OkCupid without the explicit data?

I was reading through OKCupid’s interview on the Wall Street Journal. I highlighted a few things which got me thinking about whats wrong with OKCupid.

WSJ: Could you explain the “substance over selfies” focus?

MR. SEIDMAN: If you look at what we have seen in online dating in the past four to five years, there is a huge increase in speeding up: Let’s get people to go faster, let’s get people to spend more consideration over booking a restaurant on OpenTable tonight than choosing someone to connect with on an app.

We said, we are actually going to double down on what is fundamentally true for a large part of people dating, which is, I want to meet someone based on who they are, not what they look like. One of the ways we do that is during sign-up we take you through a minimum of 15 iconic OkCupid questions. These go through religion, culture, sex and gets to what you are like.

Our questions emulate what is happening in the real world, like a conversation you would have at a bar or dinner party.

There are a lot of people who have strongly held beliefs but no overlap, and we don’t want to waste their time. We push people into not just answering these questions but creating profiles that are more than just their photos. The real issue now is, how do we make that easy and enjoyable on a mobile phone?

We recently renamed our swiping product from Quickmatch to Doubletake, because we realized the name doesn’t support the values of our community: We don’t want people to be quick, we want them to be slow. We look at it proactively through the lens of product and marketing, so when you get to OkCupid it’s clear it’s the place for you.

Nice in theory but as I pointed out a few times, the days of when people would spend time filling in the questions; has kind of gone. Even OkCupid doesn’t really put any emphases on the questions. Instead they seem to be pushing for more implicit data collection. Which leads you to a place where swiping left and right works in favor of both parties I guess? Although I obviously have a total distaste for this mechanism.]

Ok Cupid's top bar in mid 2017

The mobile app and website are more similar but its interesting to see the questions pushed to the far right of the page now. Even the top menu now is just Browse Matches, Double Take and Purchase A-list.

So my take away thought especially with the recent changes around visitors is frankly this whole thing about creating a community around online dating, is just PR nonsense.

We need more social and community focused startups

I wrote about a number of people who JFDI and how this may have the ability to make gentrification and other social conflicts a little more easier on a community.

On top of that I’ve been thinking how the traditional business models of shareholders wanting continues growth year on year is causing so many issues (well that and diversity). Anyway it got me thinking, maybe social and community startups are the new (ecstasy! I’m kidding, just following my previous post) thing. Don’t get me wrong theres been social enterprises for many years but this is something slightly more appealing.

ROI Pam Warhurst-10

Just flipping do it already!

Without knowing it, they are embracing the same approaches and plans as startups. Crowd funding, flat structures, lightweight project management tools and an attitude of just fucking do it . All are the hallmark of the following projects. James Headifen who runs the Ancoats Canal Cleanup project. Pam Warhurst  who started something  in Todmorden (still need to visit) by simply doing something  which is highly copyable and makes people happy. Homebaked a co-working space, bakery and the cornerstone of the local community, MadlabUK and DoES Liverpool a hacker and community space, giving room to a number of different types of niche hobbies and activities. Run very much in a JFDI style.

Closing the Deal

Chewing the fat with Chris

Me and Chris Northwood were in Vividlounge having breakfast thinking/talking about where startup culture starts to go wrong. We talked about the built to flip mentality and how that mentality is poisonous. Build your algorithm, get your users and market for me users. Nothing new and interesting for developers or designers to be involved in. Chris thought suggested it might be anti-developer , while I think it might be ultimately anti-human and progression.

Too many entrepreneurs, he believes, have a “built-to-flip mentality, as opposed to a built-to-last, built-to-change-the-world mentality.”

I mentioned this blog post I was writing in my mind, and talked about the examples I listed above. Social enterprises, ethical startups, what ever they are called… We need to foster and support more of them (this links to Adrian Hons talk from TedxLiverpool about supporting those who are brave enough to take up this challenge). But if you were starting a social enterprise, where would you go?

When I show people around Manchester’s northern quarter, I tend to have a story which I tell people. If you are setting up a business, the coffee shops of the northern quarter are a great place to get inspiration and get work done. But if you wanted something a little more focused,there is a co-working spaces in Madlab on Friday and there is the classroom. If you wanted more, the next step would be Techhub Manchester and beyond that you could get yourself a little office.

Dreamy Saturday Morning.

The local spaces on your doorstep

Chris suggested Libraries could have a role in this? University libraries are fruitful places supporting students for hours and hours working alone and together. Why is the public libraries not the same? Unlike Techhub which is driving you towards a more traditional startup outcome. Imagine a library as a co-working space with focused advice on how to run a social/ethical/community business… In return you get a free space and access to more resources including maybe funding?

For example we have our islington wharf residents meetings in the local NHS centre which has plenty of rooms not in use after 5pm. Because we are a local and non-profit organisation, we can rent the rooms for free. Certainly beats trying to hold a residents meeting in bar/cafe or one of our living rooms. There are tons of places like this which are underutilised but we pay for out of our taxes. These places can be the difference between a small gathering in a coffee shop and a place to actually bring people together. The library is ideal in my mind.

I’m aware of things like the Coworking directory but there is something interesting about supporting other non-profits in a public space.

Talking to Davemee one of the founders of Madlab, this blog might seem slightly simplistic, native and may misunderstand the extreme difficulties in getting a social/community/non-profit business off the ground. But I argue it should be as simple as setting up a startup and what a time to do it

Hate gentrification? Think about the community

Warning in lift of Milliners Wharf

There has been a number of issues around the New Islington (Ancoats and Northern Quarter) area as of late. including Mans body found in the Ashton Canal and the calculated mugging of someone at 7pm a few weeks ago. The later, took place on the tow path under the bridge by VividLounge and I say calculated because their were 4 people involved and they locked a gate forcing people to walk under a bridge, straight into their trap.

Warning in Islington Wharf lifts

Although not good for those involved, its a careful reminder of the not so nice side of living with gentrification.

Theres been a ton of tension in San Francisco recently, which was going to write about here but opted to write on Single Black Male if they accept it.

Woolwich

I’m under no illusion that we are the outsiders moving in on what many have classed as their home forever. You can feel the tension in the air sometimes, specially as planning permission is given and locals see another highrise which they can’t ever dream of living in. Its not the first time I have experienced this. When me and Sarah moved to Woolwich, we lived in a small set of houses in the shadow of some council estates.

The only real trouble we ever saw from some young kids, who decided to throw stones into our garden while we were having a BBQ with friends. Which to be fair is nothing compared to the Beckenham Halloween incident.

They were planned to be knocked to the ground (not sure if it ever happened?) but Woolwich centre is a different place, as I witnessed when I went back 2 years ago. This mainly due to the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) which connected Woolwich with the city of London in all of about 25mins and the Olympic games which had money filter down from Stratford (East London). One of the last deprived areas of London suddenly became pricey and we sold our house at the right moment, getting a buyer pretty much straight away. That is the upside of gentrification… and to be fair it was quite a nice place to live if you were careful and avoided trouble.

Neither me or Sarah were attacked or even hassled from memory. We knew our neighbors and some people in the area. We also took part in the residents committee when possible. Woolwich wasn’t bad, it had a nice local market and I could get a haircut at 10pm.

New Islington to Brixton via San Francisco

The problems with New Islington, seem to stem from property developers who have gone into the area and I gather promised a lot and failed. Not only that they screwed over a lot of the locals and refused to enter into a dialogue with them. Not only that they have carved out a section for themselves rather than opt for a softly softly approach. Ask anyone about the promises for new islington by Urban Splash and the Ancoats medical dispensary.

But its not always the tensions are the fault of building developers. Sometimes you get a community of people who refuse or don’t get the idea of joining a existing community. I would say this is whats happening in San Francisco from what I have been reading and heard. I’m not blaming the geeks, startups and general people. But I am saying if your company starts to put on special transport and security (yes I’m pointing the finger at the BBC too) this is not a good message to the local community. It basically reads, the local community can not be trusted. Trust is essential for community to grow.

My next stop is Brixton, South central London. Lovely diverse area with a rich history and some very troubling moments. When I was in London, it was a good place but like Woolwich, there were places you don’t go. Having spent some time on the jury there, I have seen what happens when you ignore this and go looking for trouble. However I recently went back to visit my sister who lives on the outskirts of Brixton because she can’t afford to live in the area anymore. We met next to the station which had a small Starbucks! This alone was shocking for me but then we walked around the Brixton market/village? which had transformed from a standard market to South London’s Shoretditch or Northern Quarter.

Trendy makeshift bars and restaurants selling over priced food and drink. Don’t have a problem with this part so much. But my sister told me the tale of how locals are being forced out in favor of more bars and restaurants to cater those who wonder from the tube, 200 meters into the market and back.

Novelist Alex Wheatle describes how his native Brixton has changed from being an area where many outsiders feared to tread to somewhere where south London’s young professionals can now go for an £8 burrito. But has Brixton lost its unique vibe? ‘It’s very pleasant,’ says Wheatle, ‘but I do miss that constant pounding of reggae’

Alex is right on the money, its cool but something might be missing, be it pounding reggae or something else.

If you haven’t heard Spike Lee’s gentrification rant about Brooklyn, New York its a must… Here’s just a few of the snippets I found interesting…

You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code.

Or even move them all out…?

You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!

Like I said originally, Ancoats was the Italian quarter, and although its changed. You got to have some respect…

That’s another thing: Motherfuckin’… These real estate motherfuckers are changing names! Stuyvestant Heights? 110th to 125th, there’s another name for Harlem. What is it? What? What is it? No, no, not Morningside Heights. There’s a new one. [Audience: SpaHa] What the fuck is that? How you changin’ names?

Remind you of New Islington or Brixton Village anyone?

Spike is kind of right in what he says, its a rant but most of the points are good. But I’m not so sure gentrification is 100% bad.

My hope is for communities to form and connect becoming stronger together. I mean who doesn’t want to live in a strong community where people look out for each other and their space? I am personally starting to do more to unite the residents but we do need to think bigger picture…

I think this is where the study of familiar strangers comes in to play nicely. I also heard about a hyper local project around microblogging, which I think could do wonders if people are engaged enough to get involved. Of course throwing Technology at a social problem is never the solution but it can help if used in the right way.

I mentioned recently in Return of the JFDI, the Ancoats Canal clean up project. James actively works with the local community on the project. He’s very active in the Ancoats area and adores where he lives.

The project is a great example of how two communities can come together to help bring together a better community. I will spell it out if you’re not aware, a tight community generally face less crime. Yes you’ve all heard it before, its all part of the Broken Window phenomenon. Want more… have a read

My point is… Gentrification doesn’t have to be aggressive or seen as them vs us. It can be nice and gentle, where everyone is involved and everyone is happy with the changes. I’m also not saying the local community are to blame for the crime but it in the interest of both communities to come together to push out the undesirable behavior.

Removing the mass from media

Netflix Doodle

I was listening to Framerate 152. And they mentioned a story written by Tim WuNetflix’s War on Mass Culture Binge-viewing was just the beginning. Netflix has a plan to rewire our entire culture.

So I had a read of the whole thing on my kindle via instapaper and it was intriguing.

It starts to answer the question about what happens everyone sees something different. One of the same questions I want to research with Perceptive Media. But I find myself thinking so what? This all sounds like normal life? So what? Hardly breaking new ground. Then I stop and remember… My world isn’t mainstream yet.

If modern American popular culture was built on a central pillar of mainstream entertainment flanked by smaller subcultures, what stands to replace it is a very different infrastructure, one comprising islands of fandom. With no standard daily cultural diet, we’ll tilt even more from a country united by shows like “I Love Lucy” or “Friends” toward one where people claim more personalized allegiances, such as to the particular bunch of viewers who are obsessed with “Game of Thrones” or who somehow find Ricky Gervais unfailingly hysterical, as opposed to painfully offensive.

The baby-boomer intellectuals who lament the erosion of shared values are right: Something will be lost in the transition. At the water cooler or wedding reception or cocktail party or kid’s soccer game, conversations that were once a venue for mutual experiences will become even more strained as chatter about last night’s overtime thriller or “Seinfeld” shenanigans is replaced by grasping for common ground. (“Have you heard of ‘The Defenders’? Yeah? What episode are you on?”) At a deeper level, a country already polarized by the echo chambers of ideologically driven journalism and social media will find itself with even less to agree on.

And there are those who laugh at me when I couldn’t remember the names of the 4 Beatles members or when I don’t know who the guy is playing the guitar on the closing for London Olympics 2012 ceremony. Well laugh all you like but theres going to be even more of us soon and you may be one them sooner than you imagine.

Now I know this might seem like a reason to be fearful for the future, I mean what about social collusion?

But it’s not all cause for dismay. Community lost can be community gained, and as mass culture weakens, it creates openings for the cohorts that can otherwise get crowded out. When you meet someone with the same particular passions and sensibility, the sense of connection can be profound. Smaller communities of fans, forged from shared perspectives, offer a more genuine sense of belonging than a national identity born of geographical happenstance.

Tim Wu then goes off on one about how this is the grounding of America, which is a logical argument. Netflix is simply understood where the future is heading and hitched its self to the future.

Purpose of blogging it was as a clear sign for those who laugh and make fun. One day its going to happen to you too…

 

Some dream shouldn’t be followed

Banksy - Follow Your Dreams // Cancelled

I only recently discovered Mark Manson. I’m sure theres quite a few of you guys who will be thinking geez I’ve been reading his stuff for ages. But I can’t even remember how I came across him. One of a whole load of posts he wrote is the controversial “Why Some Dreams Should Not Be Pursued.

Mark breaks it down with decent examples and some deep thoughts behind it and the self help industry.

We are all beaten over the head that we should always pursue our dreams, always follow our passions, always turn reality into what we believe will make us happy. Most marketing and advertising is based on this. The majority of the self help industry pushes this. And with the rise of Tim Ferriss and “lifestyle design” obsession of this generation, it has become a borderline religion…

I know what he means, the lifestyle business has grown and grown.

There is this conflict I have in my mind. Its a conflict between community (doing what people think you should do) and individualism (doing what your dreams says). I don’t buy all this self help crap but I do want to be happy (heck who doesn’t want to be happy?). When I say happy I don’t mean this crazy Hollywood style happiness you see on TV or they shovel down your throat any chance they can. Be Happy / Buy are shit… Roll the Fight club ikea montage.

Back to Mark…

But it’s not just materialism, the “follow you dreams” mentality dominates our relationships as well. It’s only in the last couple centuries that romantic love has been championed as the sole prerequisite for a happy relationship.

Lonely? Just fall in love and then live happily ever after! Duh.

It’s reached the point where practically all of our pop culture is based upon the idea that romantic love is a justification for just about any neurotic behaviour.

Another conflict… (damm Mark is right on the buzzer) My dating… I enjoy it but I do want to find someone special. When I say special I don’t mean perfection, I mean someone I would spend the rest of my known life with. Its important to me (yeah how selfish of me) but having gone through a divorce, I’m not a believer in there’s one person for everyone (something which the media seems to push down our throats). So on an individual level someone who connects with myself. Don’t get me wrong I do sometimes think about what it would be like to have someone very different (don’t ask, i’m not telling)

Some friends say why go out dating, if you just leave it it will happen. I say balls, and I actually kinda of enjoy it. As a friend who turns out reads my blog said, Its part of you… When she said this, I was kinda of thinking maybe shes got a point. I like meeting new people and enjoy dating, so it works. From an individual level again, its all good times. From a community point of view its a little different.

Maybe this is another reason why I’m writing this book, the life & opinions of a modern geeky gentleman… Putting the dream aspect on paper rather than in reality.

Mark’s example of the young woman from New York City who had the recurring sexual fantasy was certainly the icing on the argument. Some of our dreams should never happen and its really important to remember this (this story has to be read as its not very safe for work).

Losing control in reality is dangerous. Despite how arousing it may be, one could get hurt or killed. It’s only possible to lose control and stay safe within the confines of one’s own mind.

The reason not every fantasy should be pursued is because fantasies never have negative repercussions. Reality does. You’re able to feel fear and terror without ever actually being in danger. You can feel excitement and adrenaline without ever actually risking anything. You can experience the joy and pride of a great success without actually suffering through the hard work.

Absolutely! I wanted to be big name DJ many decades ago. Traveling the world playing the music I love and being paid for it. I guess its like the rockstar thing Mark talks about. But it was about 16 when I realised the reality of the pursuing such a dream. The daily drudgery, playing in crap venues, playing crowd pleasing tunes just to make it up the DJ ladder. Screw that…! As Mark says I might have been in love with the result not the process. Seriously settling down and getting into the internet was one of the best moves I’ve done.

I don’t like to climb. I just want to imagine the top

The process and the details is whats missing from our dreams. In actual fact thats the fun part… In my great BBC job, the details all matter and the result isn’t the be all and end all… But maybe somewhere in this messy post, I can mentally link my dating with the process and details.

Next time someone says just fall in love, maybe I should say… “don’t you see I’m in the process of doing so and loving it” *smile*

Maybe I’ve fallen in love with the process of falling in love, not the result and actually this is perfectly natural? (Don’t all scream at me at once…)

Familiar strangers

quick

You get the tram, tube, train to work everyday about the same time everyday. You sit in the same seat everyday or at least the same rough area each day. When looking up from your tablet one day you notice the same street signs and same landscape before looking down again. When shifting your position you brush against another human. That human is a familiar stranger. She or He always seems to be sitting next or opposite you. Not in a creepy way or even stalker way, just happens your paths in life seem to overlap on the Tram to MediaCity every morning at 0935. You don’t communicate verbally but once in a while may nod or awkwardly grin at each other.

I like most people have had this before but unlike most will throw caution to the wind and just say hi or something like that, maybe make a joke about the fact we see each other everyday. There was/is a Irish lady who gets the same tram as myself and we work a couple floors apart. We would get into the same lift each morning and not really say anything. Then over months of catching the same tram and the same lift, we finally would at least smile. Can’t remember who broke the silence first (I assume it was myself) we got talking. Hellos at first and now full conversations in the limited time we had.

Interesting side to the story was having her introducing myself to the BBC writers room which led on to us creating Perceptive Media’s first drama Breaking Out. So there is clearly a lot of positive greatness in these familiar strangers around you. Maybe one reason why the coffee shop is a great implicit creative sponge.

These Familiar strangers have been known to have a great bearing on our lives, Stanley Milgram (famous for the smallworld experiments)has papers going back to the 1970’s on  that. But whats interesting recently is the same kind of research into real social networks scaled over a whole city like Singapore. And like I suspected in my serendipity post, the unintentional or

These people are the bedrock of society and a rich source of social potential as neighbours, friends, or even lovers.

But while many researchers have studied the network of intentional links between individuals—using mobile-phone records, for example—little work has been on these unintentional links, which form a kind of hidden social network.

Today, that changes thanks to the work of Lijun Sun at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore and a few pals who have analysed the passive interactions between 3 million residents on Singapore’s bus network (about 55 per cent of the city’s population).  ”This is the first time that such a large network of encounters has been identied and analyzed,” they say.

The results are a fascinating insight into this hidden network of familiar strangers and the effects it has on people.

Amazing stuff right? Without going all Jason Silva on you, I love this final part of the post about the paper… Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1301.5979: Understanding Metropolitan Patterns of Daily Encounters

For the ordinary commuter, it is a refreshing reminder that we are all part of an important network that we know little about. Next time you see a familiar stranger, you can be sure you have much in common in terms of your spatial and temporal behaviour patterns. Why not introduce yourself and see what happens?

Yes what have you to loose? Or better still what have you to gain and share? Who knows where your daily encounters might take you…

See your self in Quantified Self Europe

I had the pleasure of attending the Quantified Self Europe conference in Amsterdam. It was part of my idea to head towards conferences which are less mainstream and more edgy. Nothing wrong with the mainstream, but I love the idea of finding something quite raw.

The Quantified self I have been tracking for quite sometime and I now I got to realise all those self tracking things I do are just part of my lifestyle.

The conference was more of a unconference with up to 14 tracks running in parallel at some point. There are keynotes and sessions which are attended by everyone but most of the time your walking between sessions and talking to people.

As usual here’s my highlights from the conference…

Your Life Log my privacy

Life logging…

There was lots of talk about lifelogging or photologging. Although not quantifiable as such it came up  in discussions around the Google Glass project. The discussions were centred around the privacy issues of lifelogging using not only google glass. 5 people had been given lifelogging devices and had been walking around the conference for a day or so. They then showed the results on the big screen. The ethics and norms were discussed. Witney talked about being conscious of the device taking pictures and shifting her angle when talking to someone to avoid taking clos up pictures. I described my experience of being audio blogged at Future Everything and how it felt like loosing a sense after it was gone. The same was true of the lifeloggers. Somewhere in the discussion Glass came up again and again. People seemed to feel it would work because the norm when not using it is simply to put the glasses on the top of your head. Simple and elegant way of saying you have my full attention and I’m not logging this.

Interesting points… Photos created by them are not as such images but rather data. From the day, 4% were good images, 40% were too dark and blury and 56% were only useful for data.

Relationship logging

Mood and the yet unquantifiable

There was a clear move to towards the yet unquantified. Mood, emotion, context, relationships, sleep tracking, meme, dreamtracking, mindhacking, etc. One of my favourites was relationship tracking by Fabio Ricardo.

Fabio tracks who he’s talking to, when, where and about what in a series of handwritten note books. The data is quite simple but there is so much of it, it makes for some great insight into conversations and relationships which change over time. Of course I have alot of interest in relationship data but more from a different angle. Had a real good chat with Fabio about his findings and possibilities.

It was also good to see Snoozon also talking as they are working with Lucidpedia who are my choice for mydreamscape. If I can get them to do one thing correctly, that would be the way dream data is entered. Actually I found this app which does a much better job.

Food tracking

Food Tracking

There were a number of talks about food tracking for fitness and enjoyment. The problem is putting in that data so it can be quantified. There is a social pressure involved with taking pictures of food. On one half its good because your sharing and the act of doing so really helps the tracker. For example loosing weight through the fact of documenting. However standing up in a restaurant to take a picture of your food is still generally socially painful. Whats interesting however is all the meta stuff around the photo. The table cloth, the angle, who is with you, where, etc. Taking pictures of what your drinking is very boring unless its cocktails (and Rain did suggest I should take do some cocktail tracking)

But the hardest thing is still how you work out the calories, how healthy the contents is, etc. On top of that we have no idea the overall effect on the tracker. This is all tied deeply into health tracking which was a big theme but isn’t so important to my work.

Visualising data with Rain

Alternative uses for Microdata

I was happy to see big data discussed and talked about at length. But it was even better to see personal tracked data included in that category. I have always stood by the idea of personal tracked data as microdata of big data. But interestingly there was lots of talk about the tracking side (tons on sensors) of the quantified self and not much thought about the after effects.

Generally the data was being used for self analysis or to visualise. Rainycat talked about visualising the data using clothes to demonstrate the data.

Quantified Self Europe 2013

Of course my big thing was Perceptive Media and in fact when I kind of hijacked a Fujitsu Labs presentation. The questions and feedback was a lot better than I first feared it would be. Using microdata to drive and alter media seemed of interest to the people in the room, although there was lots of questions about how?

There was so much more to the quantified self conference, I haven’t touched the crazy amount of sensors and there getting so small. One thing which got me very excited was http://funf.org.

The Funf Open Sensing Framework is an extensible sensing and data processing framework for mobile devices, supported and maintained by Behavio. The core concept is to provide an open source, reusable set of functionalities, enabling the collection, uploading, and configuration of a wide range of data signals accessible via mobile phones.

It doesn’t take a lot to imagine the possibilities for prototyping perceptive media projects using Funf…

The whole conference was made of such great diversity of views and opinions, and I was blown away by the mixed of people.

The missing trackers

Who’s missing from the Quantified Self?

However the session which I missed all of but the last 10mins was, the missing trackers by Witney. Looking at the notes it was a very interesting discussion about the ethics of self tracking and sharing. When I joined later it had turned into a debate about identity and how to put forward the Quantified self in the best light. There seems to be a split of view of how to best promote the Quantified Self movement. Is it best done through the numbers and hard data or through the stories and experiences.

I chimed in with the answer being the stories and experiences, data will loose most people while a good narrative will always attract and inspire people.

Quantified Self Europe 2013

We all Track…

To be honest by the end of the conference I was amazed at the amount of things (media, food, steps, work) I track had not really thought about before. Thinking next year I could confidently give a talk about an element of self tracking, although I’d prefer to come back with some Perceptive Media demos.

I was also interviewed at the conference as you can see at the top of the post. I think it went rather well, except half eaten through an apple and really wanting some water. I did have a shock in the morning when coming down to breakfast. One of the ladies behind the reception said they had heard me on the local radio station. Turns out the local station watch the local hashtags top10 and found the interview and decided to use it. I won’t touch on the licence terms but its good to hear Perceptive Media went out to most of Amsterdam.

The whole movement can seem a bit like a low key cult with people talking about self improvement through data. But I felt welcomed and there’s plenty of rational arguments back and forth. People were open and happy to stop and talk about there self tracking projects or ideas to improve self tracking.

I went away inspired enough to setup a Manchester Quantified Self group, so look out for more details about that real soon.

This movement is certainly on its way up and out to the mainstreamsee you next year?

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.

A halloween party for my fellow residences

Halloween Party

Islington wharf where I now live now has a fantastic communal garden (which I’ve been using to read my kindle and play with my pacemaker) and I thought it would be a grand idea to have a party in the garden for all the residences of islington wharf.

So the plan is to have the party and allow people to bring a couple of friends with them. I will lay on a bit of party snacks (I got plenty left over from my flat warming party back in September) and everyone will bring there own drinks. On top of that, there will be two contests, one for the best carved pumpkin and another for the best fancy dress on the day. I’ve roped ISIS’s hollie into supplying the pumpkins and maybe supplying some really nice prizes on the night to the winners.

Finally I thought it might be nice to have a organised trick or treat for the kids of islington wharf. Get everyone ready with treats and go around the flats with a couple of adults to supervise the whole thing. I’m not sure how many kids there are in the flats but I’ve seen a couple playing in the garden since I’ve been here. Its slightly ambitious but even if we get 10% of the residents down on Sunday night, thats still over 20 people.

So why am I doing this?

Well when I first saw the location the garden was certainly a selling point. I really wanted a balcony but I gladly gave it up for a communal garden which I could relax in and share with others. I’ve seen a few people using the garden but not nearly as many as I would have thought. The thing about flats is they have a rep for being impersonal and loney places where people tend to not talk to each other as they leave there flats. In actual fact Tracey Langford said it in her recent interview for east manchester.

Tracey, who runs her own business, says the idea of a community appealed to them too: “We didn’t want to live in an soulless place where nobody spoke in the lift.” She adds, “We also wanted a high proportion of owner occupiers so that people really cared about the building. There is a mix of properties here with houses that face on to the communal garden, which are ideal for younger families.”

And that communal aspect prevails. Says Tracey, “In fact, the first Islintgon Wharf baby was born here a couple of months ago and the whole building was invited to the first birthday party of one of our residents!”

Its all about Community

Community, yep the big C word. Its one of those things which is very hard to just do, it needs to be organic. But fear not, this is just one of the ideas I have to bring people together. ISIS haven’t done a bad job so far but theres certainly some room for improvement. The next logical step I think is to sort out the community forum which is currently hosted on a external site somewhere. I signed up to join the forum ages ago and my membership is still pending (even after months).

My neighbor across the hallway is talking about setting up another better supported forum but I’m wondering why we don’t just setup a facebook group? Although to be fair it seems I’m not the only one who thought about this. The tricky part in a community is getting everyone on the same page (or getting the word out about the site), this requires actual physical work like putting up posters and speaking to people, something which seems to be sadly missing it seems.

ISIS should be involved in the community process too, but not be the driver of the process. It needs to come from the community/residents its self.

So I’m hoping to improve on the community building which has already started. I can’t say it will translate into sales for ISIS but for me this isn’t about that. Its about building a lovely place to live. I already live in a amazing place with some great views and great architecture but in this case, theres nothing wrong with wanting more. A rich vibrant community of caring people who I can share a wine with in the garden? I’m working on it one step at a time…

Is XNA, Microsoft learning from the community?

I saw this a while ago and started thinking that XNA could be the result of this.

A lot of interesting data came out of Ars Technica's interview with Matt Lee, a Microsoft software developer in the Xbox division. The nice thing about Matt Lee was that when the interview was over, he answered some questions in the discussion. A lot of it was clarifying points he made in the main article, but then he shared this story with us:

…allow me to share a related story. A little over a year ago, one of the people in my group modded an Xbox, installed Avalaunch, and put all sorts of Xbox mod scene apps on the box, like XboxMediaCenter, RSS readers, etc, along with some “backup” games. He brought this box along to a meeting with Bill Gates. Bill saw a demo of this, was quite impressed, and asked something along the lines of “How can we engage this community?” – instead of saying something like “How can we squash this?” It's long been on the back of everyone's minds in the Xbox group – how can we get students and hobbyists involved without disrupting the console business model? The good news is that it's still on the radar, we'll see what happens in the future.

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Done the impossible – Firefly/Serenity Documentary

Done the impossible DVD

Adam Baldwin hosts the telling of this vivid Browncoat story that features interviews with Joss Whedon, creator of Firefly and Serenity, the cast, crew, and most importantly the fans themselves.

The story chronicles the rise, fall, and rebirth of the cult TV show “Firefly” as told from the perspective of the fans who helped save it. In this documentary, fans of the movie and TV series explain what inspired them to become passionate about Firefly, to help save Firefly, attend shindigs, participate in message boards, donate to charities, and become Serenity extras. They talk about the many ways that Firefly has affected their lives. Cast and crew also share humorous and insightful experiences with the fans.

Did I mention you can also download the documentary off torrent sites legally. Its been released under a creative commons licence so download and watch it to your hearts content. Cleverly there using it as a promotional tool for the actual DVD, and honestly I've bought the firefly DVD already and am planning to get Serentiy on DVD. I'll certainly get this on DVD too. If this goes towards a 2nd film or season then great. Oh I couldn't help post up this part which came in the info file.

[Why Release a “Free” version]

Great question, two answers.

1. We philosophically agree with the concepts of Creative Commons. In our opinion, the modern state of copyright is counter productive to creativity and free culture. It puts unnatural restraints on “fair use”, hinders the creative process and has fundamentally destroyed an entire industry before it was even born. Just think of the amazing products, enhancements, embellishments and re-mixes to creative works that could be built with today's technology and talents. But because modern copyrights are so restrictive, nobody dares do anything that *might* infringe on somebody's oh so holy copyright. Thus, we have chosen to not go down that road with our documentary. Enjoy it, share it, re-mix it all you like, just be sure to follow the license below. But remember, producing this documentary was not cheap, so please support the creators of the documentary and it's soundtrack by purchasing the full DVD and soundtrack at:
http://www.DoneTheImpossible.com
(or just send us some money via PayPal: jeremy@neish.com, we won't mind…)

2. This release is a preemptive strike. Somebody would have released our documentary via P2P (bittorrent, etc) anyway. By releasing it ourselves, we at least have control over the quality and exact content. Basically the documentary becomes a marketing tool for the full DVD with all of it's extensive special feature described above.

If you purchased our DVD and are feeling a bit slighted by this “free” release, we understand. But remember, somebody else would have released it anyway, so why not us? And remember your DVD contains much more than this P2P release of the documentary.

The P2P release of Done the Impossible was originally released on LegalTorrents.com, please respect copyrights, even if you don't fully agree with the current implementation.

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