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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This project among older Irish people in the UK caught my eye Dementia and Music | Comhaltas in Britain.

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (to give it its proper name) is an Irish based organisation with international branches that promotes Irish traditional music. It puts on grass roots sessions in local communities, trains young musicians and organises touring parties of musicians from Ireland around the world.

As a young child the Comhaltas tour of Britain meant a night out in the then packed Irish centre. There was the stress of getting ready; seeing my parents getting into their Sunday best (which has become less formal over the years) and my Mum never being able to find the shoes she wanted.

I would be wearing scratchy formal wear listening to Irish comedian / MC, mournful sean-nós singing and the lively céilí music with the occasional puirt à beul accompaniment.

A YouTube video with classic Irish tunes like these take me back playing records on my Granny’s turntable as a child; or my Uncle, Granny and I dancing like dervishes around the Marley tiled farmhouse floor as we whooped and clapped.

So the fit with Comhaltas and dementia made a lot of sense given the long term memories that would be likely accessed. And its amazing that something like this is specifically developed for the Irish community in the twilight of their years. Other organisations have looked to build something similar, such as Boots’ multi-sensory box. But this lacked the same degree of cultural relevance.

I loved Akira from the first time I saw it at an arthouse cinema in Liverpool in the early 1990s. It mirrored the cyberpunk culture I had loved since I originally watched Blade Runner. Akira had a quality and visual style way beyond what I had ever seen before. I’ve watched it many times since. But this video by an animator, going through a small section frame by frame was a revelation to me. The clever hacks that the animators did were amazing.

While we’re back in the 1990s, here’s Public Enemy live at Brixton Academy. Yet in 2020, Chuck D’s monologues feel even more relevant now than they did in 1990.

TikTok could be used for more than repeatable dance moves like BlackPink’s Samsung #danceawesome routine collaboration or Dettol India’s hand washing meme. This is a great video on publishing ‘serious content’ based on the experience of the World Economic Forum.

Google has launched a new workflow tool in the US. It looks interesting, here’s a YouTube walkthrough of it.

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Internet of Bodies

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Internet of bodies or IoB is a term that I first heard as The Internet of Bodies – a RAND Corporation report into internet connected devices that

…monitor the human body and transmit the data collected via the internet. This development, which some have called the Internet of Bodies (IoB), includes an expanding array of devices that combine software, hardware, and communication capabilities to track personal health data, provide vital medical treatment, or enhance bodily comfort, function, health, or well-being.

RAND Corporation
The Internet of Bodies

RAND Corporation were interested in the internet of bodies because of the complexity of the area. There are benefits which are well documented by others. However there are also ethical considerations around:

  • Data use by commercial organisations (advertising, health insurance, pharmaceutical industry)
  • Misleading product claims around product efficacy
  • Privacy risks
  • Data security risks
  • Underdeveloped and complex regulatory environment

What the Internet of Bodies covers includes:

  • Fitness trackers
  • Fitness software running on smartwatches or smartphones and device sensors
  • Connected health devices: insulin pumps, pacemakers
  • Patient adherence apps on smartphones
  • Patient diaries about their condition

The report came to a number of conclusions including:

  • As 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and satellite internet standards are rolled out, the US government conduct research projects to better understand any potential issues that might emerge
    There is a challenge that needs to be addressed to replace earlier generation devices and services with poor information security practices. The issue of cybersecurity needs to have more attention paid to it, right from the beginning of IoB product development
  • Device makers should test products and services for vulnerabilities often, and devise methods for users to patch software.
  • Data transparency and protection regulations need to be revisited to take account of materials received from the IoB
  • As with any new sector, a tighter regulation is required to prevent false or misleading product claims

More jargon related posts here.

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US political reporting

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Like most people at the moment I have been following the US presidential election. What struck me was the state of US political reporting I was watching on US network ABC and foreign media coverage.

Polling station
Polling station sign

Polls

Something seems to have gone wrong with polling methodologies. There are a variety of explanations for this but the impact is felt on US political reporting.

  • There is a lack of polling coverage in areas that are more likely to vote Republican: white working class, working people in rural areas
  • Conversely the models tend to skew more towards urban and suburban based voters
  • The very nature of polling questions is usually done out of context

Qualitative data

What becomes apparent is the there are huge swathes of the country that there is no longer qualitative research from. There are no longer local newspapers in a number of areas and ‘local’ TV networks are often an agglomeration of several former stations. This impacts on the granularity of the US political reporting. The greatest impact of this is felt in areas that are also ‘under-polled’.

Disintermediation of the media

The campaign for incumbent president Donald Trump seems to have been organising under the radar on social media and seems to have focused on getting more people who share their world view to get out and vote rather than reach ‘new constituencies’. This aspect of the campaign seems to have been missed by media pundits.

In many respects it resembles the UK leave referendum grassroots campaigners and supporters of Nigel Farage’s various reactionary political efforts. What they lack in absolute numbers, they try and make up for in commitment to getting out their base.

This resulted in Republican supporters creating convoys of cars and pickup trucks in their neighbourhoods to show their visibility, creating a form of social proof.

Opinions

Instead of data, the US political reporting seems to be based on the opinions of pundits affiliated to both major parties. This allowed networks and audiences to ‘drink their own kool-aid’.

While the Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign strategy was to try and build interest across the spectrum – there wasn’t a manifesto the way we’d understand it in Europe.

Instead there was an exchange of negative character messages about each candidate bolstering this wider battle of opinions over substance. This hasn’t been questioned in the US political reporting that I’ve seen, which surprised me.

More media related content here.