📅 March 11 - March 17 | Internet, coffee and AI data governance

I have a particular difficulty writing this part of the blog as I don’t seem to recall any details of what I have been doing this past week. Luckily, I write a small note in a journal every morning (-ish) to help remind me and also to help me process what I have actually achieved each week.

I did a lot of admin-type work last week, tying up loose ends and planning the next set of projects in the pipeline. I finished the slides I had prepared for a teaching session scheduled for Thursday afternoon. I had devised a fun activity for the students around the topic of Project Management and was looking forward to the class activity and seeing how they would go about the task. Sadly, the session was moved online at the last minute, and I had to improvise a little. The theory section was fine, although teaching online is really difficult as you don’t get immediate feedback as most people shut off their cameras for privacy reasons, which I can totally relate to. The exercise was possible but had to be completed during a collaborative online meeting through Teams. I split the class into groups and assigned breakout rooms and then spent the time moving between the rooms to offer assistance and advice. It was okay, but I would have much preferred to have done this in the class.

One thing that has come up as a direct result of the push to deploy AI tools in business is the need to control and protect data. I think there will be a number of surprises over the coming months as businesses discover that their data governance policies are inadequate and lend the AI tools to create security and confidentially issues. I have started developing a consultation for small businesses to address this before it becomes a problem. If you want to know more, reach out.

In personal news, I had been given 1.7kg of coffee fruit to process. I’d asked for it, and as a friend produces coffee, he gave me a small bag to try out. It is a long and arduous process to get from the fruit to dried beans that can be roasted. I have a bag ready for roasting, which comes out at less than 200 grams of beans, quite a reduction from that initial amount. The fruit can be used to make juice, but I’m not sure how to do that, so I binned the outer shells. Perhaps I’ll look into that another time. I’m looking forward to the roasting, but I have done it before, from beans supplied by my friend previously.


Reading

I haven’t been as religious or as motivated to read novels this week. I have no specific explanation; it’s just one of those things, I guess.

Not reading novels doesn’t mean that I don’t read a lot. In fact, the amount I read this week is as much as ever. I read or started reading a couple of interesting articles and papers.

I started to read a blog post on the impact of Starlink’s push to provide internet to the Amazonian region. The post entitled Starlink’s Amazonian Adventure: Bridging Gaps Or Just Adding Concerns? by Lua Cruz examines one of the interesting but largely misunderstood aspects of the so-called digital divide (zero-rated schemes) and other topics. Often touted as a means to get the underserved online, these schemes actually restrict and reduce the beneficiaries to a subset of the internet and create incentives for monopolies to do nothing to develop communications in the served regions. We’ve seen a lot of that in the Caribbean, and the most prominent example worldwide was Facebook’s attempt to control the Internet in India, which luckily didn’t get off the ground.

I started another paper entitled “China’s digital expansion in the Global South: Systematic literature review and future research agenda”. I haven’t read enough to form an opinion as yet. However, it is interesting to learn more about the global forces vying for control of the Internet and how we’re at a precarious point in its history in that it might start to fracture badly. That will not be good for the world.

Speaking of which, on the 35th anniversary of the modern Internet, at least the Internet as most people experience it, Time Berners-Lee wrote a blog post on his WWW Foundation site. It’s not long, and I think you should read it:


Of note

The crypto world is all a buzz because number go up! The world burns faster because of your ilk, and all you care about is a little bit of magic bean money rising in value. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your anuses for a thousand years.

I mentioned the resurgence of ideas from the old Internet; well, another one was promoted and did the rounds (at least in my Internet circles). Do you remember blog rolls? They were the Internet’s recommendation engine before advertising and marketing destroyed the Internet by making us units of production to place ads next to. Long live the independent web and the ideas that they promote.


Have a great week.

Matthew Cowen @matthewcowen