All posts by Lloyd Davis

Blog like nobody’s reading

I’ve been trying to do this of late – I named my fargo blog with the phrase as a strapline. The idea is to just write freely instead of thinking about who’s reading and what they’re thinking. New bloggers often worry about who’s going to read what they write. We remind them that actually it’s much more likely that nobody will read it.

What matters much more is that I do write it.

I’ve been seduced a little this week by the new Twitter analytics, but really it’s just another set of bar charts for me to worry about. I tweeted out an insight though, earlier. I have 5k followers, more than many, fewer than many. There’s a metric that shows up in the analytics which is “impressions” it’s the number of times your tweet was seen by someone else – regardless of whether it was retweeted or not. For me, so far it seems that between 200 and 300 people are seeing each tweet. Obviously that’s not the same 2 or 3 hundred people each time, but it showed me what Twitter’s really like and so in a way it’s reassuring to see so few, because it puts the “engagement” into context. Engagement is when someone clicks on a link or looks at an image or looks at your profile or something, it’s also retweeting and favouriting. So if I tweet something and 5 people “engage” with it, if I’m counting that as 5 out of 5000 followers, it’s pretty shit, but if it’s 5 out of the 250 people who have interacted with it, it feels a lot better. I’m still being ignored by 4995 people, but being not engaged with by 245 people feels much better.

It’s insane. What a crazy thing to be sitting around thinking and writing about, when look, look at it outside, look where I am, look in the fridge at the lovely stuff I’m having for tea, remember the fun conversation I had with Dan this morning that’s going to be podcast tomorrow, remember the love in her eyes when she came back from the gym, go get some iced water and sit on the balcony and watch the river go by.

04/07/14 – Today at #tuttle

Some notes I made from today’s conversations which included @tonyhall @freecloud & @tibocut with a fortunate postscript one-to-one for me with @mistergough

The RFH was being used today for a graduation ceremony.  That chimed with my recognition that some people have “graduated” from Tuttle and that’s worth celebrating.

On the other side of the glass #tuttle
MayDay Rooms is a safe haven for historical material linked to social movements, experimental culture and the radical expression of marginalised figures and groups. It offers communal spaces to activate archives’ potential in relation to current struggles and informal research, challenging the widespread assault on collective memory and historical continuity. MDR is located in Fleet Street, Central London, but is informally linked in inspiration, collaboration and practice with an international network of common and concurrent initiatives.”

Thinking about archives as a way of seeing oneself through media but also recontextualising yourself – which I take to mean seeing what different things in you are reflected by your contact with archive materials.

Personal stories are much more interesting than the facts, which can be discovered for oneself – if you’re telling me a story about a stone that you picked up on a beach, the geology of the stone is the least interesting part (unless within that there is some personal connection).

There are always lots of little social things going on that no-one knows about.

What alternatives are there in the space between mesh networks and the “legacy” Internet?

Instagram and Twitter as a treasure hunt.  We leave trails of where we’ve been, what we’ve seen, what we’re doing for others to pick up and enjoy and follow the path.

What’s this #tuttle reboot all about? What is it that needs to be revived, what’s it for, what’s it supposed to do, has it done it already?

Watson at IBM – looks amazing, looks like magic – do those explaining how it works really understand it themselves?  What is the complexity under the surface?  How much do you get to know once you’ve “signed on the line that is dotted”?

Help me reboot #tuttle

The most frequently asked question about #tuttle is: “Is it still going?”  To which the answer is “Yes, still Fridays, still 10am-noon, still no agenda, currently on Level 5 at RFH”

And.  We operate on a much smaller pool of people, which means the possibility of more intimate conversation (I’ve had some doozies!), but also the risk of stagnation that lack of diversity brings.

I am often reassured that “it’s not about you, Lloyd, it’s about me:  I have work to do; I don’t manage my time well enough; I’d love to come but it’s just too far if I haven’t anything else in town; I’m always thinking about coming, it’s just that…”

I’m also reminded regularly that people do still long for space to be themselves, where no-one tells them what to do and they can talk about what they want to talk about without an expected outcome/output/powerpoint/post-its on the wall.  A thing that’s not about the thing but about the relationships and potential for things to happen that builds over time.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but talking to Jon Hickman for his article on Social Capital has helped me remember what a good thing this can be and how I don’t believe the time for it has passed.  Stories about online social networks spying on us and manipulating our streams to study our emotional responses as well as the constant drip, drip of acquisitions that lead either to sunsetting or unscrupulous use of personal data – these are the things we’ve talked about and organised against in places like #tuttle but my experience of the current crop of events is that these conversations are still squeezed into the breaks and space after the main speaker rather than the focus of getting together in the first place.

So how can you help?

Firstly, you can just come along.  No need to register or submit your details anywhere, just turn up at the Royal Festival Hall sometime between 10 and noon and chat (and bring someone with you if you want).

Secondly you can  help me develop a sustainable model for me keeping this thing going and making it better over time.  The main issue has always been that while others have built working relationships and created opportunities, I’ve had a massive injection of Social Capital which is hard to pay the rent with.  I also don’t really want to take money from outside the community while understanding that some people in the community don’t have a lot of money to give.

I’m looking at Patreon as a micro-patronage platform for subscriptions toward developing and rebooting the event.  Some of you have kindly “micro-patronised” me before – the difference this time is that I’d want to tie levels of support to some pretty specific goals and to allow for much lower donations per person.  Patreon offers both these functions.

In connection with that, you can help me by suggesting what those goals might be.  So far I’ve got:

  • Working with new venue(s);
  • Creating an online presence more worthy of 2014 than 2007;
  • Reviving Tuttle Consulting;
  • Setting up a marketplace for #tuttlers to sell their wares;
  • Doing other themed events for the community.

But I need to know what else?  What did you always wish would happen either at  or between  #tuttles if only somebody could take the time to?

So let me know what you think about any of that: Yes? No? Yes. but do it another way? No, but have you ever thought of?

Thankyou!

Podcast: @jonhickman asked me about social capital

Jon Hickman is writing an article on the crowdsourced journalism site, Contributoria on whether or not you can live on social capital.   He kindly thought that my experiences wandering around the United States of America might provide some insight, so we had a chat.   Even if you’ve heard me talk about it before, you might find it interesting to hear it from this perspective.  I’ll certainly be fascinated to compare this conversation with how Jon’s article turns out.

Download (66MB)

It coincides nicely with the fact that I finally got round to releasing Version 0.1 of the Please Look After This Englishman e-book – this one contains all the blog posts before, during and after the trip. I intend to refine and develop this product (hence the Version 0.1 tag) so if you do download it, I’d love to hear your ideas for other ways to present the story or particular parts that you’d like to hear more about.

Update: The e-book is now also available on Amazon if that makes it easier for you.  Although it costs you more plus Big A  take a greater percentage and take longer to pay me than Gumroad.  Of course, it’s not about the money! :)

Podcast: Hello Dave! with @davebriggs

Download (69MB)

We recorded this early last week, but I’ve been holding it back because I didn’t have time to listen to it in order to come up with the usually obsessively and irrelevantly detailed show-notes.  But that’s stupid.   So for this episode, if there’s anything in there that you want to know more about and but can’t Google, leave a comment and I’ll see if I can explain.

The gist of it all is this: Lloyd’s just been to the osteopath and so is feeling a bit groggy.  Fans of the chronic self-deprecating chunter about tech(ish), social(ish), community(ish) matters are unlikely to be disappointed.

If you want to hear Dave on a proper podcast, talking to a proper person, you can find the relevant RSS here.

May 14

Pete Seeger visiting steel drum makers and players in Trinidad

Moving Doctors

  • I just got round to registering with a local doctor, five years after I left the area where I was previously registered. I know this is bad. I mean it’s good to put it right, but it’s bad that it’s taken me this long. About a year of that time I was on the road, but still.
  • I think I made a move towards it when I was living in Chesson Road, but I think that move was “pick up the forms from the surgery”. I don’t think it went any further.
  • I’m not ill. I feel good, but clearly something has shifted, since today was the fifth day in a row that I walked more than five miles and now I’m willing to register and probably go in for a check-up. I am fortunate, I have not had any serious illnesses or injuries, I have never spent a night in hospital. I’ve had a couple of visits to A&E after carelessness on the stairs, oh and the times I dislocated my shoulders at college. I’m not a heavy user of the NHS.
  • And so the medical questionnaire was straightforward. I needed to disclose that my dad had an aortic valve replacement a couple of years ago at age 74. Given the heritability of that condition, I suppose it would be sensible to have my heart checked and as I approach 50, I think they encourage you to have a range of checks regularly. Part of me says “well if you go looking for stuff, you’re likely to find it”. But I think it’s better self-care to have checks rather than self-diagnosing every twinge and soreness, every bit of life that could be a symptom of something horrible.
  • It did help that I could do it all by filling in two online forms (although I rolled my eyes a bit when I had to repeat information in the second one).

“Steven Melendez asserted that monegraph could “eradicate fake digital art”, when this is exactly backwards. In fact monegraph makes it possible to have “fake digital art”, because prior to this we had no consistent way of defining an “original”.” – Anil Dash

Podcast: Ouch! with @davebriggs

Dave and Lloyd chat about early blogging, deleting blogs, thinking about workflow, outlining, working with Fargo! and WordPress, interspersed with Lloyd’s cluelessness about the basic dangers of electricity.

Download (45MB)

“The interesting thing about Bank Holidays…”
- Lloyd’s recap of his early blogging
- The actual first (undeleted) post on Perfect Path
- Dave Winer’s Noteblog Format
- Digital Team Blogs at DH
- GTD – the five phases of work
- Lloyd on Instagram
- Posting to WordPress from Fargo
- Getting WordPress content back into Fargo
- WXR is the WordPress XML format
Ouch!
- The source for wp2opml on Github
- The tuttle2texas blog (imported from posterous)
- Somewhere.com
The Somewhere post was the same post as the early blogging post.
Ouch! Again!
- Day One
- Try Doorbell Episode Three
- BERG Weeknotes
- Narrating Your Work

Fargo to WordPress Formatting Bug

I often use Fargo to compose posts on my wordpress.com blog.

But I’ve just seen a problem with formatting when you use the outline structuring for a list.

Here’s a list:

  • This item is at the top level of a list
    • It has a sub-entry
    • And another
  • And this is the second item in the list
  • And this the third.

I expect this to render as a bulleted list, instead it looks like a block of code – except when I updated the post with the following screenshots, the formatting was automatically corrected.

Here’s a screenshot of how it looked in Fargo:

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 13.45.59

And how it looked in the edit window of WordPress

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 13.46.56

Working out loud

I’ve always hated writing CVs. I could never convey the interest and excitement of work that I had done compressed into a sentence or two, written in the third person or the passive voice. It also seemed that it was always too much about me. When I looked at the work that I had done and wanted to do more of, I couldn’t, honestly, separate out my contribution from the contributions made by the rest of the team. And then there are the implicit assumptions in the CV system – you need it to get a job; the person reading it will likely be seeing several that are all the same – you have to stand out, but not too much; you have to be honest – not too braggy, not too humble – but still sell the idea of you hard enough as somebody they’d like to have around; and anyway since many people bend the truth in their favour, the reader will take what you’ve written with a pinch of salt.

And then you post it off and wait and wait and wait and it’s “Dear Mr Davis, I regret to inform you that this time your application was unsuccessful. Thank you for your interest in working for Ecch Corp.”

So yeah, me and CVs, we don’t get on.

Despite my loathing of the process, I did manage to get jobs. And I learned very quickly the value of gossip and chatting in the kitchen while the kettle boiled. I also learned, the hard way, that there are lots of rules about what you can say to whom, when and in what way. It’s really, really complicated and I think it’s one of the worst aspects of organisational life for me. Especially as I rose in the management hierarchy, I found that there were things me and my “peers” could talk about that couldn’t go further than this meeting room and should not be disclosed either to the higher-ups or my team.

My work had shifted from designing and managing information systems to the then newly-named field of Knowledge Management. In a nutshell this meant: how do we encourage people to share what they know, what they’ve learned in the job, that can help others learn more quickly and ensure that capabilities aren’t lost when people leave? But the best technology we had at the time involved lots of paper and moving the problem from “getting stuff out of people’s heads” to “getting stuff out of people’s file servers”.

And then I was introduced to blogging. And while I was too afraid at first to write my own, I read as many as I could find. The style then was different – there were fewer personal essays and more short paragraphs with a link attached – the sort of thing you now see as tweets (or sparks!).

It seemed to me that getting people to blog within our organisation was the obvious way to share knowledge that was really useful and timely and that archives would build up over time that would be really easy to search. David Weinberger’s “Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy” was my favourite motto. But hierarchy doesn’t like being subverted and soon my head was banging against the corporate brick walls.

So I resigned.

And I started blogging and you can read for yourself what happened since then by going back to my entries on this blog from September 2004 (the earliest entries that survived my habit of getting cold feet and deleting everything) and then clicking next post over and over again.

Almost immediately I saw the benefits of working out loud. People started to think they knew me because they’d read my blog. I’d bump into people at events and they’d say “Oh I know you, I’ve seen you on the internet”. Then they’d say “You know that thing you wrote about X, well we’ve been thinking about it and don’t know what to do with Y” and they became consulting clients. Others would say “Your website is interesting, how do you keep it up to date so regularly?” And they became my first *blog* consulting clients. And the same with podcasting and video-blogging; and running networking events; and creative collaboration; and crowd-funding; and social art; and so on and so on.

Most people now know me for Tuttle. The only promotional work that I did for that was to write what had happened and what I thought about it on my blog and the group blog we created. And I told people to “do cool stuff and talk about it on the internet”

And that was inspired by me seeing people who did the same:

One of the creative people whose blogging I’ve always admired was Dave Winer at Scripting News. Recently he’s gone back to a style that’s a mix of short essays and link-blogging. But at times he has published daily worknotes on his progress with programming projects, showing that it’s not only visually-oriented processes that benefit from this approach.

I also got a lot in the early days from following Hugh MacLeod’s work on gapingvoid.com – he was working out problems to do with making art and marketing by writing about them and getting engaged in conversation.

So I’ve been using Somewhere (dotcom) and talking to the people behind it – it’s a social network that asks you to share what you’re working on and provides provocations to elicit what you’ve done in the past, how you work, what you want to do. I think it provides an interesting view of my work, though it may take some time to build. I’m there, using it to see how it works, what it gives me that I don’t or can’t get elsewhere, observing how it’s developing. If it does work out, it could give you a better summary and intro to my work than any CV could.

I’m interested now in where it can go that isn’t just a niche micro-blogging platform. How can I really engage with the community there – the people I don’t already know but I should do because we have lots in common? And by “engage” I mean more than like and leave nice comments. How can I find new clients, suppliers and collaborators? I don’t know yet. All I know how to do is keep pushing out what I’m doing and see what happens.

Joining is still by invitation only, but I’ve got a special linky here for you if you want to get on board.

Caveat & Disclaimer: I am taking part in this site with my eyes open and you should too. There is currently no simple way of getting what you’ve put into the site out again. I don’t think that’s a good thing in general. I’ve raised it with the Somewhere Team – you can see the conversation we had here. Please bear that in mind before you pour great quantities of yourself in. I have no other connection with Somewhere, they haven’t paid me for this post (or for anything!) but I like the people involved and want to help them create something of value.

That aside, I’m interested to see what you’re working on today!

qik! before it’s too late! #indieweb

I’ve just seen that qik.com is finally going down. I did some work to download my videos last year soon after blip.tv torched my stuff.

I’m ashamed to say that I don’t seem to have documented the process. If I find anything, I’ll post it, but it went something like this – if you have better ways or you can see clunkiness in my approach, please let me know :)

Assumes you have some comfort using a Terminal – I basically used grep and wget

UPDATE:

You might find reading the rest of this useful to understand the process, but there’s a gist with the best instructions I can do here: https://gist.github.com/lloyddavis/9807117


replace NUM_PAGES with how many summary pages you have and YOUR_USERNAME with your username – so for me it was 8 and lloyddavis

This gets you just a list of all the individual URLs, not the downloads themselves, that’s another step, but this could help

The download URLs are tucked away in an individual page for each video – the URLs for these pages are in the summary pages you’ll see if you go to “My Videos”

each of your pages has a URL starting with http://qik.com/lloyddavis/videos?page=1

download all of them (I had 8 pages)

use grep to extract all the lines with “play-button” in them – that will give you a list of URLs for the individual Video pages (like qik.com/video/5394230 ) that contain the download link.

strip out the junk from these lines and use wget to download one html file for each video.

UPDATE: The trouble is though that you need to authenticate with the server to get at these – that’s addressed in the stuff on github

The download links are of the form:

http://media.qik.com/vod/mp4-download/4b6437b98836494eb0a7350054d1bd84?download

again, you can grep them out with the string “video-download”

put all these urls in a file and wget the heck out of them. Some won’t work, there were a few corrupted or empty as I remember.