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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Myopic PR industry set to miss yet another boat?

With the sun beating down on the Small Data Forum Podnosticators on day three of our podcast recording retreat in Ríogordo, Andalucía, we turn our attention back to the world of AI and its potential impact on the world of communications.

With a new generative engine popping up almost every day – for words, structure, music, images, film, translation; you name it, it’s appearing – we consider the approach taken by the communications industry to this brave new world.

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The lingering whiff of sulphur in the air

(Please note that this episode was recorded – and these show notes were written – on Thursday 8 September, before the announcement of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.)

The first Small Data Forum of the @TrussLiz era sees the podcast team convene IRL on the morning of 8 September for the first time in aeons – and in a professional, West End Studio, to boot.

Nothing to do with the fourth Prime Minister (not to mention fifth Chelski manager) since our ‘umble podcast started crackling over the digital airwaves. More to do with a desire to get together IRL more often post-COVID, as well as a heart-felt yearning to “up” production values, as decent as Zoom may be. Plus an opportunity for a post-pod lunch at our favourite Italian haunt, Olivelli on the Cut.

All trussed up and no place to go

With a new Prime Minister in place, Thomas asks who fancies prognosticating on the latest incumbent of Number 10. Sam leaps in. He’s concerned about the far right, ideologically-driven agenda of Truss et al. While memes in recent days – from #ThickLizzy to #NotMyPM may be variously misogynistic and laser-focused – Sam pinpoints the Truss administration as “continuity Johnson”.

Ironically for a new team replacing de Pfeffel’s hated, ADHD-raddled regime, Sam believes Truss made a profound mis-step with her first two speeches, one to Tory Central, the other to the waiting world. Both at the Gathering of the Tories and outside #10, Truss first name-checked BoJo and all the “amazing” things he achieved, from a bungled Brexshit to “the fastest COVID vaccine rollout” (until – very soon – it wasn’t).

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Gina Miller aims to bring good governance to British politics

Gina Miller

The Small Data Forum podcast is both delighted and honoured to bring seasoned campaigner, Gina Miller, to the latest in our occasional – but increasingly frequent – interview series. SDF co-founder and co-host Sam Knowles talked with Gina on 9 February, in the week in which British politics tumbled still further into disrepute.

Two days before we spoke, Labour leader Keir Starmer and MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, were surrounded by a rag, tag, and bobtail coterie of anti-everything protesters. The potty-mouthed crew were apparently fired up with confidence by premier Johnson’s “rough and tumble of debate” gibe at Starmer in the previous week’s Prime Minister’s Questions. During that session, in which Eton’s finest rifle accused Starmer of failing to prosecute serial paedophile, Jimmy Savile, while the Labour leader was Director of Public Prosecutions. This attack – which the PM’s advisors all recommended he avoid like the plague – took the low level of political discourse in the U.K. to new depths.

Sam starts by asking Gina to explain to SDF listeners why she’d founded her new political party, True & Fair, and what she hopes to achieve with it.

Gina believes that Britain’s system of politics is outdated, no longer fit-for-purpose, and so in dire need of reform. The lack of systematic checks and balances mean our national politics lacks transparency, accountability, and good governance, and her objective in creating and launching True & Fair is to address these failings head on.

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This is the end of the year, as we know it

“It’s been a funny old year,” muses Thomas as we three kings of the Small Data Forum podcast begin our last ramblechat of 2021, with Thomas sounding like a football manager trying to sum up the most bizarre of seasons.

His erudite pun quotient – talking of Johnson’s wretched government of 24-hour party peoplePfeffelling along – is a treat for podcast fans old and new.

Sam believes that Thomas’ question as to whether we should see this oddest of odd years as “Plus ça change …” (and so “… plus ç’est la même chose”) is spot on.

Accusations of a series of catered parties at Number 10 are becoming more tangible and less tittle-tattle by the day – parties hosted when London was under Tier 3 restrictions and “mingerlin’” was definitely verboten. Screenshots and grainy footage of canapés and revellers crawl out of the digital woodwork to add the fire of verity to the smoke of accusations.

Spokesperson after government PR flack is being hung out to dry, resign, and spend more time with their families. The lies are mounting up like yet another set of Covid mortality statistics, and the mud sticks to everyone but the leader himself.

For Neville, the PM is deploying Steve Jobs’ notorious “reality distortion field”, and if Johnson declares black is white or up is down, everyone around him is required either to agree or get out … preferably by the back door so that no waiting media can spot and snap them, adding to the evidence pile.

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