Its the Tamagotchi where the future went wrong?

My Tamagotchi is everything that went wrong with our future

Is one of those articles you read and shake your head realising the hard truth and how right it is…

The Tamagotchi offers the option to turn off the sound. But if I turn it off, I’ll miss the notifications and accidentally kill my hateful son. At this point, I’ve kept him alive for so long, I’d feel too guilty to pull the plug on my virtual spawn.

And anyway, what’s one more beeping annoyance in my life? The Tamagotchi is just another red dot for me to clear off yet another screen. At least this one doesn’t monetize my engagement through targeted advertising.

My smartphone, I’ve realized, is also a Tamagotchi. My laptop is a Tamagotchi. My tablet is a Tamagotchi. These new Tamagotchis have nicer screens and more than three buttons, but more importantly, they’re hooked into much more elaborate guilt trips. Now it‘s not just a virtual pet at stake; it’s my friends, my family, and my work being held hostage in order to keep me pressing these stupid buttons.

My favorite new development in our terrible Tamagotchi future? The “digital well-being” trend to “fix” smartphone “addiction.” More Tamagotchi buttons, so my Tamagotchis can stay alive longer.

Terrifying vision of the future, by looking at the past… no idea why it persisted in its different forms honestly…

Re-decentralising the internet one step at a time

2 sides of the internet

You may have noticed a lot of blog posts about decentralising the internet? Last year I had the pleasure of spacewrangling the decentralised space at Mozfest, and I wrote down my reasons why I switched from the privacy and security space while in Tallinn. This year I won’t be spacewrangling (although I’m very happy to see Mark and Ross still involved in the wrangling)

Here’s the call for action.

Can the world be decentralised?

In this parallel dimension, people self-organise into open groups that create art, write code, and even build cities. Their technology runs on consensus and their society is fuelled by data. But data is not just a resource — it’s an extension of individual identity and collective culture. People give informed consent to data gathering and enjoy transparency of use.

Journey to a new world and bring back powerful, resilient technology; explore radical, paradigm-shifting ideas; and take part in cutting-edge discourse. Explore protocols like DAT, IPFS and ActivityPub, alongside ideas such as net neutrality and proof of stake. Experience decentralised platforms like Matrix and Mastodon, and support the equal commons of all.

Let’s discover this wonderland, together.

I do have things I want to submit and the deadline is August 1st. So you got some time to put something in, and it doesn’t need to be super detailed, just enough to explain the overall idea. Get in there and submit now!

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

My thoughts about important this really is goes super deep, as I’ve seen how the internet has been hijacked by a monolithic culture of private businesses with a winner takes all attitude.

Of course I’m not the only one thinking and talking about this. Many people and organisations are, including the W3C, Mozilla, Dot Everybody, BBC and Nesta to say a few.

I’ll be joining a critical panel about this exact thing at Futurefest this weekend. Tickets are still available and to be honest 2 years ago I was blown away by the festival topics and speakers.

The internet isn’t where we want it to be. With power increasingly centralised in the hands of very few players, citizens have little say in where we want the internet to go next. But challenging existing dynamics won’t be easy: we find ourselves caught in the crossfire between the dominant American models (driven by Big Tech) and the increasingly powerful Chinese model (where government reigns supreme). Is there scope to create a third, European model, where citizens and communities are in charge?

In this session, we discuss alternative trust models for the internet. This session is part of the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet initiative. We will hear from Manon den Dunnen, strategic specialist at the Dutch National Police, Ian Forrester, Chief Firestarter at BBC R&D and Marta Arniani, innovation strategist and founder of Futuribile / Curating Futures. Chairing will be Katja Bego, senior researcher at Nesta and coordinator of the Next Generation Internet Engineroom project.

Sounds like a very good panel right? I can’t see many punches being pulled either. Get your ticket now.

TED2018_20180414_1RL3522_1920

Finally something else related which I saw recently is Baratunde Thurston‘s New tech manifesto.

This project is based on the Medium feature for its “Trust Issues” series launched in June 2018. That feature was written by Baratunde Thurston, focused on data, and titled:

A New Tech Manifesto: Six demands from a citizen to Big Tech

We present the Living room of the future…

living room of the future flyer

I’ve been working on the living room of the future and write about it quite a few other places including the BBC R&D blog.

Its part of the reason for the radio silence recently, but honestly the team of 3 universities and 2 arts organisations have been hard at work to create the live demonstrator of the living room of the future.

living room of the future

I won’t lie, its bloody exciting not only for the experience but what it enables and stands for. I highly recommend taking part in the research if you are able to come to Liverpool from Thursday 3rd – 8th May.

Of course I don’t want to reveal too much and although its hard to do much of a spoiler as its about a shared experience. Our twitter bot is doing a good job showing the inners of what going on if you are wondering.

There has been a question for a while which people always ask. Why the living room? To which I answer sensitive place, common private area for discussions, there are existing social hierarchies at play in the space and its place for small audiences. Its also a complex space which I’ve seen talked about a lot recently.

BD3-34 - Pilsen St bedsit with armchair

I found Millennials don’t need living rooms, piece from the Independent fascinating.

A prominent architect has argued millennials do not need living rooms and their housing prospects would be greatly improved if size regulations were overhauled.

Patrik Schumacher, who took over as head of Zaha Hadid Architects after the legendary founder died in early 2016, said “hotel room-sized” studio flats were ideal for young people who led busy lives.

In a paper published by the Adam Smith Institute, he suggested size rules should be reviewed to increase the number of studio flats available to those on lower incomes.

While a 25-square-metre flat is the minimum in Japan, in the UK the minimum is 37 square metres for a one-bed.

Although reading through the piece, it sounds like a land grab to change the regulation and fit even more property in smaller spaces. There is a slight point that the price of property is super high and this could help (IF) prices don’t increase they are currently.

Polly Neate, CEO of housing charity Shelter, hit back at the architect’s remarks. “Tiny homes don’t necessarily mean cheaper homes, and at Shelter we know that having a decent place to live is vital for people’s well-being. So compromising on space and quality isn’t going to do anyone any favours,” she told The Independent.

“Homes in the UK are not expensive because they are too large, they are too expensive because our housing market is broken. When big developers realise they can squeeze, for example, 20 tiny homes on the same patch of land that once fit just ten then the price of land will rise to reflect this.

“The solution to the housing crisis is not to build ever smaller homes but to bring down the price of land and build the type of genuinely affordable homes that people actually want to live in.”

My thoughts went back and forth while reading but I wondered if the living space is squeezed what will disappear? Maybe the living room or kitchen will be first to go, looking at Japanese flats for example.

There was a choice in building the living room of the future, that it should be big or small? What was it it and what wasn’t. We decided on small to reflect the trend on smaller shared spaces and the need for the 3rd space.

Looking at the other side of the living room project, it was also fascinating to read about the UK’s first smarthome with Apple home kit baked in. The obviously scares the life out of me but every buyer of smart homes should read the house which spied on me and also the follow up which explains how it worked.

The house which spied on me

In December, I converted my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco into a “smart home.” I connected as many of my appliances and belongings as I could to the internet: an Amazon Echo, my lights, my coffee maker, my baby monitor, my kid’s toys, my vacuum, my TV, my toothbrush, a photo frame, a sex toy, and even my bed.

Its super revealing and a very good long read. It speaks volumes about the different data which flows around our homes and spaces like the living room.

So what you waiting for, get yourself a ticket now!

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.

TDCMCR-08645

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?