Share a minute, vulnerability, humanity with a stranger

iOrgins

Frank told me about this great thing he’s involved in tomorrow (Sunday 4th October). If you ever wanted to get over your fear of rejection this would be ideal…

Let’s share a minutes eye contact with strangers in public to rebuild our sense of shared humanity in Sheffield! This is part of The World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment – http://on.fb.me/1NnGcQ0, coordinated by The Liberators International in cities all over the world and your participation will help create a global video message for peace and human connection for years to come.

The idea is simple

  1. We will have clear signs that say “Where has the human connection gone? Share 1 minute of eye contact to find out…”

  2. Then we sit down on picnic rugs with 2x pillows each and invite members of the public to come and share a moment of eye contact with us.

Interested? Meet on Sunday 4th of October. At Barker’s Pool outside the city hall between 12pm-3pm. What you need?
For setting up your eye contact space please bring a picnic rug and 2x pillows/cushions to be comfortable.

If its not raining I think I may pop over on the scooter and check it out. It reminds me very much of Marina Abramović at the international festival which I had the joy of going to, but less intense.

I also said to Frank, it reminded me of iOrgins in a roundabout way… This also speaks volumes with some of the things I talked about at BarCamp last weekend and generally talk about regarding lost of our humanity. But I’m always fascinated by strangers and the connection which can happen.

Anybody interested in joining me in Sheffield? (Facebook link)

The best parts of BarCampManchester6

BarCampManchester6

I had a blast at BarCampManchester6 last weekend. Thanks to Claire Dodd for putting on a good BarCamp, and what a great venue. The Autotrader office in First street,

It reminded me of the BarCampLondon’s where the venues were purpose build with actual meeting rooms, etc. BarCampManchester5 for example, although in a lovely venue (SpaceportX) lacked the polish of a purpose build office, so we needed to hire chairs and make spaces.

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However that BarCamp will go down in history for starting a number of things. Autotrader was a sponsor and I’m sure that contributed to the discussion about BarCampManchester6?

The other big one is Claire Dodd, who I will freely admit did a lot of the work on BarCampManchester5. Enough to decide to go for it herself – which to be fair is always my plan, hand it off to somebody who makes it their own. This came up in a session later, which I did with Claire about how to run a barcamp. Encouraging others to maybe consider it but also learn from two people who have some experience of doing so.

The BarCampManchester6 went smoothly and although it wasn’t a overnight barcamp, we played Werewolf till 2:30am. You can’t have a barcamp in the UK without Werewolf (I blame Simon Willson for importing werewolf into BarCampLondon1 9 years ago! Maybe I should add it to his wikipedia page?) There were 2 parallel games next to a showing of that cult classic film Hackers (1995! Yes 20years ago!)

I am gutted I didn’t have the guts to follow though on the last game. As the seer but also a lover, I should have gone for the win with my cupid lover but my lover was also the last werewolf. Somehow I convinced myself, the lover connection was too obvious and led the village to kill the werewolf.

Afterwards I skateboarded home kicking myself for not doing it (ok a little drink and skating might have been involved, but I took it carefully, avoiding the clubbers and students going to the warehouse project on store street)

BarCampManchester6

Some of the highlights for me included a few of my own talks.

After looking at the grid for a while, I decided I wanted to do a talk about a few thing, which other talks had touched on.  I came with the idea of doing a talk about neurodiversity but felt it wasn’t the right time or place, so substituted it for a talk about the richness of life, getting over rejection and how to be lucky.. Lifting out my own thoughts from blog posts I written a while ago. It was well attended and glad I picked a larger room rather than a small one. A few people commented they enjoyed it quite a bit as it was quite different from the other talks.

Over the first day quite a few people asked what happened to the diversity talk and I said it got rolled into my 2nd talk about being neurodiverse and living with dyslexia. This was much lower attended but there was a guy there who was also dyslexic and explained the coping mechanisms he uses along side my own.  It was heart felt, with me admitting maybe too much, except not the stuff I will one day talk about.

I followed up the day afterwards with a talk titled How to be interesting… Not many people came but those who did, were touched by the blogging one.

Start a blog and update it regularly!
blogging or sharing your thoughts are still very important and really helps when referring to points in arguments. Its still what I recommend to many people who ask me where to start. Like above, the interchange of ideas with other peoples thoughts will make you a more interesting person. Also make sure its regular, otherwise you will loose the momentum or build it up too big in your mind.

Katrina Patel, wrote about her view of my talk. Specially about the same point.

One of Ian’s points focused on a blog of his in particular ‘How to be Interesting.’ Now let’s focus on point 2. Start a blog and update it regularly!

I’ve dipped in an out of blogging in the past, but it seems that things didn’t work out. I asked Ian this, and it seems that it’s okay to blog about anything and everything.

Yes indeed, this blog is a mash of my own thoughts and ideas, if you can’t write what you really think about, it will always seem like a chore. Hopefully this will aid in Katrina’s personal brand by making her much more interesting. Good luck Katrina and thanks for the post, let many more flow soon.

BarCampManchester6

At some point of Sunday morning, a few of us got wrapped up in a discussion, while waiting for the BarCamp to start its 2nd day about Startup Culture (real unconference/lobbycon stuff). There was a frustration with the emphases on startup culture and its affect on Manchester’s digital scene.

I took this up into a discussion which pulled in my thoughts about needing more social and community focused startups. I felt the debate was quite balanced about the need for profit making startups but deadly against the silicon valley culture of endless profit and continuous growth. I quoted something from Paul Graham about needing to startup in Silicon Valley.

We decided at the end of the session that we should do something about it all. I remembered the Geeks of London when they wrote the hackday manifesto. Its caused a stir but the best thing was, when people got upset they said fork it if you care so much.

20150926_BarcampMcr_12

I have to give credit to Teknoteacher (Alan O’Donohoe) who did a nice little session about podcasting  in a podcast.  He encouraged all of us to record the podcast. So Teknoteacher recorded it on his phone and others like myself recorded it on our devices.

One of my favourite talk of the barcamp was Vimla‘s diversity talk (she had done what I backed out of doing). So good, I convinced Vimla to put in a session at Mozilla Festival along the same lines. Vimla’s rage for diversity was infectious and the people who asked me about my diversity session were all there with lots to say. Vimla’s main point is something I keep banging on about but few people seems to understand.

The movement of women in technology is great and has a long long way to go, but thats only a small part of the diversity problem. Or Diversity is much greater than just male and female. It sounds so obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I have met and talked to people about diversity and they instantly fall back to the women in technology movement.

BarCampManchester6

No! Diversity isn’t simply that!

I even say it myself, what a poor victory it is, if we just add to while middle class women to the existing workforce of white middle class men. Our aim should be the moon not the lower stratosphere. Yes we work backwards but the aim should always be world changing, otherwise what’s the point?

There was quite discussion in the room and some slightly heated things were said (some people should know better, trying to put a hierarchy in place for diversity!), but Vimla kept some pretty dicey discussion on the level. Great work Vimla, look forward to Mozfest.

There were other good talks by many other people including the Happiness talk, Rosie’s Pareidolia and machine learning talk and many more. But Vimla’s talk really took the top spot for me.

BarCampManchester6

The wrap of BarCampManchester6 was full of prizes, which seems to be a tradition coming from BarCampBlackpool. I won something this time instead of being a prize myself (last time a date with me was a prize!). Claire and the team around her did a great job and they got me thinking about doing another BarCamp soon????

Will it happen…? Who knows… but lets say I have retired from running BarCamps 3 times now. Maybe its just time to stay in retirement.

As Claire said in the talk about running your own Barcamp, you can’t help but look at venues and think… This would be a great venue for a BarCamp…

Dyslexic minds in conversation at the #listeningproject

https://twitter.com/cubicgarden/status/647372334052077568

We did it… Myself and Kate!

On Friday  25th October 2015, myself and Kate met in the Media City Piazza where the Listening project booth was located for the day.

The BBC Radio 4 Listening project

After a chat with the lovely producers and some signing of paperwork, we paused for thought while the Director General (Tony Hall) was meant to visit and have a look around before we recorded. However Tony took too long and we pressed ahead regardless.

The BBC Radio 4 Listening project

Once in the booth we made ourselves comfortable, one of the producers explained she would only make hand gestures if things were not clear or the conversation dried up. Of course the only gesture me and Kate got was at the end, telling us it was done.

https://twitter.com/sarahkatenorman/status/647344266113630209/

Its hard to explain what happened in the conversation and I had hoped to linked to the audio files from the blog post (promise to do this once its live). The conversation was fun, interesting and bouncy (my word for dancing from subject to subject in a flow way). As I thought, Kate was a excellent partner in crime and to be honest we could have rolled on for another few hours I reckon.

Talking about time, I was very surprised when we were told to stop, as it only felt like 30mins had gone by in my head. This is certainly something I talked about in this blog entry about dyslexia, flow and time management. We slipped into a mild flow state of some kind.

And somewhere near the end, we both agreed to be taken out of our comfort zones for a weekend/few days.

The gravitas of this decision only hit me after the end of the recording when I thought…

“Oh this has been recorded and archived for the world… whoops!”

The BBC Radio 4 Listening project

It was fun and really enjoyable, I can’t recommend it enough to other people. But honestly it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as fun unless Kate.

Such a great friend! I can’t wait to listen back to the whole conversation and share with the world. This for me is an example of what I was talking about at BarCampManchester6 which I just came back from.

The secret of luck or the richness of life… We took the opportunity and are richer because of this experience. Plus it makes ourselves much more interesting, as it adds to our character and experience.

The BBC Radio 4 Listening project

BarCampManchester5, you missed out sorry…

BarCampManchester number 5 happened last weekend and I’m still feeling a little tired following a hectic weekend.

I have always said BarCamp is a special thing and recently I have seen less and less of them. I mentioned this in justification for why it must happen. BarCampManchester2 was the last one I was involved in and since then, its gone back to the 9am-5pm events. I have always said its a real shame for a great city like Manchester.

My hope was always to bring back some of the life and joy into BarCampManchester. And I believe we did this… Extremely well. BarCampManchester5 was arranged by myself with a small team of organisers. Those organisers were Claire Dodd and Dave Mee. I felt both would have the network and drive to continue the event onwards and upwards afterwards.

BarCampManchester5

Theres all the usual difficulties with picking dates for the BarCamp weekend but in the end we settled upon the weekend before Mozilla Festival, something I kind of wished wasn’t.  Regardless, it came together nicely thanks to our wonderful sponsors and the hard work Claire put into organising most of it.

Don’t get me wrong, we all played our part but Claire reminded me of myself at BarCampLondon1 and 2. Running around trying to manage most things. I learned pretty soon, to relax and embrace the chaos (somewhat)

BarCampManchester5

My only regret was the amount of food and drink wasted, we had a large drop out of people. Larger than I’ve ever had before. So the food orders came through and unfortunately we had to chuck quite a bit of it. We did our best to give away as much as possible to a homeless charity but in the end quite a bit went into the bins. At least no body was upset about the food, as we had food for every dietary type including strict vegans.

BarCampManchester5

Through out the weekend we had talks about a number of subjects, and there was lots of rooms to suit everybody. We had 6 session/spaces in parallel and although they weren’t always in use, there was plenty of room to chill and chat away along side the sessions.

BarCampManchester5

There were some great talks and the spaces really worked as a whole. For example the boardroom or as we were calling it the captains quarters, ten forward and observation lab encouraged intimate discussions about identity, sexuality, sleep tracking, dating, etc. While the engineer lab, bridge and holadeck encouraged less discussion and more presentations. All except the captains quarters had a projector and “ten forward” was even in the same space as the kitchen!

BarCampManchester5

After the evening feast, the traditional of werewolf started with 2 parallel games. Quite a few games past before we were down to 1. Some fun games and before long it was late and there was not quite enough people to play on. We had about 10-15 people stay over and sleep but the feeling of no pressure to go home or push off did stay with people. The last person pushed off about 2:30am.

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Sunday was quieter as usual and the bacon/sausage/egg butties did go down well but once again too many. We were able to change the order for lunch a bit so the amount of food wasn’t as bad. The sessions started to fill up the board and before long the board was full. Obviously people had decided now was the time.

BarCampManchester5

I did a number of sessions mainly on Saturday, and my favorite one has to be the paxman style interview with Tim Dobson about love and dating. Somewhere in the interview I suggested I would date anybody (I’m sure I said something different) and that got taken and twisted into a prize for the ending raffle? Go figure? Why and how I have no idea but Claire was very keen to send me off with one of the barcampers. In the end Chris picked up the star prize.

BarCampManchester5

Other talks worth mentioning included…

Journey to the centre of the gender sphere, Sleep session, Interactive Fiction, Create your first Bitcoin wallet, Can video games be a force for social good and my favorite How to sell without selling out. Especially liked Tim and Josh’s journey of discovery into a more ethical way to sell serverhosting.

Thanks to the sponsors who came through for the event… We even got a special cake for the platinum sponsors – Autotrader. Something to think about if you are thinking about sponsoring next year. Damm the cake was sweet!

BarCampManchester5

Talking about next year… I have said again that I’m hanging up my organising boots. But my hope is Claire, Dave or somebody else is inspired enough to run the next one with their own team. Hopefully BarCampManchester6 in a similar vein as this one. My thoughts is with time, a community of barcampers can/will grow and the demand will call for a new methods to insure the drop out is never as bad again.

BarCampManchester5

Something James suggested to me when I mentioned the problem of drop out in barcamp. Is a pledge to donate to a charity if you fail to show up or cancel you’re ticket in time. Using social pressure is something I don’t really like but actually in this case, it can be explicit on the website and ticket site. Those who don’t do so would have to live with the guilt or could be named and shamed? This seems to abide by BarCamp rules and shouldn’t be off putting for those who really want to come. Heck if you cancel the night before thats better than not at all (we were releasing tickets to the waiting list right up to the last few hours).

I always said it, Manchester deserves a decent barcamp and hopefully this is the start of wonderful things to come….

Am I sapiosexual?

At 4:35am in a trendy loft style office in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter. While waiting for one of the other BarCampManchester organisers to come and take over from my late night stint keeping an eye on things. After the werewolf games are done and most people have gone home. I find some time to do some blogging.
During the welcome talk I made the point BarCamp is a place to indulge your passion and share with others. I then show a quote from Simon Pegg. Then later in the barcamp, Tim Dobson interviews me about my views on dating. He asks a question which leads me to talk  about values and breakers.
I mention intelligence but add the caveat that its not necessarily IQ but rather smart and being thoughtful about things. I was going to mention something I heard the other day which I just couldn’t remember at the time. Sapiosexual
One who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature.

“I want an incisive, inquisitive, insightful, irreverent mind. I want someone for whom philosophical discussion is foreplay. I want someone who sometimes makes me go ouch due to their wit and evil sense of humor. I want someone that I can reach out and touch randomly. I want someone I can cuddle with.I decided all that means that I am sapiosexual.”

I like this description and it seems to fit very well with  my geeky personality. Even reading it sends little shivers down my spine. Now thats something I certainly could subscribe to and look for…  maybe one to add to my profile? Who knows…

Over loaded at the moment…

Cubicgarden

You may have noticed the lack of blogging coming from me recently? I’m currently going through 2 major events. First one being BarCampManchester5 and a week later Mozilla Festival.

Don’t worry I’ve checked my heart rate and its normal… Never want a repeat of mybrushwithdeath. However I’m trying to avoid getting ill with the horrible bugs that are going around with the change of weather/temperature and people generally getting ill around me.

Whose idea was it to have a BarCamp before Mozfest? Oh yes it was kind of mine, whoops! Its a little self inflicted but deep down I kind of love it too… Sure in some book that makes me slightly sadomasochistic or something…

Quite looking forward to November where I have little planned or scheduled except the flirty weekender…  Although I’ve already had somebody ask if I could help with something like Social Media Cafe Manchester? Although I hear rumblings that it might be coming back anyway.

My hope is somebody (I got thoughts) will take on BarCampManchester as a regular thing and do it better than myself. Like what happened in London with the Geeks of London.

Expect normal service to return in a few weeks time… (smile)

Geek history worth keeping

Early in the evening

While talking to Martin, Sam, Chris and others over the last few weeks. I have been thinking how things have been forgotten.

The history of geek culture seems to get forgotten too often. Recently a discussion about the tech community in Manchester with Martin raised a bunch of questions in my mind.

How much of geek history is still available now? What do I mean?

Great people have said….

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

And to be honest I’m seeing the same thing over and over again in the limited time I’ve been around the geek scene. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this… But no one seems to be documenting the past… Which seems crazy with the amount of social media or in the past user generated content created. But the issue seems to be putting it all together. For example if you search geekdinners on my blog, theres quite a few posts. But its a mishmash of stuff. Look for the same on Flickr (assuming you knew flickr was where most geeks uploaded stuff in the past and flickr had not gone dark) and you get a mishmash again. If your smart you might try the clusters and find the London geekdinners.

Geekdinners.com is actual up for sale at $2.5k. But this isn’t so much my point. In the past we would write blog posts about events (don’t get me started on the blogging) but this is a bit like throwing a pound in a tip jar. Whats need is something to aggregate the blogs, tweets, photos, videos, etc together. Tell the whole story in long form. This is what me and Martin were discussing, and the natural place seems to be wikipedia and archive.org.

I had a discussion recently with Tom Morris who is very knowledgeable about wikipedia. I was discussing the recent addition of a page about myself. But it got me thinking Wikipedia is a great place for the type of thing I was hinting at before.

So I’m going to start filling in pages on Geekdinner, LondonGeekdinners, BarCampLondon, BarCampManchester, Geekup and Over the Air. Hopefully people who go on to write pages about Technights, Social Media Cafe, Tuttleclub, etc will link and reference. Then we can start to trace back events and community efforts. Give attribution where its well deserved and encourage more people to get more involved in shaping the future of geek culture.

What is BarCampEdu?

Campus Panorama

Remember a couple of times in the past I have said this will be the last barcamp I will do.

After BarCampLondon3, I stood up and said no more from me. Others took it onwards and upwards. A similar thing happened with BarCampManchester2 and BarCampMediaCity.

Anyway I’m at it again.

BarCampEdu or BarCampManchesterEducation is a 1 day barcamp held at the Sharp Project in East Manchester on Saturday 16th November.

In the North West of England there has been BarCampManchester, BarCampBlackpool, BarcampLiverpool, BarCampPreston, BarCampMediaCity and that is just the start…

The power of unconferences can be applied to all types of subjects and in BarCampEdu, we’re applying it to further education in Manchester. Bringing together the next digital generation with those in industry now to better understand each other and the opportunities available.

BarCampEdu takes the concept of BarCamp and adds a level of education to the proceedings. When I say eduction, I do not means its a barcamp about education, rather the most of the people in the venue will be students from the major Manchester universities. MMU, Manchester University and Salford University will be all working together and contributing to a great day of talks.

It came about when I attended the barcamp about barcamp (encampment london) Kate a lecturer from City University talked about how BarCamp ticks a lot of the boxes she needs to cover in a year. When I was lecturing, I remember some of the points shes talking about. Each university will get a selection of tickets for there students and staff. The rest of the tickets will be open to the general public.

We are seeking sponsorship to go along side the supporting universities and a few surprises coming soon.

To know more the event, check out the website at barcampedu.wordpress.com. Tickets to the public will go live soon.