Water Infrastructure #stacktivism #htb2013

Yesterday I gave myself a little time to muck about.

I saw Dan tweet about a collaborative google map about “Water Infrastructure Collapse”. I had a look and got the general idea to highlight instances where the infrastructure isn’t working. I’ve been interested in the concept of the mostly-invisible infrastructure stack since listening to Vinay talk about 6 ways to die and the work that Jay and others are doing around the idea of #stacktivism ie activism about the stack, it’s ownership, the political consequences etc.

I’d seen the Herne Hill flood in the news the other day, so I added that to the map. And then I searched for “burst water main UK” and found a number of other local news stories – if it’s big enough to stop traffic, it’s usually big enough to make the local paper, and that, these days, means it gets into Google News. So I added a few more, in Derby, Peterborough and S Norwood. [having just written that, I’m thinking now that what the map needs is something to show which water companies are involved…]

That got me thinking about leakage – surely someone must be monitoring this. Someone must be collecting data. So I had a look at the OfWat site and although I found the definitions of key performance indicators, I couldn’t actually find the data except by looking on each of the water companies websites. So I rang them up and put on my best information manager’s voice and asked whether anyone collated it all. No. They don’t, but they do require the companies to publish them and the woman I spoke to pointed me to the page where there are at least links to all the PDFs for this year. Once I’d downloaded all the PDFs I got to the bottom of the page where, “ta da!” there’s actually a summary spreadsheet for download. So I grabbed that.

And had a look. There’s an indicator for Leakage, it’s measured in Megalitres per day. That’s millions of litres per day – the range is between 4.2 and 646. But what’s a megalitre? The people on this friendly Australian forum tell me that an Olympic sized swimming pool might be 50m x 25m x 2m so 2500 cubic metres which would be 2.5 megalitres – so the smallest leakage is a little less than 2 Olympic pools per day and Thames water manages to lose more than 250 of the buggers. Per Day. This is news on the day that it gets announced. But the rest of the time we don’t think much about it, it’s just the way things are. What can we do? Should we do anything?

So then I got thinking about how much that might be per person. And the only thing I could find about populations served by each water company was this fact sheet from greenchristian.org.uk – thank you green Christians!

I put them together in this Google spreadsheet and that’s when my nightmares really began 🙂 It seems that the charts in Google spreadsheets are not very friendly to people wanting to make scatter plots and even less so if such people want to do some regression analysis add a line of best fit. The “Advanced Edit” is nothing of the sort. So I hacked something together.

That line of red dots is the line of best fit – the two companies way above the line are Dwr Cymru to the left and United Utilities (covering the North West) at about the 7 million people mark.

Leakage vs Population 2012/13

It’s a pretty good straight line (r2=0.88) which I interpret as meaning that they’re all equally bad at it – it’s not as if the little companies serving smaller populations are able to concentrate on it or that big old Thames just has a difficult time because it’s so big.

Anyway that’s as far as I got before my mucking around time ran out. Nothing to do with Social Artists Business Models or Hacking the Barbican, but I had fun!

Frameworks for Social Artists #htb2013

Sometimes I don’t really know what I think until I write it down and show it to other people. That’s what happened with my blogpost yesterday – I realised how little I really had decided about this and how much more there was to define.

One thing is to get thinking about what social artists actually do. I’ve been thinking about how to express this for myself for a while of course. But I’ve given it some more attention lately while I’ve been rebuilding my personal web site.

In thinking about what *I* do, I’ve also been talking and thinking about how it applies to other people I know who do similar work.

  • I’ve put my work into four main areas:
    • Social Art & Research
      • This is the stuff where we’re pushing boundaries and finding new things out. Tuttle was like this at the start. It probably still is really. Tuttle2Texas and Please Look After This Englishman were research projects looking at social capital and the value of social networking etc.
    • Consulting
      • This has been my core business skill. For a while it was focused on social reporting and making media. More recently it became closer to coaching for individuals or small teams. I’ve not done so much of late mainly because I prefer to work in a team rather than alone. Making something useful of the Tuttle Consulting work we did remains a goal.
    • Events & Entertainment
      • Tuttle, yes, but also the unconference and open space facilitation that I do. And events as research or consulting product – for example with Please Look After This Englishman I devised a one-man-show to present afterwards.
    • Publications
      • This has been an aspiration for a while. I think what I’m drawn to most in this project is seeing how people who write a lot and take pictures a lot and make music a lot can turn those things into products, create their own long-tail of books, e-books, posters, prints etc. both by creating new work but also re-using an re-mixing what we’ve already done.
  • What do you think of these four areas?
  • Do they work for you as a way of organising your own work?
  • I’ve used them to start to organise my website – have a look and give me some feedback.
  • What other categorisations do you use?

Bringing #tuttle to The Barbican for #htb2013

As I’m here a lot, I thought it might be nice to shake the Tuttle crowd up a little while making it more accessible to Shoreditch/Tech City types.

So we’ll be in the Barbican foyer every Friday in August, just turn up and have coffee (there’s a Costa here) and chat – same format as we’ve had for five years 🙂  There’s plenty going on every day so you’ll find interesting things around the place afterwards too.

Come along – bring a pal 🙂

Since #htb2013 is using Lanyrd for the schedule there’s the added bonus of sign-up pages – you know how you like a good sign-up!

They’re here, one for each week – such abundance!

Fri 9th

Fri 16th

Fri 23rd

Fri 30th


What I’m doing at Hack The Barbican #htb2013 #socialart

I have a residency for the rest of August at Hack The Barbican which is a month-long experiment in creative collaboration in the public spaces of the Barbican Centre – the hashtag for the whole thing is #HTB2013.

The aim of the group as a whole is to make the most of the mix of people involved in art, technology and entrepreneurship that seems to be coming together in London at the moment.

I’m interested in all these things and so I’ve proposed a research project to investigate new business models for networked and technology-savvy creative people.

As usual, I’m starting my thinking in public, so much of this will look poorly-thought through at first. Join in. Let me know what you think.

What does it mean?

  • Well, the industrial approach to creative work is dying away on all fronts. Creative people are finding new ways of co-creating value and meaning in networked environments. 3D printing will mean that the production of huge classes of physical goods will be subject to the same pressures as music, books and film have struggled with for the last decade. Nobody really knows what works best, where and for whom. There’s disagreement about how radical a shift this really is. Much of the discourse about this subject is dominated by the industries that are dying and those who thrived from the old models. So what do artists themselves think? What new forms of art are being made as a result? What new organisational forms do we need? How can we keep making good art that benefits from technological advance and still make a good living?

What I want to end up with

  • I want to create some sort of model that supports us having this conversation; something that helps people working in a particular field to see what they have in common with others and help people think about how they might apply our thinking to their businesses.
  • I want to experiment collaboratively with forms of digital distribution and print-on-demand.
  • I’d hope that we’ll form a community of people interested in continuing the conversation, perhaps we’ll have an unconference later in the year.
  • I shall be trying to use my own creative practices and business as a way to demonstrate and test so me of the ideas that come up
  • Maybe we’ll form a new collective organisation to keep playing with these ideas.

How you can get involved

  • Share your experience
  • Point me to other people’s work on the subject
  • Bring a critical perspective to what I’m writing
  • Come in and have a conversation, don’t wait to be invited, take this as an invitation, let me know when you want to come.
  • Have a conversation elsewhere and make something