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Anwen Roberts

Anwen Roberts
Science and Technology
My bio:

German-English-Welsh science and tech journo learning, laughing and living in Berlin.
Multilingual. Language and framework agnostic. No-nonsense skeptic and rationalist with a heart of gold (or code, possibly). Good old-fashioned futurist; militant cyclist and tea drinker. Chaos and Cosmos. "Big picture" thinker, analyst and researcher, mostly working on the overlaps and intersections of science and technology with society, ethics, education, philosophy, pop culture, global politics... 20ys+ of interpreting, editing and translation services, English language teaching, and cross-cultural communication. My passion is for science communication and popularization with a maximum of fun along the way... and I hope it shows. Even in private I have a penchant for entertaining and eclectic pep talks on anything from the Pascal triangle to marine organisms to the heat death of the universe. Books, books, books. And oh did I mention science?
tldr -> Writer, reader, speaker, thinker, educator, translator, general-purpose smartass and nerd-vom-Dienst.

Examples of previous talks / appearances:

Enclosures, Sheep, and the Open Web

Join us on our historical tour from 16th century England to the Open Web of today! We'll tell the sorry tale of the enclosure movement, a social process abolishing traditional rights to common lands. Our parable aims to expose various connections to the land grab on the Internet of today, and shows what all that has to do with sheep farming.

The enclosure movement was a process in Great Britain that did away with collectively owned and managed land and privatized it, which started in the 16th century and was completed by the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The end of the commons is often regarded as the beginning of capitalism.

Our talk is a parable (featuring fun facts about sheep) on how we can see this enclosure movement today on the Internet. Will the Open Web be cut up into little privatized plots and allotments? Who are today's landlords? Is Internet.org a wolf in sheep's clothing? Are we in the middle of a transformation that is irreversible?

We'll look at examples of how the commons is eroded, from Net Neutrality to copyright-wing extremism to sheep farming in Farmville.

(Talk at re:publica 2016, together with Jens Ohlig – including a silly minstrel-style ditty on the ukulele ;)

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Where is the (Data)Love?

Enough with the hate speech, let's talk about love!

When at times all that hate speech, harassment & surveillance on the internet seems too much, let's try to remember that other, oft forgotten emotion: love. This talk is more of a search mission than a compilation of answers. Where is the love, digitally speaking? What can we learn from OKCupid’s matching algorithms? Can emotions and consciousness really be broken down into maths and stats? In this short and eclectic talk, Anwen will take a bleak look at the soft mushy stuff and look out for datalove in all the wrong places.

Including: the three (or thirty) questions to ask your true love, everything you ever need to know about online sentiment analysis, what "big data" has to do with small psychology, what gamers are really passionate about, and much more...

(Talk at re:publica 2015 – link is audio only)

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Whatever Happened to Journalism?

Panel: Alternatives to Data-Silos – Tools for Democratic Aggregation

This panel presents results from a series of Berliner Gazette-workshops that started at the conference „Digital Backyards“ (October 2012) and „Digital Backyards Japan“ (January 2013), asking about alternatives to Google and Facebook, and then continued at the hackathon „bottom-up & open“ (May 2013) and recently culminated at the conference „Complicity“ (November 2013), once again bringing together Hackers and Journalists.

(Panel discussion and workshops as part of Mobilize! conference 2013)

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Complicity 2013 – "Hacks and Hackers"

Spätestens seit den Snowden-Enthüllungen bereiten sich Protagonisten der digitalen Revolution auf eine neue Ära der Zusammenarbeit vor: Hacker und Journalisten, Piraten und Kapitalisten, Amateure und Profis – noch ist das gemeinsame Schaffen von Konflikten geprägt; noch fehlen konsensfähige Werte und allgemeingültige Praktiken. Trotzdem oder gerade deswegen werden sie zu Komplizen. Welche größeren Probleme werden adressierbar, wenn vermeintliche Gegenspieler ihre Querelen beilegen und zusammenarbeiten? Welche Lösungsansätze lässt der Blick durch die Brille des anderen erkennbar werden?

(Guest speaker and contributor for a series of workshops & public talks hosted and organized by Berliner Gazette as part of COMPLICITY conference 2013; development of a "grassroots" newsreader app with JS & YahooPipes. Workshops in English, hack n tell presentation in German)

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Happiness: The Metadata

The pursuit of happiness is an age-old meme that desperately requires an update to meet the needs of the networked nerd. Here's how and why.

To paraphrase Eric S. Raymond, every (Open Data) project starts with an itch you have to scratch. My "itch" had already been the topic of mental health in hacker and activist communities for quite some time – but with the death of Aaron Swartz in Jan.2013, the need to scratch became unbearable.

As more and more parts of everyday life move online, the Internet is more noticeably turning into a "psychological" space. (Maybe it’s been that way all along, but in any case, "special-needs" networks and increasingly public communication of mental issues are on the rise.) And despite the development of relatively new research angles within “Internet psychology” and big data, a lot of nerds feel underserviced by conventional psychology. It is the networked public itself, not the psychologists and experts, now finding new ways of dealing with the emotional demands of a specific demographic.

Aaron’s death showed us how a wave of empathy and sorrow can spread globally in real-time – are such metrics already indicators of another, more sensitive and compassionate web? How do we change online "life quality"? Are our identities lost in transmission, negotiated somewhere between Facebook profile neurosis and the statistical glitches of OKCupid user data? Will Big Data finally make us all happier?

These are some of the very simple questions I want to discuss – along with some very messy answers on the matter of happiness, mental health and big data. Ideally this talk will include an "Eudaimonia 101", a debate on World-Coping for nerds, supported by current examples, projects and community developments, as well as ample time for discussion and questions.

(Talk and workshop at OHM hacker camp 2013 in the Netherlands - video recording available at archive.org)

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The dark side of action

2011 was a year full of political upheaval and protest. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movements, thousands of people took to the streets demanding (and enforcing!) change. Focusing on collective action, however, we tend to neglect what can happen to individual participants who find themselves under enormous pressure to succeed, to perform, and generally save the world… In this session, we want to broach the taboo of depression and failure in a (hack)tivist context, taking a step back from the challenges at hand to look at the effects on people getting involved – as well as those who can’t get involved. It’s not as scary as it sounds!

Suitable for all and trigger-happy in a positive way, Anwen will be presenting an assortment of ideas and iconic images from science and art history, following the trace of depression and melancholy from ancient hermits and Noonday Demons to the digital natives of today. We will explore the "dark side" of action – compassion fatigue, depression, shellshock, burnout, suicides –, and talk about how the (social) Net can become more of a safety net for its inhabitants.

Stephan will be sharing some examples from his personal experience as a Telecomix agent: Hackers, especially those who work with activists on the ground, see the consequences of their actions and inactions every day, putting themselves and others under immense pressure and "burning the candle from both ends". But we also want to talk about the different patterns of behaviour and interaction that let such situations develop and about the measures that networks and jellyfish clusters can implement to not only solve these problems, but to also ensure a healthier way of interacting and behaving in future.

(re:publica 2012, together with Stephan "tomate" Urbach and Jürgen "tante" Geuter)

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