During the pandemic, I picked up the Diabolo and did a lot of practicing. First in the community garden during the lockdown and then when things opened up again out and about.
I have a ton of videos with my go pro 5 session camera but every once in a while I found a certain shot which looked quite impressive. Especially during dusk with the camera pointing into the last of the sunlight.
The café offered popcorn, juice, and smoothies not found anywhere else at the festival, but to enter the café, you had to cross a boundary that required a ridiculous data user agreement. As part of this agreement, your personal information would be plastered through the festival’s halls hours later. This experience was about getting out of a chair and experiencing the dilemma in a real, tangible way. Would you read the agreement in order to obtain a glass of juice? Ignore the agreement and quench your thirst in ignorant bliss? Or read the agreement and walk away, and try to find snacks elsewhere because the agreement was unacceptable?
People scanned a QR code, signed up to a fake cafe ordering system with their email or social media login. After that, they are forced to answer a question before being presented with a QR code which can be scanned for a hot drink (or looking at the very very long receipt, cold drinks). If you went for a second, third, etc drink you will get more and much more personal questions. We had 5 levels of questions and the single 5th question was deeply personal. Is the coffee really worth it
Talks included Designing the Internet for Children with the ICO, Keeping Trusted News Safe Online with BBC R&D, Trustworthy AI – what do we mean when we say with Mozilla.
Talks were kept to 15mins as it went out to the whole cafe and people were encouraged to take a table to keep the conversation going afterwards. In typical Mozfest style.
Finally the workshops included Materialising the Immaterial with Northumbria University, Designing the Internet for Children with the ICO, Why might you personalise your news with BBC R&D, Common Voice / Contribute-a-ton with Mozilla.
In the usual Mozfest style there was plenty of great moments for example when the traffic warden came to check out the Caravan of the Future.
There was plenty of interest in the reverse metaverse (presence bots), which was one of the projects which run through out the 2 days. Like the original ethical dilemma cafe, we wanted to expose people to work in progress rather than a museum, where everything is perfectly working. When they worked it really worked well.
To get a real sense of the reverse metaverse / presence bot, I recorded Jasmine for a short while with a remote person.
Does it understand me, is a speech to text system trained using the similar/same algorithms as the Amazon Alexa. It was so weird to see how when it got the wrong word, it guessed with something so strange. Like Deliveroo and Kindle?
Having the public come into the space was a positive, as many of the regulars popped in and end up going to a workshop or checking out a few of the interventions. Even better was having the staff of the feel good cafe joining in and enjoying the event. There’s a few times, when I overheard people asking what was going on and then the staff suggesting checking out the loom, human values postcards, etc.
The concept really came together well over the two days. Its something which will come back in other forms. Keep an eye out for future iterations of the ethical dilemma cafe soon.
Massive thanks to everyone involved in the Ethical Dilemma Cafe, so many people from the Mozilla Foundation, who took over a hotel in the northern quarter (it was so strange seeing people I usually see on Zoom or in London only 10mins away from my home), all the partners who took a leap of faith with the concept bringing their research and passion to the cafe. The cafe and the amazing woman (can’t remember her name) who really went with the concept. All the people who helped promote it and encourage others to join us over the 2 days. My colleagues who pulled out a number of stops to make things like the coffee with strings, reverse metaverse bots, etc. All amazing along with the talks and workshops, which nicely fitted with our partners. Thanks to the security guard who worked 2 full days and his presence was just right. Finally thank you to all the people who traveled sometimes from quite far to make the event, because without you there would be no ethical dilemma cafe.
There is likely people I have forgotten and I have deliberately not named anyone in-case I miss anyone by name. But I thank everybody especially Sarah, Lucie, Jasmine, Marc, Henry, Iain, Julian, Sam, Laura, Paul, Jesse, Bob, Steph, Lianne, Jimmy, Bill, Zach, Michael, Juliet, Georgina, Todd, Charlie, etc.
Question: What do you value most in a friendship? Answer: When Ian Forrester gives chocolate 😉
The screen was part the ethical dilemma, where people use a QR code to register for free hot drinks but in return they need to answer personal questions getting more and more personal/intrusive the more hot drinks you have.
Do I know who wrote the answer?
Actually I do not, but I have a small number of people who I do think it could be…
Look out for a full blog post in the next few weeks.
Ian thinks: Understanding the ethical dilemmas we face every day online has always been difficult to explain the harm. Putting them into physical spaces really brings home the dilemma. If you are in Manchester in late April, grab a free ticket and join us.
Ian thinks: Reading this piece, I couldn’t help but think about the digital realm with the ever growing divide between rich/poor. Not only with money but time and knowledge The digital divide is live and sadly growing..
Ian thinks: The EU’s Digital Markets Act is a very bold legal policy which could have the similar impact to GDPR? Although people can’t stop talking about opening Apple’s iMessage, its worth remembering the DMA hasn’t been fully drafted yet!
Ian thinks: A lot is covered in a short amount of time. However they both settle on the practical problems of the current and future internet. The legal battles, societal frameworks and the web3 bubble is used to chill what the future internet could be.
In the background there has been talk about what would the ethical dilemma cafe look like in 2020? By the time me and Jasmine talked about it here, there was enough momentum between Mozilla’s internet health report and BBC R&D’s research into the public service internet, to really make it happen.
With Mozilla Festival currently mainly virtual, it was a good time to try a more distributed festival. Hence why not run the ethical dilemma cafe locally in Manchester, in a real cafe with real hot drinks and with the general public too? Heck yes!
In 2014 we worried about hidden microphones, secret cameras and toys with prying eyes. We asked for off buttons, clearer privacy terms and control over our own data. What has changed since then? Are our worries still valid? What are the new areas of concern? Or are we just more accepting of relinquishing control?
The Ethical Dilemma Cafe is a relaxing space to grab a free coffee and meet fellow festival participants. However there is a catch!
You will have the opportunity to let your personal data take you on a journey through a space full of wonder and intrigue, where you will uncover the power of data and algorithms and how they shape your world, whether you’re aware of it or not. But nothing in this world is for free, the dilemma you face is your willingness to cross the threshold and be complicit in the interpretation of how your data defines you and your community, in perpetuity.
This year the Cafe will show you how your data is reflecting your identity in the digital world. How measurement, categorisation, and labelling of humans by machines determines the barriers and privilege you experience. It will prompt you to question if the established metrics are measuring the right things, at an appropriate granularity and how their influence touches your online and offline experiences.
If you are local to Manchester, join us from April 25-26 2022
If you are local to Manchester or can travel from around the UK, you don’t want to miss this 2 day event. Put it in your calendar now, Tuesday 25th & Wednesday 26th April.
What I found strange about them, is they don’t seem to suspend. Or at least thats what I thought till I finally saw a few at night with no backlight. However most of the ones I see at night have the screen on but with nothing showing. The glow of a LCD screen with black screen is easily spotted at night.
Unisex toilets have become common with cubicles for each person. They sometimes have a shared hand wash area. It makes a lot of sense, I mean how many times have we seen the queue for the female toilets, while the male toilet line is non-exist. For the trans people it cuts right through all the toilet nonsense you hear in the fear mongering parts of the media.
The cafe was closing and I popped into the toilet before going home through the pouring Manchester rain. I put my mask on, walked to the toilet and opened the door which contains the hand wash area, baby changing and 2 cubicles. As I open the door and walk through. I’m facing 4 white men and one of them has their (I’ll be blunt) dick out and the rest are fooling around, laughing. I was not impressed at all!
I’m shocked but also very annoyed because I’m thinking what if a young person had come through the door instead of me? Heck what if any one had come into the toilet expecting to go to the bloody toilet?!
They all laugh and the one with his private parts out, jiggles around like a flipping idiot. They say something I can only describe as laddish nonsense but I had my headphones on with my mask (so they can’t see how angry I was and likewise I couldn’t hear them well).
They parted as I look at the far open door cubicle, half expecting me to play along with their disgusting stupidity . The cubicle I head towards has the door open but with another one of the men peeing on the toilet seat which is down. I hear the others laugh saying something about I might want the other one as he’s busy trying to aim for the toilet.
So I disappear in the other cubicle, lock the door behind me and use it like a decent respectful person. But during my time in there I was even more angry about everything which just happened. When I came out, the men had left the hand washing area and were sitting by the cafe exit.
As I left they said something along the lines of its funny eh? I just shook my head with my headphones on. Kind of a shame on you all, shake of the head. They were not impressed and kidded around with each other. I left thinking what a bunch of (literally) dicks.
On the walk home, I thought about what I really wanted to say and maybe I should have done more. In the end I got about 5mins into my journey home and turned back to tell the cafe what happened, knowing they would likely be long gone, I was right.
I told the serving staff and they were pretty shocked but said they were getting a bad feeling about them when they complained about why everything was gluten free. One of the staff made a good point that once the door to the toilet space is opened can be seen by anyone sitting eating their brunch not even going to the toilet. We were agreement, if they ever (not like they will) enter again, they will be told to leave. There was a suggestion to look through the CCTV, but unsure if they went ahead and did that after I left. Part of me thinks this could be important as it is a crime and maybe I should have reported it to the police?
The whole thing really annoyed me but I think I handled it the best I could. The easier thing would be to lash out (I really wanted to kick them in a certain place) or worst still play along. But I made it very clear they were out of order without getting into a dispute. Maybe I could have done more but not sure what else?
Its been a long time since I faced such blatant toxic masculinity. I am very aware this isn’t news for a lot of women who experience flashing and worst.
I’m interested what others would have done in my position?
You might wonder why the pictures of one eight seven? When ever I think about Toxic Masculinity, I always remember how great the film is at uncovering the macho nonsense.
There has been a lot said about Manchester’s grey advertising boxes. For a lot of people it will be annoying but as someone living in the city centre, having one right outside your flat isn’t annoying but damn right stupid.
The patch of pavement is already full of parked cars which you need to dodge, then Manchester council add to the problem reducing pavement space.
I recently went on a Manchester International Festival tour with the amazing Skyliner (Hayley Flynn). One of them was centered around the history of Manchester’s Northern Quarter (meant to be the Eastside). It was a very good tour but I could tell there was much more Skyliner wanted to talk about in the short amount of time of the tour. Lucky for me, I had booked myself the week afterwards on another tour, There Was a Bench Here Once
Join us on a search for lost public spaces: places where we could once have sat, pondered and watched the world, vanished benches and much-missed opportunities to interact with the streets around us. Visiting sites where we could once idle and dwell, we’ll talk about the importance of those spaces between places, drawing on the works of urbanists William H Whyte and Jane Jacobs to discover the importance of streetlife as we discover what and who you could once have seen and met at city-centre locations across history.
Its was great tour, where I learned about a space which is Salford’s Green Gate square (the Piccadilly Gardens of Salford). Its a really nice public space but not very inviting although everything is there including good seating, a large open space, fountains and even views of the river (although the river irwell not exactly picturesque at that point)
During the tour, I got talking with Skyliner, She asked me about what I do at the BBC on the first tour but on the second one, I could truly talk about what I do in reflection to what she does.
I do what you do but in the digital space. I am fighting for public spaces in the digital world. Fighting for the public benches, library’s and parks where you can relax without requiring payment, personal identification, etc.
We had a good but short discussion about this on the tour, I would love to have a longer conversation with Skyliner about this all. About a week later I had a very similar discussion with good friend Architect Jane, while walking around the old BBC Manchester site now called Circle Square. The Circle Square is private land, just like Skyliner mentioned when talking about Peel’s Media City UK. The impact of private and public spaces is fascinating but also on the flip side really awful if in the words of Skyliner. What you are doing can be easily lumped into the anti-social behavior box and you are moved on with little to no review. For example sleeping on a public bench would be pushed under this broad definition. Under private space all bets are completely off, as 2 black men found out while waiting for their friend in a starbucks cafe in America.
The problem with Starbucks (I mentioned to Jane, as we looked at the awful and good architecture choices in Circle Square) is its attempt to be a pseudo public space with its community noticeboard and policy of join us, kickback and enjoy time here? (I use to work at Starbucks a long time ago and we use to have a older homeless woman come into the shop about a hour before closing time, very rarely did we ever ask her to leave as the conflict of Starbucks policy was interesting)
…pseudo I believe is the perfect word here.
Not actually but having the appearance of; pretended; false or spurious; sham. almost, approaching, or trying to be.
This got me thinking there are clear parallels between the physical and digital worlds, especially around public spaces. I also think those parallels are really useful to explain to different people why these things are of absolute importance. (I wonder what are the dark patterns of the physical & digital world?)
Its strikes me in America, there is a lot of pressure to work along the big tech corps like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. While in Europe there is more of an apatite to build alternatives, rather than position those public spaces them within private lands (thinking about the Starbucks example earlier).
In the ideal world, it would work but we know it doesn’t. Skyliner’s tour makes this super clear. I’m of course not disparaging the efforts to carve out digital public spaces within private digital spaces.
What is the public bench in the digital space? Does it actually exist? Can it exist and whats the norms that surround it?
I for one believe in public spaces and will continue to create those very important public benches.
Its a great idea and to be honest I wondered for almost decade why it had not happened already. The disused bridge was growing wild for a long time but was far enough away from the train and tram bridge to cause no problems. Even getting on to the bridge was pretty simple except the artificial barrier blocking the way.
For many years I have written about the problems at Islington Wharf. Part of the reason for writing about these flats is to force some change in my way, while others try other things. A lot of people don’t like its all out there for all to read but franklyits been out there for over a decade. The most important thing is to get the latent defects fixed to the comfort of all the people like myself who bought or are renting. Its been way too long!
Waterside places came to the Islington Wharf committee with a proposal after the last one with Laing O’Rourke which was awful didn’t pass. It took some time but after the meeting in April, we were all ecstatic. The next day a email was to everybody
In short all the work which was planned with Laing O’Rourke would go ahead but with Morgan Sindall Construction. They will not use the garden as their workers yard instead use part of the old central retail park and phase 4 space, which is next door. They will do all the latent defect work in 18months instead of 2 years and the best part is they are going to replace all the glass, not stick a film to the outside. The cost of this all to the residents? Zero! Yes no cost. Lets be frank Islington Wharf has a ton of glass, so this is no cheap operation but was always needed. It would likely be easier if done years ago because now phase 2 & 3 makes access much more tricky.
Now you can see why we were ecstatic! This is a massive win and I find myself very fortune I am in the position where this is a option when so many flat owners are having to pay to replace their cladding.
The next part is to get agreement from all the flat owners they will allow access. As you can imagine with support from the committee and mailshots, emails, fb, etc. We have pretty much everybody in agreement. Although some haven’t replied back, likely forcing Waterside places to consider legal action to gain access.
This is most likely the last summer of heat (hopefully), which would be great as I’m experiencing 28c heat while working at home and its 24c outside.
Once things get going, I’ll start updating the older blogs as I do get the occasional press attention, which was the point of writing.
I was prompted to wrote this blog just after being interviewed by the Times journalist Emanuele. I had meant to write it for a long while but being interviewed pushed me to do, mainly to set the record straight and give a fair update of where we are now. I see the article went live in the Sunday Times thanks to a friend’s mum.
It's #NotJustCladding that affects millions of new build home owners across the country, it's excessive heat and the consequences that stem from decades of shoddy & cheap building work.
A mix with pace and some great old and new tunes. Its short and sweet but packs a punch. Recorded as the UK opens up after its third lockdown. The cases have dropped and the vaccination is going strong. You can get a real sense of the joy in peoples faces and living in the city is once again a great place to be, no matter what Anne Clark says.
I knew Snow was coming so I setup my Pixel2 to best capture the snowfall on Saturday 2nd Jan 2021. It was good but I didn’t position the camera behind my black out blinds and so you get a slight reflection and later in the video the light of living room in the sky (I obviously removed this part as it looked weird). I also need to sort out the autofocus next time.
Still a nice timelapse of the clouds rolling in then the snow for a short while.