Monday, January 20th, 2020
Friday, April 5th, 2019
After two decades in tech, I realise phones and social media won’t be going away, so we work with them. My take is that I now need to seek positive digital tools that connect more of us to the non-digital world and really benefit our lives.
Thursday, February 14th, 2019
On the 50th anniversary of Vannevar Bush’s As We May Think, Tim Berners-Lee delivered this address in 1995.
To a large part we have MEMEXes on our desks today. We have not yet seen the wide scale deployment of easy human interfaces for editing hypertext and making links. (I find this constantly frustrating, but always assume will be cured by cheap commercial products within the year.)
Sunday, September 9th, 2018
Videos for the whole first season of James Burke’s brilliant Connections TV series.
Internet Archive and chill.
Saturday, October 29th, 2016
When it seems like all our online activity is being tracked by Google, Facebook, and co., it comforts me to think of all the untracked usage out there, from shared (or fake) Facebook accounts to the good ol’ sneakernet:
Packets of information can be distributed via SMS and mobile 3G but also pieces of paper, USB sticks and Bluetooth.
Connectivity isn’t binary. Long live the papernet!
Saturday, October 4th, 2014
How the printing press led to the microscope, and chlorination transformed women’s fashion—Steven Johnson channels James Burke.
Monday, April 7th, 2014
There’s one obvious connection between the two speakers this time ‘round: their first names are homophones.
We’ve got Leigh Taylor of Medium and Gravita fame. He’ll be talking about this holacracy stuff that people have been banging on about lately, and what it takes to actually make a creative company work in a decentralised way.
Should be good brain-tickling fun. You can secure your place at the event now. It’s free. But the usual warning applies: if you can’t make it, be sure to cancel your ticket—if you book a place and then don’t show up, you will be persona non grata for any future Connections.
See you in two weeks time.
Thursday, February 6th, 2014
Connections: Weak Signals
There was a great turn-out. Normally I’d expect a fairly significant no-show rate for a free event (they’re often oversubscribed to account for this very reason), but I was amazed how many people braved the dreadful weather to come along. We greeted them all with free beer, courtesy of Clearleft.
Honor made plentiful use of sound during her presentation. Or rather, plentiful use of electromagnetic signals converted into sound: asteroseismology from the sun; transient luminous events in the Earth’s upper atmosphere; the hailstorm as Cassini pirouettes through Saturn’s rings; subatomic particle collisions sonified. They all combined to eerie effect.
Justin’s talk was more down to Earth, despite sounding like a near-future science-fiction scenario: individuals and communities harnessing the power of the photovoltaic solar panel to achieve energy-independence.
There was a beer break between the talks and we had a joint discussion afterwards, with questions from the audience. I was leading the discussion, and to a certain extent, I played devil’s advocate to Justin’s ideas, countering his solar energy enthusiasm with nuclear energy enthusiasm—I’m on Team Thorium. (Actually, I wasn’t really playing devil’s advocate. I genuinely believe that nuclear energy is the cleanest, safest source of energy available to us and that an anti-nuclear environmentalist is a contradiction in terms—but that’s a discussion for another day.)
There was a bittersweet tinge to the evening. The first Connections event was also Honor’s last public speaking engagement in Brighton for a while. She is bidding farewell to Lighthouse Arts and winging her way to a new life in Singapore. We wish her well. We will miss her.
The evening finished with a facetious rhetorical question from the audience for Honor. It was related to the sonification of particle collisions like the ones that produced evidence for “the God particle”, the Higgs boson. “Given that the music produced is so unmusical”, went the question, “does that mean it’s proof that God doesn’t exist?”
We all had a laugh and then we all went to the pub. But I’ve been thinking about that question, and while I don’t have an answer, I do have a connection to make between both of the talks and algorithmically-generated music. Here goes…
Justin talked about the photovoltaic work done at Bell Labs. An uncle of Ray Kurzweil worked at Bell Labs and taught the young Kurzweil the basics of computer science. Soon after, Ray Kurzweil wrote his first computer program, one that analysed works of classical music and then generated its own music. Here it is.
Thursday, January 16th, 2014
There’s a new event in town (“town” being Brighton). It’s called Connections and the first event takes place on February 4th.
Actually, it’s not really that new. Connections has been carved from the belly of Skillswap.
After a while, it got somewhat tedious to have to explain to potential speakers and attendees that they should “just ignore the name—it’s not really about swapping skills.”
Hence, Connections; a much more appropriate name. And yes, it is a nod to Saint James of Burke.
Tickets are available now. They’re free. But if you grab a ticket, you’d better show up. If you can’t make it, please let us know—either me or James—so that we can pass the place along to someone else. If you have a ticket, and you don’t tell us you can’t make, and then you don’t show up, you won’t be able to attend any future editions of Connections …and that would be a real shame, because this is going to be a jolly good series of events.
Thursday, October 18th, 2012
This is quite an astounding piece of writing. Robert Lucky imagines the internet of things mashed up with online social networking …but this was published in 1999!
Thursday, October 6th, 2011
This remains one of the greatest pieces of documentary footage ever filmed.
Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
The web demonstrates its loosely-joined nature yet again; a photo of mine from a science hack/design fiction exhibit results in Dave discovering his family crest.
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
An extremely addictive bit of fun with small world network theory as applied to music.
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008
Dirk is back. The interconnectedness of all things returns as in App Engine form.
Thursday, April 10th, 2008
Browse trough your twitter friends, and your friends' friends, and your friends' friends' friends...
Sunday, April 1st, 2007
An ongoing comic on Flickr where the subject matter comes from the "missed connections" posts on Craigslist.