Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2021)

traveling with a passport and boarding pass

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, hearing Bill Maher rip through a bunch of websites and people looking for new ways to track users now 3rd party tracking is on its way out?

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 more nuanced privacy depth being discussed, participating in Mozilla’s challenges moment and hearing Solana talk through the internet health report.


The background story of Tony Abbotts boarding pass

Ian thinks: We all heard the story about the former Australian minster who was hacked after posting his boarding pass on instagram but here is the incredible background story, told by the hacker.

Vaccine passports are not as simple as the media are suggesting

Ian thinks: Heather gives plain and clear reasons why vaccine passports are not the panacea its being made out to be. Its also great to hear Lillian Edwards framework mentioned (May 2020 newsletter) as a way forward.

Gamestop? Rethinking the whole rigged system

Ian thinks: Douglas Rushkoff’s monologue about gamestop needs a listen for a different view, but stay around for the interview with Yaël, previous head of political advertising at Facebook. She tells all and I like the approach of trying to fix it before criticising.

Lets talk about Sharenting

Ian thinks: Shareting is when parents share their kids photos and private information without their consent. Its become a real problem now the millennials are growing up with a digital footprint without knowing.

How Facebook joined the splinter-net while Google throw the open web under the bus?

Ian thinks: Hearing about the absolute mess over news in Australia, its easy to point fingers. But its important to look deeper at whats really happening for the sake of profits not people. I’m with Shoshana Zuboff and others, but I know many people get their news from these massive corps.

A big step for gigworkers, but lets be diligent of next steps

Ian thinks: The Uber case is great news but in a similar legal play to Facebook & Google with Australia, there might be more going on that most are reporting? We got to look a little deeper as monopoly is Uber’s end game.

Ian thinks: This is a devious way to force a take-down of a live stream or any recorded footage. Theres got to be a better way and I think its related to using alternative platforms or self hosting with syndication.

The centralisation of power is the problem

Ian thinks: I like this summary of so many of the problems with Facebook, but it misses the important point of centralisation. It also highlights Noam Cohen’s quote “Mark Zuckerberg is deluded by his own faith in Facebook’s ability to be a force for good in the world”

Public value and purpose into the future

Ian thinks: Mariana is on fire and this summary of work around the BBC puts value under a microscope. I love this line “Value is not just the income generated at the end of the innovation chain–– it is also the creative input at the upstream end, the vital investment in talent, content creation, digital innovation and R&D at the early stages

Google fires another outspoken AI research, who will be next?

Ian thinks: Margaret Mitchell and Timnit Gebru show there is something going on with Google AI research. It doesn’t take a lot to guess what is actually going on behind close doors.


Find the archive here

Whats been happening with the human values work?

Human values framework

After the podcast series which you can still hear on the BBC 2LO Soundcloud account. You might have noticed a few workshops we did around the human values.

Right up till now, we couldn’t say exactly why or who was funding it. However yesterday we can finally say, we won a Nesta NGI policy in action bid along with a few others. In short…

This project, led by the BBC, seeks to try out a more human-centric focused approach to measuring audience engagement by putting human values at its core. It will do so by putting into practice longer-standing research work on mapping the kinds of values and needs their users care about the most, and developing new design frameworks that would make it easier to actually track these kinds of alternative metrics in a transparent way.

The project will run a number of design workshops and share its findings through a dedicated website and other outlets to involve the wider community.

You can learn a lot more about the project in a longer interview with Lianne. But do keep an eye on the BBC R&D project page, humanvalues.io and for future workshops/opportunities to help us shape the research project into a tangible resource for all.

This is exciting stuff…

The BBC R&D human values podcast series

Human Values Framework

Its rare when everything comes together like this but I have another thing I wanted to share.

Myself and Lianne Kerlin in mid summer interviewed a number of well respected people about the human values framework. Its something I blogged about previously.

BBC Research & Development is examining how core human values relate to digital media use, in order to enhance service design and improve impact measurement. Empirical research has identified fourteen core values, all underpinned by human needs and psychological drivers. These are the basis of the Human Values Framework, a new approach to the design of online services.

In this series of podcasts Lead Researcher Lianne Kerlin is joined by Senior Firestarter Ian Forrester to discuss the Human Values Framework from different contexts. They are joined by experts in design, social impact of technology and other disciplines.

Originally it was meant to be done live for Re:publica 2020 but the material we got was so good and of course covid19 ruled out republica, we decided to  turn them into 5 separate edited podcasts.

Number one is about the human values framework, with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Solana Larson, Katja Bego, Paulien Dresscher, David Jay and Brian Suda

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Number two: Is about applying the human values framework, with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino,  Katja Bego, Paulien Dresscher and Solana Larson

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Keep an eye on the human values podcast playlist on 2LO’s soundcloud account for parts 3, 4 and 5. RSS feed is here if you are old skool like me. But in the meanwhile I’d like to thank my co-host Lianne Kerlin. Our guidance and podcast expert Bill Thompson and of course our gracious experts who without them it wouldn’t be the series its turned out to be… Massive thanks to…

All wonderful people, so what are you wanting for? Get listening and the news announcements don’t stop there…

What I do at BBC R&D, explained in 2 videos

Its always tricky to explain what I do at work to my parents and some friends. I usually start with my research aims/questions.

  1. What is the future of public service in the internet age?
  2. What is the future of storytelling in the internet age?

They are high level research aims but within each one is a whole stream of projects and questions which need to be understood. Of course they lead to new questions and goals. One of the most important parts is the impact of the research.

Today I was able to demonstrate a part of both of my research questions and they were nicely captured on video.

What is the future of public service in the internet age?

I explain how the research around centralised, decentralised, and distributed network models helps us to understand the notion of a public service internet and how public media can thrive within it. I talk about the dweb without touching blockchain (hooray!) and finally make it clear the research question can only be answered with collaboration.

Of course I’m only part of a bigger team focused on new forms of value and the other pillars are covered in the 4 part BBC R&D explains.

What is the future of storytelling in the internet age?

I have been responsible for the community of practice around object based media/adaptive media for quite some time. Although not my primary research, I still have a lot of interest in the research and keep the fire burning with adaptive podcasting (use to be perceptive podcasting). Exploring new tools, the new craft and possibilities of truly connected storytelling. Most of all I’m keen to see it in the hands of all and what they will do with it.

Hence why I’m part of the rabbit holes team, considering what this could mean when in the hands of young people exploring the natural world around them.

Ian PORTRAIT at work

Yes I do love my career/job and I’m very fortunate to be in such a position. But it didn’t come easy, but extremely glad I could share

Control experimentation with dreams

It was Imran who sent me a signal message, although I did actually see it on twitter via flokk

“…we induce these creatively beneficial dreams on purpose, in a targeted manner.” https://link.medium.com/1nPMioFVk8

The blog talks about MIT’s research into dreams

In a new paper, researchers from the Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces group introduce a novel method called “Targeted Dream Incubation” (TDI). This protocol, implemented through an app in conjunction with a wearable sleep-tracking sensor device, not only helps record dream reports, but also guides dreams toward particular themes by repeating targeted information at sleep onset, thereby enabling incorporation of this information into dream content. The TDI method and accompanying technology serve as tools for controlled experimentation in dream study, widening avenues for research into how dreams impact emotion, creativity, memory, and beyond.

Of course I find it all fascinating and I’ve been thinking more about mydreamscape and being doing some experiments myself.

Absinthe with sugar melting

One which I always wondered about is Absinthe and dreams. Its most likely the most out there I personally would ever be prepared to experiment.

I marked down my dreams were so vivid and intense I couldn’t clearly remember them (yes there was multiple). I remember trying to control them and I couldn’t do it, as it was so intense. Looking at my sleep graph, you can clearly see a large block of REM sleep about 8am.

My lucid dreams with absinthe

A few weeks ago midweek, I experienced a dream inside a dream. As you can see there was a heck of a lot of time in REM. I remember having a dream sat at a desk somewhere, felt it was a dream and took control. Something happened (can’t remember now) then I woke up but not in my bed but in another dream, which I was able to check as I took control.

I certainly need a better way do control experimentation… Bring on TDI?

 

In layman’s terms, how does Dormio work?

The system is conceptually quite simple. The aim is to influence and extend a transitional state of sleep. To do so, we must track this transitional state (hypnagogia) and interrupt when it is ending. So,  a user wears a device which collects biosignals that track transitions in sleep stages. In our new device, those signals come from the hand, where we can gather data on loss of muscle tone, heart rate changes, and changes in skin conductance. When those biosignals appear to signal the end of a transitional state, audio from the social robot is triggered, and that person is knocked just a little bit back into wakefulness, but not into full wakefulness. We use this audio cue as an inception protocol, doing this slight wake up with words (like “fork” or “rabbit”), and have found that in the subjects we tested, those words reliably entered the hypnagogic dreams as dream content. Pretty happy about that! After this slight wake up, we initiate a conversation about dream content with users via the Jibo social robot and record anything that is said, as hypnagogic amnesia is reported and we don’t want people forgetting their useful ideas. After this conversation, the system lets users drift back towards sleep, only interrupting again when their biosignals appear to signal another transition into deeper sleep. This is done repetitively to incept dreams and extract dream reports.

 

The importance of human values research

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

I saw this quote and thought it was perfect fuel/fodder for why the human values research is so massively important.

Only 10,000 copies can be seen as poor sales (attention metric) but the impact on music culture (human values) was huge.

You should disclose smart speakers to guests

Someone at Mydata mentioned this interview during our panel last month and finally had a read. Very happy BBC got the Google’s Rick Osterloh to say “I disclose smart speakers to guests.

After being challenged as to whether homeowners should tell guests smart devices – such as a Google Nest speaker or Amazon Echo display – are in use before they enter the building, he concludes that the answer is indeed yes.

“Gosh, I haven’t thought about this before in quite this way,” Rick Osterloh begins.

“It’s quite important for all these technologies to think about all users… we have to consider all stakeholders that might be in proximity.”

And then he commits.

“Does the owner of a home need to disclose to a guest? I would and do when someone enters into my home, and it’s probably something that the products themselves should try to indicate.”

I very much agree and I think everybody should do this. Will people do this? Not a chance, although I wish they would. I do tend to go into a room and jokily say the different wake words. Just incase…

I remember writing about my Airbnb in Barcelona experience and I have to say Airbnb’s criteria of what a camera is good.

This area of social data surveillance is tricky but something which is being researched/explored by the likes of myself at BBCR&D.

BBC R&D: We do things differently!

We do things differently at BBC Research & Development. We’re curious and bold with a collective passion for making positive change. We’re inclusive and diverse – as well as collaborative and open by nature.

Quite a different view on the place I work daily, BBC R&D. Vicky did a amazing job creating a fresh and challenging video. You can see why the last post about Brexit is a difficult one to write/imagine

Familiar stranger and wellness

milgram familiar stranger

Theres been so many times in the past when I blogged about the breakdown of social bonds between strangers. One of my favourite books is Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, I still need to read reclaiming conversations. The smartphone is a easy target to point at when thinking about this all.

The thing I hadn’t really considered is the effect of the mental ill/wellness epidemic maybe slightly caused by loneliness.

This is why I find things like Uber quiet ride pretty scary when you take the long view. Which of course Uber isn’t, as they try and make public transport redundant as its not convenient enough for our lives.

You can outsource pretty much every aspect of irritation in your lives. But you can’t outsource loneliness, or pain. Like a dystopian sci-fi plotline, we are allowing Silicon Valley to make our lives as convenient and seamless as possible.

But there’s an app for everything now, which means no more phone calls to the pizza shop, no chit-chat while waiting for the bus. The little white earbuds, and their more aggressive, noise-cancelling cousins, are shielding us from this terrible outside world.

And we are lonelier than ever. Our communities are disintegrating, whether it’s the corner store bought by a billionaire developer or churches being replaced by Instagram or the fact that I have never met or even seen my nextdoor neighbour. We are at a crisis point.

You could easily point the finger at Airbnb too, something which was about people sharing homes with strangers; now is about hotel like experiences. Airbnb haven’t helped things wither with their plus listings. Don’t get me wrong I understand, but airbnb originally was different.

I keep saying it but noticed I don’t think I have ever wrote about it so directly.

Public transport along with lots public services could be the decider between a epidemic of loneliness. I mean where else are you going to experience familiar stranger and that essential head nod. Rubbing shoulders with strangers clearly is good thing in the long run, you wonder why more people are flocking to our over crowded cities? I think there is something in the social object theory and I’m not the only one. Bonding with strangers builds friendships, builds neighbourhoods, building communities, which builds societies?

The data is still not 100% but I think this is essential research material.

IBM DIF project removes my flickr urls


Hopefully the final follow up from my post about facial recognitions dirty little secret millions of online photos scraped without consent. and the update.

Thank you for your prompt response. We confirm that we have deleted from the DiF dataset all the URLs linked to your Flickr ID and associated annotations. We have also deleted your Flickr ID from our records. IBM will require our research partners to comply with your deletion request and provide IBM with confirmation of compliance.

Best regards,

IBM Research DiF team

End of the matter, although part of me wants to contact everybody in the photos and tell them what happened. Not sure what that would achieve however?

Is everything public on social media fair game?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/xdxd_vs_xdxd/6829374609/

Of course I would say not exactly, especially in the face of the  IBM’s Diversity in Faces project which I wrote about here and got a initial reply here. But its a interesting question which prompts the post, scientists like me are studying your tweets are you ok with that?

“Public” is the magic word when it comes to research ethics. “But the data is already public.” That was the response from Harvard researchers in 2008, when they released a data set of college students’ Facebook profiles, and from Danish researchers in 2016, when they released a data set scraped from OKCupid. The regulatory bodies that oversee research ethics (like institutional review boards at U.S. universities) usually don’t consider “public” data to be under their purview. Many researchers see these review boards as the arbiters of what’s ethical; if it’s not something that the boards care about, then it can’t be unethical, right?

Whether the data is public or not is important for ethical decision-making — in fact, it’s necessary.

There is a old-school hacker thing, that anything public is public and if you don’t want it public don’t put it online. But to be fair that idealistic view before the likes of cloud services broke the notion badly.

However there is a question for research which upholds its self above the likes of commercial companies.  I know being in the research field myself, research and the ethics boards are really strict with this all. To be fair I’m glad of this because I’ve seen too many bad uses of public data including semi-public (dating site data for example) and heck private data!

As researchers, we have a responsibility to acknowledge that factors like the type of data, the creator of that data, and our intended use for the data are important when it comes to using public information. These factors must inform the decisions we make about whether and how to collect data and to report findings. I hope the work that my collaborators and I are doing will help to inform best practices, so that, in the end, we can continue to contribute great science to the world while also respecting the people who share their data with us every day.

Absolutely!

Now can some tell IBM this too?

The living room of the future at the V&A museum

Living room of the future at the V&A Museum

Recently I had the joy of taking the living room of the future to the Victorian & Albert museum as part of London design week’s digital weekender. Its something I mentioned a few times previously.

It was quite a weekend with 97 people going through the experiences; Lancaster Uni’s living room primer, the original living room experience (as we had in Liverpool) and special showing of the S3A’s vostok.

We likely could have had more but the V&A’s maze like design made it very difficult for people to get to our ground stand in time for the 5min tour to the living room experience on the 3rd floor unfortunately. We actually over 200 people signed up via the free eventbrite link.

I personally apologise to everyone who couldn’t find our space on the ground floor or turned up late because of the maze like experience.

Lancaster Uni’s living room primer

The Lancaster’s living room primer using visual perceptive drama to make the point loud and clear. It uses Visual Perceptive Media footage to tell the story of the Break Up, which was written by Julius Amedume back in 2015.

Its quite a playful experience and is much more explicit about what its doing as a whole. This is why I call it a primer for the living room.

Living room of the future

Living room of the future

The original living room experience in full effect

Showing off the ambient nature of the experience which can be built using the living room framework. It was created with artists from the Western Balkans and Czech republic, and made possible with 3 UK universities Nottingham (databox), Lancaster (iot) and York (obm), FACT Liverpool, the British Council and our successful bid for the Objects of immersion.

It really shows whats possible with something much more abstract than explicit.

Living room of the future at the V&A Museum

Living room of the future at the V&A Museum

The Vostok-K Incident – 3D Spatial Audio demo

We always wanted to use 3D spatial audio in the original living room but we built the living room using similar technology as our timeframe for research was quite different. Its clear we would use S3A in the future. You could imagine a S3A app running on Databox, keeping the same privacy first HDI framework model we pushed earlier on.

You can read a lot more about it here and try it out for yourself here

Living room of the future at the V&A Museum

Living room of the future at the V&A Museum

All three experiences show off the possibilities and what could be coming to your living room in the near future. Looking forward to seeing what others could do with these technologies?

Digital licence woes and problems ripped large

https://www.flickr.com/photos/will-lion/2593488374/i

Digital licensing and ownership has been discussed in the past a lot, back then it was therotical. But its interesting to revisit the discussion in more modern times with the new ecosystems which have become common place.

Ok fair enough it’s from Torrentfreak but still interesting a read.

The digital world has made it much easier to buy and consume entertainment.

Whether it’s a movie, music track, or book, a shiny “buy now” button is usually just a few keystrokes away.

Millions of people have now replaced their physical media collections for digital ones, often stored in the cloud. While that can be rather convenient, it comes with restrictions that are unheard of offline.

This is best illustrated by an analogy I read a few years ago in a research paper by Aaron Perzanowski and Chris Jay Hoofnagle, titled: “What We Buy When We Buy Now.”

What is the Public service internet?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/14702809615

Its been thrown around a lot and if you search for the term public service internet you will click on something from Adrian Hon or Dan Hon. You will see stuff from others like chromatrope and even my own posts in searches. Or good searches will reveal related terms like Digital public space from newspapers like the Guardian and of course straight from Tony Ageh.

But not much from the BBC, so its quite exciting to finally see something more official.

BBC R&D researching the public service internet and looking for partners who share similar values.

What does your circadian rhythm say?

It’s always been clear that sleep is a big deal and more and more research is coming out to show the massive effect sleep can have in our lives. Especially at critical times of our development.

I have been tracking (quantifying) my sleeping solidly for about 3-5 years and its surprising to see the effect of the things like different alcohol drink, cheese, coffee, milk and chocolate. I also been to many events, with the last one being Cafe Sci: Myth and Science of Sleep. I generally track my dreams now, which is quite different from previously when I use to track them with a lot more detail.

Tracking sleep can seem a but of nonsense; I mean leaving your phone on your bed while you sleep or using a wristband device to collect data can seem poor for data collection. However with some calibration and a few months data, it becomes clear through the patterns whats good quality and bad quality sleep; oppose to the length of sleep. The key being the cycles of sleep… Light sleep into REM into deep sleep into light sleep and over again.

Sleep as Android data

Here is me sleeping in a hotel for 5hrs 49mins after drinking cocktails in London during the week of Mozfest. You can see the alcohol puts me into deep sleep quickly but it takes a while for my body to get back into its normal sleep pattern. I also had a done a lot of walking that day.

graph_detail_20171019_1.11

This clearly shows although I had 7hrs 21mins of sleep when I woke up, I felt like crap. To be fair I had red wine, and was on cold meds to get rid of my long lingering cold. Once again I was in a hotel, this time in Sarajevo. No coffee this time.

graph_detail_20171119_1.30

This is from todays sleep, even with a few scoops of ice cream and coffee, I slept extremely well and woke up feeling pretty fresh and ready to take on the world.

I use Sleep as Android with my Pebble watch. I do sync everything to Google Fit, Google Drive and Dropbox to make a personal back up for myself.

Ultimately I would clearly say I have learned so much by looking at the patterns, especially over a longer period of time.