At Future Everything: nobody likes a smart arse, even when it’s a city

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” - Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, opening line Why did Glasgow win the right to host the Technology Strategy Board’s £24 million Future Cities Demonstrator? Project Leader Scott Cain reels off a set of doom-laden statistics: a looming crisis in affordable warmth; … Continue reading At Future Everything: nobody likes a smart arse, even when it’s a city

Room to grow^ – 48 hours of the Global Service Jam

SD Leeds co-organiser Kathryn Grace and I were joined by 15 jammers in Leeds as part of the biggest ever Global Service Jam, taking place simultaneously in more than 120 cities around the world. Thanks to Simon Zimmerman of Hebe Media, Leeds Council's Leeds Inspired programme and James and Laura of Duke Studios for making it an absolute pleasure. The … Continue reading Room to grow^ – 48 hours of the Global Service Jam

After BBC Connected Studio – gazing through a moving window

Regular readers will know that I have a slow hunch about the value of stories in the place where they happened. So when I saw the brief for the latest BBC Connected Studio, focused on Knowledge and Learning, I packed my personal hobbyhorse and jumped on the train to Salford. It was an ace day. … Continue reading After BBC Connected Studio – gazing through a moving window

The risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things

I once worked in a Parisian office where the walls were emblazoned with encouraging slogans in English, "share ideas!" "create!" "go!" But my favourite was always the half metre-high vinyl entreaty to: "do it simple!" In my more cynical moments I would claim this word art spoke volumes about the culture of multi-national business, more … Continue reading The risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things

Data is neither oil nor currency. It’s much more serious than that

A post rescued from my draft folder... An invitation to speculate on "data as a currency" at the Leeds Digital Conference forced me to crystalise a long-held unease with metaphors that cast data as any kind of commodity or medium of exchange. It has become commonplace, even among people I trust and respect, to say things … Continue reading Data is neither oil nor currency. It’s much more serious than that

dConstruct threads: Arrogance, uncertainty and the interconnectedness of (nearly) all things

The web is 21, says Ben Hammersley, it can now legally drink in America. And yet, as it strides out into young adulthood, it has much to learn. At dConstruct we hear some of those lessons - ones about humility, unpredictability and the self-appointed tech community's responsibilities to the rest of humankind. I agree with … Continue reading dConstruct threads: Arrogance, uncertainty and the interconnectedness of (nearly) all things

All brands must die (after a long and happy life)

A few days ago I ran a critical index finger down my Twitter “friends” list, unfollowing a few dozen accounts that did not belong to real people. I still wanted to hear from these unnatural persons, so I moved them into a list instead. I’m delighted with the results: my Twitter feed suddenly feels so … Continue reading All brands must die (after a long and happy life)

View – History – Flatten layers: part 2. Anniversaries

From the optical illusion of the Russell Square aeroplane to the temporal plywood of anniversaries. At one level, anniversaries are meaningless folds in the map - artifacts of an arbitrary time-system force-fitted onto the relentless drift of natural history. An ocean liner strikes an iceberg and sinks. The-square-of-the-number-of-fingers-a-human-has multiplied by the-time-it-takes-for-the-Earth-to-circumnavigate-the-Sun later, we're watching a … Continue reading View – History – Flatten layers: part 2. Anniversaries

“Our real stories are too dangerous to tell”

Once more to The Story at the Conway Hall, where facts and artistry have an uneasy relationship. Matthew Sheret's god-like view of Last FM users' scrobbles calls into question the hours spent by artists, producers, and record companies in sequencing the songs on an album. "Before we had data..." explains away Simon Thornton, recalling past … Continue reading “Our real stories are too dangerous to tell”

#walkshopping (winter edition)

We made a walkshop! At sunset on Tuesday, undeterred by George Osborne, high winds and torrential rain, 17 of Yorkshire's finest designers, technologists and geographers gathered to walk and talk, to see Leeds in a new light. The inspiration came from Adam Greenfield and Nurri Kim’s booklet “Systems/Layers”: “A walkshop is a new kind of … Continue reading #walkshopping (winter edition)

Down with Façadism: a provocation for Culture Hack North

I was honoured to be asked to do a short talk on the opening afternoon of the brilliant Culture Hack North event in Leeds this weekend. For one thing, it was a chance to appear alongside Rachel Coldicutt's dream team of Rohan Gunatillake, Natasha Carolan, Lucy Bannister, Helen Harrop, Frankie Roberto and Greg Povey. Also, … Continue reading Down with Façadism: a provocation for Culture Hack North