October 24, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: October 24th 2016
- Aberfan: The mistake that cost a village its children. Harrowing, powerful long-form article from the BBC about the Aberfan mining disaster. A difficult read at times.
- Team. Yes. There is more to gain from working out how to take advantage of the tech we've got than in pushing ever more technology onto the world.
- The future of work as a building block of change. "The political landscape has still not got its act together – and I am too impatient to wait for it to change"
- Reading and writing for our peers. I much prefer reading amateur writers writing about the field in which they're experts, rather than expert writers writing about fields in which they're amateurs.
October 17, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: October 17th 2016
- The hazards of a world where mediocrity rules. Maybe not quite to the degree outlined in that article, but you can see a lot of those tendencies in the "innovation" and "regeneration" industries in this country. Sadly.
- Technology is a wooden leg. Leila on great form pointing out that all this technology stuff is just a set of tools to use to do something more interesting.
- Augmenting journalism. Jon Udell, arguing for an alternate approach to Basic Income to use tech to enhance—not replace—our abilities. I think we can, and should, do both.
- GB1900.org. The OS maps for the whole UK from around 1900. Really interesting to see how the country has evolved in the past century, plus you get to help researchers create a gazetteer of all the text on the map.
- Draw your city. Another mapping research project, this time looking at how far people think different cities extend. Some interesting contrasts between the different parts of the UK.
- Betting on snowballs. I like this idea from Doc Searls, roll snowballs rather than push rocks uphill!
September 21, 2016
Blog All Dog-eared Pages: The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby
When I was in Oslo last month for the If I Were the Ocean there was, as you'd expect, much talk of ships and sailing.
One of the conversations I had reminded me of a book I read a few years back, lent to me by my uncle. The Last Grain Race is a wonderfully written account by Eric Newby on what it was like to sign up as an apprentice on one of the last big sailing ships to make a round-the-world cargo trip.
Deciding, two years into his career in advertising at the age of eighteen, that there was more excitement to be had at sea, Newby signed on board with no sea experience, not able to speak Swedish - the language of the ship - and with his first voyage the eight months to Australia and back.
I bought another copy to send on to one of my fellow exhibitors in Oslo, but re-read it again first. There aren't many dog-eared sections, but hopefully they'll give a flavour of the prose in the rest of the book, which I heartily recommend.
'Two bells, vessel to port; three bells, vessel ahead; one bell, vessel to starboard,' intoned Tria, very like a great bell himself.
All through the night the south-west wind hurled us out into the Atlantic. From aloft came the great roaring sound that I heard for the first time, and will perhaps never hear again, of strong winds in the rigging of a good ship.
[On receiving news]
I decided from the beginning that if there was a wireless then it was only picking up German stations which in 1938 were making the ether hideous on all wavelengths. We were not anxious for news. As time passed, the ship possessed us completely. Our lives were given over to it. A hundred times a day each one of us looked aloft at the towering pyramids of canvas, the beautiful deep curves of the leeches of the sails and the straining sheets of the great courses, listened to the deep hum of the wind up the height of the rigging, the thud and judder of the steering gear as the ship surged along, heard the helmsman striking the bells, signalling a change of watch or a mealtime, establishing a reoutine so strong that the outside world seemed unreal.
That night I learned what it meant to take in the outer jib near the end of a sixty-foot steel bowsprit, with no safety netting under it, alternately pointing to the sky and dipping to the tremendous boiling sea. The foot-rope on the weather side was fearfully slippery, the sail a lunatic wet thing. The wire leech of the sail was battering my head and shoulders and the sheet block was lashing about like a great conker on a string and threatening to brain us.
Page 176, preparing the ship for the journey "round the Horn"
The hatches too needed reinforcing. As soon as the last bags had been stowed below at Port Victoria, hatchway beams of seasoned oak were fitted in the grooves in the coamings and heavy 3-inch hatch covers put on top of them. The spaces between the covers were tightly caulked with oakum. Over each hatch two new tarred canvas covers were stretched, cut and sewn by the Sailmaker to fit one on top of the other. These had been secured to the coamings by flexible steel bands, tightly wedged, the wedges being nailed together.
Now the real labour began. On top of the canvas covers great baulks of timber 20 feet long and 4 inches think were laid length-ways; and at right angles to them, across the ship, three heavier pieces 14 feet long and 4 inches thick. The whole lot was lashed down with wire ropes to ringbolts in the hatch coamings and hauled taut with the capstan. Frequently the wire strops broke under the strain, and the work began all over again.
August 29, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: August 29th 2016
- The Continuing Journey Of A Media Lab: I Went To A Media/Art Lab And All I Got Was This Lousy Tote Bag. "This is the dark matter of a successful lab; its not making it look like a lab, it’s having a diverse mix of people, supporters, technicians, mentors and cooks; it’s having a sensibility of people doing interesting work who can get on with others or disrupt things." Great analysis from Ross. I'm now thinking "the background radiation of the culture" could be my new favourite term. What Ross talks about is something I got from the recent exhibition I did with him in Oslo, and also some of what Laptops and Looms provides.
- Recovery From Privilege. Useful ways to think about privilege.
- The War on Cash. Paying by cards is easy, but I don't think we should abandon the anonymity and utility of cash.
- hackertyper.net. Now you can feel as awesome at coding as I am ;-)
August 22, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: August 22nd 2016
- Django Ditto and archiving your stuff. Interesting work (as ever!) from Phil Gyford. I think my bus is travelling in the same direction as his.
- I Have A Little List. Russell's list of how big, integrated, seamless systems are generally just good ways to waste money and provide a big seamless way to achieve very little. Do less of this, governments, councils and big corps, and more of the sort of approach Phil Gyford is taking in the first case.
- Why Teach Business to Artists? Not just useful for artists, I really like Whitaker's hierarchy of business concept in there. It feels like DoES Liverpool is running roughly at level 2.0, and looking at ways to poke into level 3. I can see me referring to this in future :-)
- Hot Wheels road trip. Another superb example of how technology isn't just about efficiency and return-on-investment. Definitely worth watching all of it.
- The Rozz-Tox Manifesto. "Item 12: Waiting for art talent scouts? There are no art talent scouts. Face it, no one will seek you out. No one gives a shit."
- Yes, There Is Such a Thing as an ‘Introvert’ Hangover. I don't get the physical symptoms listed here, but can definitely recognise the phenomenon.
- The sound of Blairite silence. I've not been paying much attention of late to Labour's thrashing, but Paul Mason's analysis is interesting to read.
- Indy Johar - Democratizing cities. Really good talk from Indy about systems thinking and the challenges facing society.
August 08, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: August 8th 2016
- The uncelebrated typographers of the road. Lovely short film of how roadmarking is done.
- The smug style in American liberalism. Not just an American problem. There's been plenty of this in response to Brexit.
- On finding political axes using maths. Francis laying out one possible explanation for the confusing political world in the UK at the minute.
- New York-Style Tech. A technology community driven by values, not just profits. Not just something happening in New York, we've got that in Liverpool too (though it'd be lovely to have NY's scale! :-)
July 25, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: July 25th 2016
- Shaula Evans on the problems with Twitter's new everyone-can-apply-for-a-blue-checkmark policy. Also why diversity in your teams is important.
- Frank Cottrell Boyce: what's the point of culture in Brexit Britain? This is great, although I disagree that culture is different from business - it's not, but that's because business should be more like art and culture, not the other way round :-)
- ‘Hope is an embrace of the unknown’: Rebecca Solnit on living in dark times. Lots of great stuff in here, not least the recognition that visible change is often the result of long patient groundwork.
- Brexit Blues by John Lanchester. Good, clear, analysis (as ever) from John Lanchester.
- Corbyn: the summer of hierarchical things. Paul Mason on the political climate, not just on Corbyn.
- Liberalism after Brexit . Will Davies' latest take on Brexit.
- Anti-racism stand by Liverpool judge, 1944. Lovely piece from the archives. "you can always tell the better class of people in factories, because they are people who do not believe in colour bars and other matters of privilege. I do not understand how in the British Empire, with so many coloured people as its citizens, anything in the way of a colour bar can exist, or ever be allowed to exist by any Government that is worth the name of Government"
July 18, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: July 18th 2016
- The Very Quiet Foreign Girls poetry group. Loved this story.
- BBC Radio 3, Between the Ears, We Are Writing a Poem About Home. A radio programme about the poetry group.
- The Alun Parry Podcast – Ep 01 – A world based on need and justice? An interesting interview about all things co-operative movement.
July 11, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: July 11th 2016
- A Manifesto for a Great United Kingdom in a Great Europe & a Great World. (Version 2.0), an interesting pitch from IndyJohar.
- The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck? An excellent pitch for better design of new technologies (or design that doesn't just look at the technical side of the problem)
July 04, 2016
Interesting Things on the Internet: July 4th 2016
- Vi Hart on shootings, stalkings, and Internetting While Female. Hard to watch, but important to watch.
- The Biggest Mistake in Leadership (You’re Probably Going to Make). Let's hope there's someone who can match this to provide some leadership for the UK.
- Thoughts on the sociology of Brexit. A good read on understandable reasons that people have voted for leave. (via Phil Gyford)
- Dear England. Richard Pope's entry into the #dearestengland project has lots of sensible suggestions.
- Unbiasing. A good companion piece to Richard's, to remind us to question our assumptions on what we should do next.
- What sort of crisis is this?. A follow-up to Will Davies' piece on the sociology of Brexit.