Category Archives: Blogs

Professionally and personally, I write a number of blogs – the former on this site or at The Do Lab and the latter as separate sites.

Animal Farm, 2019

As predicted, May’s Pig is still resolutely a pig: all that’s changed is that it’s become even stickier from the frantic application of multiple layers of lipstick. Having been unceremoniously tipped out of its poke, the true horror of its oxymoronic insanity is evident to all, no matter which part of the midden they occupy in the Brexit Civil War.

So, in the absence a dereliction of common sense that’s exceptional, even by current standards (which is to say, it’s possible), May’s deal is going down – and by the full bacon sandwich. Update: it did, by 149 votes. Next… Continue reading Animal Farm, 2019

From Smart Cities to Rural Communities

I spend much of my time working on various Smart City programmes: anything from modelling need and opportunity to designing architectures for the fusion of large and diverse data sets with live sensor and device data (IoT) and the analytics needed to make the results coherent, timely and relevant. I also live in a very small community, one where was founder of a community company whose efforts have led to our little corner of the Scottish Highlands being in the top 1% of global broadband connectivity. We’re now starting to use that infrastructure to create opportunities for new services and means of service delivery, applying the principles of Smart City programmes to the needs of rural and remote communities, based on the tripod of providing the tools (in the form of the infrastructure), helping people acquire appropriate skills and then nurturing the ideas that then emerge.

Continue reading From Smart Cities to Rural Communities

Then a Miracle Occurs: The Hype of AI Pitches

I spend quite a lot of my time doing due diligence on innovation funding applications. I’ve been doing this for rather longer than is comfortable to contemplate so, over the years, I’ve seen progressive tides of hype wash in, fill a few rock pools, and then wash out again, only to re-emerge a few years later – assuming it had any merit in the first place – in a form that actually works as part of the overall problem-solving ecosystem. That innovation-development-hype-disappointment cycle may actually happen several times before the rest of the innovations needed for an idea to gain market traction catch up. That’s certainly been the case with VR and AR, with IoT and, most of all, with ArtificiaI Intelligence (AI). Continue reading Then a Miracle Occurs: The Hype of AI Pitches

Democratic Clarity

For nearly three years now, I’ve been trying to engage some of my fellow Britons in meaningful debate, initially about why they’d plan to vote to leave the EU and then about why they voted to leave.

It’s been very depressing – all I’ve found is delusion, denial and the repetition of Daily Mail level mantras such as, “Were taking back control” (they tend not to do apostrophes) or, “We need to get out from under the unelected EU superstate/dictatorship“. Which is a bit rich coming from citizens of a country that, for nearly half a century, has been one of the key players in formulating the structures, processes and decisions of the EEC, the EC and now the EU. Continue reading Democratic Clarity

Brexit naked…

Last night’s vote pretty much removed the middle ground from Brexit. The May ‘agreement’ was constrained by the predictable, consistent and appropriate requirement by the EU for its four fundamental freedoms to be respected in any future relationship. So there’s a very limited range of Brexit options that can be built around that and which maintain any integration whatsoever with the rest of Europe. Which means that anything within shouting distance of the middle ground will look very little different to the motion that was vaporised in the Commons yesterday and would stand about as much chance in any future remix, however and whoever was proposing it.

Continue reading Brexit naked…

Order! Order! Holding power to account

Lots of people seem to be getting their fundaments in a knot over Speaker John Bercow’s decision to allow an amendment to the otherwise procedural vote on the Brexit debate, or rather on the UK’s government’s desperation to avoid a meaningful debate. So? The bottom line here is that The Speaker is the representative and protector of the interests of The Commons to the government (and monarchy, at times when that mattered). 

Continue reading Order! Order! Holding power to account

Brexit and other Fantastical Beasts

In two days, we elect a government. In the recent history of things, we’d normally be following our historical party affiliations, where a small number of marginal seats tip the balance between parties who pivot around a vaguely centrist axis where, whatever the outcome, most of us can live with it for another five years, the while employing the traditional British relief valves of dark muttering, sarcasm and cynicism. And so the world turns.

But not this time. This time, the stakes are far greater than a short-term opportunity for an elected government to tinker with the parameters of policy, income, debt and stimulus. This time, the stakes are no less than the future of both the UK’s place in the world and, as a consequence, the future of the UK itself. This is an election whose ramifications will play out, not over a five-year term, but over generations.

Continue reading Brexit and other Fantastical Beasts

Dumbocracy Rising

So, it appears that the UK now has a ‘parliament’ where most members don’t actually understand their job description or the nature of representative democracy itself.

At its most basic, their duty is to represent their local electorate, not blindly, but through the filter of their judgement and experience,  to balance and reconcile what is actually in the best interests of the constituency and of the country as a whole. There, there is a system, evolved over a millennium or so, that has  put them where they are, to be the buffer between the baying of the wilfully uninformed, the ill-intentioned and the fear-driven, and the common good. That system now seems to have been abandoned, in the name of bigotry, personal agendas and party dogma. Continue reading Dumbocracy Rising

Democratic Bereavement

Thoughts for our US friends, from the “sneering liberal elite” (as apparently we now are) of the UK. We’re a few months ahead of you in trying to work out why our country has taken the ‘Samson’ route of pulling down the temple whilst standing inside it (there will be more on that), and we’re starting to see how the stages of bereavement from principle and reason play out. This isn’t entirely serious – it’s a play on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s long-discredited model for the stages of grief,  nor is the language safe for those of a nervous disposition but, for all that, it’s been well received…

Continue reading Democratic Bereavement