I started 2023 in another role, another organisation. In a sector I’d worked in for almost ten years and felt confident in my topic, role and remit. I was excited, inspired and frankly grabbed, by the opportunity to join CONNECTED BY DATA when it unexpectedly crossed my path (I can’t recall how) and I am still thankful that Jeni, Jonathan and Tim liked what they saw enough to give me the job.
Eight months later and I’m still on the learning curve but I’m listening, learning and 2024 will be the time to push myself to become involved in the discussions more, to contribute to (as well as lead) the delivery.
I know well of myself that bringing value and having an impact are essential to who I am on a day to day and longer term basis. I feel I’ve succeeded in doing so in a number of organisational / administrative elements including holding participant logistics for two sizeable projects - our People’s Panel on AI and the AI Design Lab.
It has been amazing to be part of an organisation delivering so much and impacting in the real world in small and bigger ways. The work of CONNECTED BY DATA ripples globally, nationally and locally. It ripples practically, through research, and in campaigns, and I have no doubt 2024 will be another successful year for a team committed to giving communities a powerful say in decisions about data to create a just, equitable and sustainable world.
We’ve finished 2023 with reading time. I have a lot that I haven’t been keeping up with and I want to do better with that in 2024 too. But during the reading time I have caught up on a bit and share my highlights (links and brief summary) below.
- An article about meetings - it’s not unusual to see people suggesting that we spend too much time in meetings and that we should bin them, but what I liked about this writing was also recognising the importance meetings can have (organisationally and individually). Different people will need and get different things from different meetings.
- This blog was a powerful read about fighting for liberation. The subject is the oppression of Palestianians which is obviously profound and timely. I also took some of these lessons for more generally ‘fighting the good fight’. I am a Trustee of a LGBT+ infrastructure charity and the rise of trans hate is unavoidable…a chance to reflect on how hard it can be, but how important, to keep pushing back against that hate and prejudice was well timed.
- I spent yesterday listening to the House of Lords receiving the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill for the second reading. I was reassured by those that reflected the observations of Prem Sikka (Labour Lord) in this article. The Bill uses developments in electronic transactions and artificial intelligence to place the poor, disabled, sick, old and pregnant women under surveillance. It gives Ministers and government agencies powers to direct businesses, particularly banks, and financial institutions, to mass monitor individuals receiving welfare payments, even when there is no suspicion or any sign of fraudulent activity. No court order is needed and affected individuals will not be informed. The Bill enables Ministers to make any further regulations without a vote in parliament.
- I re-read Jeni’s weeknotes from September in which she considered the discussion of ethics in AI. Beyond AI it comes down to treating with care and as individuals. This really resonates with me and my values, and underlines my equality and inclusion focus too (treating everyone as individuals rather than everyone the same).
- I also read a document Jeni authored after our Policy Lab in Costa Rica earlier this year, about collective data governance. The document considers the phrase, what is it, who does it affect, is it a thing, should it be a thing? Working for an organisation that literally acknowledges we are CONNECTED BY DATA in its name, it seems hard to suggest collective data governance isn’t needed, that there are evidently times when it is not individual data but group data upon which impactful decisions are made. There’s a link here with collective action and collective data rights, which I’ve mused on in a previous Weeknotes.
- Last, but by no means least, I also read the (not yet published) evaluation report on our People’s Panel on AI. As I mentioned above it was wonderful to play even a small part in this project and this report was a useful read - and reminded me I still want to write up my reflective notes on my learnings from the process.