Tags: belfast

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Cool your eyes don’t change

At last November’s Build conference I gave a talk on digital preservation called All Our Yesterdays:

Our communication methods have improved over time, from stone tablets, papyrus, and vellum through to the printing press and the World Wide Web. But while the web has democratised publishing, allowing anyone to share ideas with a global audience, it doesn’t appear to be the best medium for preserving our cultural resources: websites and documents disappear down the digital memory hole every day. This presentation will look at the scale of the problem and propose methods for tackling our collective data loss.

The video is now on vimeo.

The audio has been huffduffed.

Adactio: Articles—All Our Yesterdays on Huffduffer

I’ve published a transcription over in the “articles” section.

I blogged a list of relevant links shortly after the presentation.

You can also download the slides or view them on speakerdeck but, as usual, they won’t make much sense out of context.

I hope you’ll enjoy watching or reading or listening to the talk as much as I enjoyed presenting it.

Speaking, not hacking

I spent last week in Belfast for the Build conference, so I did.

The fun kicked off with a workshop on responsive enhancement which was a lot of fun. Toby has written a report of the day outlining all of the elements that came together for a successful workshop.

The day of the conference itself was filled with inspiring, uplifting talks full of positive energy …except for mine. My talk—All Our Yesterdays—had an underlying sense of anger, especially when I spoke about the destruction of Geocities. If you heard the talk and you’d like to explore some of the resources I mentioned, here’s a grab-bag of links:

I thought I had delivered the talk reasonably well only to discover that my American friends in the audience misinterpreted my quote from Tim Berners-Lee as “Cool your eyes don’t change.”

Still, it was wonderfully surreal to be introduced by Jesse Thorn.

Build Jeremy Keith

My appearance at Build was an eleventh hour affair. Ethan was originally set to speak but he had to cancel. Andy asked me to step in. At first I didn’t think it would be possible. Last Thursday—the day of the conference—was the day I was supposed to fly to San Francisco for Science Hack Day. Luckily I was able to change my flight.

That’s why I was up at the crack of dawn the day after Build to catch an early-morning flight to Heathrow where I would have to dash from the lowest to the highest numbered terminal to get on my transatlantic hackrocket.

So you can imagine how my heart sank as I sat in the departure lounge of Belfast International Airport listening to the announcement of a delay to the first flight. First it was one hour. Then two.

When I did finally make it to Heathrow, there was no chance of making the flight to San Francisco. I was hoping that perhaps it too had been delayed by the foggy weather conditions but no, it took off right on time. Without me.

As my flight from Belfast was a completely separate booking rather than a connecting flight, I couldn’t get on a later flight unless I paid the full fare. So I simply accepted my fate.

C’est la vie, c’est it is.

It looks like Science Hack Day San Francisco—to the surprise of absolutely no-one—was a superb event. There’s a write-up on the open.NASA blog outlining some of the amazing hacks, including the cute (and responsive) Space Ipsum and the freakishly brilliant synesthesia mask: syneseizure.

Science Hack Day SF science hack day

Building

I never made it to the Build conference in Belfast last year or the year before. I think it clashed with previous commitments every time.

This was going to be the third year in a row that I was going to miss Build. I had already slapped my money down for the excellent Full Frontal conference which is on the very same day as Build but takes place right here in Brighton in the excellent Duke Of York’s cinema.

But fate had other plans for me.

Ethan was going to be speaking at Build but he’s had to pull out for personal reasons …so Andy asked me if I’d like to speak. I may be a poor substitute for Ethan and it’s a shame that I’m going to miss Full Frontal but I jumped at the chance to join the stellar line-up.

As well as speaking at the conference itself on November 10th, I’ll be leading a workshop on responsive design and progressive enhancement on the preceding Tuesday. The conference is sold out but there are places available for the workshop so grab yourself a slot if you fancy spending a day working on a content-first approach to planning and building websites.

If you can’t make it to Belfast, I’ll be giving the same workshop at Beyond Tellerrand in Düsseldorf on Sunday, November 20th and there are still some tickets available.

If you can make it to Belfast, I look forward to seeing you there. I’ll be flying my future friendly flag high, just like I’m doing on the front page of the Build website.

That attire would also be suitable for my post-Build plans. The day after the conference I’ll be travelling to San Francisco for Science Hack Day on the weekend of November 12th. If the last one is anything to go by, it’s going to be an unmissable excellent weekend—I highly recommend that you put your name down if you’re going to be in the neighbourhood.

Looking forward to seeing you in Belfast or Düsseldorf or San Francisco …or wherever.

Belfast

I had a thoroughly enjoyable time at Refresh Belfast. I enjoy any opportunity to geek out about building Huffduffer in front of a captive audience. This captive audience seemed to actually enjoy it. It seems like Belfast has a pretty vibrant geek scene.

It was my first time being in Northern Ireland, which is somewhat shameful given that I grew up in Ireland. Belfast felt a little strange to me; an equal split of where I grew up (Ireland) and I where I live now (England). But mostly, it has a character all its own.

Andy took great care of me while I was in town, showing me the sights. We took a black cab tour ‘round the city. The historical part of the tour was informative and the political part was …um… interesting.

Do you want to get out and take pictures? asked the cab driver. Somehow, taking snapshots on Shankhill Road just didn’t sit right with me. It’s not exactly ancient history. It reminded me of when I was last in Berlin where tourists now have the opportunity to have their picture taken with a fake East German border guard. I didn’t take any pictures of the murals.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not waxing nostalgic. I’ll take present-day slightly tacky tourism over the utterly tacky violence of the past.

Still… to the woman sitting next to me on the flight home, carrying a bodhrán emblazoned with the faces of the hunger strikers: lady, that is socially unacceptable on so many levels.

The Scenius of Brighton

Recent events reminded me again of what a great place Brighton is for a geek like me. Remy’s all-JavaScript Full Frontal conference went superbly—hence the effusive praise over on the DOM Scripting blog. James and Nat organised a superb Skillswap on the subject of wayfinding. If you missed it, the audio is up on Huffduffer.

It seems like Brighton has a high scenius level.

Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene.

It’s fitting then that, , the man who coined the term “scenius”, will be curating the Brighton Festival next year.

There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason why Brighton should be a geekier place than any other UK town. Sure, we could retroactively discover geographical or social conditions that favour Brighton but I think the truth is that it’s just a large-scale .

And it’s not just a geek thing either. The music scene in Brighton is maintaining its reputation, although the scene is somewhat lessened by the recent demise of The Gilded Palace of Sin.

Occasionally, the worlds of geekiness and music mesh to form a glorious venn diagram of fun. The £5 App Musical Christmas Special was one such scenius supercollider. It featured free booze, live music from , and many tales of hackery including a demo of the absolutely wonderful from Toby Cole of Build Brighton, one of the many Brighton geek institutions.

Lest I become too comfortable in my Brighton hive, I’m off to explore another geek scene tomorrow. I’m going over to Belfast to meet the geeks of N’orn Ireland. I’ll be speaking at Refresh Belfast about personal projects in general and the building of Huffduffer in particular. I’m looking forward to it. If you’re in the area, come along and say hello.