February 28, 2009
Via YouTube, via Twitter, via WordPress… to you.
Participation culture, creativity & social change – by Prof David Gauntlett (Age: 37), Professor of Media and Communications, at University of Westminster, UK.
Reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2030 (or sooner)? How are we going to do that!!? David Gauntlett says, through encouraging more creativity in education and everyday life.
By moving from a “sit back and be told culture” (ie. school) to a “making and doing / connection” culture (assisted by web 2.0 participation and mass creativity).
Richard Sennett’s wonderful book The Craftsman is also referenced.
I’m with them all the way…
But will we have the guts to offer our Bea (8) the South Down’s Learning Centre rather than mainstream factory-style high school, or maybe the local high is not as bad as it might seem…
Ahh – the personal and the political. But back to packing… we’ve got some carbon to burn (sigh). Train next time…
More from David Gauntlett here and here.
February 28, 2009
Love Alan Watts. Interesting that the South Park guys wanted to team up to do this.
And on that note, we’re off on holiday for a week’s food, love and snow in Bardonecchia, Italian Alps.
Many thanks to Bea’s outstanding school Down’s Junior for approving of the extra holiday. No doubt it will be highly educational, in the deepest, funnest (is that a word?) sense of things.
Many thanks also to the 16 Guidelines to Happiness / Essential Education folk for sharing the video. More good clips and resources on their website.
November 27, 2008
When The Werks opened last spring, Brighton got it’s first proper coworking venue: A place you could go and work with others for minimal cost in a supportive and like minded community, on a formal or informal basis. The Werks is a superb blend of community, professional workspace, learning, collaboration tool and party. I’m there a few days a week at the moment and love it.
However, Brighton being Brighton, and as the days close in, we’ve now got two other proper coworking options to try out.
The Skiff is a small, bright space in the heart of Brighton’s North Lanes. Good food, drink and coffee are close by, and your hosts, the crew from Inuda, are open, sharing and all around good value. Pink chairs, nautical-themed room names and Bills just around the corner add to the fun. And they said I can bring in the puppy too :-)
And to get down by the seaside, opening any day now is upstairs @ gemini’s, the much talked about geek bar made real. This is a licensed space, with wifi, food, and open late, and will become the key venue for local social media and geek events. What an alternative. At the seaside, coworking.
Ah, Brighton, we luves ya.
And that brings up two things that we’ve been chatting about:
- How do we find each other when we are all coworking all over town? We need microdopplr for that.
- and.. Can we have a Brighton-wide coworking card, that supports all of the coworking spaces to support diversity of spaces and having different places for different moods?
If you haven’t tried coworking, come down and try it. You’ll be amazed by how much work gets done and how useful and fun it is to have like minds around.
November 11, 2008
I’ve given up my permanent desk at the werks and am turning into a 2-3 day a week coworker. Regulars in the first floor garden room might see the empty desk and wonder. Let me explain what’s going on.
We’ve got this puppy, see. :-)
And she needs company at home, so for the moment I’m normally working from home on Monday and Tuesday, and will be out and about at the werks and with clients etc on Wednesday through Friday.
October 9, 2008
The Future of Web Apps spent thursday afternoon in that pleasant reality that is the most positive future. What I mean by that was we were all buying into business as usual — there’s a rich VC market waiting to snap up and fund innovations and we all have a shot at being rich, well, any time now.
But before I get into that, here’s a review of this afternoon’s sessions:
I missed most of Alvin Woon’s presentation, but took away this, badly paraphrased: You can do user centered design with users that domn’t know what they want. If users have never had it before, the can’t know what they want. There’s something wise and hopeless in there. Mostly a cry for iterating to solutions. Building something new is learning, for all involved. The learning journey is the key here.
XMPP and PubSub
Blaine Cook was back on the stage talking about XMPP and PubSub as a way out of endless wasted polling of site A by site B looking for, say twitter updates. It sounds great. I’m a huge fan of XMPP as a mechamism for handling the more complex connection cases than simple HTTP. Good stuff. I asked a question about the requirement of the server, now, to have to manage potentially millions of subscriptions. Blaine says it will be no worse than current, but I’m still left feeling that my app that is PubSub aware is going to be having to keep some sort of state for the potential millions of connections. I’m not sure about this, just a feeling. I’m dying to do some XMPP experimentation soon, maybe with secret project BrightLunch or something.
Dave Recordon from Six Apart did some nice work on stage, putting the case for open standards, like OpenId, OAuth, microformats etc as the essential next steps in blowing the social web wide open to all. Thanks Dave, it made sense and was a compelling case for all the pen tech that you and yours been working on.
Objective J and Cappucino
Thanks Francisco. Interesting. Not sure I want or need Cappucino, though. Unless I was quickly making a desktop app for the web, but not sure I want to replace a desktop app with a web app just because I can. Sorry, but it all felt a bit 4GLly to me. “We’ll solve all your problems for you, etc….”
The Pitch Competition
Are we noticing what is going on out in the real world? The pitch comp felt a bit weird. I’m sure I saw the panel talk down at a solid business model that might work now and encourage the pitcher to go for some model of giving it all away for free for a bit. Maybe they were right, but I’m getting the feeling that we’re in a bit of an unreal bubble. The economy and banks are in trouble, and we’re still going on like there’s a lot of hot VC cash for your ideas. Is that true? Or are we living in a cute little bubble for the next couple of days.
A great day all around, though. Thanks Carsonified people, and especially Mike for the handwritten note on the postcard attached to my badge. And as the train pulls into Brighton, I’m ready to do it all again tomorrow,
September 16, 2008
We did a car boot sale on the weekend.. and amongst the pile of books that we keep trying to sell but never do was one I bought a couple of years ago. The topic of that book was how to price various kinds of exotic derivative contracts, as used in a range of complex ways to buy, sell, spread and mitigate risk and make loads on money for investment bankers.
Derivatives start out as nice simple ideas, but before you know it, things get very complex. And if you trade lots of derivatives with lots of other parties, you end coupled to your trading parties in lots of weird ways.
So, what started out as a possibly sensible risk management exercise becomes so complex and you end up so tied to everybody else’s success that you’ve got a Lehman-sized problem.
The trouble here is:
Complexity: it gets too hard for humans to understand what is going on. Everybody kind of pretends they do, but nobody really does.
Coupling: it gets very hard to work out how to untangle the knot of relationships you’ve created.
Trouble. So the investment bank solution was to create more and varied derivatives to cover all of that, making it worse. Pass the coke and let’s do some business.
What has this got to do with the social web? Lots.
If we layer API on top of API, and couple all our social web services together without a lot of thought about systems architecture we run the risk of making something complex, over-coupled, and utterly unstable.
And when we start building businesses on top of all of that, things get risky for those businesses indeed. And if we start relying on complex, over coupled web services, what happens when something’s business model fails and it goes into the deadpool. Could the whole lot fall over and be hard to get working again?
So, I’m thinking we need to start thinking about the discipline of social systems architecture, where we manage and look at the interconnected web as we do large distributed systems, taking note of single points of failure, instability, reliability, complexity and coupling.
Sure, we can integrate lots of social web stuff, but we need to keep a systems engineering mind while doing it. Otherwise it is a bit like running your billion dollar derivative contracts out of an Excel spreadsheet.
September 8, 2008
There’s been a bunch of speculation as to just why Google has taken on the browser market with Chrome. Everybody has a good idea as to why. Now it is my turn. And while I’m at it, I want to give a quick review of the features of Chrome and why they might be important. We don’t get a new browser to play with every day of the week, and this one is different.
Okay, so what is Chrome all about? Why?
My take is this: The important features are not in the UI. Chrome usually refers to pretty UI stuff that isn’t important. Google’s being ironic here. Chrome looks ok but is nothing startling or beautiful. It is low key. Few menus, calm UI features. As if the served page matters more than the browser. Yup.
Basically, Chrome is the first browser that is designed from the ground up to serve web applications fast and seamlessly. Engineering-led Google has built something to serve Gmail, Google reader, Gears, and other web apps without getting in the way. In fact, accelerating these applications and all other web applications to make them snappy.
Strategy: Raising the Bar and Elevating Best Practice
Oh, and it has to nicely unnerve Microsoft. Always a good thing.
Chrome is fast and tidy and usable, and that’s using it on a Mac using Parallels to run it under Windows XP. Can’t wait to see a native OS X version. It ought to fly. Best feature for me, apart from the Internals, is the ability to turn any web app into a single-window application. We’ve been messing with this in OS X a bit and it is a nice idea, but Chrome makes it easy.
Neat little browser. But don’t forget the real chrome is on the inside.
September 2, 2008
We’re just back from August holidays, and have arrived back to find a comic from Google explaining the why and how for their new open source browser called ‘Google Chrome’.
Nice idea. The comic introduces the Google team working on the product, and then they talk their way through explaining what they are up to with the browser. The team become characters in the story and get in and interact with the new features of the browser, at their scale, playing with it. It is a long comic but the way it explains some quite technical concepts is very clear. Worth a read. Much, much better than a boring FAQ or press release.
Chrome, they say, will be released tomorrow. We’ll have a bit of a go and see what it means to the web. I’m hoping for a bit of a revolution as I’m feeling that the browser metaphor is a bit stuck and is holding us back from making and using fully on-the-web applications.
July 13, 2008
Witness the emotional committment of Twitter users. Wow, people love it, really want this thing to work, and really love to moan about it as the fail whale displays more and more often.
Twitter looks back on track after a shaky few days back there, which shows that all is not well in microblogging land, and there’s something wrong with the microblogging model, but that’s a topic to take up later.
Having Twitter get slow, turn off features, or just not respond has started to get really annoying. We’re inclined to include Twitter as an emerging tool to use to build and attract community. But without stability, it’s not going to work predictably . How can we recommend building twitter into a social media campaign? Well, we can’t really. Or we have to accept Twitter as a somewhat flaky, sometimes useful tool.
And worse, with Twitter going up and down, there goes the neighbourhood. People pick up and leave to one of the fifty other microblogging services that are growing up in the shadow of twitter and waiting for users to fall out of the Twitter tree.
Trouble. We’re never going to find each other if we’re spread across tens of different services.
But then again, we want Twitter, in its lovely cuteness, to work. But that makes it a monopoly with a secret or currently secret business model.
So, my big needs in microblogging are:
- I want something reliable that works
- I want something that accesses most people (that want to be involved)
- I want it to be long term sustainable, not a monoculture or monopoly with a secret business model
To meet these three, we’re going to need to do some internet-level architecture work to support microblogging and ambient status. Basically, we’re going to need to:
- Develop some standards for microblogging messaging
- Develop standard ways to connect microblogging services together
- Allow users to migrate from one service to another easily– and use more than one service at once
- Ensure some level of reliability in messsaging
- Make sure the whole thing can scale up to the current level of global SMS usage and beyond
This looks a lot like what we have for the internet email architecture. It took a long time to get organised, and it has some problems, but it is a mostly universal service with lots of servers, providers and clients.
There are a bunch of people talking about these sorts of standardisation. I’ll review the efforts in a later post and see where we are headed. My guess this is going to take a while and we are going to have some early-adopter pain in the meantime.
Key point: At some point Twitter is going to have to open up and interwork with other microblogging services. And that is the moment, in my opinion, when they will really succeed.
July 8, 2008
Sometimes (like now) I am up late tapping away, when I could be back in bed with Ian McEwan – or my husband at least. I start wondering why I’m so big on this social media stuff. Well here’s a response I wrote to a post on Will McInnes’ blog that reminds me why.
It started a long time ago.