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As a listener
- I like listening to other people’s conversations
- and not having to contribute. That’s what I do at #tuttle, I sit and eavesdrop, with permission.
- I like imagining that the person is talking directly to me
- which they kind of are – it’s a bit like Stephen King saying that writing is a form of telepathy. Someone sits in their room or walks in the park, talking about their stuff, what they think, what they’ve seen and then somewhere else, some other time, I pick it up and listen and it’s like they’re talking to me.
As a podcaster
- I like performing
- Whether it’s impromptu and extemporized or planned and rehearsed, I love showing off… until someone starts throwing fruit – then I sulk.
- I like explaining things
- I’ve only just realised this. You know how people say “I saw Judy Garland when I was four years old and I knew…!”
- Well, for me it was James Burke and Connections. But somehow it seemed safer and more rational for someone to say “I want to wear ruby slippers and make the whole world laugh and cry at the same time” than “I want to learn how the world works, how the world got like it is and and explain to people where it might be going”
- But that’s what I really like doing. That’s who I want to be when I grow up.
So I’m slowly organising my co-conspirators, other people who are interested in how the world works. Some of them even understand bits of it. I’m going to be talking to them in the presence of a recording device and then sharing the conversation with you.
I’m back at my “desk” after 9 days in Madeira and then 4 days trying to get back to my “desk”. And I don’t want to be here, and I don’t want to be writing a blogpost. I want to be lying on the couch browsing Netflix or YouTube or listening to another podcast by people who actually made something rather than actually making something myself.
Because I prefer (at least in the short-term) to live in my head, live in the fantasy of what my life is like: the *fantasy* of making cool stuff that people buy rather than the reality of sitting down and making cool stuff that people buy. It’s only short-term though, because I only have to think back a little way to remember that the reason I was able to stop and sit by a pool and soak up sun and go on a boat ride to look at whales was because a little while before that I sat down and made some cool stuff that people were willing to pay for.
Where I’m at with writing and making media and being a social artist and all that stuff reminds me of maybe 15 years ago when I grappled with the fact that I wasn’t playing any music. I had no instrument to play. But I’m a musician, that’s in me, deeply, it’s never going away. I sang, I sang loudly, I sang softly, I sang with other people, but it was never going to be enough. I needed either to find someone to play for me regularly or I needed to find an instrument I could play.
I found a guitar somewhere. I don’t remember where. It was on it’s last legs. It was strung but the strings wouldn’t last long and the neck had already needed to be glued back onto the body once. But it was an instrument and I had another go at playing guitar.
Like most young men in Western society I knew how to play guitar in my head. I had Bob Dylan and George Harrison and Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen and Eddie Lang and Django Rheinhardt in my head. And I knew what my music would sound like and what it would feel like to be sitting on a stool in a darkened bar playing to a hushed audience. But *all* of that was just in my head because when I sat down with this lump of wood with stretched nylon in my hands it just wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do, at least not straight away. And so I put it aside, again and went back to daydreaming. It just felt better that way, at least for the time being.
And then, a few years later, still feeling the same way, unfulfilled by the fantasy but unable to engage with the reality of how much I sucked, a ukulele banjo came into my life. And it didn’t even have any strings, but it was much more solid than the guitar. And after a few weeks of living in fantasy about it, I bought some strings and found out how to tune it and got it all ready. Waited a bit longer until a quiet Saturday morning when I had the house to myself and got it out again and made a start with some simple chords. Messed around with how to strike the strings right. It was loud and plunky, I couldn’t possibly do this when anyone else was in the house and the neighbours were probably pacing up and down waiting for it to just get too much so they could come round and complain. It was time to stop again but at least my daydreams were fuelled with some real playing.
After a few of these secretive sessions, it started to sound better than anything I’d managed on the guitar and I could get my fingers round the chords. And one day I stumbled over a pattern of chords that I’d soon find out were the basis of 80% of the songs I’d heard throughout my childhood – the circle of fifths (or fourths depending on your perspective) and I realised I could play some recognisable (to me!) tunes without looking at the sheet music and struggling with someone else’s arrangement. And I was away!
From there I bought my own (cheap) ukulele, which I played until it fell apart (it took a couple of years), by which time, I knew it was something I could do and so felt able to invest in a more upmarket model.
I have no idea what the timescale between trying out that old guitar and buying my first uke was but it was a long time. Much longer than it would have been if I’d been able to persevere, give up the daydreams and just play everyday.
Everyone knows how to get better at making stuff. Every writing expert will tell you to write every day. Every artist will tell you to draw something every day. And that’s fine, but… it’s hard and what I hadn’t heard until recently was that I also have to decide that I’m going to put up with the horrible reality of where I am today and let that be good enough even though the daydreams and fantasy in my head are so tempting. That’s the deal: live in warm fuzzy daydreams and deal with the occasional shocking pain from finding that nothing’s actually changed OR get back to work (it’s really not so bad once you start!) and make something real on which I and others can build.
We’re off on holiday for 10 days to Madeira. I’ve never been there. All I knew before we booked was it would be warm and it’s out in the Atlantic Ocean but north of the Canaries. Oh and it’s a wine and a cake – which is frustrating for someone who doesn’t drink wine or eat cake.
But warm, island, not London.
I asked Twitter for podcast suggestions as I need a bit of variety in my auditory diet and I expect to be lying around a lot just looking at the sea.
- Looking for podcasts to binge on on holiday. Whatchagot? like talky stuff, philosophy of tech not “news” – ideas and laughter, not “comedy”
And Twitter said:
Mark Cotton @mcfontaine
- @LloydDavis Outriders with the fantastic @jemimah_knight
- @LloydDavis the BBC also have about 2000 archived episodes of Alistair Cooke’s Letter From America.
- @LloydDavis and of course I would have to suggest @BParkPodcast .., Produced by me
lauren brown @sheseesred
Abbie Walker @Abstardeluxe
- @LloydDavis try http://matescast.tumblr.com/ it’s informative.
Kate AG @RadioKate
- @LloydDavis have you tried the moth? Live storytelling, best stories picked, funny, sad, powerful, always a good listen..
- @LloydDavis someone recently mentioned the night vale or something like that..tried first episodes and enjoyed…
Rob Dyson @RobmDyson
Paul Brewer @pdbrewer
- @LloydDavis try this guy http://french-italian.stanford.edu/opinions/
Wow! Thank you all, that’s fantastic and will keep me going well beyond the next 10 days! (there’s a Desert Island Discs Archive!!!)
In which two 10-year-old boys have the house to themselves and decide to sit at the kitchen table for almost an hour pretending to be grown-ups and trying to explain to each other the strange things that go on in their heads.
It’s mostly about using outliners, especially Fargo! but we also touch on “whatever happened to Audioboo”, “I want a General-Purpose Computing Device”, “Apple’s Dropbox Countdown of Doom”. There are shownotes!
If you don’t know our voices well and you’re wondering who is who – Robert’s the one who says all the clever things.
If you like this kind of thing, we really are going to do another one, there’s a feed that should work in iTunes and all good Feed Readers/Podcatchers.
Download (52 MB)
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.
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”
- 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 :-)”
- 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 ….”
- 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)
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 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.
I made this on the bus and posted it to instagram.
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.
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)
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
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.