The Future of Internet Health with Solana Larsen

This month, the Manchester Futurists welcomed Solana Larsen from Mozilla to talk to us about the 2020 Internet Health Report. Solana is responsible for the report and each year uncovers some of the most interesting research around the topic of internet health. 

Defining internet health is difficult to do but the report covers a broad range of issues from diversity in tech to internet blackouts and the power structures we don’t always see when we log on. In this talk, Solana discussed the various approaches we could take to the health of the internet and highlights some of the biggest issues we face today. 

As ever, the talk is made available immediately after the YouTube Live event and you can catch-up with it here:

And if you are still hungry for more, here are the links to the Mozilla Festival and the International Health Report itself.

Our next YouTube Live event will be on March18th. This time, we will be discussing Human Values with Lianne Kerlin, a Senior Research Scientist at the BBC. Her work is focused on what people consider to be important and valuable in their lives, taking in ideas such as “connecting with others” and “exploring the world”. While this research began as a look at digital wellbeing, it has quickly expanded to encompass long-term planning and how understanding these values can offer an opportunity to deliver real positive impact to everyone. 

You can find the event on Facebook here

And you can take a look at our YouTube Channel here

Don’t forget to give us a like and subscribe! 

The Future of Graphene: Materials in Flatland – Thu 21 Jan 2021


Last week, the Manchester Futurists welcomed Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, a reader in Nanomaterials at Manchester University, to present at our very first YouTube Live event. In his talk, Aravind covered a quick history of how graphene was theorized and developed and even let us in on the secret of how to make it at home (hint: you need a pencil and some sellotape!). 

It was fascinating to discover just how diverse graphene is as a material. Not only is it super-strong and super-thin, lending it to material coatings, it is also a great conductor and is even showing promise in trainer development! The future of graphene is certainly an exciting field of research. 

But if you missed the talk, don’t worry! You can see the whole live event here 

Our next event will be held on our YouTube channel on February 18th 2021 at 8pm. This time, we are welcoming Solana Larson, editor of the Mozilla Internet Health Report to ask a question that couldn’t be more relevant for our time: Is the Internet Healthy?

You can find the event on Facebook here  

And you can take a look at our YouTube Channel here

Don’t forget to give us a like and subscribe! 

The Future of Civic Technology Design in Social Media

There is no denying the impact social media has had – and continues to have – on our lives. It has affected the way we interact with each other, the way we build our networks and even the products and services advertised to us. But while social media has some incredible positives, there are also significant disadvantages to current systems that must be addressed.

While we may never create the perfect social media site, looking at the compromises that companies make in more detail is essential. For example, there is a tension between moderating posts and users being able to express themselves in any way they like. On the one hand, over-moderating could stifle valuable free speech but on the other, complete freedom often leads to more extreme posts and content. 

In this podcast, Derek Caelin joins Caroline, Ahmed and Ian to discuss his work in civic technology, particularly his interest in creating and using decentralised social media networks. Derek is currently working as a Project Manager for Tech Matters but he learned the value of tech for good early on in his career. While working with Peach Tech Lab, associated with the US Institute for Peace, his role was to put on workshops in conflict zones, particularly focusing on transparency and accountability. 

Using a host of interesting examples, Derek guides our group through a few decentralised sites that are doing well, exposes a few growing pains and considers what the future might look like for those sites. And, finally, he gives his elevator pitch for why we should all join him on these decentralised platforms. 

Listen to our podcast here: | direct mp3

Reading list

Watch List

Decentralized Social Networks vs. The Trolls: Peertube | Youtube 

Sites to Visit

Who to Follow

@derekcaelin | @Argus

Tara Hunt: The ethical future of marketing

A Market place

In many ways, the marketing industry has remained exactly the same for generations. Someone has a product they want to sell, someone else has a need they require help with and a marketer introduces the two parties so they can do business. Of course, over the years, technology has affected the route these connections take. The internet can now connect people with mutual interests instantaneously, influencers lend their social prowess to businesses hoping to reach new audiences and online communities are increasingly targeted.

Here to discuss the development of marketing so far is the esteemed author of The Whuffie Factor, Tara Hunt. Tara became interested in marketing from a young age, being one of the first people to identify the potential the internet has for the industry. Though her book is now perhaps a little idealistic, her ideas of personal connection and a genuine desire to match people with the services and products they need remain influential.

In this podcast Georgia and Ian ask Tara about her career in marketing so far, how she is building a community of ethical marketers to share expertise, and where the future of marketing may take us.

Listen the the podcast here: Mpeg3 download


How you got started

How about The Cluetrain manifesto

The startup in San Francisco (Citizen Agency)

Reading list

The Whuffie factor by Tara Hunt
The Cluetrain manifesto

Sites to visit

A New Look at the Future of Covid-19


It has now been 7 months since the UK was first locked down due to Covid-19. In that time, we have seen dramatic changes across the nation, shaping the way we are responding to the virus. In an ever changing landscape, the Thursday night clap, Sir Tom Moore’s fundraising efforts and the toilet paper shortages seem a long time ago. Where we were once (relatively) happy to effectively close down the country, the population has become fatigued with lockdown restrictions and unclear messaging from the government, which seems to change its mind arbitrarily each week.

In this podcast, Caroline brings her experience working with the NHS team that manages the supply chain for Covid-19 testing kits around the UK to the table; she is joined by Ian and Ahmed with Georgia as our host.

Behavioural science is at the core of today’s conversation. Messaging is vital during the pandemic but simple tricolons such as ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ and ‘hands, face, space’ have given way to more confusing and varied advice. Part of the problem is that the advice is changing each week and the advice given differs between areas. But the key question really is how to avoid the continuation of this confusion and clarify a situation that is becoming increasingly nuanced without over-simplification.

Of course, behavioural science and messaging are just one aspect to managing the spread of the virus. Track and trace must also live up to expectations, particularly when so much of the messaging emphasises its role. Timing is key for all testing and for it to scale effectively in the future, we need more lab techs to manage the workload as well as faster methods.

Which leads us to the implications of short-term and long-term planning. It is now clear for everyone to see that Covid-19 is not a short term problem and it is fair to assume that there will be pandemics in the future. Though the UK was one of the better prepared nations, we have been hit hard by the pandemic and have the third highest number of recorded coronavirus deaths in the world. There has never been a better time to learn from our experiences, be critical about how we have handled this pandemic and create long-term plans for the future of our health.

Here’s the podcast: Mpeg3 download