Black lives matter protest Manchester

George Floyd mural in Manchester's Northern Quarter

I did make it to Manchester’s Black Lives Matter protest via the George Floyd mural in Stevenson Square. I stayed back and watched from a far, as I wanted to make sure I was social distanced.

BLM protest

While walking around Manchester I today I was looking at peoples faces and theres a sense of real anger but also that something might actually change?

Black Lives Matter Manchester

Although I did have an encounter with some folks I knew as I walked back. They were complaining about lots of people protesting and breaking the social distancing guidelines. I explained I was there too and left saying, when people are faced with a system which is killing you, what would you do? They left in silence.

One of the best signs I saw today was this one…

Your activism must continue after this protest

Your activism must continue after this protest…

Be the change

This is exactly where I am, right now. Protest is the first step but the next one is how to make sustainable long lasting change. We need to organize and break down the systematic state of racism.

I have thoughts and currently looking for the others. A few people have also made the point there should/could be a focus on the UK/European problems which is very much the same but sometimes more subtle in nature?

Time to talk about Covid 19 and ethnic minorities…

A Face protection

There has been a quite a bit said about the fact ethnic minorities are more likely to catch and die of Covid19. The UK office of national statistics recently released a study which was quite shocking and hard to read.  Its a harsh reminder this virus was never a equalizer and as BBC newsnight said, shows the widening divisions.

t discovered that after taking into account age, measures of self-reported health and disability and other socio-demographic characteristics, black people were still almost twice as likely as white people to die a Covid-19-related death.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani males were 1.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males, after other pre-existing factors had been accounted for, and females from those ethnic groups were 1.6 times more likely to die from the virus than their white counterparts.

Personally I am taking a lot of sustainable steps to stay safe. I say sustainable because unlike some people who think we are going to revert back to the old normal, I know this isn’t going to happen. Without going into too much depth about PPE, contact tracing and an actual vaccine. If you want that, its worth listening to the Manchester futurists podcast which is going up in the next few days.

I’m washing my hands with liquid soap pretty much all the times, not touching my face (I know its really really hard but not impossible and I have managed it but don’t have long hair and have a deep routed thing about dirty hands) and I’m disinfecting everything I have touched and brought back into the house including my headphones, smartphone, pebble watch, keys, etc… However I am not using alcohol hand sanitizer, unless essential because it makes my hands so bloody dry I hate it!

Even before the recent theories about Vitamin D, I have been taking Vit D as its generally good practice for darker skinned people living in northern hemispheres.

I’m very conscious I am at higher risk being a black male, having a survived a bleed on the brain, asthmatic and all with high blood pressure. But I am however very fortunate to have a career which means I can work from home while living in a city centre where I can go out and get exercise and food. I’m not socio-economic disadvantaged thats something which I have going for myself. I have been getting Tesco delivery again (maybe once every 4-6 weeks again). Been avoiding the large supermarkets and going to local high street shops, Booths and M&S food market (This is certainly not true of a lot of people!). I do pop into Aldi but am always aware people are much less likely to social distance unfortunately. Especially around the fruit and veg isle.

There was a decision made not to wear a mask, when the one I ordered for the holiday to South Korea and Japan never came (according to Amazon its still on its way – 4 months later). Me and my partner decided we didn’t want to be the westerners not wearing a mask, when we still felt we could go. But for me personally I decided there was more risk in having a mask than not when out and about in Manchester. I expect there will be places in the future where I will have to wear face protection/mask to enter, and thats fine (maybe my mask might actually arrive) but till then taking the mask on and off is just much more risk than not touching my face at all. I’m also very conscious about not coughing, sneezing, etc in and around people.

Whats happening is no joke and clearly points to the horrible inequality. I’m very fortunate to be born in a country which (at least currently) has a national health care system.

But there are clear problems/differences and the people with the power to change the fate of millions are doing little about it! Some would say it could be to the benefit to certain governments even?

Learning diabolo tricks during the Covid-19 lockdown in Manchester

One of the things I have been doing while in lockdown from the Covid-19 virus, is learning new tricks on the Diabolo. I’m lucky enough to have a nice large shared garden and green spaces around me. So in between working, walking, etc. I’ve been getting better at the Diabolo.

I decided to make use of my GoPro camera and throw together a number of tricks together with some music (Hit The Decks Volume 2 (htd2 A2) Nightfall at the edge of chaos (bonus mix)).

Here are the tricks with difficulty rating

  1. High throw (2x) – Easy
  2. Around the foot – Easy
  3. Over arm rubber arm to stick grind to whip catch – Tricky
  4. Over arm rubber arm to stick grinds to whip catch (3x angles) – Difficult
  5. Vertex – Very difficult
  6. Suicide – Tricky
  7. Stick grind to finger grind to whip catch – Tricky
  8. Duicide (2x) – Difficult
  9. Stick grind to finger grind to big whip catch (2x) – Tricky
  10. Handy grind drop to whip – Difficult

How Manchester’s Northern quarter on lock down looks

Believe these days will pass

I have been staying at home for the last 3-4 weeks but every 3-4 days I go shopping for fresh food. It also makes good exercise walking around. and decided as its my birthday soon, to get a very nice steak from the Northern Quarter butchers.

On the way back I had a wonder through the northern quarter and take some pictures of the usually busy streets in Manchester. Of course I’m not the first to do this… but with my social distancing of over 2 meters from others. I shot some quick pictures on my walk back.

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The public messages instead of adverts were interesting too because frankly advertising has falling through the floor. Nice culture jamming works.

Be kind lets look out for one another

Should I have hosted a Chinese person in my airbnb?

Airbnb and the Coronavirus outbreak

Recently I hosted a person from mainland China in my Airbnb. Its certainly not the first time and unlikely the last. They were nice, quiet and respectful of the rules.

But I was talking to a few people and they asked me if I had thought about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)? I laughed it off but honestly I did think for a bit before accepting the booking. The thinking wasn’t long especially because I wasn’t happy to ask the question and somewhat discriminate on the grounds of nationality (this is also against Airbnb’s policy)

Talking to others, they felt I wasn’t taking it seriously. Although I will say more people die of the flu and TB than COVID-19! The frenzy in the press is getting insane.

So I had another look at the policy and noticed a addition for the Coronavirus outbreak

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. Affected hosts and guests can find info on our Extenuating circumstances policy for coronavirus page.

This is something which seems to have taken the Airbnb community groups and others by storm

Looking deeper into the new policy I found this part…

For reservations with guests travelling from mainland China to destinations outside of mainland China

The extenuating circumstances policy applies to any reservations booked on or before 1 February 2020, with check-in date of 1 April 2020 or earlier. This applies for guests travelling from mainland China with reservations outside of mainland China, or hosts outside of mainland China with guests travelling from mainland China.

Other scenarios that require documentation

Regardless of reservation date, the extenuating circumstances policy applies to reservations of all global hosts or guests who must change or cancel travel:

  • In order to comply with disease control restrictions implemented by relevant governmental or health authorities;
  • In order to perform medical or disease control duties in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • As a result of flight or ground transport cancellations initiated by an airline or ground transport provider due to the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • In the event that they are diagnosed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 by a medical or health authority.

We ask that all community members be mindful of respect, inclusion, and our nondiscrimination policy when interacting with other members of our community.

So I think I did the right thing. Its not right to discriminate on the location. My guest was fine! However for those worried, you know what I’ll be doing if anything negative happens to my health (ha!)

All complex ecosystem have parasites… including Airbnb

Airbnb basement in Iceland
Looks like a dungeon right? Imagine sleeping down there for a night like I did in Iceland

…The trick is to not let them take over. Something Airbnb needs to think a lot more about!

I stumbled across a huge Airbnb scam that’s taking over London, this story is everywhere but it was Si Lumb who first sent me the link.

After reading the massive long piece I was quite shocked at how elaborate the scam was. I won’t spoil it but its bad then it gets worst still.

Here’s a few choice quotes…

On Airbnb, it turns out, scams aren’t just the preserve of lone chancers. As the short-term rental goldrush gathers pace, Airbnb empires are being rapidly scaled and monetised, with professional operators creating scores of fake accounts, fake listings and fake reviews to run rings around Airbnb, local law enforcement and the guests who place their trust in the platform. Reviews from guests paint a grim picture of people who have been tricked into staying in accommodation with blocked drains, broken fixtures and fittings, filthy floors, dirty bed linen – or, in some cases, accommodation that they simply did not book.

This very much reminds me of when I stayed in Iceland and the host moved me to the basement so he could get another Airbnb in! My experience of Airbnb in Tokyo was awful but at least the host wasn’t lying to my actual face.

All of these accounts are essentially one person, or at least one company. And yet they have all passed Airbnb’s account verification and safety processes, with most supplying government identification, selfies, email addresses and phone numbers. Two of these accounts, though, are more closely connected than the rest: Leon and Robert Lusso Management. And that’s because they both used to be called Christian.

Seen this many times on Airbnb, this is why I always look through the reviews of the hosts for patterns. Its the same way reviews on most sites you have to check for scams.

I noticed from my experience as a host (super host even), lots of guests don’t do the research. Don’t get me wrong, the scams are elaborate but few read the reviews and ask the right questions of the host.

According to Inside Airbnb, a service that scrapes Airbnb to shine a light on the platform’s impact on cities around the world, there are an estimated 36,964 listings on Airbnb in London that are listed by a host with at least one other listing. While Airbnb presents itself as a sharing economy company, the business of hosting is becoming increasingly systemised and professionalised, with critics arguing that businesses are able to make huge sums of money at the expense of local residents who are unable to access properties locked away by the short-term rental gold rush.

So what, if anything, can be done about it? To date, attempts to adequately regulate and police Airbnb listings have been spasmodic at best, leading to a patchwork of confusing, siloed approaches. In December 2019, more concerted regulation efforts were dealt a blow when the European Court of Justice ruled that Airbnb was an “information society service”, not a real estate agency. Such rulings mean that cities must continue to act alone – with mixed success.

Really interesting to look at inside Airbnb as a host in Manchester. But its clear councils can’t keep up with the Airbnb (gravy) train and the scammers know this too well. Could Airbnb do more stop this? Yes a bit but honestly…

All complex ecosystem have parasites. – Cory Doctorow

Heartbreak production’s Romeo & Juliet

IMG_20190818_192247

Got to hand it to the heartbreak theatre experience. Myself and my partner planned to experience their outdoor theatre play of Romeo & Juliet in Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens, Didsbury but the Manchester weather is never sympathetic to outdoor events, so we watched it in a church hall instead.

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Regardless it was great to see and very enjoyable, certainly deserved a note on my blog. Really fun and great to see improve working well for this talented group.

There was a feedback paper form but with no pen to fill it in, it seemed like a better idea to blog it instead.

Petiquette in coffee shops

Petiquette at Ezra & Gil

As you likely guessed from previous posts, I’m not a dog person at all. I’ve been bitten too many times and are generally nervous around them. But I get there are people who love their dog like its their family members (ok I do find that odd).

But I find dogs in cafes questionable.

I have seen dogs on seats, chairs and table tops. Witnessed and left as they have barked the place down, attacked each other, seen them walking around loose with no lead. Its seriously not a place where I feel comfortable and I’m sure others feel the same; even the dog lovers.

This is why I was impressed to see Ezra & Gil’s #Ezrapetiquette (even if it looks like Ez-rape?).

  1. Ensure your dog is housetrained.
  2. Your dog is well behaved & can sit, stay & come on command.
  3. Your dog is kept on a lead at all times.
  4. Make sure your dog doesn’t disturb other customers.
  5. Your dog is kept on a floor & away from food.
  6. Your dog is not anxious & uncomfortable around people.
  7. Pack waste bags incase of any accidents,
  8. Dog Lovers – please ensure you ask owners permission before petting their dogs.

This might seem very obvious, but like many conferences include a code of conduct. Some people need a little reminder and theres got to be a clear expression of whats accepted and not. Dogs on tables and chairs wouldn’t be accepted if I was writing one.

Following my partners dog bite in the hotel, I re-read the dangerous dogs act again, and found this part very interesting.

Under the Act, it’s illegal for a dog to be ‘out of control’ or to bite or attack someone. The legislation also makes it an offence if a person is worried or afraid (the term is ‘reasonable apprehension’) that a dog may bite them. So it’s important to ensure that your dog is kept under control at all times and in all places.

Something to remind dog owners of as I head for the door next time.

What do the general public think about the internet?

https://vimeo.com/331179758

We (BBC R&D) helped NESTA to explore what the general public think about the internet. It was during a bitterly cold day but me, Rhia and Vicky took to the streets of Manchester to ask the public in a series of vox-pox interviews.

The results surprised me, as it was clear most were concerned and have serious but diverse reasons. Some gave short and some in-depth detailed experiences. The video only scratches the surface.

Over the past few decades, the internet has become the most important infrastructure of our time, radically rewiring how our societies work and how we interact. We asked the BBC to find out how ordinary people feel about these changes – watch their varied answers in the video below.

The video is a small part of NESTA’s Visions for the future internet work.

In March 2019, the World Wide Web turned thirty, and October will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the internet itself. These anniversaries offer us an important opportunity to reflect on the internet’s history, but also a chance to ponder its future.

Massive thanks to the people of Manchester who answered our questions even with the weather at close to zero degrees!

3 parties in a week, and all for 40

40th Birthday

My parents asked me what I want to do for my birthday late last year. They were thinking I could do a big party in Bristol. But I suggested why not have three of them instead?

Each party/bash representing a section of my life so far.

  • Bristol (0-19)
  • London (19-28)
  • Manchester (28-40)

40 years of opioninated conversation and living life to the maximum

Of course my parents thought it was too much, but I was certain it was a good idea and I could do it.

Happy to say I was right. I had planned to put in sometime at the theme parks of England (Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Blackpool) but due to half-term decided I’d better not because I would end up in queues (Love the European theme parks for this). Plus I decided I could fit everything around work (or work around everything). I won’t lie, I would have been absolutely exhausted if I did!

Manchester party

So it happened and I was blown away by the friends and family who attended but also helped make the whole thing happen. Couldn’t have done it all without them! Thanks to everyone who came, gave their time, cards (I got so many cards I had to shift them around the flat) and even gifts. Also thanks for all the people who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it for different reasons.

Thank you to everyone again! 40 started with a bang, look out for 50 – ha!

On turning 40…

40 years of opinionated conversation and living life to the maximum

Soon I will turn 40. Most people fear or can’t imagine ever getting to 40 but I’m much less worried about that. I kind of feel young and although there are noticeable changes like grey hair in my facial hair, creaky knees and a noticeable lack of excess energy.

Regardless I’m still playing Volleyball regularly and trying a few other things including trying Basketball again (that was hard work!). My eye sight is incredible and off the charts for my age, I have been told.

Its funny how the things you do when you are young persist into older age. For example I can still be found with my diabolo on warm days or during the Manchester firejam. Still riding my skateboard when going short distances and considered getting rollerblades again. Convinced this is the future of transport and feel lucky to learned this when young.

My routine is still organised chaos but…  I like it that way and to be fair an ordinary life doesn’t interest me but its tricky as unconventional life isn’t always easy. Especially with a partner, but we manage by sharing calendars.

The only strange thing for me is being at the BBC for coming up to 15 years! I joined just after my birthday. I still feel quite young even with all the younger people I work with.

The 40th is usually a big one and as usual I decided to do something different for it. I decided to do 3 party’s, each one representing the three different cities/eras of my life so far.

  • Bristol (0-19)
  • London (19-28)
  • Manchester (29-40)

I had planned to fit theme park trips to Thorpe Park, Alton Towers and Blackpool pleasure beach too. But frankly it was too much and with the Easter holidays it meant the parks would likely be packed with kids also trying to get on the rides.

Without a doubt, 40 is going to be fun!

Put on your own Moon Festival event?

Moon 50 Festival

I’m still very excited to be a digital adviser on the Moon Festival for all reasons I mentioned in my previous blog and so much more.

One of the things I suggested for the Festival was the ability to run it in different locations. It made sense to me, as it is the moon and such a momentous date in history can’t be limited to London alone. Of course London is a great place to have such a event with the Greenwich observatory and the GMT timeline in the night sky.

So with my experience running BarCamps, TedXs and other decentralised/distributed events. I was able to talk the amazing Livia into trying to distribute the event into other cities and countries.

So many of you got in touch to ask how you can be part of Moon Festival and too often we had to say no because of time and money which we hated to do because let’s face it, you had some really brilliant ideas. And so we decided to open up our programme to the world.

Livia has the full very friendly guideline for the proposals on the same page.

It makes a lot of sense for the likes of artistic events like Future EverythingAbandon Normal Devices festival and the Manchester International Festival (to be honest I’m really surprised there isn’t a event in this years line up) to say the lest. Of course thats just around Manchester events! I’m wondering about all those centres like FACT, Home, MOSI, etc. Of course it could be anywhere, any city, any town, any community, any country!

Not got plans for the 50th Anniversary of the moon but can’t make it to London? Don’t fancy Bluedot? What you waiting for? Try running your own… Don’t hold back let your creative juices flow!

I personally was thinking about a storytelling event like the Moth around the Moon and our relationship with the moon. If anyone is interested in the proposal in Manchester let me know.

The Moon 50 Festival

Best of the recent TEDxManchester’s

TedX Manchester 2019

Last year I never got a chance to write about TEDxManchester 2018, partly because I tend to take pictures with my camera and its the new venue (Bridgewater hall) policy not to allow cameras in.

Regardless I went to TedXManchester 2019 (without my DSLR), and thought its about time I got back into blogging some of the best talks, especially as they are put on youtube now. Because they are on youtube so quickly, I created a playlist with the best TedXManchester videos. There are a number missing and its worth saying the list is highly opinioned. Theres some key ones from previous years gone by including my own and Carrie’s super popular one.

But I wanted to give credit to the best ones this year and last year.

2018

Last year the outstanding talk was form Vikas Shah’s How to save your own life.

A year later Vikas tweet is a perfect description.

I felt the talk was extremely brave, powerful and honest. The mental health message was powerful.

2019

This years outstanding talks were difficult to pick one. I was torn but decided although everyone loved Ged Kings talk I wasn’t super keen. I found Andrew Szydlo and Jon Carmichael’s fantastic but its not online yet so decided Katherine Ormerod spoke to me like Emma Harvey’s “Whoops, I changed the world” at TedxBradford.

Although I don’t let social media run my life, and use it a certain way which bother some. I find the continuously running theme of living life with these digital tools interesting. There was a talk just before with Chris Bailey (this is from TedxLiverpool) which was good but felt too preachy for my palliate. As I write this blog post in a coffee shop, I’m watching a woman taking a selfie with her tiny dog to a social network. She took about 12 photos before finally settling on one to post. I find the whole thing strange as posted about before, and I wonder how many are in control, following fashion, doing so out of peer/social pressure, etc…

Sharing really is caring? Something we seem to have forgotten?

Sharing is caring

I haven’t been to a Manchester Futurists for a long while, But I saw the topic of The Future of Transportation with Nick King and Gary Barker and decided it would be a good one to attend with my petrol head partner. Now to be fair Nick and Gary did say it was going to be all about the car and it makes sense with them both coming from Autotrader. So will forgiven them for talking about cars and ownership not transport.

During the Nick and Garry talked about many things but one of their main points was about how selfish we are as a nation/culture. This is why ownership of cars is still going to be a large part of the future and things like car sharing, pooling, etc will still be a rarity.

I can’t remember the exact questions but generally they asked;

Who has used Airbnb? Quite a few yes were heard
Who has booked an Airbnb in the last year? Fewer people say yes
Who has booked a place with a stranger? People smile and giggle but theres about one or two yes’s.

Conclusion people value their privacy and the sharing economy will be mainly lost on Brits because of this. Now thats quite a step but lets go with it… They used Airbnb but also suggested similar for Uber, Zipcar and all the carpooling systems.

Future of transport slide

Now I was slightly seething at this. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of problems including diversity with the sharing economy if you like to call it that (how ironic).

I don’t disagree with what was said or pointed out but its worrying. As populations move into cities, the very idea of sharing resources is critical.

Over the last year I’ve watched when people talk about their ideal homes, default to a physically detached house. Then watched the confusion when I talk about a duplex flat. Why would you want that? Surely you want your own garden, your own space, your own…. Well actually no. I like shared gardens, I like real public spaces. I like public transport and as a host of Airbnb a shared spare room.

I do like doing Airbnb in a similar fashion. Some of the best Airbnb’s I’ve been in are when there is one host and myself. For example when I went to Madrid and Copenhagen. I spent a bit of time in the company of the host but never too much time. We both understood, when to back off and give some room.

i know its just me but the difference is the planet is becoming over populated and resources are getting tighter and more costly. The ability to sharing is not just important but is becoming critical. In the future of transport there was a suggestion that autonomous cars will have their own lane. I shook my head thinking when is there going to be room to fit another lane in. Most of the lanes are being converted to bus and bike lanes.

Through out I felt like I needed to remind people being human is a team sport. If sharing isn’t part of your thing, its time to fight it out with the millionaires in New Zealand.

Update

I noticed the latest NPR/TED radio hour is all about Finite resource, something I was thinking while listening to the original talk and writing this blog post.

In a world with limited resources, can we find ways to salvage what’s disappearing? Can we innovate our way out of a finite landscape? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about living with less.

Rather than living with less, can we also share more and make our limited resources go further?