027 :: Eternity can be found in the minuscule…

….in the place where earthworms, along with billions of unseen soil-dwelling microorganisms, engage in a complex and little-understood dance with the tangle of plant roots that make up their gardens, their cities.”
― Amy Stewart, The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms

Narrative

Despite all the stuff I’ve been up to so far this year, I still feel that I’m suffering from an inability to be motivated and fully align my life with the direction it needs to head in. There are important things that have been sitting on the todoist for weeks, and other trivial / inconsequential things that get done immediately.

I was stuck on a train the other day and I added up all the total hours of productive work that I have done since Jan, and quite frankly it adds up to fuck all. EVEN if I have pushed a lot of projects forward in various areas. It makes me feel bad.

Im not sure how others manage it, but for lent I have kinda decided to give up procrastination, and biscuits. I’m not sure which one of those two things is going to be harder to stick too. Im hoping that 40days concerted effort on projects will claw back the dawning sense that I’m wasting my life. Having the freedom to work on independent self directed projects (that tbh aren’t bringing any cash in right now but will over the long term) is a once in a life time opportunity. So quite frankly..

…I really need to pull my finger out. .

That said the objective isn’t making money. Its aligning my life towards a future that i want for my self, my friends and family and ultimately the kind of future I want to live in so it’s also about urgent perspective.

Dipping the stacks

  • Black Panther seems cool (I haven’t seen it)
  • UK media seems to be loosing its collective minds about the popularity of labour
  • Hardcore remainers seem to be loosing its collective minds in general
  • Strikes work
  • The Lympics is on – who knew!?
  • I saw the words “internet is a giant deception machine” – who knew!?

The Ministry

I signed some NDAs this week so maybe I will be making some money soon but who knows. It’s a short (10 days worth of work) project that I think should be quite fulfilling and offer me an ‘In’ to a company I really want to work with/alongside.

Tickets to Berlin are booked for March. There are about 15 weirdos flying in like its some kind of fucking crypto Davos. Looking forward to that immensely. I suppose news about this in Q2 once everything is sorted.

I had a 3 hour call with a sci-fi literature academic that has decided to write a book about Solarpunk & energy futures the other day. Really fascinating conversation, wide raging too. I pulled up an old PDF from wired shit con 2012 to read them some quotes from it. Early doors stuff. That left them a little startled to be quite honest.

I met up with Olivia Rosane yesterday for a few coffees and a sunny but chilly walk round Bloomsbury she is the creator of Canary Island Commons. I haven’t seen her since TTW14 in NYC. That conversation was also excellent, wide ranging about the possibilities of narrative and imaginary. Hoping to see her again next week to get an interview with her for the podcast project. Plus she’ll be dog sitting.

Oh and i already filled in a fucking shit load of forms that produced even that need filling in.

Reading

Im still reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life an antidote to chaos. 

I suppose I’m about half way though. Its very interesting so far and im enjoying it. Some of the biological determinism makes me squirm a little but his core message so far seems to be grow the fuck up, be nice to your children and your parents. Stand up straight. Find your purpose.. It’s like all the advice my Nana used to give.

I still stand by my comment from last week “I suspect his popularity is due to the massive amount of people who need therapy in our society.”

The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms arrived this week in hardback. I read it last year on kindle. its that good that I thought I should probably own it. 60p +PP on amazon. Bargain.

Music

Tune-Yards: I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life came out in January and I only just got round to listening to it this week. To be quite honest its ok. If you like Tune-Yards its more Tune-Yards.

The track thats been on heavy rotation this week has been Mouse on Mars — Dimensional People Part III. The track features Bon Iver. So you should kinda know what you are getting in to.

 

Remember Kids:

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023 :: A rich palette of ecosystems

It’s frustrating that it costs you well over £10 to step out your front door in London. Hashtag 2018 I suppose.

Narrative

(Solarpunk) attempts to foster a socio-cultural environment which emphasises individual autonomy, consent, unity-in-diversity, with the free egalitarian distribution of power. It creates a multitude of spaces for indigenous sovereignties, reproductive justice, and radical queer politics.

Of course with these principles comes polyphony, one cannot speak for other solarpunks, only be in dialogue and occasional chorus with them.

– “Dirt Behind Our Ears” : On Solarpunk and the Need for New Futures

The metaphor of polyphony has come up a lot recently. Its a key theme in The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Tsing and also frequently used by another anthropologist Tim Ingold (Warning I’m a major fanboy). I’ve become more and more mindful of the need for less oppositional life ways in the last few months, and I think this is my refrain for the year.

This 2015 talk by Ingold on ‘The Correspondence of Lives’ is worth watching in full.

On this same note..

A friend asked on Tiny Twitter the other day:

1. Is the culture all wrong to start blogging again? Is it too experimental or contingent a form for career to survive intact?
2. Do I have a coherent enough perspective to bring to regular blogging above anger and reaction?
3. What would be the best platform to use

1. No. The culture is not wrong at all. 2. Yes everyone has interests. 3. WordPress obviously.

I think the resistance others feel to (re)starting a blog during the encouraging conversations I’ve been having is around fear of the Instant Rage Machine – Twitter. But things move slower in the blogosphere. True, you might say something that stir up the hornets nest and you get linked to and chewed out in 240chars. But really the only appropriate place for any criticism to come from and be responded to is in the long form. From/to other blog posts – healthy discussion.

As usual here’s my impression of the world from dipping the stacks this week:

  • Cryptocurrency markets collapsed. I wonder idly how many of the people who were cheering along will be doing the same during the upcoming currency crisis expected during 2018.
  • One of the Royals got a much better hair cut.
  • A newspaper I stopped reading ages ago has rebranded with lots of strange lines and UX choices.
  • The sexual lives of public figures is still being used as an attempt at control. Maybe they have *affects french accent*  an arrangement , they are both adults it’s none of our business.
  • Fed up with drug companies, hospitals in the USA have decided to start their own – this is extremely good.

The Ministry

I have been rushed off my feet this week which is a weird thing to say for someone without a full time job. I’ve lots of calls with various individuals around the world some at odd hours just for 30mins of someones time: but that is what “Real” social networking is all about I suppose. Every single person I have spoken to however has been so nice and kind.

This week I spent nearly three days helping an organisation hire a new technical person. It’s one of their first major hires. I find it gratifying to be able to step people through unfamiliar territory and offer help and support when people are unsure (the point person had never run an interview process before). Though at the same time always being mindful that it’s not my decision – it’s theirs.

I also had an expert interview for a strategy company on HR Tech and emerging trends in the sector. Which involved me going on a long rant about the surveillance workplace, data passporting, and the realities and dangers of relying too heavily on APIS linking software purchased to meet immediate business needs in startups. I also had an absolutely amazing long conversation with Ruth from Furtherfield.org in Carnaby Street.

I also submitted at the last minute talk about Solarpunk to a major conference in Berlin – see the quote above.

Reading

I finished both The Hidden Half of Nature and A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind this week.

I have now read all of David Montgomery’s books with the completion of this one. And quite frankly recommend all of them. The Hidden Half of Nature is also co-authored by his wife Anne Biklé, a biologist and environmental planner.

Its a fascinating romp tough soil science, the history of microbiological studies and then smoothly segues in to gut bacteria and the human microbiome and takes a brief look at the discoveries this century could possibly bring now that the ‘Kill them all’ knee jerk reaction of antibiotic use is being reassessed. The sections on Crohn’s Disease and inflammation was of great interest to me (obviously). If you have read and enjoyed I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong then this is a must read as its a gateway book to soil science.

A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind is a delightful short book (I read it over two evenings) full of pithy zen sayings and practical advice. I’ve taken two things away from the book. The first i’ve instituted a ‘conscious’ face washing ritual every morning (even if I immediately get in the shower) and i’m already finding the mental space that it opens up is providing returns. The other is that I looked up in my flat.. and we really need to dust/clean the light fixtures.

I’ve started reading Altered Carbon (again) perhaps for the 5th? time in my life. I’d like to get though it before the TV show starts on Netflix in Febuary. I’m also finishing up a book called The Margate Tales which has been half read on my night stand now for ages. It’s a well researched collection that attempts to cover all the references to Margate in print pre-railway age. There are some fantastic quotes!

A friend pressed Star Ark: A Living, Self-Sustaining Spaceship by Rachel Armstrong into my hands last night – so i think that’ll be up next. But Hyperion by Dan Simmons also arrived in my life second hand for 50p this week. We’ll see.

Music

Not much time for new tunes this week. But we’ve been listening to an old household favourite, it hasn’t left the turntable in a week.

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Remember kids:

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021 :: I used to bother to post things here

I’m aware that I lament almost every time I bother to login to wordpress to post something… I used to write a round up of all the things that happened during the previous year but stopped in jan 2016.

That was back even when a blog with a total of 21 posts (including this one) would get thousands of views because of strong social ties and network effects. Not so much anymore – But as I will explain, I’m going to be writing a little something here more often. Writing more in general really. If you find this blog. Let me know on twitter here.

2017: unrelated + unordered observations

2017 was a fucking horrible year for me. A year totally consumed by stress, health problems and work. The former two things all fell out from the later.

Quitting my job at the startup I’d been working at for the previous two years was possibly one of the best decisions i have ever made in my life. When i finally quit I was suffering from Hypertensive stress: causing anxiety in social situations, muscle locking in my legs that left me in agony at night and unable to walk properly, I was grinding my teeth – it also began affecting my Crohn’s Disease. I blew up relationships with friends and generally was an unbearable human being to be around – even myself. I should have quit sooner, and I should admit and publicly state again to my friends, family and my partner that all told me to do so well in advance of actually pulling the trigger I’m so sorry i didn’t do it sooner.

My partner and I went to Portugal for a spa holiday the week after I left work and a lot of the stress immediately melted away in the Sun. Pithy idioms like ‘a weight of your shoulders’ really contain truth once you experience them in effect.

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I’m still suffering from anxiety and really don’t like the idea of busy social situations. In fact last week, I was dreading going for drinks with some of my oldest and closest friends on Christmas Eve whilst back at my hometown. As usual though, when I actually got there it was 100% fine and i was honest and talked to them about how my prior concerns before i walked down the seafront had now melted away, it turns out several friends also had had anxiety about going out too – It seems that it’s a low level collective emotion, almost all of it driven by over work and guilt at not having time for socialising. The whole work thing was all back in September with at least a six month build up and I haven’t really done anything in the four months since except sit at home and slowly try to pull different bits of myself back together…

2017 was the year that twitter went to 240 characters – I like it. It’s made for a much clearer space. Slightly more room for nuance – but only just. There is however still no time and space allowed to be convinced under the logic of the modern social network. You have to have a position immediately to keep the whole machine running. Long threads of 240 characters however are annoying and are better served by other mediums/platforms. 1 tweet is a microblog. A chain of ten 240 character tweets is just a short blog write it somewhere else. I commented a while back on twitter that we should all go back to writing blogs and I think this is an extremely good idea Warren Ellis made a comment in his newsletter about that and added “It would be fucking funny to see everyone go back to Tumblr and dance in the ruins as the sun went down.”. This is a good place to start as i mean to go on in 2018.

I made a resolution in Jan of 2017 to write more. At least 500 words a day / At least 5 days a week for the entire year. With a few exceptions i managed it. In addition I also won nanowrimo again. It was quite a lot of words put down into a word document. None of it is likely to ever see the light of day, but it did provide me some discipline during the worst parts of the year, a space to vent, and has been been good practice which was it’s intention. I really like the 500-1500 word writing length and for perhaps the first time in my life i enjoy writing. As a result i got to join the rejection club, an upshot of all this writing was i submitted a short story to a solarpunk anthology. The editor gave me some fantastic feedback and i hope to write more this year maybe one of ‘em might even be accepted ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2017 was also the year we moved again. After three years in a cramped and damp basement flat we now have a wonderful ground floor flat with a garden. I’m hoping to make the most of it in 2018. With work stress last year the idea of doing anything beyond a little weeding and buying some garden furniture was a write off. This year i think we’ll be planting a edible container garden plated in polycultures. We also have a south facing balcony so i’m excited for plenty of tomatoes in the summer.

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Our garden is the back one with two apple trees in need of some TLC

I read A LOT. The full list of completed books is on my Goodreads. I also consumed more academic papers in the last 18 months than at any other point in my life perhaps since university. I’ve changed my mind about how many things truly work in the world, and that has had an impact on how i see it. I’ve been blown away by amazing thinkers in fields like ethnobotany, anthropology and straight up biology (soil science is amazing) even economic thinkers. I might write about a few of these someday. I am also extremely grateful to Gordon White for inventing the term ‘The Anthropogreen’ and for being introduced to the work of Ethan Roland Soloviev and his 8 Forms of Capital.

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On the Solarpunk front, the Tumblr I have run with Adam Flynn for the last few years has doubled its followers in 2017 and interest in the genre is accelerating all over the web. The decentralised P2P social network scuttlebutt community has embraced the term and some fantastic writing has been coming from them. I wanted to start a solarpunk podcast in 2017 but 2018 will be the year that this actually happens. Mainly it’s going to be an excuse for me to talk to amazing people about the amazing work they are doing. Do watch this space because it IS coming. I also pulled together the solarpunk reference guide this year which was more work than i was expecting but im glad i’ve done it and it’s uptodate. there are some page improvements that i’ll be making to it by hacking mediums HTML.

2018 is the year i need to find an income. After the last 4 months of sitting at home reading, writing and watching a lot of star trek I’m not sure exactly how it’s all going to work out but i need to do so as my position as someone who is privileged to be able to take a few months of work can’t last forever…

But as a first step – I’m starting a company called The Ruderal

“A Ruderal species is a plant species that is first to colonise disturbed lands”

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I’m not sure exactly what form the company will take, but I’m envisioning something like the a DIY record label/zine publisher I ran as a teenager. Housing and storing the things I’m putting energy and effort into. Things like the solarpunk podcast i’m starting, #stacktivism, potentially a rebooted thought menu of some kind, and any consulting / strategy work and speaking (which I have a number of engagements coming up).

Here’s a preview of that:

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I am hugely grateful to all the friends, family and people who supported me in 2017.

I hope 2018 treats you well.

018 :: “I have learned that to be with those I like is enough” ― Walt Whitman

It’s been nearly a year since i posted here and the funny thing is the last post #017 was literally being a round up for 2014.

I haven’t ever been one for blogging because in part my dyslexia but also my general hatred of writing. I started this blog years ago with the intention of writing once a week. That lasted about 3 weeks… and then it turned into a place to dump the occasional post of things i’ve been up too. One of the main problems is that i haven’t ever figured out what this space is ‘for’ web diary it shouldn’t be.

What are Blogs for? Brings me onto a major current of discussion that has been running in back channels and freely over beers this year. That discussion of the state of social media and, feelings towards it and how does one engage with it.

In 2015: Some friends have gone ‘write only’, others read only, Some have repurposed seizable personal accounts towards publishing ventures and others have gone full sekret account and time warped back to 2008 twitter. I’ve been toying with the idea of moving over to tumblr and publishing everything out to twitter ‘write only’ style too but i’m still not sure.

Warren Ellis posted ‘Throwing Yourself Down A Memory Hole’  over at morning.computer in early December:

I’m tempted to delete every tweet I’ve ever posted.  Leaving the account live, but scrubbing it of life. On the one hand, that is doing violence to the public record.  But that is egotistical.  I remember stories of people executing “mass scribbles” on the Well, back in prehistoric times, and people apparently being terribly upset about it. But the net was very small back then. On the other hand, you see — who’s going to care? When I got on the web, there were still jokes about being able to read to the end of it.  Now it’s massive and loud and sprawling and the absence of any one person’s social media posts is less than meaningless to the public record.  There are already people who use services to delete their own tweets after a week. Self-destructing conversational atoms. Treating the whole thing with the ephemerality it probably deserves.

We all had a lot to say about the idea of a global conversation, but it turned out that most of us were at the back, muttering to ourselves, or, on occasion, finding ourselves talking to a chair.

Today I remain undecided.  How about you?

Ahmet A. Sabancı (@ahmetasabanci) followed up with a thoughtful response

RE: THROWING YOURSELF DOWN A MEMORY HOLE by @warrenellis

I was trying to find a way to build myself a “calmer internet” for some time, because of the very similar reasons. Most of the things we call internet today is a total mess and they’re doing everything possible to turn these into something more useless. While we need more stuff to curate the information flowing, we get more stuff makes all these more impossible to control. Because, let’s make it clear, advertisers wants it that way.

What should we do now? When I’ve started using internet, what I fall in love with it was conversation and the limitless information I can consume whenever I want, however I want. But we somehow let this controlled by Google, Facebook, Twitter and others. While they did a lot good at first, they’re now letting the control to the advertisers and governments. And that’s why I can’t leave my blog and other sites I’ve build. I prefer having this conversation from blog to blog and at the comments instead of Twitter. I know that it won’t reach a lot of people but same goes for tweets and Facebook posts too. And I prefer writing a blog post instead of 20-of-234 style Twitter rants.

Others this year have written or spoke on podcasts about using social media more ephemerally, (you should all listen to http://mindfulcyborgs.com/ if you arn’t already) and i’m inclined to agree.

Gordon (runesoup.com) also wrote this month:

In the between space of what blogs were and what they are becoming -in person discussion, comments, social posts, actual blog posts and lived personal experience

All this combined makes me think that 2016 should be devoted to more in person conversations, more dinners, attending more meetups & days spent talking and hanging out with friends in person. As for my own approach to social media that is TBD, maybe i’ll just try and blog more, tweet less and generally spend less time there.

I met with Ben in early Dec on a Sunday for brunch. The day generated 8-10 pages of notes, we drank beers and i paid well over the odds for Egg and Soldiers. However it was one my favourite days in the latter half of this year. Other memorable things that have happened this winter have included: A burger disaster in a hawaiian restaurant with Jay Owens, and having lunch with communist friends in between discussing the state of the Mainstream media’s coverage of the Corbyn leadership and screwing around an Occulus.

With that in mind looking back on the last 12 or so months it has been a less eventual in terms of ‘Stuff’ and more eventual in terms of ‘life’. So instead of posting general links to things i’ve written or content i’ve produced this year i thought i might write some brief notes month by month that stick out in my memory for 2015.  This list is an non exhaustive list obviously [EDIT: Looks like a lot of the things i mentioned are IRL interactions so 2016 might just be the year of ‘experience’]

Jan

Talk on Egregore’s, consciousness, and ‘corporations as people’ at a birthday unconference and either alienated or angered the entire audience which was pretty awesome. Went to the Whitechapel bell foundry with my friend Arthur.

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Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Feb

Transmediale was fun if exhausting, i ran a workshop with Tobias Revell and Erica Scourti on the subject of ‘Mobilizing Infrastucure Space’  – the notes from the workshop can be found towards the end of this archived hack pad here. Missed Eve’s birthday.

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Tired and Hungover – Photo by @mjays

Zed Books ‘The Coming Insurrection in Publishing: self-management, digital networks and social change’It was a good event and i enjoyed the conversations afterward.

March

Marrakech festival of magic with Eve, cold and rain, week long project management accelerator – refreshing to attend a thing on project management and gantt charts weren’t mentioned once.

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Our Riad – Google ‘Autoawesomed’

April

Friends Birthdays and Friends Weddings, Spring days and walks along the Thames. Events felt like a struggle to attend but i’m glad i did once i got there, the company of good friends.

May

Recruiter contacted me about a seeing a man about a dog. Played a SHIT LOAD of Wasteland 2, Drinks in the sun by the river.

June

More birthdays, A boozy night out in soho with mailing list co-conspirators meeting irl for the first time. Jack Parsons day, and the INFRA_SPECTION residency cycle at the white building coming to an end. Ending with the great ‘INFRA_SPECTION – A [ Mini ] Summit, more phone calls and interviews about that dog, Freud’s house adventure with Eve.

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I said ‘Who’s House?!!’

July

Jupiter return ended, my 30th birthday, Accepted a job offer, drinking with magicians. I remember the sun setting over london from the garden on the roof of the Google / King Studios St Giles building. All change pls.

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Selfie Sticks Are Amazing

August

Unemployment, adventures in Oxford with Eve, stayed in a prison, daily pub garden ‘meetings’ with other interstitially employed friends, folk festival ciders with old friends and Eve.

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Folk Folk

September

Long Progress bar in Brighton . Boozy evenings with musicians & internet folk, Crashing on Voss/Goatleys couch. A long day with DiakronNew job began with a bonus embarrassing interview.

October

Byzantine mosaics in Venice with Eve and her Fam, more birthdays, Q4 kick off, hard work.

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Santa Maria e San Donato, Murano, Venice

November

More hard work, went full wyrdo, comics signings, weird day at the dentist, more birthdays, noro virus courtesy of Eve, autumn fog on the Thames path.

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Surbiton -> Kingston Thames Path

Dec

Social calendar apocalypse, office parties, friends from out of town, finished all the hard work, realised i need to learn the basics of accounting, introspection and reflection

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This year has also been the year of newsletters, in the spirit of this post you can probably tell i have enjoyed the return to the long form, it’s a more personal form of communication from friends and acquaintances and internet strangers. The list below is stolen from Damien Williams’ (@wolven) Technoccult’s round up that i have added to, to make up my current subscription list:

And a few others I have either forgotten or aren’t for the public web.

You got a newsletter? Let me know 

New Beginnings 2016

  • New year’s resolutions include sorting out: Thought Menu, QQuietly, Family of Giants
  • Finishing both the looooong writing projects i’ve been working on half assedly in 2015
  • Fix my bike (it is STILL very poorly after having bits wrenched/stolen from it in August) and get riding again
  • Finish the Audio project i’ve been working on
  • Play a gig with my the new band
  • Read the massive pile of books i didn’t read in 2016
  • Blog more

So 2016 looks like a year spent finishing up all the things i didn’t do in 2015. That’s ok, it makes it all the more achievable…..

012 :: its been busy!

the main news is probably that grew a beard, went to florence, shaved it off again.

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in addition i’ve done a whole bunch of talks and workshops, this is my talk on ‘seeing the stack’ at the #stacktivism unconference in july.

i also spoke more generally about infrastructure, SCIM and other stuff at the CRESC Annual Conference 2013 in September at ULU. which was in the morning on the SAME DAY as i had tickets to improving reality in brighton. was all busy missions that day

plus all the audio recordings from the #iliw13 event have started to go online. the full audio from the ‘new luddism’ panel is was on is now online :: here

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thoughtmenu the nomadic DIY talk & event collective i helped found last year turned 1 in august. its been a bit different this year as it has has been a year of partnerships.

in april we partnered with the wonderful makerhood,com and put on a thought menu at their making uncovered event. below is a fantastic short documentary that gives a awesome sense of the day

since june and we have been working alongside limewharf to help curate the season of ‘Big Picture Days’. we have two more sessions left – oct & november and I’m excited for both of them.

topic so far have been Swam Coops, Stacktivism, Cyberinsecurity. Topics still to come are ‘Rights’ & ‘Neo-nomads’

we have a new website based on tumblr, to celebrate we been posting the videos from previous talks. As a result I’ve learnt quite a bit about Imovie this year – I planning on doing introduction layers with the speaker and talk names on newer videos soon i reckon. heres the newsletter ::

as i write this my room full of semi-packed in boxes. i’m moving soon and will potentially be broke after bills + rent whilst in the new place. as a result, i have some new projects brewing, one of which (hopefully) will come to fruition before the year is out. i just bought a blue yeti microphone  i’m now all ‘wired for sound’  so its most definitely going to be audio.