Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Nov 2019)

The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band - Brian Eno
The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the endless attempts to regain our trust from the big corps.

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 hard work going into building an open hardware ebook reader.

 

A framework for human values

Ian thinks: This work is so essential for all public service, non-profits and government organisations. Starting to chip away at what value means beyond the attention economy.

Yancey co-founder of Kickstarter talks about a new framework called bentosim (full episode)

Ian thinks: Yancey  talks a good game about going beyond financial maximization and society changes but I’m not convinced about bentoism.

Another attempt at the decentralized file-storage system

Ian thinks: Its another attempt, good idea combining projects but wondering about the applications of use?

China’s free market system grab on other economies

Ian thinks: Maybe Jamies conspiracy is a little heavy but a good thoughtful podcast

Introducing the Dweb

Ian thinks: good introduction by ex Mozillan written a few years ago but parts later are up to date

Panel about sex-tech from Techcrunch (NSFW)

Ian thinks: Sex tech grows its own infrastructure to over come the adolescent thoughts of the tech industry

He used the tech and wasn’t used by the tech

Ian thinks: Vinnie and Douglas talk about the importance of the human element in music and everything.

Why you shouldn’t go to Harvard?

Ian thinks: Got to love Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis of the university system, although maybe not quite right. He’s funny and rolls the research into a great story.

The secret ecosystem of personal data is being unfolded

Ian thinks: People are having fun with this right now, wonder how many people will actually request their data? I put my request in a few days ago, will you?

Exploiting technology or exploited by technology?

Mobile payments

In my Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2019) I wrote brief bit about the curious tale.

Exploiting technology or exploited by technology?
https://www.ft.com/content/e8a177d4-dfae-11e9-9743-db5a370481bc
ian thinks: curious tale, but it does raise a question about digital access and backups. Least we forget about power and when things go technically wrong.

The FT puts things behind the paywall, so here’s a copy I made on wallabag.

Its a number of mistakes which leads to £476.50 fine and a wrongful conviction. This made me reflect on my own usage..

I personally don’t use my phone to pay for things and like the idea of the Curve card because although the mobile app is useful, it can be used without my phone. I do have a card attached to my phone but never use it.

When using mobile tickets for flights and planes, I put them into google drive meaning if my phone is dead, broken or stolen I can still get the tickets with my other devices or another persons device. For this reason I avoid all apps which only display the ticket in side of it. For example the trainline app’s eticket isn’t ideal, hence why I tend to get paper tickets still. When travelling via a plane, I find most of the airlines have a copy you can get via PDF with the 3D barcode included. This goes straight into Gdrive and synced with dropbox on all my systems.
This is also why I prefer services which work offline because mobile/wifi access can be patchy and I don’t want to be reliant on network access to get into my password store or for the 2nd factor. Google maps offline has been a massive help in the past and I haven’t had a bill like I got in America in over 10 years. Shame it doesn’t sync the offline maps to my other devices

I always tend to carry around a battery pack and have a stash of cables in my laptop bag and try and keep the phone charged enough. Especially when going somewhere for a while. Everyone use to follow the ABCs (always be charging) but we all know that’d not great for lithium ion batteries.

Seems a lot to think about but so far its served me well…

Core human values not eyeballs

We identified a set of 14 human values
We have researched core human values by conducting user studies, empirical research, and cross-referencing this with psychological theory and evidence. In doing so, we have identified a set of 14 human values (shown above); scientifically-evidenced psychological drivers that characterise what is fundamentally important to people in life.

Its one of the best pieces of research happening in BBC R&D at the moment I would say (heck and that includes some of my own research).

99% of the internet ecosystem is currently based on surveillance capitalism and the dopamine economy. This can change but will only change by creating something new, which obsoletes the previous. Or as Buckminster Fuller says

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

There is so much going on with this on-going research but the core is identification of the human values at different stages of life, not age.

People prioritise different values at different points in life, which refers to value priorities. Changes to value priorities vary in response to different stages of life (e.g. school to university), new environments (e.g. relocating), and specific events (e.g. facing a significant life event).

This is powerful as there is too much research pointing to ages. Its clear my values changed when I was a student to where I am as a full time employee for 15+ years. Life events can also include things like (I would argue) Brexit, which has me personally strongly valuing growing myself and exploring the world more than I use.

Its a good starting framework and we are only at the start of this research… And I have to say massive kudos to Lianne who pushed well-being from a long time ago when most didn’t fully understand the relevance. She was right on the money and waited for others to catch on.

Theres so much more to do, but the aims are high and important for not just the BBC, but all public service entities around the world. Measuring the impact and quality on peoples lives beyond the shallow meaningless metrics for public service is critical.

IMG_20190730_151339

Just imagine….

if the NHS doctors was measured on the impact of healthcare not number of people they saw in one day?

If programmes were focused on genuine impact to peoples lives not filling time with meaningless filler?

If libraries could see the long term impact of the people who did their research years ago and made critical decisions about drugs use years later? Like myself!

But this is just the start of the journey…

This is big research and something we are not doing alone. If you are doing similar get in touch, we could all make a difference! Noticeable initiatives include Nicola Sturgeon’s TED talk recently.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2019)

I decided to start a monthly newsletter with some personally fascinating links I’ve been reading/listening/watching; after presenting my view from Republica 2019 and IndieWebCampBerlin.

I have a number of ways I could run the newsletter, from standard email lists like mailchimp, could use a microblog, I could use standardnotes listed, RSS to email, etc, etc. But for now I’ll add to my blog and tag them accordingly.

So with no further ado, heres the first of maybe many.


 

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed by looking down at our feet or at the new Prime Minster. To quote Buckminster FullerYou 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 young people getting out and protesting.

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

 

Beyond Black Mirror’s Nosedive, what is China’s Social Credit “System?”

Ian thinks: The Chinese social credit “system” is discussed everywhere especially when talking about the other end of the scale from surveillance capitalism. Republica’s panel discussion about its actual implementation today, debunking some myths and brought everything in sharper focus from a western view.

Into The Fediverse, with Sean Tilley (Steal this show s4e20)

Ian thinks: Jamie King’s podcast with episode with Sean Tilley of We Distribute (and formerly the Diaspora project) about the early days of Diaspora, a open source Facebook alternative which was even talked about by myself. The interview picks up a gear when talking about the Fedverse which is all the rage as a viable alternative for the next generation internet

How to “Defeat” Facebook

Ian thinks: Nice follow on from the interview with Sean Tilley, there is a very detailed document from Chris Hughes one of the founders of Facebook. About the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook as a social network. The document proposes how to “Defeat” Facebook with trust, transparency, controlling broadcasting, eliminating horrors, killing the real names policy, etc.

Privacy is dead?

Ian thinks: You hear it all the time, but this is a nice summary of a lot of the different aspects which leads to the conclusion that our traditional notion of privacy is dead or dying? The important part is the linked datasets and the consistent need to surveil for those companies business model rely on surveillance capitalism.

The hidden costs of automated thinking

Ian thinks: Jonathan Zittrain introduces the term “intellectual debt” to the table while thinking about the accountable of AI. Screams algorithmic literacy supported by more transparency, governance and accountability. Jonathan makes some good comparisons how we didn’t understand how Aspirin worked till 1995 but was commonly prescribed and used.

The far right is forking Mastodon and joining the fediverse

Ian thinks: When you open source anything, there is always the chance someone will do something with it you don’t like, want or could even be illegal.This is the latest example of how the spirit & diversity of open source is being tested. Mastodon’s federated model has ways to deal with this but its not foolproof and still not palatable for its creator and supporters.

A contract to guide the web

Ian thinks: Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s working draft document for the future web is open for review till September 8th. Is the aim is to have one shared contract for governments, companies and citizens realistic? I encourage all to complete the form to feed into the process

The Great Hack

Ian thinks: This well worth watching, as it nicely ties together all the disparate parts of the puzzle and asks critical questions of the big data rush.

Re-decentralising the internet recording at Futurefest

Futurefest 2018 panel

I had the pleasure of being on the panel of re-decentralising internet at Futurefest, last summer. (when England was still in the world cup and the weather was super warm) Feels like so long ago. I’m quite glad its audio only because I was sat in the sunshine sweating a lot!

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.

Thanks Katja!

Weaponised psychology and centralised corruption a tale of two internets?

Public Service Internet
Imagine two sides of a tree. One is private and the other one is public. You have the choice to move freely between both, now thats a park I think is fair to everyone

I was a little disappointed in the discussion I heard during the PsychTech Podcast titled A Digital Attention Crisis? I was expecting a little more in-depth criticism of the digital system. But they seemed to turn against Tristan Harris and the time well spent movement.

Don’t get me wrong some of it did make sense but I felt like they were shooting the messenger not listening to the message. Now to be fair I was listening in the shower and getting ready; so may have missed some key parts while washing my hair. But by the end I was shouting out loud, have they never heard of the Quantified Self?

The point of time well spent isn’t about Tristan dictating some rules from on high. Its meant for us to question our relationship with ubiquitous  connected technology and the way the companies behind them influences our lives.

Ironically a few days before I read Tim Berners-Lee’s rallying call to regulate tech firms to prevent ‘weaponised’ web. Its a pretty good read but I feel slightly muted because thats what Tim is like. I’m much more aggressive about the whole issue, and to be fair Kelli and Josue at the very start say, well its just capitalism, what you going to do about it?

I reject this notion but this is also why my focus isn’t on fixing the over reach of capitalism on our attention, thoughts, relationships with each other and beyond.

What happened to diversity? Just have a look at the apps we all use and whos behind each one

Instead its time to double down on the public sector. This is why I find any discussion related to this from an American point of view slightly painful to hear and lacking of the mention of serious alternatives.

Berners-Lee warned of “two myths” that “limit our collective imagination” when looking for solutions to the problems facing the web: “The myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it’s too late to change the way platforms operate. On both points we need to be a little more creative,” he said.

“I want the web to reflect our hopes and fulfil our dreams, rather than magnify our fears and deepen our divisions,” he said.

He’s absolutely right… Even the concept of a decentralised dating site, gets blank or weird looks. We have hood winked into the centralised model and its not always the best way. I was going say sleep walked but that wouldn’t do justice to the massive influence of the silicon valley tech firms. This is also the part I think the PsychTech podcast misses, this is weaponised psychology not just a happy accident solved by installing an app.

Berners-Lee has always maintained that his creation was a reflection of humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly. However, his vision to create an “open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries” has been challenged as the web has become more centralised.

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

Its very much why I was interested in space wrangling the decentralised space at Mozfest last year. Centralised power corrupts I maintain. Tim is right we need a better vision but rather than spend all that effort trying to reform a horribly broken system of corruption, greed and power. Make an viable alternative which makes the existing model obsolete… (love Buckminster for this great quote)

Its time to build a public service internet which maintains its values, diversity and distributed nature of the public; as an alternative to whats currently seen as the whole internet… We don’t need a new internet, we need competing services with different business models which can talk to each other and give options to the people.

You want a private park which is nicely maintained and don’t mind paying for the privilege? Fine. But if you want a park which is public and has a lively community because its free to the public due to taxes. Fine too. Similar to health care, libraries, transport in Europe, you can pay but there is a baseline.

Critical when thinking about the digital divide and the next 1 billion people.

This still leaves a gaping “digital divide” that exacerbates existing inequalities: you are more likely to be offline if you are female, poor, or live in a rural area or a low-income country.

“To be offline today is to be excluded from opportunities to learn and earn, to access valuable services, and to participate in democratic debate,” Berners-Lee said. “If we do not invest seriously in closing this gap, the last billion will not be connected until 2042. That’s an entire generation left behind.”

Two years ago, the UN declared internet access to be a basic human right on par with clean water, shelter, food and electricity. However, in many places, getting online is prohibitively expensive – the cost of 1GB of mobile broadband in Malawi is more than 20% of the average monthly income. In Zimbabwe, it is nearly 45%.

What would Jane Jacobs say about the Public & Private internet?

Found this via colleagues at work; the idea and possibility of a adfree public space.

Being from Bristol, I am all in favour of the points made by Adfree Bristol. I grew up with banksey, subverted advertisements and a protesters of golden hill.

Looking at it from a internet view, I find the tension between private & public so apt for what is happening right now. You only have to look at the fight over ad-blockingnet-neutrality and copyright reform.

The internet for most people is the private internet. Its the property of the 5 stacks and the wanna-be startups fighting for position in the patriarchy (hey lets call it what it is). Its a place of attention grabbing, advertising, monetization.

Tony Ageh, Bill Thompson and many others talked about the need for a digital public space. A speech by Tony Hall was clear for me that, another kind of space; not an alternative but an equal to the normal most people experience is needed.

Silicon Valley has remade our children’s world – but they need British culture too
Instead of restricting young people’s activity online, we need to focus on equipping them with the right tools.

I’ve starting to think broadly about the internet in two halves (it shouldn’t be that way, but it works)

Half Moon

Public internet & Private Internet

They have different business models, different motivations, different network topology and different functions. The thing is, the public internet is mainly dark and largely unknown by most because we don’t spend much time there. You could say eclipsed by the private side.

Mozilla Glass Room

Have a look at the physical graph at the glassroom, to see how eclipsed. (see The Alphabet Empire & Apple Towers).

It doesn’t help that most of the gatekeepers also rely on private internet business models. Cue, Jonathan Zittrain the future of the internet and the friction between the two, but generally the private internet wants to expand into the established public spaces; just like the real world. Who would have thought Jane Jacobs would be extremely fitting for the internet age?

12 years at the BBC, and still a outlier

Tony Ageh

Recently Tony Ageh joined the New York Public Library as chief digital officer, as pointed out in the guardian

I had a lot of time for Tony and he was one of the people who attracted me to the BBC. I had no idea he had only joined 2 years before myself. But he was incredible and pulled no punches in what he felt was right. A lot like Tom Loosemore and others, he was public service to the bone. Something which I personally think it critical as more and more of our public services are being suffocated to death… slowly…

Frankly the BBC needs more people like Tony and he will be sadly lost. I found this part really interesting…

I would never have left the BBC but the opportunity is greater than I could have imagined,” he said. “I was good for the BBC because I was so unlike them, and didn’t want to be like them. But I told them that they have to shape this challenge, the internet, before it shapes you.

I feel the same, if I was to leave it would have to be such a great opportunity. in another public service focused company.  I also feel like I’m right for the BBC because I don’t fit the BBC mould. I would go as far as to say he has Humility, Craft and Hustle.

I’m sure I wrote or have said somewhere how I was not a fan the BBC, mainly for its lack of diversity in programmes, especially around underground music (hey I was young and a raver). It just didn’t reflect anything which spoke to me sadly. I didn’t even engage with the other (arguably much more important) aspects of diversity but it most likely played their part in forming my opinion.

The BBC is changing, not quite fast enough for me but the people make the difference. Like a recent q&a with a high-ranking person, where someone asked about more women in engineering. I was thinking in my head this is important of course but it’s about diversity not just gender. The answer, had me clapping my hand in my head. Its about diversity of people, thought and approaches. Perfect, I had to write a email afterwards thanking that person.

People like Tony and others are rare because the system filters them out. I’m sure I wouldn’t have got into r&d if it was to apply, and even now in my 12th year (yeah beleive it or not! It just happened around my birthday) I’m still not looking to fit in. Its not in my nature as a outlier… But likewise theres no hiding from the daily challenges and politics. As Tony said…

People do well that run towards the problem, not away from it.
I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”

Good luck to Tony and I look forward to hearing what he gets up to…? Sure it’s going to be great!

Its reminds me, I was listening to Gimlet’s reply all and there was a really good piece about diversity.

https://twitter.com/cubicgarden/status/691197436795174912