Your place in the data ecosystem

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Media captionData expert, Ravi Naik, warns that one click is all it takes to share your personal data across an ecosystem of companies.

Let me take you back to that glorious, sorry, awful moment when you woke up this morning, bleary-eyed and with that constant jet-lag feeling that is the hallmark of so much adult life. What was the first thing you did?

Did you, like me, lean over to the side of your bed, stop your alarm, enter the passcode for your smartphone, click on the little icon for a social media app, and find yourself inanely scrolling through your feed to see what people you have never met have to say about something you don't care about?

You do realise, don't you, that in doing that, you were pointing a super-computer at your face, and encouraging algorithms to in effect scan your personality, building up a sophisticated, nuanced, and detailed profile of you, readily shared with countless people and companies you've never heard of, which in turn will determine which adverts you see when you wake up a week from now. Or sooner.

Perhaps after that, and making the kids' breakfast, you decided to bid for four minutes of freedom while getting changed, and asked the smart-speaker in your bedroom or kitchen to play a great bit of music. Let's be generous and assume you have great taste in music, so you played Loving Pauper by Dillinger.

And then maybe, after you left the house, sorted the kids out at school, and made your merry way to work, you got a tenner out from the ATM, and touched in and out on the bus/tram/train you use to get to work.

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Who will regulate digital political ads?

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Media captionThe rise in political adverts on social media

Nearly two-and-a-half-years ago, I did a ring-round of Britain's regulators to see if any of them might fancy regulating political advertising on social media, particularly outside an election period.

It was obvious then, in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum and election of President Trump, that political campaigning had mostly shifted online. Even if a lot of leading politicians were slow on the uptake - still spending time courting print editors and columnists, for instance, whose influence has waned - they were increasingly surrounded by campaigners who did understand the world had changed.

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How to break into the elite

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Media captionWhy are smart working-class kids getting passed over for top jobs?

Of all the peculiarities to accompany the ascension of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel - oh, you know the rest - none is more telling than the fact that he should raise to 20 the number of British Prime Ministers who attended a school just south of Slough set up in 1440 for the education of 70 poor boys.

Indeed, Eton and Oxford seems to be the spirit and mixer of choice for the British public. Yet look beyond Number 10 to the other great offices of state and you see a very different story: among the names Johnson, Javid, Raab and Patel you have three children of migrants, two of refugees, and family heritages that are Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu.

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The internet as religious experience

Can the meaning of life be found in code? Image copyright AFP
Image caption Can the meaning of life be found in code?

For most of recent human history, by which I mean the last few millennia, social organisation has been rooted in practical faith.

Religion, which departs from philosophy when it gives meaning to this life through reference to a transcendentally different realm, has been the method of settling disputes within local populations, if not between them.

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The new threats to journalism

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt have criticised Donald Trump's rhetoric against journalists Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt have criticised Donald Trump's rhetoric against journalists

Foreign secretaries often make a habit of attaching themselves to some cause deemed marginal or eccentric by their diplomatic corps.

William Hague, for instance, took a very close interest in the appalling treatment of women in war zones, and specifically war zone rape and Female Genital Mutilation. He partnered with the actor Angelina Jolie on this cause.

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Why BBC salaries are such a hard sell

Gary Lineker
Image caption Gary Lineker is the BBC's highest paid star

It's become a tradition already.

Not the publication of the Annual Report, which is as old as the BBC; rather, public dissection of the salaries for top earners, particularly those familiar faces and voices from TV and radio. As with last year, my name is on the list.

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Amol Rajan: What kind of internet do you want?

The race is on to shape the internet around the globe Image copyright Getty
Image caption The race is on to shape the internet around the globe

In recent months I have been influenced by a paper on The Geopolitics of Digital Governance by two University of Southampton academics, Kieron O'Hara and Dame Wendy Hall. The paper popularised, but didn't invent, the idea of the "splinternet" - namely, that there is not one internet, but four.

These four internets are, broadly: the open, universalist version envisioned by the web's pioneers; the current, largely Californian internet dominated by a few tech giants (Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook); a more regulated, European internet; and an authoritarian, walled-garden approach, of the kind seen in China, which has its own tech giants (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent).

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Why The Jeremy Kyle Show was scrapped

The precise circumstances of Steve Dymond's death are not known. But what is clear, from multiple sources, is that he was troubled and vulnerable before he participated in the show - even though he did so willingly - and that failing the lie detector test was a devastating blow.

That much was clear on Tuesday morning, when ITV said that they were minded to launch an inquiry and wait for the coroner's verdict. Yet this morning the show was taken off the air permanently.

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The Jeremy Kyle Show: Guest death sees tables turn

Jeremy Kyle and Steve Symond Image copyright Getty Images and Steve Dymond/Facebook
Image caption The death of guest Steve Dymond has put The Jeremy Kyle Show under intense scrutiny

The basic question prompted by Steve Dymond's death is whether the very genre of which Jeremy Kyle is the personification has any place on our screens.

Nobody doubts it is a commercial success. In a highly competitive market, the show has delivered solid ratings for years; and the fact that it has been on air for 14 years is testament to ITV's support for it.

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The children missing out on free school meals

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Media captionMany pupils lose their credit for free school meals if it is not spent on the given day.

Is it just possible that thousands of pupils eligible for free school meals are missing out on their allowance because of an unintended consequence of the policy?Missing out on free school meals? And that with a simple bit of software costing £250, schools can re-direct huge sums of money back to some of the hungriest pupils?

This is a story that is not on the media beat at all. But when I heard about it, I was intrigued.

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