008 : two thousand & twelve

the last few years i have done an end of year roundup thing on twitter. but it’s been a bit of a crazy year, so i wanted to document it somewhere a bit more concrete.

:: edgeryders ::

edgeryders is a crowd sourced think tank focusing particularly on european youth & the precarieat. i was lucky enough in june to be invited to the ‘living on the edge’ conference (#lote) at the council of europe in strasbourg. this was an amazing experience and probably one of the highlights of the year. i met hundreds of engaged & inspiring young people from all over the continent facing challenges both similar & different from my own. in all honesty my ‘blown mind’ is still living with the fallout from that event. i posted my post event thoughts on it at the time.

sadly due to work commitments i missed #lote2 at the european parliament in brussels this past november. it’s my understanding that projects dreamed up at the initial #lote unconference began to form and coalesce. i am particularly interested in the unmonastery & the hacking the 2014 elections projects.

edgeryders was an incredible opportunity. i met some amazing people, but perhaps more importantly: made some really good new friends. above all, if the coe was to give just one reason to justify why it spent its money on the project – it would have to be that it invested in the social capital of hundreds of exceedingly capable individuals from all across the eu.

:: the thought menu ::

the thought menu is a nomadic talks series and was/is the product of a conversation had over drinks in sunny strasbourg at #lote. my co-conspirators were the ever capable and beautiful human beings: gaia marcus & ben vickers

the first four thought menu talks were held at lima zulu project space in august during the two weekends of the olympics. you can read an overview of what went down in the post event newsletter here. thinking now; the theme for this year perhaps has been ‘people’ – some of the people (audience and speakers) i met whilst running the thought menu are also incredible & inspiring people. it has been a pleasure to make their acquaintance – my life is richer for it.

unfortunately: we have all had huge attacks of life during the last period of 2012. the plan as it currently stands is to start the thought menu as a regular event in 2013. we are still looking for venues and speakers. if you fancy giving a talk or lending a hand – please e-mail us here :: thethoughtmenu@gmail.com 

:: growstuff.org ::

another thing that has its roots for me in/from edgeryders. i wrote a post called why isnt there an app for that?? . at some point during the year i saw a tweet mentioning the project from the awesome mr @pozorvlak and i got involved in growstuff.

growstuff is a community of food gardeners working together to build an open source platform to track, share, and discuss edible gardens and sustainable lifestyles. the contributors to this project are a great bunch of people and its been cool to make @skuds acquaintance. i am a big fan of the community rules and the distributed development process, both are due to her passion for community inclusion. the coders have been very patient with me, and i have learnt a little bit of ruby and sysadmin stuff already – learning to code is definitely something i want work on in earnest in 2013.

:: resiliencemaps.org / scim ::

all that time ago, learning about simple critical infrastructure mapping changed the way i think about politics and wider society. the problem however is that vinay’s design skills leave much to be desired. as such: my housemate and i sat down in the evening over a short period this year and designed a visual language. without the nounproject this would have been impossible.

i’m really pleased with how the whole thing turned out, and at some point next year i’ll work on getting them in to a copy of scim as a document. i think it might be a good excuse to try out sourcefabric’s booktype.

:: surviveth.is zine ::

i made a stab at doing something with surviveth.is . i put together a little document, which explains scim using the diagrams above plus @gelada‘s and how to build a hexayurt in one handy one page zine.

i’ve been talking to @jumplogic about sorting out some of the hexayurt documentation in 2013. hopefully we can pull some stuff together before the pre-burning man build season.

– some personal stuff –

:: i bought no new clothes ::

i always try and have a year long project that can be achieved with very little effort. (see here) and this year was to buy no new clothes.

it has actually been a really useful & illuminating experience. but by god do i need some new underwear.. :/ the year long anti-project has taught me a lot about the value of well made clothes. and more importantly has completely changed the way i operate in shops – you walk in to a clothes shop & simply just see past everything.

one of the observations i will take away from this is the oxford shirts i bought for work (in 2011) have lasted excellently. although after 18 months of daily use they are looking a little tired. i think i’m going to put this long life down to the fact i had them fitted at a tailors way back when i got them. clothes off the rack are designed to fit everybody & therefore fits no-one. the extra expense of getting clothes fitted once you have bought them vastly outweighs the costs of wearing ill-fitting clothes. this is something i plan on taking to heart. on the same note. my brogues i have invested in over the last few years are still going strong. i enjoy the ritual of polishing and maintaining them, there are very few objects in my life that require such long term attention. plus taking them to the cobblers in town and having the heel or occasional sole replaced is still more cost effective than buying a new pair, even if you factor in the initial outlay costs 3-4 years on.

i have given at least 4 bags of clothes to charity and i still am in a position where i haven’t worn some of the clothes i have in my room (mainly jumpers as it hasn’t been cold enough to bust out the grandpa knitwear). it has been good to unclutter slightly, and i’m thinking of doing discardia in 2013.

i must say the ability to recognise the quality of stitching and materials in the clothes you are wearing became more important as the year went on. an awareness of your ‘things’ is important, and means that you can catch things before they begin to break down.

which leads me on to –

:: i learned to sew ::

as embarrassing as it sounds, and despite dating an accomplished corsetier for 3.5 years in my early 20’s i’ve never been able to sew/stitch. put a button back on yeah – but not actually you know ‘fix’ anything. no longer!

this year i have learned to fix split seams (damn cycling thighs in skinny jeans and full pockets) fix rips, fix pockets & sew up holes etc. still figuring out what to do with holes in knees of jeans.

youtube has been an invaluable resource in helping me learn what kind of stitch was appropriate for what needed fixing. i guess in olden days you would learn from people in your family by watching. also, the value of picking up a needle and thread (and knowing what to do with them) when you first notice something going awry with your clothes is a skill i will keep with me for the rest of my life.

as a side note i’ve become interested in the idea of shirt making. i’m thinking of experimenting in 2013. not sure how or in what way but it’s on my mind.

:: learnt to lock pick ::

whilst we are on the subject of new skills, i also learnt to single pick locks this year. i can pretty much conquer most padlocks now pretty quickly. but have managed to beat only one door lock with security pins. i’m thinking of getting some ‘practice locks’ next year and putting together a lock board to continue learning/practising. new skill for 2013 has yet to be decided.


i have also been on a whole bunch of adventures this year: down to Newquay for a week on a second date, went to cambridge for the first time ever and spent a weekend in a fancy hotel in Birmingham which was pretty cool too. plus adventures with the slightly odd wizard i know have been also interesting to say the least.


004: burning man 2012 :: hexayurt density map

Firstly a huge massive thank you to GeoEye for being super cool and providing me with the full high-res image to do the count this year. I believe the image below isn’t currently available anywhere else (full size/original image is scaled to 55% as to accommodate flickr’s 50mb image upload cap – if anyone wants the full 150mb image drop me a message via here)

:: click the image to embiggen ::


GeoEye‘s annual high resolution picture of Burning Man from the sky, taken on Friday 31st August 2012.
Image: © GeoEye – GeoEye Satellite Image

Pls credit @thejaymo for the eyeball time ;)

A VERY conservative count :: 739 hexayurts

Note: I counted this map twice and took the lower count.

As far as i can see there were 739 hexayurt shaped structures (with the familiar 3point shine/shade/shadow on the roof) on the playa this year. There are quite a few smaller rectangular shaped structures that are next to / or near hexayurt encampments which may be H2 or H4’s. These were not included in the count as i was uncomfortable making the call, as they may be just shiny tents.


I used the 30pt star stamp tool and marked each structure on the map in a new layer on the image.
Unlike last year, where i went around the camp in concentric circles.
this year i split the camp into the 16 quadrants of the camp and worked the count from the centre outwards in each one.

After that i did go round the camp in concentric circles to make sure i hadn’t missed any on the previous passes.

((Also for those that are wondering how i counted the yurts directly under the clouds, i overlayed a resized transparency of the image taken on the 30th (this is the image that is available on the geoeye website)unfortunately due to it being taken from a slightly different direction than this image, things don’t line up *exactly* and i had to keep moving it around by a few pixels or more to make sure everything lined up in whatever section i was looking at. so i removed that transparency in image above))


739 hexayurts!!?? Wo0t this is way more than last year, and considering the official population of Black Rock city this year was 1578 people lower this year than last year – which if you do the maths is a 54% increase (by population) on last year.

I feel this is a big win for the project – and quite likely the biggest single deployment of open hardware to date?

I’m not sure how many more hexayurts are going to make it onto the playa next year. Of course i’m hopeful for more! But reports from friends and peeps in the hexayurt google group said it was impossible to get hold of the bidirectional filament tape for construction ANYWHERE in the country – this suggests that Burning Man 2012 exhausted the supply chain with ~750 yurts…

Yurts this year were colored, i saw some pink and purple ones!!

Lastly: Considering it was only 9 years ago that the first hexayurt was built on the playa and the only real investment that has ever been made in the project has been a web domain. i think EVERYONE that has ever built, designed, or contributed their time in anyway to the hexayurt project should feel tremendously proud.

Other Thoughts

Apart from seeing a few tri and quad domes, i *think* i might have seen a hexaplex which has never been built before, it looks like the same material – i included it in the count both times – but in my mind it’s definitely in dispute. so i’m mentioning it.

Lots of more words written in the sand this year. <3 that

There are more than one group of people standing in a heart shape – did they know the satellite was passing over?

On the the bottom right of the camp, there is a huge red arrow.

Informal tracks, walkways, and roundabouts that run through and across the camps that break with and stand out from the geometry/layout of the camp, but can only be seen on close observation of the camp.

Maybe someone who reads this could maybe fly a homemade drone and get a HUGE detailed image next year?

i *STILL* want to go to burning man :C