Monthly Archives: June 2002

Right then. Been a while since the lunch with Loosemore, Hurley and O’Brien, but nethertheless, here’s an idea that wiggled it’s way into existence through talking with those guys.

The idea behind Warchalking is that it breaks the cycle of having to be online to get to the pages that give you the free-wireless node info for the city you are in. Fellow free-wireless travellers or those who maintain the nodes themselves have scrawled chalk symbols on the pavements to indicate the presence of wireless access.

A few people I’ve talked to about this have said “why chalk?” and suggested something more permanent. Well, part of me is a fuddy-duddy who doesn’t want to inflict permanent marks on the pavement (but hey, the utitlities providers do) and the other, more important part, is that I like the idea of the marks having an impermanence, so they have to be renewed and validated on a regular basis by an active community of warchalkers.

The root of this stuff is Hobo languageNadav pointed to some great resources on this a while ago. Like hobo language, hopefully we can evolve a little common symbology and chalk up our cities…

» Let’s Warchalk!!!

I know I’ve been deviating wildly from IA and Design here lately, but it’s all connected to what I do everyday in my head, and hey – this here is my outboard brain.

I think everyone involved in design, particularly experience design is keenly aware of the importance of storytelling, in communicating important ideas in a business context, and also the wider heritage of the storyteller and narrative’s bearing on designing experiences.

I’ve been plugging away at couple of comicbooks for my own pleasure for a few years now, and comics are something I do continously – storyboards and illustrations for work, or for fun.

But i hadn’t written a story as in ficitonal prose with words and nothing else, since secondary school. So, I thought I’d try.

It took me an evening. I didn’t edit it. Didn’t revisit it apart from a spellcheck. I wanted to see what came out. I lucked out, and got it published on

It’s clumsy. It’s a nice idea, but it’s not a great read. It’s too high concept, and there’s no-one or nothing to care about.

But it was fun!!!

I’ve started reading “ender’s game” on the recommendation of many folk I met at ETCON. In Orson Scott Card’s introduction he offers up this on the difference between what I did (and enjoyed) and what he did when he had the idea for the book…

“It was a good idea… [but] I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to go about turning the idea into a story. It occurred to me then for the first time that the idea of the story is nothing compared to the importance of knowing how to find a character and a story to tll around that idea.”

and further thoughts about the craft of telling that story once it has grown from eing a mere idea:

“I learned to separate the story from the writing, probably the most important thing that any storyteller has to learn – that there are a thousand right ways to tell a story, and ten million wrong ones, and you’re a lot more likely to find one of the latter than the former your first time through the tale”

I went through the tale once, and it was probably one of the million wrong ways to tell the story as a result – but I’ve got the bug now, and I’ll try again… See – separation of content from presentation, iterative process… not so far away from being a proper IA blog!!! ;-p

»Books By Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game

TonyP (who looks a HELLUVALOT like Chief Anderson from Battle of the Planets), after we had a cup of tea and a natter in the BBC canteen, where I mentioned some of Raffi Krikorian‘s stuff knocked up a little bit of code that takes the current weather in London from a public site, and converts it into a background colour for his homepage.

The poetic bit, for me at least, is that little squares of the colour/temp. start building up at the bottom of the page over time.

Cue another natter between Tony, Me, Gid, Caroline and a few others who are looking at the design of the BBC Homepage, about layering information, especially rich, pattern-based “second-order” stuff, beneath or around a very simple, usable page design.

New users, or those in a task-hungry hurry are not impeded from use, and those with subtler or less-directed needs get satisfied by the nuances that build up and reveal themselves over time as a very individual, collective or complex/adaptive infotapestry is built up.

» [vaporum]

Dan’s got some lovely thoughts going, connecting design for community, weblogs and a Simon Schama lecture:

“History commands attention for its gifts of freedom, empathy and the possibility of reconstituting community; all big words to which the practising stiffs of the craft are constitutionally allergic. But the big words won’t go away.”

» cityofsound/blog/”The music of life passing through fields of sonic distortion”

Jeff‘s done a nice job here – a very accessible and sellable introduction to benefits of faceted classification. Very readable and forwardable little memebullet to aim squarely at clients and bosses alike.

“So often we assume that Web sites should be hierarchically organized. We talk about a “home page” that offers “top-level navigation” so that users can “drill down” to the content. It’s as if we’re programmed to think top down.

But what about information that isn’t as easily structured this way? Sometimes, content has many attributes that have different importance to different users. A hierarchy assumes everyone approaches these attributes the same way, but that’s often not the case.”

Blimey! I actually blogged something about IA for once. I was starting to feel guilty about that…

» adaptive path » publications » essay for june 18, 2002

and tell any friends of yours called “Sarah Connor” to start working out and held for the hills.

After four months of entertaining humans, Gaak the predator robot yesterday did what all the best robots do in science fiction: he copied his masters’ most basic instinct and made a dash for freedom.

Programmed to sink a metal fang into smaller but more nimble prey robots, to “eat” their electric power, at a science adventure centre, Gaak showed that a two year experiment in maturing robot “thinking” may be proving alarmingly successful.

Left unattended for 15 minutes, the 2ft metal machine crept along a barrier until it found a gap, squeezed through, navigated across a car park and reached the Magna science centre’s exit by the M1 motorway in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

» Guardian Unlimited | Robot fails to find a place in the sun


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