Category Archives: london

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”?

Some Hows of Timelapse

I made a little timelapse this week and put it in my flickr stream because I found, to my chagrin, that it made instagram video barf.

Robert spotted it (see? he *is* looking, watching, lurking quietly after all) and kindly mentioned it in his newsletter this morning. He asked “How did he do that?”

Well here are a few ways of answering that:

  • I shot it on my phone. It’s an “HTC One”, which accounts for the wide screen. There’s a free (with Pro version available) app called Droid Timelapse. The only real setting I use is to adjust the Frame Capture Rate – each frame here is a second apart. I did no other processing after shooting, just uploaded it.
  • I’d just tried out the new cafe in the newly extended Sainsbury’s in Garratt Lane, opposite the Southside Centre. It is nothing special, but for £1.95 I got a large mug of reasonable coffee that I enjoyed more than the sort they serve over the road in Caffe Nero for example. I came to the exit and realised it was raining (again) and saw in front of me a big window out onto the street. So I went and stood by it, propping my phone up against the glass, firing up Droid Timelapse, holding very still and pressing the button to make it start. Then I waited for the counter to reach 10 (I don’t know how long that took, I’d have to do some arithmetic with frame rates… but that makes 10 seconds of video) and I pressed the button again to make it stop. Then I went and bought some sausages in Sainsbury’s and went home.
  • While it was shooting, I was nervous. I expected at every moment to hear one of the security guards behind me say “I’m sorry sir, you can’t do that here” I couldn’t move because I was holding the camera still. I imagine that if anyone had actually paid any attention, they’d have thought I looked like I was waiting to take a picture for a very long time. While I was standing there a young (I dunno, late teens I guess) woman and a slightly older man came and stood nearby. They had a trolley full of groceries but I assumed they were either waiting for the rain to calm down or waiting for someone else to turn up. They were having that kind of conversation where you don’t get too deeply into anything because you know that you’re going to be interrupted at any moment by a change in the weather or the arrival of your friend. I zoned in and out of their conversation while wondering how the movie was going to turn out – would it be too fast? what would it look like when the traffic slowed down or stopped for the traffic lights? how many buses had gone past now? – the only thing I remember her saying was “I’ve been told by many people that they’ve had visions of me dying young.” When I turned around all I really clocked of her was that she had long hair and was wearing a light-coloured (creamy) woolen garment – I couldn’t say whether it was a cardigan or a pullover. It might have been Aran.

Does that help? Anything else you want to know?

Footnote: While I drafted this post (and the previous one) in Fargo, it’s still easier to embed media (especially moving pictures) using the wordpress.com interface. Boo! (actually that’s not true, I made it up before actually trying it out – the flickr code is just a line of text which would fit nicely on a line in Fargo. I’ll try that next time)

My five-year old: #tuttle

Birthday #Tuttle in full swingYes, on 15th February five years ago, the London Social Media Cafe which was soon to become better known as The Tuttle Club held the first regular meetup at the Coach & Horses in Greek Street and we’ve done the same thing (more or less) somewhere or other every week (give or take) since then.

A bunch of lovely folk turned up this morning to do the same lovely thing as ever: talk, drink coffee, laugh, talk, meet new people, have a moan, whatever it is that you all do, I don’t know, I just wander around grinning inanely.

First thing this morning, Rob O’Callaghan showed his appreciation for #tuttle (which inspired his Tunbridge Wells group:  (#twuttle and its various spin-offs) by treating me to breakfast at the top of the Gherkin in the City.  Because it was something he could do.  It was great.  I’ve never been up in any of these super-tall structures before and the 40th floor with it’s 360-degree view is amazing.  Thanks to Rob and Phil Macleod who hosted us.

Back down at the RFH #tuttle buzzed its way through three hours (at least).  I was asked, by people who’d been around for a while and new people too, what I got out of doing it.  It’s a question that obsessed me at the beginning, but the answers aren’t what I expected back then.

It hasn’t made me rich or particularly famous.  I’m skint most of the time and I have been for five years, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been and anyone who wants to tell me that it’s all a failure because it doesn’t make money is missing the point of life, in my opinion.

About six months in, I decided that  I would commit to just showing up and welcoming new people  and I knew then that I wasn’t ever going to make money directly from #tuttle and that it wouldn’t thrive for long if I made it all about me and used it as a vehicle to get well-known and cash-in from there.  And I wanted it to thrive for a long time.  I still do.

But I’d already learned this from blogging – that you get your rewards *because* of the things you do, not *for* the things you do.  So what are the things I got?

Well doing this thing changed the whole way I see my life and work and it changed how I am perceived by others.  I no longer think of myself as any kind of consultant,(though I will still happily take consulting fees!) I’m an artist, I make beautiful things, and #tuttle is one of them.  The biggest thrill I got today was being told by a newcomer that “it was beautiful”.

I’ve been able to do things that I didn’t think possible.  I’ve traveled and written and photographed my way coast-to-coast (and friend-to-friend) across the USA twice and then hobo-ed around the UK for a whole year living and working with people I’d met on the internet who’d got to know and trust me because I did #tuttle.

I got to call myself Social Artist in Residence at the Centre for Creative Collaboration and then spend a couple of years really thinking about what the hell that meant.

I got to work with a group of the simultaneously nicest *and* smartest people I’ve ever met on creating a new approach to business consulting, a process that resulted in some fabulous open data and the creation of at least one company.

My recent work on #ourdigitalplanet and #wewillgather (I’m considering amending my bio to say just “I work on hashtags”) has been successful because of this weekly deep experience of organising without an organisation.

And I got to meet you all and share in your journeys.  I got to see you grow and be encouraged and build your lives and projects and businesses.  I got to listen when you were down and depressed and couldn’t see the light just around the corner.   I saw hungry young things take flight and soar and become industry stalwarts. I saw a certain entrepreneur meet hardcore users of his product and get real user insights into the thing he’d later sell for millions.  And I got to partake in the multitude of fascinating soap-operas of our intersecting lives, laughing and scheming and crying and dreaming and, conversation by conversation, reaching a far better understanding of this social web thing together than we could ever have done on our own.

Thank you all, everyone who’s been along on a Friday morning, even just the one.  Thanks to everyone who picked up the idea and started one in their own town (otherwise how would I have ever known to visit Long Beach?!?) Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions and guidance on making it better.  Thanks to the trolls who spewed and stewed and (thankfully) repeatedly went hungry; please, if they wake up, don’t start feeding them now…

OK, that’s all, go back to what you were doing.  See you next week.

Tuttle needs to move

Tuttle is a travelling circus. It needs to move and it needs to go where the people are. I needed a rest from herding the Tuttle cats and C4CC was a great place to let the show rest and settle and for me to run around doing other crazy things for a bit (OK 2 years). But I miss old Tuttle. And other people do too. I think it’s time to get it going somewhere else.

The question is, “where?” At the moment that’s quite a high-level where. London? Yes. East or West? Not sure.

I get frustrated by talk of what made Tuttle “work” in 2008/9. “It was this person. I liked the ICA because it was like this. I liked the Coach & Horses because it was like that. etc.” I don’t think any of us really know what the secret-sauce was, because there was no single secret sauce.

But I think the most important thing to answer now is: if Tuttle is a thing for everyone, where can lots of people go to that’s near enough to where they were going to go on Friday morning anyway?

Or is it?

Applying Social Art

Art in #c4ccMy time as Social Artist in Residence at the Centre for Creative Collaboration is helping consolidate stuff that I’ve been learning throughout my career. I want to share some of this by running some workshops around the question:

“How do I use social art, social media and social tools to improve my organisation’s engagement with its customers or other stakeholders?” (btw that’s whether your organisation is just you or hundreds of other people too)

I’m going to run some 1-day workshops to help you explore where you might start; how you can make use of things that you already have; how you know who else to get involved; and how you keep going once you’ve got started.

We will get there the same way that the Tuttle consulting group has been working things through with our consulting client, Counterpoint. We’ll use the tried and trusted Tuttle approach of playing around with ideas, talking lots, trying out tools and ideas and generally making it up as we go along.

Many people don’t go near social tools because they’re afraid of getting things wrong or looking stupid. So I’m placing this workshop in a context that values getting things wrong, where everyone will probably look a little bit stupid, where we will value each other’s silly childish scribbles and say “This is great! Carry on! You have to start somewhere. Well done! Well done for having a go.”

Who should attend?

People who:

  • have been exposed to the theories about social media but want to get their hands dirty; or
  • have a strategic role but need some practical experience of social tools; or
  • are artists in any medium, looking for ways to expand and extend their creative practice; or
  • know that using social tools is important, but don’t know where to start; or
  • want to be better at having conversations with others inside or outside their organisation; or
  • just feel stuck and are eager to try something new.

What actually happens?

The day will take the form of a field trip in which we go out together, explore a space and use social tools to capture and reflect on the experience. The group will decide for itself exactly which space will be visited, but the idea is to have a day out and about so the menu includes museums, galleries, woods, ponds, rivers as well as more urban landscapes.

You will learn:

  • the importance of maintaining flow and creative action in your work;
  • how to collaboratively create an online cultural artefact;
  • how to think about your business from a social perspective;
  • how to make simple engaging media with others;

You will have the chance to reflect on:

  • your own ability to work in a group;
  • your own creativity;
  • how these tools might help you deal with a change in your market or organisational environment;
  • how decisions can be made collectively;
  • ways that you might use social tools in your everyday work.

Cost

I’m pricing the days at a specially discounted £75+VAT per person for these first ones. You will need to bring your own packed lunch, at least one portable device capable of connecting to the internet, a fully-charged oyster card and a kagoul in case of inclement weather.

Booking here.

Suburban Station Slashers

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Two things I notice about this group of posters at Epsom station:

1. The common use of Black, Red & White both between the dark fiction titles but also with an exhibition about Victoria & Albert – does this tell us anything about our attitude to Victorian times?

2. Why are these books so popular with suburban rail passengers? Or at least why are suburban rail passengers routinely targeted by the publishers of these books? What does it mean that large numbers of people pouring into London every morning have just spent half an hour immersed in blood, slashing, and psychopathic torture?

Winter

Kitchen windowWoke this morning to another sprinkling of snow in London. Probably more outside of town, but haven’t checked yet. Not much but clearly it came down through the early morning when there were fewest people about so it’s thicker than it would have been if it had come down at 4pm.

But my first reaction was “Blimey, this is going on for a long time.” (the current weather pattern of cold and snow)

And then I thought “Hang on, isn’t this what winter’s *supposed* to be like?” We’ve become so accustomed to having only a few individual days of snow that having a prolonged cold snap with associated precipitation feels out of the ordinary. It’s the corollary of “Oh, we had a sunny day, that’ll be our summer then!”.

But didn’t it used to be like this all the time? Why shouldn’t winter have a fortnight or so of snow and ice? Has anything actually changed here? Why is this so important? And so, yet again, I’m left wondering whether it’s the world that changed or that my dislocation is a result of warped perception. Is it them or is it me? Usually the answer to that question is… errrr… yes it’s me so forget it, ignore what I just said and let’s get on.