Tuttle Links for August 16th #htb2013

Tabs left open after Tuttle today, ie things I looked at or showed people.

Bromsgrove Silver Jubilee Parade (video 3 mins)

Barbican 1969 (video 20 mins)

The Garner Innovation/Hype Cycle (image)

In Business: Regenerating Margate (iplayer audio 30 mins)

FreakyTrigger (website)

Bob Dylan’s bait & switch

Unmoored (website)

ArtAngel (website)

Joanna Zylinska (biog)

Bachelard (wikipedia)

Rebecca Solnit (wikipedia)

Nuts In May (video 1h 21m)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (wikipedia)

Mark Sinker (website)

Joining the dots is left as an exercise for the reader and her imagination.

WP to OPML – help needed getting stuff into #fargo #writing #htb2013

I love writing and editing in Fargo. It really works for me to organise my thinking this way.

I’ve been posting to my wordpress.com blog through Fargo since the gateway was introduced. I like that too, no more messing with all the bells and whistles of the wordpress interface, just the clean writing window and all my current outlines in easy reach.

I’m starting to pull together my writing from the last few years. This was partly prompted by the demise of posterous.com where I’d been doing a lot – I used it as the blogging platform for two trips coast-to-coast across the USA for example.

I put all the posterous stuff away in wordpress because that seemed to be the logical place, but now that I’m looking at making some longer-form works out of the blogs that I wrote I actually want to get large chunks of content out of wordpress and over here into Fargo.

Post by post, I could do that with cut and paste, but I wondered if there was a programmatic solution – could I make wordpress spit out a bunch of posts in OPML format which could then be read by Fargo?

My aim was to create a feed template so that I could supply Fargo’s “Open by URL” with something like http://lloyddavis.co.uk/?feed=outline and I’d have a bunch of headlines (something that could also make sense of the dates would be nice later).

I’ve put up the code I’ve got for this so far as a gist on github. The way it should work is that it builds a string – $outlined – making the post title into a headline and creating nodes under that headline for each paragraph in the post. It’s installed on http://lloyddavis.co.uk – you should be able to see it in action by adding “?feed=outline” to, for example, a category URL and then view source.

However, this is the first time I’ve written more than about 5 lines of code anywhere in 20 years since my career swerved away from the code face. Last time I wrote anything serious, Think Pascal was the cool IDE to be using…

I’m at the stuck place where I feel like I’ve tried everything and can no longer see the wood for the trees. I’d appreciate some help from anyone with PHP & XML chops who can guide me through. I’ve asked on twitter for help at Hack The Barbican, but I’m also putting this out to the Fargo development community.

I’d also appreciate anyone saying “No, don’t do it that way, there’s an easier way to get what you want” 🙂

The issues I’m coming up against are mainly I think the inconsistent way in which the post content has been encoded when posterous was archived. Though of course there could have been some gunk in my HTML when I wrote the posts in the first place!

So typical issues include finding “

” in between paragraphs instead of the proper tags at either end. Also confusion over quotation marks.

I’ve tried converting the content string $cont to htmlentities in line 30 but that’s currently out – when it’s in the lines 43-46 are needed to decode some entities that Fargo seemed to choke on.

I’m assuming these are standard problems when building XML from other data sources so I’m looking forward to getting other people’s input.

For reference, the spec for opml is at http://dev.opml.org/spec2.html

Research part of the Social Artist Framework #htb2013

I got a bit distracted there with housekeeping/community stuff. Back to the thing I was thinking about business model frameworks.

If you’re not familiar with my work (or even if you are but you’re not sure what I’m talking about) then have a poke around this bunch of links.

So for me, the bit that I call “social art & research” is the core. This is the art I make, the adventures I have, the communities I help to form, the ideas that I play out in the real world, the way I show people things that they hadn’t seen before or hadn’t thought of before.

For you this is *your art*, that may be painting, or making electronic gadgets, or writing software that makes cool things happen on the internet, or playing in a band, or getting people together to talk about the future. For the purposes of this series, it doesn’t matter *what* we do, it’s important that we do it and we can’t help doing it and we just keep doing it no matter whether we’re being paid or not.

I call it research because I usually start out with some hypothesis about the world and then I think about how I might work with groups of people on or off the internet to help test those hypotheses. Or else I have an idea of something I want to do and then realise that actually there’s some hypothesis underlying it that would be interesting to test. I do both. A lot of the time it can be described as “just trying something out to see what will happen if”.

It’s activity. It has some outcome (see hypothesis testing above). I usually write *about* it while I’m doing it, but sometimes I write stuff up afterwards (I always think I should do this more). It usually involves other people. It’s often going on while I’m doing the rest of my life. In fact it’s sometimes indistinguishable from me “doing the rest of my life”.

Building a business model around “the rest of my life” seems to be an interesting thing to do.

Tragedy of the Commons emerging at Hack The Barbican #htb2013

The “tragedy of the commons” is a metaphor used to describe (according to Wikipedia) “the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one’s self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to the group’s long-term best interests”.

I noticed it creeping in at the Barbican yesterday for the first time.

The obvious shared resource at The Barbican Centre is space. And there’s loads of it. More than anyone could use. We don’t have a problem with fitting new stuff in when it comes to how much floorspace or airspace they might take up.

We also haven’t (yet) had anyone polluting the atmosphere enough to drive anyone out. I wasn’t sure whether it was Ian Willey’s Barbicoin experiment (contains ketchup!) that was getting a bit niffy yesterday or the lunch being served in the Lounge.

I’m not aware of anyone breaking the wifi so far. We should try harder.

No, the problem is the vibration of the atmosphere, in other words the soundspace, which is, in my view, being monopolised and exploited by a few to the exclusion of others. Yesterday, in the afternoon, and I expect the same today, there were three sound installations in different parts of the building all contributing to what the noise-lovers describe as “ambience”. I found it intolerably noisy, I couldn’t concentrate, hold conversations, read or write. I tried. I went outside and walked around a bit until I’d calmed down and went back in – I could just about sit there doing nothing but if I’m going to sit there doing nothing, I’d rather do it in the park.

I raised the question of reducing the number of noisy pieces on the mailing list. I received five responses, all basically saying: “no, I like the noise and I can work round it”.

I want to be clear, it’s not about not liking anything that was going on – individually I’ve enjoyed each of the works and I’m in no position to question their merit. Individually, I could have taken them, but exposed to them altogether I was no longer able to use the space. At the moment it seems as if most people don’t understand how depleting this resource is contrary to our long-term best interests. I recognise that I’m making assumptions about what our “long-term best interests” are. And given we’re 10 days into a four week project, the “long-term” is not very long! Yesterday I felt like I was saying “Global warming will have a long-term deleterious effect on biodiversity” and was told “Chill man, enjoy the sunshine like the rest of us”.

I may be unique, but I suspect that there are others who have found this difficult and who are deterred from sticking around because of it. There seems to be some evidence that tolerance of noise in spaces like this is related to introversion/extraversion – whatever the underlying factors we risk reducing the diversity of people taking part in the project down to those who are noise-tolerant or those who can be there early in the morning before the noise-makers wake up.

I’m not giving up, either in terms of continuing this conversation or in looking for other workarounds and solutions. If you’re interested in joining in, you know where I am.

UPDATE: While writing this, the minutes of last nights organising meeting came through. It seems the Barbican Library have complained about the noise too.

Privacy Questions: Using “_TheCloud” at The Barbican #htb2013 #stacktivism

The public wifi access at The Barbican is provided by “The Cloud” which was acquired by BSkyB in January 2011. BSkyB is 39% owned by 21st Century Fox (previously part of News Corporation) whose Chairman and CEO is Rupert Murdoch.

Since seeing the kerfuffle about City recycling bins (now no longer) tracking smartphones, I’ve been thinking more about what data network-connected devices pass around and record.

Here’s the data they “may” hold on me

So I looked at The Cloud’s Privacy Notice in conjunction with my Account Details page, which together, for me, raise lots of questions. They hold:

  • Information you have given us, including on our websites.
    • OK that’s my e-mail address and password, Name, Surname, House Name or Number, Postcode, Date of Birth. And whether I’ve opted out of being contacted “about products and services you may like.”
    • Well that’s the data that they remind me that I’ve given them on my account details, but I couldn’t tell you whether I filled other fields in when I first signed up years ago.
  • Information about our services you’ve used.
    • Looking at my details, I can see my last 14 logins going back to 25th June (including the time I absent-mindedly got on the Giraffe wifi in the Brunswick Centre but was actually in Starbucks)
    • There’s a menu for “Product Device Management” but I don’t seem to have any.
    • There’s also an empty screen for “Transaction History” but I think that means paying them anything, which I haven’t.
  • Information provided by other companies who have your permission to share information about you
    • Yikes! All those incorrectly ticked or unticked opt-out/opt-in boxes. The international conspiracy of marketing data collectors will be after me as will the lackeys of PRISM.
  • Information we collect using cookies stored on your device. For more information on cookies and how to manage them, please see our section on ‘Cookies’.
    • So looking at the cookies on the browser I was using yesterday there are cookies from thecloud.net and from service.thecloud.net – the first lot appear to be tied to Google Analytics. The others are called “jsessionid”, “mycloudid” & “routeid” – presumably these identify me as a previous user and tell you something about my latest session.
  • Your IP address (this is a number that identifies a specific network device on the internet and is needed for your device to communicate with websites).
    • Which is dynamically allocated by the router? But you keep a note of which one I was using for a particular session?
  • Technical details about your computer or access device.
    • Could be anything, but I’m assuming at least browser, OS, MAC address, device make & model etc. How about which ports I have open during a session?
  • The times and dates of your access to our service.
    • Naturally
  • The locations of your access to our service.
    • Yes, I’d expect so.

And this is how they will *may* use it

  • We may use it for market research.
    • You don’t say!
  • We may also need to use it to pass to others so we can keep to any legal or regulatory requirements, to protect or enforce our rights or the rights of any third party, in the detection and prevention of fraud and other crimes, and for the purpose of protecting national security.
    • Ah the “machines of loving grace”!
  • We may pass your information to anyone who takes over our business for them to use for the purposes set out in this privacy notice.
    • Phew! Couldn’t be anyone worse than Murdoch, surely 🙂

So do I stop using this service? Are we going to build our own mesh network and implement totally secure and commercially-independent communications networks for the time we’re here? I’m afraid it’s about as likely as me growing my own carrots and keeping a pig on our balcony as a way of avoiding the corporate evils of the supermarkets.

But it points to a gap in the market – ethical public ISPs that have a VRM attitude to our data.

On the same page/On the same street corner #htb2013

Yesterday at Tuttle (in the Barbican) David and I had a conversation, which I then carried on with Tony about the similarities between the growth dynamics in co-working spaces and gentrification in urban environments (first the penniless artists move in because it’s the only place they can afford, they make the area attractive and then they start making money and the richer cool kids also discover the place and all move in etc.)

This first week of Hack The Barbican has felt a bit like the earliest stages of this, when there’s just a handful of people spotting each other in between the occasional temporary occupants who are used to coming in to eat a sandwich in their lunchbreak. But we know it’s going to grow, because we’ve been here before…

I was pleased then to see that Martin has just added this to the Visitor FAQ

“Think of it not as a centrally curated event, but as a slowly growing city that is gradually taking over the Barbican’s public spaces, with many imperfections, but also many moments of unexpected magic.”


Helping Neal & Kathy meet the costs of #healthcare (@podchef #indiegogo)

I’m a bit dazed this morning by news from my friends Neal & Kathy in Maine that Kathy needed emergency surgery last week and that they’ll likely face a $50,000 bill (without insurance – they have a farm and food business out in the wilds). I know what the healthcare situation is in the US but it’s all the more shocking to me to see this close-up for good people who have offered me nothing but generosity over the years (Neal was one of my first podcasting buddies) and in particular when I was trekking across the country in 2011. They live for their family and local community, working as volunteer ambulance drivers and firefighters as well as running a farm.

Here’s some cheese Neal and I made together two years ago!


It would be bad enough here in the UK to have such a condition and to go through adbominal surgery and the effects of anaesthetic as well as the illness itself but to then have to pay for it, is just outside of my comprehension. We are so lucky to have the NHS and it’s so worth defending. I’m very fortunate to have never needed major attention so far knock on wood etc. but I’m sure that some close members of my family would not be here if we were having to ration our access to healthcare based on what we were likely to be able to afford.

I feel angry and helpless. I can’t guess at what they’re feeling.

I’m thinking about what else I can do to raise awareness and funds for them. If you can help the Foleys out, their campaign page is here.