Category Archives: What I’ve Been Doing

First #neweconomics event with @johnmcdonnellmp

A couple of weeks ago, John McDonnell MP, the shadow chancellor, announced that he’d be organising a series of events on New Economics to “broaden the debate around economics in Britain.”

I booked up for the first four in London straight away. The first lecture was last night at the Royal Institution. It was good, I heartily recommend you getting along to others in the series if you can. I had a few reactions to it that might be expected by regular readers here.

  1. I’m not very good at lectures. Mariana Mazzucato was a great speaker in that unstoppable Italian-American way. And I stuck it to the end, but it was a hard exercise in concentration for me. That aside, I’m left wondering if it was worth it – one person talking for an hour, even jumping around her slides, is something I can watch on YouTube and I get to pause it to have a cup of tea and a think half way through.

  2. I’m not very good at Economics. I spent a good deal of my second year at University rebelling against having to do Economics 101 and I’m very glad to say that last night had no mention of inelastic pricing, but I was on my guard for long explanations of this model versus that model. I’m glad I got to hear what she had to say (big takeaway: don’t forget that all of Silicon Valley’s invention is built on the foundations from large publicly-funded programmes [DARPA, NASA, CERN etc]) but I had to work hard for it (probably a good thing).

  3. I’m really not good at post-lecture Q&A. There may be some people who enjoy it, who get to hear things they didn’t hear before, but I don’t think that justifies the mic-hogging and mansplaining and all of us having to sit through another half (if we’re lucky) hour of one person speaking at a time.

I came away really wanting to know who else was in the room (other than Jeremy Corbyn) and what they thought. And what all of this was doing to “broaden the debate”. I may just be being impatient. Let’s see what the next one (on Tech & the Future of Work) is like. I’d much rather have some Open Space/Unconference events where people really get to talk about this stuff and we all have an experience we couldn’t have had through a screen.

Which ties in conveniently with two evening events I’m doing in February at WeWork on the Southbank! After the Future of Work spaces we did before Christmas, I wanted to continue the conversation but with a more practical angle. So rather than talking broadly about new technologies, I’m asking “What are we actually going to do?”

You can book on Eventbrite:

Future of Work: What are we going to do about Artificial Intelligence?

and

Future of Work: What are we going to do about The Internet of Things?

See you there if not before!

 

Ten years of online video

Last night, someone commented on an old video of mine on YouTube. It was from some work I did in 2006 making content for a site supporting a consultation around education for the creative industries. That’s as much as I remember really. Mostly it was talking to “grown-ups” about what “skills are needed by industry” but I also got to go down to Peckham and interview a bunch of young people about their experience of Theatre Peckham (then known as New Peckham Varieties).

The commenter had said “Omg is that John boyega ūüė≠ so happy for him” And so I had a look and yes, about one minute in, there’s a fourteen-year-old future Finn¬†looking surprised to hear that not only had¬†Sir Ian McKellen worked in the West End, but also that he was in the (then) new X-Men movie.

Go on, watch the whole thing. He pops up later too. If you spent any time around theatre when you were young, you’ll recognise yourself and your peers in there somewhere.

It made me realise that I’ve been on YouTube for nearly ten years. 2006 was the year it all got going. At the start of the year it was some experiment that guys at PayPal were doing, I joined in the March (but didn’t fully commit to only posting video there till much later – hence the broken video links in some of my posts!) and by the end of the year it had been bought by Google. And still people were saying video on the web was just a fad :)

It might be time for a retrospective!

Hitched

Oh My! ¬†I imagine that most of the people who read here will have seen the news last weekend or known anyway, but I got married to Laura Musgrave on 5th September. ¬†And I’m chuffed to bits.

I first got married in 1990 just before I turned 26. I thought it was all about us – which means that primarily I thought the day was about me, but then I suppose that at the time I thought my life was all about me anyway.

Life has changed me. ¬†Nearly 25 years later, I’ve done it again. ¬†I’m privileged to come at it this time with that experience of what marriage is really about and what life is really for. ¬†I’m very grateful for the first time round, and in particular, the two beautiful children that came from it – two young people of whom I’m immensely proud today.

Nick Holder was my best man and we went on a walk in the woods a few weeks ago as part of my “stag”. ¬†He asked me while we walked, why I was getting married. ¬†I said that I liked it, as a state of being. ¬†I prefer it, as an idea, to living together without a public declaration and ritual and even all the legal stuff. ¬†I like us being a unit – two and one. ¬†I like introducing “my wife”.

It’s taken me ten years to come back to this position. ¬†When I first moved out in 2005, I was quite sure that I’d spend the rest of my life alone, or in long-term relationships that didn’t involve public commitment and children. ¬†But that has changed very very slowly, over the years.

I’ve done a lot of growing up since then and so a couple of years ago, after Laura and I had been together for a year or so, and despite me being on the road at the time, I felt ready to say that, although I didn’t know how it might work out, I would very much like to spend the rest of my life with her and have another family.

A year later I asked her formally, in the Starbucks in the King’s Road which was the place she claimed she first took a shine to me. ¬†And now here we are, sitting in San Francisco on the first day of our honeymoon.

Lots was said at the wedding about love and marriage, what it means ¬†to us and to all the people who were there. ¬†Expect more details in the in-between blogging time I get while I’m away, but my wife has just arrived in the coffee shop!

And thank you, and much love to all those who helped me get here.

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 first #wewillgather in Wandsworth today

We launched #wewillgather¬†at Nesta on Tuesday. ¬†I did the live demo – code just out of beta, interfacing with third-party software (twitter) in front of Nesta’s head of innovation and the Minister for Civil Society not to mention some of my dearest peers from the various corners of the social web. So no pressure…

But it worked!

Not as quickly as it had done in the dry-run a week before, but nonetheless, I set up an event in the system just by sending a tweet.

I was inspired at that moment to make it something close to home. ¬†I’ve just moved to Wandsworth and Wandsworth Town railway station has just got new ticket machines and ticket barriers. ¬†However, it doesn’t have new bins handy to deal with all the unwanted receipts and other tickets that get left behind in the mad commuter rush. ¬†These tickets just pile up and don’t seem to be dealt with by station staff or the streetsweeper.

There’s a choice of solutions: ignore it and hope someone else will do something about it; ¬†write to South West Trains who manage the station and Wandsworth Council to encourage them to do something about it; or use a newly minted social website to arrange to meet some people there and take ¬†a small broom and clear it up yourself.

So I used this as my example in the demo and set up for people to come along this morning to pick up tickets.

Of course I did nothing further to organise people yesterday as I was mostly dealing with other people using the site, and so no-one else came. ¬†Except my long-suffering girlfriend, a bit embarrassed that I’d brought the tatty dustpan brush that was supposed to have gone in the rubbish itself. ¬†But I was undaunted – I’m used to playing Billy No-Mates when things are in their early days.

When we arrived, as luck would have it, the station staff were refilling the ticket machine. ¬†You can see the mess around the front. ¬†It’s clearly not their job to clear that up at the same time.

Inadvertently chose the time for #wewillgather to coincide with ticket refilling

So I waited for them to finish before I started poking around with my broom around the back and sides of the machine. They disappeared quickly (I think they might also have been collecting cash from the machine) and I couldn’t find them to talk to afterwards. My broom wasn’t long enough to get all of the tickets from behind – it’s a really awkward space, if I had brought a bigger broom then perhaps the head wouldn’t have fitted into the gap. Anyway I did what I could and photographed what was left behind

IMAG0725

as well as what I managed to collect (which then went straight in the nearest bin)

IMAG0726

Hmmm… it looks as though I picked up less than I left behind, but that’s not the case, the perspective on that Sainsbury’s bag is misleading.

Anyway, you can do better than this – go and organise something in *your* neighbourhood!

Last tenner

I just broke my last tenner buying stuff for breakfast tomorrow. Hmmm… it wasn’t supposed to still be like this but the truth is that it isn’t a sob story, it’s just the way things are for today and things can change very quickly. [UPDATE: micropatrons & postcard buyers have saved the bacon for now… thankyou! proper update later]

I was reminded of this today when I found myself telling the #tuttle2texas story again, to a bunch of people who knew very little about me or the social web. I talked, as usual, about how I learned to keep asking for help and keep trusting that the right help would turn up. They were primarily gobsmacked that I took the accomplishment of traveling the breadth of the USA, fuelled by social capital so lightly, that I didn’t talk about how proud I am of what we did or speak with more enthusiasm about how amazing it was.

It *was* amazing. Lots of you helped make it that way. I could not have done it without you. But here’s something: I don’t think I’ve acknowledged for myself yet that you might never have done it without me.

Same goes for Tuttle as a whole. It isn’t about me, it never has been, I couldn’t do it on my own. But the people who are interested in the social web in London (and Birmingham, Cornwall, Long Beach etc) probably wouldn’t have otherwise done something quite the same.

That’s one of the insights I’ve been given as a result of asking for Linked-in recommendations. There’s stuff hanging about in this world that wouldn’t be here if I had been around. Good stuff, that people like and value. Not necessarily big stuff, but stuff that’s important to those people whose lives it has touched.

To those who’ve been trying to tell me this for years, I’m sorry, I’m a bit slow to catch up.

And then there’s the invisible stuff. A common thread in some of the recommendations I’ve had this week is the idea that you might not see what it is that I do.

David Jennings says “His craft works so well… that it’s almost invisible – ditto his leadership…”

Johnnie Moore puts it like this: “… one of his finest qualities is his humility and reluctance to show off and put other people in the shadow.” and “He will help make connections and realise the potential of networks and he’ll do it so skilfully that you might not notice him doing it.”

Jo Jacobs uses the ‘c’ word: “His work… has been the catalyst for so many other collaborative ventures and meetings”.

Nathalie McDermott says: “Lloyd… provides the perfect conditions for others to meet, spark off each other and make things happen which is a rare talent.”.

But if you can’t see it (unless you get to know me and look up close), how do you know whether it’s really there? How do you distinguish this from the Emperor’s New Clothes? And if you didn’t pay for it and it went away, how would you know? Would you really miss it? What difference would it really make?

No other earth-shattering insights for now. If you can see something obvious that I can’t, please do point it out.

If you’re reading this you’ve probably dipped in your pockets or helped in some other way already. Thank you. If you’re inclined to do one more thing perhaps you could encourage others to do the same as you did for me.

If you’re just catching up you can find other posts about it here and here.