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Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

I think there's a huge desire to find the next unicorn within the UK and Europe and that is to the detriment of our entire tech ecosystem.

We should not be trying to emulate companies that make money out of the capture of millions of accounts and their data.

We should be trying to build an ecosystem of lots of smaller companies and encouraging them to partner together. Creating a culture of cooperation rather than competition.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

I hate the focus, on building unicorns.

It leads to projects having to consider metrics and who's signing up. How much money raised.

I object to it because it reduces potential clients and their data to abstract numbers.

Look at the US, look at the massive unicorns and look at what they are built on. The dehumanisation of their clients, how much engagement do you get from a post? What data can you sell on?

We should reject this philosophy in Europe

re: Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict I love that idea, the problem being that they'll just get bought up by FAANG with their massive amounts of excess cash. I'd love to see it happen though and would be happy to try to collaborate (as I think our company is in too weird of a market to get their attention)

re: Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@otfrom
I think that's all we can do, is foster that openness. I'm always open to collaboration, but a hard no from me will always be if someone wants me to sign an NDA first.

I think with smaller companies the markets will always be smaller more niche markets and I think that's a good thing.

re: Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict we avoid a lot of the NDA issues by publishing the code to our models. The only things we need to protect are the discussions we have with our clients. They are the ones who get to decide if they'll share that info.

Our code is here: github.com/mastodonc/

The only private bits are the data scrubbing and report specific stuff for clients.

re: Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@otfrom
That's reasonable, I don't mind specific client relevant work staying confidential. But when it's stuff like improvements to your overall project there does need to be leeway.

re: Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@otfrom
Certainly I do feel that founders wanting an exit strategy from their start up contributes to this. Hence the BBC occasionally asking the why we don't have tech giants in the UK article every few years.

re: Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@otfrom
Then of course there's w3w, which exploits the emergency services and uses them to market their proprietary location bollocks. I don't see the UK government paying anything more than lipservice to FOSS. So at least the EU is trying.

spectra.video/w/qWvYS8aNNJKB4o

That's who the UK promotes as innovative 馃う鈥嶁檧锔

re: Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict UK gov't tech strategy is to find ways to get commercial wins for UK plc out of everything. So, 馃し

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict @bortzmeyer

Yesterday on Dutch TV a startup that made Forbes most influential this-and-that (missed the start)..

Startup: "Yes, we replace traditional CV applications with playing games, bla bla bla.."

Everyone: ???

Amsterdam mayor: "So you are trying to remove discrimination from the job application market?"

Startup: "Ah yes, exactly!"

Presenter: "What are future plans?"

Startup: "To become a unicorn!"

Everyone: "A uni.. what??"

馃あ 馃ぎ

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@humanetech
It's one of the things that disquiets me about the EU startup funding pathways. They are very proud of the unicorns and slightly less big successes. But then when you see the amount of money put in you can see why. But it gives no space really for the smaller projects with less readily commercially marketable technologies.

So while some innovation is funded, others have very limited funding for truly out there new innovation.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@humanetech
And again its code and tech, not community being explicitly funded. Community is just expected to be there with it being part of the tool set of developers and innovators. So we continue the exploitive patterns of Silicon Valley if we are not careful.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict

Yes, very unfortunate.

Btw, I found the startup. Idea on the whole is not bad, though I have my doubts on these kinds of solutions that make all kinds of conclusions based on automated neuro/psycho analysis and such. Creepy tech.

equalture.com/

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@humanetech
Sadly AI is making it's way everywhere including into the first hurdle of application to be considered for EU pathway funding.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict yes, and looking over your shoulder in the workplace to determine if you are still a 'happy employee' (which is the official reason, but is more like your boss and 3rd parties monitoring your performance / productivity continuously)

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict

"Why are you firing me? I am doing a fine job!"

"Well, the computer says no. 40% of the time your pupils aren't even focused on the screen."

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@humanetech @onepict very creepy indeed. What worries me here is the expectation that one should bring their entire self to work, and that we should give, expose, and give access to all sides of ourselves and lives to be hired and keep our employment status. Neoliberal capitalism mixed with scientific management at its best 馃ザ

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@louce
You also worry down the line what other data could be bought and added to a candidates profile without their knowledge. Imagine the discrimination if mental health records, or absenses from a job for reasons got added.
@humanetech

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@humanetech @onepict absolutely. Gamification is another concerning aspect of this, there鈥檚 increasing evidence from HCI and organisation studies that gamifying important issues & processes really diminishes how seriously one engages with them. And in general this all seems underlined by an understanding of tech as neutral, where much of the work needed is on how tech is built, for whom, how it鈥檚 used & its impact

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@louce @onepict

In general I think that with gamification you could achieve exciting goals where the interests of all parties are taken into account. Rules and objectives must be well-known, or it is just unethical.

In this case we have unwitting applicants playing innocent-looking games with who-knows-what kinds of sophisticated 'Shrink AI' and surveillance capitalist data market on the back-end. The game is unfair.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@louce @onepict

Btw, with regards to fair job applications..

I saw one game demonstrated on TV and you couldn't play it when having vision and motoric impairments, and who knows how many other disabilities that have nothing to do with what they intend to measure (which was some IQ metric).

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@louce @onepict

If you look on the equalture.com site, there's a real creepy 'objective Candidate Report' pic.

Reminds me of the method "Discovery Insights" that's popular with companies, where you fill 20 multiple-choice questions selecting groups of personality traits.

Then a whole booklet about *You* is generated from that. I did that test and some colleagues freaked out because its 'so accurate, mindreading'. But its just a Horoscope.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@humanetech @onepict exactly. Until the rules and objectives are transparent and stakeholders (truly) involved in their making, gamification easily ends up making questionable corporate practices look good.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@humanetech @onepict
With colleagues I鈥檓 researching buy now pay later platforms (ie Klarna), which gamify the process of getting loans at point of sale to be repaid later. Target audience is young women 18-30 or so, apps look sleek & make debt look good, encourage overconsumption and talk about financial wellbeing without walking the talk. If anything those already financially vulnerable risk getting into more debt

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@louce @onepict

I think there may be a value to come up with new terminology to distinguish 'gamification for good' and 'gamification to deceive'. These kinds of #gamification abuses have given the practice a very bad reputation, while you can achieve delightful things with it.

Same as with design patterns, where you have deception patterns (dark patterns).

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict @humanetech ohh I like this idea. responsible/sustainable/ethical #gamification? Or a different word altogether? This will stay with me all day!

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@louce @onepict

Best would be a single word that easily sticks. Those are kinda hard to come up with, though :D

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@louce @onepict

I would avoid 'ethical' though, because imho this is the abstract use of the word that we encounter so much. On the whole I'm quite critical on how people are introduced in the field of 'ethics', where stuff is so dry and theoretical that it become meaningless to most people.

For more inspirational use of 'applied ethics' you might look at tethix.co by @m3me and @ialja

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@humanetech @onepict @m3me @ialja very interesting, will look Tethics up. I know what you mean re dry/aspirational ethics, I've taught ethics/corporate responsibility to managers for a few years now and one way to make it stick is to keep it close to home and applied to oneself and one's circumstance (and of course for managers also with one's specific organisation and organisational context)

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@louce
@onepict @m3me @ialja

I came up with a name for 'evil gamification' and dedicated a top-level toot to it:

mastodon.social/@humanetech/10

@louce @humanetech @onepict Luddism and science fiction concern themselves with the same questions: not merely what the technology does, but who it does it for and who it does it to.

#LudditeRevolutionNow ##sciencefiction

locusmag.com/2022/01/cory-doct

@onepict @louce @humanetech that is a very very old site, reblogging an article I wrote two decades back, and as such it isn't https but http, so my browser offers an Advanced override to reach it.

If you're worried, you might find it on the wayback machine

@onepict @louce @humanetech that's it! Thanks for digging that out, much appreciated, I would have done it myself except I'm bundling my banjo to catch the 4pm bus to our Toronto gig tonight 馃槒

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict

It seems like the cooperative movement provides an alternative model? That won't get VC money, but it could get angel investment which, I'd argue, is better and more useful anyway.

Or a software CIC could get grant money. These kinds of pseudo-NGOs can also invest in each other to build a sector, like Radical Routes does with housing co-ops.

re: Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@celesteh @onepict how does a co-op get angel funding? Where is the return for the angel? (presuming the usual FFF, angel, acclerator, VC, 15x exit startup route)

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict this was helpful for me thanks

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@ikora
Well I am glad you found it helpful. 馃槉

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@wim_v12e
Thanks for this, bookmarking.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict If you're interested, I also have some papers on how focus on high-tech startups leads to growing income inequality.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@wim_v12e
Thanks that would be interesting

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@wim_v12e
I also think that there's alot of advice to be considered investible like asking for people to sign NDAs to show you are responsible, as I've seen some entrepreneur blogs suggest. Well, Theranous kinda blows that out. Client confidentiality is understandable, but if you are interested in working with a FOSS project particularly on the free side, NDAs are kinda antheitical to that

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict There is growing evidence (see the links below, but there are many more) that the observed rise in income inequality is caused by technology. Notably, Silicon Valley has worse income inequality than anywhere in the US.
So creating our own Scottish Silicon Valley has its downsides.

- "Wage inequality, technology and trade: 21st century evidence" (2011), sciencedirect.com/science/arti
- "Rising Income Inequality: Technology, or Trade and Financial Globalization?" (2013), link.springer.com/article/10.1
- "The Silicon Valley Syndrome" (2021), journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/1
- "The Race between Education and Technology" (2008) nber.org/papers/w12984

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict ! <3

re: Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict companies are not people.

As long as corporations can use their size to exploit public services to socialize their expenses and privatize its benefits without paying proportionally into those systems, larger corporations will always have the means to buy out or bully smaller corporations, because the benefits of smaller-scale interpersonal cooperation, which manifest in this context as a reduction of waste and an improvement to logistical fluidity, are solutions to problems which megacorps can use their influence to push off onto governments and social systems.

The problems of quarterly-profit based corp systems are symptoms of a larger ongoing toxic system and societal dynamic. The issue of corporate greed is not, itself, a root cause of our problems.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict I'm not completely familiar with current UK culture, but I feel it stems from the UK pride in the 1980s with Sinclair, Amstrad, and Acorn. Not to mention the "bedroom coder" companies that cranked out great, good, and middling software at the time.

I think the UK is feeling lost since most of those companies (save for ARM) are moribund. Worse, ARM is no longer technically a UK company.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@craigmaloney @onepict

that only happened due to public funding of education/the BBC computer project, the UK companies fought like rats and ate one another (such as Amstrad and Sinclair) and were declining by late 1980s. the bulk of tech expertise went towards military/industrial complex rather than improving society (and was exported to all sorts of dubious r茅gimes) - TBH these companies haven't disappeared and *are* the UK tech ecosystem >>

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@vfrmedia
The generations of techies who started with grannies garden 馃ぃ, but the bbcs and comal coding were part of the curriculum in schools in the 90s. Pascal might have been better though 馃
@craigmaloney

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict @vfrmedia We had Pascal in high school. It was a decent language, and it continued into college (we had a Department of Defense grant for us to learn Ada, which I found an inscrutable language at the time).

Honestly in hindsight I wish we had focused more on C than Pascal / Modula 2, but I also found C inscrutable at the time. Perhaps with some better tutelage I would have found it less-so.

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@craigmaloney
I'd have preferred to learn c rather than java
@vfrmedia

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@onepict @vfrmedia I wrote a "Dear John" letter to Java when I broke up with it.

decafbad.net/2007/09/17/dear-j

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@craigmaloney @onepict

I've not seen COMAL much (might have been more popular in Scotland?) but BBC BASIC definitely encouraged structured programming. TBH I don't think there was a lack of education at least until late 90s; but the community aspect wasn't emphasised and those into tech got sterotyped as nerds and even bullied (which in some areas seems to be worse today than in 80s!) which is going to further increase social division >>

Morning thoughts, unicorns, startup culture 

@craigmaloney @onepict

so such young people who persist with tech, maybe go up to University, graduate and then get a reasonably well paid job are still understandably angry about being bullied in school, and have 0 qualms over working for surveillance/adtech/coptech or worse as they can get their revenge (this is something which doesn't seem to be discussed or considered much, even on here..)

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