Britain’s Personal Best #whatsyours #whatsmine

So I got a call from Steve Moore the other day and a short whirlwind later, I’m sitting in the offices of Britain’s Personal Best producing social video to support the campaign especially in the run up to the Big Weekend.

I’m talking to lots of people about the extraordinary things they’re planning to do – I’m being introduced to a new community of people who seem to live for challenges, they do a 5k, then a 10, then a marathon, then they’re tri-athloning then they’re doing it all again but in fancy dress.

And then there are people who are going to try a new sport or physical activity.

But I think there’s another opportunity in this for the people who go “sport? yuk! not doing that”. We’re not just about celebrating the best of people in physical activities, your personal best challenge can be any positive change, something that stretches you or helps you grow. Or something that you’ve always wanted to do, but need a little nudge to really get it done.

Which leads naturally to the question “So Lloyd, what’s yours?”

I think you should all answer that for me. I will do something suggested by people reading this. What do you think I should do? My knees are not going to let me do any running. And I’m just not going to do anything that involves being up high. And I’m not going to do anything illegal. I can’t think of any other constraints but I’m sure when you start suggesting, I’ll come up with some excuses. Nonetheless, I’m going to do *something* that I’d otherwise not do. Leave me a comment, or tweet me your suggestions.

And I suggest you pledge to do something extraordinary too.

WhateverCamp – what do people want? #unconferences

I love unconferences held in the barcamp/open space style, love attending, love presenting, love facilitating. I know lots of others who do to. Every time I do one, everyone’s buzzing about how great it was. We put the focus on connecting people with each other rather than facing forward and listening to us and it really works. But it often seems that there’s not quite enough supply for the demand. To date we’ve relied mostly on goodwill: sponsorship money often goes on beer & pizza, t-shirts and sometimes a facilitator but sponsorship also comes in kind, in the form of venue and catering. Certainly among public service unconferences, the organisers usually do this as “part of their day job” or for the love of it, but there’s only a certain number of people who can do that.

As part of my business model thinking, I’ve been looking at shifting the unconference organisational model slightly to see if we could create a (more) commercial way of putting on more events, in more places about more things.

In my view, the demand is not only for new or more refined subject areas, it’s also about locality. So there’s a question of whether you do one big national thing (and if you do whether or not you do it in #ThatLondon) or lots of regional variants (and if you do and if a person can only go to one, which one she should choose). Then there’s something about running events that reflect some particular need in a region or local community.

Anyway, before getting too carried away, always ask the community first, so I asked on Twitter the other day:

  • “So if you could go to an unconference on *any* subject, which would you choose? Is there a *camp that you’re itching to have?”

This is my grouping of the answers, your categories and analysis may differ…

Sex/Love & Relationships/Intimacy

  • Terence Eden suggested: “SexCamp. Or, perhaps, LoveAndRelationshipsCamp.”
  • backed up by Anke Holst who’d been to Cassie Robinson‘s Intimacy Lab at Hack the Barbican and Chris Pinchen who had “tried to do Sexcamp in Barcelona – complicated but currently working on something similar”

How we work together

  • Tim Lloyd went for “workcamp: how the workplace is being changed by tech, working longer, economy, attitudes etc” … “Particularly from a civil service perspective…”
  • and Jayne Hilditch asked for “Intrapreneur Camp”

Creativity

  • raised by Janet Davis: “CreativeCamp (I’ve wanted to do this for 3 years!) :-)” which reminded me of the many talks about doing a CreativeCollaborationCamp. Janet also emphasised the geographical issue “I’d like to have one up in Newcastle or Gateshead (& for more reasons than just because travelling is a problem for me :-)”

Niche

  • In here I include Lars Plougmann’s “3D-printed open source autonomous drone camp”
  • and this from Mark O’Neill: “redwireorbluewirecamp, but only if it is going to happen in the next 27 minutes. 26 minutes ….”

And then…

  • I remembered that after LocalGovCamp last year there was excited talk about a proposed SocialCareCamp – did that go anywhere? And after the first HousingCamp people suggested one in the North – again, I’m not sure where that went.

So some interesting ideas – please add in any knowledge you have of these or others you’d like to do in the comments.

And if you want to help thinking through how we might run many more of these things than are already on offer, give me a shout.

(BTW if you haven’t seen it, or if you’ve no idea what I’m going on about take a look at the little film that was shot at #housingcamp)

@mistergough & the Allegretto from Beethoven’s 7th

Last night I was idling on twitter and saw Simon Gough ask:

  • “Anybody who just watched that #bbc4 programme on automata: any idea what the music at the end was?”

He got one reply quickly from @nataliecvincent who suggested using Shazam, but there was no answer straight away.

Putting aside my chagrin at having missed a programme on automata, I had a quick look at iPlayer and found it lacking. I playfully asked Simon:

  • “@mistergough not on iPlayer yet, can you whistle it for us?”

Half expecting him to grin and tell me where to shove it, I made a cup of tea. When I came back I found that he’d uploaded this!

At which point Laura arrived home, so I played it to her and she said “Oh yes that’s Beethoven, you know: lah lah-lah laaaaah lah” and started to sing the same theme. But I couldn’t place it. So we got out iTunes and started looking at Ludwig van B. “9th?”, “No that’s Ode to Joy”, “5th?”, “NO, that’s dun-dun-dun-dunnnnh!”. “Ah, 7th, second movement?”, “Yes that’s it!”

And so it was.

And that’s why we love this stuff.

Anyway it also sparked an idea in me about audio reaction clips – y’know like reaction gifs, only sound – kind of canned laughter for tumblr. Or something.

an explanation of #diffused

I made this on the bus and posted it to instagram.

#diffused

I got a new phone last week and I haven’t got a proper case or screenguard for it yet, so I’m keeping it in the plastic sleeve that it was packaged in. This is what the view from the top of a 28 bus just at the Bridgend Rd stop about to cross Wandsworth Bridge looks like through that plastic cover.

It’s got me thinking about using real, physical filters on a phone camera instead of software manipulation.

Standing on a chair playing ukulele #afp #lazyweb

So today in my tumblr stream I saw Amanda Palmer doing her ninja gig thing in NZ:

and it reminded me of this (photo CC BY-NC by Benjamin Ellis)

Lloyd on Uke

And I thought “maybe this is a thing, given the portability of ukuleles, lots of people must do this, it can’t just be me and Ms Palmer, I wonder where there are other pics of people performing to a crowd while standing on a chair/bench/box”. Also I thought “I’m glad I grew a beard.”

My initial searches for ukulele-crowd-domination on Google images failed so I’m turning it over to you #lazyweb find me material for a new tumblr called onachairwithmyukulele.tumblr.com which is now open for submissions

Please.

Thankyou.

So hello, neighbourhood

I’ve been here a year but I’ve been neglecting you a bit.

Where? Well, to most people I say “Wandsworth, just by the bridge”. For those who drive around South London, you know by Wandsworth Bridge there’s a drive-thru McDonalds? By there. Party people will know it as “just by The Ship”. People who work in waste management will know it as just by the dump. Some of you may have flown over if taking off and going west from the Heliport. If so, can you do it a bit more quietly next time, thanks. It’s lovely really, I’m very lucky.

I wrote this morning about remembering where I live, through trying to spend time far away at Hack The Barbican. I’d like to get more involved in what’s going on round here. But where is “round here”? In that post I talked about SW18 but really I don’t think that postcodery cuts it. It’s interesting to think about how you can define locality and hyperlocality. The postcode SW18 actually covers a lot of stuff, stretching over to Putney, down to Wimbledon and Tooting, Balham and Battersea. And I live right up almost in the north-eastern corner. Equally, administrative entities, the parliamentary constituency of Battersea, Wandsworth Council & Fairfield Ward all seem far from my personal experience.

So how about just distance?

Here’s a map showing a circle with a radius of 1 mile from where I live:

That looks about right.

Even factoring in crossing the river, I could walk anywhere there in half an hour. It takes me twenty minutes to walk to Clapham Junction station for instance. I can imagine all of these places even though I probably haven’t explored everywhere yet. They all feel near.

And they include a couple of tube stations and three train stations! Lots of parkland and riverside. And the retail areas of Wandsworth Town & Clapham Junction plus the development that’s going on in the “Riverside Quarter” and “Imperial Wharf”.

And most interestingly there are lots of different communities in all of these areas, it’s not just a place for the kinds of people who like to pay low council tax.

Yes, that feels quite manageable and a bit exciting.

I need to get out and have a scout around and see who I can meet.

If I already know you, you live nearby and you’re reading this, let me know! Also nudge me if you know people that I should know living or working within that big green circle, anyone that could do with my help.

Some rough notes after Hack The Barbican #htb2013

These are rough, not even half-baked thoughts on the Monday after the month before. Like anything not properly cooked through, munching on them quickly or unconsciously may give you a tummy-ache. Take it (and my mixed metaphors) with a pinch of salt. I reserve the right to change my mind about all of this later on etc.

It’s done, we did it and now it’s done

  • This is the really cool thing – we, a rag-tag bunch who barely knew each other a few months ago, ran a fringe-like festival, largely without pay and largely without experience of doing something on this scale before, we did it and nothing bad happened, the building didn’t collapse, the fountains weren’t running with blood. There were many times when I thought that it just wasn’t going to happen or else it was going to be really shit. It happened and it wasn’t shit.
  • I learned a lot, not just in the August “live” period (where basically I’ve talked through and smoothed the corners off a new business model for people like me) but also in the five months that I was involved in this. I learned about me, I learned about how I work with other people, I learned about how other people work. There were times when everyone said I was wrong but I was right. There were times when I said everyone else was wrong and it was me that was wrong.

It was big

  • The scale thing was important. We had people who’d been involved in self-organising events before, but we hadn’t done anything in a space this size, open 14 hours a day, every day for 26 days. We had people who’d been involved in large tightly-scheduled cultural festivals, but for a weekend or maybe a week at most.
  • But a month really felt like it skipped by in a few moments. Not forgetting that it also felt like a long time, a really long time, especially about a third of the way in.
  • There was no way that anyone could have seen everything, but I don’t think anyone went unseen. It was a long time and it was a big space, so my experience is extremely partial. Take that into account whenever you read anyone writing about this thing, they’re most likely only able to talk about a tiny fraction of the whole.
  • It’s a big space, but as far as sound is concerned it’s just one space.

I don’t live in E-whatever

  • When we did the prototype weekend in April, Nathan did an ice-breaker getting people to group around where they live in relation to the Barbican. I was the only one in the South West quadrant.
  • I live in SW18. I’ve lived there for a year now. Before I went on the road for a year, I lived in SW6. Before that, SW1 and I lived in Epsom for 15 years. I’m a south-west London person, that’s where I live, but I’ve let myself be drawn of late to the seemingly exciting things happening to the north and east of me.
  • It’s exciting, but it’s all a long way away. If I lived in a city with poorer public transport, I think I’d have focused more locally. My big takeaway from being involved in this (by trying to show up as much as possible in EC1) was “stop pretending you live in East London, go and do something like this in SW18″

About the ‘H’ word

  • If the event failed to meet expectations that I had (aside from the fact that having expectations is silly and rarely satisfying) then it’s the extent to which we tackled really “Hacking” the Barbican. We did lots of stuff that’s never been done in the public spaces before and we brought people in who rarely if ever go there, but this didn’t feel too “hacky” to me.
  • The origins of this are in the conversation we had early on when we decided to call it “Hack the Barbican” – yes, *we* decided, it wasn’t part of a brief from the Barbican, it was something we came to ourselves. I think the Barbican broadly got what they wanted – interesting stuff happening there that brought more people in than you’d normally get in August with both the hall and theatre dark.
  • I think we learned a lot and could do better next time on what hacking a space (and hacking *in* a space) means.
  • My view is that it would require a different relationship with those who manage the space though. I think the flavour of the event overall was determined by the way we related to the technical staff at the Barbican who are used to having much more say over what happens there than we were expecting to have to deal with. We met them half-way I think, we stretched them and they stretched us.
  • So in developing the idea of prototyping institution-hacks like this I would like to see what happens with two different approaches.
  • Firstly, how would you hack the Barbican (or some similar institution) without *any* formal co-operation beforehand from the institution itself? I mean, we just agree amongst ourselves that over some period of time we’re going to transform a space, look at ways of representing it online and play with the relationships people have with the institution without any permission other than that normally granted to the public – if we get permission to do new stuff it’s as a result of building relationships that weren’t there already not because we’re “part of that group”.
  • The alternative is to really get into bed with the institution. In this case, it feels a bit more like a consulting gig. If we had a really formal agreement with them, a contractual relationship where the value to the organisation was acknowledged and paid for, then what would we do? What would we lose and what would we be able to do that might be even more valuable? Bringing a hacker mentality to strategy, personal productivy and long-term problem-solving including a long-hard look at the data they couldn’t share because of commercial sensitivities, anyone up for that?

The most important point: I met and worked with some really cool and interesting people. This of course is the big win, we’ve sown the seeds of community and whether or not this event happens again, we’re all much stronger for it.