Wednesday, December 05, 2007


So a while back I decided I needed a change of scenery, a move to somewhere more me. It's taken me a while but I've finally got around to it. I'm leaving the lovely blogger for wordpress and my very own domain. From today I'll be over here. Or if you're really lazy and just want to pick up the feed from Feedburner, you can get that here. It's definitely a work in progress at the moment, I'm battling with PHP, plugins and widgets galore, but I like it. So come have a look, there's no point in hanging out here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I sat down to start writing this post about half an hour ago, but my chores got the better of me. There was a pile of washing in the basket, washing up covering the kitchen tops, but I'll be honest and admit that I did try to ignore them, again. Fortunately though, they niggled and niggled and got the better of me, so I now have the distant hum and chug of the dishwasher and washing machine in tandem. Of course, I'm still ignoring the rest of the kitchen that needs cleaning - but hey I can't do everything!

I have to make time to post about the Brighton Web Awards, which took place last Thursday. I would have posted sooner, but the hangover took a while to recover from. Friday was extraordinarily painful!

I admit, I went along convinced that I wouldn't win. When asked if I had a speech prepared, I said "no, there's no need!" So I sat down with the chaps from Future Platforms, drank some champagne and prepared my hands for clapping. By the time that Best Blog came around I realised I was starting to feel ever so slightly nervous, there was this page up on the big screen and a room full of people looking at it. The nerves continued as we listened to a presentation from Spannerworks before the winner was finally announced. And there was my blog, back on the screen. Did that mean I'd won? Yes, it did. And suddenly the room seemed a lot bigger and the walk onto the stage a lot longer than I'd expected. I came back to my seat, grinning from ear to ear, quite astounded at how the evening was turning out. Pleased as punch mind!

Of course, more champagne was opened, and drunk (much quicker than I realised - must have been those nerves catching up with me) and the remainder of the awards seemed to fly by. Now it was time for the dolphin race (courtesy of FP and their fab designer Bryan Reiger) - who was going to win Best Website of the Awards? Well my little green dolphin swam on, thanks to all the wonderful friends I had with their nifty texting fingers. Two awards in one night! No wonder I felt the need to celebrate!

It was a fantastic night, thanks to everyone who voted for me, you're all wonderful people! And congrats to all the other winners - I do hope your hangovers were less painful than mine!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Flash on the Beach so far

Day two of Flash on the Beach and I think I can safely say that the thing I've found the most interesting are the fantastic works of art that I've seen at the close of each day.

Yesterday was Joshua Davis, New York based Graphic Designer who creates beautiful pieces of art using Flash. Not only is Josh a very funny chap, he's also wonderfully enthusiastic about his work. Bringing the stage alive, he took us through the processes he uses to create his work. I love the fact that each piece is different, and that Josh has no idea what the program will turn out next. What are you producing? "I don't know." What will it look like? "I don't know".

Today's goosebumps were created by Robert Hodgin, who uses Processing to create the most amazing visuals. I think rather than explaining it you should check out Robert's Vimeo page - I recommend the magnetosphere, it is truely beautiful.

On a separate note, wellieswithwings has been shortlisted for the Brighton & Hove Web Awards. If you feel this blog worthy, do feel free to vote for me.

Friday, November 02, 2007

cider, and a distinct lack of zombies

Tuesday night was cider night, the Geek Cider Night in fact, at the Regency Town House. I'm a bit of a fan of the appley goodness and there's nothing quite like hanging out in best, if only part finished, venue in Brighton so I signed myself up and taxied over to learn more and of course partake of said goodness.

Jim took us through the history (I was rather surprised to find out that peasants had actually been paid in cider - happy if slightly sozzled workers!) to the making, both traditional and modern, before we tucked in to a range from dry to sweet. Middle Farm provided us with nine of the best, which we steadily (at least at first) worked through, noting our favourites along the way.

It was a really enjoyable evening, though I am quite surprised that I managed to wake up without a hangover.

I did wake up with germs though. Germs which meant I had to miss the Crawl of the Dead, something which I admit I'm still urked by. I was really looking forward to zombie-ing up and slowly staggering through the streets of Brighton with my fellow zombies; swarming into pubs and generally chasing after braaaiiiins for the night. I know all those who went had a fantastic time, so I'm determind to make it next year, latex scars and all. There are plenty of photos of the night, for those of you keen to see what a swarm of zombies looks like. I suppose it could be handy, just in case you ever come across one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Slava's Snow Show

Yesterday evening I went along to the Theatre Royal to see Slava's Snow Show. I'd never heard of the show until tickets were bought months back. To be honest I didn't think about it all that much, it was just a show about clowns. That is until recently when I mentioned it a couple of times to various people. Eyes lit up, there were cries of "oh, that's an amazing show!" or "I went two evenings last year, I'm going to try for three this year!" OK, I thought, so it's rather popular then.

I suspect that was my biggest understatement for a while now. I've never seen the Theatre Royal so full of people (although I admit I don't do panto which may well be extraordinarily popular for all I know). I was a little bemused by the quantity of white ticker tape on the floor, but was sure all would be explained shortly. Not only was it explained, it fell in abundance throughout the show and left me finding bits in my clothes until I got home. That's the kind of snow I like.

It became apparent as soon as the lights dropped and the music started that this was going to be something a little out of the ordinary. The colours are simply amazing, almost blindingly bright against the dark night background. Clowns come on, clowns go off, clowns chase each other, shoot each other with bow and arrows, soak certain members of the audience in water, climb over seats or along the edge of the circle high above the stalls. From the perfectly executed first half, we sink into further involvement on our return from the interval. Clowns are slowly working their way through the audience, falling on elderly ladies, stealing younger ladies and dragging them off stage. It is organised chaos and it is beautiful.

There is the elaborate balanced with the simple, longer stories balanced with fleeting sketches which last seconds yet make the audience burst into laughter. The barriers between audience and clowns are fully broken down at the end, when giant inflated balls are passed back and forth across the theatre. I did feel rather like an ant playing with a beach ball, although it did have the advantage of drying me off from my soaking earlier.

Watching the show is like seeing a fairy story played out before your eyes, a truly magical experience. Amusingly the second clown reminded me of my lovely friend Pete, who is also going to see the show this week. Unfortunately he is terrified of clowns, which I suspect may put a bit of a dampener on his evening, lets hope he manages to come out from hiding behind his hands for long enough to enjoy it.

The only thing I can say is Go See This Show! You will love it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


So to Picnic07 in lovely Amsterdam. I spent three days immersing myself in everything from social networking, to film credits, to ubiquitous computing and I let my brain fill with interesting stuff, much like a sponge fills with water. It was brain filling by osmosis, and it was great!

I want to jot down some of my notes from the talks that really stand out for me, though be warned they're quite rough.

Jonathan Harris; Creative Genius (wefeelfine).

A partial view is more interesting than a whole. He became interested in studying the footprints of other people's lives, and started writing code to understand this.

wefeelfine: the way something behaves physically should represent the emotion behind it. Any link can be saved, and all saved links are added to the archive - creators are archivists.

The most common feeling represented is "better", out of around 4000 - 5000 emotions/feelings collected. The site is dominated by people in their 20's. This is passive observation, those posting do not know they're being watched.

The Whale Hunt Project - Jonathan wanted to subject himself to the same rules as he would a project. Set out to take a photograph every five minutes throughout the experience, even when sleeping. When exciting things happened, he would quicken the pace and therefore match the changing pace of his heartbeat. This led to 3214 photographs over 7 days.

The second objective was to experiment with a new interface for storytelling: taking the experience, documenting, attaching metadata to each document, then creating a framework to unearth other narrative angles.

This project isn't live yet, but should be in a couple of months.

David Weinberger: Everything is Miscellaneous

There is more porn, love, hate, utter foolishness, more amateurs and more experts on the internet. The task is to find more of value, of what is of interest and important to us.

Now we are digitising everything, we loose the authority that comes with the limitations of paper. In the first order, you archive things yourself. In the second you physically separate the metadata, whilst in the third everything is digital - the order is digital and the information about the order is digital.

There are four principles of change:

1. Leaf on many branches
2. Messiness is a virtue - each link adds value
3. There is no difference between data and metadata. Metadata is what you know, data is what you're looking for. If everything is metadata, our species just got way smarter.
4. Unowned order - online users own and control the organisation.

It's more expensive to exclude than include - we can't predict what other people are going to be interested in. Instead we can postpone the moment that we organise until the very moment we want to use the information. It's an additive process, not an exclusive one - by letting information go you're allowing it to accrue interest - Metabusiness.

We externalise meaning with the web, we do it every time we use tags. The web was built to solve the problems of messiness, it is about finding what happens to us and why it happens.

Stefan Sagmeister: Things I Have Learnt In My Life So Far

Did some work with truemajority - funded by big business to highlight the amount spent on the war with Iraq.

"Then we got really ambitious and went blimp shopping".

Stefan took an experimental year out in 2000. He found unavailability created desire, and also created freer briefs from clients, "do something". "Everything I do always comes back to me", "Trying to look good limits my life", "Everybody always thinks they are right", "Starting a charity is surprisingly easy". As this went along, the clients became freer and freer with their briefs, resulting in "do anything". "Keeping a diary supports personal development".

Adam Greenfield: The City Is Here For You To Use

Urban form and experience in the age of ambient informatics. How Adam became an urbanist: Jane Jacobs, Christopher Alexander, Bernard Rudofsky. They gave luminosity and a concern about life on the street.

Streets are no longer a space outside houses that we can use, they are now a throughway for cars etc. People's worry about cars, traffic, over-planning. We've managed to kill the street (although not in cities like Amsterdam which are still very much alive).

We have a repeating module of doom - branches of chain stores/restaurants repeating down each street. They take from the neighbourhood but don't give anything back. Malls created persistent alienation and displacement.

The conventional humanist response is that ambient communication doesn't do us any favours either (e.g. ipod's, mobiles). We surround ourselves with information rather than relating to our surroundings. It's a vicious circle - we've lost something.

But - "nostalgia is for suckers"! Ubiquitous computing is the way forward. "Everywhere" means that information systems are embedded in the environment, wireless, imperceptible, post-GUI. And information processes are showing up in new places, particularly at the body, street and city level (e.g. the Nike plus ipod kit). Information about our cities in being made available locally so that we can act upon it (e.g. wifi hotspots). this will profoundly influence, at a very simple level, how we make choices within the city we live in.

The bottom line is: a city responds to the behaviour of it's residents and users, in real time. "The city is the platform".

There are inevitable downsides to this: new inscriptions of class, over-legibility and emergent behaviour. But there are also upsides: more efficient resource utilisation, product-service ecologies.

Ambient information is increasingly going to pervade our cities, how and when will depend on our culture.

"Systems are for cities and cities are for people".

The most inspiring talk by far was from Dr. Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology, Newcastle University (United Kingdom/India) on Minimally Invasive Education through Social Play. I'm afraid I closed my laptop and sat back to listen, if you get a chance I really recommend that you go listen to Dr Mitra. His talk was both heart-warming and thought-provoking, and still makes me stop and think about how I can take what I learnt from it back to every day life. Teaching 300 illiterate, non-English speaking Indian children to use a computer and learn the principles of DNA (in English) in three months is almost unbelievable, especially considering that they taught themselves. Each wanted to be seen as the "teacher" within the group, driving them to find ways around the language barrier. I would love to see how Dr Mitra's research continues.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

dConstruct 07

I know, I know, I'm really bad at keeping my blog updated. It's been weeks since dConstruct and I haven't mentioned it once. Truth is, with two birthdays and catching up with the world I haven't really had much time to sit down. Tomorrow however, I'm heading off to Picnic and I really ought to get one conference down here before I start with the next.

It was unfortunate, and entirely my own fault for completely confusing the whole time zone issue, that I flew into Gatwick the morning of dConstruct and not the morning before as I'd originally thought. There were many tears and frantic phone calls to try and sort this out, but unfortunately there was no way I could change my flights without spending a fortune. So I touched down at around 10am, and immediately received a MMS from Joh of people registering an hour or so earlier. It was happening! A train journey, a brief kip and a stroll into town later and I made it to the last two talks.

Many people have posted up their thoughts on the day, so I will simply say that it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves. I heard many people utter the words "the best yet", and there was a really good atmosphere both at the Dome and at Above Audio afterwards. It was lovely to finally put names to faces having been in email contact with speakers, sponsors and attendees over the previous few months.

Of course, we're already starting to plan next years. And dare I say it, I'm really looking forward to starting the whole process again.