Open Thinkering


Tag: venn diagram

Exploring the sweet spot for Zappa project approaches to misinformation

Venn diagram showing three overlapping circles (Technical, Procedural, and Relational)

At the overlap of all three circles is the words 'Zappa Project'

At the overlap of Technical and Relational is the word 'Consistency'

At the overlap of Procedural and Relational is the word 'Reliability'

At the overlap of Technical and Procedural is the word 'Efficiency'

The Bonfire logo is at the bottom of the graphic, with the version number 0.1

While we know that misinformation is not a problem that can ever be fully ‘solved’, it is important to try and reduce its harms. Last week, we published the first version of a report based on user research as part of the Zappa project, an initiative from the Bonfire team.

This week, I’ve narrated a Loom video giving an overview of the mindmap embedded in the report. This was requested by Ivan, as he found that the way that I explain it captures some nuance that perhaps isn’t in the report (which is more focused on recommendations).

Another thing I was tasked with this week was creating a Venn diagram from the three types of approaches that could be taken for the technical development for the Zappa project. These were slightly tweaked from suggestions made by one of our user research participants. As you can see in the above diagram, these are:

  • Technical — improving the way that users interact with information
  • Procedural — improving the process of capturing and displaying information
  • Relational — improving the way that humans interact with one another

It’s unlikely that any one approach would sit squarely as being only one type of approach. For example, spending time thinking about the way that information is presented to users and allowing them to control that sits right in the middle of all three.

There are three overlaps other than the one right in the middle. These are:

  • Technical / Procedural — we’ve currently labelled this intersection as Efficiency as using technical approaches to improve processes usually makes them more efficient. This might include making it easier to block certain types of posts, for example.
  • Procedural / Relational — we’ve labelled this intersection as Reliability because process when considered in terms of relationships is often focused on repeatable patterns. This might include, for example, being able to validate that the account you’re interacting with hasn’t been hijacked.
  • Relational / Technical — we’ve used the label Consistency for this one as one of the things we found from our research is that users are often overwhelmed by information. We can do something about that, so this might include helping users feel in charge of their feeds to help avoid context collapse or aesthetic flattening.

You will notice the version number appended to this diagram is ‘v0.1’. It might be that we haven’t found the right words for these overlaps. It might be that some are more important than others. We’d love feedback from anyone paying attention to the Zappa project, whether you’ve been following the work around Bonfire since the beginning, or whether this is the first you’re hearing of it.

If it helps, feel free to grab the Google Slides original of the above Venn diagram, or comment below on a) what you think is good, b) anything you have questions about, or c) anything that concerns you.

Smartwatch ramblings

Update: I ended up buying a Garmin Venu 2S, which I’m really happy with. An in-depth review of this newly-released device that I found particularly helpful can be found here.

Earlier this week I bought, and then returned, a TicWatch Pro 3 Cellular/LTE. I’m writing this to organise my thoughts a little bit. There’s a good chance it may end up being useful only for my own purposes, but that’s never stopped me putting things out into the world. So… if you’re not interested in smarwatches (or technology purchasing decisions) you may want to stop here.

By way of background, I’ve had an Amazfit Bip for at least a couple of years. I can’t actually remember when I got it, but I do remember that I had to import it. For a sub-£50 smartwatch, it’s pretty incredible: a battery life of over a month, GPS run tracking, customisable notifications, and Gadgetbridge support.

The problem, such as there is one, can succinctly be described as “I spend too much time staring and scrolling at my phone”. My crafty idea was therefore to replace the Bip with something that didn’t just serve up notifications (that cause me to check my phone) but instead allows me to replace some of the core functionality of my smartwatch. In other words, I want to be able to:

  1. Make/receive phone calls
  2. Compose/reply to messages (SMS, Telegram, ideally Signal)
  3. Listen to music (not just control it on my phone)
  4. Pay for stuff in shops
  5. Not worry about charging it every day

The aforementioned Ticwatch was the only device compatible with my Android phone that seemed like it would do the job. It gets good reviews. The Apple Watch seems like it’s a marvellous bit of kit, but it only works with iPhones (not even iPads!) and even Samsung’s smartwatches require their own devices for activation.

I had high hopes, therefore, when I received the Ticwatch, especially given how deep Team Belshaw is into the Google ecosystem at this point. It runs Wear OS which, although I’d heard mixed things, couldn’t be that bad, right? I almost kept it. I really did. But here’s the three reasons why I ended up sending it back:

  • Battery life — I’ve been entirely spoiled by the always-on, transreflective display of the Amazfit Bip which, as I’ve already said, lasts a month between charges. To do the same with this watch meant charging at least once per day (despite the ‘three-day’ claims)
  • Underwhelming ecosystem — the apps available on Wear OS feel a bit like the situation with the Nokia N95 I had over a decade ago. In other words, people scratching their own itch (which is great) but the whole thing not feeling like a unified whole.
  • Vodafone exclusivity — to get independence from my smartphone, the Ticwatch had to have a Vodafone eSIM. While there are some workarounds, in the UK I’d still have to a) change networks, as eSIMs are only available on Vodafone, O2, and EE, and b) pay a lot more than the £10/month I’m sending to giffgaff.

Looking at other smartwatches compatible with my device presented a bewildering array of options. So, to help, I created this Venn diagram:

Venn diagram with 'cellular connectivity' / 'battery life' / 'music storage'. The overlaps are numbered.

Here’s the categories in each overlap, as far as I see them:

  1. Nada/nothing
  2. Ticwatch/Fossil (plus the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music)
  3. Amazfit/Garmin

You could argue that 2-3 days for a 4G/LTE smartwatch is all one can expect in 2021 and that, therefore, Apple and Samung’s offerings should be in the middle of the Venn diagram. But if this was a four-circle diagram, there would also be “not locked to a particular vendor” so they’re not getting that accolade.

This, then, is the current state of play, as far as I see it in late April 2021. I’m very tempted by the Garmin Vivoactive 4 or 4s which does everything apart from cellular connectivity. It even syncs Spotify playlists for offline listening, which is useful when out running. Garmin Pay is also supported by my bank. Another option would be an Amazfit GTS 2 or 2e.

The outlier is the Garmin Instinct Solar which has a fantastic battery life and can, as the name would suggest, get a top-up charge from the sun. However, no music nor contactless payments, and the sun doesn’t shine in my home office (nor as much as I’d like it to in northern England, to be fair).

I won’t lie, I have considered getting an Apple Watch, but I’m not going back to that ecosystem, cosy as it was for a time. Nor am I getting into bed with Samsung. So at the moment, the conclusion to this blog post, I’m afraid, is a very big ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯

(I did warn you.)

Performativity, fetishism & the aristocracy of everyone.

I’m currently writing the methodology section of my Ed.D. thesis. The (non-?)structure I’m using for the whole thing is the philosophy of Pragmatism, which would take at least the rest of this post to describe adequately. Suffice to say that it’s a philosophy of action that rejects absolute, objective points of view.

Within the methodology section I have, of course, got to explain why I’m not using other theories as a framework so I’ve been reading up on Critical Theory and Post-structuralism. It seems to me that whilst they all have their appeal and elements of overlap, there’s important differences between them.

It’s always best for me to visualise things in order to understand them, hence the Venn diagram below (click to enlarge):

Venn diagram: Pragmatism, Critical Theory & Post-structuralism

I’d love to hear any feedback: people too often see infographics and visualizations as stone tablets from heaven, whereas this is very much a work in progress! :-p