Afrotech Fest 2018 keynote: Diversity and the joy of being different

Ian Forrester at Afrotech 2018

The slides are now public on google drive (unusual but I do tend to create and edit them on google slides to be honest) and of course in the usual place of my slideshare presentaion. Its a long one but I could do it with all the videos a tad over 30mins.

They are thought provoking and full of references to some excellent research worth reading and digesting.

Massive thanks to the organisers and the audience for bearing with me through the keynote of 106 slides…

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Me & Kate in the national archive?

Kate strikes a pose

So remember when I said I loved the idea of the BBC listening room?

Well after a little tweeting and a couple of emails, myself and good friend Kate have secured a spot on the listening project site and in history. Yes at some point in the near future you can listen to the discussion of us two as we talk about something (undefined as of yet) for a short while. Goodness knows what people will make of it in decades to come.

Some of you might wonder how did this happen? Heck if you read the blog before, you may say why Ian oh why?

I would direct you to the secret of luck or the richness of life.

 

Northology podcast ep 8 with Ian Forrester

Ian Forrester

Not long after blogging about Northology and the other great things happening in Manchester, its great to be on the show.

This week Nathan talks to Ian Forrester, a Senior Producer with BBC Research and Development, about his move from London to Salford, his work with BBC Backstage and how narrative and story telling is changing.  He also talks online dating, bar camp, geek dinners and many other things he’s involved in.

The interview was a quick thing and before I even knew it was over. Which means I didn’t quite get everything I wanted to say into the interview.

Judge for yourself by listening here or subscribing here.

TedXManchester2: The Story of Me

I’m just back from TedXManchester where I gave one of the most fascinating talk of my life.
The story of me came about in a conversation between myself and Herb Kim a while ago. Herb was wondering if I  might want to get involved in TedXManchester2. And somewhere along the line we talked about the possibility of someone from the BBC talking at the upcoming event. Anyway, in a roundabout way, we got around to talking about the possibility of talking about mybrushwithdeath.
I think Herb was very surprised when I said I’d love to do it and we got talking to Isabella from the Cornerhouse about the possibility. I remember that night because it was in Tai Wu and Herb ordered a bottle of Sake, which we never did quite finish 🙂
The presentation I’ve kept under wraps for a long while because I didn’t want to spoil it in advance and I’m only really known for giving presentations about technology or dating. I did show a couple of people who wasn’t going to be at Tedx, but generally it was a need to know bases.
So it went extremely well. All the comments I’ve seen on Twitter and Tedx chatroom have been pretty positive. Lots of people came up and said lovely things to me afterwards.
I know there was some criticism about being left in the room for 7 days but… remember I have no memory of anything, so it might have been I was actually wondering about but not right in the head, as the bleed was most likely happening from just after the election.
I’m glad I pretty much held it together, although when Herb did the introduction, I almost started to cry as he explained what happened from his point of view. As I took the steps, I thought there is no way I’m going to hold it together long enough, but I did – just… By my eyes, I hit the 18min mark almost dead on, which is great because that’s how long its taken when I did my test runs both times.
It was fantastic to tell my story on the scale of TedxManchester, and I really thank everyone for listening to my story, there is so much I cut out of the slides to make it fit including the problems I had in Hope Hospital (which I got a official written sorry for), the story of how my sister and mortgage adviser (Billie) saved my flat, the reaction to being told who won the general election and the whole mydreamscape idea.

I don’t think I will need to ever tell the story again… I’m coming up to my 2nd year since the brush with death, and I’m feeling great (although very tired right now). I was going to add to the end of my presentation, the story continues…

I just know someone/some people out there was inspired by such a personal story and if that helps, my job was done.

Updated…

Of course I didn’t say anything about the other speakers at TedXManchester…

TedXManchester 2012

Mary Anne Hobbs gave a fantastic talk with no slides and no real prompt, amazing stuff. Its actually funny because I felt like her talk fitted really well with my own although we were hours apart. Passion is infectious…

Tara Shears really made particle physics sound quite simple and Tom Bloxham was quite likeable in what he was saying. I had a little chat with him about the New Islington area before the event started and he wasn’t as defensive about it as I thought it would be. Maybe he hears it all the time. Martins 12min talk asking why there isn’t a startup hub in Manchester was interesting and got me thinking about my plans for Smlworld.

Dan O’Hara

Dan O’Hara and Brendan Dawes were great as you’d expect… But a massive shout must go to Herb & Isabella for putting the whole thing together and picking such great speakers to talk…

Isabella

One year on from my brush with death

Get well cards from 2010

It seems only yesterday when I was totally stressed out about the closure of BBC Backstage, trying to help Future Everything, buying my first flat on my own and goodness knows what else…

I assume this time last year is about the time Adrian got the call saying I didn’t have mengentis, instead I had a massive bleed on the brain and they were going to operate straight away, could he contact my parents.

It still makes me very sad that I put everyone through everything but then again I really wasn’t to know. The bleed was caused by having high blood pressure and although my size doesn’t help, its also in my family genes. Both my mum and dad have high blood pressure and to be honest I’d never really thought to ask them about it. Ever since, I’ve asked them all types of questions…

In my flat, I have had all the cards I received during my time in hospital up. It reminds me what happened and how I need to move forward. My parents would rather I had taken them down but I did say I would keep them up for a year then put them away for safe keeping. This is exactly why I’m writing this post I guess.

I know I’m one of the luckiest people on this planet. To survive a bleed on the brain (Angiogram) is one thing but to be able to walk away with little permanent damage is just something else altogether. I’m not one for religion but as my parents say, god must have been looking down on me that day.

Get well cards from 2010

The blow by blow

Over the next week the story of last year becomes a lot clearer in part due to my caringbridge site/blog, which was setup by my ex-wife Sarah, who at the time I was not on speaking terms with at all.

Ian had been feeling very unwell, and his flatmate and his boss convinced him to go to the hospital to get checked out. We were called on Monday 17th May and told Ian was in hospital. Originally they suspected meningitis. However, all we know at the moment is that he had a bleed on his brain. He had surgery that day to put a drain in and has been heavily sedated in the ICU at Salford Royal (aka Hope Hospital).

It all felt like a lot longer, it almost felt like I was in hospital months, but I guess thats the powerful drugs effecting my judgment and memory. I assume looking at the dates I was only in ICU for about 2 weeks.

I do remember this moment

I spent most of the afternoon and evening with Ian today. They have taken him off the medication that was keeping him asleep and his condition is fair. He’s opened his eyes and is able to communicate with me by nodding. He is still on the ventilator but he is starting to breathe naturally. They want to keep the ventilator in for the moment in case he isn’t responding properly.

He had tears in his eyes while I was reading all the get well messages to him. So far he will only open his eyes when I ask him to, but he will not do it for the nurses.

I could hear my mum calling my name… And I woke up in a strange place mainly of white. My mum, dad and sister were standing over me. My mum asked do I know where I am? I shook my head and she said hospital. They read out a few messages I had gotten and I fell a sleep with tears in my eyes.

The next day (Saturday)… I remember slightly more.

Ian wanted to know what happened as he cannot remember falling ill; his sister has explained it to him. He then wanted to know what the doctors said so I’ve told him about having the bleed on his brain. He was listening and nodding to say he understood.

By Monday my mum certainly knew me very well because she wrote about my recovery, she did say to me later in the year that she knew I wasn’t going to be physically disabled because my legs and arms kept moving now and then while I was under…

I still feel very confident that Ian is going to make a full recovery. Today he smiled and squeezed my hand, and he laughed when we told him a joke. He knows where he is and recognises his family.

He is still quite tired and drowsy, but I am reading him your get well messages when he is awake enough to listen. Alvin and I had no idea how well known Ian is until we saw the messages coming from all over the world.

Yes I certainly remember trying to stay awake and learn more about what was going on around me but struggling to stay awake even during guest visiting hours.

I am staying at Ian’s flat in Manchester and am pleased that I have figured out how to turn on his television!

Good for my mum… I kind of forgot how alien it must have been for her, shes so use to just turning on the TV and sound coming out. While I had it setup so all the sound on the TV is muted and comes out to the cinema amp instead. Luckily I changed the Sherwood amp to the Onyko amp sometime before otherwise it would have been impossible to work out.

Tuesday, and I’m wondering about Google IO 2010 and was in tears to hear about what Jeremy Keith did for me

I held up some of his cards and messages for him to read. Ian wrote on a piece of paper asking for an article about Google, and one had been sent to him so he got to read it (thanks to the sender!).

The doctors are hoping to to take him off the ventilator again tomorrow and see how his breathing is doing.

On Wednesday Ant/Adrian posted this blog post on the Backstage blog. While Thursday…

Ian’s ventilator was removed again this morning. To avoid having the ventilator back in, he has had a tracheotomy to help him breathe. This is just a temporary measure until his breathing is stabilised. The drain has been removed from his head, so now it is just the feeding tube in his nose.

I remember the tracheotomy, in actual fact I’ve still a year later got the scar from where the hole in my throat was. The Feeding tube in my nose was very strange. I remember when the nurses would change the feeding stuff to something sweeter and my nose would almost tingle as it slowly got pumped down the back of my nose.

By that weekend (last weekend of May)… I think Ross and Carly came up to see me and my mum wrote this.

Ian’s dad, sister and I have been back in Manchester with him since yesterday afternoon.

The trach tube had to be resited and Ian is still having some ventilation through that just until his breathing improves. They are reducing use of it and he is mostly breathing on his own.

Ian’s sister has been reading him messages from the guestbook which are much appreciated. However, at the moment we would still like visitors to be limited to family. Ian is having ups and downs in his recovery, but on the whole is improving. We want to make sure he rests and does not get frustrated with not being able to speak (this is temporary due to the trach tube). He is communicating with us by blinking, nodding and occasionally writing, and he does understand everything that is going on.

The messages and cards were overwhelming… They really helped me. I remember thinking I can’t believe the amount of peoples lives I’ve touched. Not being able to speak was a nightmare… my sister (bless her) came up with a system for communicating but what she missed was the fact it was based on speaking language and so required far too much effort to make it useful. My frustration was clear but I was able to somewhat laugh with Ross and Carly.

I’ll leave the walk down memory lane there for now… but its worth poping along to Thank you part 1 and Thank you part 2 which cover my thoughts and thank you’s when I left Hospital.

Time to pack away the cards

Life goes on

Now one year on, my life has totally changed around. I’m doing a lot less but also going deeper in certain areas. I’ve decided to leave the open data movement to its own momentum. I’m now full of creative ideas which I keep writing down in Evernote for future use. Some of those ideas are to do with the BBC and some to do with other aspects of my life like djing. I’m also less likely to hold on to them, which fits nicely with my need to use less brain cycles.

I’m living much more of my life publicly, trying to hold back requires effort and brain cycles so unless there’s a very good reason, I tend to share it. I’m also less guarded with information about myself, heck I’ll pretty much tell anyone about my experience with the bleed.

I also have a total new appreciation of our brains and the system which keeps it ticking over. I’ve of course taken advantage of mine to trick it into thinking giving blood and injections are not as bad as they should/could be via hypnosis. Also a better understanding of the need to stay fit, healthy and have a very positive outlook. I really hate to see life being thrown away, even more so than before.

Generally my brush with death has changed me in many positive ways and I never want to end up back where I was. Although I’m thinking about popping back into the hospital to see some of the nurses to see if the changes I complained about have actually happened or not… But thats for another blog post later in June.

Its certainly time to stop the #mybrushwithdeath thread. Archive and move on but never ever forget…

Look out for me in the Guardian next week

Me and the BBC

Yes I just about survived the embarrassment of being the face of BBC North’s recruitment event earlier this week. BBC North have stepped it up and are about to launch a series of adverts in the Guardian next week. So I’m preparing myself for people twittering and pinging me saying, hey I saw Ian in the Guardian today…

Oh and Happy Birthday to me… This weekend is my 30th Birthday Redux.

Me in the guardian today (11/4/2011)
Me in the Guardian today (11/4/2011), look for the Media Guardian pull out section.

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8 Random Facts About Me (tagging meme)

Somethinkodd Diabolo

James Cridland tagged me in the blogging meme by the same name. Yes its been a while but I've been pretty busy with lots of other stuff. Unlike James I know what a meme is and I like the idea of memetics, which I first heard via Susan Blackmore. Anyway I'm sure James actually does know what a meme is and its on with the rules.

Here are the rules:

  1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
  1. My first computer was a Commodore 16
    Not a Commodore 64 or 128, 16 as in 16k of total memory. My father bought the C16 for me when I was about 7 and I loved it. I use to play games then started to get into basic programming. I still remember the weird rounded tape cassette recorder thing and the blocky as hell graphics.
  2. I have worked in some odd places including… Equinox Discotheque in Leicester Square
    I was between jobs and I only lasted 3 weeks before quiting. I learned how to pour drinks correctly and how to make a lot of cocktails. I was only paid 3.70 a hour because you were expected to make a ton of money in tips. This only worked well if you were a attractive woman. The best tips I got in one night was 20 pounds while my female equivilents were getting upwards of 100 pounds a night!
  3. I use to have hypersomnolence and now sleep Apnea
    This is a sleep disorder where I pause snoring and breathing during the night. This makes sleeping difficult and a couple of the side-effects are loud sleeping, morning headaches (like being hangover), trouble concentrating, decreased sex drive forgetfulness, nocturia, etc, etc. Now you can see why working later in the day works better for me. I have also had surgery to try and correct it but its had little to no effect. Most people think its down to weight but actually I've had this since I was really young and thin. I even know people who are very fit who have this same problem, you can imagine its a problem for the partner who thinks your dying while you sleep.
  4. I'm a Diabolist
    Whats a diabolo? Well it actually means the devil with two sticks but really its a Chinese Yo-Yo. It looks like a egg cup with a string and sticks. Anyway, I learned how to do the Yo-Yo during the coke-cola yo-yo days and got fed up because everyone had them and everyone knew how to do most of the limited tricks. So I picked up on this thing called a wow ball. It turns out the wow ball was a cheap version of a diabolo and before long I was doing most of the same tricks with a full size diabolo. When I was younger, I use to enter competitions at holiday camps and have won a couple of times including a few holidays. I'm going to start putting up videos of me doing the diabolo on to videojug or more likely sclipo, so look out for it. Although thediabolo.com might have beaten me to it (I love that light path idea).
  5. I can skateboard and rollerblade
    Yes believe it or not. I can skateboard and I use to skateboard to work and college everyday. Roughly 5+ miles a day. Could I do any tricks? Well basic jumps and thats about it. By the way I can also rollerblade ok.
  6. I think I can ski but have never tried it on snow
    Yes its odd eh? I can actually ski but I've only ski'ed on dry slopes and grass. Grass skiing is pretty cool but those boots are damm heavy.
  7. I don't know popular music
    I don't know my led zepplin from my rolling stones. Seriously I don't know much about rock or pop music. When I was young I use to listen to dance music and hiphop. I was deep in to my dance music too, I stopped listening to radio when GWR changed there policy to no rap, less chat (thanks Miles for the correction). This meant the end of Sandy Martin's disco tracking and no more dance music on local radio. Radio 1 was interesting to me but I only listen to pete tong when I was older. I was never into the MTV actually I turned my back on it and The Box because it had no rave music. I did for a while check out that show after the Fresh Prince on BBC 2, the one with Normski (good on the BBC for taking a risk with such a show, maybe this lead the way towards 1xtra?) and I was a avid watcher of the Hitman and Her (check out the episode where pete and michaela go to Eclipse in Covertry!) and after it BPM (which I can't find anywhere). I went to clubs and raves alot, the magazines I read were eternity and knowledge, the music I listened to was rave. I just didn't have the time for other music because rave culture was so involving.
  8. I have never taken any drugs stronger that caffeine and I don't like Beer
    As you can see above, I was well into the rave and dance culture, but never ever took any class A, B or C drugs. Hell I didn't even drink beer. So although I was surrounded by drug taking I never got involved. It was strange because I educated myself about drugs at a early age and while the press was having a field day about evil ravers and dealers following the Leah Betts death I was seeing strange through the bull. Although I could see ecstasy wasn't this evil drug, I just wasn't interested in taking it because for me life was wild and weird enough, plus I just loved the music. About Beer. I bought them for friends when I was younger simply because I looked old enough to pass for 18 when I was 13 (yes I was bad). So I always got a taste of their beers. I never liked it and trust me I've tried loads of beers. I even last week tried white or wheat beer, which I thought was nasty. Once when I was at a holiday camp, I bought a tray full of drinks for a group of new friends and the security guard tapped me on the back and asked if I was buying drinks for underage teenagers? I being a little shocked that he had not guessed I was also underage answered no its all for me. So he stood there for about 10mins while I slowly drank most of the drink! That was the first time I had tasted Bitter and boy oh boy was I almost sick. Beer tastes like crap to me, I don't get why people like it? The only beer I like is Ginger Beer.

I'm nominating…. (without checking to see if they have done this already)

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Breaking up is hard to do


Picture from our recent holiday in New York

Sarah and I are both announcing today on our blogs that we are going to get divorced after four and a half years of marriage.  This was a joint decision, and it wasn't made hastily.  We have tried many different things to make it work, but have come to the conclusion that staying married will cause a lot of unhappiness for both of us.  We would rather end it now while were still on good terms, and plan to stay friendly.

We know this is pretty public and quite shocking news for many people who know me. We hope that everyone will accept that we know what is best for us, and give us our privacy about the reasons.  We are both sad and under a lot of stress, but are also somewhat relieved to have made the right decision.
 
A lot of people were also surprised about the speed at which we got married in the first place.  We didn't take that step lightly, and neither of us regrets getting married.  We did believe at the time we would be married forever, and we do still love each other.  The problems we have do not have anything to do with the manner in which we met or the speed of our marriage.

We both admire and respect each other and hope that our mutual friends will never feel that they have to choose sides.  At some point, we may even continue the podcast, but it is undecided at this time.  We consider ourselves 'separated' now, but will continue to live in the same house until we can sell the property or make alternative arrangements.

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Techmeme is pretty good to me

techmeme likes me

Been meaning to write about Techmeme for a while now, specially after Tom Morris's thoughts on Techmeme.

See for some reason Techmeme really likes my blog entries. I can't work out why, but I seem to get ranked pretty high along the likes of the mainstream press sometimes. Generally I do use Techmeme for catching up on the latest news, and although Tom is right about the business focus. Its reasonably ok and saves me flicking through tons of blogs about the same story, when I just want the headline stories. I rated it very high in Particls (Touchstone) for this exact reason.

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Geek and Geekhag Podcast number 3 for 2007

This time we're upstairs in the computer room with our new microphones and a lightly longer podcast for your listening pleasure. We talk about what we did on Friday night, TV generations, RFID misconceptions, Calendaring update and TV.com vs Tape it off the internet.com. We also have a update on the mouse and some music perceptions which puzzles me. Enjoy… and leave us a comment.

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Geek and Geekhag Podcast number 2 for 2007

This time we're armed with decent microphones and an extended podcast for your listening pleasure. The main part includes me trying to explain why I don't think the iPhone is not revolutionary, how Matthew lost a bet and what I'll be doing for kicks next Friday night. While the extended
podcast
(part 2.5) includes me and Sarah shouting about mice and discussing alterative content management systems.

Please do drop us a comment if you think the quality is better and what else we should be doing.

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Geek and Geekhag Podcast number 1 for 2007

As my wife says,

Our podcasts are back for 2007, somewhat streamlined (only about a half hour instead of full hour). I have no idea what number we're on anymore. This time we talk about New Year's resolutions,Twitter, Xbox 360 being hacked, TV, and Christmas presents (new laptops for the both of us!).

Its number 16 by my count and yes shamed by other partner podcasts, we've decided to pick up the pace and shorten it down. You listen to it directly on Blip.tv or if your using my feed with a podcasting client, you should already have it. Enjoy… and leave a comment if you enjoy the new style.

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24 ways to impress your friends

24 ways to impress your friends site

So I've been pretty quiet about 24ways to impress your friends this year. The reason why is because I've been writing a tip titled Making XML beautiful again to go into the 24ways collection for 2006. The tip centres around a client side XSL transformation on a ATOM feed. I thought this would be simplier that RSS because I would have to create templates to support RSS 0.91, 0.92, 1.0 and 2.0. ATOM 1.0 feeds are also very much a like so a safe ground to start on (although a lot of ATOM 0.3 feeds use a different date element).

The actual XSL took me all of about 5mins to write but the explaining took a good few weeks. I have spell checked it, grammer checked and run it past the eyes of Sheila (my XSL friend). Sheila helped a lot on making it sound less like me talking and more like me writing, but there is still bits of my twisted humour in there. I also wanted to explain the difference between client-side and server-side transformations but decided it was out of scope. As was spending 3 paragraphs on what XSL is, which I finally cut down to 1. There is also something else which has been bugging me while writing the tip. Firefox 2.0, I can not work out if its actually broken when it comes to client side transformations or not. Some people seem to think so, but I'm getting just odd results like the output escaping not working. I've tried to install Firefox 1.5 in a Virtual Machine but I can't get it online (for many reasons). So I'm currently loading up a old Ubuntu Boot CD on a spare machine. I'm sure the comments will come flooding in soon.

Anyway big thanks to Drew McLellan for thinking about me when relaunching the 24ways project this year. Maybe Drew took it to heart when (in a good way of course) I asked why he didn't use XSL for parsing Microformats at BarCampLondon. I was still amazed he used a non rules based language to parse Microformats. It shows talent. Thanks again Drew, I just hope it comes across as well, as the other excellent authors on 24ways..

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My BBC talk at Ravensbourne College

Ravensbourne

So on Tuesday afternoon, I gave a lecture at Ravensbourne College to a mix of interaction design, broadcast and graphic design students. John told me, it just needed to be inspiring. So I was torn between my day job at BBC Backstage and things I think about daily. So I started with my presentation about what is backstage. I got to the 3rd slide before the whole lecture turned into a dynamic conversation about the BBC. It was fantastic, the students and staff wanted to know where the BBC was going in the future. Along that path we explorered the questions of advertising on the BBC's international facing website and the Microsoft BBC agreement. Miles did say this

I did find myself reminded of John Battelle's description of AltaVista as it was fucked over by DEC (just prior to the sale to Compaq): “a mammal chained to a dinosaur more likely than not will get trampled.

While I don't know the details of the agreement, there were lots of thoughts and worries about the future of non-DRM content coming out of the BBC. Someone mentioned Dirac and asked whats happened to that? There was also a serious debate about why we didn't write our own DRM? The suggestion was that DRM in understandable if we can't make up our mind between DRM and NoDRM at this point. And you know what thats actually a good question, even if we internally couldn't build it. Maybe someone else could have from a netrual position. I've heard good things about Open Source DRM but not seen any marjor adopters. This would be an ideal project for the BBC to trial. Hey maybe even a Backstage Project? Someone (i think miles) did ask what would happen if someone today created a videoplayer which looks and feels like the BBC player which is being worked on? I said we would certainly be interested in it from a prototype point of view and if it was that good, who knows what might happen.

Although most of this could sound like BBC bashing, it was far from that. It was concerned people wanting to understand why certain choices were being made without them and wondering what they could do to make sure the BBC values lives on in some form into the future.

For any students who might be reading, I uploaded the raw html from the cache of my desktop RSS reader. I hope to clean it up a little more in the near future.

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Geek and Geekhag podcast 14 – Why a Second Life?

Me and Sarah did a podcast last night, number 14 (really 13 but lets not go there). This time we discuss Second Life, Myspace and Youtube, Feast of Fools and Sarah's new (non-hand me down) phone. The other good news is that Sarah has agreed to do the podcast every week now. So expect more geek and geekhag next week.

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