It is March 28th 2018. In the past month, it was revealed that a major data breach of the popular social media platform Facebook, had leaked profile information of 50 million Facebook users to a data collecting firm called Cambridge Analytica.
Importantly, this information is said to have been used to target voters in the 2016 United States presidential election and the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom that same year. This has resulted in the hashtag #DeleteFacebook; a call for people to delete their profiles on the platform, in an expression of distrust.
Admist all of the chaos, this news prompted James Temple, senior editor of Technology Review at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to express concern at the publication of their bold 2013 cover story: “Big data will save politics”. Temple tweeted “It’s possible we called this one wrong”, enclosing the cover image of the January issue.
Unsurprisingly, given the context of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the tweet went viral. However, it also wrongly generated criticism directed at the person represented on the cover: Bono.
The U2 singer’s contribution to the theme of big data was not with regards to elections – and certainly not that of Trump or Brexit years later. Given the cover story title, and layout of the cover, it is easy enough to attribute that opinion to Bonostradamus.
“In Africa, things are changing so rapidly. What’s been a slow march is suddenly picking up pace in ways we could not have imagined even 10 years ago. Innovations like farmers using mobile phones to check seed prices, for banking, for sending payments … to the macro effect we saw with the Arab Spring thanks to Facebook and Twitter.” – Bono in MIT Tech Review, January 2013.
Crucially, he goes on to make the following point, which clearly questions the portrayal of big data as a “silver bullet”:
“But people can use technology for bad as well as good. The social systems and the social capital within networks must be strong and positive to nurture a progressive use of technology. Let’s be honest.” – Bono, in MIT Tech Review January 2013
So yes, let’s be honest; Technology offers invention. Inventions are discoveries that have the inherent potential to shape our everyday lives. That’s it. The keyword here being potential.
This is where we need to hold on a moment and reflect on where we may have gone wrong. Let’s gain some perspective.
Alfred Nobel’s invention of dynamite (1867), that has potential to blast stone to render space for construction, is the same dynamite that could blast human bone to render people disabled in war (1870-1871).
The same theories that gave rise to nuclear physics (1896) with the potential to heat up our home environment, are the same theories that gave rise to the production of nuclear warheads (1945) with potential to heat up the political environment.
Now, the same social platform that has exposed millions of people (2018) is also the same social platform that has the potential to connect people (2004).
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, people marched for Civil Rights led by the likes of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. In America, people elected Donald Trump. People also elected Barack Obama. People. People. People.
People inspire change. Before the internet, groups like Amnesty International encouraged its members (people!) to send letters and postcards to say “we are watching you”. Before the internet, word spread between like-minded individuals, or with the news provided by the traditional media (TV, radio and the press).
Today, mailbags have become hashtags. Today, letterboxes have become inboxes. Today, the messengers have changed but the message remains the same.
The Good Voice has always survived and continues to survive, because it belongs to the people. It has survived because it has spoken truth to power. It has survived because it has spoken a message of love. A message of inclusion and not exclusion. A message of tolerance and equality. It has survived because it has carried and delivered the message with a capital M: The Message of Humanity.
In the most Darwinian of ways, humanity thrives when it makes the choice that allows space for change and sustains its existence. It is always the people who are left with that choice to be made: The choice to stand up for human rights where they see human wrongs. The choice to act and to react. The choice to unlock the very potential of a better tomorrow.
To be opinionated, to make decisions and to ultimately change things are dangerous things. But they are also very powerful. We are reminded time and again that the potential is there, and we see how the Good Voice will always fight back.
For every Bin Laden there is a Malala, in Pakistan.
For every Al-Assad there is an Abu Ward, in Syria.
For every truck attack there is a love manifestation, in Stockholm.
For every Cambridge Analytica there is a March for Our Lives, in America.
Behind every change we see, behind every streak of darkness and every ray of light, there is always people. Always remember that you have a choice to make, in order to preserve this most precious resource, this ultimate invention that is humanity.
Often, History informs the Future. History tells us that The Good Choice is what sustains the The Good Voice: The Good Choice allows The Good Voice to enter the Future.
In a time where mailbags have become hashtags, will the invention of “people” become trashbags? The choice is yours.
Today is November 30th 2017. Tomorrow, December 1st, sees the official release of U2‘s 14th studio album Songs of Experience. However, this is not going to be a review about the album – at all. Rather, this story begins almost two years ago. It’s going to be a long one but hang in there.
Nothing of that, however, comes close to the exposure I have had anticipating the new U2 record but let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Prologue: A Tale of Innocence and Experience
On December 11th, 2015 I had first shared an idea on Twitter about what I thought could be an interesting approach for the artwork of U2’s anticipated follow up to Songs of Innocence, released in 2014.
I based this fan art on pictures of the four band members that had first appeared in the official 2015 iNNOCENCE+eXPERIENCE Tour programme. They can for instance be seen on the website of the Dublin-based Creative Graphic Design Agency AMP Visual. Importantly; AMP Visual (formerly Four5One) have created the vast majority of U2-related products since the late 1970’s.
Also please know that the photographs are not taken by me. I no longer recall the exact instance of where I came across the original pictures, but I suspect it might have been one of the many fan forums. As I did not purchase the tour programme myself though, I am unable to determine exactly who is the original photographer. If you have any information, please get in touch.
Briefly, the pictures represent (clockwise) Adam Clayton, The Edge, Bono, and Larry Mullen Jr, with landmarks from their hometown in Dublin, Ireland. In January 2016, the band’s official website U2.com launched their annual fanclub subscriber gift, where the band headshots appeared once more. It had the following description:
Our 2016 U2.com subscription package celebrates the striking visual iconography of the U2ie Tour.
Subscribers will receive an exclusive collection of four high quality serigraphs, commissioned by the band and developed by their longtime creative collaborators musician Gavin Friday and art-director Shaughn McGrath.
This limited edition collection is made up of four beautiful screen prints, produced on heavy paper stock, measuring 60 x 45cm. A unique visual celebration of the U2 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour, the set includes band, live performance and on-screen imagery.
This special collection will not be on sale online or in store.
With this, I wanted to present the creative process in creating my much circulated fan art.
Inspiration number one: After Songs of Innocence, the next album was rumoured to contrast the innocence of U2’s early Dublin years with the experience of adulthood and fame. Thus, I got inspired to create fan art for an album sleeve with the Dublin faces (which merge both ideas) as a foundation.
Inspiration number two: U2’s 1997 album POP. It is well documented how much of an impact that era in their career has had on revising the sound, tour planning and timing of release. So, I thought an aspect of mega stardom could be learning from your “mistakes” and getting caught up in the grandiosity of the rockstar lifestyle. Note the similar arrangements of the four faces, below.
Inspiration number three: The artwork for Songs of Innocence, with Larry embracing his grown up son, in many ways reflected early U2 records with debut album Boy (1980) as the primary influence. If Songs of Innocence in content and style was a throwback to U2 in the 1980’s, perhaps the follow-up could take inspiration from the colourful 1990’s artwork?
With these as my inspiration, I began assembling the fan art. The colouring and order of the band members were adjusted to reflect the appearance of the aforementioned cover for POP. I then added the text to indicate the supposed album title.
Please note: Twitter remain the only platform, where I have shared this fan art. The original tweet has, to date, had a rather modest reception of 1 retweet (circulating the tweet with others) and 5 likes. With that, I didn’t think much about the artwork, until around two weeks ago: on November 12th.
Part 1: Even Better Than The Real Thing?
As part of the promotional campaign leading up to the release of Songs of Experience, U2 appeared on Music Television’s European Music Awards (MTV EMA) show in London. In addition to a live debut performance of the latest single Get Out Of Your Own Way, the band was to be presented with the annual “MTV Global Icon” award by fellow artist Jared Leto.
Just before their entrance to accept the award on stage, a video montage was televised – and presumably also shown on location in London. One section of the video is dedicated to displaying U2’s album covers in chronological order. The original video can be viewed in its entirety via the official website, mtvema.com or the MTV International YouTube channel.
Around the three minute mark, the album slideshow displays artwork for Songs of Experience. There’s only one issue: my 2015 fan art is presented here, along with otherwise official album sleeves created by Four5One/AMP Visual in collaboration with U2.
To reiterate: I have never, ever shared this image outside the original tweet on December 11th, 2015. I had not, and I have not, been approached by anyone at MTV or the EMA staff before, during, or after the event in London. Thus, it was a mixed bag of emotion to see my fan art being so prominently displayed without prior consent or even credit.
Part 2: They Don’t Know What You’re Doing – Babe It Must Be Art!
At this point, I’m feeling sorry for the poor person that made the mix-up. I briefly enjoy my uncredited seconds of fame thinking “these things happen”, but it would not end there.
Curious, I started to track down the potential source of this mess so I googled. I was surprised to see my fan art up among the top results when perfoming a Google Image Search for “U2 Songs of Experience”. It does not however, link to my Twitter post but a message board thread. (Note also the replicated idea, with other faces of the band, on the bottom left).
I cannot verify that this is the source of the mix-up, but in September 2017 a fellow U2 fan (i.e. not me!) posted a thread to the U2 Interference message boards entitled: “Songs of Experience Album Cover?“. For context, Interference is one of the largest international (but unofficial) forums for U2 fans online. The artwork was quickly, and correctly, identified as “a fan’s creation” so it should’ve stopped there. It did not.
Incredibly, a Google Search for the same query returns a summary post with my fan art presented as the official album cover in the upper right corner! Note how the other information is entirely correct. In defense of Google, it is understandable that the thread title would cause the search algorithm to return my image as the top result.
More perplexing though, is that Google’s own music store, Play Music displays the correct, official album cover. One would have thought their services were better synchronised for something as simple as this, surely?
Since the MTV EMAs on the 12th of November where I made this discovery, it appears my fan art has appeared in other places, presented as the official album cover with no credit or reference to the original. Radio Station 99.9 WWCT FM have used it and last night I saw it in the major news outlet The New York Times as well, together with their review of the album.
Simultaneously, I have been engaged on Twitter with other fans still asking if it is the official album art.
Before anything else, let’s now set the record straight. The official, correct, artwork – for the new album Songs of Experience that comes out tomorrow – was announced on November 1st 2017. The official information from U2.com states:
“Today the band also revealed the artwork for Songs of Experience, shot by Dutch photographer, film director and longtime collaborator Anton Corbijn, of band-members’ teenage children Eli Hewson and Sian Evans.”
Ett inlägg delat av Anton Corbijn (@antoncorbijn4real)
What can we learn from all this mess?
Watermark your content.
If you want to dissuade unathourised use of your content, watermark it. Nevermind the people who moan about it ruining the impression of your video, illustration, or photograph. One needn’t make it intrusive. If people want to use it, make them jump through a few hoops to reach out to you for a clean copy.
I am not the first U2 fan who have had their content used or right up stolen. I know fansites such as u2gigs.com and atu2.com have seen usage of their live videoclips. The eminent fan site u2songs.com, which has reported many of the rumours surrounding the new album, too. Watermarking does not always prevent “theft” but it retains the presence of the original source in case it ends up elsewhere.
Stay informed: Give credit where it is due.
The media appear reluctant to either use the correct official sources, or finding out the original creator of the content they are about to use. This is incredibly dangerous. Once more: this is incredibly dan-ger-ous!
We live in a time and climate where claims of “fake news” gain attention to help denounce major news outlets, like the New York Times. People of the free press: please, do your work! The pen is mightier than the sword. Keep us informed, not misinformed. We must be able to trust you.
A Marketing mess
U2’s marketing team are likely pissed off that fan art is presented as the official artwork. It breaks my heart thinking AMP Visual may not get recognition for their stunning work.
Songs of Experience has got the most mesmerising collection of U2 art that I have ever seen for an album. This way also, the master photographer and long-time U2-collaborator Anton Corbijn does not get proper credit and exposure for the amazing album sleeve. So in a worst-case scenario, this is going to hurt U2’s promotional campaign and sales for Songs of Experience. It might even endanger their professional relationships.
Related to point number 3, I imagine there will be casual fans intrigued to pick up the new album tomorrow. How on earth are they supposed to know what to look for when even The New York Times advertises my fan art as the official artwork! I never intended this to happen. It makes me angry, more than anything else.
Give credit where credit is due
Perhaps, most importantly, learn to be critical of your sources. Think. Find and give references to the original creator. Passing it off as something it is not, is not cool. Here’s an example of why this is so vital.
As for where I stand now, I am not sure how to proceed. I deny any responsibility for that this mess could be with me. I created the fan art two years ago, never even once trying to pass it off as the real thing. I could never have forseen these events to be taking place now in 2017, just before its release.
In any event, my biggest wish is that this album, Songs of Experience, is a stellar success. I wish the most possible people will experience and enjoy the electric blue beauty created by U2 together with AMP Visual and Anton Corbijn.
I hope the media will stop using fan creations and pass them off uncredited or even as if they are the real thing. I thought knowing your sources was an integral but basic lesson in journalism but apparently it is a forgotten one. Same goes for you Google: get your search algorithms in order!
All I know is that what happened is not cool in my book, and it should not have to happen again. I ultimately wish that with this entry, I have contributed to shedding some light on how this mess unfolded, and thereby right was has been horribly wrong. In any interaction, I try my best to point people in the right direction.
Lastly, I have not heard from MTV, Google, the New York Times, U2, Maverick Management, their marketing team, AMP Visual, Anton Corbijn or any journalist or other people associated with the band regarding this mix up of the Songs of Experience artwork. I welcome a dialogue with any of you regarding this and how we can put things right together.
Best regards, Simon Peyda Moore
November 30th 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden
It is now correctly displaying the official album cover. I appreciate this effort. Note however, that there is still no information about where the original artwork came from. I also do not know if the fan art appeared in the printed paper, or if a correction has also been issued in print. The correction reads as follows:
Shortly after the last entry, I got results from the second admissions round for university this autumn. This time, I had an offer for my primary choice – the masters programme in Global Health at Uppsala University.
I took a weekend to reflect on whether to accept, and found that “yes, it might be challenging to start again, and commuting to another city but this excites me!”.
With that, I gave my two week notice to leave the Aging Research Center and this past week I have enrolled in my second master’s degree programme. The first week has been a typical orientation week with welcomes, vital information and group bonding events.
It’s exciting to think that for the next two years, I will be educated in Global Health, a discipline which is close to my heart having volunteered with the ONE Campaign for so many years.
I still regret that biomedicine never took off for me. I regret that I am not in a wet lab unravelling the secrets of mother nature. I regret that my career in biomedicine never turned into what I had aspired when I started the bachelor degree programme at Karolinska Institutet in 2008. On the other hand, one needs to know when to stop. Three years post graduation and not a single long-term option in sight became that point for me.
Thus, this concludes my job hunt for now. My intention is to re-initiate my search in about a year so I can hopefully secure my first global health role before my graduation in 2019. Until then, I might make the occassional blog entry, about Global Health or something else altogether.
Thank you one last time to friends, family and acquaintances for all your advice, help, support and insights during this challenging time. I can only hope it will be better from now on.
Results are in! This past month I received the first selection results for university programmes and courses in the autumn.
Jobs have been hard to come by in July with most people being away on holidays and Sweden essentially shut down since midsummer.
Thus, I have been thinking a lot about what it might entail to go back to school. Is it starting over and giving up, or is it a continuation and adding to my career?
At this time, I have been accepted for the 3-year nursing programme at Karolinska Institutet in Huddinge. Meanwhile, I am on a list of reserves for the 2-year master’s programme in Uppsala which is my first choice. Aside from that I have also been accepted for half a semester of journalism at Umeå University as a standalone course.
For the second selection, to be complete this month, I have reapplied for some other programmes/courses and added a few extra courses were applications were still accepted.
Towards the end of the month, I was invited to contribute to the next episode of the Naturejobs podcast that is just starting up again. It was a lovely experience and the staff, fronted by Julie, weres all very kind and funny.
Before recording my contribution, of asking a career related question, we had to soundcheck and I got to tell them loud and proud about my breakfast habits – just so I had something to say while adjusting the input volume on the mixing desk.
I will keep you posted in my social media, and here, when the episode is up!
Over the course of the last month, I have also thought a lot about what if a “normal career” doesn’t happen for me? What are my natural strengths, my passions and something that would inspire me? That’s when I learned that, fundamentally, I think of myself as a storyteller.
I think journalism might come in handy then, for starters. I love the idea of meeting people and getting them a voice to share opinions and stories.
Much like my own Iranian father had pointed me in this direction, the character Amir of the Kite Runner voiced a similar ambition and got encouragement from his Afghan Baba in front of General Taheri.
“Ah, a storyteller,” the general said. “Well, people need stories to divert them at difficult times like this.”
Excerpt from “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini (2003)
Maybe now is a good time to explore that path? Maybe by now the idea has matured in my mind and being? So many people over the years have said that writing is my forte and perhaps I should listen.
If I don’t choose to study now, I will probably go back to school next semester. I will give it at least until the end of the year to find something long-term.
As always, thank you to friends, acquaintances and family for support and encouragement on this long journey.
On June 6th, Sweden celebrated its national holiday and a couple of weeks ago we had Midsummer. I’d say this is when worklife slows down for most Swedes and many go on vacation for a number of weeks.
At this time of year then, hiring new staff is naturally not a focus again until the autumn for most employers. Even so, I will still try to find opportunites that I can apply for. As others wind down, the old mantra from my student days makes a return: “Holidays are no holy days”.
In the past month, I have applied for three more positions and one of them is with a company where a former lab colleague is working. Initially, they seemed interested in me but before I was able to schedule an interview with the biotech company they have decided to proceed with three other candidates and they will contact their referees this week. However, the recruiter has informed me that depending on the outcome of those conversations, they might meet new applicants as well, so there is still a chance for me.
Elsewhere, I have been in touch with the department where I am employed about an update for my current position as a research assistant. I am only allowed to remain in the same role for 24 months. Thus, I have been informed that it is projected that I will reach that limit somewhere in autumn.
Hopefully, more opportunities will come sooner rather than later and I keep getting great support from many places. Thank you to one and all for your advice and encouragement!
As the days become shorter and the nights become darker, let’s hope the same is not true for my jobhunting prospects!
I haven’t kept track of all my applications but since 2014, I have applied for roughly 93 positions including the activities of the past month.
My applications have been a mixture of PhD positions (in Sweden, the UK, The Netherlands, and Germany) and jobs of varying kinds (in marketing, communication, project coordination, quality control, as research assistant, doing administrative work and volunteering.).
From this, I have had a bit over a handful of interviews. At the most, I have had three interviews for the same role (i.e. with Atlas Antibodies). Also I’m still surprised that I have had zero (0!) PhD interviews at my alma mater at this point.
Meanwhile, I have also attended online courses, such as the Global Health one by KI and various things involving Python programming just to try and expand my skills. I have contributed content to blogs on three occassions. Finally, I had my first scientific publication back in December 2016.
Lately, I have been watching a playlist of TED Talks in hopes of troubleshooting what I might do wrong. One of them, Scott Dinsmore, says it’s about the environment and the people around you, so maybe I need to seek my luck in another place – or another field even, to find these people and this network?
Just the thought of giving up on my science career saddens me somewhat. At the same time, I was expecting to have a long-term plan established by this point, maybe I would be half-way through a PhD. While I found my first work after graduation within a year, it’s been challenging to build my career in Biomedicine/Life Science since then.
The upside is that I have learned where I have been somewhat successful. It would be PhD positions in Immunology (mainly abroad though), project coordination and quality assurance so that might be some leads for the future.
Moreover, I have received work experience and learned skills that I would not necessarily have in my toolbox, had I remained in a wet lab.
I will keep on trying and when the selection process for university in autumn is done, maybe I need to reconsider what I am doing professionally and go back to school.
Lastly, I have received tonnes of support and encouragement from so many people over the years and, as always, I say thank you.
The past month offered a couple of chances to realise the HIV/AIDS objective that I have set out to fulfill this year.
Early in the month, I was at Skatteverket (Swedish Tax Agency) for an errand and by chance bumped into someone who turned out to be a PhD student in a lab that I had applied for a week previously or so. We talked for a bit and exchanged contact details to follow-up on my application. Since I haven’t heard back, I assume the position must be filled.
I also applied for a PhD position in Public Health that would have in part entailed researching cardiovascular disease and HIV epidemiology on location with a cohort in Uganda. It was with a group that I had approached previously in the year, who had encouraged me to reapply once a formal position had been advertised.
Unfortunately, I was not selected for it in the end. I probably lacked the right qualifications in Public Health, but no harm in trying. Apart from that, I applied for a position as Biochemistry Scientist with a company developing a method for prenatal screening but I haven’t heard back yet.
On April 7th, I was having lunch with my former classmates from the Master’s Programme in Biomedicine. It was enjoyable and I got to provide an update how my jobhunt was going. Coming home proved to be a mess, with the terror attack in the Stockholm City centre and subsequent lockdown happening. I escaped unharmed as I was not near the scene of the attack. Although unrelated, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest condolences to the victims and their families.
The deadline for higher education applications expires in April, so I took the opportunity to send in an application for the autumn focusing on e.g. nursing, writing/journalism, and global health. I may expand my search somewhat again, as I have begun looking into nearby fields such as Forensics but nothing as of yet – I realised too late to include it with my application for further studies.
Also, I have tried out an app called SelfieJobs to see what it can do for me, but I suspect it’s only for temporary positions e.g. summer jobs.
A short update for April, which was both intense and allowed a few days off for Easter. I want to thank everyone for your on-going support and hints about possible positions to apply for, it is much appreciated.
Two weeks later, I hadn’t heard anything and one is then to assume the application was not successful. Just yesterday, a similar position related to immunohistochemistry (which I did regularly while in Edinburgh) popped up so I decided to try my luck a second time.
As for the AIDS-track, I made a spontaneous application for one of the groups working on HIV/AIDS research in global health at Karolinska Institutet. Unfortunately, there was no opening at the moment but I was encouraged to keep an eye open during spring.
I have also contacted my friend Ophelia whom I got to know during the HIV course I took as a master degree student for possible insights and guidance where to look.
Separate from that, I contacted the people at Noak’s Ark in Stockholm about the possbility to volunteer with them. They are supporting HIV+ people in our capital so I thought it would be a valuable experience both professionally and personally to be of help. However, I learned today that their person responsible for volunteering is on sick leave at the moment but they promised to get back to me in due time.
In the past month, I discovered the LinkedIn Jobs application and have entered keywords in there so now I get daily updates for jobs that might be interesting – including doctoral studentships.
Thanks to that, I found a role as a lab technician at the university hospital in Huddinge with the laboratory that handles clinical microbiology i.e. HIV samples among other things! Thus, I sent in an application for that yesterday, along with applications for a number of other positions that were interesting.
I feel like I’m on a roll again, it’s been a while since I have felt this active about my future. Much like the image above illustrates, it’s time to construct a new path and start off this year with a new focus.
Thank you again to everyone who offers advice, wants to help and encourages me throughout this job hunt. It means very much to me.
December went by pretty quickly with busy days. The biggest news was one I had been waiting for since 2012. Christmas came early and I had the first publication of my scientific career! It was based on my two projects on mast cells and allergy that were in part related to my bachelor thesis, you can read more on the projects overview page.
At work, the Iron project is coming along well and we have had a few participants completing their first three visits for the baseline data. This means that we have finally been doing real MRI scanning for the project which is always exciting.
The working schedule involved both early mornings and late evenings so I haven’t quite had an opportunity – or energy – to actively apply anywhere in the last month. However, the upside is that I took a moment to reflect on what I want for the new year.
I already knew from before that I want to return to immunology in some form. The more I thought about it, the more natural it seemed that I would focus on something I had not actively pursued until now.
Thus, my new goal for 2017 is to work in HIV or AIDS research. It may not have to be in a wet lab, although that would be exciting and most suitable to my background, since it could be equally interesting to do field studies e.g. more in a public health perspective of things.
It all really started in 2013, when I was reminded of the injustice of the HIV/AIDS stigma during a doctoral level course. This “frustration” was among the many things that made me pursue science in the first place and it came back to me during that time. Of course, my involvement with the ONE Campaign (and following the sister organisation (RED) since 2006) deepened my knowledge and insights into the connection between HIV and poverty even before then. Lastly, taking the KIGlobalHx course in the spring was really fun and inspiring.
That said, it feels good to pursue a career in something that naturally engages me on a daily basis anyway. It makes all the sense in the world. I just hope this will prove to be a successful approach although I still should keep an eye out for other opportunities as well.
I hope everyone has had a a happy holiday season and a good start to 2017.
A continued thank you to everybody for your support now that my job hunting extends into 2017 with renewed clarity!