History of libraries

Thanks to the excellent Thinking Liverpool [1], a lunchtime talk about the history of libraries caught my eye. I mention the history of public libraries worryingly often. I make an analogy between libraries in the age of the printing pres and the modern need for equivalently novel public institutions in the age of the networked […]

Don’t play the game, mutate the board

I found some notes I’d written at the start of this notebook, a few months old. I used to campaign in Cambridge for more Fairtrade coffee and chocolate. That was a “closed” tactic, as opposed to an “open” tactic like open source software or open data. It worked – even the best selling chocolate bar […]

Sync/Backup workshop at Redecentralize Conference

The fabulous Redecentralize Conference was organised by Ira and a bunch of other volunteers. Its subject – how do we make the net resilient, private and fun again? It was an unconference, so I decided to do a session on a personal itch I’ve had for the last few years – file synchronisation and backup. […]

Making our information society safe and fair

The topic of how to make our information society safe and fair regularly comes up in conversations. I think we need some quite big, radical things. They’ll need new public service Internet organisations to implement. This is my high level view list. 1. Access to culture “People have too much knowledge already: it was much […]

Those brief moments when winning seems possible

This mad dash bad mixen fun up down world. Forces smash hither and fither, 7 billion of us strange qualia, doing, being human. Web culture, open source culture… sucked out of academia, hacking, sharing, making, funning, building. Just late enough for usability to be just there just cheap enough. Smashed with. Political culture… burnt out, […]

Why I’m collecting every MP candidate’s CV

My side project for the last month is to try and collect the Curriculum Vitae of everyone standing for Parliament. It’s called Democracy Club CVs. I’ve been working every spare hour – mainly around midnight and on Sundays. Partly it is technically interesting, partly the other Democracy Club volunteers are fun to hang out with… […]

The advert wars

One of the pitched battles in this century’s cyber war is about advert blocking and injecting. It’s in full flow. You can tell – journalist friends complaining that ad blockers have killed Joystiq, a 10 year old gaming magazine; web friends complaining that an ad blocker charges advertisers to not block some ads. I’ve got […]

Which web development tools are commodities?

We’re really bad at thinking about innovation. To improve my own sense, I’ve been gradually absorbing Simon Wardley’s Value Chain Mapping since first seeing him talk about it a few years ago. The picture to the right is an example of one of his maps. Each blob is a technology need. As you go from […]

Promising to make software safer

1. Virtual bugs I first really knew that all software was fundamentally insecure back in 2001. I was working for an artificial life games company. We made virtual pets – amazing ones with a simulated brain, biochemistry and genetics. I’d just built a new networked version called Creatures Docking Station. It let the cute, furry, […]