📅 June 17 - June 23 | End of term, big bad internet, and Ballet

The end of the school year is always a busy time, finishing off the last of the lessons, fielding questions from students about the end-of-year exams, setting the exam questions, and marking exams and papers that have already been completed.

Whilst teaching is only part of my job, the end of term takes up a lot of space on the calendar, leaving me with little time to do other tasks. But it is such a rewarding profession at times that I can’t see myself giving up teaching now that I have become experienced at it over the last four years. Out of the three schools I teach in, two have already requested more hours from me. This is the dilemma, as I need to build consulting hours as a priority. With a little luck that might be about to change over the coming weeks.

If you’ve been following me, you’ll have noticed that I have become a little sour on Big Tech lately. I’d like to clarify that I am still an out-and-out tech enthusiast who sees technology as a tool that could be so useful for the human race over the coming decades and centuries. However, tech has become polluted by a class of people who are liars, grifters, thieves, and wealth extractors. They have utterly destroyed the reputation of tech for me and many others in the industry. Some of us still hold hope that this is a phase, and it too will pass. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

Much of what is happening is, and corresponds, with the rise in the ultra-right wing and what is essentially fascism in the world. Those with the money, the connections, and the power are starting to show their cards. And they are outing themselves as dreadful human beings. There are too many to mention here, but a little digging and a little reading around the subject should clue you up fairly quickly. If you want to reach out, I’d be more than happy to discuss it.

Actually, whilst I think of it, after I posted a glib comment on Mastodon, I had an online discussion with the CEO of an education company that I tried to keep as civil as possible. However, the person attempted to bully me by suggesting he had over twenty years of experience in the field of AI (it doesn’t look like according to LinkedIn). He said that AI was just a replica of the human brain (neural networks based on those in the brain). I ignored this suggestion and simply mentioned that this could not be the case, as we still have no idea how the brain actually works; ergo, it is impossible to replicate what we don’t know. The discussion ended there. Not sure why. 🤷‍♂️


Anyway, as always, I have been reading a lot and thought I’d share here, too.

Let’s start with another example of how France has decided it wants to be an authoritarian state when it comes to the internet and the freedom of its citizens on the open web. After recently joining the list of shame of Internet shutdown states (the first time a Western democracy has done so), it has decided that it needs to interfere with the major DNS providers to block a couple of sports sites streaming live games.1 Do they not learn? I mean, HADOPI worked out really great, huh?

Last week saw a lot of online discussion about the entitled scraping of online content to train LLMs without consent, attribution or remuneration. Apple, Google, Meta, OpenAI and Anthropic have all been at it, but worse, they have been lying to the websites about “who” is accessing public sites. It’s technical, but it boils down to bots that “present themselves” to websites to indicate why and what they are accessing a site. Many people, like me, have implemented a robots.txt file that essentially politely tells bots to go away and that they can’t scrape. Ignoring this request is one thing; lying is another. This is not over yet, and many Big Tech companies are in for a rude awakening in the coming months.2 (My sites are all under the Creative Commons licence allowing non-commercial reuse, and attribution. If anything were to be used commercially or reused without attribution, I would have cause to legal redress.)

SEO. Ah, that. OK, I’ll admit it. I’m not a fan of it. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it is collective fraud. SEO should, in my opinion, be banned. It has led to the most awful of incentives on the Internet, second only to unregulated surveillance advertising (cancer on the Internet, in my opinion, but that’s for another day). Anyway, Google hasn’t been (surprise, surprise) particularly honest, even when you’ve been trying to play the game they invented. Shameful.3

Let’s end with an upbeat article that I really enjoyed. If you have anything to do with professional or high-level sports, you’ll know that the mind is such a critical factor that it can often be the difference between winning and losing. Professional athletes have been working with sports psychologists for years, but this article about a ballerina really articulates the utility and journey professionals traverse through their careers. Focus on the now. Cut out the mind talk by counting, breathing, and other tools. Really good article. 4

I’m still digging and reading a lot of articles about Internet Governance, as this is the focus for me over the coming years. I have an announcement to make shortly, but the time is not right yet.

Have a great week.

  1. [circleid.com/posts/202… ](#) ↩︎

  2. https://www.lazaruscorporation.co.uk/blogs/artists-notebook/posts/overlap-between-search-bots-and-ai-scrapers ↩︎

  3. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/infinite-scroll/is-google-seo-gaslighting-the-internet ↩︎

  4. https://www.theguardian.com/stage/article/2024/jun/18/royal-ballet-yasmine-haghdi-britt-tajet-foxell-psychologist ↩︎

Matthew Cowen @matthewcowen