May 23, 2016

Interesting Things on the Internet: May 23rd 2016

  • Recipe for disaster. Some background to the creation of the BBC's online recipe database and thoughts about how/why the BBC is failing to help society debate/frame such non-commercial endeavours.
  • Redefining capitalism. Some interesting thoughts on how better to define growth and new directions for something better than capitalism.
  • ANA. Lovely, if rather dystopic, short film about the robot future.
  • Jane Jacobs: City Limits. (Link to) An interesting film of urbanist Jane Jacobs and accompanying thoughts on how it translates to modern day. (Jane Jacobs previously on this blog)
  • Jane Jacobs: Godmother of the American City. And another, great interview with Jane Jacobs. "There is a sameness—this is one of the things that is boring people, this sameness. This sameness has economic implications. You don’t get new products and services out of sameness. Now, the Americans haven’t gotten dumbed down all of the sudden so that only a few people who can decide on new products for change are the only ones with brains. But it means that somehow there isn’t opportunity for these thousands flowers to bloom anymore."
  • How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist. Beware the dark patterns of design.
  • Guide to Computing. Computers used to be so colourful! Did the designers stop offering us anything adventurous or did we all start only buying what-are-perceive-as-inoffensive options and bring this upon ourselves?
  • Thoughts about decoupling PGP and email clients. Good to see someone fixing existing systems rather than deciding the only way is to build yet-another-competing-silo because it's easier. Looking forward to being a user of the system Paul builds.
  • Eye Spy, a Year of Tracking. Great to see the BBC work on privacy, etc. "No-one in the UK should be speculatively accumulating raw data, particularly without notifying people they are doing it."
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May 02, 2016

Interesting Things on the Internet: May 2nd 2016

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April 18, 2016

Interesting Things on the Internet: April 18th 2016

  • Paying Your Own Way (Or Not). Tom Steinberg talks about whether money is the only useful measuring stick. For tech, in this case, but see also all of the assorted "ROI" justifications for the arts, city investment, etc. When do we start demanding that the bankers and accountants justify their existence in terms that the rest of us feel are important (hint: those terms won't be ones that can be reduced to a single number either...)
  • The divide. Looks interesting... and is playing at FACT at the end of May...
  • Modern anti-spam and E2E crypto. In-depth look at the issues surrounding spam email and how to counter it. And how to balance that with the scope for privacy invasion that be-able-to-read-email-to-check-for-spam introduces...
  • Why Are America's Most Innovative Companies Still Stuck in 1950s Suburbia? Good exploration of what's wrong with big out-of-town company campuses.
  • Story of cities #21: Olivetti tries to build the ideal 'human city' for its workers. In contrast with the previous link, a look at the work Olivetti did to situate their company in Ivrea mid-C20th. It was arguably moulding the city to suit the company, but I remember a really interesting exhibition I visited when I lived in Turin (but never got round to blogging, sadly) that explained lots of the social/improving-society thinking tied up with those experiments and work. Arguably the main problem was that Olivetti dominated Ivrea (from a percentage of people working there perspective) and so the fortunes of the town and the company ended up too closely intertwined (which is fine as long as the company is doing well...).
  • Hacking Rambert. Leila Johnston doing an excellent job of documenting what she got up to as a technologist-in-residence, and more importantly asking questions about technology and its relationship with/to the arts.
  • When U.S. air force discovered the flaw of averages. Or a warning from history about blind belief in "big data"
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April 11, 2016

Interesting Things on the Internet: April 11th 2016

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March 28, 2016

Interesting Things on the Internet: March 28th 2016

  • Hardening my Development Machine. A secure system is like the horizon - always further away when you think you've got there. But there's lots of value in chasing after it, so it's good to see Paul sharing how he's moved on with it.
  • what Thomas Hardy taught me. An excellent piece on education reform or efforts to "fix" education, and how they miss the point.
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March 21, 2016

Interesting Things on the Internet: March 21st 2016

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March 14, 2016

Interesting Things on the Internet: March 14th 2016

  • Corbynism and Its Futures. Long interesting explanation and exploration of the state of the political left in the UK. If it's right in its assertion that "elections are almost entirely decided by the votes of a few hundred thousand swing voters in marginal constituencies", then is that an opportunity to focus attention for civic tech and/or new Internet-age institutions to help improve democracy?
  • In solidarity with Library Genesis and Sci-Hub. Charging so much for access to academic publishing in the modern age is ridiculous.
  • Design as Participation. Excellent proposal for how design should evolve, from Kevin Slavin.
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February 29, 2016

Interesting Things on the Internet: February 29th 2016

  • Framing. An interest post (with interesting comments too!) on company values and culture.
  • South Florida and Sea Level: The Case of Miami Beach. "Who’s going to be the Robert Moses of sea level rise?" Thought-provoking stuff from Eric Rodenbeck.
  • Sex & Startups. Lots of good ideas here - I expect “the tyranny of the quantifiable” and "mundane businesses" to be entering my lexicon.
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February 22, 2016

Interesting Things on the Internet: February 22nd 2016

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February 16, 2016


In my role as the mouthy one of (which is subtly different from spokesperson for...) the community in DoES Liverpool, I often end up in strategy meetings, "cluster groups", etc. and also sought out by people from support organisations and elsewhere who want to get to know the community.

Many, many of these meetings are inspiring and energising - I love the ones where a "quick 10am meeting" is interrupted by us suddenly realising it's now lunchtime as there's been so much to discuss and explore (although the work side of my brain is usually also cursing how much work time I've lost); but similarly some are energy-sapping as I wonder why no-one else seems to notice that the gathering is never likely to achieve anything.

Because this tends to be the voluntary work of running DoES rather than work that earns me a living, it's tended to be quite reactive rather than proactive. The problem with that is that it's easy for all of my time-for-meeting-interesting people then gets taken up by other people who want to talk to me, rather than people that I think I should be talking to.

Pondering on this of late, I've decided to change it.

So, I'm aiming (as an incentive to action, rather than as a hard-and-fast goal) to make time for at least one meeting each month with someone that I think is useful for me to connect with. With the accompanying acceptance that it'll mean I won't have time to meet someone else who wants to meet me instead. An acceptance that my time is finite, and hopefully the value gained from the meetings I do have will outweigh the value we lose from the ones that I miss.

At present, I think that's going to start with looking for other people doing interesting work elsewhere in the city, and people who are also good at connecting up good and interesting projects. Trying a little to connect the connectors.

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