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Speaking at ProductTank, inventions by women, and astroturfing

Speaking

At ProductTank Exeter. Huge thanks to them for extending the invitation to head down to do a version of my Wu-Tang Team Lessons talk (that I first did almost a year ago at re:develop 2018). The whole night was hip-hop themed, with Marc Abraham doing a Jay-Z inspired product management talk, and Tony Edwards showcasing his efforts toward getting the WebSpeech API to play nicely with rap lyrics.

It was a ton of fun to be part of, and I 100% sincerely think there should be more events which merge boom-bap with dot-com. If you know of anywhere thats looking for speakers (or if you know of any other similar themed talks), get at me! :D

Reading

The release notes of the latest version of Firefox beta, specifically this:

An information icon is displayed next to CSS properties that don’t have an effect on the current element in the Rules pane of the Page Inspector.

How cool is that(?) I’ve seen a lot of people moving to Firefox from Chrome lately, for a range of reasons, and the privacy stuff is very valid, but it’s the stuff like this that makes me want to move back to it.

I mean, obviously I’d have little need for this exact thing, because I don’t write superfluous CSS. My code is succinct and free of mess or distractions. But for some people, I can see why this’d be useful. Not me though. No no.

(Brb. Just downloading it now.)


This huge thread of things that women have invented. Starting with paper bags, and including ALL sorts of stuff from Monopoly to circular saws; if you ever needed proof of the (what should be painfully obvious) fact that women can y’know.. DO stuff too.. here’s a start. Tbh, it’s fucking depressing that threads like this need to exist to ‘prove’ that creating amazing things isn’t just the purview of men, but we live in stupid stupid times and Twitter, of all places, definitely benefits from having this spelt out.


This article about the science behind ‘Astroturfing’. Via Mike Hind on Twitter who sums it up like:

We are naturally influenced by the ‘popularity’ of things. Astroturf makes certain ideas seem popular. In this scientific study, people were influenced to like some songs more than others – just by faking download statistics. We are herd animals.

I’d not heard of the term ‘astroturfing’ before, but it’s a fascinating premise which you can definitely see some truth in without having to look too far. As Mike suggests, reviews on Amazon are a potential example of this. You’re more likely to buy something with a 5 star average than a 3 star, which means that there’s a lot of motivation for sellers to artificially boost those 5 star ratings. It seems obvious, but it’s always better when there’s DATA to support it.

The scary part is when you start applying it to politics and voting. Create enough noise talking about something – promoting a particular stance – and soon it feels like everyone’s talking about that, so there must be some value in it, which leads to more people talking about it, etc, etc. Those bot farms are dangerous.

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