Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (July 2021)

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Amazon’s destroying unsold goodsICO’s concerns over facial recognition and Tiktok sneakily changing there privacy policy.

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 with ethical ratings for fashion brandsthe introduction of the solar protocol and even Google has temporarily halted their privacy sandbox plans.


The future of the browser conference

Ian thinks: There is so much to take away from this community run conference, as I wrote in a blog. I’m sure you will find lots to take away too.

We know what you did last lock down

Ian thinks: The FT’s short black mirror like interrogation feels like drama but its all real and possible now with the cloud of always on IOT devices. Makes some seriously good points

Report those dark patterns

Ian thinks: The Electronic Frontier Foundation goes on the offensive asking you to report those dark patterns. Similar to what Mozilla and others have done too.

Vestager’s vision for the a digital Europe

Ian thinks: I highly recommend the Re:publica conference and seeing Margrethe Vestager again in her new role outlining her vision (with some tech hiccups) is good. I also recommend looking around the playlists to find other good talks including these audio essays and this talk about Silicon values.

Ian thinks: The ICO makes a big change to the EU cookie banner, interesting to hear the American tech view on this all.

When people can sit together

Ian thinks: Enabling physical public spaces with more thought and care for the community. You can’t help but smile and wish playful public spaces existed near you too.

Mozilla puts your data to use for a better society

Ian thinks: This is impressive, although not completely new there no better time to have a trusted company shepherding your data into good causes you choose.

Another internet outage, raises questions

Ian thinks: The outage of Fastly earlier this month has stoked fires about how centralised the internet is for lots of people. I personally didn’t notice much due to the decentralised services I use.

Social graph as a key to change?

Ian thinks: Every once in a while a start up makes some bold but well meaning claims. The notion of the social graph on a blockchain although not new is worth keeping an eye on to see where it goes.

Experience some fairly intelligent machine learning

Ian thinks: A.M. Darke’s piece makes all those silly harmless throw away decisions, very real by the end. There is also a Q&A hosted by the ODI well worth watching to understand more.


Find the archive here

My Data: Public spaces / Private data

Mydata 2019 conference card

I’m back at Mydata this year, this time with more colleagues, Publicspaces.net and the Finnish public broadcaster YLE.

If you are at Mydata, our event is in Hall H from 14:00 – 15:45 on the opening day of Wednesday 25th September.

More and more people live their lives online, and we are encouraged to view the internet as a public space. However the personal data we bring to this space can be used in many inappropriate ways: Instagram stories are scraped to target advertisement; faces in family photographs are used to train the ML systems that will scan crowds for suspects; the devices we thought we owned end up owning us; and our browsing histories are stored and scanned by governments and private companies. This creates a tension for public service organisations as they try to deliver value to audiences and users online.

In this session experts from the BBC Research & Development, Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, and PublicSpaces will consider how to resolve these tensions, and look at some specific interventions aimed at providing value to audiences and communities through the responsible use of private data in online public spaces.

The format will be four brief talks and a round table discussion.

Chair: Rhianne Jones (BBC)
PublicSpaces and an internet for the common good: Sander van der Waal (PublicSpaces)
The Living Room of the Future:  Ian Forrester (BBC)
How public service media can engage online; Aleksi Rossi (YLE)
Data Stewardship and the BBC Box:  Jasmine Cox/ Max Leonard (BBC)

If this interests you, don’t forget to add yourself to the London event with a similar name. Public Spaces, Private Data: can we build a better internet?

The third place? I think I found aspects of it in Urbandeli?

Urban Deli, Stockholm

I wrote this post while in Urban Deli but forgot to post it, till I left Stockholm…

I was looking for somewhere to have brunch in Stockholm and came across Urban Deli. When I got there for brunch I realised it was actually a Deli not what I was expecting. But I stuck with it and was super surprised when I was told anything bought in the deli shop could be consumed in large section of the bar. The shop is packed full of many things including take away meals, a mini butcher, cheesemonger and fishmonger. They have lots of fruit and healthy goods.

Ok I’m not doing it justice but imagine a mini-shop, bar, cafe and hotel? was pushed together and it opened early and closed very late. Then throw in decent wifi, nice seating for groups and individuals eating, working on their laptops, playing chess, having a business meeting or watching the world cup. There’s communal tables and little two person tables, power sockets everywhere and microwaves in case you need something heated up!

Urban Deli, Stockholm

Yes its pretty amazing and I can’t see how it can work but it really does. No idea if its profitable but for me this is as close to the 3rd place as it comes. Its slightly worrying as its super seductive but its not a public space/place. There is a security guard who wonders around making sure everyone is playing by the rules set by them.

Urban Deli, Stockholm

I could buy a load of food from the shop and have a little party with friends. Because its open late, it makes a great alternative to the usual busy bars and pubs. Most cafes don’t open late as there isn’t enough trade late at night? Only the other day did I discover Chapter One tea/book shop opens till midnight every night in Manchester; but its not exactly busy after 10pm

Maybe the Scandinavian culture suits this setup but what ever it is, its a very cool concept and works well.

Urban Deli, Stockholm

Following up I had a chat with one of the staff about the setup and they told me Urban Deli is a new concept and its been running for 2-3 years! It started with the bar, then the cafe, then the shop and the hotel joined later. The hotel is about 130 rooms below the complex and they just added a roof terrace this year. The shop stays open till 1am. He also mentioned they sit next to a bunch of big businesses which have employees who work sometimes very late, so the microwave and pre-packed good food made sense in more than one way. Think Google canteen but not just for staff.

Fascinating concept and place, urbandeli

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?