qik! before it’s too late! #indieweb

I’ve just seen that qik.com is finally going down. I did some work to download my videos last year soon after blip.tv torched my stuff.

I’m ashamed to say that I don’t seem to have documented the process. If I find anything, I’ll post it, but it went something like this – if you have better ways or you can see clunkiness in my approach, please let me know 🙂

Assumes you have some comfort using a Terminal – I basically used grep and wget


You might find reading the rest of this useful to understand the process, but there’s a gist with the best instructions I can do here: https://gist.github.com/lloyddavis/9807117

replace NUM_PAGES with how many summary pages you have and YOUR_USERNAME with your username – so for me it was 8 and lloyddavis

This gets you just a list of all the individual URLs, not the downloads themselves, that’s another step, but this could help

The download URLs are tucked away in an individual page for each video – the URLs for these pages are in the summary pages you’ll see if you go to “My Videos”

each of your pages has a URL starting with http://qik.com/lloyddavis/videos?page=1

download all of them (I had 8 pages)

use grep to extract all the lines with “play-button” in them – that will give you a list of URLs for the individual Video pages (like qik.com/video/5394230 ) that contain the download link.

strip out the junk from these lines and use wget to download one html file for each video.

UPDATE: The trouble is though that you need to authenticate with the server to get at these – that’s addressed in the stuff on github

The download links are of the form:


again, you can grep them out with the string “video-download”

put all these urls in a file and wget the heck out of them. Some won’t work, there were a few corrupted or empty as I remember.

Mixing the unconference format into a traditional conference

I ran an unconference session at a conference for Housing Tenant Engagement people last week. Dave and I touched on it in our latest podcast – he asked me how it had gone, how it worked in a situation where people hadn’t chosen specially to come to an open space, when they’d been there solely because of work, rather than interest. (Which is an interesting distinction to make, in itself!)

I didn’t have a great answer on Monday, other than what people had told me on the day, which was that they’d loved it – they’d felt set free by creating the agenda for themselves. They looked relaxed and happy and energised to me.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from the client with the transcribed feedback forms. And I’m glad to say that they confirmed what I thought and added a little more data. I’m not going to republish the comments directly because, I don’t think they were given in that spirit – they were shared with the organiser, not me and anyway there’s nothing extraordinary about any of them. Except when we run unconferences for ourselves, “happy sheets” are probably part of the paraphernalia that we reject!

The format of the event was that it started with lunch at the hotel, I ran an unconference slot from 2.30-5.30 and then they had a social event, then the next day was all traditional speakers and workshops. I left immediately after my session.

We divided the time up into three 45 minute slots to allow time for introductions, pitching and changeover between slots. We had four syndicate rooms and the one large room to play with so we could have had up to 6 sessions per slot – we had 18 pitches and some of those merged so that there were empty slots in the timetable. As usual, I didn’t see many people using the law of two feet – once they were sat, they were sat, but with 6 sessions to choose from there were on average 10 people per session.

So. Roughly a third of people who gave feedback (in total 72 – I’m not sure how many of these attended both days of the conference) mentioned the unconference in a positive remark – most of those were in answer to the question “What did you particularly like about the event”. Some people mentioned it in response to the question “What did you not like about the event” but none of these were out and out “I didn’t like the unconference” – they included a couple who had worried about the format at the beginning but warmed to it over time; a few who said “I didn’t like X or Y but I liked the unconference”; a couple who would have liked to have had more notice of the format and a better chance to prepare; one who said all the moving about was a bit disruptive; one who wanted to set more of the agenda in the same way and one who thought that the unconference had spoiled them for the traditional workshop sessions.

I hear all of these at most unconferences I facilitate and I feel the same way a lot of the time too. As Dave and I discussed, there are always people who think the pitching can be done in a smarter way and who wish other people were in the room, but the process just works: we give ordinary people the opportunity to talk about the things that matter to them and they love it.

And another thing… talking to @davebriggs again

Download 40MB

Lloyd and Dave talk about social capital in the context of unconferences.

From bootstrappers to bureaucrats (#LocalGovCamp – oh my!)

I haven’t dug deeply for other bits of the story, but you’ll get a feel for what this is all about looking at posts from Dave Briggs and Sarah Lay. I used a rude word on Twitter about it and raised the hackles of the pious. What can I say? I can rarely resist a cheap shot but I hope the following adds a bit more to the debate.

Organising stuff with other people is hard. The internet makes it easier, but creates its own problems. People just won’t do what they’re told or think what we want them to think. Everyone wants a say and sometimes the noisiest ones can’t or won’t contribute in any other way. They won’t listen to our carefully crafted messages and they read all sorts of darkness into what we’ve written which says more about them than us.

Welcome to being human! We (all of us) try our best, we get booed, we go home and cry, we get up and try again. I hate this, and I’m trying to get better at dealing with it, but I don’t think there are other ways. We also (all of us) see other people doing things we don’t like, throw out some comment and get on with our lives, unaware of the turmoil we’ve created in someone else. I hate this too and I’m trying to get better at it, but I don’t think there’s another way.

Here’s a pattern: a bunch of people get together to make something happen. No money changes hands, everything’s done as a favour because we all want it to happen. We call in favours – burn our social capital because we know that by doing so we’re creating more. Costs are ruthlessly minimised – we get a venue for free in return for the venue owner being teased mercilessly but gratefully as a “sponsor” and “corporate stooge”, someone who’s had a good run recently might pay for the coffee and biscuits, or else we break down the costs into tiny bits between loads of sponsors so that nobody feels like they’ve paid so much that they need to get their money’s worth. The event’s a great laugh – everyone turns up early to set things up, we all muck in with everything – if anything there are too many people chasing too few little jobs to do. We have some really interesting discussions, demonstrations, questions asked, a little bit of shouting and then we’re all tidying up, leaving the place better than how we found it, maintaining good relations with the folk who gave it for free. We’re all in it together, boundaries melt away. Viva la revolution!

It’s so good that everyone wants to do it again. Seriously, this is amazing – we are so starved of this kind of interaction, the conversation, the common cause, the burdens shared. So, who’s up for organising the next one? Everyone! Yay! Here we go again. And then the discussions start: “You know, last time was great, but I felt… XXXX so maybe this time we should YYYY”, and so on. Before long, we’ve got a list of things we want to do differently next time – one meeting later that has become a list of things we *have* to do differently next time. Still it all goes beautifully again, although some of the things on our list did push the costs up, we found sponsors who wanted to be associated with this cool thing we’re doing to be very happy to pay up. This venue even has its own cleaners, so we don’t need to clear up after ourselves, we can just get down the pub to carry on talking. Oh and we really need to keep doing this – it’s great.

Next time it’s starts to get even harder – some of the complications we introduced last time have become this time’s problems to be solved. Other complications are now hard and fast rules – “the way we do things around here”. We have more potential sponsors than we know what to do with. Since we’ve got the sponsorship money we ought to spend it. And if people are sponsoring, surely it’s fair that they get more out of it than being teased by whoever’s introducing the day. If everyone can and should pitch something, surely that goes for sponsors too, as long as they don’t get too salesman-y. Meanwhile tensions are arising: “We’re getting a bit clique-y, we’ve had some of the same people every time and I’ve seen them at other events. We need new blood to keep the conversations and thinking fresh.”, “All these freelancers keep coming and they get work out of it, have you seen some of their day-rates??”, “I’d love to take part in the organisation, but I can’t afford to – it’s OK for people with jobs who convince their managers that it’s a development opportunity for them – and have you seen some of their salaries and bonuses??”, “Last time, I couldn’t get away from people trying to sell me stuff.”, “Last time, I couldn’t get away from people trying to pick my brains for free.”

All valid, all actual things I’ve heard people say. I’m not saying that everything I’ve said applies to #localgovcamp just that the dynamics follow a pattern that I’ve observed in many self-organising groups. Over time the “organisers” tend to be people who’s time is paid for one way or another, most of those people in public services tend to be working in a corporatised environment and are steeped in the ways of doing things by management rather than participation. The bootstrappers drift away. Again, not pointing fingers, just noting a pattern.

So what do you do? How do we stop that happening? I don’t think we can stop it, but we can be ready for these issues to come up and deal with them as they arise. We need to let go of our bureaucratic sides and embrace the bootstrappers we started out as. Here are a few thoughts and suggestions:

  • Keep it simple. No… simpler than that. No, really, ask yourself if this extra thing you’re bolting onto “a bunch of people getting together to organise their own conference” is really, vitally needed or is just making things easier for you, today, two months before the event. Disruption’s great, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  • Don’t do anything that reduces diversity of thought. Diversity isn’t just the tick-box externalities kind – you might occasionally get diverse thinking from middle-aged white men (assuming they’re not snoozing) – but also invite more people from diverse backgrounds, encourage them to come along and if you notice that the same old white blokes are dominating in the room, deal with it there and then. I know that’s harder to implement than setting up a quota or making the people you think have money pay to come but I don’t think either of those is going to solve it.

  • Be especially careful when you’re taking on something that others have left fallow. Work harder than ever to include members of the original community and try to understand the many reasons why interest waned or else change the name and be clear that you’re doing something completely different.

  • Make decisions in public – use a wiki or some other collaboration tool to document the who, what, when and why of decision-making. Publicise the hell out of this, encourage participation in every stage of the process. And don’t let that mean that you wrap up everything in weasel words like most business or council minute-taking – use the tools we’ve got to get people involved.

  • Lighten up, baby! 🙂 Man! I’m definitely not worth getting your knickers in a twist about and neither are “they”.

A Podcast during #barcampNFP with @davebriggs

Download (32MB)

Dave and I happened to spend the morning together at an unconference – we’ve been meaning to do a podcast together for a while and grabbed the opportunity to do it right there and then.

Here are some links to the things we talk about.

Insight – it’s about time…

I woke up this morning (duh-durrr-duh-durrr-dum) and I was telling myself that “it’s all about time” and I was having that pinging thing in my head which I’ve come to interpret as some sort of re-arrangement, brain banging up against skull, electric discharge through water, fat and brain tissue, whatever.

I’d been dreaming that I was on a railway station waiting to meet the Spanish ambassador to Chile, who for some reason “is based at the Court of St James”. I was early but wasn’t sure if I was late. I kept thinking about how much Spanish I could get away with when I met him. I’ve never formally learned Spanish, I can mumble ‘muchos gracias’ and “¿Cómo estás?” (unintentional, but appropriate encoding error) – that would have to be it and then I’d have to deal with whatever he said to me. Anyway then I was on the train and still late but not sure whether I might be early and missing connections and looking at timetables and *not* looking at timetables and feeling uneasy and then I woke up.

With the words “it’s all about time” bouncing around in my head.

And it set me to searching for evidence for or against this thesis – am I really obsessed with time? Is that what all this has been about, all this blogging and writing and music and running around and standing still? Is it as simple as the spirtual awakening that means you recognise time as an illusion, an abstract human-made concept which (like money) doesn’t really exist but which we use to organise our lives, until we find it is using us?


I made a list, in the order it came and fell into place

  • I have a childish habit of saying “it’s XXXX time” in response to the question “what time is it?” “Sleepy time”, “Tuttle time”, “Walking time”, “Breakfast Time”, “Ukulele Time”.
  • Um. Trains. In my dreams, often things are organised around a train journey, missing connections, finding a new way around that no-one else has seen.
  • Trains are my favourite form of public transport – I have spent six weeks in total travelling back and forth across the USA. I’ve done a fortnight going round Europe. I spent a year “on the road” but most of the travel I did was by rail.
  • My year on the road was a lot about stepping out of everyone else’s idea of time and money, seeing how far you can go, seeing when it is useful to embrace and when to let go.
  • My final year project at university in 1996 was a simulation of a rail network that found optimal train timetables given a rail network and a population of passengers.
  • I’m obsessed with where I am in my life. How long is it till Easter, Christmas, my birthday. How am I doing against this time last year? How am I doing against what my mother, father, uncle, grandparents, people I’ve never met, but to whom I look up – how am I doing against what all of them had achieved when they were my age.
  • How far through the year are we? Is it spring yet? How do the seasons work? An awareness of working against the natural rhythm of the year, the moonth, the day. A belief that if only I was more attuned to natural rhythms (and you bastards were too) all would be well. Or weller.
  • Animated GIFs are a little bit of time trapped and repeated eternally.
  • Every back-burner project I have has some aspect of bringing the past into the present – archiving, talking to people before they die, understanding the context blah blah blah. The stuff people would have put on Facebook 30 years ago if they’d had Facebook then.
  • Watching Classic Doctor Who with my daughter – It was also one of a few must-watch slots in my childhood – the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker years (or Three and Four as they’re known now…)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – There was a 1970s issue of The Defenders when these guys appeared and Vance Astro told the story of “his planet” (ie ours) and it all went wrong soon after 1980 when the ozone layer broke down. Aaaagh Apocalypse!
  • I have a complete book-crush on Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff – so much so that I can’t bring myself to read the whole thing.
  • Finding solace in things past or future – anywhere but now where it hurts.
  • Remix culture and the role of copyright and corporatism – the weirdness that this creates in the present because we can’t re-use stuff from the past without money and other resources.
  • The thing about Tuttle is that it’s 10-12 on Friday. That’s the one thing that hasn’t changed a bit for six years.
  • I’ve had times when I was *always* on time, when I was *always* early, or *always* late – always predictable until I switched modes (all these “always” are actually head-fictions)
  • I’ve often seen myself in groups as the memory man, the one who reminds the group of where they’ve been and asking how that fits with where they’re going. I make a living doing that, it’s called facilitation. Also Knowledge Management.
  • My grandfather mended watches. Whenever we went there (every week) he had a watchmaker’s loupe scrunched up to his eye like a monocle and a pair of tweezers in one hand tinkering until the clockwork worked and the watch came back to life.
  • I’m quite aware of the different timezones around the world. I often find myself thinking, what time is it now, there.
  • I’ve had periods of vintage obsession, wearing old clothes, using old machines, playing with aspects of the everyday past.
  • Photography is (just) the capturing of a moment in space and time.
  • As a teenage photographer I could play my way through several sets of batteries with a flashgun, seeing odd moments captured in the darkness, freezing water as it goes down the plughole.

Y’know? IDK. Something.

Social Artists – a new podcast with @artistsmakers

This morning I had a skype conversation with my friend and oftentimes collaborator, Dan Thompson. We talked about what we’ve been doing and stuff and then got into the subject of social art, what it is, how you pay for it, who can do it, etc. It’s not a conversation that’s finished, we’ll be doing more of these, I’m sure.

Download the podcast (29.4MB)

Show Notes

Dear @JuliaAQuinn – an open letter to #Amtrak’s Director of Social Media

Dear Julia

I’m really pleased and excited to see how the #AmtrakLIVE experience works out for you over the next few days.

I’ve travelled to (and from) SXSWi twice now on Amtrak and loved every minute of it. I’m only sorry that I’m not doing it again this year.

In March 2010, Brian Condon, Heather Taylor and I flew from the UK to start our journey in Boston holding meetups there, in NYC, DC, Atlanta and New Orleans travelling by train all the way, but because of the schedule found we needed to drive (boo!) over to Austin from NOLA in order to be there for the best of the festival. After the usual mad few days I took the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited over to LA doing the return journey of #AmtrakLIVE. It was a fantastic way to relax and reflect on the whole experience, get to know other passengers and make some video.

In March 2011 I travelled alone for a project I called “Please Look After This Englishman”. I started in San Francisco on March 1st with no firm plans about who to see other than to visit SXSWi and to get my plane back from JFK on March 31st. I used my blog, twitter and facebook to explore the edges of my social network to find people to go and visit and stay with along the way. I reckon I totalled just over 8,000 miles on your network using a 30-day, 12-segment pass – what a bargain! That year I got the Texas Eagle down from Chicago to get to Austin.


Of course I blogged and tweeted, took photos and video all the way on both trips (although the lack of T-mobile data connectivity while on the Empire Builder going through the more frozen parts of Montana & N Dakota meant I had a little off-line time!) I was surprised during both trips to find so many people who’d never been on a train, nor thought of travelling on one.

So I’m thrilled to see you giving the same opportunity to a bunch of people this year and to see all the talk of writers residencies. Well done!

I’m only sorry that you and your team weren’t around 3 or four year ago, we could have had some fun!

If my experience can help with your thinking around writers residencies or any other projects you have coming up, please do let me know. I’m currently working on pulling the material I have into some form of web experience or e-book, there’s just *so* much material! I’m based in London so I can’t hop on a train to see you, but we have the internet! 🙂

All the best for South By, I’m sure you’ll have a scream there and back again!

2010 Blog

2010 Photos

2011 Blog

2011 Photos

Tripline map made from Foursquare check-ins