Social Media session at #LSConf

I took part in a session at the Living Streets Supporters Conference today to talk about #wewillgather, organizing without organizations and generally using twitter and social media for hyperlocal campaigning and activism.

I recorded the session and include it here so that I know where to find it later and also so I’ve a link to give to people who took part.

Download: Living Streets Social Media Session (54 mins, 37MB)

Importing old posterous blogs to stand-alone wordpress

I have downloaded a number of my posterous blogs and they’ve been sitting there looking at me. I also made a resolution recently to get as much of my stuff together under That meant some faffing with domain registrations, hosting and DNS but I finally got that sorted out last week.

I made a couple of false starts with the posterous archives. I foolishly thought that because they said they were wordpress export files, that they’d just be straightforward to import. Well no. Quelle surprise! The wordpress importer doesn’t like them at all and the posterous import plugins I tried made a mess too.

The most obvious thing first of all was that everything came through in the “Uncategorized” category. I went round in circles with this one, but in the end came up with the following recipe.

This example uses the tuttle consulting blog, note that I use Ubuntu, it’s probably much easier to load the file into a text editor and do fancy search and replace stuff, but especially after I spent the weekend at barcamp, I was in the mood for command line shenanigans…

  • Extract the export file and shorten it’s name for typing convenience. I called mine tce.xml (because it was the tuttle consulting export)
  • [please excuse my hacking, there’s sure to be a more elegant way of doing the same thing – do let me know if it’s obvious to you.]
  • run sed ‘s/>\t/>\n\t/g’ tce.xml > tce1.xml to insert a newline between all closing brackets followed by a tab otherwise it’s just all one line and grep doesn’t do anything.
  • run grep -v Uncategorized tce1.xml > tce2.xml to strip out the lines tagging posts as Uncategorized
  • run cat tce2.xml | tr -d ‘\n’ > tce3.xml to remove the newlines because the importer didn’t seem to like them
  • if you don’t already have one sign up for a account, we’re going to use that to import and export in a friendly format.
  • create a new blog
  • create a new “tuttle-consulting” category and set it as the default for new posts
  • realise that not all posts were written by me, I think the fix for this is to note all of the post authors names (they’re in a dc:creator tag in the xml file) and then create them as users on the blog.
  • ask the importer to do it’s magic
  • wait while did the import (for this file it was a minute or so, but larger files do take longer)
  • export from
  • import this file to my own wordpress on
  • stand back to admire your work
  • Outstanding Issues
    • commenters’ names weren’t exported properly in the first place. They are in the html files, but somehow didn’t get converted in the export file… this needs some work before the bigger ones get done.
    • there are a few coding glitches – tags as <> etc
    • an audioboo which I’d attached to one post didn’t turn up. I said yes to downloading attachments but I’m not sure what that’s actually doing
    • one post with a photo from flickr came through alright (ie links back to flickr), but one didn’t there’s a copy in the archive and that’s now been uploaded to my server. I presume this is to do with how they were embedded in the first place.
  • No guarantees or warranties, YMMV etc. All suggestions for improvement gratefully accepted.

Barcamp Berkshire day 2 thought & link dump #bcb13

I’m always tempted to stay overnight, but I’ve never actually done it. I may not have slept perfectly last night anyway, but I’m sure it was better than lying on a corporate head office meeting room floor.

People did come to my early morning session on “the future of blogging?” despite being up against an eight-year-old girl.

It helped me recognise what it is that I want – a bunch of people who are broadly interested in the same things, but actively eating their own dogfood. Tom Morris helped draw this out further in his session on indieweb. Tom, for example, has stripped back his blogging input box so that it’s almost the original Twitter “What are you doing ?” box – except it accepts Markdown and more than 140 characters 🙂 There’s an indiewebcamp in Portland, OR, next weekend (June 22/23) and a UK one in Brighton on Sep 8th

The main reason I’m interested in a good RSS reader is not that I’m a writer who wants other people to read, it’s that I want to be able to find and read stuff in a non-fragmented way without having to scour FB, Twitter, Tumblr *and* Son of Google Reader.

It got me thinking too about archiving and my current ongoing project to draw all my stuff together under my own domain.

There was a small but lively discussion about bitcoin. Things got most heated during the discussion about forking…

I bumped into Ketan who’d brought in this and, usefully, an early viewmaster that had batteries to backlight the screen.

After a deliciously substantial lunch I did an impromptu (well, I did put it on the grid) meeting room gig, which was much like a house gig, but, y’know with a big table, uncomfortable chairs, a whiteboard’n’shit.

And I rounded off with a geek dive into Rail API data with Paul Freeman

A really good barcamp, well-balanced for me in terms of giving and receiving. I’m feeling refreshed, encouraged and inspired. Thanks to all who played a part in making it happen.

Barcamp Berkshire day 1 thought & link dump #bcb13

I missed doing any sort of participant intros, it’s a good way to set up the day and it does more to make people feel part of the organisation than any amount of telling them that it’s all about them.

I confirmed for myself that I understand github well enough to use it (I thought I might have been missing something. I probably still am, but nothing serious.) So now this exists.

#hackthebarbican makes some people very very excited.

I miss Tomorrow’s World badly. Thanks to BBC Redux for making it possible for us to see Judith Hann demonstrating a nasal-spray contraceptive.

Barcamps are just full of good people, I’m really looking forward to spending more time with them tomorrow.

You still hear the darnedest things in little conversations inbetween.

For example, where else would you stumble over someone you knew who is trying to improve how Shakespeare’s plays are displayed on the web in Mandarin? That’ll be Terence Eden.

It’s really good to do a session where you get to say “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what the answer is, you tell me.”

At #bcb13 I talked about #hackthebarbican

I gave people the lowdown on why we’re doing it, what we’re doing, how far we’ve got, what we need now:

why we’re doing it

  • The Barbican Centre approached Charles Armstrong to produce something for the month of August while the concert hall and theatre space are being refurbished. Charles sensibly asked some of his friends to come together to think about it and they invited more people.


  • during the month of August the indoor public areas of the Barbican Centre will be taken over by a self-organising, interdisciplinary experiment in creative collaboration – there will be residencies, events, talks, installations – the biggest limit on the list of things there’ll be is the law… and the fact that the Barbican is a Grade II listed building.

how far we’ve got

  • We’ve had an organising group meeting every week since the beginning of the year. We’ve run a Bazaar weekend to try out how it might work. We’re just about to start doing weekly social collaboration sessions to help people who want to get involved to get to know each other better and talk about things they might do in August.

what we need now

  • We need people to propose residencies and events. Those links are to pages with forms to submit ideas on the website. We also need people to get involved – take a look at the site and see what you think – you can join the mailing list.

Ideas popped up: Making a map of the centre in Minecraft, a Silent Disco, messing with the lights, messing with the plasma screen etc.

10 (OK 11) things about #bigpix #bigpictureday

The first Big Picture Day happened on Saturday at the LimeWharf space in Vyner Street – it was an unconference/hackday/jam to work through stuff about improving unconferences/hackdays/jams.

0. This is a pattern that’s grown out of the #ukgovcamp community – write a blog post on the day after or as soon as you can, just getting the key things for you out of your head, rather than trying to write up everything “perfectly”

1. I had to leave way earlier than I wanted to, but probably later than I should, because I was overtaken by what started as a tickly throat but by lunchtime had made me a sniffly, headachy mess.

2. I’m still not 100% and the following may read as overly negative because I’m generally feeling down in the dumps. Forgive me if I sound whiney in anything that follows. Take what you like and leave the rest.

3. So first of all, majorly, wow! I didn’t expect as many people, I was thrilled to see people who’d travelled a very long way to be there. It felt really good to connect several communities that I feel part of and to meet some new people as well. Thank you for coming and sharing your experience. I hope everyone got something useful out of the day. I wish I’d seen Studio 45, the pictures look amazing. Big kudos to Vinay and Tom for co-curating and hosting. Big thanks to Tam for sorting everything else out.

4. I boobed with my talk big time. I hadn’t really thought through 10 minutes and ended up talking too much about what I was doing years ago (mostly #tuttle) rather than the interesting things that I’m working on now – #wewillgather, #hackthebarbican, #ukgovcamp and its many spinoffs.

5. The folk at LimeWharf have made a great space but…

  • I find East London, well that bit of Hackney especially, depressing. This is about me, not about Hackney…
  • I am not inspired by big, open, flat-walled, bare, concrete space. My idea of conviviality (and I suggest that conviviality is *vital* to these sorts of gatherings) is soft furnishings, warmth, small spaces for intimate conversations. I also don’t get on well with standing up while conversing.
  • There was something weird about being served tea and coffee through the hatch. It’s lovely to be served and I get and appreciate the care that’s being offered, but it felt difficult to just help myself when I needed it. There’s a thing in OST about no coffee breaks but easy access to refreshment and beverages. That please.

6. I think we had too many different experiences of different kinds of gathering to say anything useful to all of them. I also think that while it’s useful to get these things together, a hackday is different from a tech unconference is different from a public service unconference is different from a cash mob is different from a self-organising festival. I felt sometimes like we disagreed about stuff because we were talking about different things without knowing it. I think some people were “feeling different parts of the elephant” than I was.

7. I think we tried to do too much by having the conversation and not settling on a methodology up front. I’m not so attached to open space technology that I can’t do anything else, but I think that opening up the conversation we did the equivalent of trying to rewrite the kernel while applications were running, or put another way, trying to redesign and rebuild the engine of a car while driving along the M4.

8. I think that trying to merge sessions as a group is a bad idea. In my view, a few individuals took control of the agenda to suit them. I heard people say “nine sessions in two hours is too many” I don’t believe this is true. I do believe that trying to collapse everything into two or three groups makes for too general a conversation. But I didn’t get to stick around long enough to properly find out. It probably worked out marvellously and I’m being an idiot.

9. Measuring complex human systems is a slippery slope – the kind of measurement we default to means assuming that the human system is like a machine that has measurable inputs and outputs – it’s a way of dealing with complexity by pretending it doesn’t exist. I just haven’t seen that work for anyone other than people who like measuring things or who make judgements without having skin in the game. It’s a distraction and it leads to people gaming the measurement system to look good. People told me this when I was part of the effort to introduce performance measurement to public services. I didn’t believe them. I was wrong about this then, they were right, I don’t think anything’s fundamentally changed.

10. We need to keep practicing this stuff. We’re actually really crap at having real conversations of any kind – people who’ve avoided having this beaten out of them through a combination of school, work and corporatised media are very very rare. But we are getting better and it’s really good to do it, it’s really powerful. Let’s keep doing it.