Democracy Commission: Draft Critique

This is unfinished, but in the spirit of release early, release often, I’m publishing. Comments to my email or Twitter, welcome too. I ‘m not opening comments here because of the spam.

After recent adventures with the Covid champions and a couple of other instances of asymmetric coproduction, I may produce a revised version in a while. Meanwhile, I’m working fairly seriously on this:

Initial Questions about the ‘new’ NHS app.

Very little is known publicly about the ‘new’ app, this: having been abandoned, I believe.

Here are a couple of straws in the wind from Wired, usually solid tech commentators:
and very recently:

Since so little is known, the list of questions is ‘long’:

  • How was Newham ‘selected’ and is there a financial arrangement?
  • Which company or organisation designed and wrote it? 
  • Is it open source, if so under what licence?
  • If open source, what guarantee that the build is in step with published source?
  • Is there a clear document with all the T&C’s outside the ‘app’?
  • What permissions does the app actually request (rather than require):
  • Does it de-install easily and *completely*?
  • Does it deal with proximity via Bluetooth, or, if not, what?
  • Is there a clear description of ‘possible infection’ algorithm?
  • What data is transferred where and to whom (countries, organisations,systems)
  • Can the ‘codes’ (you have 200?) be used to de-anonymise?
  • Given the April Wired article, specifically is geolocation turned on and processed?
  • Is there an active centralised system component as with the first app?

I’m sure that there are a few more, but that would be a good start.

SMS Clustering Map

I wrote this quickly, mainly as a local support tool for the pandemic. One can send a simple SMS, it’s stored in an sqlite database and shown, clustered on a map. Lots of ways of changing the values too. Since it’s Perl, quite a lot can be done with the message parsing.

Also, it’ll work with an SMS dongle now on very low powered systems. It’s available as source code and a Debian package here. 

BA Dissertation: Path to Forest London

This is my Bookchin influenced take on a sociable, resilient ‘forest city’. I’m aware that it’s not a whole solution at the moment. It’s a second attempt to think about a human scale integration of technology and ecology for city landscapes. The ‘best’ bits (if there are any!) are the final section and bibliography. Beware analytic philosophers, it’s not (heavily) in that tradition.

This first attempt was here


Noham: A thought experiment

I’ll have to write a long essay (it’s somewhat pretentious to call it a dissertation) as part of my final year at Birkbeck. If the powers that be agree, I’m going to base it on this essay that I wrote in 2016, some of it has already ‘come true’, like the (in)famous William Gibson quote.

When I’ve finished it’ll probably be less like this and more like a Socratic dialogue. Comments welcome, you (probably) know where to find me, not on FB, anyway.

This is an update with a list of references at the end of the document and these are now clickable links.