaos. This could be the trigger for it to happen, at least in the short term.

Physical distancing and self isolation has forced those who scoffed at virtual connections into rethinking their position. People are understanding physical distancing is similar to a long distance relationship and similar lessons apply with social distancing. We are learning a lot more about each other, likely more than we do in the workplace. The idea of bring your authentic self to work applies even more when someone is looking through a webcam into your living room; mess, pets, family members and all.

Videoconf-whoopsie

The uptake of video conferencing has been huge and our reliance on the internet has been truly cemented with groups of people who used it ad-hoc finally embracing it out of necessity. Its actually become the number one way and this could have positive effects for the environment.

Online food delivery has really come into its own. On top of this contactless payments has really come into their own with cash being rejected for health reasons (yes I am very aware of the problems with cashless services however its a powerful counter point looking at the public health angle). Maybe this might finally convince America about the merits of a public health system? Ok thats not going to happen but now would be a very good time for it. Especially with so many americans just one pay cheque from poverty.

Our encroachment on nature urgently needs to change but we may have left it too late. Its clear the impact we made on the environment is biting back longer and harder. There are many who have suggested we are due a pandemic but are we ready for more of them one after another? Its also worth saying they will stick around and adapt/morph, so we really need to change our outlook. This could be bring us together more like a common foe (think Watchman) but you would have thought the environment destruction of our planet would have done that already? Flying has already facing a massive backlash but in the face of Covid-19, expect even more changes, if the airlines haven’t gone bust.

The  role of public service health and public service broadcasts has been very clear throughout but also the lack of resourcing them. Flatten the curve is a key message which people are getting their head around. Not just in the UK but across the world. Talking of public service broadcasting, this initiative: culture in quarantine, is pretty amazing and extremely quick for the BBC. There’s certainly some links to the digital public space.

The sheer amount of misinformation has forced the GAFFAs to do something but they are playing catch up on the trusted space to the public service broadcasters. Of course private companies have been throwing what they can to support people remotely working with lots of deals, even if the deals can convince/trap people in the long run? The calls for the end of public service broadcasting have gone strangely silent

John Oliver presents from a short staffed studio with no audience

Its absolutely fascinating to see the mainstream media shows adapt to the pandemic by using the exact technology bloggers, podcasters and videobloggers have been using for over a decade. We are watching news reporters from their homes and once we get over the first shock, it becomes the norm.

Its also around the time of crisis when data ethics is dashed to the wind. Its also when you see new laws sneaked in under the radar. Sometimes the crisis is a cover for what was always wanted.

However its been so impressive to see the local community driven support networks which have sprung up. DotEveryone’s Cassie’s recent posts is a good read looking at the tension for these networks, as theres a long way to go. (thanks Laura and GJB for the links). Douglas Rushkoff is right on the money with his conversation with Helena Norberg-Hodge, who talks about localfutures. All this nicely intersects with open source culture.

The term Stay Safe, Stay Connected is being used so much more than ever. It might be a halo effect but people are more concerned about each other than a month ago.But its perfect…

Stay safe, stay connected!

 

Well worth watching: The Boys TV series

The Seven from the boys

I just started watching the Boys and I got to say its right on point. This review sums it up.

For me the whole series is a total and effective satire that lets us see what would become of the world if fiction becomes reality: heroes lose interest in saving the world (or take advantage of its status), are forced to do things that are not right, to follow the company’s own interests and do not go out to end the crime if they are not followed by a camera that captures each of their movements, even though they are always transmitting that image of exemplary citizen when in fact they are greedy and treat their fans badly.

It’s also chilling to know that people in power act as judges and executioners to decide what crimes are profitable and what millions of dollars they rent their superheroes to other cities so they can be safe. The precision in the denunciation of The Boys is one of its strongest points since satire towards these characters is not new, but combining it with the theme of corporate America and wild capitalism gives it a clear differential touch.

The series is a total hit and is perfectly developed, to the point of making it impossible to miss because chapter by chapter the anguish increases. So if you have free time, I strongly recommend you to watch this satirical series.

I’d echo the last paragraph, I’m surprised I haven’t heard about it before. Its a very different show from the Watchmen but full of interesting points on society and couture.

Have you ever noticed the overwhelming whiteness? Yes!

Employees stand up to racism

I remember reading through Dan Lyons archived blog entries after reading Lab rats recently.

He asked the question in this entry while looking through the Business Insiders “50 Best Small Companies to Work For of 2017, According to Employees.”

The companies that end up on lists like this are often the pep-squad types who work really hard to get on lists like this. It’s free marketing. It helps them recruit. But mostly, they totally think that they’re totally awesome. They’re the best.

Presumably the photos you see above were provided by the companies themselves. Which means someone gathered up the whole gang, took a bunch of photos, chose the best one, and sent it along.

Then concludes with …

And no one ever noticed the blinding, overwhelming whiteness. Which kind of says it all.

This is old (2017) but its every day I see this all the time as I scroll through pictures of cool new startups. The 2019 version is better but its not massively different?

 

The importance of human values research

The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band - Brian Eno
The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band

I saw this quote and thought it was perfect fuel/fodder for why the human values research is so massively important.

Only 10,000 copies can be seen as poor sales (attention metric) but the impact on music culture (human values) was huge.

Maverick women and the Moon

Moon 50 Festival

Its finally came, the moon50festival to mark our relationship with the moon and the 50 years since we visited the moon for the very first time. I have been involved with the festival from a far and Livia added me as a digital advisor to the festival a while ago. Out of the whole host of different events was the big one, Maverick women and the moon, advertised as A night of talks and performances with a keynote by Margaret Atwood.

The journey for me and my partner to get there was quite trip, but we managed to get to Greenwich University about 5mins before the start.

It was packed full of people which was fantastic to see on a hot evening of a sold out event in London. The best way to describe the evening was eclectic with everything from comedy to opera. The programming was spot on and kept the energy up through-out the whole evening.

Moon 50 Festival

To start with was someone I had not seen in decades. Helen Lederer’s moon monologues: Menzies, Menopause and Mayhem.

She was very funny and was great starter for the evening to come. Along her comedy piece she touched on many subjects including gender diversity in the showbiz world and the effect of the lunar cycle on women.

Next was a talk about how Chinese culture think about the moon by Angela Chan and how does these works of science fiction persist in a global climate? Really interesting thought-provoking stuff.

Moon 50 Festival

This was followed by a screening of a short film called Moxn (pronounced Moon) and Q&A. A beautifully shot video exploring gender and ethnic diversity wrapped up in a poem. Something for the Encounters short film festival I certainly think.

There was a welcomed break giving us enough time to go get some proper hot food, as our trip from Manchester was pretty non-stop and didn’t include a sit down meal. Remembering Greenwich from over 10 years ago, we settled into Noodle time for a meal and discussion about the evening so far.

Moon 50 Festival

When we got back there was the main billing/keynote for the evening. Margaret Atwood on the Moon and Magic. The atmosphere was thick with anticipation and Margaret now in her golden years didn’t let disappoint. She was funny, poignant and just magical. It was a absolute pleasure sitting in the 2nd row watching her talk. She was fantastic and received a bit of standing clap at the end. There was a Q&A which followed afterwards but over stretched its time but in her answers, you could tell how super switched on Margaret was and how deeply she thought about the world. She reminded me of Janet Murray who wrote Hamlet on the Holodeck, who happened to see last year at ICIDS in Dublin.

Moon 50 Festival

After Margaret, some music in the form of a Opera to seal the amazing evening. The only shame was people leaving in between rather than staying for closing. But regardless the Opera finished the moon festival event off in fine style.

The event mainly run, created and hosting women was great and well worth travelling from Manchester for. So happy to see all the people at the event and if things work out as well with the other events, I expect next year there will be another moon festival regardless of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Excellent night and well worth attending and experiencing!

Massive thanks to the organisers and everyone behind this event and all the events under the Moon Festival. It was great!

Intersectionality and the real problem of diversity in silos

Audre-Lorde-single-issue-1024x387

Many companies still consider diversity policies solely in terms of dealing with separate categories of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, socio-economic class, religion or disability. However, a better awareness of how these strands overlap — a concept known as intersectionality — can improve an organisation’s understanding of its staff.

FT

I can’t tell you how many times I have expressed this problem with traditional diversity to people. Most thing they are doing a great thing focusing on diversity, and I never want to stop that. However they miss the point of true diversity…

As the FT piece points out (found via Jonathan Ashong Lamptey)

Treating people as individuals is key to improving this perception, she says. Taking an intersectional view means recognising individuals can have multiple identities that overlap, for example an Asian LGBT woman or a white disabled man.

Looking at the law, the example which I would use to demonstrate the importance of intersectionality is Baylis-Flannery v. DeWilde.

In the case of the complainant, who alleged discrimination by her employer on the basis of sex and race, the Tribunal found that the discrimination she experienced was intersectional, and observed:

While the findings of discrimination made in this case are of sufficient gravity that Ms Baylis-Flannery could succeed on either enumerated ground of race or sex, or on both grounds, one set following the other, the law must acknowledge that she is not a woman who happens to be Black, or a Black person who happens to be female, but a Black woman. The danger in adopting a single ground approach to the analysis of this case is that it could be characterized as a sexual harassment matter that involved a Black complainant, thus negating the importance of the racial discrimination that she suffered as a Black woman. In terms of the impact on her psyche, the whole is more than the sum of the parts: the impact of these highly discriminatory acts on her personhood is serious. (2003 HRTO 28, para 145)

But as Jonathan points out lets look beyond legal discrimination, as its easy to see the problem. He uses a good example of himself to show how in certain contexts he has advantages and disadvantages.

…he says: “Being a 6ft 2 man has its advantages in the workplace but being black has disadvantages, at different times and different places.”

This also gets more tricky once you have a number of people who share similar categories. My example I always use is if you have a large number of white women from a middle class background, how does this effect the inclusion or culture of the business for other non-white or working class women? Outside the workplace I have no issue with women in tech initiatives, but I really do like what Sarah Lamb did with the Girl Geekdinners, which felt a lot more inclusive due to the 50% invited rule.

Its complex but thats the point, diversity and inclusion isn’t a thing you can throw magic dust/money at. Likewise training is good but its not something you think about away from base then come back and forget.

The way to build empathy, foster inclusiveness and create trust in the workplace, according to Mr Ashong Lamptey, is to discuss difficult topics in employee groups or staff networks that share a common identity. “Instead of guessing, ask the people who are having those experiences,” he says.

“Organisations should make this part of a long-term strategy,” Mr Ashong Lamptey says.

I have to say I especially like the idea of the reverse mentoring whereby managers are mentored by a minority staff member.

If only we could take a number of these practices and group them into something we could test and write up the studies of?

Moon Festival: 50 years since we landed on the moon!

The Moon 50 Festival

Every once in a while delight of getting involved with something from near the start of its journey. These types of projects tend to have some very driven but cool people behind it.

Livia Filotico is the founder/creative director of the festival and been my main contact. She started the whole thing with a kickstarter. She didn’t get the money she requested but is pursuing the whole thing anyway, looking for other funding elsewhere.

So why the moon festival?

Celebrating people’s relationship with the Moon across cultures, time and disciplines and coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing in July 2019.

This year it will be 50 years since we first landed on the moon! It feels like lifetimes ago but actually its 50 years this July. When Livia explained this to me, I was shocked there was more celebrations planned for a massive achievement of human engineering and spirit.

Moon 50 Festival

Plans are a foot including a magical first event with Margaret Atwood. The festival was recently in the guardian’s 10 european art anniversaries in 2019 alongside some incredible art events.

I have been in talks with Livia for the BBC to be involved in some way too, but more importantly helping her out by connecting her with different people I know. We tried a number of things including attempting to put on a TEDxMoon! How amazing would that have been?!

The whole festival has a human storytelling emphases, which fits well with some of my research. But I was very happy for Livia to take me on board as a digital advisor recently…

The whole thing is shaping up well but could be massively accelerated with a few more sponsors behind some of the planned events. Interestingly its not just happening in birth place of modern time (London greenwich/woolwich) but also a couple of other places in the world. Maybe if you are interested in running a part of the moon festival in your city/country, get in touch with Livia. Would be amazing to see more international connected events.

Clubbed: a visual history of UK club culture

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/41140738295/

I kickstarted Clubbed a while ago, and a few days ago I got my copy in the post. Now its got a proud spot on my bookshelf.

Clubbed: a visual history of UK club culture

Of course its not just about the Hacienda but lots of famous UK clubs and dance nights. Its a beautifully designed booked which reflects the graphic design of the era.

Clubbed: a visual history of UK club culture

Very happy to be a backer along so many others.

Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: Sonder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkoML0_FiV4

I completely missed the dictionary of obscure sorrows, which is self described as a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig.

Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.

All words in this dictionary are new. They were not necessarily intended to be used in conversation, but to exist for their own sake; to give a semblance of order to a dark continent, so you can settle it yourself on your own terms, without feeling too lost—safe in the knowledge that we’re all lost.

Been thinking of language and how it changes cultures recently, but I found Sonder really nice.

sonder

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Its almost touches the moment I walked out of hospital 8 years ago. That still needs to be defined… And maybe I should define it and submit it. Its certainly not the first time I’ve made up a word

Clubbed: a kickstarted visual history of UK club culture

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/face37/clubbed-a-visual-history-of-uk-club-culture/description

It was Tom Morris who first pointed me towards this kickstarter project for a visual history of UK club culture.

The shots look so good and its a great thing to have captured, I wish there was one for the early UK rave culture too but I’ve pledged as I’d love to have this in my book collection.

So much good at AfroTech Festival 2018

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/28168173109/

When I first heard about Afrotech festival, I was impressed with the idea. I’ve always been in the minority at tech conferences. Its been so common that I just don’t (try not to) think about it. Its very common for tech events to try and encourage more women to be involved but even with gender diversity its poor to bad. Calls for racial diversity tend to end up falling on slightly deaf ears. Its not always unwillingness but it does have a slight effect, and makes you think… should I be here?

In actual fact the only times I have been in a tech event where the dominate people weren’t white males has been the girl geekdinner events. For example last week Sunday I was a girl geek tea party with all women and myself, I felt comfortable enough and hopefully everybody else felt the same (there was no indication to suggest any issues).

Its very rare when I haven’t been in the minority, especially around tech. At Afrotech fest, for the first time I was in the racial majority although interestingly a minority in gender.

I was giving one of the two keynotes and I’ve posted the slides and thoughts in a previous post. The other keynote was given by Ade Adewunmi who talked about similar issue I brought up.

Afrotech Fest 2018

The festival ran over Friday & Saturday. It felt more like a unconference with clear tracks. The sessions were varied with topics ranging from An introduction to cryptocurrency to What the Matrix can teach us about Diversity & Inclusion. There were panels for example The Good and Evils of Machine Learning. All the sessions focused on a slightly different view, for example the machine learning panel included lot about algorithm bias and transparency. Issues which directly effect the lives of minorities.

Afrotech Fest 2018

Another great thing beyond just the make up of the people was the diversity of personal backgrounds. There were developers, artists, people working in law, etc, etc. There was also a youth track on Saturday afternoon (which I obviously didn’t attend) it was great to see young people wondering around like you see at Mozfest.

I was impressed with everything especially the 6 black female organisers and lots of helpers, who made everyone feel at home in Richmix. The festival was very welcoming to those not from the black community with everybody was respectful alongside the lines of the code of conduct. Its also the first time I’ve had to agree/sign my presentation and keynote will not break the code, something others should do.

I had a great time, learned a lot and even my non-technical sister took away something. The conversations I had were great and look forward to the next one.

Little update

Myself and Ade Adewunmi are on BBC Click briefly talking about Afrotech Festival.

Afrotech Fest is a two-day tech and digital festival in the UK by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage. It explores the intersection of technology, the arts, history, news, activism and representation. In particular Afrotech Fest aims to provide a platform for people across a variety of backgrounds to imagine a future free of the present biases whether conscious or unconscious. Click talks to Ade Adewunmi and Ian Forrester about Afrotech.

Talking at Afrotech festival 26th Jan 2018

Afrotech Fest 2018Afrotech fest 2018I haven’t been blogging much recently, mainly because I am writing 3 different presentations. My first big one is for the Afrotech festival, which I have the absolute joy of keynoting at on Friday 26th Jan. I spoke at a much small one in Manchester awhile ago and you can see the presentation here.

When Florence asked me to talk, I jumped at the opportunity and its turning out to be quite a festival. Love the fact its being arranged by 6 amazing black women too.

The festival is a response to the underrepresentation of black people in the technology industry – especially those who are marginalised in additional ways – as well as tech conferences and festivals being too expensive for many to attend. We want to create a festival that is intentionally diverse and inclusive of those often excluded.

We look forward to welcoming you, whatever your age, gender, class or ability. Whether you’ve never written a line of code or regularly contribute to a huge project, Afrotech Fest is for you.

Tickets are available now, if you are in London end of this month (Jan 2018). Get yourself down to Richmix to discuss and see the future.

If you think this is just for the blacks.

We welcome people of all races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds to attend Afrotech Fest.

So no excuses!

What would Jane Jacobs say about the Public & Private internet?

Found this via colleagues at work; the idea and possibility of a adfree public space.

Being from Bristol, I am all in favour of the points made by Adfree Bristol. I grew up with banksey, subverted advertisements and a protesters of golden hill.

Looking at it from a internet view, I find the tension between private & public so apt for what is happening right now. You only have to look at the fight over ad-blockingnet-neutrality and copyright reform.

The internet for most people is the private internet. Its the property of the 5 stacks and the wanna-be startups fighting for position in the patriarchy (hey lets call it what it is). Its a place of attention grabbing, advertising, monetization.

Tony Ageh, Bill Thompson and many others talked about the need for a digital public space. A speech by Tony Hall was clear for me that, another kind of space; not an alternative but an equal to the normal most people experience is needed.

Silicon Valley has remade our children’s world – but they need British culture too
Instead of restricting young people’s activity online, we need to focus on equipping them with the right tools.

I’ve starting to think broadly about the internet in two halves (it shouldn’t be that way, but it works)

Half Moon

Public internet & Private Internet

They have different business models, different motivations, different network topology and different functions. The thing is, the public internet is mainly dark and largely unknown by most because we don’t spend much time there. You could say eclipsed by the private side.

Mozilla Glass Room

Have a look at the physical graph at the glassroom, to see how eclipsed. (see The Alphabet Empire & Apple Towers).

It doesn’t help that most of the gatekeepers also rely on private internet business models. Cue, Jonathan Zittrain the future of the internet and the friction between the two, but generally the private internet wants to expand into the established public spaces; just like the real world. Who would have thought Jane Jacobs would be extremely fitting for the internet age?

Google apologizes again for bias results

Google once again was in hot water for its algorthim which meant looking up happy families in image search would return results of happy white famalies.

Of course the last time, Google photos classified black people as gorillas.

Some friends have been debating this and suggested it wasn’t so bad, but its clear that after a few days things were tweaked. Of course Google are one of many who rely on non-diverse training data and likely are coding their biases into the code/algorithms. Because of course getting real diverse training data is expensive and time consuming; I guess in the short term so is building a diverse team in their own eyes?

Anyway here’s what I get when searching for happy families on Friday 2nd June about 10pm BST.

logged in google search for happy families
Logged into Google account using Chrome on Ubuntu
incognito search for happy families
Using incognito mode and searching for happy families with Chrome on Ubuntu
Search for happy families using a russian tor and chromium
Search for happy families using a russian tor node on Chromium on Ubuntu