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The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas is an initiative set up to ‘take the academics out of their ivory towers and engage with the public’. The format could easily turn into a dull lecture but compere, Susan Morrison, ensures that the audience are comfortable talking back to the speaker and injects the evening with some self-deprecating, suitably tone-lowering humour to make the potentially dense subject much less intimidating. Furthermore the move from the yurt in St Andrews Square to the basement of New Town Theatre lends a much more intimate feel to the evening and reminds us that this is, in fact, a cabaret rather than a lecture.

Osborne is an excellent advocate for common sense on both sides of the issue.

Nicola Osborne is no stranger to the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas and she’s a wonderfully witty and engaging speaker, sharing personal stories as well as some hilarious (if, at times, terrifying) industry anecdotes. She encourages us to consider just how much personal information about us exists online, whether by our own choice or not, and what information can be extrapolated about us from seemingly innocuous information and devices. There are some inevitable horror stories and examples that will seem like dystopia to some and utopia to others – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Instagram and Wi-Fi-enabled kettles being used in cyber-attacks were some personal favourites.

However it’s not all doom and gloom. Osborne is quick to remind us that we only ever notice when things go wrong and ignore the majority of time when the internet and technology work marvellously to our benefit. You may be creeped out by Google and Amazon’s algorithms working out what you might like to buy but it’s better than being bombarded with completely random suggestions.

At the end of the day Osborne is an excellent advocate for common sense on both sides of the issue: yes we should make sure to check our privacy settings but we also shouldn’t let fear of technology get in the way of us ruining our lives. 


11th Aug 20178:20pmNew Town Theatre
Freemasons' Hall, 96 George Street, Edinburgh

The Blurb

Is your digital footprint a good reflection of who you are? How did those tracks and traces get there? Why are younger internet users moving to anonymous online spaces? The Managing Your Digital Footprint project researches how students manage their online identity and social media. Drawing on that work and these strange digital times, Nicola Osborne (EDINA, University of Edinburgh Digital Footprint team) explores these virtual breadcrumbs, how they are shaping our lives and how we can take control. 2016 praise for Nicola: ‘reveals a collection of hidden gems and curiosities’ **** (BroadwayBaby.com).

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