15th Feb, a evening about the future of dating with myself?

Future of dating with Ian Forrester

I was asked by Ahmed and other Manchester futurists to talk about the future of dating. Of course I said sure thing…

So I have combined a few of my blog posts, thoughts and foresights into a combination which I actually think could be or could lead towards a possible future of the way we match and connect in the future.

Should be fun as it won’t be just a talk like the TEDX talk 2 years ago but a workshop involving people in creating their own dating service on the night.

Shooting the Proscenium Arch

Stillwell Theatre, Brooklyn NY in 1927 - Proscenium Arch and curtains

I heard the term but never really understood what the Proscenium Arch actually was…

In his 1997 book “Architects of the Web,” Rhapsody founder Rob Reid calls this phenomenon “shooting the proscenium arch,” referring to the “proscenium” that frames a traditional stage. It’s the idea that when new technology arrives, the first thing people do is try and force old technologies onto the new format. He writes:

“The proscenium arch has many forms, and it lurks at the birth of all media. Early radio broadcasters whose announcers read directly from newspapers were shooting the proscenium arch. TV broadcasters who pointed their cameras at chitchatting radio announcers were shooting it as well. But the proscenium arch’s day always passes quickly, as famil­iarity with a new medium grows, and content evolves in directions that its earliest pioneers could not have foreseen.”

Why the future of online dating is a bigger deal than you think

Mozilla Festival 2017 was great and I’m hoping to write up details as usual, but I wanted to give another pointer to Evan Prodromou for giving the session about dating on the open web.

I realize it seems trivial to people thinking only of press freedom, but romance and sexuality are a huge part of human existence. Almost all major dating sites are owned by a single company (Match.com). It’s an area that requires privacy and gradual disclosure. Open dating systems are fascinating — posting one or more profiles on the open web in a way that preserves your privacy but allows gradual disclosure and connection.

Evan’s slides had a lot in it but as there was a lot to cover, there wasn’t enough time for much discussion. On top of that, when talking about personal & sensitive topics, it sometimes takes time for people to warm up and join the discussion.

Almost 24 hours later in the same space (learning forum 2), I talked about the same subject. I started by flicking through Evan’s slides, looking at Tantek’s blog and throwing in my own thoughts about decentralised dating. As Evan said, it seems trivial to most people but it’s having a major effect on our society.

We had more discussion and although it doesn’t seem like it from the photo, had quite a few people joining. It was good to finally have that critical discussion about not just the technical make up of online dating but its good and bad effects on society and the core of our identity.

Another thing Evan started was to submit the problem space of online dating to the W3C as a community interest group. Although I couldn’t find it in the list of submitted, although he did start adding to a etherpad.

The future of personal transportation?

Bucharest tech week expo - future of travel

I had the joy of going to Bucharest as part of Techweek there. It was quite something and I honestly was caught totally unaware of how different from my previous experiences in eastern europe it was. The weather was wonderful and hot and I pretty much walked around with my swingblade trainers. My only complaint was having to give 1 star to a uber driver for a crazy ride.

While at Bucharest Techweek, there was a expo which showcased some of the latest consumer technology. It was very popular and for good reason. There was a lot of personal transportation technology. Everything from hoverboards & segways to electric assisted cycles & electric cars.

Bucharest tech week expo - future of travel

I hoped the electric skateboard would be great but it really sucked. It was more like a long board with little flexability you get with skateboards. I also tried one of those hoverboards and that thing with one big wheel and you sit on.

I spent a lot of time on a segway, something I haven’t done since BarCampLondon3 at Google’s headquarters in London Victoria many years ago.

Bucharest tech week expo - future of travel

But quickly moved from one with handle bars to one with the handle bar replaced with a thing between your legs. I’m happy to say I never crashed or fell off once. I actually got so comfortable with it that I started doing videos riding around the expo on it.

Such a shame you can’t legally ride these things around in the UK, you can actually buy it though; and not as bad as I first thought too. I mean expensive but not the 3k I guessed.

Time for Cities to Talk About Abandoning Meat?

Ikinari Steak
Hummmm I will certainly miss steak…

More calls to reconsider our meat intake for the sake of the planet. Adrian hon a while ago mentioned a similar thing, suggesting eating meat will become like smoking is now? People will do it but looked upon as maybe selfish and causing harm.

I’m confident that in a hundred years, eating meat will be regarded in the negative way we now view racism or sexism – an ugly, demeaning, and unnecessary act. Like smoking, it will simply fall out of fashion because we’ll find better and healthier alternatives, although we’ll still occasionally eat humanely reared-and-killed animals. Note that I still eat meat even though I should know better.

To be fair, although I am very much in favour of eating meat mainly because the alternatives will cause me harm or even kill me (I kid not). I have been professionally advised multiple times not consider being vegetarian for this exact reason. Yes I could survive but it would mean lots of supplements to make up the things I get from meat.

Although I do see this becoming a really big problem and honestly for the sake of sustainability and longevity of the planet I have started limiting my meat intake a little. However in this blog, there is a lot of arguments which seem to indicate a high cost (the real cost) of meat might make people reconsider? Controversial maybe but in the same way sugar tax came into effect in the UK recently, I’ll be interested in the data which comes back. Or other places where they have done this type of thing?

So why cities? The post has some interesting thoughts….

This is where cities come into play. Obesity and climate change are two of the biggest challenges they’ll face in the 21st century. Ninety percent of urban areas are coastal, and their citizens will be the ones to feel the effects of rising sea levels and freak weather most deeply. So, too, will their health services and economies experience undue strain as the majority of their residents tip the scales and become overweight or obese. For cities, the consequences of inertia will be fatal.

But action must be born out of more than just necessity. Cities are also well placed to manage these changes. (The successes mayors have had in promoting activities like cycling, for instance — which also delivers enormous health and environmental benefits — is a testament to this.) The c40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, featuring 40 of the planet’s most influential cities, has claimed that city leaders have the flexibility which nation states lack: “City mayors are directly accountable to their constituents for their decisions, and are more nimble than state and national elected officials to take decisive action — often with immediate and impactful results.”

And this means they can interface with their citizens directly, getting to the root of problems and attitudes — the fact is, one study found that 90 percent of people’s justifications for eating meat boil down to it being “nice, necessary, normal, or natural.” Meanwhile, the majority of “meat-reducers” in the United Kingdom attribute the choice to improving their personal health — not animal welfare. Cities can move the debate beyond the ideological quagmire that governments, media, and activist groups are currently bogged down in.

Lots to think about… and it certainly makes good points about how our cities could be the biggest driver for this all. Of course it’s always great see my home of Bristol mentioned quite a bit in the examples although I’m sure there are many other shiny examples all over. That and the writer might have a bias to Bristol too.

Emerging tech and Future narratives Manchester – #etechmcr

sometimes I forget my world isn't mainstream
sometimes I forget my world isn’t mainstream

I love living in Manchester but recently I noticed there is something missing.

Looking into the future…

I don’t mean tomorrow or even next year but 5-10 years out.

There’s a lot of initiatives like the recently won smart cities fund, graphene institute, quantified self, perceptive media, things/iot startups, open data, LoRa, 5G dev, crypto currencies and even DIYbio, etc… but you need to be in the right circles to hear about them.

So I started a event – Emerging Tech and Future Narratives meetup to highlight them and bring them to a wider audience. The name I will gladly admit comes partly from the amazing Oreilly Emerging Tech conferences.

Every event will be interesting and worthy of your time with special guests and fascinating topics.Not running on a regular schedule, it will be different but will fit around great speakers schedules.

This fits with what I do in BBC R&D and hope to combine some of our thoughts with the wider digital community in the North west and beyond.

I want to thank Jennifer O’Grady for clarifying my thoughts on this in a Friday lunchtime conversation in the northern quarter.

What are those blades you strapped to your feet?

Adidas SpringBlade

A long long time ago when I was much younger, I use to design trainers on paper in my bedroom. One of the things I drew many many decades ago was a trainer with empty soles. Idea being that the underlying structure was so strong it would hold up without it. Now this is slightly crazy talk but this is the time when the Nike Air 180’s had just come out (1991?) and kids were getting mugged for their Reebok Pumps (at least in Bristol they were).

To be fair I remember them looking more like the Adidas bounce’s (which I owned a while ago and the A3’s before that) but I think the Spring blades are very much in the same vein.

I like the fact were moving away from the classic trainer look again. Dare I say it,

…classic trainers are the skeuomorphism of the digital world. Let them die please!

There was a period of time recently when I couldn’t go into popular trainer shops without shaking my head and a little sigh of contempt for the shockingly boring line up of trainers. Thank goodness someone is trying something new. Even my Adidas ZX Flux (the socks as they have been known as) are quite different (although you could say Nike Presto’s done this 10+ years before)

I was reminded of this all, by the reaction I got to my trainers recently and the blog I just wrote about thinking digital manchester.


Interesting the effect of uniqueness. I recently had a lot of comments about my latest trainers (Adidas Spring blades).


Growing worries about our tech driven culture from Aziz

Friendly Conversation

You can add Aziz Ansari to the growing list of people reconsidering the effects of our technology on our culture. He joins Sherry Turkle and Andrew Keen with his latest book…

Modern Romance, an interesting book full of interesting research about how people meet, and mate, in the modern world.

First heard about on the Freakonomics podcast

I’ll be checking it out soon… as it looks like a good one.

…The rest of the book deals with online dating, dumping, sexting, cheating and snooping on your partner, all of which have been made easier by the rise of the smartphone and the private world we create behind its screen. This is territory already explored by theorists such as Danah Boyd and Sherry Turkle and OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder, but Ansari helpfully masticates their findings down for a general audience. He is neither a tech evangelist nor a luddite: the gadgets might be constantly updating, but human nature is slower to change.

Time for a rework

Rework in Bologna

Something caught my eye while reading about, The Five Trends Shaping the Future of Work.

This is a generation of employees with technological fluency that is willing to live at home longer until they find a company that they truly want to work for. In other words, organizations must shift from creating an environment where they assume that people NEED to work there to one where people WANT to work there.

Need and Want… I believe this to be true in the creative classes, but certainly not for many out there unfortunately. Now thats something we should be working to change…

Interestingly from Stowe Boyd,

A recent report published by TINYhr, based on over 200,000 anonymous employee responses to ongoing engagement surveys, paints a pretty bleak picture of employee happiness.

Some highlights from the report, if you want to call them that:

  • Only 21% feel valued at work.

  • 49% are not satisfied with their direct supervisor.

  • More than one in four do not think they have the tools to be successful.

  • 66% of all employees don’t feel they have strong opportunities for professional growth in their current organizations.

  • 64% do not feel they have a strong company culture.

Work is due a massive refresh, and I mean all types of work for all people.

Highlights of FutureEverything 2014

Future Everything 2014

Another year another good Future Everything festival. It seemed to fly by so quickly and partly because I was roped into the Radio 4 Character invasion day and Vision 2022,thanks for the tweet Julius. So although I was back and forth between different conferences, I did get to soak up some of the good events at Future Everything.

Future Everything 2014

Adrian Hon

Adrian was also involved in the character invasion day and his book History of the Future in 100 Objects made up part of the festival. I have to admit everytime I hear Adrian talk, he spurs a number of ideas and thought. Such a smart guy and plenty of interesting thoughts. My evernote was overflowing from the conversation with him.

Future Everything 2014

Anab Jain

I had not really come across Superflux but Anab delivered a stellar keynote in place of Anthony Dunne. Not only did she talk about the serious disconnect between what Snowden uncovered. But she also touched heavily on privacy, social compliance and the invisible war over autonomy. Not only a great keynote (which I can’t believe  was all last minute) but she also delivered a good fireside chat just like Adrian Hon did.

Future Everything 2014

New shape of things panel

I just got back from Future 2022 and caught the tail end of the new shapes panel. Its always impressive to see people you know very well talking on a panel. Dan W, Tom Armitage, Alexandra DS and Claire Red moderating. Wish I could have heard the whole thing but it was full of interesting discussion about the nature of the maker scene to the unnecessary maker projects going through kickstarter recently. It was certainly one of the better panels I’ve heard in a while.

Future Everything 2014

Liam Young

Liam’s talk was certainly interesting but the sync from the laptop caused the output to fail a lot and sometimes go out of sync.

Future everything had a lot of potential but for me didn’t quite pull through mainly because of my own hectic schedule. Must remember to give it more time in the future. Well worth attending and still very reasonably priced.

Where Storytelling and Internet of Things cross over

If you know anything about the kind of work I’ve been researching for R&D. You may know Perceptive Media is big deal in my world and as my motto seems to be, my world is not mainstream yet. However this world crosses over with a couple other areas. Internet of Things, Quantified Self and Object media are a few of the obvious ones, which come to mind.

Tomorrow I’m fortunate enough to take part in another one of the Future of Storytelling weekly hangouts. I took part in one a while ago but I regularly watch on Wednesdays (1730 GMT) before heading to Volleyball. Make sure you tune into the hangout

 join us this Wednesday, March 12, as we explore “the story of things” with Alexis Lloyd, the Creative Director of the New York Times’s Research and Development Lab. The “Internet of Things,” has ushered us into an age where physical objects have the potential to talk to us – and each other – in a way that rapidly transforms our most basic understanding of what gadgets are.  Llloyd, informed in part by her background designing immersive and exploratory experiences, believes these “enchanted objects” have within them a world of narrative and poetic potential: The R+D lab exists as a laboratory for the staff of the “Grey Lady” to study the implications of these emerging technologies and behaviors on news-media and print. In the hangout she, alongside an audience of industry experts, will explore the storytelling potential of tools and devices as unassuming as a simple bathroom mirror.

The video sums it up well and gets right into the depths of storytelling and the Internet of things. It begs the question, what would objects around you say if they could talk?

Love what Alexis is doing and who knows what might happen in the future? Sure Perceptive Publishing would be right up their avenue? And some of the guys from the NYtimes office came to Hackday and Mashed back in the day… I wonder what they would make of some more of the object things were up to?

Gradually and then suddenly

Love this piece from seth godin on the way we look at the present. Found via martin rue

Gradually, because every day opportunities are missed, little bits of value are lost, customers become unentranced. We don’t notice so much, because hey, there’s a profit. Profit covers many sins. Of course, one day, once the foundation is rotted and the support is gone, so is the profit. Suddenly, apparently quite suddenly, it all falls apart.

It didn’t happen suddenly, you just noticed it suddenly.

The flipside works the same way. Trust is earned, value is delivered, concepts are learned. Day by day we improve and build an asset, but none of it seems to be paying off. Until one day, quite suddenly, we become the ten-year overnight success.

This is the way it works, but we too often make the mistake of focusing on the ‘suddenly’ part. The media writes about suddenly, we notice suddenly, we talk about suddenly.

Gradually and suddenly, all part of the present. But as Seth points out only suddenly gets the attention.

If I could get a pound for every time someone says to me, so what do we get out of it? They want a sudden effect not a gradual effect. Long lasting things take time.

Today we had a meeting with some lovely women from Abandon Normal Devices. They were recommended to us by someone I had met when I met a more formal meeting with guy who had come to the Quantified Self Manchester group (next meet-up is tomorrow by the way). Ok thats pretty crazy to follow but the point is, its a gradual thing which unfolds, grows and morphs into something special. Gradually and then Suddenly…

Perceptive learning resources

Future of StoryTelling

For the last few Wednesdays I have been watching the Future of StoryTelling hangouts online. I first heard about them from Matt Locke and Frank Rose last year when I gatecrashed a planned hangout with Perceptive Radio.

The Future of StoryTelling speaker Hangout series continues on Wednesday, January 15th, with a discussion about interactive gaming, and how great entertainment can transport you from your daily life and immerse you in another world.

You can watch the whole thing here on youtube. and last weeks with Google creative labs Robert Wong. This weeks Including my question which is based off my noticing, interaction and narrative keeps getting thrown around together when they are quite different things.

The guest this week was Microsoft’s Shannon Loftis, General Manager at Xbox Entertainment Studios. She said a lot of things I agreed with but switching narrative for interactive, paused me to think about the origins of Perceptive Media.

I’m not going to say Games and interactive experiences are not storytelling. I would be very wrong, but what I’m surprised at is Microsoft have this amazing device with cutting edge sensors and they sound like they are doing some perception. But they are only using it for Games? Shannon even talks about the golden age of Television then slides off into Games again.

Real shame…

Anyway there was a question asking about what this all can mean for children. Most of the guests give some answers which I couldn’t disagree with but Charles Melcher (founder of future of storytelling) jumps in with something quite profound.

I clipped it and put it on Archive.org but its something I’ve been thinking about since the early days of perceptive media.

The beauty of media which adapts, responds or as I prefer preconceives the audience and the context. Is it can unfold one way and unfold another way for someone else. Like Charles, I’m dyslexic and sometimes just can’t get my head around learning resources which are written for a majority of people.

I understand why its been that way. The cost of creating multiple versions of a learning resource is going to be a bad idea from a resourcing idea. But that only applies if you build your resources in a solid non-flexible way (like a blob) your going to run into the same problem described.  However if you have something more fluid (generative) or object based you can change aspects on the fly.

Simple example, a Book (any book) vs a Ereader (like a Kindle). I’m sure I’ve talked about this before but line lengths is a common issue with people who are dyslexic. We tend to loose what line we’re on for a split second.

I can reshape the lines lengths to make it more readable for myself (thats interactive). An Ereader with sensors could follow my eyes patterns and reshape the line lengths and fonts to give me the best reading experience (now thats perceptive). This all works because the text is digital and therefore an object which can be manipulated.

Back to Charles, a resource which can be manipulated by a person is good but one which can be manipulated by a process of data and sensors is even better (if they are working to aid you). Combining/aggregating resources together gets you to a position where you can weave a story together. I won’t bore you with my campfire == perceptive media equals and this is what humans do thoughts. But I do feel this is the future of storytelling. Charles vision is achievable and its something I’d love to talk to BBC Learning about in more depth.

I’ll be honest and say not only has this one got me writing but I also started writing after hearing Robert Wong talking last week about leadership and inspiring people.

Sometimes I forget I live in the future

living in the future

In reply to my last post about living in the future, emma persky who I’ve not seen for years now. Replied on twitter with who doesn’t live in the future.

Interesting as this is certainly something I really enjoy. But Douglas Rushkroff talks about Present Shock.

Rushkoff introduces the phenomenon of presentism, or – since most of us are finding it hard to adapt – present shock. Alvin Toffler’s radical 1970 book, Future Shock, theorized that things were changing so fast we would soon lose the ability to cope. Rushkoff argues that the future is now and we’re contending with a fundamentally new challenge. Whereas Toffler said we were disoriented by a future that was careening toward us, Rushkoff argues that we no longer have a sense of a future, of goals, of direction at all. We have a completely new relationship to time; we live in an always-on “now,” where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything.

Wall Street traders no longer invest in a future; they expect profits off their algorithmic trades themselves, in the ultra-fast moment. Voters want immediate results from their politicians, having lost all sense of the historic timescale on which government functions. Kids txt during parties to find out if there’s something better happening in the moment, somewhere else.

So judging by Rushkoff I am living in the now but a different type of now from most others?

To further framing of the future comes from Steve Jobs (of course I’m not allowed to quote from Steve Jobs, says Steve)

You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.

Lots to think about…