You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2013.
Tabs left open after Tuttle today, ie things I looked at or showed people.
Bromsgrove Silver Jubilee Parade (video 3 mins)
The Garner Innovation/Hype Cycle (image)
In Business: Regenerating Margate (iplayer audio 30 mins)
Joanna Zylinska (biog)
Rebecca Solnit (wikipedia)
Nuts In May (video 1h 21m)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (wikipedia)
Mark Sinker (website)
Joining the dots is left as an exercise for the reader and her imagination.
I love writing and editing in Fargo. It really works for me to organise my thinking this way.
I’ve been posting to my wordpress.com blog through Fargo since the gateway was introduced. I like that too, no more messing with all the bells and whistles of the wordpress interface, just the clean writing window and all my current outlines in easy reach.
I’m starting to pull together my writing from the last few years. This was partly prompted by the demise of posterous.com where I’d been doing a lot – I used it as the blogging platform for two trips coast-to-coast across the USA for example.
I put all the posterous stuff away in wordpress because that seemed to be the logical place, but now that I’m looking at making some longer-form works out of the blogs that I wrote I actually want to get large chunks of content out of wordpress and over here into Fargo.
Post by post, I could do that with cut and paste, but I wondered if there was a programmatic solution – could I make wordpress spit out a bunch of posts in OPML format which could then be read by Fargo?
My aim was to create a feed template so that I could supply Fargo’s “Open by URL” with something like http://lloyddavis.co.uk/?feed=outline and I’d have a bunch of headlines (something that could also make sense of the dates would be nice later).
I’ve put up the code I’ve got for this so far as a gist on github. The way it should work is that it builds a string – $outlined – making the post title into a headline and creating nodes under that headline for each paragraph in the post. It’s installed on http://lloyddavis.co.uk – you should be able to see it in action by adding “?feed=outline” to, for example, a category URL and then view source.
However, this is the first time I’ve written more than about 5 lines of code anywhere in 20 years since my career swerved away from the code face. Last time I wrote anything serious, Think Pascal was the cool IDE to be using…
I’m at the stuck place where I feel like I’ve tried everything and can no longer see the wood for the trees. I’d appreciate some help from anyone with PHP & XML chops who can guide me through. I’ve asked on twitter for help at Hack The Barbican, but I’m also putting this out to the Fargo development community.
I’d also appreciate anyone saying “No, don’t do it that way, there’s an easier way to get what you want”
The issues I’m coming up against are mainly I think the inconsistent way in which the post content has been encoded when posterous was archived. Though of course there could have been some gunk in my HTML when I wrote the posts in the first place!
So typical issues include finding ”” in between paragraphs instead of the proper tags at either end. Also confusion over quotation marks.
I’ve tried converting the content string $cont to htmlentities in line 30 but that’s currently out – when it’s in the lines 43-46 are needed to decode some entities that Fargo seemed to choke on.
I’m assuming these are standard problems when building XML from other data sources so I’m looking forward to getting other people’s input.
For reference, the spec for opml is at http://dev.opml.org/spec2.html
I got a bit distracted there with housekeeping/community stuff. Back to the thing I was thinking about business model frameworks.
If you’re not familiar with my work (or even if you are but you’re not sure what I’m talking about) then have a poke around this bunch of links.
So for me, the bit that I call “social art & research” is the core. This is the art I make, the adventures I have, the communities I help to form, the ideas that I play out in the real world, the way I show people things that they hadn’t seen before or hadn’t thought of before.
For you this is *your art*, that may be painting, or making electronic gadgets, or writing software that makes cool things happen on the internet, or playing in a band, or getting people together to talk about the future. For the purposes of this series, it doesn’t matter *what* we do, it’s important that we do it and we can’t help doing it and we just keep doing it no matter whether we’re being paid or not.
I call it research because I usually start out with some hypothesis about the world and then I think about how I might work with groups of people on or off the internet to help test those hypotheses. Or else I have an idea of something I want to do and then realise that actually there’s some hypothesis underlying it that would be interesting to test. I do both. A lot of the time it can be described as “just trying something out to see what will happen if”.
It’s activity. It has some outcome (see hypothesis testing above). I usually write *about* it while I’m doing it, but sometimes I write stuff up afterwards (I always think I should do this more). It usually involves other people. It’s often going on while I’m doing the rest of my life. In fact it’s sometimes indistinguishable from me “doing the rest of my life”.
Building a business model around “the rest of my life” seems to be an interesting thing to do.
The “tragedy of the commons” is a metaphor used to describe (according to Wikipedia) “the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one’s self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to the group’s long-term best interests”.
I noticed it creeping in at the Barbican yesterday for the first time.
The obvious shared resource at The Barbican Centre is space. And there’s loads of it. More than anyone could use. We don’t have a problem with fitting new stuff in when it comes to how much floorspace or airspace they might take up.
We also haven’t (yet) had anyone polluting the atmosphere enough to drive anyone out. I wasn’t sure whether it was Ian Willey’s Barbicoin experiment (contains ketchup!) that was getting a bit niffy yesterday or the lunch being served in the Lounge.
I’m not aware of anyone breaking the wifi so far. We should try harder.
No, the problem is the vibration of the atmosphere, in other words the soundspace, which is, in my view, being monopolised and exploited by a few to the exclusion of others. Yesterday, in the afternoon, and I expect the same today, there were three sound installations in different parts of the building all contributing to what the noise-lovers describe as “ambience”. I found it intolerably noisy, I couldn’t concentrate, hold conversations, read or write. I tried. I went outside and walked around a bit until I’d calmed down and went back in – I could just about sit there doing nothing but if I’m going to sit there doing nothing, I’d rather do it in the park.
I raised the question of reducing the number of noisy pieces on the mailing list. I received five responses, all basically saying: “no, I like the noise and I can work round it”.
I want to be clear, it’s not about not liking anything that was going on – individually I’ve enjoyed each of the works and I’m in no position to question their merit. Individually, I could have taken them, but exposed to them altogether I was no longer able to use the space. At the moment it seems as if most people don’t understand how depleting this resource is contrary to our long-term best interests. I recognise that I’m making assumptions about what our “long-term best interests” are. And given we’re 10 days into a four week project, the “long-term” is not very long! Yesterday I felt like I was saying “Global warming will have a long-term deleterious effect on biodiversity” and was told “Chill man, enjoy the sunshine like the rest of us”.
I may be unique, but I suspect that there are others who have found this difficult and who are deterred from sticking around because of it. There seems to be some evidence that tolerance of noise in spaces like this is related to introversion/extraversion – whatever the underlying factors we risk reducing the diversity of people taking part in the project down to those who are noise-tolerant or those who can be there early in the morning before the noise-makers wake up.
I’m not giving up, either in terms of continuing this conversation or in looking for other workarounds and solutions. If you’re interested in joining in, you know where I am.
UPDATE: While writing this, the minutes of last nights organising meeting came through. It seems the Barbican Library have complained about the noise too.
The public wifi access at The Barbican is provided by “The Cloud” which was acquired by BSkyB in January 2011. BSkyB is 39% owned by 21st Century Fox (previously part of News Corporation) whose Chairman and CEO is Rupert Murdoch.
Here’s the data they “may” hold on me
So I looked at The Cloud’s Privacy Notice in conjunction with my Account Details page, which together, for me, raise lots of questions. They hold:
- Information you have given us, including on our websites.
- OK that’s my e-mail address and password, Name, Surname, House Name or Number, Postcode, Date of Birth. And whether I’ve opted out of being contacted “about products and services you may like.”
- Well that’s the data that they remind me that I’ve given them on my account details, but I couldn’t tell you whether I filled other fields in when I first signed up years ago.
- Information about our services you’ve used.
- Looking at my details, I can see my last 14 logins going back to 25th June (including the time I absent-mindedly got on the Giraffe wifi in the Brunswick Centre but was actually in Starbucks)
- There’s a menu for “Product Device Management” but I don’t seem to have any.
- There’s also an empty screen for “Transaction History” but I think that means paying them anything, which I haven’t.
- Information provided by other companies who have your permission to share information about you
- Yikes! All those incorrectly ticked or unticked opt-out/opt-in boxes. The international conspiracy of marketing data collectors will be after me as will the lackeys of PRISM.
- Information we collect using cookies stored on your device. For more information on cookies and how to manage them, please see our section on ‘Cookies’.
- So looking at the cookies on the browser I was using yesterday there are cookies from thecloud.net and from service.thecloud.net – the first lot appear to be tied to Google Analytics. The others are called “jsessionid”, “mycloudid” & “routeid” – presumably these identify me as a previous user and tell you something about my latest session.
- Your IP address (this is a number that identifies a specific network device on the internet and is needed for your device to communicate with websites).
- Which is dynamically allocated by the router? But you keep a note of which one I was using for a particular session?
- Technical details about your computer or access device.
- Could be anything, but I’m assuming at least browser, OS, MAC address, device make & model etc. How about which ports I have open during a session?
- The times and dates of your access to our service.
- The locations of your access to our service.
- Yes, I’d expect so.
And this is how they
will *may* use it
- We may use it for market research.
- You don’t say!
- We may also need to use it to pass to others so we can keep to any legal or regulatory requirements, to protect or enforce our rights or the rights of any third party, in the detection and prevention of fraud and other crimes, and for the purpose of protecting national security.
- Ah the “machines of loving grace”!
- We may pass your information to anyone who takes over our business for them to use for the purposes set out in this privacy notice.
- Phew! Couldn’t be anyone worse than Murdoch, surely
So do I stop using this service? Are we going to build our own mesh network and implement totally secure and commercially-independent communications networks for the time we’re here? I’m afraid it’s about as likely as me growing my own carrots and keeping a pig on our balcony as a way of avoiding the corporate evils of the supermarkets.
But it points to a gap in the market – ethical public ISPs that have a VRM attitude to our data.
Yesterday at Tuttle (in the Barbican) David and I had a conversation, which I then carried on with Tony about the similarities between the growth dynamics in co-working spaces and gentrification in urban environments (first the penniless artists move in because it’s the only place they can afford, they make the area attractive and then they start making money and the richer cool kids also discover the place and all move in etc.)
This first week of Hack The Barbican has felt a bit like the earliest stages of this, when there’s just a handful of people spotting each other in between the occasional temporary occupants who are used to coming in to eat a sandwich in their lunchbreak. But we know it’s going to grow, because we’ve been here before…
“Think of it not as a centrally curated event, but as a slowly growing city that is gradually taking over the Barbican’s public spaces, with many imperfections, but also many moments of unexpected magic.”
I’m a bit dazed this morning by news from my friends Neal & Kathy in Maine that Kathy needed emergency surgery last week and that they’ll likely face a $50,000 bill (without insurance – they have a farm and food business out in the wilds). I know what the healthcare situation is in the US but it’s all the more shocking to me to see this close-up for good people who have offered me nothing but generosity over the years (Neal was one of my first podcasting buddies) and in particular when I was trekking across the country in 2011. They live for their family and local community, working as volunteer ambulance drivers and firefighters as well as running a farm.
Here’s some cheese Neal and I made together two years ago!
It would be bad enough here in the UK to have such a condition and to go through adbominal surgery and the effects of anaesthetic as well as the illness itself but to then have to pay for it, is just outside of my comprehension. We are so lucky to have the NHS and it’s so worth defending. I’m very fortunate to have never needed major attention so far knock on wood etc. but I’m sure that some close members of my family would not be here if we were having to ration our access to healthcare based on what we were likely to be able to afford.
I feel angry and helpless. I can’t guess at what they’re feeling.
I’m thinking about what else I can do to raise awareness and funds for them. If you can help the Foleys out, their campaign page is here.
Yesterday I gave myself a little time to muck about.
I saw Dan tweet about a collaborative google map about “Water Infrastructure Collapse”. I had a look and got the general idea to highlight instances where the infrastructure isn’t working. I’ve been interested in the concept of the mostly-invisible infrastructure stack since listening to Vinay talk about 6 ways to die and the work that Jay and others are doing around the idea of #stacktivism ie activism about the stack, it’s ownership, the political consequences etc.
I’d seen the Herne Hill flood in the news the other day, so I added that to the map. And then I searched for “burst water main UK” and found a number of other local news stories – if it’s big enough to stop traffic, it’s usually big enough to make the local paper, and that, these days, means it gets into Google News. So I added a few more, in Derby, Peterborough and S Norwood. [having just written that, I'm thinking now that what the map needs is something to show which water companies are involved...]
That got me thinking about leakage – surely someone must be monitoring this. Someone must be collecting data. So I had a look at the OfWat site and although I found the definitions of key performance indicators, I couldn’t actually find the data except by looking on each of the water companies websites. So I rang them up and put on my best information manager’s voice and asked whether anyone collated it all. No. They don’t, but they do require the companies to publish them and the woman I spoke to pointed me to the page where there are at least links to all the PDFs for this year. Once I’d downloaded all the PDFs I got to the bottom of the page where, “ta da!” there’s actually a summary spreadsheet for download. So I grabbed that.
And had a look. There’s an indicator for Leakage, it’s measured in Megalitres per day. That’s millions of litres per day – the range is between 4.2 and 646. But what’s a megalitre? The people on this friendly Australian forum tell me that an Olympic sized swimming pool might be 50m x 25m x 2m so 2500 cubic metres which would be 2.5 megalitres – so the smallest leakage is a little less than 2 Olympic pools per day and Thames water manages to lose more than 250 of the buggers. Per Day. This is news on the day that it gets announced. But the rest of the time we don’t think much about it, it’s just the way things are. What can we do? Should we do anything?
So then I got thinking about how much that might be per person. And the only thing I could find about populations served by each water company was this fact sheet from greenchristian.org.uk – thank you green Christians!
I put them together in this Google spreadsheet and that’s when my nightmares really began It seems that the charts in Google spreadsheets are not very friendly to people wanting to make scatter plots and even less so if such people want to do some regression analysis add a line of best fit. The “Advanced Edit” is nothing of the sort. So I hacked something together.
That line of red dots is the line of best fit – the two companies way above the line are Dwr Cymru to the left and United Utilities (covering the North West) at about the 7 million people mark.
It’s a pretty good straight line (r2=0.88) which I interpret as meaning that they’re all equally bad at it – it’s not as if the little companies serving smaller populations are able to concentrate on it or that big old Thames just has a difficult time because it’s so big.
Anyway that’s as far as I got before my mucking around time ran out. Nothing to do with Social Artists Business Models or Hacking the Barbican, but I had fun!
Sometimes I don’t really know what I think until I write it down and show it to other people. That’s what happened with my blogpost yesterday – I realised how little I really had decided about this and how much more there was to define.
One thing is to get thinking about what social artists actually do. I’ve been thinking about how to express this for myself for a while of course. But I’ve given it some more attention lately while I’ve been rebuilding my personal web site.
In thinking about what *I* do, I’ve also been talking and thinking about how it applies to other people I know who do similar work.
- I’ve put my work into four main areas:
- Social Art & Research
- This is the stuff where we’re pushing boundaries and finding new things out. Tuttle was like this at the start. It probably still is really. Tuttle2Texas and Please Look After This Englishman were research projects looking at social capital and the value of social networking etc.
- This has been my core business skill. For a while it was focused on social reporting and making media. More recently it became closer to coaching for individuals or small teams. I’ve not done so much of late mainly because I prefer to work in a team rather than alone. Making something useful of the Tuttle Consulting work we did remains a goal.
- Events & Entertainment
- Tuttle, yes, but also the unconference and open space facilitation that I do. And events as research or consulting product – for example with Please Look After This Englishman I devised a one-man-show to present afterwards.
- This has been an aspiration for a while. I think what I’m drawn to most in this project is seeing how people who write a lot and take pictures a lot and make music a lot can turn those things into products, create their own long-tail of books, e-books, posters, prints etc. both by creating new work but also re-using an re-mixing what we’ve already done.
- What do you think of these four areas?
- Do they work for you as a way of organising your own work?
- I’ve used them to start to organise my website – have a look and give me some feedback.
- What other categorisations do you use?
As I’m here a lot, I thought it might be nice to shake the Tuttle crowd up a little while making it more accessible to Shoreditch/Tech City types.
So we’ll be in the Barbican foyer every Friday in August, just turn up and have coffee (there’s a Costa here) and chat – same format as we’ve had for five years There’s plenty going on every day so you’ll find interesting things around the place afterwards too.
Come along – bring a pal
Since #htb2013 is using Lanyrd for the schedule there’s the added bonus of sign-up pages – you know how you like a good sign-up!
They’re here, one for each week – such abundance!