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Small Data Forum Podcast

How can we make Big Data less intimidating, more actionable, and so more valuable? That is the question at the heart of the Small Data Forum, a seriously light-hearted look at the uses of data – big and small – in politics, business, and public life.
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Sep 12, 2022

(Please note that this episode was recorded – and these show notes were written – on Thursday 8 September, before the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.)

The first Small Data Forum of the @TrussLiz era sees the podcast team convene IRL on the morning of 8 September for the first time in aeons – and in a professional, West End Studio, to boot.

Nothing to do with the fourth Prime Minister (not to mention fifth Chelski manager) since our ‘umble podcast started crackling over the digital airwaves. More to do with a desire to get together IRL more often post-COVID, as well as a heart-felt yearning to “up” production values, as decent as Zoom may be. Plus an opportunity for a post-pod lunch at our favourite Italian haunt, Olivelli on the Cut.

All trussed up and no place to go

With a new Prime Minister in place, Thomas asks who fancies prognosticating on the latest incumbent of Number 10. Sam leaps in. He’s concerned about the far right, ideologically-driven agenda of Truss et al. While memes in recent days – from #ThickLizzy to #NotMyPM may be variously misogynistic and laser-focused – Sam pinpoints the Truss administration as “continuity Johnson”.

Ironically for a new team replacing de Pfeffel’s hated, ADHD-raddled regime, Sam believes Truss made a profound mis-step with her first two speeches, one to Tory Central, the other to the waiting world. Both at the Gathering of the Tories and outside #10, Truss first name-checked BoJo and all the “amazing” things he achieved, from a bungled Brexshit to “the fastest COVID vaccine rollout” (until – very soon – it wasn’t).

Continue listening -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Aug 22, 2022

Inflation! Energy crisis! Cost of living! Inequality! Strikes! A government out of its depth and out of touch. And that’s just 1978 …

The latest episode of the SmallDataForum podcast opens with Thomas comparing the not-so-good old days of the Winter of Discontent in Britain with the dry bleak hot summer of 2022. Ah, 1978: when Margaret Thatcher was not yet Prime Minister, and the average CEO of a UK FTSE 100 company earned 11 times that of the average full-time worker (Equality Trust report).

Fast forward to today when political weathervane Mary Elizabeth Truss, erstwhile anti-monarchist Liberal Democrat, committed Remainer and serial Maggie cosplayer, is given a 95% chance to be the new Prime Minister by 5 September. The median CEO / worker ratio is now well above 100 to 1.

While wistfully recalling the rubbish heaps triggered by a general strike in ‘78/’79, Neville cites a long list of present societal afflictions that the UK's “zombie government” is unable to address, from inflation to climate change impact, energy bills to raw sewage dumped on beaches. Now, as then, there is plenty of anger and a strong sense that we’ve had it, that enough is enough.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

 

Jul 11, 2022

As I am typing up the show notes for our latest podcast, news has come in that former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has been assassinated during a campaign event. A sad, sinister reminder that contrary to what the soon former prime minister of the UK would have us believe, it’s not all a laugh and a half.

As if we needed reminding. The murder of Sir David Amess was only nine months ago,  and Jo Cox was killed just before the Brexit Referendum, in June 2016. Culture wars and wedge politics will only ever make things worse.

Even The Spectator is now pushing back against the growing Trumpification of political discourse in the UK. But that was never an issue for the P.T. Barnum of British politics and his confederacy of dunces, as Sam generously labels Her Majesty’s continuously thinning Government.

But the times they are about to be a-changin: together with a majority of – not just the Westminster commentariat but – the great British public, the SmallDataForum punditariat on Friday rejoiced in the news that finally, FINALLY, the Shagamemnon (thanks Marina Hyde) of Downing Street, the tousled blonde cherub, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, announced his resignation on 7 July as leader of the UK’s Conservative Party.

He remains Prime Minister until a new party leader is voted on by Conservative MPs and party members.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Jun 14, 2022

For once, it appears, the Small Data Forum three are ahead of the news.

So often in recent months and years, we’ve recorded an episode on a Friday morning and by the Sunday night before publication we’ve had to make rapid edits to the show notes because … a president has been impeached, a special adviser been sacked, or a new lockdown announced.

But today – today feels different. Is it because we were recording first thing on a Monday for next-day publication? Or is it because so much news had happened of late that we had the timing right for once? Time – of course – will tell.

On day 110 of Russia’s war on Ukraine – a topic that doesn’t delay us beyond a heartfelt appeal for the nonsense to stop – Thomas opens proceedings by reflecting on Prime Minister Johnson’s “victory” in his vote of (no) confidence handed to him by his own members of parliament.

Well, 211 MPs (59%) voted for the bloated bloviator, while 148 (41%) wanted to see the back of him. A smaller majority than that recorded by Johnson’s lame duck predecessor, Theresa May (a 63%-37% split), who was history less than six months on.

Indeed, according to fashion and style bible Tatler – a hapax legomenon in the annals of these show notes if ever there was one – it was May who was ‘the real winner’ of the vote, by virtue of turning up to the vote in a ball gown.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

May 16, 2022

In another case of the speed of news catching out the SmallDataForum’s best-laid arguments, Neville’s, Sam’s, and my combined Musk-whispering was rendered somewhat outdated by the announcement - just hours after our podcast recording - that enigmatic Elon has put his Twitter purchase on hold because ... oh never mind the stated reasons.

Actually, it wasn’t our exploring Musk’s motivations that had become outmoded, it was merely the factual base of our musings. Will he, won’t he buy Twitter? Will he, won’t he lose billions over the deal?

Musky musings

Will he, won’t he instate rules and regulations that draw the line really only at whether speech has been performed by an actual human (you’re fine, and if you say something that’s “illegal or destructive to the world”, you face temporary suspension, because free speech is a more holy principle than protecting against the impacts of hate speech, ostensibly), or a bot (in which case Elon really doesn’t want you, and in fact will retract his offer if he feels he is being outbotted).

The free speech issue is one of many highlighted by Neville in his characteristically well informative and well judged blog post. Neville also points us to an Axios piece listing everything Elon Musk wants to change about Twitter (surely another news item that would benefit from hourly updates), as well as challenges surrounding the commercials of the bid: a triple whammy of Twitter’s market cap dropping $9bn below Elon’s offer, Tesla’s share price down by a third from April Fool's Day, and the Bitcoin crash impact on Tesla’s investment position.

So maybe, just maybe, Musk’s stated bot problem is a bit of a sock puppet. The Washington Post at least thinks that won’t get him out of the deal.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Apr 11, 2022

Shoulda been in Spain!

Sporting a gardener’s tan from ongoing travails in his garden in Southern Spain, Thomas welcomes Sam and Neville to the first-ever Saturday recording of the Small Data Forum podcast.

We recorded on 9 April, two years to the day – as Neville points out – from when we were supposed to be on a weekend-long podcast recording sojourn to the self-same spot from which Thomas addresses us.

But then Covid happened. Indeed, were it not for the Covid-spike-enforced crew shortages for easyJet, Sam should have been with Thomas, but as The Guardian pointed out in that day’s paper, the country – and indeed the world – is suffering a semi-paralysis from a variant of Long Covid and is facing “a new pandemic of disruption”.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Mar 21, 2022

Taking its cue from professional media commentators, the SmallDataForum kicks off with Thomas quoting Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, who is better known by his nom de class struggle, Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

Unprecedent times, anyone?

Sam is reminded of the times of Soviet openness and reconstruction, Michail Gorbatschow’s Glasnost and Perestroika initiatives of the late 1980s, ‘when it all began’ – laid out with great insight in this four-part series of The Rest is History podcast.

To which Thomas adds some on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand perspective: Francis Fukuyama’s famously misunderstood End of History essay, versus the insight of US Army educators that a permanent pulling back of the Iron Curtain will reveal a stage beset by increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, which gave us VUCA – a sort of cat nip for business school educators.

With the benefit of hindsight, declaring the end of history turned out to be as premature as the description of our ever-modern world as VUCA was prescient. Brexit, Trump, COVID, war in Ukraine – it doesn’t get more VUCA than that.

Or so we hope.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Mar 7, 2022

The Small Data Forum started its side hustle of interviews with industry experts as an experiment almost exactly a year ago, but already we’re onto our sixth.

SDF co-host Sam Knowles spoke on Friday 4 March to Nick Manning, one of the most important, informed, and trenchant figures in media and marketing over the past 30 years. Nick founded the media agency Manning Gottlieb in the early 1990s.

Sam and Nick worked together at Ebiquity in the mid-twenty-teens in various guises, as Nick – and then CEO Mike Greenlees – bought consultancies to expand the capabilities and geographical footprint of the media investment analysis consultancy. Nick now runs his own consultancy, Encyclomedia, and is a regular columnist for Mediatel.

We spoke at the end of the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Feb 16, 2022

Tired of partygate, the SmallDataForum takes measure of the mess surrounding Meta, where user numbers declined for the first time ever, followed by a rather dramatic share price dip, and Peter Thiel announcing that he would be leaving the Facebook board “to pursue Trump agenda”.

Oh well.

However, news of Meta’s impending demise would be awfully premature, as Sam reminds us.

For all our Schadenfreude at Meta losing several hundred billion (!) $$$ in market value – at present, their share price is down a cool 35% from the beginning of the year, suffering the ignominy to temporarily drop behind Nvidia on the list of largest US companies – the attention capitalist behemoths Alphabet, Amazon, and Meta now hold a share of 46% of global ad spend, as opposed to 33% pre-pandemic in figures released by the World Advertising Research Center (WARC).

And yes, that’s total as in everything, not just digital…

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Feb 14, 2022

The Small Data Forum podcast is both delighted and honoured to bring seasoned campaigner, Gina Miller, to the latest in our occasional – but increasingly frequent – interview series. SDF co-founder and co-host Sam Knowles talked with Gina on 9 February, in the week in which British politics tumbled still further into disrepute.

Two days before we spoke, Labour leader Keir Starmer and MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, were surrounded by a rag, tag, and bobtail coterie of anti-everything protesters. The potty-mouthed crew were apparently fired up with confidence by premier Johnson’s “rough and tumble of debate” gibe at Starmer in the previous week’s Prime Minister’s Questions. During that session, in which Eton’s finest rifle accused Starmer of failing to prosecute serial paedophile, Jimmy Savile, while the Labour leader was Director of Public Prosecutions. This attack – which the PM’s advisors all recommended he avoid like the plague – took the low level of political discourse in the U.K. to new depths.

Sam starts by asking Gina to explain to SDF listeners why she’d founded her new political party, True & Fair, and what she hopes to achieve with it.

Gina believes that Britain's system of politics is outdated, no longer fit-for-purpose, and so in dire need of reform. The lack of systematic checks and balances mean our national politics lacks transparency, accountability, and good governance, and her objective in creating and launching True & Fair is to address these failings head on.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com

 

Jan 24, 2022
In the latest in the occasional series of Small Data Forum podcast interviews with industry mavens and thought leaders, SDF co-host Sam Knowles caught up with Christian Polman, UK MD of brand communications and publishing house Looping Group.

To this content and creative-driven role, Christian brings a consultant’s mindset (with years at Bain and an MBA) as well as digital marketing smarts (from Digitas and Google) and marketing analytics expertise (his role before Looping was with Ebiquity).

Sam starts by asking Christian where the smart money is going in digital marketing.

Christian’s view is that digital marketing must rest on the twin levers of marketing optimisation and effectiveness, and that on this foundation brands need to build holistic customer experience. We are going through a period of renaissance, currently, for both research AND creativity and content.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com 

Jan 18, 2022

Big Dog, the Andrew formerly known as Prince (as per the cracking headline in the Irish Daily Star) and NoVaxx DjoCovid walk into a bar… Sadly, that’s not how we started our latest podcast on the uses and abuses of entitlement – oops, I meant data big and small in politics, business and public life.

Neville kicks us off our recording on Friday 14th by outlining the Politico perspective of possible scenarios regarding the future of Big Dog (although that label, uncovered by The Independent, wasn’t public knowledge by the time of our recording, what with events eventuating so fast and unpredictably these days). The upshot: degrees of likelihood of survival pour Le Grand Chien.

Since recording, Operation Red Meat has been added as the tactical ops part to Operation SBD. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was the unedited plot of some third-rate D-Day / Nam / Iraq / Afghanistan war spoof script, when in fact it is the real-life UK government panto in all its glory. No it wasn’t a work event. Oh yes it was. Boo hiss Beeb. We don’t know yet what the Transformation Scene will bring, but Dishy Rishi and The Truss are leading contenders.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

Dec 20, 2021

“It’s been a funny old year,” muses Thomas as we three kings of the Small Data Forum podcast begin our last ramblechat of 2021, with Thomas sounding like a football manager trying to sum up the most bizarre of seasons.

His erudite pun quotient – talking of Johnson’s wretched government of 24-hour party peoplePfeffelling along – is a treat for podcast fans old and new.

Sam believes that Thomas’ question as to whether we should see this oddest of odd years as “Plus ça change …” (and so “… plus ç’est la même chose”) is spot on.

Accusations of a series of catered parties at Number 10 are becoming more tangible and less tittle-tattle by the day – parties hosted when London was under Tier 3 restrictions and “mingerlin’” was definitely verboten. Screenshots and grainy footage of canapés and revellers crawl out of the digital woodwork to add the fire of verity to the smoke of accusations.

Spokesperson after government PR flack is being hung out to dry, resign, and spend more time with their families. The lies are mounting up like yet another set of Covid mortality statistics, and the mud sticks to everyone but the leader himself.

For Neville, the PM is deploying Steve Jobs’ notorious “reality distortion field”, and if Johnson declares black is white or up is down, everyone around him is required either to agree or get out … preferably by the back door so that no waiting media can spot and snap them, adding to the evidence pile.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Nov 8, 2021

Recorded just a week after Facebook’s rebranding announcement, this latest episode of the SmallDataForum podcast is less about “Greeks bearing gifts”, and more about the Greek and other connotations of Meta, the new company brand bringing together all of Facebook’s apps and technologies for the leap into the metaverse – although this wouldn’t be the first time Facebook’s commercial strategy is being likened to a Trojan Horse.

In keeping with the Classic Greek theme, and the various meanings of meta – some of which appeared to have been overlooked by the rebranding strategists, such as the word meaning death in Hebrew – I share my thoughts on Facebook’s After/Underworld cast, with Mark Zuckerberg as Hades, Nick Clegg as Cerberus, and Sheryl Sandberg – well I’m undecided between Hecate and Persephone. Much to the amusement of classicist Sam, whose knowledge of the Odyssey and the Book of the Dead is a lot more profound, than mine.

For Sam, this is less about mythology, and more about good old crookery: a classic misdirection strategy by “pound shop table magician” Mark Zuckerberg to make Facebook’s manifold legacy problems disappear down the magician’s hat. Kevin Roose at the New York Times calls it Mark Zuckerberg’s Escape Hatch, to rebrand himself as “above-it-all-futurist … a visionary technologist rather than a destroyer of democracy.”

Continue reading --> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Sep 26, 2021

It’s been a long time coming, this in-person get-together of the three SmallDataForagers (I assume that’s what you call someone moderating a forum?) to celebrate our Golden Jubilee.

1,955 days, in fact, since our fateful first encounter in the now sadly defunct Hospital Club in Soho. And nearly 650 days since our last Olivelli feast, just before Christmas 2019, when the world was a different, less pandemic place.

That is of course all small fry compared with the 5,788 days that Angela Merkel has held the office of German Bundeskanzler. More of her and German politics later.   

So, a long time coming, and well worth the wait: great company, inspiring conversations – the three of us don’t just have now 50 SDF episodes to reminisce over, but also a shared professional history of one time (Sam, Thomas) and other (Neville) working in the London office of what is now Real Chemistry, a power house of digital analytics alchemy driven business insights in life sciences.

As rebranding is such a thing, and in light of our professional interests (not least Sam’s second book), perhaps we should start calling ourselves the SmallDataBigInsightsForum?

Demonstrating resilient continuity in the face of pandemic disruption, we also reconvened at the Picturehouse Central members bar high above Piccadilly for one of those rare occasions, a live in-person podcast recording.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Sep 12, 2021

In the third of our new (but growing) series of Small Data Podcast interviews with data mavens, Sam is joined by media analyst Ian Whittaker. Ian is the current City AM Analyst of the Year – a gong he scooped for the second time in 2021. He has more than 20 years on the clock, assessing the financial performance of media and tech stocks.

Ian’s understanding of the numbers and data underpinning media and marketing businesses is both broad and deep, and he writes regular columns for both City AM and marketing industry bible, Campaign. We spoke at the start of September 2021.

Ian is optimistic that the media and marketing industry – at least in part – is making good use of data and analytics to target consumers more efficiently and effectively. Most have moved beyond the bombardment many consumers experienced not so long ago, and some of the bigger players – including consumer goods behemoth P&G – are combining the logic of data and the magic of creative to good effect. That said, some, both client- and agency-side, still have their heads buried deep in the sand.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

Aug 8, 2021

As Thomas is making his usual round of introductions for this, the forty-ninth episode of the Small Data Forum podcast, he comments on Sam’s status as a published author. “Published author you too!” booms Sam, celebrating Thomas’ first-ever, peer-reviewed, academic article, written with his doctoral supervisor – and recent SDF interview guest – Darren Lilleker.

For at the very start of this month, the esteemed Journal of Public Affairs saw fit to publish “The challenges of providing certainty in the face of wicked problems: Analysing the UK government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic”, a very on-message, on-podcast, rather-more-academic-than-we-usually-are critical analysis of how the Johnson Junta has managed with the ‘wicked problem’ (technical term) of Covid.

Thomas summarises the arguments in the paper, of how Her Majesty’s Government’s response to the threat of the pandemic “has not been all that pretty”. After all the puffed-up, Cummings-laden rhetoric of the December 2019 election campaign which was supposed to be all about ‘getting Brexit done’ (“campaigning in poetry” to purloin Mario Cuomo’s phrase), Johnson’s cabinet of political pygmies has struggled to live up to the challenge of “governing in prose”.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

Aug 1, 2021

Like (slow) buses, you wait for years for interviews to turn up on the SmallDataForum podcast, and two turn up within but five months of each other.

With Thomas taking the first plunge with his doctoral supervisor, Darren Lilleker, back in March, it was Sam’s turns to become inquisitor with Anne Hardy, Chief Information Security Officer at US-French data security firm, Talend (lovely animation on the homepage).

Our conversation focused on the necessary balance between regulation and self-regulation of Big Tech. After some spectacular failures of anything approaching good governance – from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to the Trump and Brexit campaigns, familiar topics to aficionados of this podcast – the tide is turning on consumer privacy and the uses and abuses of personally identifiable information (PII data).

Finally, the message has hit home that “if the service is free, you are the product”, in an internet floating and bloating on over-targeted advertising revenue.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

Jul 10, 2021

Two Englishmen and a German talk about football… With SDF episode no. 48 being recorded sandwiched between the 1966 World Cup win (20,187 days ago, assuming Sam’s calculation is correct) and the 2021 final of the Euros (2.5 days ahead at the time of recording), we couldn’t possibly avoid the topic.

It was by no means the only topic though, and we started our latest Zoom outing by bashfully listing recent achievements, from Sam’s quadruple haul at the Communicate Magazine’s Internal Communication and Engagement Awards – read all about it here, to my co-guest-editorship of ESSACHESS Journal of Communication on the future of all things PR and comms, together with the truly fabulous Ana Adi, to without a doubt the most impressive achievement: Neville’s loss of over two stone in weight in eleven weeks (check out the Zoom video!), thanks to the NOOM programme, behaviour and mindset change, and a copious dose of strong will.

On health and behaviour change, Sam briefly mentioned the de Pfeffel government’s weight loss campaign post Alex’s brush with the cold hand of COVID: sunk without a trace, like so many test & trace and other emergency billions.

We did talk vaccination, from the US vaccination programme hitting a bit of a red wall (and no it’s not the same as in the UK, more like the opposite), where, via Tortoise Media, Sam tells us that anti-vaxxing Trumplanders are now blocking the way to nationwide herd immunity. Who would have thought…

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/ 

May 23, 2021

During the Matrix Churchill affair – a conflict of interest and bit of political skulduggery so tepid compared with what’s happened in the intervening 20 years – the Tory MP Alan Clark conceded that he had been “economical with the actualité” in answer to Parliamentary questions.

Lying about arms export licences to Iraq seems almost innocent compared to the stodge we’re served up daily by our demagogic masters in the fibbing 2020s. Even if Clark was branded by his wife as a “total Ess-Aitch-One-Tee” in a puff-piece documentary in the 1990s, not least for his endless affairs that were satirised by Private Eye as “discussions about Uganda”.

We start our examination of the uses and abuses of data big and small with a focus on politics in the latest outing of the Small Data Forum podcast, episode 47.

Sam is inspired by the writing and the message in comedian Stewart Lee’s tragedy vehicle, his weekly Observer byline. In a recent column picking through the ashes of Labour’s shambolic performance in British local elections, Lee takes aim at Prime Minister Johnson’s record as one of the worst – and most transparent – liars in British political history.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

Apr 24, 2021

“It is beyond moronic.” Yes, this might well have been a quote by Gary Neville, Alan Shearer or some other righteously outraged standard bearer of the purity of – in particular – the original English version of European soccerball, in response to the announcement of that ill-fated, short-lived ‘thought’ experiment in the commercial optimisation of said soccerball, the European Super League.

More of that – in Sam’s sober analysis: “arrogant imperialist cultural misappropriation” – later.

In this case, the quote refers to a story that broke on the morning of St George’s day, last Friday 23rd April, just in time for the recording of our latest SmallDataForum episode. It should really have been a narrative about a hero slaying a huge fire-breathing beast, but as it turned out – perhaps more in keeping with the storytelling potential of the context and cast – this one was about a chatty rat, featuring prominently the near-forgotten Ghost of Barnard Castle, Dominic Cummings.

Neville (not Gary, but Hobson) kicks off SDF46 by relaying the highlights of the chatty rat saga, which he informed us had even made headlines in the Knutsford Chronicle. That turned out to be the Knutsford Guardian, but all the same.

Continue reading --> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

 

Mar 21, 2021
Mar 1, 2021

After almost five years and 44 episodes of the SmallDataForum with the same old (though always fresh and sparkly) line-up of Neville, Sam and Thomas, we’re introducing one-on-one interviews as a new format, and an extension to the show.

In the first interview of this new series, Thomas talks with Darren Lilleker, professor of political communication at Bournemouth University (and Thomas’ patient, tolerant PhD supervisor).

Main themes include

  • the increasing professionalisation, personalisation and commercialisation of politics
  • the tension between “permanent campaigning” and governing in politics
  • the public’s dissatisfaction with traditional politicians
  • how charisma has replaced practical skills and competence (because legislation is boring and political entertainment is easier than day to day governance).

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

Feb 21, 2021

Thomas greets the first episode of the Small Data Forum to be “AT” – 1AT, indeed; the first recorded After Trump – with some cheer.

That said, this month’s often-passionate look at the uses and abuses of data big and small in politics, business, and public life doesn’t give us much cause for optimism that all that much has changed. In our VUCA world of multi-factorial problems, our Teutonic tipster bemoans the meaningless trend in which complexity is constantly reduced to in and out, black and white, this and that.

What is undoubtedly good news is a new format coming soon – perhaps even later this week – to @SDFPodcast: the first in a new series of interviews with interesting people.

First in the Nerf-Gun firing line is Professor Darren Lilleker from Bournemouth University, described by the BBC as “a man who watches Westminster” and by Thomas as “my doctoral supervisor”. His dissection of what the state of permanent campaigning by the demagogues of modern politics will be well worth a listen.

Although it had been bubbling under for some weeks, breaking news on the morning we recorded this latest episode was that the fracas between the Australian Government and Big Tech has gotten serious.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

Jan 17, 2021

"The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim." (Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd, p. 64)

What would Monsieur le Professeur Le Bon make of the fact that his 1895 masterpiece The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind is as timely and relevant today as it was then?

Written under the influence of his experience of the Paris Commune, the civil war between Paris and the rest of France which killed thousands and saw the burning of Tuileries Palace on 25th May 1871, some 150 years before the storming of the Capitol on 6th January 2021 (see this remarkable report from the Guardian archive), he was wary of “our savage destructive instincts” and the “cowardly ferocity” of crowds.

He should have come and watched a match at the New Den pre-lockdown.

Of course, the first SDF convention of 2021 (the sixth year of our chatventure, no less) on Friday 15th – still a Zoom affair, plus ça change – had a lot to say about that Capitol offence from nine days earlier.

And about the latest zigzagging from the government of Plague Island (thanks Sam), about trust in general and the Trust Barometer in particular – with differing opinions, though less so than on the topic of whether and how, or not, The Platforms are publishers. More of that later.

Continue reading -> https://www.smalldataforum.com/

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