Archive 6 min read

Discussions At Scale

A lot of the issues facing our communities and sub communities today (deep fakes, encryption, privacy, DevOps, etc.) need active discussions. By their very nature, you can't really have discussions at scale...right?

Discussions At Scale

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Reasonably Accurate 馃馃 Transcript

Morning everybody. How are you doing today? Um It's still morning, I think it's ridiculously early. I'm out on the west coast. Um did not adjust uh to the time yet. Had to do uh my radio column for CBC Ottawa morning as well. So up a little earlier than I would have liked.

Um and obviously coming to you uh from a glamorous business, travel, hotel room. Um What I wanted to talk today about is discussions at scale and that sounds really weird. Um Given that normally, you know, we cover security, privacy technology, that kind of stuff.

Um But I noticed when I was writing up um the column for um today for the radio thing um which will be up on my website, um shortly. Um As soon as uh CBC posts the audio clip and we're talking about deep fakes today.

So um videos uh where you superimpose the image of one person onto a footage of another um in order to fake things out um interesting technology, but also really interesting implications for society, right? So the tech column, we try to cover things that are a little more broad based.

Um But one of the things that I, I realized when I was writing it up for um for my site um was that I was ending it, you know, with more discussions are, are required. And it was the same thing when I covered facial recognition, um said, you know, more discussions are required.

Um Same with encryption, same with all this kind of thing. And even with um the main issues that I tackle around security culture, um around um development, culture around it. Culture, discussions are required. The problem is, is they're required at scale and discussions don't work at scale.

Um Good friend of mine, Ben uh Kiho and I were at the um Aws New York summit um a couple of weeks ago or last week, losing track of time for the summer. Um And one of the things he had mentioned was that he uh he gave a talking to Dev Loge and so did I, and he said, you know, he was hoping for more interactivity.

The problem is it was uh you know, speaker 253 100 people, you can't really have interactivity. And he was sort of lamenting the, the lack of what um would have been great engagement and discussion. Um And I totally get it and because, you know, talking to Ben, talking to friends um at that summit, great discussion in a small group, really, um everybody came away with a better uh knowing more with um sort of uh just a better experience.

Um And that's the thing is ideas get better when we talk them out. Um We agree on uh community boundaries, we agree um you know, on usage of technology, on implications of technology, things like this uh need to be discussed. The challenge you get is discussions don't work beyond a few people.

Um You know, so in that case, one of us trying to have a discussion with 300 people is not gonna fly. Um, even trying to have a discussion with 50 people isn't gonna fly. Really, basically, you know, if you move beyond the two pizza team, you know, Aws has got that right beyond the two pizza team is really starts to break down.

Right. So if you've got more than, uh, you know, a dozen people, it's absolutely unmanageable. Even with a dozen people, it's really, really difficult depending on the personality mix. So discussions really don't scale past a few people. So in that case, how do you have a discussion at a society level?

Um, I don't know really. That's what it comes down to. Um, so some friends of mines work at policy horizons, Canada. I think that's the official name. They keep changing their name, like every government agency, but they're responsible for government foresight and a lot of them, what they do is, um, they work on, um, where things are going, they work on a lot of community engagement, a lot of facilitation, a lot of works, shopping.

Um, and this stuff is fantastic. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely think it's wonderful to get out there and engage with people. Um, but even they who are experts at this can't scale it beyond, um, you know, a, a small audience and it's sort of, you need this network umbrella effect of, you'll get a few people and you scale it and they'll scale it to a few people and a few people and, you know, it just keeps going um that way.

But the challenge there is that, you know, like the old game of telephone when I tell you something and you tell someone else something and they keep going, bing bing bing, the message gets lost. So that method of engagement is really difficult to do um within an organization, it might be achievable.

You might be able to do that sort of umbrella and keep people engaged and moving forward. Um But to have a discussion at a society level, you know, the best thing we do is sort of community engagement um where uh people come and testify in front of government or give um uh their opinion on public website.

And then, you know, some uh public servant will compile that all together and somebody will make a decision later. But even that's not effective, that's not discussion, that's just people commenting and commenting is not discussion. And we know from everywhere on the internet discussion is very, very difficult people start um to go to the lowest common denominator really, really quickly.

Um And you know, uh pull out old grudges or go on on tangents. Um Discussion is best in small groups and with a common goal and a stated goal, um you know, or mutual respect or both mu mutual respect to help people move forward.

So I keep coming back to this technology like facial recognition. How do we have a discussion at scale on what we want as a community? How do we use that technology? Like the deep fakes, how do we have a discussion at scale? Take that down level from just the community.

Um You know, the other big level of community encryption is a massive debate that we need to have as a society and a community. How do you manage that? I don't know, I don't think any of the public consultations in any of the countries I've been involved in them with um have been effective.

Um There's a lot of stuff on, on the record that just sits there and really doesn't drive anything. Um So a lot of my work um if you guys have been following me and thank you for following me. Um Even here, I'm in San Francisco for Cus conference.

And uh the, my topic is really um helping the people who are at Silver Conference Cus conference, which are um a whole bunch of builders um helping them understand the um culture behind security and the challenges they face interfacing with security and the challenges security has whether they realize it or not from a cultural perspective.

Um How do you scale that up? I don't know. Uh my approach right now is just chipping away a little bit of, you know, a little bit at a time, just trying to help um people uh change sort of one mind at a time, but that obviously one mind at a time in itself is a perfect example of how this does not scale.

So I don't know, this is, this is a total random. I don't know. Uh What do you think? Let me know, hit me up online, marknca uh on all the social networks. Um Hit me up in the comments down below if you're watching the vlog.

Um or as always by email, how do you get any sort of productive discussion, any sort of productive engagement scaled beyond uh a handful of people. Um tips tricks, always, always out there. Um I think I, I am not super optimistic but I'm hoping somebody comes and says, hey, you've got this one thing and it's super easy and it works for everyone.

My improv lighting just fell. Um But uh I don't know, it's, it's gonna come up more and more again. I think I'm trying on multiple levels to engage discussion at scale would love to hear what you guys are thinking. Let me know. I hope you are set up for a fantastic Monday.

It's Monday. Um I hope to talk to you online and I will see you tomorrow on the show.

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