Monthnotes for October 2017


October wasn’t just productive. This month our work got a ton of attention across different projects—which is great as it leads to great conversations and is indicative of larger impact. Speaking of impact, over on ThingsCon we realized a long-held dream by announcing the ThingsCon Fellowship program. This and more below. Enjoy!

If you’d like to explore working together, please get in touch.

Lots of conversations & media attention

It’s always great to see own work get attention. After all, this is how impact starts.

There was some excellent Twitter action when in one day, Mozilla‘s main account tweeted our trustmark report, and Medium‘s featured my thoughts on Google’s push to AI-powered services which had already been going somewhat viral. This started a number of fantastic conversations. Then VentureBeat asked to cross-post my recent article on Germany’s need to get ready for AI. A nice hat-trick indeed.

CNN screenshot

As if this wasn’t enough, in an op-ed on CNN.com on the future of IoT, Mozilla CEO Mark Surman and Michelle Thorne kindly gave not one but two shout-outs to ThingsCon, too!

stories connecting dots

Also, remember when back in July, the smart & ever-lovely Markus Andrezak interviewed me for his podcast Stories Connecting Dots? The second part of our interview just went live and I’m honored to be opening the second season of SDC discussing Shenzhen’s IoT ecosystem.

ThingsCon Fellowship Program

I could not be more happy to announce the ThingsCon Fellowship Program. It’s been a long-held dream of mine to start this, and I can hardly believe it’s finally happening.

The ThingsCon Fellowship recognizes achievements and commitment that advance the ThingsCon mission of fostering the creation of a responsible and human-centric IoT generally, and support for the ThingsCon community specifically. With the program, we aim to amplify the fellows’ work in this area and to promote knowledge transfer and networking between fellows and the larger ThingsCon network.

The first round of fellows for 2017/2018 consists of a small cohort of ThingsCon allies. These individuals have over the past years put tremendous effort into advancing and promoting the ThingsCon mission. We are both humbled and proud to welcome these six outstanding individuals as the inaugural ThingsCon Fellows:

ThingsCon Fellows 2017-2018 ThingsCon Fellows 2017-18

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino Ame Elliott Dries de Roeck Iohanna Nicenboim Michelle Thorne Ricardo Brito

Thinking, writing, speaking

At the invitation of Prof. Sven Engesser at Technical University Dresden, I had the pleasure of presenting to the master students of applied media studies. Here are my slides (in German):

It’s great to see that communication science/media studies tackle IoT and human-computer interfaces as a field of research. I was impressed with the level of thinking and questions from the group. The discussion was lively, on point, and there were none of the obvious questions. Instead, the students probed the pretty complex issues surrounding IoT, AI, and algorithmic decision making in the context of communications and communication science. It’s part of the master program, and of Prof. Engesser’s new role as professor there, to also set up a lab to study how smart home assistants and other voice-enabled connected devices impact the way we communicate at home—both with other people and with machines. It’ll be interesting to watch the lab’s progress and findings, and I hope we’ll find ways to collaborate on some of these questions.

What else?

I was more than a little pleased to learn that our recent work on a trustmark for IoT that we’ve been doing with Mozilla (see thewavingcat.com/iot-trustmark) is continuing to unfold its impact: I had heard whispers before, and now heard confirmation, that some core recommendations from our report found their way into a large country’s national IoT policy. It’s not yet published, but will be soon.

What’s next?

A project with our office neighbors, the lovely Syspons team, is kicking off. It’s about increasing the impact of health education in South Africa, which I’m quite excited about.

In the next few weeks we’ll also decide what the next steps are for our IoT Trustmark efforts.

On 9 November, I’ll be at SimplySecure‘s conference Underexposed (program). My talk there is called The Internet of Sneaky Things. I’ll be exploring how IoT is at a crossroads, and we can either let it become the Internet of Sneaky Things or we can make it better, more human-centric, and more responsible.

Later this month I’ll be also speaking at Good School, a Hamburg-based executive leadership program, where I’ll be giving a glimpse or two at China and its digital landscape.

And last but not least, a personal note (which is rare on this blog): We’re expecting a baby within the next few weeks, which of course makes me very happy. My tweets and monthnotes might temporarily become a little more irregular (or not), and or time-shifted to odd late night postings (or not). Who knows? We’ll see! Next year I’ll likely take a few months off to stay home with the little one. But until then, everything else here will continue as normal for now.

In the meantime, please get in touch if you’d like to discuss new projects.

CNN introduces embeddable video


CNN just introduced embeddable video. The CNN behind the Scenes blog has the details:

We are very happy to announce our latest move in that effort with the introduction of the CNN.com embeddable video player, a stand-alone video player that can be virally distributed by using a code snippet to embed on almost any site or blog that you choose. For the time being, the player is limited to a single clip and available in the player size, 384×216. We’ve also added a share feature to allow you to share videos on your favorite social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

The embedded player looks like this:

Seeing the CNN offer this feature is a really good sign that major media companies might eventually figure out how to work the internets. So far, all they tried was to keep readers & viewers on their site where they probably thought it was easier to sell ads. But this looks pretty good. What’s more, bloggers can now can more easily discuss politics online and provide some media coverage with their posts. It’s a clear win/win, and I can just hope that more media outlets will offer embedabble media. It’s an important step for them in order to stay relevant, and a nice hat tip to us bloggers.

(via The Next Web)

Chinese Anti-CNN Campaign


Note: I won’t touch the politics behind this campaign in this post. If you were looking for any political opinion on this subject, feel free to skip this post.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been getting increasing amounts of propaganda material spam (pardon: information) related to China’s campaign against the CNN.

(When I say “China”, I’m referring not necessarily to the government, although I suspect it’s a driving force here, but to the origin of the messages. Same goes for CNN: The news channel is just a name for Western media, both in said campaign and in this post. End of disclaimer.)

Just to name a few pieces I found noteworthy:

Anti-Riot and Anti-CNN shirts: Anti-Riot shirts (I have to admit, I kind of like the slightly oddly translated slogan “Anti-Riot & Explore The Truth”.)

A Twitter account called Jack Cafferty, supposedly by the CNN anchor. The profile links to Anti-CNN.com where you can find the real deal, like campaign propaganda videos suggesting that the situation in Iraq and U.S. involvement there has relevance to what’s going on in Tibet. (Err. Ok. No politics, right?)

Twitter Anti-CNN hasn’t said a lot yet, but follows a motley crew of folks including: Putin, Mao, Jack Cafferty, Jiang Zemin, and – oddly enough – Jeremiah Owyang.*

One thing all of them have in common: The words truth and lies are used rather inflationary, and usually in upper case. Always a good sign, right?

Apart from that, I do find it interesting how quickly social media are deployed in this campaign. And I can’t help but wonder: Is this a centralized, orchestrated campaign or some kind of decentralized, bottom-up movement?

Have you experienced any elements of the Anti-CNN campaign? What did you think?

  • Update: As Jeremiah notes correctly, it’s not strange that folks are following him (many do, he’s a thought leader in social media), and it doesn’t indicate his endorsement of his followers. However, when I checked Anti-CNN’s Twitter account, they were following only (or to a large extent) fake profiles of dictators, political leaders, media figures. It’s that not-being-fake part that made Jeremiah stand out. Sorry for the misunderstanding, J.!

CNN launches iReport, gets serious about Citizen Journalism?


CNN will launch a new Citizen Journalism portal, reports Mediaweek. Going by the name iReport, the project will be a portal for user-generated video news.

The CNN has been accepting photos and videos (called, in CNN speak, I-Reports) by their viewers since 2006. So the TV channel has a little bit of experience with user-generated content.

However, as Mashable points out, it’s pretty unclear where the CNN will try to go with iReport.com. Susan Grant, executive vp of CNN News Services, is quoted quite contradictory. On the one hand, Grant claims that iReport will be “completely unvetted.” On the other hand, she says: “We’ll be telling people in lots of different ways that it’s a post-moderated site.”

Now that’s quite a difference, I’d say. However, I’ll be more than happy to give the CNN a chance here. If they get it right, a smart video news portal by citizen journalists for citizens could be quite an ambitious project. Which leaves me hoping – but not quite believing – that Mashable’s Mark Hopkins is wrong when he claims that “CNN is completely blinded by the dollar signs” involved in citizen journalism.