Ethan Zuckerman is leaving MIT’s MediaLab as he finds out more about ties between it and Epstein. As he says, being able to step away is in part privilege. But I think it is good that such privilege is used to send a message, and is itself part of that message. Looking forward to also reading Joi Ito‘s thoughts about this.

Read On me, and the Media Lab (Medium)

A week ago last Friday, I spoke to Joi Ito …[who] told me that the Media Lab’s ties to Epstein went much deeper, and included a business relationship between Joi and Epstein, investments in companies Joi’s VC fund was supporting, gifts and visits by Epstein to the Media Lab and by Joi to Epstein’s properties. As the scale of Joi’s involvement with Epstein became clear to me, I began to understand that I had to end my relationship with the MIT Media Lab.

Owen Jones makes a key point. The arsonists walk among us, and the smell of accelerants is unmistakable whenever you open a newspaper or watch the news.

Read Far-right violence is on the rise. Where is the outrage? | Owen Jones (the Guardian)

When we discuss Islamist fundamentalist terrorists, we ask: who are the hate preachers radicalising them in mosques or the internet? We have yet to engage seriously in a similar debate about far-right terrorism for a simple reason: the hate preachers are mainstream politicians, commentators and media outlets.

It depends I think. Critical mass towards what? Local agency? Go mainstream from a niche? Self sustainment of the group? What are your underlying assumptions?

If it’s about self sustaining a group, also have a look at some guidelines I wrote a decade ago on what makes a community of practice work (based on Etienne Wenger‘s work).

My rule of thumb for ‘stable’ groups is about 8 people (say 5-12, but 12 is better for ‘learning’ groups and likely too big for coordinating ‘doing’ groups), and then an ‘uncomfortable’ zone up to 25 or so, where I feel there’s a new equilibrium from 25 to 35 or so (3 times ~8, the uncomfortable zone is more like 2 times ~8, with a risk of splitting in half)

Assuming you’re after a self sustaining group for a niche hobby, I’d say 25-35 people. Depending on a multitude of factors in practice, like frequency of interaction, geographic dispersal, all the stuff in the slides linked above.

Replied to a post by Chris M.Chris M.

What size do you consider “critical mass” for an active community centred around a niche hobby/topic?

Aaron Parecki has been playing around with sensors in his home. He lists the three principles he applies to how his home automation is set up:

  • Manual override: Everything automated has to still have the ability to be controlled manually
  • Keep it at home: No “cloud” services unless absolutely necessary (e.g. push notifications to a phone)
  • Open: Avoid vendor lock-in, use open source and open protocols where possible

These are three principles that make sense in more contexts, where the second principle “keep it at home” I relate to the “useful on its own, more useful when connected to other instances” element that is important to me in thinking about smart homes.

Rather impressive is that Aaron is dropping technology that has been acquired by silos, and breaks those principles after he started using it, and not just uses them to inform buying decisions.

Silo-imprisonment and closed tools result in a smart home that isn’t smart for you, but smart for the vendors. Like how Smart City TM visions were about dull boring security focused panopticons keeping people in check. Not the vibrant community where ideas, people, capital, goods and artisanship recombine into a total so much more than the sum of its parts, where smart technology aids those serendipitous recombinations.

A smart home to me is one that is not just a dwelling but a productive actor (a “MakerHousehold“), for the people that live in it, for its immediate neighbourhood and for the city it is in. This was what I was interested in when shaping the ‘Smart Stuff That Matters‘ unconference last year.

Aaron got me thinking about potential sensors in our home again. Also because data gathering is the starting point for finding points of action. AI for the rest of us I think needs to be based on self collected data around the house / person, mixed with public data for context.

Liked a post by Aaron PareckiAaron Parecki

Over the past few weekends I’ve been overhauling my home automation systems. At the core, as I decide what to buy and how to configure it, there are three primary principles