July 25, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: July 25th 2016
- Shaula Evans on the problems with Twitter's new everyone-can-apply-for-a-blue-checkmark policy. Also why diversity in your teams is important.
- Frank Cottrell Boyce: what's the point of culture in Brexit Britain? This is great, although I disagree that culture is different from business - it's not, but that's because business should be more like art and culture, not the other way round :-)
- ‘Hope is an embrace of the unknown’: Rebecca Solnit on living in dark times. Lots of great stuff in here, not least the recognition that visible change is often the result of long patient groundwork.
- Brexit Blues by John Lanchester. Good, clear, analysis (as ever) from John Lanchester.
- Corbyn: the summer of hierarchical things. Paul Mason on the political climate, not just on Corbyn.
- Liberalism after Brexit . Will Davies' latest take on Brexit.
- Anti-racism stand by Liverpool judge, 1944. Lovely piece from the archives. "you can always tell the better class of people in factories, because they are people who do not believe in colour bars and other matters of privilege. I do not understand how in the British Empire, with so many coloured people as its citizens, anything in the way of a colour bar can exist, or ever be allowed to exist by any Government that is worth the name of Government"
July 18, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: July 18th 2016
- The Very Quiet Foreign Girls poetry group. Loved this story.
- BBC Radio 3, Between the Ears, We Are Writing a Poem About Home. A radio programme about the poetry group.
- The Alun Parry Podcast – Ep 01 – A world based on need and justice? An interesting interview about all things co-operative movement.
July 11, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: July 11th 2016
- A Manifesto for a Great United Kingdom in a Great Europe & a Great World. (Version 2.0), an interesting pitch from IndyJohar.
- The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? An excellent pitch for better design of new technologies (or design that doesn't just look at the technical side of the problem)
July 04, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: July 4th 2016
- Vi Hart on shootings, stalkings, and Internetting While Female. Hard to watch, but important to watch.
- The Biggest Mistake in Leadership (You’re Probably Going to Make). Let's hope there's someone who can match this to provide some leadership for the UK.
- Thoughts on the sociology of Brexit. A good read on understandable reasons that people have voted for leave. (via Phil Gyford)
- Dear England. Richard Pope's entry into the #dearestengland project has lots of sensible suggestions.
- Unbiasing. A good companion piece to Richard's, to remind us to question our assumptions on what we should do next.
- What sort of crisis is this?. A follow-up to Will Davies' piece on the sociology of Brexit.
June 17, 2016
This evening I spent a fantastic time at the latest Folken event. It was a great mix of all ages, races, genders having a robust yet civil barney about money, grass-roots organisations, independent businesses and value. It was a panel discussion - of which I was a member - but it was free-flowing between us and the audience, and there was a full-on section in the middle where we didn't get a word in as an impassioned and eloquent debate went on between a few members of the audience.
None of it is at a scale where it will change the world right now, but I came away with a growing sense of a sense of possibility, of a gathering momentum in the city. Groups like DoES Liverpool, Homebaked Anfield, Granby 4 Streets, Friends of the Flyover... with Folken helping to amplify it and providing some of the making connections that I talked about earlier in the year.
Then I got back home and looked at twitter. It wasn't immediately clear what was going on - my feed was a strange mix of travel chaos and talk about an MP. As I worked out what had been going on in the rest of the country, this tweet from my friend Jenny summed things up perfectly:
I don't recognise Britain right now, but I know we are better than this x— Jenny Harris (@Jennyjetharris) June 16, 2016
I've been trying to ignore the referendum debate - I'll be voting, but both sides campaigning seem to be engaged only in scaremongering and negative tactics. Neither side has any view on how voting for them would make things better, just that voting for the opposing side would make things worse. Richard Cable does a good job of explaining what they should have done, but sadly our political class are too busy trying to focus-group their way to clinging to power.
That said, the vote leave campaign is playing a particularly nasty, racist tune. Charlie Stross lays it out better than I can.
That's not the sort of country that I want. I had hoped that we'd muddle through in that seemingly very British way where we don't seem to veer too extremely in any direction, but I'm scared that that won't be the case.
I know that it's hard to remain open and welcoming to others when you're fearful for your job, for getting by; yet I also believe that we need to do just that, in spite of our fears, for the best route to a better society.
I'm not going to cede my country to the nationalist extremists, just as I don't think we should be quitting Europe just because improving it looks like it might be a bit hard.
The world is in a mess, and we need to sort it out. Yet it's not the immigrants, nor those on benefits, who are the cause of the problems. It's the bankers and the elites shuffling things round their tax havens. It's all mis-direction to stop from holding them to account, and now it's resulted in the murder of an innocent woman.
June 06, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: June 6th 2016
- On Failure. "failure is not good. But failure is okay. And to that point, we need to make failure okay."
- The CIO Problem, Part 1 (and then Part 2). Lots of wisdom on bringing local council, etc. services into the modern age. One highlight: "[you need to understand that] That’s not innovation. That’s just how tech works today."
- About the GDS Women’s group. "The Women’s group is for everyone, irrespective of gender, who cares about having an equal and diverse workplace – but that’s not a snappy and concise name for a group. So we're calling it the Women's group." Good to see initiatives like this share what they've tried, and how that's helped.
- On the Left. Like Tim Bray, I'm not a political expert, but I agree with pretty much all he lays out in that blog post. "I think the “conventional wisdom” which sustains the current finance-centric rentier economy is thought wise by fewer and fewer. I think the path from here to something saner will have messy and ugly parts. But I’m increasingly sure that our current path, as a society and species, is unsustainable."
- "Lighthouses... just stand there shining." Astounding, touching, harrowing to read letter from a rape victim that she read to her rapist. I long for a culture where this didn't need to exist.
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."
May 02, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: May 2nd 2016
- Email Isn’t The Thing You’re Bad At "You do not need a smartwatch to tell you exactly how many messages you are never going to reply to."
- How the Hillsborough inquest jury ruled on the 14 key questions. I don't have any stories to relate, but as a Liverpool FC fan - and particularly since being back living in the city - this has been part of the background of how life is for my entire adult life. I was 14 when the disaster happened. The extent of the cover-up and smear campaign is disgraceful.
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"
April 11, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: April 11th 2016
- OMATA: A Modern Mechanical Design Approach. Lovely article about OMATA's beautiful GPS bike speedometer. I especially like the term modern mechanical. It sums up nicely the sort of products I'm aiming for with MCQN Ltd.
- What It’s Like to Get a National-Security Letter. A behind-the-scenes look at the usually-shrouded-in-secrecy process of responding to a request for information from the US security services.
- Design Facts. An interesting collection of facts about design (as you'd possibly expect :-)
- Saul Alinsky, community organizing and rules for radicals. Interesting article about an interesting person. Will have to seek out some of his books.
- ‘The Finkbeiner Test’. Good set of tests/rules to follow when writing about scientists (who happen to be women).