Farewell, adieu, hasta luego, from The Small Data Forum podcast

The Podnosticators in Malaga, March 2023.

It is with a blend of gratitude and nostalgia that we announce the conclusion of The Small Data Forum podcast.

Our journey began in June 2016, and after more than seven years of insightful conversations and explorations via sideways looks at the uses and abuses of data big and small in business, politics and public life, we published our final episode in December 2023.

This website now transitions to an archive. For those who wish to revisit our discussions or explore them anew, each of the 79* monthly episodes we’ve shared over the years, plus a handful of interviews we’ve done, are preserved here. All audio content also remains accessible on major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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Infinity. Perplexity. Resentment.

Blair, Clinton, Bankman-Fried at FTX.

On a chilly 1st December, Sam takes us to the Bermudas (only virtually, sadly) – to the “Jurassic Park of crypto” that Michael Lewis (of Moneyball, The Big Short and so much more fame)  describes with trademark virtuosity in his fly-on-the-wall tale of almost-first-trillionaire-cum-felon, Sam Bankman-Fried (“SBF”), of FTX-Alameda infamy.

A self-declared Lewis fanboy, Sam introduces Going Infinite, an account of the life and times of SBF, the people in his cash-fueled orbit, and the fraudulent practices of his crypto business ventures which are now likely to have earned him decades in prison.

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Two rants and a wry smile

In a distinctly un-Friday 13th Feeling, the @Podnosticators Three gathered for the 78th time to pick through the familiar themes of politics and social media, separately and intermingled. Spoiler alert: this episode may contain rants.

The rest is politics

Sam started by reviewing the remnants and the impact of the recent U.K. party political conference season. Least said about the Liberal Democrats’ opening event the better – not least because it didn’t touch the sides, of either our or the media’s consciousness. Though as Sam pointed out, several commentators have noted that the LibDems’ decision to try to occupy the centre left when disastrous Jeremy Corbyn was dragging Labour further left has come back to haunt them.

With Starmer reclaiming the centre left and the Tories lurching ever further right, there’s clear space – in terms of ideology and electorate – to occupy, and nobody’s making a play for this traditional kingmaker zone of British politics.

We then consider the Tories’ week in Manchester. Comic writer Armando Iannucci – creator of the legendary Thick of It and In the Loop – declared satire to be dead, and that he’d have never dreamt of setting a Tory party conference in the very city where a flagship policy designed to benefit that city was axed in a keynote, leader’s speech.

But sure enough, Lame Duck PM Sunak cancelled the Birmingham to Manchester link of the £100bn-plus HS2 rail project … from the lectern in Manchester. He came over as the modern day Beeching anti-matter – announcing £30bn on branch lines – but as many had already been budgeted and spent, it all rang a little hollow from the Thin (and Short) Controller.

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Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who will be the sexiest chatbot of them all?

Another month, another deepish dive by the three podnosticators of the SmallDataForum – who Sam describes as “Thomas = the philosopher-academic and historical context-setter; Neville = the champion experimenter and enthusiastic evangelist; and Sam = the dabbler, observer, and sceptic.”

This time, we dive into generative (as well as degenerative) artificial intelligence, large language models (LLMs) and various chat-botty applications, including Neville’s new favourite, Claude, “the most human-like experience”. Turing Test, anyone?

Perfectly timed with our latest podcast release, Quadriga University Berlin launched an e-book on AI and PR, edited by friend of the show, Professor Ana Adi.

Artificial Intelligence in Public Relations and Communications: Cases, Reflections, and Predictions contains timely, critical, insightful essays from practitioners and academics. This includes a piece by yours truly, informed by decades of stochastic (a posher word for ‘random’) knowledge acquisition.

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The three sceptics of the apocalypse

Scepticism, questioning, and an ever-present gnawing uncertainty whether what Them In Power tell us is the case actually is the case – these are three hallmarks of we three Podnosticators at the Small Data Forum. And these three qualities are all present in abundant spades as we enter our fourth, quarter-century of podcasts in fresh-minted episode 76.

We gather in what the British press term ‘silly season’ – in Germany Sauregurkenzeit (“sour gherkin time”), Thomas tells us – and in the hours before we gathered, President Putin had cried crocodile tears over the mysterious downing of a private jet carrying disgraced Wagner mercenary leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin; a talented man” who “made serious mistakes”, pace Vlad in full-on Marc Antony mode.

And increasingly disgraced former (and future?) President Trump had his mugshot taken (yet another first) at the notorious Fulton County jail, his fourth criminal indictment in a growing litany of disgrace, this one for “just wanting to find 11,780 votes” and gerrymander the 2020 US Election.

Silly season indeed.

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