Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tide Mills, a brief photo essay

I needed to clear some brainspace after a long election night, and headed out west, to the devillaged skeleton structures of Tide Mill. I had never made it quite that far myself, despite seeing it from the train every day.

After a brisk walk along the Seaford sea front, I followed an iron line onto the crumbled wood of concrete leftovers. I wondered where the windmill stood as a strong wind blew the spray from a high, jade-coloured tide at me. It must have been quite crazy to have lived on top of, and in between, the rush of the waves and their insistent daily yin-yang.




















(Random bonus links...)

I hate the Internet, a lovely review from James
It's always about the money, a reminder of why unions.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Alternate Universes



I picked up the other FT last week - the Fortean Times - partly because it had a short introductory article on Hookland in it. I used to get the FT irregularly during a teenage period, around the time when it was accompanied by a Reverend-driven TV show and the early X-Files. It always felt - still does - like a childish indulgence to perpetuate the ghost tales and mystery of a world still unknown, still capable of anything. Childish, but not in a bad way. In a necessary way.

The Hookland article spoke of its narrative 'bible', and I was reminded of the dark, conspiratorial wor(l)ds of Tlon, Uqbar, OrbiTertius from Borges. From there, my mind wandered back to an earlier project I helped work on, a sci-fi MUD called simply AU, short for Alternate Universe

Together, a small cadre of us created our characters, and partly through code but primarily through imagination, persistence, and momentum, on outwards to create a culture, mini histories, new maps, extinct civilisations, all the way up to grim morals disguised as puzzles. The world lived through us, and vice versa.

Reading about Hookland made me nostalgic, not for AU itself, but for the process of creation, the genesis of a mirror land that, even if no one else ever visits, can let us explore our own thoughts, and reflect back at us through weird, barely understood prisms.

It's been at least a decade since I worked on AU. I want to build a new world again, one that addresses what I know and have learnt and somehow helps me bring it all into focus, and bring it to bear on this chaos we wake up to every day. 

Now I just need to figure out where to begin.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Weeknoting



One of the RSS feeds I've been enjoying a lot recently is the work diary of Dan Barrett, or his "weeknotes" (as put by the monoword branding aspired to by all good net-based memetics these days). I also ended up reading @jukesie's, among others, and particularly enjoyed his talk at OpenTech last weekend on the importance of being open.

I've tried out live diaries for the day at work before, and found it fun and interesting - and hard work, of course. Remembering what you've done, or to write it down as it happens, curating the content to be both sensitive and good for a reader. All fairly time consuming, and I don't have much time these days.

But with a lot of "documentation" and curation processes, the end result can be quite enlightening - and the one big challenge here is to enlighten yourself, at speed. Forget readers, blog for yourself. Find yourself interesting first, because it's your world you're writing about.

So I've made a start a few weeks ago, over at https://6work.exmosis.net/ - the first three weeks are up, and the fourth is under way. It'll be fun to see if it works out.

So far I've been thinking about different ways to keep it "fresh" - I've been adding in photos and links, but might do a full-on photo essay approach every now and then. Maybe a version in tweetstorm form? Time to get meta-creative...

To keep it valuable to me, I like to draw out some interesting reflections, and I want to spin some of these out into further blogposts. But just forcing myself to write and publish something feels like useful exercise. Write til your fingers bleed, delete til there's nothing left. Publish and forget. Practice writing like a flautist practises scales. It's an approach I'm hoping converts to writing fuller pieces as well - lower your own standard, but up your focus. Concentrate on key messages.

(Technically it's also the first time I'm running WordPress on my Pi, and first time using Let's Encrypt to run https. After  three days of hacking about, that 's' in the URL is probably the character I'm most proud of in my professional years.)

Jukesie made the point in his talk that openness can often be quite a subversive way of bringing about change. Given I don't, relatively, have to justify myself too much at work, I think in this case my weeknotes perhaps represent me subvert in myself. An underhand, subconscious stab at my own assumptions and routines.

Write like nobody's reading. Not even yourself.

Friday, May 12, 2017

New mini zine: To The End Of Time



Oh yeah, my new mini zine To The End Of Time, an A7 photography minifesto, is out now.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

A tale of two and a half Brexits

Phil picks up on the UK economic delusion covered in the Guardian recently. I'm sure I had a draft post somewhere called "A tale of two brexits" but it seems to be lost for a while. Anyway, Frances Coppola on Britain's trade negotiation position from a few months ago is a must read.

The "two brexits" piece went some way to thinking about this though. It sketched out the two sides of the disjointed discourse plaguing the issue - impassioned, emotional narrative about our country on the one hand, and cold, difficult reality on the other. The real future, like all politics, lies somewhere between the two, with a fair sprinkle of hidden agendas. In reality, we're all deluded about our own reality anyway. Why should Brexit be any different?

Anyone trying to bridge the gap between sides, or indeed trying to work out what's going to happen next, needs to pay attention to both sides - the reality of how economics works, and the narrative spin up in its place for those who don't understand it. In a world where votes are directly tied to Like and Retweet buttons, both sides of the power struggle are equally important. Frictionless, liquid opinion. Pure light speed democracy.

So yes, this country is delusional. Yes, there are deliberate reasons for that. And yes, the harder fight that we're still all missing is not right vs wrong, but how to even decide what our democratic process should look like in 20 years time, when it's running on privatised networks sucking all the wealth upwards and outward.