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Weeknote - 29 06 2020

Last updated 14 July 2020

Another week. Another attempt at week notes. But this time with greater emphasis on notes.

Weekly synopsis: Week started productively and ended less so. On balance my week had more of a technical focus.

I created CMD (career management document) based on this alistapart article. Structured with What (what I did), date (when), Who for (me, work, other), Evidence (a link to or screenshot of the thing), Tags (feels like I’ll need to filter by x at some point). Lets see how long I can keep updating this. I’m hoping it will reduce the pain the next time I update my CV, or Linkedin page, or apply for a job, or have to sell the professional me.

I started a 4hr data analysis with python course. It is 4hrs of video so will take longer if you want to explore anything further or do the exercises on your own. I’m about 3 hrs in. My favourite part so far has been being forced to use juypter notebooks; they are great, easy to use and make testing any python you are working on very easy.

Still waiting for Apple to announce a new iMac.

What have I read

  • A very interesting Democracy and digital committees report was published this week. It contains lots of recommendations about tackling disinformation online and giving authorities the power to challenge and fine corporations that do not adhere to the guidelines.
    • Most welcome bit is the recognition that a lot more needs to be done and sooner, it spells out that the Online Harms Bill schedule date of 2024 is unacceptable and needs to be brought forward.
    • No brainer: online political ads need to regulated, they need to be true and they need to say who they are from. It is quite amazing that doesn’t happen already as it does with TV and print ads.
    • Most intriguing bit: making sure platforms are transparent about how their algorithms work including internal and external audits of their effects, basically checking for bias. I think this is a very important and vital step for a fairer society. I’m intrigued to see how this pans out.
    • Biggest omission: over focus on content, or harmful content. That is not the only problem caused by these large corporations, their business model is to monopolise our attention and sell our data and thoughts. This can lead to more dangers than just harmful and misleading content, many of which we don’t know about yet and won’t know about yet until we have stemmed the flow of harmful content and the platforms turn to other means to keep us entranced. We should be doing more to protect against these other and potential new harms rather than play a game of whack-a-mole (link to tweet I saw?) where each time lapse been identifying and mitigating against a danger means 1000s of people, as well as our democracy, being exposed and damaged.
  • Scott Galloway on Zuckerberg - “he is leveraging his proximity to power in corrupt ways just to increase his wealth.” https://www.fastcompany.com/90520284/mark-zuckerberg-is-the-biggest-oligarch-in-the-history-of-mankind. For the anti-capitalist: Unfettered pursuit of profits with no regard for humanity (human life and society) is the problem, the more powerful corporations become the more damage they can cause, so break them up, limit the damage, make them pay for damages cause. For the capitalist: competition is good, competition drives growth, growth equals money, so break them up, let the smaller, nimbler, laser focused companies compete.
  • On data collection in the development sector, upstream vs downstream data - https://reboot.org/2016/10/12/longreads-moving-real-time-data-real-time-programs/
  • I disagree with any assertion that the end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp is the problem and leads to the levels of misinformation on the platform - https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jul/02/whatsapp-groups-conspiracy-theories-disinformation-democracy. This article seems to suggest the problem is privacy, if you can do anything in secret or privately with a group it is a threat to democracy… private coordination or private groups aren’t anything new, they might be easier and faster but it isn’t a new phenomenon. Our tools and methods to counter misinformation and to build/maintain trust and legitimacy in our institutions need to adapt. The exploration of group thinking research towards the end of the article is thought provoking and suggests where more focus needs to be directed.
  • Richard Pope discusses “Removing the administrative burden.” I completely agree with everything Richard says in here. He calls it a focus on removing administrative burden, I call it mundane computing. There is so so so much that could be achieved/saved/etc by focusing on using technology to do the boring stuff. More of this please.

What have I written

  • these weeknotes

What have I made

  • start library of flask filters (in digital-land-frontend) - I work on a lot of sites and services built using jinja templates and find I have to rewrite a lot of filters so I started to gather them up.
  • create week note template script for my notes to static pages tool
  • scripts to collect some of the available FPL data. Attempting to use some of what I’ve learnt from the data analysis course. Once collected, I created a jupyter notebook so that I could look at Salah’s data; so that I can play with pandas.

What I've watched

  • I May Destroy You - a compelling exploration of consent, friendship and being human, warts and all
  • Black is the new black - completely missed this when it first aired in 2016. It is back on iplayer and is well worth a watch.
  • Filthy rich - Only a few episodes in but the story is infuriatingly depressing. Makes you think how messed up the world is. And if it is so messed up because of unfettered capitalism. If Epstein hadn’t have been as rich, he wouldn’t have had all the money and therefore power and influence to buy people off, to employ people to scare and intimidate and influence people. Without all that he might've been made topay for his crimes. And at the other end of the scale there are all the victims. If these young girls (or their families) hadn’t have been so poor and therefore vulnerable then again they might not have found themselves in a position where they could be manipulated and taken advantage of. Inequalities, the gap between the rich and the poor, are a contributing factor to this sorry sorry story.

What have I learnt

  • “just over 10% of all wealth held by Americans is in business equity. The biggest source of wealth for most families remains home ownership” - (source: Economist)
  • You can use the flood risk service to find your UPRN - https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk/
  • How to use jupyter notebooks (tutorial notebook) - mentioned above but something I should probably have checked out early. Good to use to test and explain bits of python I written. Also a good way to look at data collected from elsewhere.
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