Ian thinks: Lancaster University’s take of the living room of the future is quite something. Really getting into the meat of the smart home data ethics conversation in a fun, accessible but critical way. Look out for their next research
Ian thinks:stealingurfeelin.gs is in a similar vein to do not track, Mozilla expose the effects of facial recognition which the big corps hide in their EULA’s. One reason why I’ve never willingly used snap chat ever.
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 . 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?
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.
Its all about the people and community of Mozilla!
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…
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.
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.
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.
So what happens next?
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.
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.
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.
I have some great photos and when Mozfest finished I took them with me. Reading them in full it was quite amazing to read.
Here’s the almost complete list (I couldn’t read some of them and I removed the duplicates)…
Right maths, wrong numbers!
Non-reading information sensitivity
Network of thoughts
Attention to details
Improvising & Creativity
Pattern recognition / Recognition pattern
Ability to tell stories
Empathy to others
Roles can lead to success
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
Just RSVP’ed (did it via this post and via a webform) to IndieWebCamp Berlin. Its the first one I’ve been to and I have massive professional and personal interest in Indieweb technologies. Its such a big thing I added it to my new years resolutions.
Explore the future of decentralised and distributed systems
This one is a combination of 2 of my previous resolutions. Exploring the future of online dating with decentralise more. So more mastodon and more exploring Indie web technologies like Bridgy and Kinds. I’ve been really interested in these things for a long while.
If you’ve so far withstood the temptation to install a smart speaker in your home, worried about the potential privacy pitfalls and a bit embarrassed about the notion of chatting aimlessly to an inanimate object, brace yourselves. This Christmas, the world’s biggest tech giants, including Amazon, Google and Facebook, are making another bid for your living room, announcing a range of new devices that resemble tablets you can talk to.
“It’s very clear what they’re trying to do: sell you more stuff through third-party use of your own information,”
The fear about whether or not such devices are actually always on causes some users to relegate their smart speakers to corridors. “Think about where in the home you want to use these things, particularly if you think they might be listening all the time,”
I think the only thing missing from the article is a link to Mozilla’s buyers guide, which charts in a friendly consumer fashion whats actually going on underneath the surface of the iot devices we may get over the holiday period.
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.
Firefox Multi-Account Containers lets you keep parts of your online life separated into color-coded tabs that preserve your privacy. Cookies are separated by container, allowing you to use the web with multiple identities or accounts simultaneously.
Its the reason I have 4 different browsers on my laptop and 3 on my smartphone. I don’t expect it to catch on but using the paradigm of containers could be quite good for those looking to separate things out a little. However profiles never seem to catch on, but the colour thing could make it much similar.
“This is the start of a long project to uncover all the hidden data collection and data dissemination practices on the internet,” Nithyanand explains.
“There’s a huge lack of transparency around how mobile applications behave,” adds Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, a co-author and researcher at ICSI. “People install software, but don’t know what that software is doing.”
The paper’s introduction lays out a troubling scenario: “Third-party services inherit the set of application permissions requested by the host app, allowing them access to a wealth of valuable user data, often beyond what they need to provide the expected service.”
To study this scenario, the researchers used Lumen Privacy Monitor, an Android app they built themselves over a two-year period.
So I installed it just to see what was going on with my Android devices. But there is a problem… Best summed up in this comment from Wcat.
Not open source? TLS interception? Before you install this stop and think about TLS interception. “Those who would trade privacy for security deserve neither.”
Luman asks for permissions to install its own root certificate, and this deeply worries me. TLS inception isn’t a trivial thing to be honest, I know its needed but it had me questioning how I really want to monitor the apps? Also if I remove the app, will the certificate be removed too/how would I know?
Right now, I’m keeping an eye on the app but haven’t installed the root cert yet.
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).
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.
…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).
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 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)
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 #decentralized 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?
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.
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).
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!
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.
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 #Mozhouse 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?
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…
Wow @mozilla@firefox Quantium is flipping fast! Also picked up my profile from the same machine no problem
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.
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.