07 March 2014
Quickly, because I’m between talks – I thought it’d be worth collating a list of projects mentioned in my talk at Random String, just in case you were in the audience and missed them (credited when not mine):
- Richard Hamilton – Five Tyres
- Spirits Melted Into Air
- Rachel Whiteread – Monument
- Jack Schulze & Timo Arnall – Immaterials: The Ghost In The Field
- Julian Oliver – Transparency Grenade
- The Literary Operator
and, as a bonus, because I had to cut it from the talk but it’s a remarkable work:
- Caleb Larsen – A Tool To Deceive And Slaughter
Full talk perhaps online soon – when I get a minute!
02 March 2014
I’m going to be speaking at FutureEverything in Manchester. I’m talking on the second day – the 1st of April – of the conference proper, as part of a panel on The New Shape of Things with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Dan Williams.
My angle is going to be along the lines of “What We Mean When We Say Thing“. Like it or not, the phrase “Internet of Things” has a degree of traction – but I’d like to explore what a Thing can be, and especially think about Things going beyond White Goods With Ethernet Sockets. It’s a logical through-line from some recent work, and there’s a chance I might have a new short demonstration. (A chance.)
It’ll be good to present this in the context of the other panelists, and I think the whole session should be great.
It looks like a great line-up for the whole event, and if you’re in Manchester at the end of March, do say hello.
01 March 2014
Four focuses this week:
- continued work on Contributoria, in advance of the March issue going live on Saturday the first. Mainly tidying up loose ends, adding a few useful features, getting things shipshape.
- a day fettling the Hello Lamppost code, in advance of two installations of it.
- working on my talk for Random String, which was coming together after a day, but will still need some time in the week before the event to really haul its disparate influences together.
- continuing to prod some hardware/software integration tests for Hutton. As part of that, I shared my somewhat-documented demonstration code on Github. It’s a very straightforward demo – retrieving a random number from a web server via an Electric Imp, and then pushing that number over a simple serial protocol to an Arduino. It doesn’t do much, other than illustrate how the components fit together.
Except: it’s an end-to-end demo. It covers each part of the service – Arduino code to handle serial data; Squirrel code for the Imp to request data and process it – and more Squirrel for the agent to make the HTTP request and return it to the device. Now all that remains is to swap out the server being used, the data being sent, and the representation of that data on the Arduino. By understanding the end-to-end process, I’m now in a better place to focus on the unique aspects of my implementation. It felt worth sharing, as it’s a little conceptual hump to get over.
And the usual comms management: handling inquiries about my availability, meeting people to talk about future projects. My March is wall-to-wall busy, with two talks to write and deliver, more work on Contributoria, some IOT work, a workshop for BBC R&D, and, if there’s time, a bit more work on Hutton. Blimey. For now: onwards.
22 February 2014
A good week. Much of it was spent on Hutton: a personal project I’m building to demonstrate some concepts for a talk. By the end of the week, I’d got a very solid web-based prototype, sketched out how the hardware version would work, and begun poking the hardware version into life:
When not working on Hutton, I spent a day and half with Max Gadney and After The Flood in a pair of workshops. Both had great teams assembled, and it was a pleasure to explore and examine the concepts we were working on.
I was also very taken with Max’s “one rule” for workshops, which he detailed in an email beforehand:
The only rule is no swearing. I believe swearing shuts the brain down – focusses on the fight/flight imperative – and we need to be the opposite – synaptic anemones, happily tendrilling. And if swearing is not really allowed, then the opposite runs true: that I would encourage comedy, humour and jollity. It is good for the mind. Laughing clears the mind and opens it up to possibility.
You know what: I think he has a point. Even when used for emphasis or as part of jokes, it unwraps a particular facet of the brain. And by moving away from it, we stayed on a kind of focus, and told different kinds of jokes. We also managed – thanks to some generous contributions to the swearbox from Max – to buy coffee for everyone involved by 4pm. But it was a good insight that I think made the work better, and, I think, one I will institute in other workshops from now on.
What else did I do this week? Emails, of course. Many emails, and a pile of invoicing.
Oh, and it was announced that I’ll be speaking at O’Reilly’s Solid conference in May, over in San Francisco. More about that in my post on the subject.
22 February 2014
My talk is called A Lamppost Is A Thing Too:
“Connected Object” brings to mind white consumer goods with an Ethernet sockets or Wifi antennas. But that’s a narrow way of thinking that’s perhaps unhelpful: whatever you may think of the term, an “Internet of Things” should embrace the diversity of Thingness.
Perhaps a better model for understanding what connected objects can and could be is the furniture of a city. It’s public, shared, and represents a relationship not only with an object but with services or infrastructure. Connected Objects aren’t just going to be devices we own: they’re going to be public objects we share. And they can’t just work with bespoke apps for niche smartphones: public Connected Objects will need to be far more democratic in their technology choices.
So: a bit about Things; a bit about Hello Lamppost, and how it’s not just a charming/playful art project; a bit about what Things can be, and on Connected Civic Objects. Perhaps a new demo of work in progress. It looks like a great lineup: perhaps see you there.