Talking at Afrotech festival 26th Jan 2018

Afrotech Fest 2018Afrotech fest 2018I haven’t been blogging much recently, mainly because I am writing 3 different presentations. My first big one is for the Afrotech festival, which I have the absolute joy of keynoting at on Friday 26th Jan. I spoke at a much small one in Manchester awhile ago and you can see the presentation here.

When Florence asked me to talk, I jumped at the opportunity and its turning out to be quite a festival. Love the fact its being arranged by 6 amazing black women too.

The festival is a response to the underrepresentation of black people in the technology industry – especially those who are marginalised in additional ways – as well as tech conferences and festivals being too expensive for many to attend. We want to create a festival that is intentionally diverse and inclusive of those often excluded.

We look forward to welcoming you, whatever your age, gender, class or ability. Whether you’ve never written a line of code or regularly contribute to a huge project, Afrotech Fest is for you.

Tickets are available now, if you are in London end of this month (Jan 2018). Get yourself down to Richmix to discuss and see the future.

If you think this is just for the blacks.

We welcome people of all races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds to attend Afrotech Fest.

So no excuses!

Shooting the Proscenium Arch

Stillwell Theatre, Brooklyn NY in 1927 - Proscenium Arch and curtains

I heard the term but never really understood what the Proscenium Arch actually was…

In his 1997 book “Architects of the Web,” Rhapsody founder Rob Reid calls this phenomenon “shooting the proscenium arch,” referring to the “proscenium” that frames a traditional stage. It’s the idea that when new technology arrives, the first thing people do is try and force old technologies onto the new format. He writes:

“The proscenium arch has many forms, and it lurks at the birth of all media. Early radio broadcasters whose announcers read directly from newspapers were shooting the proscenium arch. TV broadcasters who pointed their cameras at chitchatting radio announcers were shooting it as well. But the proscenium arch’s day always passes quickly, as famil­iarity with a new medium grows, and content evolves in directions that its earliest pioneers could not have foreseen.”

Large scale epaper displays from Fluxuri

At long last after much much talk and some interesting developments from some of the bigger players. Fluxuri have showed their huge displays.

Fluxuri establishes a new type of innovative display technology that offers to affordably create mutable surfaces of any shape and size. It is a thin, highly flexible and reflective passive medium that only requires mechatronic or manual action to change its characteristics. In the former, special plotters and printers become feasible means even for very large areas. For the latter, hands and fingers themselves are amazing means enough to write and draw. Depending on their orientation, light strokes reveal different colours.

Fluxuri has a characteristic granular surface that is capable of variability in pixel sizes, densities and optical properties such as colour, finish, reflectivity, iridescence, fluorescence, phosphorescence, and more – and even in materials, with plastic used today, and other surface materials highly possible in the future. This makes Fluxuri a unique, sustainably versatile, and aesthetic medium.

Its fair to say I have been talking with Fluxuri, and although the video is blury. I have personally seen the display working close up. Its impressive and has plenty of great things which are certainly exciting at such sizes and so thin!

Expect to see them coming very soon…

BBC vows, to finally make it digital

BBC Microbit

Finally after so many peoples attempts to kick start the BBC Micro revolution for the 21 century. The BBC has finally announced its partnership with Google, Microsoft and Samsung to place the Microbit in the hands of children across the UK.

The BBC director general has pledged to do for coding and digital technology what the BBC Micro did for the emerging home computing era in the 1980s.

Tony Hall was speaking after he unveiled details of the BBC’s Make It Digital initiative, a partnership with 50 organisations, including Google, Microsoft and Samsung, that will give ‘micro bit’ coding devices – around 1m of them – to every 11-year-old in the country.

The BBC will launch a season of programmes and online activity, including a drama based on Grand Theft Auto and tie-ups with Doctor Who, EastEnders, and Radio 1.

Hall compared the initiative to the BBC Micro, built by Acorn Computers, which was many children’s first experience of computing 30 years ago.

I can tell you this has been a long time coming and there are some seriously amazing people who have been directly and indirectly involved in the very long run up to this.

So many in-fact, I feel if I was to start naming them, I would do a massive injustice to many many people who tried and etched away at the BBC to allow others to make their voices heard. I once tried to do a mind map of the people connected, and I still have it from many years ago.

I can’t wait to see the microbit in kids hands and see the unthinkable things they will do with it. Its been very well thought out and I love the fact its not trying to replace anything else including the RaspberryPI.

Early adopters still have a place

Ericsson mp3 player

Early this morning after Silicon Drinkabout Manchester, two friends had a long argument about the need/lesser need for early adopters in developing new products.

I won’t go into details but I’m certainly side on the side of the need for early adopters.
During the argument, Apple, ipod and the iphone came up (interestingly the iMac never comes up anymore). I made the point that Apple generally copy things and improve on them. This reminded me of my first proper owned and bought mpeg3 player. I bought a Samsung Yepp32 from my friend, but about the same time I saw the Ericsson HPM-10  and a few months later I bought one on Tottenham court road.

Ericsson T28 and HPM-10

For me it made perfect sense, why have a separate device when my phone has most of the capability? I swore by the Ericsson HPM-10 and ended up buying only ericsson phones, so I could keep using it. I remember squeezing 2 whole cds of music on to the 32meg MMC card for my ride down to Bristol from London on the scooter. I must have encoded it at 16kps!My friends didn’t get it, why a music player on the phone? It took about 5-6years before the idea of using the mobile for music playback really started to happen.

Without early adopters, I feel the almost relentless push forward into the currently unacceptable and questionable unknown. Just wouldn’t happen.

To be clear I’m not saying early adopters are the reason for why a product or service crosses into the mainstream. But I am saying they/we have an effect which can be quantified and should not be written off.

One of the reasons why I always wanted to go to Tokyo is to explore the vast electronic markets of failed products. Everything from robot dogs to things which never made it out of Japan. I would contest that kickstarter is the new electronic market now? There will be popular products like the pebble smartwatch but theres products only early adopters would consider. Once considered and used, they share.

That sharing is where the norm starts to shift.

Remember having a discussion with a colleague at my then work place, the Odeon Leicester square about what is mpeg3 and what was that funny thing sticking out my Ericsson t28 phone? She had just bought a Sony minidisc and I was explaining why mpeg3 was the future? Years later at a reunion she remained me as she bought a 1st generation iPod a few years later based slightly on that afternoon sitting in the box office listening to badly encoded music.

Her perception of music had been shifted enough to early adopt the iPod before it really hit the mainstream.

Relating to dyslexia

Albert Einstein - Dyslexic and most recognized and well-known scientists

I was reading wired.com’s post about Dyslexia from a while ago and it almost had me in tears on the tube today. Why? Because I related to so much of it, it was freaky.

Interconnected reasoning is another kind of strength. These connections can be relationships of likeness — analogies for example — or causal relationships, or the ability to shift perspective and view an object or event from multiple perspectives, or the ability to see the “gist” or big-picture context surrounding an event or idea. Many dyslexics work in highly interdisciplinary fields or fields that require combining perspectives and techniques gained from different disciplines or backgrounds. Or they’re multiple specialists, or their work history is unusually varied. Often these individuals draw the comment that they can see connections that other people haven’t seen before.

This is one of my biggest things. I see the world in a connected way (for example the post about the singularity and diversity) and I find it hard to explain to others but in my head it makes sense. The tools I’m told to use limit me and drive me insane (don’t get me started on having to separate my life and manage two calendars, thankfully I opted out of that crap)

Here comes one of those connections… I have been looking for a way to do collaborative mindmapping. I love google docs but a document is sometimes limiting. I have looked around and found quite a few commercial mindmapping tools but then I found mindmup which is open source. And with some experimentation the other day, I got it working with Google Drive in a realtime collaborative way. Expect more mind maps in the future now.

But back to that post…

Wired: Would you want to be dyslexic if you could choose to be?
Brock: Absolutely! It’s a phenomenal kind of wiring.

This one really got me. For all the people telling me I’m doing it wrong, correcting my writing, etc, etc… Its made me a stronger person. A person with a super strong personality, self confident about my own ability and weaknesses. I have to admit even with the hard time I got at home and at school, I wouldn’t change a thing. Its part of who I am, and I can’t imagine not being dyslexic.

I luckily grew up in the technological revolution meaning I could cope through reliance on technology. If I was a generation earlier, it would be a different story.

I do wonder what difference it would have made if I had been correctly diagnosed in junior school? Rather that 10 years later while doing my dissertation at Ravensbourne. The test of half a day was intense but finally the results were posted to me later and as I always knew, I was pretty badly dyslexic.

I’ll be keeping an eye on dyslexicadvantage as I’d certainly like to improve on my already quite unique skillset.

CES 2013: Internet of Everything

CES this year seemed to be a fascinating one… mainly because the internet of things really broke through this year.

No longer just an expression used when people are talking about items they don’t understand, oh no were talking serious business at long last.

However there was also the ugly… Summed up by Qualcomm’s keynote, covered by the verge and many others

A night of cringeworthy conversations, product demos, and music

But back to the good… This was certainly the year ioT went big and forbes have a nice summary,

Other than Ulta HDTVs, running $20,000 and up, there was no particularly brand new technology announcement that screamed “I am the future” but the sum of the parts screamed “Wow… this Internet thing has opened the door for a generation of products that no one could have imagined.”

Welcome to Love in the Time of Algorithms

Imran sent me a link to this book titled Love in the time of algorithms which instantly I instantly liked…

Love in the time of algorithms

The description is exactly what I would write if I was to publish my own thoughts instead of talking about it and doing it. Actually this post pretty much sums up what I think the book is going to cover

“If online dating can blunt the emotional pain of separation, if adults can afford to be increasingly demanding about what they want from a relationship, the effect of online dating seems positive. But what if it’s also the case that the prospect of finding an ever more compatible mate with the click of a mouse means a future of relationship instability, a paradox of choice that keeps us chasing the illusive bunny around the dating track?”
 
It’s the mother of all search problems: how to find a spouse, a mate, a date. The escalating marriage age and declin­ing marriage rate mean we’re spending a greater portion of our lives unattached, searching for love well into our thirties and forties.
It’s no wonder that a third of America’s 90 million singles are turning to dating Web sites. Once considered the realm of the lonely and desperate, sites like eHarmony, Match, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish have been embraced by pretty much every demographic. Thanks to the increasingly efficient algorithms that power these sites, dating has been transformed from a daunting transaction based on scarcity to one in which the possibilities are almost endless. Now anyone—young, old, straight, gay, and even married—can search for exactly what they want, connect with more people, and get more information about those people than ever before.
As journalist Dan Slater shows, online dating is changing society in more profound ways than we imagine. He explores how these new technologies, by altering our perception of what’s possible, are reconditioning our feelings about commitment and challenging the traditional paradigm of adult life.
Like the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, the digital revolution is forcing us to ask new questions about what constitutes “normal”: Why should we settle for someone who falls short of our expectations if there are thousands of other options just a click away? Can commitment thrive in a world of unlimited choice? Can chemistry really be quantified by math geeks? As one of Slater’s subjects wonders, “What’s the etiquette here?”
Blending history, psychology, and interviews with site creators and users, Slater takes readers behind the scenes of a fascinating business. Dating sites capitalize on our quest for love, but how do their creators’ ideas about profits, morality, and the nature of desire shape the virtual worlds they’ve created for us? Should we trust an industry whose revenue model benefits from our avoiding monogamy?
Documenting the untold story of the online-dating industry’s rise from ignominy to ubiquity—beginning with its early days as “computer dating” at Harvard in 1965—Slater offers a lively, entertaining, and thought provoking account of how we have, for better and worse, embraced technology in the most intimate aspect of our lives.

Its not available till Aug 15th but is available to pre-order if you so wish

I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one and hopefully if Dan does a book tour or something I can rope him into doing something in Manchester which has the 2nd biggest singles population in the UK behind London. Maybe it can be a special #smc_mcr event or maybe a return to prestonsocial with something more solid?

The obvious thing would be to do a relationships 2.0?

Its not the first time I’ve seen Dan’s name come up, he wrote this critical piece about dating algorithms. Which is one of the pieces,  which got me thinking about dating sites and are they actually doing what they claim to be doing? His articles reads similar to my own blog if you go by the titles alone. Just need Onlinedatingpost and Datinginsider for a full house? Anyone know how to contact any of these people?

Some interesting trends…

Internet Fundamentals

The ever lasting effect of the Internet on Television, or as I call it the TV post Internet.

See Eric Schmidt’s Edinburgh Festival Keynote which can be read in full on PaidContent.

Kids need licence to tinker

The concept and idea of a BBC Micro for the 21st Century, which some are saying could be the Raspberry Pi.

Been thinking about this stuff deeply recently for work and what I’ll be doing in the near future… You might be interested in some of the Top10’s I’ve been creating on top10.co