Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Excuses and new beginnings

I feel guilt equivocal to that of a religious person. I know I haven’t updated in over a month which is just evil. However, rather than write short paragraphs about all my real and digital going ons, I’ve been posting them mainly via the twatverse and tumblroom.

‘isalive’ is going to take a newish direction. As I’m now working at an interesting agency and doing work I genuinely enjoy. So, every time something I work on launches I’ll post it up here, (with insider commentary) that way I’ll be more in line with other ‘industry’ bloggers (with a smattering of self promotion and smugitude).

I’ll also include the insights and rants about my new abode, Queen’s Park. After all, life will always be more interesting than advertising, if that changes we should default to Cthulhu.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Booty, as in treasure, not boo-tay

My significant udder and I have recently come into a mass of crockery, cutlery and furniture. No, no one had to die; this was a case of surplus. Like a farmer with a bountiful crop, my friend Craig, now happily married and head of tech at blah blah blah, found that his tenants back in good old LDN were moving on.

‘Oh, what’s this? There are cups everywhere. What’s this? Knives and spoons to spare!’

I should have been in musicals. Anyway, the excess loot is only the setting for our story. The real tale begins with our attempt to get it back to the flat.

For this mammoth task we hired the services of recent St.Martin’s graduate Reuben. Not since Han Solo or Sinbad have you ever met a more charming rogue. He was the captain of a van as battered and bodged at the Millennium Falcon, with another Van’s engine and modified doors to boot. Apart from the credits this artist from the emerald isle would be receiving for his trouble, we throw in a brand new washing machine, Romani style.

Reuben, a man of multiple talents as we would discover, managed to unhook the washing machine from a maze of tentacled pipes, with little effort, all the while talking of waster pipes and other things that someone as genteel as I am ignorant of. Next, we moved the fridge, again Reuben worked a new set of skills, this time disconnecting the live wires, cutting and taping them. Awesome.

The most entertaining part of our adventure came during the journey home. Reuben regaled us with tales of moving furniture and sculptures alike. The best story involved a trip to Hampshire where his van broke down three times. Each time the same A.A mechanic was called out, until, finally, the van gave up the ghost and Reuben had to be towed from Hampshire back to Ireland. A singing endorsement of the A.A if ever there was one.

All this man crush aside, it made me realise that in the here and now, the age, of geeks and metrosexuals, these ‘real world’ skills have been lost. Who can boast, fixing an engine, knowing how to wire a fridge and detach a washing machine without flooding? None of us. We have become like the kryptonians, hiding away behind our talk of social media and the digital age, skin with the consistency of porridge, chasing after the recognition of our contemporaries

And to give this post a nice bit of symmetry, we'll end on a musical:

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

I have nothing to say

The reason I haven’t posted anything since last week…I honestly have nothing to say. I could talk about the disappointment of returning to Crouch End to find it overrun by BMWs and 4x4 prams helmed by irate mothers. I could also talk about the fascination in watching my significant udder and her recently graduated St Martin’s contemporaries adjusting to careers in art. That last bit sounds like an oxymoron. Or I could talk about my new fondness for Farringdon where I’ve been working for the last few weeks. Or the 50% off Yo Sushi deal that enabled me to gorge on ‘grey plates’ galore last night. Or…

Friday, 20 June 2008


To celebrate my significant udders completion of Dante's very own art inferno, we're doing a look back at the past four years worth (actually this blog is barely a year old) of galleries, shows, blockbusters, you name it I probably scoffed at it.

I'm both shocked and awe-somed at the power of persuasion evoked to drag me to all these cathedrals of culture. Good times, good, arty times:

Darren Almond - Fire Under the Snow

Double Agent - ICA

Matthew Barney - Drawing Restraint

Bridge Art Fair 07

Louis Bourgeois and Doris Salcedo

Lynette Wallworth - Hold Vessel 2

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Two fringes enter, one fringe leaves

I’m watching Fringe, J.J Abrams latest attempt to mystify. Like all things, there are patterns if you look hard, or should that be, obsessively enough. My girlfriend got a fringe for her degree show, (shameless plug 1 and 2) I don't know why, but that makes it sound like she contracted a disease.

Now, if you regularly viddy this blog you’ll know Abrams and I don’t get on. We fell out over a fiver he never paid back and also his puny attempts to set up a mystery, within a mystery, within…ad infinitum, like a baffling plot version of a Gooducken. I’ll write a 140 character review via twitter here, just to make it more interesting.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

No bioengineering, just aging

I feel like Old Snake. I spotted three grey hairs the other day, my vision's deteriorated to the point that I’m now one of those people who holds a menu at arms length and I’ve noticed how noisy Central LDN is. Why do these seemingly innocuous things seem so frightening? I’m 22!

We’re going to do some ‘real time’ blogging here, I'm doing a search for ‘stress related grey hair’ and praying to the Old Gods that once hair goes grey, through trauma or otherwise, it stays that way. Let’s see now…

“While we've all blamed our fading locks on stress, in reality, there is no proven link, said Jeffrey Miller.”

"The process normally begins in one's 30s, but gray hair may become visible as early as one's teens," said Miller.

Oh shit. Well, if I have any talents to my name, its being able to delude myself into thinking that something seemingly negative, can be an outright awesome-wells, positive. Grey Fox, (ties in nicely with the Metal Gear reference I made at the beginning of this post) was an exoskeleton wearing, laser sword wielding, ninja, after all. Excellent, I’ve started already.

Monday, 16 June 2008

I misjudged you, demon

Paranormal, tentacled terrors from the pit, no, this isn’t a reference to the 70s toilet in my flat but my new love. Boy Hell, I mean, Hellboy. Its unsettling that, apart from inheriting several physical and physiological traits from my dad, I’ve also inherited an uncontrollable tendency for irrational prejudices when it comes to certain franchises.

It happened with Firefly, despite the love that dare not speak its name, (not in public at any rate) for Buffy and Angel. Again, I suffered this affliction when considering Clone Wars despite knowing some Samurai Jack episodes verbatim. And so, it follows, like a chicken burger that has stewed under a heat lamp, follows too much Bombay Safire, that I would feel the same way about Hellboy.

The Hellboy revulsion is easier to dissect. My first real exposure was a giant bust (for the non-geek this amounts to a classical bust but of a popular comic/anime character) of Hellboy on the desk of a tard I did a degrading summer job for. Negative enforcement number one. The second exposure came via the film version, which, despite being directed by Del Toro loses a lot of the elements that future me would come to love about the graphic novels. The references to Lovecraft and blending of folklore were watered down for a heavier emphasis on action…lame.

So, the moral...the moral? Amoral. Toril, that’s a planet apparently. Don’t judge a graphic novel character by the sawn off horns on his head.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Everybody's gotta grow up sometime, bum, bum, bum

I've moved in with my significant udder, got a permanent job and have governance, both physical and spiritual, over the cat. It's all competing for geek out time. I've even started to contemplate some sort of geek schedule.

Fitting in an hour of Battlestar every week shouldn't be too hard. And, lets Cylon it, once that's over I'll have already rounded up all the episodes of Deadwood and tapped every series of The Wire. Maybe I could buy the Cracker DVD box set? After all, I was only a wee one when the series originally aired. The only episode I can remember, with any clarity, starred Robert Carlyle as a Liverpool supporter who moonlighted as an anarchist bomber. I still duck and cover whenever I hear a scouse accent.

Graphic novels: a friend of mine works at Forbidden Planet, so there's a social excuse to fit that in. I've got some time before the next volumes of The Walking Dead, Fables and Ultimates get released. There's no rush to venture into the BO steeped caverns. They really need to give out deodorant to the more 'special' patrons.

Films: I watched Iron Man on das interweb recently. I also made the mistake of going to see the latest Indy film at the picture house. I thought this time, this time it'll be different. No idiots' mobiles going off in the back row, no middle class twits mindlessly twittering away (in the old fashioned sense) about the price of organic Soya beans. But every time, every bloody time. Cash and time I'll never get back. Still, the significant udder has a free pass to the Mezzanine. I'm gonna go all art house on your asses.

That leaves games. Its officially my job to keep up with what's going on in the gaming world, so maybe a new console isn't such an outlandish concept. I dunno, maybe I should wait till winter and then I can justify staying in with the sweet sounds of the console fan, as I shower fiery death on whatever.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Nutters on ice (and boats)

After the unsuccessful ‘week of snobbery,’ I found myself on the opposite end of the duhhhh, spectrum. This week, apart from moving to west LDN, I’ve become an avid fan of ‘The Deadliest Catch’ and ‘Ice Truckers.’ Both are set in the Northern wastes of America where even berserkers would have a hard time coping.

‘The Deadliest Catch’ is my favourite though. Real men, (with beard growth and everything) embark on an insane journey into the Baring Sea to catch King Crab. No white whales then.

Watching the same labour intensive process of baiting cages, chucking them overboard, only to come back a few hours later is hypnotising. Rinse and repeat. It’s surprising and maybe a bit worrying, how baited my breath becomes when each cage is pulled up. The difference between riches or rags is directly equated to how many snappy claws are housed within each metallic coffin.

The rewards can be great. One of my favourite directors, Richard Linklater financed his first film working on an oil rig. And I can see the monetary incentive to work on an oil rig, ocean trawler, ice truck etc. Still, you’d have to be pretty nuts and a real man. Having a blog about geeky pop culture references means I fail to muster the right musk.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

A week of snobbery

Bloggers were recently participating in a week sans technology, for err, some sort of mental detox. I didn’t have the luxury of volunteering for this ‘unconnected week,’ thanks to my good friends Virgin Media.

That being said, and mainly to stick it to Virgin Media and all this detox rubbish, honestly, would you cut off your nose to see what a scentless world was like? I can tell you now, no Internet = absolute lameness in every sense. There, my thesis is complete.

Right, so, as part piss take and part, why not, I’ll be having a week of snobbery. It’ll go a little like this: One week of watching only BBC4, (More4 would have been included but they have some shockingly un-snobby shows) a week of listening to Radio 4 and the World Service (plays and shizz on Radio 7), visiting only TED ala the web and catching up with some dense philosophy (a bit of the New Statesman thrown it too).

What will become of me?

My girlfriend, the (specific) gamer hater

A look of disgust, no, that’s too strong, maybe its pity. I don’t understand it. Its not like she doesn’t enjoy playing games. We’ve ignored many a clock face exacting vengeance on Burnout, Mario Kart and Soul Calibur.

Racing, fighting and intense competition, these are her purveyors of pleasure. She is the personification of competition. Nail clawing, controller throwing competition.

To understand the look of pity, I needed to analyse what I was playing that could be so offensive. RPGs and FPS games mostly. To the uninitiated, mowing down waves of Nazis, picking the opportune time to use a health potion or the satisfaction as you bing a character (level up) might be lost.

And I can see how it could look unproductive. After all, what are the lives of my fellow WW2 buddies, the denizens of Ivalice or the world for that matter, when there are trips to the fortress of Home Base to be undertaken?

Still, it could be worse. You might find yourself trapped in a game, Tron style.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Philip Pullman's, John Blake

I was reading the Guardian Weekend magazine, whilst having some fair trade coffee and eating organic Soya beans, writing to Philippe my adopted Peruvian child and listening to Radio 4 (so much middle class smugness it burns)...

....Right, so the magazine contains three pages of Phillip Pullman's new comic strip. Buccaneering-atheist awesomeness, I hear you cry. Yes, indeed. It's a tale about a boy on a ship akin to one of those 'ripping yarns’ of the Alan Quartermain variety, except its called John Blake. It looks pretty good so far, and has all the wit and atmosphere you'd expect from Pullman. Here's hoping they turn it into a graphic novel.

Belated post

A whole week without posting is inexcusable... I might have an explanation, if you’re willing to listen. Often times, when I can’t think of a geeky or quasi-political rant, I tend to submit a post consisting of a paragraph and maybe a video or a picture.

Nowadays I’ll simply post that kind of frivolous discovery straight on to Twitter. This might well be the shape of things to come. Never fear, you can follow these slap dash updates here.

From now on, I'll try to post the really, really good, Twitter filtered stuff, on here. I’m hoping this filtering process will give me more time to write posts such as these: me, you and this guy too

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Old Ones and me

It's time for another genre and medium transcending, geek out session. Today's unexpected connections concern the 'Old Ones' (not to be confused with the geriatric legions) as featured in H.P Lovecraft's, weird tales.

The 'Old Ones,' including the famous Cthulu, are God like beings from outer space, another dimension, or wherever, its not really made clear. Suffice to say they're big, malicious and will drive you mad. At some point, way back, they ruled this little globe.

"You know what killed off the dinosaurs, Whateley? We did. In one barbecue." - Neil Gaiman, 'What's A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This'

Then for whatever reason they had to go to ground, under ground, deep under the ocean. Most of Lovecraft's stories that mention the Old Ones, are usually about a cult or some other kind of servant(s) attempting to bring them back.

Reminded of the 'Old Ones,' I unconsciously searched for any references in my pop culture library (brain). How I remembered the following is a mystery, and I should probably be worried. Before we get started, an 'Old One,' in the context of this post, needs to be at least a bit slimy or crustacean like, to count. They can't just be err, old. Lets get started:

In the Warcraft universe, there's a pretty straight forward homage to the Old Ones:

"The Old Gods (aka, Old Ones, elder beings, dark elders) were malevolent deities who ruled Azeroth in the ancient past...Soon, the Titans defeated the Old Gods, then chained the raging beings beneath the earth where supposedly, they remain to this day."

The Twilight Cult found in WoW are similar to the Cthulhu Mythos Cults. The Murlocs (genius) are based on Lovecraft's Deep Ones.

In the Myth universe, Ghouls are said to worship 'Dark Gods.' The genesis story for the world of Myth is similar to that of Warcraft: there was chaos, Dark Gods lived it up and then a being of order came and ruined the party, trapping them somewhere.

"It is they alone who remember the names of the dark gods." - Ghoul flavor text, Myth II

B'Y'laggo is also unpronounceable enough to qualify as an 'Old One.'

" ... little is known of the bre'Unor, a fir'Bolg word referring to the various head-cults of The Ermine, aside from their fanatical devotion to the profane elemental spirit, b'Y'laggo..." -bre'Unor Flavor Text, Myth II

Terry Pratchett mocks Lovecraft's 'Old Ones' in the Discworld book, The Colour of Magic:

"The temple [of Bel-Shamharoth] is long since abandoned, worship of the Sender of Eight being a decidedly short term prospect. These days he is mostly remembered in the name of the Young Men's Reformed-Cultists-of-the-Ichor-God Bel-Shamharoth Association."

In Mike Mignola's, Hellboy series, the Ogdru Jahad bare a close resemblance and alignment to Old Ones:

"...the Ogdru Jahad are serpentine/crustacean entities which once resided on, and presided over, Earth. They are pitiless, chaotic, bent on destruction and subjugation and often so horrific in appearance that the mere sight of one of them sometimes induced madness...Some of the monsters were forced out of their bodies and into the wind, while others were entombed in the earth."

In the fantastic (poo your pants) game, Eternal Darkness, 'The Ancients,' act as antagonists in the plot and are part of the game mechanic too. They are a clear adaptation of the Old Ones:

"...the concept of the "Ancients" is a clear homage to Lovecraft's innumerable cast of monstrous, malign, godlike entities who manipulate humanity in a scheme to eventually enslave the world. Many of the deities and spells have similar sounding names, while Inspector LeGrasse was the name of a character in Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu."

And to finish, Neil Gaiman:

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Retrospective, why not?

I was talking to Richard today and we both agreed, people don't spend enough time exploring blog archives. So, I've done it for you:

The Stars My Destination

City 17 vs London

Beowulf, Folklore and Fables

Paul Barnett vs the industry

Wild Gourmets aka idiots

Supreme geekdom

Digital life and times

It was my birthday recently and among the gifts, ranging from a 'Ghetto Stars' colouring book to a History of Street Art, my significant udder broke the mold and made a video collating our fives years together.

It's really good, if some what personal, but I might post it still. Anyway, it got me thinking about the history of 'me.' The recorded history of my parents, amounts to a few pictures, school essays and old passports. What became obvious from watching the Ben 5yr video was the intricate detail my life has been captured in, thus far.

If and when, I have spawn of my own, I can offer them a vast amount of imagery and exposition to try and sum up my life. Everything from this blog, tweets, tumbles, pictures, videos and work, will all combine to leave a Ben like imprint. I could offer them a back log of all my Friend Feed activity, but what's data without emotion.

At one point, we might only have drawn conclusions from diaries, historical accounts and raw data in the form of financial/medical records. Now we have a more personal and possibly, eternal, means of doing so.

Lack of blogage

I feel a need to apologise for the lack of blogage of late. A combination of work, illness and sun have been the trident, in the blog writing part of my brain's, side. I was lamenting this lack of personal creativity, i.e. not for the MAN, when I came across this post from Tiny Gigantic, that summaries my recent feelings about this economic slowdown of posts:

"Everything—moods, business, ideas, even happiness—comes in seasons and swells. It all waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows, Jekylls and Hydes. And you can’t force it. You can’t freak out. That just makes things harder. So ride that shit out, and enjoy what the day brings you, even if it’s a little rain. Use the slow seasons to rest, to go easy on yourself. Do a project that’s just for fun, work shorter days, and give more time to your friends and family. Get drunk on a Wednesday afternoon. Fuck it. Really. Everything is just as it should be."

Well put guys. From now I'll try and get back into the swing of things.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Comparison radar #06

Spot the difference:

White face paint isn't it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Geek Love

You know you've truly arrived when you're cited in a flame war on a geek forum:

Monday, 5 May 2008

A bank holiday weekend with no Internet

What I learned:

I can finish an RPG in two days vs the initial week and a half it took the first time around:

The Internet was developed with the sole purpose of satiating my need to know about any infinite spectrum of subjects whenever the mood takes me.

The longer you go without connectivity the choices of what sites/services you would have used had Virgin Media been less shit shrinks.

Reading a book is great but painful for your arms if its 1221 pages long.

Watching three generations of fish in a pond isn’t as lame as it sounds.

Coffee in Crouch End is silly expensive. There’s no world shortage of beans, its rice you’re thinking of.

Face to face interaction still trumps MyFace and Twit tweets.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

This my patch

In the World of Warcraft, patches are huge. They go far beyond simple tweaks to the game's infuriatingly addictive reward mechanisms. Often revamping or creating entire new areas, sufficiently original enough that they could warrant release as stand alone expansion packs.

Each patch gets the cinematic trailer treatment, ensuring there's enough geek hype upon its release. Why not give the fan boys and girls what they want? For the sake of sanity, it’s a good thing that some people don't take the WoW Lore too seriously:

Douglas Rushkoff for life

Thanks to Richard for the link. I remember reading Douglas Rushkoff when I was about twelve or so. A lot of it went over my head at the time but I do remember going around calling myself a 'child of chaos.' That didn't help my social standing much. Enjoy:

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


Apologies for the lack of blogage, I've been silly busy and due to this unheard of level of busyness my inefficient immune system has let me down. I have THE plague. Still, its not as virulent as the WoW plague:

Monday, 21 April 2008

Digital Dynasty

Check out Richard's 'Change This' manifesto:

"It is a common theory that successful people live their lives like a project plan, so we struggle to shape our lives along a pre-determined path. Instead, Oliver asserts that that the majority of people, many of them very successful, make it up as they go along. This smart manifesto offers a convincing and well-researched argument encouraging us to do a little drifting."

We Think, therefore we am?

Damn you IKEA, damn you!

I've tangled with IKEA before, here. I thought there was an armistice. I felt safe knowing their malfeasance was limited to the physical boundaries of each shop. But now, they're particular brand of evil is on the move. IKEA have infiltrated the Kobe train in Japan! Check mate.

Search and ye shall plant

Hmm, take old plastic bags to be reused at Sainsbury's, check. Remember to turn off all appliances when leaving a room, check. Baths are made for two, check.

What other eco practices can I incorporate into my everyday? Well, I search. I search for the truth. I search for information. I search for stupid things to send to people so that they can LOL and therefore associate me with their laughing. But now this egomania can be offset with knowing I've done something selfless for no effort at all.

Ecocho is a search engine that will plant two trees for every 1000 searches made. It uses 70% of its income for the tree planting! Search it up tree huggers.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Living in a Luddite revolution

Wow, no updates for two days! You must think the title of this blog is a bold faced lie. Well, to all the haters, I’m not dead but merely injured, technologically speaking. The Old Gods (or Virgin Media) have seen fit to take away both cable TV and broadband goodness. I don’t know what I could have done to offend them, except maybe skip on the virgin sacrifice a couple of times.

It’s difficult to comprehend how much I’ve come to rely on the interweb. For most of my life its always been there, like a benevolent deity granting me the power to plan journeys, check the latest televisial messages, stay connected to friends thousands of miles apart. You are everything interweb, so say we all.

If there ever were a Luddite revolution I’d have to go guerrilla partisan on their collective asses. Forgive them interweb God, for they know not what they do.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Comparison radar 5

The latest 'we've finished the game but need to keep reminding you about it' video from Rockstar, satirises gun control in the fictional, Liberty City. It reminded me of a viral Amnesty International did about the same subject. How much of the intended GTA4 target audience will clock the satirical tone is debatable and in terms of raising 'hype' for the game, moot. Ratatatat.

Correlations in Chronos

My dad's always going on about Chronos vs Kairos, and no, that's not a reference to a Greek God grudge match. I was reminded by this obsession, that no doubt was the inspiration and influence for Memex Trails, by the Muji Chronotebook:

"The Chronotebook allows you to plot your day as a series of tasks that radiate outward from a circle that's sort of like an analog clock. Each set of pages start with two circles representing AM and PM, and users are invited to draw in their events as they see fit."

It might well replace the default Moleskine diary as the new media person's notebook of choice.

Digital Nomad a go-go

Friday, 11 April 2008

Brands and the yoot

We the young people are incapable of thinking for ourselves, often times falling flat on our collective greasy faces at the first hurdle of peer pressure. We really do need to be told what to aspire to. Sometimes, if you throw enough buzz words and slang, that's getting a bit too ripe, you might just fool us into buying into whatever you've got to sell.

I’m constantly amazed by the ‘down with the yoot’ campaigns out there which are so convulsion inducing in their wrongness, to wit, lack of understanding of that audience, that I’m surprised no one has said, wait, that dude over there has no clothes on.

Something from a youth community (old but annoyingly gold):

Once the advertisers got to it:

If you want to know what the young people are thinking, ask one. Actually, ask one who can articulate why something works rather than simply fire off a series of slang and or grunts.

The sort of insight you’ll gleam by holding a focus group or asking someone in the office who has a young person at home will often lead to misinterpretation or just plain lies. I remember doing a piece for a channel 4 programme called Zeitgeist (really, like, err, cool name yeah, real cutting edge and that). I collected some of my primary school chums and we were interviewed individually and as part of a group. “What’s cool, what clothes are you wearing, why do you like them, is TV still cool?”

We wore the same clothes because we wanted to feel like we belonged, we played game x because we knew everyone else was. The change between these early years and not too long ago while I was still studying, was cross over.

Whereas before if you were a ‘road man’ no, not someone with a penchant for pneumatic drills but a lover of hip-hop, graffiti, grime, baggy clothes etc that’s all you could be. Now you can do what you like, why not like Grime and Abba too. Mix flash mobs with EMO isolation, why not?

In the same way you can have ‘creative generalists’ you can have mashed, evolving identities that change daily. Friends who are still at university see this as a way of life but we’ll see what happens when they finish their studies and have to engage in daily soul destroying tedium. As for me, I’m off to have a ‘street war’ lets hope my flash mob enabled ipod doesn’t get wet.

Anyway, Rachel (she’s real puurtey) Newsome talks about brands:

“To say that brands have somehow replaced religion, actually represents both a nostalgic view of the past and a feeling that life nowadays is somehow less meaningful and more superficial than it used to be. To claim that brands are a new religion is to express a fear of change…

…For example, 'Playstation gives you power', is a very powerful brand message. But its meaning only comes alive in a dialogue between the brand, the culture it was created in and the individual user. On its own it is impotent. It is only because young people in their twenties already feel disenfranchised and need a means of escape that they can relate to that idea. So, really the success of brands is about how they respond to values and aspirations rather than about how they shape them.”

Drink Robo

When I was younger I used to love going to Yo Sushi. The Yo Sushi in Soho had a drink-serving robot, reminiscent of R2-D2 on Jabba da Hut’s sand cruiser. It was insultingly exciting. The restaurant of tomorrow, today! Or so my juvenile mind thought.

Waving your hand in front of ‘drink robo’ would make it stop on its circuit round the restaurant. If someone was foolish enough to block its path it’d say, ‘get out the way’ in a synthesized voice that was electro music to my ears. Yo Sushi have since abandoned ‘drink robo’ probably because he demanded a pay rise or possibly attempted to form a robo union with his fellow drink dispensers. I love you drink robo.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Million Word Project

I once had this idea to make a website for fictional stories like Flickr is to photos and YouTube is to videos. The main objective of the ‘Million-Word Project’ was to enable the creation of one thousand stories in one thousand words.

The stories themselves could be of any genre as long as they contained one thousand words exactly. I tried writing a couple stories just to see what the difficulty would be like. Hard, basically.

The rating system for the MWP would be known as ‘championing.’ A user would have the option to champion a story, which would then appear on their user page as a badge or symbol (like a dug on Digg or thumbs up on StumbleUpon).

The badge would be created/submitted by the author of each story (hopefully you’d build up a network of fans who might design one for you). If the author could obtain ten champions (start small) for their story, it would be submitted to the Library of Fame (this is all starting to sound a bit too RPG land).

The author could then see which users had championed their story and read their comments and feedback (a bit like your Digg or StumbleUpon page), while users who had championed a story would be able to interact with other fans and the author too (duh). I didn’t know about things like Twitter back then but there’s no reason you couldn’t have a ‘writers process’ feed or something.

Partnerships with the BBC, British Library, NESTA, the Arts Council and other organizations would have been a good source of initial financing and medium to communicate to an already established audience(s). You could throw in regular workshops both physical and online to help establish an understanding and enjoyment for writing fiction too. Oh well, it never happened.

Monday, 7 April 2008


What a bizarre Sunday. I woke up to the BBC’s live coverage of the Olympic torch marathon. Images of Konnie Huq being accosted coupled with her own disembodied commentary of what was happening.

I had intended to go down and protest somewhere along the route but feeling ridiculously comfy in bed, I was warming, both in body and mind, to the idea of pouring my outrage, joy, hunger and cat attack updates via Twitter.

I felt capable of doing as good a job as the current BBC reporter who was essentially mouthing what appeared on their auto-cue. I was moved to attend.

From seeing the Spartan-esque formation of torchbearer, the blue circle of torch supervisors, ring of yellow police and larger ring of black ninja suited police on my TV screen, I found them suddenly in front of me.

The protests from the South Bank onwards turned into a game of ‘bulldog’ (a game played across UK schools). The game cycle would go: multi-coloured group of torch protectors run for a bit, a shout comes for them to form up. The protestors then encircle them. The police would push back and breakthrough, run for it and the whole thing would start over.

It’s a strange sensation to see something that feels distant and almost unreal via a screen and then be in the thick of it.

If I’d been cooler and had a web capable phone I might have been able to provide my own, running commentary, uploading pics, videos and messages to Flickr, YouTube and Twitter respectively. My significant udder got some really nice pics though.

Flick book technology FTW

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Attention, attention. May I please have your attention.

Steve Rubel says:

"We are reaching a point where the number of inputs we have as individuals is beginning to exceed what we are capable as humans of managing."

Speak for yourself. With tools like Friend Feed, you can organise and keep track of a veritable plethora of online social interactions. I found it a pain to keep having to log on to Twitter in order to post my madness but using a Twitter client like Twhirl or simply texting when out and about makes it a breeze. Now I can annoy people with my pointless goings on all the time.

Maybe it’s a generational thing. Being brought up interacting with several media devices at the same time, I think, has hardwired my generation with the ability to deal with several streams of, in this case, social media and handle it very well. There is no exertion, its still fun. I was talking to David of Imagination land, about getting people outside of the geekosphere into all this RSS business.

My girlfriend can see the benefit in terms of having a Flickr account so people can see her art works, a Twitter account so those who take an interest in her step by step 'method' can get their fix and maybe her Last fm feed - I mean, don't you want to know what music artists listen to? She's yet to take up the latter two but its only a matter of time and enhanced design.

I think what scares none geeks is the lack of shiny and easily accessible design. If Friend Feed could look more like a Facebook profile page I'm sure it'd be taken up by 'civilians' everywhere.
Anyway, if you have an interest in the 'attention' you generate whilst roaming about das web, check this.

From Virtual Economics:

"...This is not good news for a media industry which is still overwhelmingly monetised via interruptive commercial messages. The least relevant input is surely the unsolicited, interruptive commercial message, so those are the ones we're curtailing first...

...More evidence that the old model is broken and we need a new one. As if we didn't already know. The currency of media is attention."

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Allowing communities access to copyright

I was once tasked to conceive and develop an engaging gaming site for a well-known chip manufacturer to highlight that their processors made games run really, really fast. As part of a ‘community’ building plan they wanted to give away some ‘hardcore gaming rigs’ as you do and will when you generate the GDP of a small country.

We had the idea of hosting a video game mash up competition. However, our site was a new comer to the gaming community and we didn’t have enough dedicated fan boys/girls to make it happen at that early stage.

Gametrailers on the other hand, had and has a massive community that they have built via traditional routes like enabling forums, the ability to comment on videos, exclusives and they often have mash up competitions too.

The creator of a popular mash up video, or rather a series of popular videos, submitted his works outside these competitions, seemingly for the sheer love of it or maybe it was just for the ‘bragging rights’ of his fellow Gametrailerites, which is a bit like trying to get recognition from an ape for inventing Pot Noodle.

Monty Oum (nice name) has created Haloid (a mash up of Halo and Metroid), Dead Fantasy 1 and 2 (a mash up of characters from the Dead or Alive/Final Fantasy series) that combined has in excess of 6 million views and that’s just on Gametrailers.

There is definitely something to be said for allowing a fan community access to copyrighted materials enabling them to create something new that essentially does all the ‘holy crap, that’s cool’ leg work for a brand.