School of Temporary ThoughtAt Amplified we had an interesting series of exchanges around relationships.

I asserted my belief that in a 3-way relationship, say Alice, Bob & Carol, then Alice is responsible for her relationship with Bob and also responsible for her relationship with Carol, but that Bob and Carol’s relationship is none of Alice’s business.

That’s my belief. It’s what I try to practice in life, although when you do start to try to practice it, you see how entrenched in our social dynamics is the belief that we can tell two other people how to run their lives or believe that in some way we are looking after either of them by trying to make their relationship “work” or “better” or maybe “work better”.

“What about gossip?” I was asked. Yes, good question. Again, I try, I really try not to indulge in gossip anymore, it doesn’t do either of us any good, although I don’t deny that it can be absolutely delicious.

None of this is to say that I think myself any better than anyone because of this belief, it’s just what works for me.

There was an interesting point where we were talking about it and there was some disagreement. Someone asked for a show of hands as to who agreed with me. Funny. I think maybe one or two hands went up. Did I change my mind? Nope. Did I suddenly think, maybe I should start interfering in other people’s relationships? Nope. Forty years of llife has taught me not to stick my nose in. Peer pressure isn’t going to swing it.


Do as I say…

07012009799How do you change the world without telling people what to do? Forget changing the world even, how about getting anything done or created at all? I guess that’s one of my big life questions.

Because telling people what’s good for them and what’s best for all of us and what they should do that I’m not already doing – isn’t that the only way it’s going to work? Isn’t that what marketing and politics is all about? Don’t people need to be told how to live better lives, what things they need and what they don’t need, what they really ought to stop doing straight away? Otherwise, then what would happen?

It does seem as though there is no other way. Except, oh dear, we have a rather major blind spot. There is no other way as long as it’s me or my pals who are doing the telling, but the moment that you’re telling me what to do, you’re telling me how to live my life then I will resist – to put it mildly. Sometimes I will resist violently, sometimes more subtly, in fact sometimes so subtly that even I might not notice that I’m resisting, but nonetheless I will resist.

Oh yeah, and I’m quite good at recognising when you try to make me think it was my idea in the first place.

Aren’t I?

Bonus audio: Vinay Gupta’s lecture on Infrastructure for Anarchists (70MB) at the Temporary School yesterday

Temporary School of Thought

06012009791Here’s something Tuttle did for me.

Last Friday, at the first, select, meetup of the year, I got a tweet from @jjsanderson saying that a friend of his was trying to get in but couldn’t find the back door. Typical stuff for me on a Friday. A moment later, Vinay Gupta came up the stairs giggling. It seems Vinay giggles a lot. I suspect it’s probably an important part of his persona as Swami Havabanana too but that’s a story for another day.

So we get talking and it turns out he’s into providing yurts in developing countries; hexagonal yurts built out of 9 rectangular panels (six sides, three cut diagonally in half for the roof) of whatever you might have to hand – a hexayurt if you like, in fact that’s what he likes and it’s his twitter handle.

We get on well, we all have a good laugh. He and @debbiedavies hook up with @jjsanderson over video skype on his acer aspire. Another tuttle win. And so later on I follow him on twitter and check out his blog. Lots of yurt and overseas development stuff. Then on Sunday I see that he’s pinged the Tuttle blog with a post. While he doesn’t say much about his Tuttle experience but he does talk about going to a squat in Mayfair and what’s going on there this week. And then he posts some video. Oooh. Nice. Interesting.

Now I’m back at work really but I’m taking it fairly easy so I resolved to go along today and tomorrow and see how it’s rolling. It’s rolling. I missed the laughter workshop I’m afraid, but got there just in time for a lecture on Polish History (that’s of Poland, not Mr Sheen) which included a participative play about a king who got eaten by mice. I was an uncle, one of three, who were poisoned and out of whose rotting bodies the mice came. Bloody typecasting!

Then we went into another room (it’s big, it’s a bloody big Mayfair townhouse this squat, with servants staircase and everything) for a juggling workshop. Workshop leader, forgive me if I’m wrong but I thought your name was Jacob – could well be but there did seem to be lots of Jacobs – anyway, you got me juggling more than I’ve ever done before, thank you.

Then it got too cold and late and I needed to do some y’know grown-up stuff so I said my thank yous and buggered off. I’ll be back tomorrow when Vinay is giving a talk on erm…. yurts I think.

So yeah, it is in a squat and all of the people there looked suspiciously as if they were at least half my age, but they were all very very friendly and nice and genuinely interested in finding stuff out.

Here’s some juggling:


I’m drawn to processing It reminds me of my earliest programming – there was a limit to what interesting things I as a 13-year-old could find to do with text on a command line but when displays got just that little more sophisticated you could make pictures. Pictures out of lines and dots. Joining dots to make lines. Turning pixels on and off. Making graphs of mathematical functions. And then there was colour. Wow – 8 glorious shades of colour.

With just a little learning and lts of time for experimentation you could do a lot. Now though it feels like you’d need to know an awful lot in order to make something pleasing. And now that I can display full colour, hi-res photographs on my screen, photographs that I took seconds earlier on a phone with it’s own hi-res display (!) the old stuff doesn’t quite feel as satisfying.

I think I need a good project to get my teeth into, somewhere we haven’t been before. Maybe this isn’t the programming environment for that kind of bold experimentation, or maybe there’s something that this sort of simple graphical programming has been waiting for.

Oral his-stories

We like to talk, don’t we? At least some of the time. Chatting, telling stories over and over in different ways and with different embellishments, all the while helping us to work out who we are and who we’re not, what we might choose to be or do next. But also who we’ve been, who did what, what’s been done (or tried) what’s been talked about before and so what’s fun to talk about again.

I’ve found this history bit interesting in online communities. It’s not as important to some people as it is to others but I often find myself playing the role of reminding groups of what was said before and why, as a reminder of where we’ve been together, why we took certain decisions together or else to help out a newcomer who’s repeating the mistakes of the past, going down a real blind alley.

I was reminded of it when coming into contact with some of the “old-time” seesmicers at LeWeb. It’s only a year since the peak of seesmic for me, but a lot of what we were talking about is lost. And I noticed this at the time that as the community grew quickly there were a set of first behaviours or topics that were obvious when yu were new. But because seesmic didn’t have an inherent way of recording what we’d learned, the understanding and the rituals and traditions that came about could only stay alive as lng as the people there were willing to keep talking about them and reminding each other of them. The traditions were loosely held, it only took a few people to make up a new tradition and for a few people to leave for a once fiercely guarded tradition to be discarded.

There were many reasons why my seesmic activity tailed off, but one of them was that a greater proportion of my time was spent on watching new people go through the initial phases and I was left either waiting for them to catch up or spending my time helping them to catch up more quickly. Less time for me to be creative and just enjoy the flow.

There sees to be a difference for example between talking to people at Tuttle about how it all started and what I think of it all, between that and the tangible stuff on the web that you might find if you were bothered to research it. Does that mean I need to write down more of what I say to new people every week? Or has the saying f it been enough, are there enough people who know the story in rder for it survive without any other effort? Or might that lead to a distorted story? Is it important? Is it valuable? What would be lost if it were forgotten? And what is the definitive story anyway? Is there one? Or is it that my version is dominant because of my role and repeated attendance?


audioblogging again

Realising that it’s 4 years since I first bumbled into podcasting, I’m overcome with a zealous need to return to the form.

So I got myself a new recorder (minidisk and linux no play nicely) and went for a walk.

Everything is easier these days except, well, y’know, finding something interesting to say.

I see, for example, that now provides a handy shortcode that displays a player:

but here’s a link to download if that’s the bag you’re into. And it should turn up in the RSS giving a surprise to those still subscribed through iTunes or some other podcatching mechanism….