Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2020)

the social dilemma

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing the endless press about Bytedance’s tiktok distracting us from the more important developments.

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 people rethinking systems they are using such as Zoom for Education and android without google.


The net of a thousand lie in full

Ian thinks: Cory pretty much covers Surveillance Capitalism but then turns to focus on the problem of monopolies as the heart of the problem. He’s got a real point which he builds very nicely on throughout this free book. I know Cory’s kickstarter for the next little brother book could do with some support too.

The start of a manifesto for digital autonomy?

Ian thinks: This sums up a lot of the issues people have with technology today by seeking to empowering people, focus on privacy by design, increase legibility and avoiding lock-in. Its version 0.1, and can learn more in their talk.

Mozilla CEO urges EU Commission to double down on a better internet

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s interest in Europe is clear to see. The recommendations from Mitch Baker are well reasoned although I haven’t heard much since. One to watch for the future.

Ransomware isn’t just painful its a killer

Ian thinks: Its clear the ransomware wasn’t deliberately sent to kill but the death in Germany does raise a possible scary future. Man slaughter, murder, what would you call this?

The thriving and wilting worlds

Ian thinks: Been recently discovering Anand Giridharadas and this brave talk to the wealthy Aspen Institute criticising them is where his book winner takes all started.

How Tiktok works and how it fits with the splintered internet

Ian thinks: I wasn’t going to talk about Tiktok but I found this Vox video documentary raised much deeper profound questions about the splinternet.

Refreshing look at Citizenship

Ian thinks: Its always refreshing to hear important discussions in different places. Citizenship discussed on the guilty feminists podcast is a mix of fun and deeper conversations. Well worth listening to, always but especially this one.

New open source tool for Tracking Disinformation

Ian thinks: Mozilla are regulars in my public service internet notes and for good reason. The Social Media Analysis Toolkit (SMAT) could be extremely powerful to shine a light on the social dilemma we all face looking at in our timelines. On a related note is data futures lab launch.

Our social dilemma?

Ian thinks: Good Netflix documentary, however I felt like it wasn’t as good as the HBO’s after truth. The family sections make it more tangible but I felt the dilemma was being told the problem by creators and investors of the problems. Problematic? I’m not the only one. Also worth listening to Team Humans writer Douglas Rushkoff’s thoughts too.


Find the archives here

My New Years Resolutions 2020

Profile pic 2019

Its been 12 years since I’ve been blogging my new years resolutions and I’m still going.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2020; which follows on from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.2009, 2008 ones.

    1. Head further a field with the scooter
      Missed this last year, so its high time for a ride into Europe. I have plans to stay with a friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany for some coasting. However, more importantly if the secondment was to go ahead. I’d highly likely drive my scooter in the Netherlands.
    2. Visit another new country
      Fitting with the previous one. Luckily last year, I finally got to Italy for the first time, but that was pure chance I think. There’s a lot of places I need to go including Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, etc in Europe. One thing I’m doing for sure is South Korea & Japan (again) in April with my partner this time.
    3. Make some changes to the flat
      As mentioned previously, I have bought a few bits for the bedroom including a new desk. I bought a lot of my furniture when I first moved in and its time for a few changes now I’m much more settled in.
    4. Host film nights at mine
      I have my new projector, the surround sound system and even the popcorn machine to go with it, so its time to actively do some film nights. For real this time!
    5. Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country
      As mentioned previously I’m putting together a strong case to move to Amsterdam for a year. Unlike previously its not just because of Brexit. There is a unique opportunity under the BBC to bring together other public focused organisations for a wider “public service centric network.
      This also fits with my previous resolutions around being a stronger advocate for New forms of Value/Public Service Internet/Team Human; and even more with find the others. Making this a reality is going to be difficult but if it works out its going to be amazing for many reasons I can only imagine right now.
    6. Find the others and connect them
      Directly related to the previous one. I mentioned in my 2019 new year resolutions about . Its not so much team human per-say but a more non-perfect human outlook on the world. There was something which Eric Nehrlich wrote a long while ago. Find the others, its been echoed by Douglas Rushkoff here and here.
    7. Play a new sport somewhat regularly
      I love Volleyball and could play it over and over again, but I know people around me don’t dig it as much. So I’ll try a new sport as long as its not Football, Rugby or Cricket. Mainly to bridge between people around me who may like to play something different. Currently Badminton, Basketball or Netballl are looking most likely. However with moving to the Netherlands,Korfball and Handball (which I played in the past) could be new options?
    8. Drink more fizzy water
      I have fallen love with carbonated water. Maybe its the amount of time I spent in Berlin but regardless its great stuff and much more healthy than most of the stuff I use to drink. I decided to invest in a SodaStream after seeing the amount of plastic water bottles I was recycling. This year I’m going drink a lot more carbonated at work, home, out and about. Its 25% health related and 75% because cold fizzy water is just the best!
    9.  Look after myself better
      I’m going to start walking more, I noticed how many more steps I do when going for coffee with colleagues at work. Parking in the multistory and walking to work actually adds another 1500 steps daily. Manchester is pretty walk-able and public transport is pretty good to be honest. I’m still waiting for the UK transport laws to change to allow things like electric scooters. This also fits with my drink more water one.
    10. Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help
      Following the fizzy water one too, I’m far more concerned by our lack of ability to recycle and reuse what we have around us. We recently had compost bins in our flats which were emptied into one large compost for the recycling. However if one person misused the compost, the compost would not be emptied and was left rotting. As you can imagine over 200 apartments, that compost wasn’t emptied for weeks.
      So I’m going to see what else can be done from my end. Maybe theres somewhere else I can drop my compost? Maybe there is something else which could be done? Who knows but its worth explore.
    11. Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon
      Theres a lot of things I like reading and listening to and its about time I started supporting their use and development through systems like Patreon. A few years ago I finally kickstarted the Pebble 2 smartwatch, till that point I never joined Kickstarter. In an ideal world, they would gain support through the public service network but we are a long way from that in certain countries. One example I keep thinking about is the Guardian which have lots of options for payment and will take anything to support journalistic freedom.
    12. Change my email signature with important information
      I’ve been thinking about adding pronouns to my different things for a while. I have already added them to my mastodon profile and will slowly add them to other profile information where I can.
      Theres been a lot of talk about work life balance and self care recently and I agree with lots of it whats been said. But I also would add a level of self awareness can really be useful if possible; to this end I’m going start he-himby publishing a user manual for myself, which will be linked to in my email signature and elsewhere. Outlining all the meta things which can’t fit into a signature.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2019)

Mr Robot: control is an illusion

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the next UK general election or at the endless denial about explainable algorithms.

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 the 2019 turner prize cooperatively shared between different 4 artists.

Meet the real Mr Robot

Ian thinks: Listening to Elliot, you can’t help but be quietly impressed with where his curiosity takes him. Which came first Mr Robot or Elliot?

Lancaster University’s Gogglebox of the future

Ian thinks: Lancaster University’s take of the living room of the future is quite something. Really getting into the meat of the smart home data ethics conversation in a fun, accessible but critical way. Look out for their next research

A more generous world?

Ian thinks: Heard Yancey talk a few times, wasn’t convinced but he making the right noises about values. However still not convinced about Bentoism.

Mozilla explains the possibilities of facial recognition

Ian thinks: stealingurfeelin.gs is in a similar vein to do not track, Mozilla expose the effects of facial recognition which the big corps hide in their EULA’s. One reason why I’ve never willingly used snap chat ever.

Are we all to blame for the state we are in?

Ian thinks: I quite like rushkoff’s post-rationalisation, but more importantly his call for us to be adults and make things right.

Roar for the public-interest technologists to unite

Ian thinks: Technologies for the public benefit against asymmetrical power systems that lead to the weaponisation of technologies against vulnerable communities.

What obligation do social media platforms have to the greater good?

Ian thinks: If we are talking about the mainstream ones, then its got to be a big fat zero. How many state their principles and actually back it up with yearly accountability and transparent reports?

Password patterns

Ian thinks: Our passwords say so much about ourselves and its time we stopped using them when possible. Time for the alternatives.

Where the human race needs to be

Ian thinks: Umair’s thoughts about turning money back into life is spot on, as he points at the problems in the metrics we have regarded highly for so long.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2019)

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

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the endless attempts to regain our trust from the big corps.

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 hard work going into building an open hardware ebook reader.

 

A framework for human values

Ian thinks: This work is so essential for all public service, non-profits and government organisations. Starting to chip away at what value means beyond the attention economy.

Yancey co-founder of Kickstarter talks about a new framework called bentosim (full episode)

Ian thinks: Yancey  talks a good game about going beyond financial maximization and society changes but I’m not convinced about bentoism.

Another attempt at the decentralized file-storage system

Ian thinks: Its another attempt, good idea combining projects but wondering about the applications of use?

China’s free market system grab on other economies

Ian thinks: Maybe Jamies conspiracy is a little heavy but a good thoughtful podcast

Introducing the Dweb

Ian thinks: good introduction by ex Mozillan written a few years ago but parts later are up to date

Panel about sex-tech from Techcrunch (NSFW)

Ian thinks: Sex tech grows its own infrastructure to over come the adolescent thoughts of the tech industry

He used the tech and wasn’t used by the tech

Ian thinks: Vinnie and Douglas talk about the importance of the human element in music and everything.

Why you shouldn’t go to Harvard?

Ian thinks: Got to love Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis of the university system, although maybe not quite right. He’s funny and rolls the research into a great story.

The secret ecosystem of personal data is being unfolded

Ian thinks: People are having fun with this right now, wonder how many people will actually request their data? I put my request in a few days ago, will you?

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.

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.

Pebble 2 first thoughts

Pebble 2.0
I kickstarted the Pebble smartwatch 2.0, it was my first kickstarter backing.

Previously I’ve not been keen on the kickstarter EULA but this time I decided the balance was worth the flip. I had hoped to have it sooner but while I was in Berlin, it came.

Opening the package it was clear they had really thought about the unboxing experience and it was simple and quick. So quick I actually switched watches in less than 30mins.
Pebble 2.0
I opted for the Pebble 2.0 not the Pebble time 2.0 because I didn’t really see the benefit of colour epaper in a smartwatch. The first thing which struck me was the sheer thinness of the watch. Its like twice the thinness and about the same lighter. Its about the size of those calculator watches you use to get/are retro cool now. Its also fast, everything feels snappy compared to the Pebble 1.0. No idea how many apps will run side by side but I suspect its many more.

The feature I looked forward to using was the voice reply, and it works pretty well. Its not exactly what you can do while on a scooter at lights but its good enough. The Pebble health stuff is good too but I haven’t really explored it much since I just ditched my Fitbit for a Xiaomi mi band with magnet waist clip, actually works better than the fitbit clip when playing volleyball. If I could use the Pebble while playing Volleyball, I would of course.

Pebble 2.0

Right now, I decided to see how I felt about the rubber strap, instead of the strap I bought from Tokyo. I quite like the fact its the same size as the previous pebble making them easily interchangeable.

So far the only downside I have found is the battery seems to take longer to charge but it also lasts longer unless you have the heart rate thing on. Also I noticed the timeline doesn’t seem to go into the past anymore, which is a shame. But generally most of these things are tiny issues.

So far I’m still very glad I stuck with Pebble. A lot of friends who bought Android Wear and Apple Watches have given up on them. The Pebble is a ideal smartwatch and the 2nd edition really puts it closer to the standard watches.

The biggest question is what to do with my old one?

Travelstarter: Nice mission terrible name

I first saw Travel starter via Cristiano Betta

A crowdfunding startup for travelers wanting to support the place they are visiting? Sounded too good to be true… But I was impressed with I saw.

TravelStarter is a new way to travel by supporting local tourism and saving money at the same time. It’s easy – you pick your next destination, select your favorite project or reward, and we take care of the rest.

Although I can’t really see it taking off, I think its a really nice idea. For example a friend of mine, went to Goa for a month. She loved it so much that the family she stayed with, she regularly still checks in on them and I think sends them small gifts every now and then. With something like travelstarter, she could help,  encourage others and work towards a better village as a whole.

It wouldn’t really work too well for myself because I tend to head to cities and places which are not really in dire need of external help. Then again it might be interesting to hear about some of the local projects and communities before and after I travel.

It feels like a good idea but not something which I expect VC’s will go for? Terrible name too…

Dating, Lies and Algorithms the conference talk?

IMG_0928.JPG

Thayer is a wonderful woman and when she emailed me asking if I would talk at her conference, The Best of British. I thought for about 2mins before agreeing.

I’m going to do something to connect some of the thinking I’ve had about algorithms and dating. Into a unique one time talk. Never to be repeated I can say… Exclusive! So go support.

“Support you say?”

What makes this conference special is its going to be funded by kickstarter…. I know how crazy is that? Confirm speakers include…

    • Alice Taylor, MakieLab, London
    • Chris Thorpe, I Can Make, Oxford
    • Matthew Somerville, mySociety (& many other great things), Birmingham
    • Mazz Mosley, freelance technologist, previously a tech lead @ GDS, Leighton Buzzard
    • Ian Forrester, BBC R&D, Manchester
    • Dan Fairs, SecondSync, Bristol
    • Dr Tom Crick, Senior Lecturer in Computing Science, Cardiff Metropolitan University
    • Priya Prakash, Founder, Design for Social Change, London

 

Well Thayer is the Prime, so trust in her we do.

Pacemaker is Paradigm shifting?

pacemaker_sonar_june_2007_07

I was explaining to someone over twitter about the Pacemaker device since I was using it at the Future Media North Christmas Party. They were interested in buying some dj kit and was seeking advice from myself and Simon Lumb.

I know the pacemaker device (as its now called) isn’t coming back because frankly there wasn’t enough demand but that shouldn’t affect how ground breaking of a device it was/is. I would go almost as far as to say it was a paradigm shift in djing and mixing. No other device before it had attempted to cater for a niche like djs before and with something so bold.

I was thinking about this when my sister laid claim to my all but dormant BlackBerry Playbook which the pacemaker guys got me. Even the pacemaker guys will be first to admit the tablet isn’t a great platform for djing. Maybe I could push them to say the original vision was compromised when moving to the tablet, but its a compromise which has kept them in the game.

pacemaker_sonar_june_2007_06

The Pacemaker device was mind blowing, I would suggest almost paradigm shifting.

Everything up to that moment was aping vinyl and then some guys came along and built something which was so radical I can only suggest it was like a paradigm shift in djing. There hasn’t been such a major shift in the way you dj since direct drive turntables.
Not only that the mission was always the democratisation of djing, such a fine and impressive goal.

Of course thats my view, many would disagree? One of the best quotes I heard before I ordered my own over 5 years ago.

I wanted a PlayStation Portable for music” – Jonas Norberg

The Pacemaker in use

Never forgotten and I still use my every few weeks, in fact because of it I now buy more music legally than I had before (at least till when I was buying vinyl). What I’m wondering is if this might be a good time to do some crowd funding? A kickstarter would be easy for these guys because they have a good track record and certainly know what there doing to a certain point. I don’t know if I would pay through the nose again for a pacemaker but I’m seriously thinking about buying another one on ebay just in-case my one goes wrong in some way.