Archive for February, 2007

The End Of Yesterday

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

The reporting yesterday had to stop I’m afraid – I was so sleep deprived that not only was I barely able to string two words together I was starting to go colour-blind.

But I’m back today, and with no 40 hour sleep deprivation my sentence structure and grammar will be as good as ever.

I’m still trying to parse some of the things that I heard yesterday, I’ll be honest and admit that some of it just went over my head or seemed to be repeating the conversations I’ve been following on the internet.

Tom Coates gave a good talk though, bringing a sort of melding between evolutionary social theory and social networking. It was a chance for us to hear the talk that he gave at ‘The Future of WebApps’ in San Francisco. Explaining some of the reasons why people share he had some interesting thoughts on why certain social networking webapps fail and on why some are huge successes. Very thought provoking and I would love to see some of these ideas applied to the MMORPG market. On thinking back Tom could have entitled his talk ‘It’s not all about sex and death’.

He believes that Wikipedia is unique in being so successful, but didn’t mention any of those webapps that have failed in the past, something that I would have found interesting.

Thanks to the magic of the interweb you can see his slideshow here.

The other talk that I can remember is someone talking about digital comics – His name I’m afraid is lost to my sleep-deprived brain porridge. The talk was not hugely groundbreaking, part of it was an advertisement for his ComicBookLover application, something that acts as an iTunes for scanned comics, and relies I think a bit too much on illegally downloaded scans. He also spoke about how digital distribution could enable independent comics producers to break the near monopoly of Diamond. I guess that as someone who takes a great interest in this subject (even thought I don’t work in the field) I was hoping for something a little more… crunchy. But I suppose that he’d need to target his talk to a wider audience.

So far today I have broken a knife trying to spread butter on a fake beigel and admitted that I want to be Patricia Hewitt.

…Oh dear.

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The Coolest Thing Ever (For Now)

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

I have just been completely blown away by the presentation by Matthew Somerville of Mysociety.org.

It is called Neighbourhood fix-it. It is an incredibly simple way of letting your local council know of street furniture that needs fixing, graffiti, or fly tipping – you know, all that really anti social stuff that makes living in London a pain. The two councils that took it up were Newham and Lewisham, but the developers realised that by changing one line of the code it could work for almost the entire country.

So the website mainly consists of Ordinance Survey maps using the Yahoo Maps API Yahoo! javascript library to scroll around. If you click on a location a form comes up that you fill in and it gets sent off to the relevant council email.

As it’s all Open Source you can go and have a look and maybe scrape it for data like ‘How quickly do councils fix things’, or ‘what is the dirtiest part of town to live in?’. The best thing is that it was all financed by a government department for innovation.

The presentation really sold it, go and have a play with it and see how easy it is to use.

I know that it’ll be a bookmark on my system so that as I cruise around town in my big white taxi I can ‘tag’ all the crap that I see.

There is a broken traffic light that I’m looking forward to reporting…

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Semantic Web

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Tom Morris is up next with a talk on the Semantic web.

Which is a talk I barely understood.

And my feet hurt.

And I’m tired, tired does not make for good brain work.

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Pipelines

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

29 hours without sleep.

At the start of the day the icebreaker was a microphone passed around the room of 200 people, each to introduce themselves and to name three ‘tags’ that applied to them*.

There are a lot of people here who own startups, I’m not sure if that is just the audience that these sorts of events draw, or if it has become incredibly easy to begin a startup. A couple of people used the chance to mention that they were looking for jobs and the one venture capitalist (a nice bloke) almost whispered his job. People have come from all over the world, Denmark, Italy, Germany and even someone from New Zealand. It seems that in the UK Brighton is the place to watch for startups although it would be interesting to have actual data rather than impressions on that score.

The first session that I took part in was Ian Forrester giving us an overview on the new Pipeline type services. He liked touchstonelive (which sadly is Windows only and is an invite only beta) and touched on the new Yahoo Pipes. He then put forward a couple of ideas as to where pipelines could be heading. An example which he gave was using multiple APIs (Preloadr and Moo) on Flickr. Another example was Blip.tv which is a video sharing site, it gives options to pass the file and metadata onto other applications and sites like archive.org – with more pipeline implementation you could do all this without logging into Blip.tv, instead using Blip.tv as a pipeline.

What Ian is asking for is more controllable pipelines that cold automate a lot of the web stuff that we do each day – consider it a filter on steroids.

*For those that are interested my tags were ‘Neophile’, ‘Creative Commons’, and ’101 interesting things to do to an unconscious drunk’ (which got a laugh).

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12am

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Hours without sleep – 25

It’s 12am, (actually a lie, I’m typing this at 9am but will be unable to post this until 12am when the WiFi went live – more on that later methinks). People are drifting in and reforming friendships, there is a sort of hushed conversation. Personal Caffeine intake is somewhere around 2.5L of Coke although there are four cans of Red Bull nestling in the bottom of my bag. For reasons that are not readily apparent I appear to be unable to type more than a sentence without some sort of spelling or grammatical error. Truly, sleep deprivation is a wonderfully cheap drug.

Once more I wonder what I’m doing here – I’m not a coder, I don’t work in a wonderfully technical business (I’ve compared ‘trauma’ to plumbing), yet I find myself attracted to this sort of thing. Perhaps in an alternate universe there is a version of me who didn’t train to be a teacher but instead stuck with his childhood dream of being a ‘system analyst’ (which I realise now dates my childhood).

I’m thinking about offering blood pressure checks for people – it’s worked before as a way of introducing myself to people, and as a party piece goes, it’s a pretty useful one.

I wonder how many people here will think that I’m stoned out of my skull?

Best line so far would be Ian’s introductory speech that included the soon to be classic, “We have a room with carpeting – for sleeping on”. Perhaps closely followed by, “If you come to a door that you can’t open…it’s out of bounds”.

So as the WiFi has gone live I’m posting this as people are filling ‘the grid’ with their presentations – some of which sound *very* intriguing…

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BarCampLondon2

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Lets see if I’ve set Ecto up correctly with tags and everything.

I’m heading off to BarCampLondon2 this weekend, I was supposed to be working nightshifts (weekend nights, my favourite shifts) but managed to get some annual leave granted. Unfortunately the Friday wasn’t granted so here is my schedule…

Friday – Wake up as late as possible, into work for 19:00 start. Pick up drunk and assaults all night. Continue running around until…
Saturday – …Work finishes at 7:00, have cup of tea at work and change clothes. Head into London for BarCamp. Try not to die from lack of sleep, drink loads of Red Bull. Sleep overnight on the floor.
Sunday – Having hopefully not killed anyone during sleep deprivation hallucinations continue BarCamp until 17:00. go home and crash.

I’m hoping to blog what happens during the day here, a chance to play at being an ‘embedded journalist’ with no editor and probably, after no sleep, no grasp of spelling or grammar.

Laura describes it as ‘Geeks Anonymous’ and I’m inclined to agree – I’m also guessing that I’ll be the only person there who won’t be working in a Web 2.0 type company. To counter my lack of Web 2.0 coding skills I’ve volunteered my first aid skills instead.

If I’m not unconscious.

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