Monthly Archives: July 2006

Apologies in advance for my attempt at creating one of those blog-meme things.

I asked this question at dinner the other night with some friends, and it sparked a lot of fun debate… So it might have some legs, and you might find it interesting:

The silicon-virus combined with climate-change-server-meltdown means that the internet is going to be switched off tomorrow. What 5 things are you going to print out?

My five things:

How to make a fire

How to purify water

Elementary shelter construction

(My first three choices assume that the global poop has or will hit the fan and I’d like to know this stuff…)

Wikipedia article on The Beach Boys:
because it’s got the lot – also has a nice extensive discography to remind me of obscure songs to sing like ‘vegetables

A mosaic of my flickr favourites using FD’s flickr toys

So there. It was quite instructional looking up the things I thought I’d need. For instance, at a cursory glance, wikipedia doesn’t have that much ‘how-to’ stuff. Moreover, tends to have things that might be a lot of use at ‘burning-man’ but not under a burning atmosphere…

Of course, there were a couple of things brought up at dinner the other night.

With my GMF fear, I’m assuming that the poop is hitting the fan here (and also as someone sagely pointed out, even then I could always go scavenging in Borders…). What’s the situation like if everything else is normal, but the internet gets switched off? What would I salvage then?

I’m passing this on to Tom, Webb, Dan, Rod, Tom A and Foe…

A conference that I’ve been involved with and will be speaking at in Amsterdam is coming up on it’s early-bird registration deadline (31st July)

So if you fancy an indian summer of shooting the breeze on all manner of digital media stuff in the ‘Dam, then get to it!

PICNIC ’06 is an international conference focused on cross media content and technology related to media and entertainment which is being held from September 27 – 30th in Amsterdam. We expect approximately 1000 delegates from Europe, North America and Asia.

Speakers will include top creatives and entrepreneurs such as Michael B. Johnson, Moving Picture Group Lead at Pixar, John de Mol, Co-Founder of Endemol and Founder of Talpa, Craig Newmark, Founder of craigslist, Philip Rosedale, Founder of Linden Lab/Second Life, Jamie Kantrowitz, Senior VP Marketing Europe at MySpace, Lorraine Twohill, Marketing Director in Europe for Google, Marko Ahtisaari, Director of Design Strategy, Nokia, Dan Gillmor, Founder and Director of the Center for Citizen Media, Marc Canter, Founder and CEO of Broadband Mechanics, Joseph Jaffe, Author of “Life after the 30-Second Spot”, Matt Locke, Head of Innovation at BBC New Media & Technology, Emile Aarts, Vice President and Scientific Program Director at Philips Research Laboratories, and many more. For complete information, visit

Early Bird Registration Rate until July 31st

Please sign up asap to take advantage of the Early Bird discount registration rate of EURO 500 plus VAT which is available until Monday, July 31st. As of August 1st, the normal registration rate will be EURO 750 plus VAT. The online registration form accepts credit card payments as well as bank transfers.

I'm going to be in LA for work from 3rd – 5th August, then flying up to SF on 5th for ISEA and some other work-related stuff before going back to the UK on the 9th.

I'm probably going to try and round some LA people up for the evening of Friday 4th, but I'm up for beers in SF on Saturday night and/or a Sunday afternoon something (doesn't necessarily have involve beer, but hey…)

If anyone is at a loose end in my SF-vox-hood and fancies talking nonsense with a jetlagged person, then let me know!

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What's the one CD that will totally remind you of the Summer of 2006?

Well  – I've been running a commentary on the sounds of the summer here for a little while, but that's been a track thing. A late-entrant and an actual CD which qualifies it for this QotD is "Coles Corner" by Richard Hawley.

Coles Corner
Richard Hawley

Fiona and myself rented a car last weekend to head to West Wales, and grabbed some new CDs from the top of the ripping pile to use in the rental's CD player.

We listened to this (plus the new Gotan Project, Hot Chip, some others) pretty much the entire ride. It sat well with the scenery.

It's somewhat scottwalkerish, melancholic, a little-bit-country-a-little-bit-rock-and-roll. Wistful and whistle-able. Here's what Pitchfork said.

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Jason Kottke points to a remarkable post by Kevin Kelly entitled The Big Here, after the Eno-coined-counterpart to the Long Now – which shoots a diamond bullet through my thoughts for the last few months:

At the ultimate level, your home is a cell in an organism called a planet. All these levels interconnect. What do you know about the dynamics of this larger system around you? Most of us are ignorant of this matrix. But it is the biggest interactive game there is. Hacking it is both fun and vital.

In the post it goes on to take you through a quiz which examines your knowledge of your immediate environs, and the linkages it has to the wider ecosystem.

Here are the first three questions:

30 questions to elevate your awareness (and literacy) of the greater place in which you live:

1) Point north.

2) What time is sunset today?

3) Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap.

Kelly prefaces this with a positioning of the quiz as one of his “cool tools”:

“The intent of this quiz is to inspire you to answer the questions you can’t initially. I’d like to collect and then post the best step-by-step suggestions about how to answer a particular question. These are not answers to the quiz, but recommended paths on how one might most efficiently answer the question locally. Helpful websites which can provide local answers are wanted. Because of the severe specificity of local answers, the methods provided should be as general as possible. The emerging list of answer-paths will thus become the Cool Tool.”

So far, so good.

Wonderful, even.

My immediate thought though, reading both Jason’s post and Kevin Kelly’s mission is why the hell is this not on a mobile?

So – I over the summer am going to try and knit something together to get it there.

  1. I imagine it will be pretty easy (i.e. within the reach of my terrifyingly-bad coding skills) just to port the text quiz to a mobile using S60 python as a standalone experience.
  2. It might be easy enough then to both launch web resources from the quiz on the mobile device, and perhaps post answers in some easily-aggregated format to back out to the web from whoever takes the quiz.
  3. however might be more tricky…

What I immediately imagined was the extension of this quiz into the fabric of the near-future mobile and it’s sensors – location (GPS, CellID), orientation (accelerometers or other tilt sensors), light (camera), heat (Nokia 5140′s have thermometers…), signal strength, local interactions with other devices (Bluetooth, uPnP, NFC/RFID) and of course, a connection to the net.

The near-future mobile could become a ‘tricorder’ for the Big Here – a daemon that challenges or channels your actions in accordance and harmony to the systems immediately around you and the ripples they raise at larger scales.

It could be possible (but probably with some help from my friends) to rapidly-prototype a Big Here Tricorder using s60 python, a bluetooth GPS module, some of these scripts, some judicious scraping of open GIS data and perhaps a map-service API or two.

One thought that springs to mind would be to simply geotag the results of a quiz (assuming the respondent takes the quiz in-situ!) and upload that to a geowiki, something like Place-O-Pedia.

It might be delightful to see the varying answers from valiant individuals clustered in a location and inspire some collaboration on getting to the ‘right’ answers about their collective bit of the big here or the issues raised by the route there more importantly perhaps.

One open question would be if this ‘Big Here Tricorder’ where realised, would it genuinely raise an individual or community’s awareness of their local ecosystem and it’s connections at other scales? “Every extension is also an amputation” etc.

Well – we won’t know unless we build it.

While we’ve had a couple of year’s noise about Where2.0, I reckon there’s a hell of a lot of mileage and some real good could come of focussing on Here2.0… which gives me a nice little summer project – thanks Kevin, Brian and Jason


It's Lauren Lavernne's record of the week on XFM, and like 'Justice Vs Simian' it's nothing epoch making, but perfectly pleasant all the same. First blind listen of it, I thought it was Primal Scream in a whimsical moment – Bobby Gillespie-ish half-spoken-half-sung call with a flat-ish female (I guessed guesting supermodel, a la Moss on 'Some Velvet Morning') response.

Turns out it's not.

More here, including an MP3 while stocks last.

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