There should be a digital public bench here

Nurse on the wall of the Northern Quarter
Public wall space given over for public wall art in the Northern Quarter

I recently went on a Manchester International Festival tour with the amazing Skyliner (Hayley Flynn). One of them was centered around the history of Manchester’s Northern Quarter (meant to be the Eastside). It was a very good tour but I could tell there was much more Skyliner wanted to talk about in the short amount of time of the tour. Lucky for me, I had booked myself the week afterwards on another tour, There Was a Bench Here Once 

Join us on a search for lost public spaces: places where we could once have sat, pondered and watched the world, vanished benches and much-missed opportunities to interact with the streets around us. Visiting sites where we could once idle and dwell, we’ll talk about the importance of those spaces between places, drawing on the works of urbanists William H Whyte and Jane Jacobs to discover the importance of streetlife as we discover what and who you could once have seen and met at city-centre locations across history.

Its was great tour, where I learned about a space which is Salford’s Green Gate square (the Piccadilly Gardens of Salford). Its a really nice public space but not very inviting although everything is there including good seating, a large open space, fountains and even views of the river (although the river irwell not exactly picturesque at that point)

Greengate square fountains
Salford’s green gate square

The tour went into the Northern Quarter and Piccadilly looking at the lack of public benches and questioning why policy and politics has caused this. The  tour ended at the most advanced public bus stop in the country – Paton Street.

During the tour, I got talking with Skyliner, She asked me about what I do at the BBC on the first tour but on the second one, I could truly talk about what I do in reflection to what she does.

I do what you do but in the digital space. I am fighting for public spaces in the digital world. Fighting for the public benches, library’s and parks where you can relax without requiring payment, personal identification, etc.

We had a good but short discussion about this on the tour, I would love to have a longer conversation with Skyliner about this all. About a week later I had a very similar discussion with good friend Architect Jane, while walking around the old BBC Manchester site now called Circle Square. The Circle Square is private land, just like Skyliner mentioned when talking about Peel’s Media City UK. The impact of private and public spaces is fascinating but also on the flip side really awful if in the words of Skyliner. What you are doing can be easily lumped into the anti-social behavior box and you are moved on with little to no review. For example sleeping on a public bench would be pushed under this broad definition. Under private space all bets are completely off, as 2 black men found out while waiting for their friend in a starbucks cafe in America.

The problem with Starbucks (I mentioned to Jane, as we looked at the awful and good architecture choices in Circle Square) is its attempt to be a pseudo public space with its community noticeboard and policy of join us, kickback and enjoy time here? (I use to work at Starbucks a long time ago and we use to have a older homeless woman come into the shop about a hour before closing time, very rarely did we ever ask her to leave as the conflict of Starbucks policy was interesting)
…pseudo I believe is the perfect word here.

Not actually but having the appearance of; pretended; false or spurious; sham. almost, approaching, or trying to be.

Good use of green blending the space
Interesting use of green blending in a quiet corner of the circle square development. But is it public or private space?

You see the exact same thing happening in the digital space too. From women breast feeding there babies on facebook to twitter blocking accounts for misunderstandings (to be clear I’m not talking about Trump because what he did was stoke fires, promoted hatred is actually illegal).

This got me thinking there are clear parallels between the physical and digital worlds, especially around public spaces. I also think those parallels are really useful to explain to different people why these things are of absolute importance. (I wonder what are the dark patterns of the physical & digital world?)

I have to give credit to many including FutureEverything, Waag, Ethan Zuckerman, Eli Parser’s newpublic, DotEveryone, which does a reasonable job linking the physical and digital aspects of public life. Its all strange because I was recently pointed to this piece which is a summary of this policy paper.

Its strikes me in America, there is a lot of pressure to work along the big tech corps like Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. While in Europe there is more of an apatite to build alternatives, rather than position those public spaces them within private lands (thinking about the Starbucks example earlier).

In the ideal world, it would work but we know it doesn’t. Skyliner’s tour makes this super clear. I’m of course not disparaging the efforts to carve out digital public spaces within private digital spaces.

What is the public bench in the digital space? Does it actually exist? Can it exist and whats the norms that surround it?

 Empty Bench during Dusk

I for one believe in public spaces and will continue to create those very important public benches.

 

Bumble, their retention policy and my GDPR

Bumble launches "Dating Just Got Equal" campaign
I’m sure I have said this multiple times, I really want to like Bumble but every-time I try it again, I’m left with a bad after taste (like poor chocolate). I must learn dating apps don’t get better just worst.
Out of frustration, not with the people on the site (thats a whole different story). The mechanism was painful and annoying to say the least (not because of the females pick first).
So I deleted the app and requested my data from Bumble under GDPR law, as I have done for others previously.
Sent the request on 21st Jan, got the first reply on 23th Jan with the usual identity check. I replied on 24th Jan with the credentials which was made easy with my emails asking Bumble to change a profile element in late 2020. Then on 26th Jan I got this…
Hello,

Just to let you know, I have passed your email on to my supervisor here at Bumble who will get back to you as soon as possible.

We’re currently experiencing an incredibly high volume of emails, so it might take a little while longer than normal to get a response from a supervisor.

While we are working super hard to get to everyone, it may be tempting to send a chase regarding the status of your query. However, please bear in mind that we work on a queue-based system here. This means that sending an additional email may push your query further down in the queue and create a longer delay than we’d like.

Please know we haven’t forgotten about you and we really appreciate your patience during this busy time!

Joel
Bumble Feedback Team

Usually I would be on this like a hawk but I kind of forgot as I lost faith in OKCupid and others too. So Bumble sneaked under my radar till the 26th Feb when I finally received this email.
Hello,

Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for our response.

We’ve been dealing with an incredibly high volume of emails recently and have been working hard to get to your query.

Unfortunately, we are unable to proceed with your request as it appears as though your account was deleted more than 28 days ago.

In line with our retention policy, we begin to erase or anonymise your information upon the deletion of your account, following the safety retention window.

Please see our Privacy Policy for more information about how we use your data and your rights. You can read more about our privacy policy at: https://bumble.com/privacy

Please note that this only pertains to the profile registered to the email address you’ve contacted us from. If you have any profiles registered on Bumble with different contact details, please contact us using the relevant methods linked to those accounts.

Hila
Bumble Feedback Team

This answer absolutely drove me to rage because Bumble are hiding behind their retention policy. The only reason their retention policy kicked in is because they left it over 28 days. Its outrageous and I’m not standing for it.

I have given them 3 days to change their stance before I report them to the ICO. Although I still didn’t hear anything else from the ICO about Houseparty.

Expect to hear more soon!

I’m part of the NGI forward advisory board

NGI forward

I wasn’t quite sure when I could announce my advisory role in the NGI forward. But I was excited when chosen and accepted a few months ago.

What is the Next Generation Internet forward?

NGI Forward is a 3-year project under the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, which commenced in January 2019. NGI Forward is tasked with helping the European Commission set out a strategy, as well as a policy and research agenda for the years ahead.

To build an internet that is more democratic, inclusive and resilient, we need to not just create an ambitious vision for the future, but also identify the concrete technologies and solutions we need to get us there. To do this, NGI Forward’s work focuses on four key areas of activity, which together will form the “engine” of the project: the identification of key topics, consultation, policy and research, and stakeholder engagement.

You can start to understand why the excitement and the honour of being asked to advise of this great initiative.

The project is being run by Nesta who are also part of a lot of other great initiatives like the decode project.

Nesta leads NGI Forward, the strategy and policy arm of the European Commission’s flagship Next Generation Internet initiative, which seeks to build a more democratic, inclusive, resilient, sustainable and trustworthy internet by 2030.

This work requires the support and guidance of a broad community of experts and practitioners, and to help us achieve this we are excited to announce the establishment of our Advisory Board. Our Advisory Board members have been chosen to help us have the biggest impact we possibly can by connecting us with new networks, guiding our ideas and giving critical feedback on our plans.

NGI policy summit

I have a lot more to share in the near future but I also wanted to make sure people interested in a more democratic, inclusive and resilient Internet are also aware of NESTA’s Next Generation Internet: Policy Summit which is 28th– 29th September 2020 and is free to register.

What is your vision for the future of the internet? Very pleased to support and attend the , organised by the EU Commission, @NGI4EU and @Iamsterdam – register at: https://summit.ngi.eu/ Europe can create a better future for the internet! If you want to get involved, join my colleagues from @NGIForward and @Iamsterdam at the on 28-29 September. Register for free at https://summit.ngi.eu/

Another aspect of systematic racism

I have talked about the system of racism over the last few weeks, but I didn’t even think about this aspect. (although its an American view, I wouldn’t be surprised if similar policies existed in the UK)

In US news and current events today, Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law author, continues his lifelong mission to debunk the myth of de facto segregation and explain how modern day segregation is enforced by US law and policy. Insidious tactics like redlining have contributed to modern day segregation, and it leads to modern school segregation, modern housing segregation and housing discrimination, and so much more. De jure discrimination didn’t end with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, it simply became more insidious and baked into the housing, lending and education systems that have prevented Black Americans from earning and keeping wealth. Modern segregation is no less immoral and unjust than explicit segregation, and the entire system needs an overhaul if we are ever to reach true equality and assert that Black lives matter.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2020)

Hackers hoodwink facial recognition software with masks

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed considering the new normal for cybersecurity or uber’s underhanded approach to get its Jump bikes back.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with projects to finally make clear IOT devices more legible and the EU putting weight behind Free and Open software.


The world we want post Covid19

Ian thinks: I have read a lot of post covid19 predictions, even started writing my own. But this one really felt more like a manifesto for where to go next.

Technology which perpetuates racism

Ian thinks: Good look at tech policy decisions which directly affect people of colour.

Beyond the tweets of support, where’s your tech being used?

Ian thinks: There is a real murky history of tech companies helping to arm law enforcement with stronger and ways to enforce without real regulation or legal oversight.

How do you defend against an opaque system of surveillance?

Ian thinks: Terrifying story of a man wrongly accused by an algorithm. He’s not the first and won’t be the last, the call for transparency, legibility and legal oversight is ever so strong.

How Taiwan used digital tools, to solve the Covid19 pandemic

Ian thinks: Taiwan mainly avoided the Covid19 lockdown. Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister, shares how tools/techniques like crowdsourcing, a transparent supplies system and the use of humor on social media have resulted in less than 500 confirmed cases.

Is anonymous or actually hacktivism which is back?

Ian thinks: Theres been an uptake in techniques similar to anonymous & occupy in the wake of . Its a mistake they are back when this simply the future of protests?

Why is the police body camera a false hope?

Ian thinks: Its all American body cameras in the studies, however there are similar aspects in the UK which are starting to stir.

Different ways to defeating facial recognition

Ian thinks: Great summary of techniques to defeat facial recognition complete with demos. Take your pick which most suits your style.

A comprehensive guide book to manifesting reality

Ian thinks: I know a lot people prefer paper to digital, and the node zine is a great e/book covering a lot of the digital technologies I cover in the public service internet newsletters. You can download if for free or order a nice print copy.

The future of work post covid19?

Ian thinks: There’s a lot debate over the advantages and disadvantages of working from home. Each case is different but I found this economist video had all the points nicely wrapped up in short video. Lots to think about as the world starts to open again.


Find the archive here

The Houseparty is over, time for the GDPR to kick in the front door?

houseparty gdpr request email

I requested my GDPR personal data from Houseparty/Epic games over a 2 months ago when I signed up under my spam email and slight social pressure from friends. I read the privacy policy and almost spat out my tea.

However I found I could use houseparty in a clean browser (chromium) – app.houseparty.com. as there was absolutely no way I was going to install the app on my pixel phone. After trying to play a game with friend I found the video worked but not the actual game.

As we moved on to using boardgamearena.com. I decided I wanted to delete my account and got interested to know how much data they had collected about me in my short time in houseparty.

Outcomes my GDPR request, I send it to data-requests@lifeonair.com and nothing. I resend it to support@houseparty.com and get my response. Back and forth then finally…

Houseparty Support

May 08, 2020, 20:46 +0100

Hello Ian,

Thank you for your response.

I’m glad that you’ve reached us regarding your request. We received your data request. Our team is working on pulling the data, and you will receive your data within 30 days.

Please feel free to contact us if you need any further assistance.

Regards,
Romeo Tango

As you see can see the date of May 8th was 34 days ago and yes I get Covid19 but I’m not expecting the much data back. Unless there is a ton coming my way?

Either way I’m annoyed at being messed around at the start and also them not taking it seriously. I’m still not convinced Romeo Tango is real to be honest.

ICO submission

So enough, I’ll let the ICO deal with it all.

 

Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy

airbnb and the coronavirus

As the coronavirus contuses to cause large disruptions across the world. I now have more of a answer to my airbnb question, should i have hosted a chinese person in my airbnb?

Come in a bit late is Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy.

What does this policy mean?

Eligible reservations can be cancelled without charges, including:

  • Guests who are travelling to or from severely affected areas (for a list of areas affected and covered by this policy, check below)
  • Hosts who are hosting in or welcoming guests from severely affected areas (for a list of areas affected and covered by this policy, check below)
  • Anyone who can’t complete their trip due to official travel restrictions, medical or disease control duties, flight or ground transport cancellation initiated by the provider due to COVID-19, or suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

What happens when a reservation that falls under our extenuating circumstances policy is cancelled?

  • The guest will receive a full refund (including any fees)

  • Hosts won’t incur any cancellation fees

  • Airbnb will refund all fees

  • Hosts can accept new reservations for those dates

  • Superhost status will not be affected

Well at least we are now clear… I guess? However I certainly expect a lot of prejudice behavior coming from the policy change. How would anyone know any difference to be honest?

Oh Plex, why oh why?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/4303608740/

I know the picture above isn’t Plex but rather XBMC/KODI but this shot sums up how I feel about Plex right now.

I have been using Plex server quite a bit and decided that I would snap up a lifetime PlexPlus pass a while ago. So I was pretty peed when they updated their policy around data collection. From Plex’s Highlights of what is changing:

Upcoming features and services involving third-party and ad-supported content will require Plex to collect and, in some cases, share information about the third-party content you are streaming. For clarity, third-party content is content that we deliver or stream to you that is not contained in your personal media library.

Ok thats annoying for me but not too much of pain as I don’t really use the Plex addons/plugins. I know others are more upset about this.

In order to understand the usage across the Plex ecosystem and how we need to improve, Plex will continue to collect usage statistics, such as device type, duration, bit rate, media format, resolution, and media type (music, photos, videos, etc.). We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection. Again, we will not collect any information that identifies libraries, files, file names, and/or the specific content stored on your privately hosted Plex Media Servers. The only exception to this is when, and only to the extent, you use Plex with third-party services such as Sonos, Alexa, webhooks, and Last.fm.

We will no longer allow (including paid lifetime!) users to opt-out! Also usually when you get something like this, its anonymous data collection. I know later its makes it sound like anonymous but it never actually says this. I still need to read through the privacy policy in full again. But this feels like it might break a EU data law and for sure the ones coming soon. (Plex is based in Delware & Switzerland)

To be fair I’ve had a task to try out Emby for a long while, but this begs the question of what happens to my Plex pass and why don’t Plex share collected data with us? Luckily plex data portability isn’t such a pain. Also its another reason why most of my media consumption is through Kodi not Plex.

More on that Youtube Video

After I got a automatic/robot take down for my intrusive TV demonstrate from the Black Mirror episode 2. I’ve decided to see what I can do to get the video back online, by going through the YouTube process instead of just posting it somewhere else.

However there seems to be little I can do…

Copyright Info: Intrusive TV?

Your video, Intrusive TV? , may include content that is owned or administered by these entities:

  • Entity: Channel 4 Content Type: Audiovisual content

As a result, your video has been blocked in these locations:

Guernsey, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, United Kingdom

What should I do?

No action is required on your part. Your video is still available everywhere not listed above.

What can I do about my video’s status?

Please note that the video’s status can change if the policies chosen by the content owners change. You may want to check back periodically to see if you have new options available to you.

Under certain circumstances, you may dispute this copyright claim. These are:

  • if the content is mistakenly identified and is actually completely your original creation;
  • if you believe that your use does not infringe copyright (e.g. it is fair use under US law);
  • if you are actually licensed by the owner to use this content.

I need more information. I want to learn more about the dispute process.

Please take a few minutes to visit our Help Centre section on Policy and Copyright Guidelines, where you can learn more about copyright law and our Content Identification Service.

So as you can see its only blocked in the country of its origin, which strikes me as totally backwards…! Oh well, I could say a lot about this but to be totally fair, its not Channel4… Its some automated process doing automatic takedowns on behalf of Channel4. Who was it that said code is law?