Frank Rose – The Art of Immersion – Wed 13th April

Art of Immersion

The amazing Herb Kim asked me a while ago if I’d be willing to be on a panel with Frank Rose, as part of the think and a drink session in Gateshead college. Of course I thought about it for maybe a few minutes and agreed. No but seriously this time, I checked out the topic and wondered if I would bring anything to the session. Luckily the subject matter is something I think about a whole lot plus I happen to be writing a technote for Perceptive Media (previously known as Intrusive Media)…

Think and a Drink – The Art of Immersion

We’re delighted to welcome one of the world’s most insightful technology writers, Frank Rose, to the North East in April for the launch of his new book ‘The Art of Immersion’.

In the book Frank explores the future of media, advertising and storytelling. Frank Rose is a long time contributing editor of Wired Magazine (US) and he’s making the long trip from San Francisco especially for the event. As a contributing editor at Wired, Frank has spent the past decade writing about the impact of technology on media and entertainment. Along the way he covered such stories as the making of Avatar, Sony’s enormous gamble on the PlayStation 3, Samsung and the rise of the Korean techno-state, and the posthumous career of Philip K. Dick in Hollywood.

The event will be the next Think and a Drink in the calendar and will be run in collaboration with Wired Magazine, Gateshead College, Northern Film & Media and WW Norton Publishers. Frank will talk about his life and give an overview of The Art of Immersion.

A panel session will follow Frank’s talk and we’re pleased to have some important local figures from the digital world, offering their thoughts and insight into the where we are now and where we’re heading in the digital sector. The panel will consist of Paul Smith, Never Odd or Even, Agnes Wilkie, Northern Film & Media and Ian Forrester, BBC R&D.

There’ll also be the chance to meet Frank during a book signing session and of course as with all our Think and a Drink events, we’ll have networking, food and refreshments.

Getting people together is what I do

And out came the shots

I seem to be a connector…

I have identified there is something in me which gets excited about getting people together. Its almost like my brain releases extra dopamine at the notion of getting people together.

Recently I’ve been made the social committee chair for my flats (islington wharf). Well I kind of made myself it really. But so far we’ve had one drinking meeting and 2 dinners (last friday dining club). The last one was just last Friday and it was good fun for everyone. 12 strangers around a dinner table made for 8 in the northern quarter on Friday night.

On the way back on Friday night, I walked home with Brian and in my slightly drunken (well only really slightly tipsy) state started to talk about my role in the islington wharf community.

I felt my role was as a connector.

When I first moved to London, I knew no one and lived out in deepest south London (Thornton Heath) with my cousins and aunt. After about 2 years while at college at Ravensbourne Design College, I started to get to know more people via my jobs in Central London and of course the college its self. But it wasn’t till about 3 years in London that things really started happening.

I attended in the early days meetups across London and had so-so success with them (best one was when I met Lucas, who I’m still friends with today). Then I attended a few blogger meetups including one where I met lovely people such as Suw Anderson-Charman. Anyway at some point I attended a geekdinner and was intrigued by the simplicity of it. So when I arranged with Tim O’reilly to come to the BBC, it made sense to throw a geekdinner for him too. At that point was my first go at social organization. The rest is pretty much history but you can read a good account of the geekdinners events in over 5 years of blog entries [1][2][3][4].

During the geekdinners I got mixed up with BarCamp via Ben Metcalfe. Once again you can read all about those in blog entries over the years [1][2]. I built a large body of friends who I could go out with almost any time because at least one or so of them would be out doing something at some point during the week.

But then of course I moved to Manchester.

I moved early which meant I didn’t really know many people, in actual fact I only got to know people who had come to previous barcamps I had run. Then I got to know friends of friends, not many but a few. But generally I was alone like I was in London when I first moved there.

Now I feel after almost 4 years in Manchester and its been a struggle I grant you that but I think finally its starting to click…

Theres something in me which kind of thrives on building communities and connecting people.

When I moved in to Islington Wharf, there was a promise of a community and to be fair there was something but I can hardly call it a community. So rather that sit there and moan about it, something in me grabs the opportunity to make things better for myself and everyone else whos not willing to do something about it. My first party which was attended by only a few people but I did knock on every single door on my level and the level above and below. Most people haven’t even knocked on there neighbors door!

Later I arranged a halloween party which was a lot more successful and afterwards kicked off a whole range of parties and friendships. Another idea later was to start a last Friday dining club. Someone elses idea but executed by myself… I’m also flirting with the idea of setting up a cinema club but to be fair I’m putting it on hold since someones already started one. I got a feeling Ben might need some help with it and I’m not certain of the format (but I’ll reserve comment till I go along).

So what is it about me? I just don’t know… But I won’t stop and I’ll be doing what others won’t.

Color photosharing with people around you

I know its hugely unpopular but I actually quite like the idea of color the proximity photosharing application. I’ve not really played with it yet because I’m out of space once again on my HTC desire. But to be fair the user reviews are very telling…

What the hell do the buttons mean cool concept. Was all over the news yet for millions in funding yet very confusing. Add some descriptions PLEASE!!! – Ray (1 star)

The interface is simple, lacking any real functionality. Theres not even an option to exit, you need to go through and manually kill the program. – Zach (1 star)

I was confused at first but totally understand it now! I actually just had a fun conversation with people in the next office building, through pictures!! I have a feeling the Android version has less feature than the iPhone versions though – I can’t seem to find where to go to share the photos! – Eric (4 stars)

Oh well… Nice concept but maybe terrible excursion by color labs (why the bloody hell are we using the american wording!) Out of all the locational based systems this one has me the most interested…

The Different Types of People There Are on the Internet

Social Media Cafe

Yesterday afternoon I was waiting for my date and she was running really late. But to be honest she did text me to say she was running very late although I was already at the location we said we would meet. It didn’t matter because I was laughing my ass off (yep ROFL) reading my kindle while sipping some very nice teas (guess where I was).

The thing I was reading was my personal Read it later list…was The Different Types of People There Are on the Internet.

I did tweet it from my kindle but Amazon in there wisdom doesn’t support self publishing very well, so you got some quotes but not much else.

This one had me in stiches…

People Who Are Social Media Evangelists

With their dogmatic approach and cries of ‘Social media, therefore world peace’, the self-proclaimed evangelist is deft at confusing causation and correlation to squash a complicated world into their Twitter-tinted narrative.

Where religious fervor was harnessed to defend the church from barbarians, the social media expert rabidly protects their beliefs, as they plunge their faith into herd mentality safe in the knowledge that they are part of a greater good that will heal the world and keep them safe.

Despite claiming to espouse groupthink and the importance of social diversity, the social media evangelist will only speak to other like-minded scholars of the internet.

Pragmatism and empiricism are tools of the crusty old world order. The social media expert is a master of narrativisation and the extrapolation of the anecdotal or rare event into a universal law.

Like 1984’s Big Brother, the social media lover is a deft switcher of allegiances in the interest of the common good of social media. Writers and thinkers will be held up as messiahs before being cast off as pariahs for doing so much as questioning the accepted truths of social media.

Detractors are swatted aside with a derisory allegation that they ‘just don’t get it’, as the social media expert truly believes that reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody elevates them to an ivory tower of intellectualism that is unscalable by any other human being, regardless of their superior qualifications or proven track record.

There is an irony in almost all the pillars of truth accepted by the social media evangelist. Yet like the Stoics before them, they hold steadfast, as there is nothing you can subject evangelists to that will cause them to question their unwavering faith.

Most importantly, the social media evangelist will spray empty aphorisms and appropriated language from economics and social sciences all over their feeds and blog posts in an attempt to intellectualise the fact that they just like pratting about on Twitter and Facebook all day.

via James Seddon

The reason why this had me in hysterics was because we all know people like this. Heck I’ve been known to say "… just don’t get it" quite a few times from my ivory tower of intellectualism (*smile*). If your slightly offended by this description, theres this version which is pretty much the same but more subtle.

Its also worth mentioning this is all a internet take (remix) of what was written on the stranger. I’ve been researching the stranger for part 3, after my exwife suggested I go check it out.

Cinema’s Code of conduct

Cinema code of conduct

Generally the Wittertainment Code of Conduct is….

  1. No Eating
  2. No slurping
  3. No rustling
  4. No irresponsible parents
  5. No hobbies
  6. No talking
  7. No mobile phone usage
  8. No kicking of seats
  9. No arriving late
  10. No shoe removal

I’m in agreement with some of these, Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode have certainly put the cat out between the pigeons.

  1. No Eating…. Well thats just simply stupid, popcorn and cinemas fit together like the internet and porn. Salt popcorn is nosier than sugar popcorn but cinemas still sell it by the bucket load. I do think its a pain when someone starts tucking into a bag of crisps but I’m not going to ban them from the cinema. However there are certain foods which should be banned, such as nuts with shells!
  2. No Slurping… Come on if your sucking down on a drink and you can’t help but slurp, you must be under 10.
  3. No Rustling… Ok agreed, no one wants to hear you undoing your bag in the middle of a film. The worst has to be someone cock undoing his velcro bag in the middle of inception.
  4. No Irresponsible parents… Oh my goodness yes! No one wants to hear your kid screaming as the saw cuts through the actors hand in the latest saw movie.
  5. No Hobbies… As a cinema usher this drives me nuts, I won’t even tell you what kind of stuff I’ve found after a showing. However I’m also guilty of updating my blog, make changes to a essay, etc while supervising a film as a usher. Of course I wouldn’t do it as viewer.
  6. No Talking… This does wind me up, even now. I hate people who talk in the cinema, I don’t mind talking during the adverts, even during the trailers somewhat. But once the title comes up for the film, shut the heck up! No one wants to hear it. However I remember watching the Matrix Reloaded at Odeon Streatham, and someone shouted out something when Neo is about to take down Agent Smith after visiting the Oracle. It fit the mood perfectly, but then again I know other people who have done something similar and failed
  7. No Mobile phone use… Yes please! I hate it when the person next to you is texting on there phone ruing the effect of darkness. I had this yesterday when I went to watch Harry Potter and the deadly hallows part one. The worst I ever had was when someone left there keypad sound on. On that one, I turned around and said "for f*** sake will you stop!"
  8. No Kicking of seats… Never had this problem to be fair but I’ve told many people off for doing something like this to others.
  9. No Arriving late… I almost don’t understand why cinemas are not like theatre’s which blocks people after a certain time. The nice thing about the IMAX showings in Manchester is that they do just that. Its simply not practical sometimes to have people trying to find there seats in the dark while the film is going. If seats are not allocated, then i’m sorry you lost your right to those seats as far as I’m concerned. Come in late, tuck in somewhere at the front or the far edges. Stay out of the way of the screen.
  10. No Show removal… I’ve also had to tell a few people as a cinema usher to put there shoes back on. I’m not against slipping your shoes off so its still on your feet but I’ve stopped people who have taken off there shoes and even there socks! I mean for goodness sake, are you serious! Nasty public health type stuff!

There is loads more I could personally add but this list isn’t bad at all. Now which cinema chain’s going to adopt these rules? Don’t all rush at once…

Geeks talks sexy: What does sex have to do with geeks?

Geeks talk sexy at Madlab

So finally we did it, yes the geeks talked sexy at Madlab. @smanthabail, @hwayoung and myself have been planning this series of talks for a while now and after the last change of dates we managed to get over 30 people to sign up to the 1st in a series of talks. Although we did so many signing up, about 20 turned up on the night but to be fair, we all had a great time. We kicked off at 19:30 with loads of geeky cocktails nicely provided by @MadlabUK. My favorate has to be Sex on the geek, which packed quite a punch.

Cocktail menu

To start we got everyone to write down some geek stereotypes which we then later read out, twittered and dispelled after the break. Here’s some of the stereotypes

  • Geeks have bad dress sense
  • Geeks are Reclusive
  • Geeks don’t wash
  • sexually inactive
  • there all virgins
  • Obsessive and socially backward
  • geeks are young, anti-social and overweight
  • geeks only do it in the dark and missionary only
  • girls don’t like geeks
  • geeks only have online friends and partners

We broke down every stereotype with some evidence for each one. After the break, we started running through some of the rubbish we’ve collected from the main stream press on geeks. Things such as 10 reasons why woman love geeks and my personal favorite 10 real reasons why geeks make better lovers. All before descending down into the pits of the internet with tron style sex, erotic falconry and a live demonstration of chatroulette and the all new adult themed citizenx.

Geeks talk sexy

End of the session, I think everyone really enjoyed it but there was a feeling we can or could go much further that even we had imagined. Because of this we are going to juggle things around a little and see if we can go a little further a bit earlier that expected. I’d highly recommend you come to the next one (sometime in Jan/Feb 2011), but it will be much more serious that the last one. I expect number 3 will be much more fun and a lot more erotic.

Continue readingGeeks talks sexy: What does sex have to do with geeks?

Geeks talk sexy…. *new date* (now on the 19th November)

Excellent photo by hoyvinmayvin – cc: by-nc-sa

Sex and geeks don’t fit together or compute, most would say. However the truth may be the total opposite.

This quarter we take a brave step into the explicit adult world of sex, lies and alternative lifestyles by following the geek world underground.

Join us on the wild ride in to the unknown, in a series of open talks and discussions. Next stop sexy town.

The event is free to attend, but you MUST BE OVER 18.

We have a new date for geeks talk sexy, so don’t miss out, sign up now!!!

Geeks talk sexy….

Geeks talk sexy

Excellent photo by hoyvinmayvin – cc: by-nc-sa

Sex and geeks don’t fit together or compute, most would say. However the truth may be the total opposite.

This quarter we take a brave step into the explicit adult world of sex, lies and alternative lifestyles by following the geek world underground.

Join us on the wild ride in to the unknown, in a series of open talks and discussions. Next stop sexy town.

The event is free to attend, but you MUST BE OVER 18.

Not many people know but every once in a while I do a talk at BarCamps titled “Sex.” I usually do it to be slightly controversial and to bring a certain edge to the talks which can be far too technical for some.

I’ve had mixed success, I think the funniest session was at BarCampLiverpool while the most serious was at BarCampLondon7. (Not sure what that says about the cities)

However while talking one night in the Northern Quarter with Samantha and Joshi about BarCampManchester3 and my plans to do another one. I mentioned the sex talks I’ve done previously and that meme must have stuck in Samantha’s head (I need to get better at doing that). She had a word with Hwa Young Jung over at Madlab (Manchester’s digital laboratory) and bish bosh boof we have a new series of talks and discussions planned for the next few months.

Of course we’re also after knowledgeable and thought provoking guests for the future, so if that interest you, give us a message on twitter.

How to run a BarCamp – the wikibook

For a while I’ve been writing a new book (as such). Its titled How to run a barcamp and i’ve contacted a few people I know who have run them in the past to contribute towards it. Unfortunately not many people have actually added ink to the wiki book, so I’m opening the effort to anyone who wants to help contribute.

BarCamp and other derivative events are a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved. Since you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about setting up your own or helping out on one which is going ahead in the near future.

This guide is meant as a introduction to the BarCamp phenomenon and bring together tips, tricks and clever use of social engineering to make the event take place and be the best it could.

Why the need for this wikibook at all? Well BarCamp.org is a great place, but it’s frankly too alive and good information is scatter across the site and burred underneath the next lot of BarCamps. There was also no where to collaboratively come to a decision about the best way to do certain things or what things should be avoided based on the experience of other BarCamps around the world.

The format is punchy one liners of advice opposed to long length discussions (which are best served on the discussion/talk pages).

The whole idea is pretty straight forward, I’ve already added sections and started filling in parts which I’ve found from my own experience, on barcamp.org or the all new mailing list.

Media Guardian’s top 100 so far…

Like the Wired 100 I really don’t see the point in these top 100’s they seem to serve the purpose of making people feel underwhelmed and under appreciated. Either way the Media Guardian’s 100 at least has a better scope of what people are doing all over the country including the north.

At the time of writing only 100-60 was available.

Excellent to see Herb Kim (new entry) at number 83. Someone is obviously reading wired magazine and taking note of the feedback. and our own Peter Salmon director of BBC North at number 84. Noel Clarke at number 81 is a interesting decision, I would personally put him higher because his films have been such a inspiration over the years. Really showing what street life is like without going up its own ass.

It is a shame to see Stephen Fry going from 45 to 64 but to be fair he’s been rather quiet recently. But what the hell is Big Brother doing in the chart at number 100? I thought the top 100 was about people not shows or formats?

The Data Visualisation Manchester Weekender

So as you may have already seen, Data.gov.uk, BBC Backstage and Manchester Digital Development Agency (MDDA) will be running an ‘unconference’ focussing on data visualisations. The unconference will team up 100 developers and 100 designers to create diverse and imaginative data visualisations from open data. The aim of the event is to facilitate an unusual opportunity allowing the diversity of the two traditional job roles to bring together imaginative use of open data sources.

The website for more information and to sign up is dvwm.weebly.com

Whats the schedule?

April 9th will see a pre-party get together at a central Manchester venue (TBA)

April 10th will be the first day of the event complete with open sessions to help get you inspired

April 11th will be the day when you can show off your visualisation on stage

This may also help answer your questions?

  • It will be a mix of hackday/mashed with a unconference type event, its the same format as we have used for Over the Air 2008
  • There will be lots of coding, designing and general hacking.
  • We have secured a venue in central Manchester which will allow over night stay, so theres no need to worry about hotels on the Saturday night.
  • A small but good amount of food and drink will be available, but if you ever feel hungry for more theres plenty of shops and restaurants in central Manchester.
  • The venue isn’t far from Piccadilly station, so getting to and from the South, East and West should be pretty easy.
  • Anyone coming into Victoria Station should change on to the tram heading to Piccadilly.
  • The event is totally free but requires signup beforehand and confirmation from the organisers.
  • Visualisations don’t have to be just virtual, they can be physical too.
  • You can use the hashtag or tag – DVWM to find related stuff
  • Yes its in Central Manchester not Central London
  • Yes we all love open data

Interested designers and developers can find out more and apply for an invitation via the DVWM website.

Geeks of London takes over from London Geekdinners

london geekdinner logo medium

Sad moment to see the London Geekdinners are no more. As the Formerly organized of Geek Dinners its wasn’t really a surprise. Cristiano Betta and Melinda Seckington took over the running of the events back over a year and half ago when I left London for Manchester. And last year spoke to me about the possibility of changing the direction of geekdinners into something else.

Its been amazing over the years, some of the guests we’ve had include, Stowe Boyd, Tim Oreilly, Adrian and Dan Hon, Brady Forrest, Jen Pahlka, Jyri Engeström, Julie Howell, Chris Messina, Tara Hunt, Chris Anderson, Kevin Marks, Dave Winer, Betsy Weber, Molly Holzschlag, Robert Scoble, Jeff Keni Pulver, Mozilia Labs, Ben Metcalfe, Marc Carter, Dr Sophie Kain, Jeremy Zawodny Howard Rheingold, Holmes Wilson, Dean Jansen, Moo.com, Paul Boag, Dave Shea, Eric Meyers, Mike Culver, Dave Crossland, BBC iplayer team, Ryan Carson, Paul Jones, Richard Clayton, Becky Hogge, David Terrar, myself and many many more…. (sorry if I didnt remember your name).

Our biggest geekdinner by its self was with Chris Anderson of Wired magazine, although the joint girl geekdinner with Scoble have been huge in the past too. The biggest so called geekdinner was the backstage p. arty/geekdinner/community party which took place in the Cuban Bar back in Christmas of 2006. Over 200 people attended that event and who could forget the massive trustedplaces.com cake. The most dinners we have done for one single person has got to be for Molly Holzschlag who will remain in our hearts as the Geekdinner queen with 3 geekdinners.

Geekdinner.co.uk had a bumpy time. The domain name is still owned by Nick Swan and the original server which the blog use to sit on has never been recovered. So if you go back in time on geekdinner.co.uk (the current server which Cristiano owns) you get to a point where there is no more blog entries. Archive.org has most of the old stuff thankfully. One of the best things which came out of geekdinners has to be the girl geekdinners which was the idea of Sarah Blow (not of my ex-wife, as I once heard recently). Sarah and the girlygeekdom have done a great job growing the event and looking back done exactly what maybe geekdinners should have done ages ago. I guess by the time we should have got serious, we were already on to running barcamps. Its great what Sarah Blow has done and I wish her good luck into the future.

We certainly moved around in venues for geekdinners. We started off in the cellar of a bar (bonds) just on Derring Street near Bond Street tube, tried a few places including the crown and anchor. Settled on the Polar Bear just behind Leicester Square before it got shut down (as we found out one day after BarCampLondon1). Tried a few more places and settled again at a very quiet place (The Bottlescrue) in the Holborn Viaduct area. It was summertime and we use to take over the whole bar including the outside seating for our geekdinners. This was also the bar we used for the biggest geekdinner with Chris Anderson. But it wasn’t to last, the reason why? Well it was in area of the city where people don’t hang around after 6pm. The bar closed its doors for good after a few months. After a little more bar shuffling including to the bear in trendy clerkenwell, we ended up at the Ye Olde Cock Taven which is still open and sits in Fleet street. We had that for quite a while before the owner drove me nuts and we moved elsewhere. This is about the time I left for Manchester and Cristiano took over. The venue he seemed to use the most was Hummus Bros in Holborn.

So as they say in the Matrix Revolutions, everything that has a beginning has an end. Geekdinners have been an amazing part of my life and I kept considering doing something like Geekdinners in Manchester. But its time to move on. I met some amazing geeks over the time of running the dinners. Some of them I’m still good friends with even now. Flicking through some of the photos, has had me thinking wow so many people, such good times. Geeks of London could be a interesting framework for other smaller events which fell in the shadow of geekdinners. Things like Bowling, Karaoke, heck even Roller Coaster riding might be your thing and there’s always usually another 4-10 people (at least) who also would go if theres interest shown. Who knows maybe there will be a geeks of Manchester one day…

Its Ladies night

The Big Bang Theory

Always interesting to read Miss Geeky’s thoughts on woman in technology. She’s been thinking about a Ladies night at a Comic Store in Nova Scotia. Generally she says in the post, I wish we didn’t need things like Ladies Night to make it *not* intimidating for woman. But its the examples which I find really interesting…

Since moving to London, I’ve visited the Forbidden Planet tons of times. I love the place, it’s filled with wonderful geeky delights, and if I could I’d buy everything that caught my eye. And yet… almost every single time I go there by myself I get hit on. Okay, I kind of get that (geek store, geeky girl, chances of possible perfect match increases). But half of the time they open with something along the lines of whether I ”needed help in finding a present” or something else that completely neglects the fact that I might be there for myself. The thing is it almost always happens when I’m browsing the comics. If I’m at any other part of the store (like the fantasy/scifi books section or the manga section) that type of stuff doesn’t happen. It’s as if most geeks have accepted that girls are into geeky things, like fantasy and manga, but comics… then it’s suddenly “you don’t belong here”.

Seriously, guys? Why assume straightaway that a girl doesn’t belong there? I thought that by now it should be obvious for guy geeks that the geek girl does exist, but it’s moments like I’ve described above that some guys are completely oblivious to that fact. And it’s those guys that are making it difficult for new geeky girls to feel comfortable with being a geek and going to places like comic stores. I know there are tons of guys out there who do understand and don’t make stupid remarks like those above to girls, but it’s that small oblivious group that do that mess it up for everyone.

Its always the subtle stuff which does the damage I find. I’m not pointing fingers but I wonder if media like the Big Bang Theory and IT Crowd are doing much to counter this problem?

Going to Fosdem 2010

I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting

I’m booked to go to my first Fosdem. Got the train from Manchester to Brussels return for 140 pounds but the hotel (Hotel Centrale) was quite a bit more but right next to the main station and Parc de Bruxelles. Never been to Brussels before, so on either side of Fosdem, I’ve decided to take some time off and have a wonder around the city.

The Fosdem conference seems to be shaping up into a good event too. Here’s a few of the talks I’ll be checking out.

I do wish there was some guys from XBMC and the Apache Cocoon project coming along, but hey I’m sure between the Mozilia, XMPP, OpenOffice and Ubuntu guys there will be lots of fun.