Last week danah boyd was presented with an EFF award. She gave a great acceptance speech titled Facing the Great Reckoning Head-On, that contains a plethora of quotes to highlight. Exploring how to make sense of the entire context and dynamics, in which the MIT Media Lab scandal of funding from a badly tainted source could take place (which I previously mentioned here, here and here.) So it’s best to just go read the entire thing.

In stark contrast, Lawrence Lessig’s ‘exploration’ makes no sense to me, and comes across as tone deaf, spending hundreds of words putting forward a straw man that if you accept tainted funding it always should be anonymous, while saying he personally wouldn’t accept such funding. That might well be, but has no real bearing on the case. Instead of putting forward how hard it is to raise funding, he could just as well have argued that higher education should be publicly funded, and funded well to avoid situations like at MIT Media Lab. A model that works well around the globe. Lessig wrote a book against corruption, meaning the funding focus of US politics, but doesn’t here call out the private funding of higher education on the same terms, even though the negative consequences are the same.

On the other hand boyd’s speech addresses the multiple layers involved. One’s own role in a specific system, and in a specific institute, how privilege plays out. How the deeply personal, the emotional and the structures and systems we create relate to and mutually impact each other. Acknowledging and sketching out the complexity, and then to seek where meaningful boundaries are is much maturer way to take this on than Lessig’s highlighting a single dimension of a situation which seems minimally pertinent to it, and worse because of its ‘flatness’ is easily perceived to be actively denying the emotional strata involved and in dire need of recognition.

As said go read the entire speech, but I’ll pick out a few quotes nevertheless. They are pertinent to topics I blog about here, such as the recently launched TechPledge, the role of community, the keys to agency, and resonates with my entire take on technology.

The story of how I got to be standing here is rife with pain and I need to expose part of my story in order to make visible why we need to have a Great Reckoning in the tech industry. This award may be about me, but it’s also not. It should be about all of the women and other minorities who have been excluded from tech by people who thought they were helping.

I am here today in-no-small-part because I benefited from the generosity of men who tolerated and, in effect, enabled unethical, immoral, and criminal men. And because of that privilege, I managed to keep moving forward even as the collateral damage of patriarchy stifled the voices of so many others around me.

What’s happening at the Media Lab right now is emblematic of a broader set of issues plaguing the tech industry and society more generally. Tech prides itself in being better than other sectors. But often it’s not.

If change is going to happen, values and ethics need to have a seat in the boardroom. Corporate governance goes beyond protecting the interests of capitalism. Change also means that the ideas and concerns of all people need to be a part of the design phase and the auditing of systems, even if this slows down the process.

…whether we like it or not, the tech industry is now in the business of global governance.

“Move fast and break things” is an abomination if your goal is to create a healthy society…In a healthy society, we strategically design to increase social cohesion because binaries are machine logic not human logic.

…accountability without transformation is simply spectacle.

The goal shouldn’t be to avoid being evil; it should be to actively do good. But it’s not enough to say that we’re going to do good; we need to collectively define — and hold each other to — shared values and standards.

Human progress needs the the tech sector to be actively reflective, and to continuously scrutinise its ethics, the values and morals actually expressed in behaviour.

Today Lane Becker is celebrating his 46th birthday. To mark the occasion he is organising a conference in Austin, Texas.

Bringing together a cool line-up of speakers, he asked us to do a live video conversation at the start. To explain a bit about the history of how Lane came to doing birthday conferences. A few months ago I described that some the ripples of our birthday unconferences are more birthday conferences, such as Peter’s last June, and that also includes Lane’s events.

We had a live conversation at the start of Lane’s birthday conference, and described the history of how we came to do our first unconference for Elmine’s birthday in 2008, and then the subsequent events. We also tried share some of the main things that stand out to us.

That doing an unconference at home, which started as a fluke, brings a special vibe to it all. Everyone behaves informally, you’re a guest in our home, but still get into deep conversations and do workshops and sessions. How we learned at Reboot that bringing kids makes everything more real, more human. People talk less bs on stage if their kids are around 🙂

That it is quite amazing to bring together people from all our various networks, and see how well they hit it off.
There’s always a moment during an unconference when you look around you and see the energy and how everyone’s engaged, when it hits me how awesome it is to be the hosts to that. And how awesome it is that so many of our friends make the effort to travel to us.

That the 2014 Make Stuff That Matters was probably the best one yet, as it turned us from just doing sessions, to also letting participants learn new skills. And having a 14 meter mobile FabLab parked in front was pretty impressive too 🙂

And we talked about how some participants feel a birthday unconference can be life changing, pivotal. We suspect it has a lot to do with that it’s rare to spend time together and have deep conversations, without pressing needs yet tied to things of importance to your own life.

Happy birthday Lane, we hope you and your friends have a great event!

Had a very good first day at Copenhagen Techfestival Thursday. After bumping into Thomas right at the start, I joined the full day Public Data Summit, focusing on the use of open data in climate change response, co-hosted by Christian. Lots of things to mention / write about more, but need to work out some of my notes first.

Then I met up with Cathrine Lippert a long time Danish open data colleague, that I hand’t seen for a few years and now works at DTI. Just before dinner I ended up walking next to Nadja Pass, whom I think I last met a decade ago, and over excellent food we talked about the things that happened to us, the things we currently do and care about. Listened to an excellent and very well designed talk (sticky soundbites and all) by Aza Raskin, about the hackability of human minds, and what that spells out for the impact of tech on society. While leaving the central festival area, Nadia El Imam, co-founder of the great Edgeryders network, and I crossed paths, and over wine and some food at Pate Pate, we talked about a wide variety of things. I arranged a bicycle from the hotel, which is much easier to get around. Cycling I found that even having been in Copenhagen last years ago, I still know my way around without having to check where I’m going.

This afternoon, after catching up with Henriette Weber to hear of her latest adventures, I will take part in the Copenhagen 150 think-tank, which is a 24 hour event. However, I will need to limit my presence to 20 hours, as I need to be back in Amsterdam by tomorrow mid afternoon to make a birthday dinner with dear friends in the very south of the country.

A year ago Arjen Kamphuis went missing in northern Norway. Given Arjen’s personal and professional history, various scenarios were all possible to his friends and family. As time went on without news, the question whatever happened morphed into dealing with the ever diminishing probability of his return.

When his belongings were found near and in the water shortly after he went missing, an accident seemed a logical conclusion, but then his phone was activated in the south of Norway. In the past year this has led to various conspiracy theories, who when rebuffed by Arjan’s family and friends, were extended to include them.

Norwegian police have now released a statement they consider his disappearance as a closed case (a machine translation of a Norwegian news article). They now announced that his phone and other belongings such as his laptop, were found and taken by two truck drivers who had been fishing near the spot Arjen went missing. The truck drivers are cleared from any suspicion, and a kajaking accident is the most likely explanation.

I’m sure the CTs will continue on (‘Why were the truck drivers never mentioned before? They were Eastern European, so likely Russian operatives!’). I do hope, even in the absence of absolute certainty, his family and friends can have some peace of mind over what happened.

I’ve know Arjen for a long time, and in our infrequent but regular interactions it was great to get a taste of his brilliant and active mind. Since his disappearance I’ve more actively taken up the topic of information security, paying what I learned from Arjen forward to those around me. There’s never much to learn from random tragedy itself, except what Arjen’s close friend Ancilla wrote late last year, to truly care and be curious about how those around you are doing, and to keep them close, to spend time with them.

As I said earlier, in relation to Elmine and I spending the effort to go to Canada for a few days of conversation and hanging out

The simple act of spending time together talking about life for a while [as Peter described it] is a rather rich and powerful thing to do, which packs the full complexity of being human.

Lunch conversationsIn conversation with Arjen during a roof top lunch 11 years ago. The oldest photo I can find of our conversations.

Today my old friend Max interviewed me in our garden. We discussed the role of digitisation in general, and of open data in particular, for the energy transition. This in preparation for the energie.digital conference I will be speaking at in Germany next month. It was a good rehearsal as well, as I will be speaking in German, and I need to work on my German language jargon 🙂

Heute hat mein alter Freund Max in unserem Garten ein Video-Interview mit mir gemacht. Im September werde ich auf der von seiner Firma organisierten Konferenz energie.digital sprechen über Open Data, und wie offene Daten eine Rolle spielen in der Energiewende.

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Max setting up his equipment, and borrowing some more equipment from Elmine, my in house video professional

This blog is a bit of a commonplace book, which I keep because note keeping is a key tool in learning, thinking and ultimately doing stuff. Even though this blog is mostly oriented towards professional interests, it also builds a pretty consistent picture of my actions, whereabouts and life events over the past 17 years. That makes it a reference for myself, and a source for checking memories.

Today at IndieWeb summit Jonathan LaCour made a call to action to remember “memories are important“, part of your identity so you should “hold onto your identity; not encumbered by any silos“, and ensure those memories are in a place you fully control. Memories and identity as building blocks of agency.

He incorporated various online materials over the years into his current site, all accessible through the archives. Which reminds me I should do something like that with importing my exported FB archive here.