Mozfest10: A sad moment for the last Mozfest in the UK

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There was a point while DJing at the last Mozilla festival in the UK, when I looked up and it hit me.

There will be no more going to Ravensbourne. A place with a million stairs and incredible spaces. Its also my previous university so I always bump into someone I knew. On top of that its just down the road from the last place I lived in South East London, so its always interesting to take a bus east and see whats changed. That bloody big Tesco in Woolwich is awful, but I completely missed the IKEA!

Back to Mozfest however…

Its been 10 years and I have been to 8 of them. I missed the first one due to being elsewhere during the drumbeat festival. Then the second one due to being slightly busy with my brush with death. After that I went every single year getting more and more involved. I still remember when the whole festival was around Learning, Freedom and the Web, heck I still have the book on my shelf.

At some point during 2014, I became a spacewrangler for 4 years [2014][2015][2016][2017]. I have to say Jon Rogers had something to do with this for sure.

Its been quite a amazing time and people always ask me, why?

Classic moment in Mozfest history
Never again!

I can now point people at the Mozfest book which charts the history and some of the unique stories from the people who make up Mozfest.

Honestly its the people and community which make it all worth it. As Greshake-Tzovaras said

“Even when coming to MozFest for the first time it felt like coming back to family, in the best possible sense. People are so welcoming and friendly!”

Its like an extended family and one of the best communities to be a part of. There are people I have met through Mozfest which have become incredible friends, collaborators and business partners. I have had critical time with people working at the very edge, people with great ideas/tech/plans. I have visited their homes, met their partners, spent endless nights plotting and shared the highs and lows. My contact book is not just full of contacts but full of people with authentic strong connections from around the world.

Mozfest 2015

Its all about the people and community of Mozilla!

Jons explaining why we need another 500 cardboard boxes?

Then in the words of Sarah, because one weekend isn’t enough…

There was Mozhouse and lets not forget Mozretreat (which I originally thought was Moztreat) which marks the officially first drum of the festival. I can’t tell you how much has come out of both of those too.

Where ever it goes next (my money is on Amsterdam), I will be making a very good case why I should be involved in some way or another. On to bigger and even better things…

To the future of internet health at Moz://a Festival

Mozfest10: 3D’s: Dating, Deception and Data-Portability (GDPR edition)

There are a number of blog posts I need to write about the last Mozilla Festival in the UK and I have already written about the dyslexic advantage previously. So its time for my workshop session the 3D’s Dating, Deception and Data-portability in the openness space. I added GDPR edition to the workshop, as I did submit it last year but did so before I actually got my GDPR data back from the dating sites. I assume the lack of clarity about having the data made it tricky for privacy & security to accept it last year?

I was looking forward to this one but on the week of Mozfest, my Dell XPS laptop woke me up in the middle of the night with a bright screen. I thought it was odd to have it on, as its usually a sleep. On closer inspection I found I couldn’t do much, so rebooted it. On the reboot I was able to login but not launch almost anything, so I rebooted again. To find I dumped into a GRUB recovery console. Its a long story what happened next but ultimately my plans to host the dating JSON files on my local machine with a nicer interface was never going to happen.

With all this in mind I changed the presentation (google slides are my friend) and scope of the workshop. Luckily I had redacted enough of the data in advance, and I kept a hold of my data instead of letting people rummage through like I had planned.

I focused the presentation into the 3 areas, dating, deception and data-portability. My slides are all online here.

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The people who came were quite vocal and engaged with everything. There were many questions about the dating and deception part, which made think I could have done a whole bit similar to my TEDx talk a few years ago. But I really wanted to get into the meat of the workshop, beyond requesting your data, actually getting it but now what?

This is exactly what I posed as a question to people.

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The replies were quite different from what I was thinking…

  • A group said if you could get a number of data dumps over time, you coul mine the data on your profile to look at positive & negative changes over a longer time scale. This would work great especially on the OKcupid questions, which you can change at anytime and I have.
  • Another group suggested something similar to Cambridge Analytica using OKcupid questions. I did suggest its highly likely they (Okcupid) are already doing this and its reflected in the people you are shown rather than your vote and news you see. I wasn’t making light of it, just sadly saying everything is there and yes it could be turned into a personality profile easily enough
  • There was a interesting thought to tally up messages and changes in profile data with historic weather, moon, quantified self data and other data. To see if there is a link. I think this one might include the person who asked why I redacted the star sign data?
  • The idea of creating a dating bot of yourself was quite shocking, but the thought was with enough of my chat transcripts you could easily train a bot to answer people in the future like I would. There was a discussion about ethics of doing so and what happens when a bot meets another bot pretending to be human
  • Finally group suggested visualisations to help make tangible choices and things I wrote. This was good in the face of what was missing and how to inform the dirty little tricks dating companies do for profit. Its always clear how powerful visualisation can be, you only have to look at my twitter gender data visualisation from openhumans.

Its clear the Plenty of Fish data was less interesting to people and it would be trivial to move from OKCupid to POF based on the dataset. Other way would require a lot user input.

Massive thanks to Fred Erse for keeping me on time and collecting the ideas together.

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So what happens next?

Jupyter notebook from openhumans demo

Well I’m keen to put either the actual data or the redacted data into openhumans and try the Jupyter notebook thing. Maybe I can achieve the final groups ideas with some fascinating visualisations.

 

Mozfest10: The advantages of dyslexia?

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There are a number of blog posts I need to write about the last Mozilla Festival in the UK but I wanted to start with this one about my art piece in the all new neurodiversity space.

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I started a physical mindmap on Saturday morning in the neurosiversity space and hung up information from the dyslexic advantage book, something I have written a lot about. I then invited the public to read and write on postage tags what they thought the advantages of dyslexia look like. These were hung up for others to read and explore.

Mind strengths
The Dyslexic Advantages: MIND strengths

Here is the document I wrote if you want to read the MIND strengths in more detail.

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I left it over the weekend and let people just add more and more. I also had some great conversations with different people about the advantages. One lady didn’t know there were advantages and lived with dyslexia all her life. As a whole lots people were correctly diagnosed at University and College, which is the norm as the book says. I think I met about 4 people who were diagnosed in School.

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I have some great photos and when Mozfest finished I took them with me. Reading them in full it was quite amazing to read.

All the thoughts over the weekend

Here’s the almost complete list (I couldn’t read some of them and I removed the duplicates)…

  • Right maths, wrong numbers!
  • Creative
  • Sequencing
  • Non-reading information sensitivity
  • Interconnected thinking
  • Spatial thinking
  • Network of thoughts
  • Advantages?
  • Telling stories
  • Attention to details
  • Improvising & Creativity
  • Pattern recognition / Recognition pattern
  • Ability to tell stories
  • Link themes
  • Empathy to others
  • Empathy
  • Lateral thinking
  • Concept formation
  • Storytelling
  • Crasy?
  • Mapping strengths
  • Roles can lead to success
  • Future prediction
  • Understanding

Glad I did it and the conversations were amazing, shame I couldn’t be around in the ND space all weekend. Massive thanks to the Spacewranglers of neurodiversity for accepting my session and helping out.

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Mozilla festival’s 10th anniversary, get your ticket before they are gone!

Mozfest 2015

The word is out… its very likely the last Mozilla festival in London and the UK. Although sad to see, it will go on to be even bigger

After 10 incredible years, 9 of which were in London, MozFest is asking Where to next?

As a community, we have so much to celebrate for this 10th festival. As we reflect on all we have learnt and built together, we invite you to join us in imagining what the next 10 years of growth and experiences for the MozFest community could be — in a new location.

But wait!

Its not over yet! The next Mozilla Festival for 2019 is on for the week of Monday 20th October – Sunday 27th October. Yes a whole week of celebrations for the festival which set the conversation involving tech, policy, law, design and media. It was 2010 when Mozilla created the book Mozilla Learning, Freedom and the Web, which lead the way to the yearly Internet heath report.

For the week of the Mozilla Festival you are going to want to block out your schedule for some great events in the RSA London during the week (especially the Public spaces / private data event). By the end of the week you will be fired up for the start of the last Mozilla festival in London. Then get stuck in for 2 days of incredible sessions given by people from all over the world. The diversity of the talks will blow you away but all based around Mozilla’s internet health report. Quick plug for my two sessions you don’t want to miss… 3D’s – Dating, Deception and Dataportability (GDPR edition) and The Dyslexic advantage 

Of course there’s amazing parties every evening and I expect each one will be incredible being the 10th Mozfest and the last one in the UK. After the success of last years werewolf, I’ll be running another space for those who fancy a break free for the full moon. By Sunday who knows I might even get a chance to throw some tunes down on the pacemaker device?

Its a full on week but well worth it and you can like the organisers relaxed on Monday afternoon.

Global Village at Mozfest

Get your tickets now, and notice 10 pound discount if you attend one of the free Mozhouse events.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Aug 2019)

The Cleaners film

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking at the state of democracy around the world and closer to home. 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.

With a focus on new models in business, technology, society, policy, processes, etc. I present my public service internet newsletter.

You are seeing more people thinking more critically about the power of public services to transform society again.

Don’t forget if you find this useful, you will find “Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?” at the RSA London on 21st October  2019, right up your street.

Well-being the real metric which matters

Ian thinks: Sturgeon is part of a growing momentum, rethinking what’s important and coming to the conclusion; in the internet age our adoption of attention is very badly broken.
Found via Lianne

The Technology of Better Humans from the founder of the hashtag

Ian thinks: Chris Messina is always a good thinker and the idea of emotional technology by emotional intelligent entrepreneurs is very timely.

Facebook Libra deep dive with someone who knows what they are talking about

Ian thinks: After the dust has settled, a detailed look at Libra from the point of view of someone who understands Libra isn’t a cryptocurrency, no matter what others have said.

The founder of Scruff on breaking up with Google

Ian thinks: Eric gives a compelling rational why he stopped using Google ads; siding with his users against short term profit growth in favour of safety and the support of his users.

Black Hat & Defcon hacking conferences in 12-15 minutes

Ian thinks: Its fascinating to see the diversity of hacks and vulnerabilities in everything from security doors, printers, voting machines, cars and even canon DSLR cameras.

Why we need to think public transport even more in the age of driverless cars

Ian thinks: There is so much focus on individuals in driverless cars, however its public transport and last mile transport which can make the difference to peoples lives in our future cities.

You only need 1000 true fans?

Ian thinks: I have been revisiting alternative business models and was intrigued to re-read Kevin Kelly’s thoughts in the light of recent concerns over attention. Still holds weight I feel.

From Pixels to DNA, biotech needs a careful hand

Ian thinks: One place I certainly don’t want to see the “Move fast and break things” ideology is with genetic engineering.
Whole interview with Bryan Walsh

Have you ever thought about the people who moderation that other content?

Ian thinks: This slow moving documentary opens your eyes to the reality of content moderation and the absolutely awful side of the modern web we all use without too much thought.

The Mozilla Festival is finally moving out of London

Ian thinks: Mozfest moving out of London a few days before Brexit is ominous, however the strategy of moving location every few years is a good idea for all including Mozilla.
Learn more and get involved

Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?

A open space for public service and internet health

Last year BBC R&D worked with Mozilla on a event during London Mozilla fest week titled A open space for public service and internet health. The event was great and lots of conversations got taken into Mozfest on the weekend.

This year we are back with another event with even more partners and more topics of interest. Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?

On Monday October 21st 2019 between 9am-5pm, At the RSA, John Adam St, London

The internet has enormous potential to be a force for public good, with many initiatives working to create an open, inclusive and trustworthy network. PublicSpaces.net and BBC Research and Development have worked together to organise this one day conference at MozFest House during Mozilla Foundation’s week-long open internet festival. It will explore ways in which we could make a new internet that strengthens the public domain and deliver public value online, in line with PublicSpaces commitment to providing a digital social platform that serves the common interest and does not seek profit.

Our topics for the day include

  • Public-Controlled Data (presented by BBC R&D)
  • Equal Access for Everyone (tba)
  • Healthy Digital Public Sphere (presented by Mozilla)
  • Public Service Networking  (presented by PublicSpaces.net)

 

Book a ticket or register your interest, before they disappear…

#web30: The world wide web at 30 years old

We owe a lot to Sir Tim Berners-Lee on the 30th Anniversary of the web.

Tim Berners-Lee helped invent the world wide web 30 years ago. And he has consistently pointed out that the original dream that gave rise to it is under threat.

It is exactly 30 years since Sir Tim submitted a paper to his colleagues at CERN, suggesting a way of sharing data across networks, under the title “Information Management: A Proposal”. The humble title belies the importance of what was contained inside, which included a complete sketch for the networked information system that would on to become the internet we know today.

But its really important to think about the next 30 years.

Surveillance capitalism and governmental/state control are hot topics which very much threaten the fabric of the web. But so does our use of the web and the way we treat each other.

I had a really good 10min talk with Sir Tim Berners-Lee during the last Mozilla Festival, while talking about Solid, Databox and data trust. What got me as we talked, was ultimately we were talking about power and where it lies. Power in the hands of governments (Chinese model) , corporations (American model) or people? (could be the European model?)

I think remembering their are humans, not eyeballs, not lefties/rightwingers, etc is so important. Lets celebrate the people of the web!

https://twitter.com/whynotadoc/status/1105400124447039489

Its all go at Mozilla Festival 2018

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mozfest/24140492258/

Usually I’m busy at this time getting things ready for Mozilla festival, but this year I stepped down as a spacewrangler. Its always good to have new people try their hand at it all. Of course I’m still involved in Mozfest, as I submitted a few sessions for the festival and a couple were accepted including why is there a need for a public service internet; which follows a private event during the Mozhouse week.

This year, ideas from Mozilla’s first full-length Internet Health Report — a deep look at how the Internet and human life intersect — are at the heart of the festival. At MozFest 2018, we’ll strategize our next moves in global campaigns for net neutrality, data privacy, and online freedom. We’ll advance thinking on topics like ethical AI and common-sense tech policy. We’ll collaborate on code, on art and practical ideas, creating seeds for the next great open-source products.

Tickets are live for the festival and the schedule went live today.

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.

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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

Interview with Mozilla Storyengine

Storyendiner interview in Wallabag

A long time ago I agreed to do a in-depth interview with Mozilla’s storyengine.io.

We did a audio interview but had to redo part of it due to running over time. I did warn them, I do tend to chat a lot. But when I saw the transcript, even I was shocked at how much I do say and the amount of “like” & “ummms” was scary.

After some solid collaborative editing and some hard deadlines. We got it down to the 66mins of reading (according to my wallabag reader).

Its a good read and I like the storyengine project, which includes many of the other people I have spacewrangled alongside or met through Mozilla.

Massive thanks to Christine & Alecia

Also on the side, its good to learn about hypothes.is, which is a open platform/software,  non-profit annotation system, based on the w3C’s annotation recommendations.

So much good at AfroTech Festival 2018

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/28168173109/

When I first heard about Afrotech festival, I was impressed with the idea. I’ve always been in the minority at tech conferences. Its been so common that I just don’t (try not to) think about it. Its very common for tech events to try and encourage more women to be involved but even with gender diversity its poor to bad. Calls for racial diversity tend to end up falling on slightly deaf ears. Its not always unwillingness but it does have a slight effect, and makes you think… should I be here?

In actual fact the only times I have been in a tech event where the dominate people weren’t white males has been the girl geekdinner events. For example last week Sunday I was a girl geek tea party with all women and myself, I felt comfortable enough and hopefully everybody else felt the same (there was no indication to suggest any issues).

Its very rare when I haven’t been in the minority, especially around tech. At Afrotech fest, for the first time I was in the racial majority although interestingly a minority in gender.

I was giving one of the two keynotes and I’ve posted the slides and thoughts in a previous post. The other keynote was given by Ade Adewunmi who talked about similar issue I brought up.

Afrotech Fest 2018

The festival ran over Friday & Saturday. It felt more like a unconference with clear tracks. The sessions were varied with topics ranging from An introduction to cryptocurrency to What the Matrix can teach us about Diversity & Inclusion. There were panels for example The Good and Evils of Machine Learning. All the sessions focused on a slightly different view, for example the machine learning panel included lot about algorithm bias and transparency. Issues which directly effect the lives of minorities.

Afrotech Fest 2018

Another great thing beyond just the make up of the people was the diversity of personal backgrounds. There were developers, artists, people working in law, etc, etc. There was also a youth track on Saturday afternoon (which I obviously didn’t attend) it was great to see young people wondering around like you see at Mozfest.

I was impressed with everything especially the 6 black female organisers and lots of helpers, who made everyone feel at home in Richmix. The festival was very welcoming to those not from the black community with everybody was respectful alongside the lines of the code of conduct. Its also the first time I’ve had to agree/sign my presentation and keynote will not break the code, something others should do.

I had a great time, learned a lot and even my non-technical sister took away something. The conversations I had were great and look forward to the next one.

Little update

Myself and Ade Adewunmi are on BBC Click briefly talking about Afrotech Festival.

Afrotech Fest is a two-day tech and digital festival in the UK by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage. It explores the intersection of technology, the arts, history, news, activism and representation. In particular Afrotech Fest aims to provide a platform for people across a variety of backgrounds to imagine a future free of the present biases whether conscious or unconscious. Click talks to Ade Adewunmi and Ian Forrester about Afrotech.

Why I became #Mozfest decentralization spacewrangler?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/38231341745/in/album-72157662463673088/

Back in October I was again a spacewrangler for Mozfest. I haven’t had a proper chance to write-up the experience since I was going from one place to another. Unlike previous years as a spacewrangler, Mozilla themed the festival around the internet health report issues.

Originally during Mozretreat in Tallinn, I was going to spacewrangle the privacy & security space but during the workshops decided that decentralisation was under represented. Under represented as its always seen as technical, too difficult a problem or in the realm of who cares?

Decentralization in Mozretreat
An internet controlled by many, no one actor can own it, control it or turn it off

In the discussions in Tallinn it was clear the root of the issue is Power! Its what lives deep under the data ethics, hence why I keep mentioning data portability (the ability to own and not be reliant on one system/service)

…power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely – Sir John Dalberg-Acton

Big centralised power tends to lead towards corruption. A good example of this is the dating industry which is centralised and treats its customers like cattle. There is something about these centralised services which cuts people off from each other, hence everything is mediated through the centralised server. Of course they would claim its to protect the users, which is certainly partly true (based on the amount of women’s profiles which say please no pix of your parts) but thats not the only thing they do…

So with all this in mind, I switched from privacy and security which had enough momentum; to decentralised with a Z; poor Erika had to hear me joke/moan about it everytime (thanks Erika for being such a sport).

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

The timeline from the Mozretreat to Mozfest is pretty aggressive, and with just me and Viki working on the whole decentralised space at the time. It became clear we needed to have more people. In past Mozfests, its been a team effort of Jon, Michelle, Michael, etc. However earlier in the year Jon told me he wasn’t spacerangling this year. Jasmine had stepped back from spacerangling last year anyway, so I thought long and hard about what people would be ideal. This was all during working out the call for participation. I asked a few other people and luckily 3 out of the 5 people I asked agreed. The wrangler team now included Tim and Jon from BBC R&D, then Mark joined a bit later.

Organisation of time and space

It wasn’t easy as everyone was super busy but we made it work using lots of google docs/sheets, github, google hangout, skype, trello, etc. As I was the most experienced there was a lot of weight on my shoulders but by the time we started getting proposals in, things felt better. After the call closed, we read every single one rated and ranked them all. First cut was the travel stipend ones then the others afterwards. There was something strange that the quality of the proposals seemed to better in the middle of the call. The late & early ones seemed less thoughtful.

The wall of mozfest issues in the decentralisation space
The wall of mozfest issues in the decentralisation space

The months moved on and we slowly cut the list down to 44 proposals. By September there was a lot of logistics work including working out where everything was going to fit (we had selected far too much). We ended up with 3 talk (learning) spaces, 2 workshop (shed) spaces and 1 gallery space; 6 things happening in parallel just in the decentralised space alone. It was going to be tricky but I thought we can manage it with 5 spacewranglers. Unfortunately Viki couldn’t make it but at the last minute Jon convinced 2 trainees from BBC R&D (Kristine & Kristian) to join us, without them it would have been near impossible, very thankful for their help and stepping in at the last minute. If there wasn’t enough challenges, our commissioned artist (Archana Prasad) also ended up not coming from India due to illness. This made us scramble a little to come up with an overall theme to fit, which was the one thing which I knew we didn’t do such a great job on as previous years (the library) & (ethical dilemma cafe)

#Mozhouse (Royal Society of Arts)

Philo talking at Mozhouse

Mozfest this year tried something quite different from previous years. Instead of the weekend festival in Ravensbourne alone, they hosted a week long of events at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA). The events were very varied and the space was opened as a co-working space all weekend. This seemed to be very fitting with the RSA’s own plans for a 21st century coffee house?

We ran our first community of practice event in London too, which was well attended and included colleagues from the object based media team.

Databox meet York Uni

I also attended a few other events including Mel’s slidedesign and the glassroom which I wrote about already, it was also a good time to arrange meetings with people including Nesta. Later in the week, spacewrangler duties increased meaning more time at Ravensbourne oppose to the Mozhouse, this means I could only attend the first part of the databox event. But I was able to capture the interchange between Nottingham Uni (Databox) and York Uni (OBM engine). The conversation at the table in Mozhouse will have big consequences for the living room project and more.

Mozhouse was a very good idea and I think with more events using up the space, it could really add something different to Mozfest.

#Mozfest 2017

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Mozfest is always something you are not totally sure will work but it always does. The space was tight but my gut reaction of the layout was just about right. We squeezed in 6 spaces and it wasn’t so bad, although talk space 3’s intimacy was a little lost sadly.

This year Mozilla used Slack to bring conversations with spacewranglers and session owners together, it kind of worked but there was some missed/dropped conversations between slack, github and emails. There was a discussion about Mozfest using the centralised Slack service oppose to decentralised systems like matrix and mattermost, but it was a matter of practicality at the time. Maybe next year Matrix could be be the host? Sure Matrix must have a feature some serious dataportability features.

The reason why I mention Matrix, is I was seriously impressed with the Matrix people. They really got the while Mozfest thing and setup Matrix node (a mini PC) over the course of the festival weekend. It ran for most of the weekend and was perfectly timed for their session. As it was federated, when the PC did hit a problem, the other Matrix servers took on the processing instantly.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

As always I never get the time to wonder around the other spaces due to spacewrangling in one zone. But I did get to see a few other things including the Privacy & Security space (they shared the floor with us), Unbox space and tiny rolling IOT home.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Some of the highlights included when Storj labs failed to turn up and having to announce to a busy audience of people this fact. I said people could leave as the session facilitator was no where to be seen, or they could talk between themselves. Of course being Mozfest, the expert audience started talking and 40mins later they were still talking and Mich Baker had joined the conversation. This sums up the emergent nature of Mozfest, spacewranglers are simply constructing the environment for this all to happen.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Another few sessions were cancelled including the much  wanted connected world of music, which I had planned straight after Kristian’s Smart Blockchain Indie Film Distribution, and the Internet Of Things. Another well attended interactive session with lots of questions and discussion asking the expert audience again instead of speaking at them. Very happy we were able to host the session as we seeked out using decentralised solutions on existing problems rather than just talking about the underlying technology.

Another good non-technical session I poked my head into but knew would be good when choosing it was the co-op talk. On the face of it some might ask whats that got to do with decentralisation? But it fitted the wider theme of power and distributed and federated power.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Although we did have some sessions which were about the technology too. One example was host your data on the peer to peer web with Dat. I walked through the session a few times and was quite enjoying it and wish I could have attended the whole thing.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Seeing a youth led session Introducting Code Club in the decentralised space, Mark talking to a very nervious Abhiram before his session Demystifying ethereum to build your own decentralized app (Ðapp) using blockchain, seeing people around a table wiring their own fibre hosted by Neharika.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Let’s Keep Our Chat Local was the Matrix session and although waking back and forth, I caught enough to learn quite a bit about Matrix service. Earlier that week I had installed riot.im app on my Android tablet and through-out the week finally got myself on the server.

To prove the power of Matrix, they had already setup a bridge to the slack channel and made it super easy to talk between the services. On top of all this, I saw audio/video messaging over matrix, something around VR and other very cool things. I took away the need to investigate more, and maybe consider using it for decentralised dating?

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Dating on the Open Web with Evan was good but I’ve gone into a lot of detail in a previous blog post. We needed more conversation, which is why I did a follow up on the Sunday.

Spacewrangling for Mozfest again was really good and maybe slightly less stressful except the unexpected surprises near the end. I think we got a real nice balance of topics through-out the decentralised spectrum. From general interest to deep rooted knowledge, everyone was catered for making decentralisation interesting to everyone. Next time, I would work harder on the theming because although the theming and navigation was mixed together, in retrospective we could have set this much earlier and included the likes of databox project into the experience. I was impressed with the diversity of speakers and audience. There was a deep fear we would end up with all white men and actively worked hard to make sure this wasn’t the case.

Party at <a rel=#mozhouse" width="800" height="450" />

Party time

The night parties at Mozfest have always been great and the Saturday night one was good but I did prefer the creepy one in 2016, however I know immersive theatre isn’t everyone’s bag. The venue of Mozhouse/RSA was great and it would have been great to throw some more of the rooms open to others to do things like host a game of werewolf (for example).

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

We had hoped to secure someone from the decentralised space to play at Mozhouse but it didn’t happen. However on the Sunday night party, I did get to DJ on my pacemaker like previous earlier Mozfests. Unfortunately I didn’t record the mix but I can assure you  it was really good and got quite a few people dancing.

Thank you to all!

Mozfest 2017

I want to thank the wrangler team Viki, Jon T, Tim C, Mark B, Kristine and Kristian. Sarah A, Erika D, Marc, Emse, Dan R, Solana, Sam B, all the other spacewranglers, Ravensbourne’s staff including Claire, our decentralised sessions owners who did a excellent job through all the chaos.

The attitude and spirit of the session was higher than ever before. It might be the fact they could talk beforehand via Slack or something else? Even with the challenging emergent environment, imagine doing a large 50+ people session about digital colonialism with no chairs! This happened and we/they made it all work regardless.

Mozilla Festival 2017: Decentralized Zone

Lastly I’d like to thank the audience who attended this excellent festival and attended a lot of the decentralisation space. The engagement was higher than last year and rightly so, the work we put into getting a balanced set of talks worked out very well.

If it was just Mozfest, it would be great but add the glassroom exhibit and and you got something much closer to the impressive festivals like TOA Berlin and SxSW. The extra days before the festival really elevated it beyond previous years and likely kept the festival base in London for the foreseeable future?

You can see the whole schedule on Guidebook and of course the proposals on Github.

 

Firefox 57, flipping fast!

Firefox 57: Flipping fast!

I have been a fan of Firefox for a long time and heck, I’ve given plenty of time to Mozilla through the Mozilla Festival over the years. I would regularly use Firefox & Chrome back to back on my Ubuntu laptop, but only firefox on my server (its been the default for Ubuntu for years). Tended to use Chrome for Google type operations like Docs, Spreadsheet, Mindmup, etc. But I started using the Firefox beta after the word got passed around that version 57 (Quantium) was a total rewrite.

Once I tried it, I was blown away! Tweeting…

I was so impressed that it picked up my profile, passwords, sync, everything; even when running it from a totally different location. It meant I could just run it and use it – and why not? Its that fast and smooth. There were some addons/extentions which didnt work but most of them I uninstalled when I switch Firefox 53 to multi-threaded mode, so I was already running it pretty lean.

It was all good…as I could switch to old firefox easily enough by just loading that one no problem, not that I did.

It was during Mozfest time, when I got a email asking if it would be ok for Mozilla to use my tweet in a special New York Times double page spread they were planning on launch day. Of course I said sure thinking not much more about it except remembering the moment when Firefox 1.0 launched with the name of all the backers.

Then today, I saw while in Maderia…

It had slipped my mind this was actually going to happen and frankly was quite proud to be one of only seven quoted. Its also not like it was misquoted! I’m acutally writing this blog from my hotel room on Firefox 57 right now. Its still not default yet (firefox 56 currently is), but expecting it will be very soon once Ubuntu update the distro.

Stellar work Mozilla and I love the catchy tagline – Fast for good…

firefox 57 quantum

Mozilla Glass Room exhibition

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/37629846464/i

I talked about the Glass Room in a previous blog.

I can’t really give it justice but I did take some pictures which are good starting points. Theres a nice summary of all the exhibits here. Here are the ones which stuck out in my mind.

Mozilla Glass Room

The Alphabet Empire

All the different sub-companies which fit under the Alphabet (Google) megacorp, there’s so many you needed a magnify glass to see them all.

Mozilla Glass Room

Apple Towers

This physical infographic compared the amount of money Apple accumulated in offshore accounts against the amount of money the UK and EU governments spent on various things in 2016. Really interesting to see the BBC’s total budget of £4.8bn totally eclipsed by Apples tax bill.

Mozilla Glass Room

The Data Detox kits

These paper kits are whats meant to help you clean up and take more control over your personal data. As previously said, I found them interesting as they are simple and effective like a Ikea manual and I’ll be interesting to hear how my sister got on with her data detoxing.

Mozilla Glass Room

How Long Does It Take to Read Amazon Kindle’s Terms and Conditions?

Australian consumer advocacy group Choice hired an actor to read all 73,198 words of Amazon Kindle’s Terms and Conditions. It took just shy of 9 hours and the video of all that time illustrates exactly how much time you would give up to fully understand what you are agreeing to. The other interesting point is the frustration and doubts the actor has while reading it aloud, especially later in the agreement.

Mozilla Glass Room

Data Production Labour

By the Institute of Human Obsolescence, this is what I blogged about previously. I found it fascinating to see it working. Basically you put your phone down in front of a camera and scan through your facebook timeline. As I don’t have Facebook on my phone, I scanned through my Twitter friends timeline which I hardly ever do. After 2 mins, the results of your activity are fed back to you in a receipt print out. I think of it like clickclickclick but there is something quite powerful about using your own phone and something you might do all the time.

Mozilla Glass Room

Smell Dating

That whole of idea of smell based dating will never die and this exhibit was oddly placed but I wanted to give it a try as it was causing a bit of a fuss. It would be good to see the results over the course of a day or week, but even watching the woman and man before me had some very different results from me.

Mozilla Glass Room

A data-day in London

Good little summary of all the points when we have to make a decision to agree with their terms and conditions, during a typical day in London. Really interesting to read through.

Mozilla Glass Room

MegaPixels

Visually querying yourself was interesting but didn’t do a good job on me at all. A friend thought it would pick up photos of myself but it didn’t happen. Instead I got a lot of low results for Kanye West. It seemed to work much better for others.

Other notable exhibits were Tor Access Point, Facebook Algorithmic Factory, The listener and Unfit bits.

Unfortuanlly by the time you read this, it would have closed its doors but I look forward to seeing more of this type of exhibit.

Urban legend says facebook is listening

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There so much talk about Facebook and other west coast megacorps (the 5 stacks) listening in on our conversations. To be fair its part of the reason why I don’t like Whatsapp who own and can do what ever they like to the metadata of your conversations. It’s all become a bit of an urban legend, but to be fair the megacorps are doing an incredibly bad job explaining how things are happening (little to no transparency, but to be fair it’s not fitting with their business model).

Even a recent episode of Reply All tackled this field – #109 Is Facebook spying on you.

You can look & listen to the rising concern the public have around their privacy; and the increasing number of stories. I you can’t help but think maybe there is a change coming? Or at least I’d like to think so… but its clear there is a lack of understanding of data by the general public.

For example

“One of the things that Facebook can do is if you like something, it can advertise that thing to your friends. So the brother-in-law obviously signaled to Facebook that he was into white supremacy somehow, and Charles’ friend was liking a lot of the guy’s posts, and they were friends on Facebook, so Facebook was like, “Alright, well, why don’t I advertise this white supremacist stuff to you.”

If you actually read the Facebook EULA, it actually says this but certainly not in such clear human readable words (its been a long while since I skimmed the FB eula, so may have changed – but doubt it). In my own experience, it’s also very hard for people to envision scenarios where the links matter, hence it may not be the actual data but the links between the data which suddenly make people worry and care; the data taken out of context. Most have no idea how many categories of data Facebook alone are sorting us all into.

This is hard to show and demonstrate without going; without going all black mirror or someones eyes glazing over. In my experience when talking about data most people shrug and say things like, “nothing to hide.”

Glass room recipt

During Mozfest this year I got the chance to walk around the Glass Room on Charing Cross Road, with the people at the ingenious bar giving out data detox kits. The kits are interesting because it’s aimed at a mass audience and the advice although simple is generally useful. I also found some of the installations good, especially the one where you are swiping through your facebook timeline (it was twitter for me) and 2 mins later, given a printed receipt of your work. (Funny enough, it felt like a lot longer than 2mins but then again, its not really the thing I do regularlly)

We certainly need more of this!

Hopefully more of these public interjections will start to move the discussion on from urban legends to a proper informed discussion about ethical data use. I believe FB and others are capitalising on the general public ignorance and its got to stop.