The freedom and space to hear things

When King made history at UChicago | The University of Chicago

Amazing hearing the story of Martin Luther King’s speeches.

One speechmaker inspired millions with his words, the other utterly destroyed his own multi-million-dollar business with just a few phrases.

Civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr (played by Jeffrey Wright of WestworldThe Hunger Games, and the James Bond films) and jewelry store owner Gerald Ratner offer starkly contrasting stories on when you should stick to the script and when you should take a risk.

I was talking to a friend/colleague recently about presentation styles.

When I first started giving speeches and presentations I would create a script but I quickly dumped that idea as it just didn’t work for me. I also use to write notes but found myself reading the notes out rather than focusing on the audience. Finally I also use to do run-through’s with other people but found myself frustrated or even annoyed that in the run run-through’s that I said one thing but am saying something else while on stage.

I do subscribe to the jazz/improvisation approach with guard rails, which is the slides. Without them I tend to go off in many different directions. Although with some time constraints its all good.

Channel 4’s Deepfake queens speech raises tons of questions

When I first heard Channel4’s alternative speech was going to be a deep fake of the queen. I laughed but had a ton of questions. Some of them are covered in their behind the scenes video.

I felt the deep fake was a good thing to do, as so many people can’t tell the difference between real and fake. This has a big impact on the democratic process. But of course if you are reading this, you most likely know this already. It was good they made it deliberately fake rather than pass it off as a real speech, but of course some felt it was disrespectful.

Deep and shallow fakes are here and getting better every day, there is a important public service angle putting this front and centre. We got to get better at understanding what we see may not be what’s actually true.

The pandemic is just the start

I have been looking at the brighter side of things but also been pragmatically thinking about the future.

Its been a while since I heard from Noam Chomsky and this speech with additional footage is powerful I have been thinking a lot about the near future beyond this pandemic.

First of all, I do think we are talking about a long run on covid19, I suspect it will be Q3-4 when the vaccines actually become available to everyday people (people who are not at high risk, on the front line or anything like that). Pinning our hopes on things going back to the old normal is not going to happen. Heck even my mum the other day said this to me on our last family call! We already prepared ourselves to not spend the festive season together.

The festival season also brings to the UK, the harsh ramifications of Brexit. Something a lot people have blocked out of their mind as they focus on Covid19. Don’t even get me started about the this as its deeply upsetting and really encourages me to just leave this country.

However as Noam talks about in his speech, the elephants in the room (I would say blackswans but they are not because we are very aware of these, or at least we should be!).

  1. Global nuclear war
  2. Environmental collapse

Its clear if Trump wins another term as president of America, the countdown to both global nuclear war and environmental collapse will be so much closer than we can imagine. The election is a concern for many reasons but nuclear war and environmental collapse is something we should all be aware and thinking about; and I don’t mean disappearing into our escape pods.

We already passed the point of no environmental change but we are actively increasing accelerating things including future pandemics. Imagine pandemics are simply a side-effect of our environmental impact. That I feel gives it the real scope of the challenge in front of us.

This can all be a harsh reality kick in the teeth. But honestly see it as a kick up the ass for us all. Together we can do it but we all have to acknowledge the reality and look beyond the current pandemic.

Your place in the new trusted data ecosystem keynote for #UCDgathering

Chris Spalton's sketch from my keynote

Last Thursday 15th October I gave a keynote talk at the UCD gathering. It was quite a challenge for me as I have become very busy with work especially around the human values work (details and post one day soon).

Regardless I wanted to give the keynote because I felt I had a lot I wanted to say to the UX design sector. With a past in interaction design, I have been frustrated by designers and the traditional approach to design. UX is truly powerful and can make a service/product be the greatest thing since sliced bread or the worst of the worst. But I also did my design course with books aimed to maximise attention from users. I also couldn’t grasp how designers refused to look deeper and think about the systems (technical & business) they were building on top of.

A previous manager once said “designers are the prostitutes of capitalism…” He was being deliberately controversial with a big smile on his face. I rejected that notion but I understand the thinking. Its about time we got deadly serious about design and user experience. We the industry can do much better and as we throw around our craft, we need to be much more conscious about the bigger effect on society, the environment and democracy.

I have been critical of Aral in the past but I like smalltech’s approach of building new experiences which take advantage of the unique characteristics and opportunities inherent in free, open and decentralised technology. We need more designers like Aral and Laura! I would go as far to say, although they are on the right side of history. The data ecosystem is changing bit by bit.

I have uploaded the slides to slideshare now as you can see below. There are 96 slides and I tried to not come across preachy. That was certainly not my aim, but something needed to be said. It most likely makes more sense when I’m talking but thats my style of presentations, so you needed to be there. I believe the video will come soon.

After the keynote I was really happy with the response from the conference who really got it and asked some really detailed smart questions. I was in the UCD slack for about 90mins afterwards just answering questions and chatting about concepts in the slides. I was blown away by the sketch from Chris Spalton (at the top of the post), massive thanks to Chris which nicely summed it up.

The twitter feedback was positive as well and I love this tweet

At the end of the day I wonder how many will consider signing the tech pledge, think more about the ethics next time they are asked to deploy a dark pattern and consider building on top of decentralised systems? My hope is even if one person does, this is a win and worth the time and effort of writing those attractive slides (if I don’t say so myself)

Of course BBC R&D have been researching this for some time but I’ll save some of this for a bigger blog post next weekend around the new forms of value deep dive videos which are being released.

My one regret is not being able to attend much of the rest of the conference. I had too much work which I put on pause for the keynote and they needed my attention. I also learned from the Nesta next generation internet policy summit that only some types of work I can work and watch at the same time unfortunately.
Massive thanks to all who attended and engaged with me afterwards in the slack channel. I will check again to see if theres any more tomorrow. Thanks to my moderator and it seems all female team who made me feel welcomed at 8:30am.

Google maps you have a speech problem

Google Maps

I love google maps but it has a problem.

I use it as a GPS when travelling around on my scooter, which means I don’t have a screen in front of me. Instead I’m reliant on the audio output to tell me where to go and when. I imagine for most people this sounds kind of crazy because they want to see the map and directions, but when it works it really works well. It says before the turning and then again just at the point of the turn. Pretty much once you get use to it, its just great and I find it weird sitting in peoples cars when they are not listening to the voice.

However there is a bug/problem.

I use to think it was just my Nexus 5X but its happened with my Google Pixel2 making it clear its a google maps issue.

Every once in a while, google maps stops talking and leaves you with silence.  This seems to be solved with a restart, which is hardly great when driving along. I imagine most users tend to have the display and don’t care too much about the voice. But if you are reliant on it, when it suddenly goes quiet you start to wonder. Worst thing about it is Google maps doesn’t say anything when you don’t need to take a turn. Meaning if you are going down a motorway you have to assume everything is fine.

Google maps fail

This is what happened as I drove down the M6 towards London not Bristol on Monday afternoon, wondering when the M5 turn off was coming. Now to be fair I was on the right motorway but when I came across the M6 toll road, I took it and that led me towards London.

M6 toll
Taking the M6 Toll road
M5 from Birmingham
The M5 I should have took

Google maps said nothing, so I just kept going expecting something over the headset when the turning came. To make things even more difficult I had my pixel 2 phone locked in the scooter charging, meaning I couldn’t see the phone unless I pulled over and turned off the engine. Once again not ideal.

Ok this example is quite extreme (but it happened) and you could say I should have been aware but I honestly didn’t see a sign for the M5 south. Its likely I wouldn’t as I took the M6 toll road.

Google maps has a speech problem and I’m not the only one who has experienced this.

Anyone else?

The technological revolution spoken

I’m now on my way back from Japan (mainly Tokyo) about to land in Dubai  and its amazing to think about all the experiences I had with Japanese people.

There certainly is a  massive language barrier, there is no way of avoiding it. Now you can spend time learning Japanese which will take some serious amount of time (especially for somebody like me). Or you can rely on the services which come about using connected devices.

Google translate came to help me many times while in a sticky spot and I’m not the only one. While sitting in the maid cafe (as mentioned before) I got talking to TAHK0. He was telling me how he climbed a crazy mountain and when I asked him about his Japanese, he admitted he knows a couple of words and thats it. He then went on to talk about Google Translate.

We shared stories of use and of course I had a few of my own.

I had a serious problem with the Airbnb apartment I had for the 2nd week, which meant moving all my stuff to somewhere else. To do this, I needed to be a couple of taxi rides. Unfortunately the taxi driver didn’t speak any english whats-so ever.  I was trying to explain to him that I needed to go to a place, get him to wait for 5mins and then go somewhere else. To make things worst the place where the Airbnb shared room is, wasn’t near any landmark I knew of or could find on a map. I showed him on Google maps, but that didn’t really help. In the end I had to direct him from the back seat by typing and reading aloud from my tablet. Google translate worked just well enough for me to get the main point across.

2015-04-20 16.00.51

The point is, it worked!

When talking to the lady/girl during my unsuccessful attempt to get to Nagashima Spa-land the first time. We used Google translate to talk quite a bit. It wasn’t exactly free flowing but at points it wasn’t so bad and we laughed quite a bit at the slight errors Google would make. The crib sheets I printed never got used and wouldn’t have be anywhere as useful.

Even when I sat in a restaurant trying to understand a Japanese menu items with Google translate. The chef used Google translate to attempt to understand what I was actually asking for. It was one of those moments which was unbelievable. Likewise when going clubbing on Saturday night, the taxi driver pulled out his two sided Android phone got my translation and put the results into his Google maps navigation system. It was a thing of beauty, honestly…

Taxi drivers phone

I’m not saying Google translate means you shouldn’t learn the language and to be fair without 4G/LTE wireless the whole process would have been terrible. What I am saying however is, the world is so much more accessible due to the internet and services like Google and I understand this is the trade off I have to make.

The most famous speech in human history: Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”

Martin Luther King Jr. - I Have A Dream Speech

Its been 50 years since Martin Luther King’s massively inspirational and moving speech. I was watching some of the programmes from the BBC about the speech and Martin Luther King himself. I didn’t really get a chance to blog about it but here’s some great stuff Umair Haque wrote on twitter and fb.

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, here are 10 points on his legacy and what it still means to us today:

  1. If MLK was alive today, wonks would tell him a revolution of love was impossible, politicians would ignore him, and pundits would mock him.
  2. MLK was a great leader. He wasn’t a wannabe. He wasn’t a cowering flunky. He didn’t sell his dream out. He was the real thing.
  3. So I can’t tell whether its funny or sad to hear glowing praise for MLK from people who surely would have hated him were he alive today.
  4. It’s amazing to me how America misremembers MLK. As a policy “activist”. Wrong. He wanted a revolution of love.
  5. MLK didn’t want slightly higher taxes, or one new law. He wanted something bigger: revolution in people’s hearts. A revolution of love.
  6. So to remember MLK as some kind of policy wonk or activist or lobbyist is laughable. He was more than that. He was a real leader.
  7. MLK was the kind of leader whose memory tells us: we don’t have much real leadership left today. Just wimps selling out.
  8. MLK is probably one of the last people in America who called for real institutional change. For that, he was spied on, jailed, and killed.
  9. MLK didn’t just want an end to segregation. He wanted an end to poverty, war, anger, and greed.
  10. What MLK’s memory should remind us of is: once we had revolutionaries. Now we have analysts. Because we killed our revolutionaries.

In honor of MLK, I’m going do 7 points on dreams. Enjoy!

  1. Each and every one must have a dream. That marry who we are with what we want the world to become.
  2. Your dream is your destination. Without one, you’ll always feel lost.
  3. There are better dreams, and worse dreams. Better dreams are bigger than just you, and your aspiration.
  4. Heartbreak doesn’t happen when your dreams don’t come true. It happens when they do.
  5. Don’t cripple your dreams. With evidence or logic or doubt. Dreams are a kind of magic.
  6. Dreams are always impossible. And so we must use a force stronger than our minds to ignite them. We must have faith in them.
  7. Never step on people’s dreams. They’ll rarely forgive you. Always lift people towards their dreams. They’ll love you for it.