24 August 02010

Agile Learning meetups in London

Photo of meetup at the start of AugustHaving taken a few soundings — and please complete our short Agile Learning survey if you haven't already, as we're keen to get a broader input — the first meetups are under way in London. In fact, this isn't so much a new activity, as an evolution and gentle morphing of an existing one. More on that in a moment, but first the key points:

  • Self-organised discussions on the themes of self-organised, flexible, sometimes disruptive (vis-a-vis established habits and institutions) approaches to learning
  • A mix of invited guests, interviews, group problem-solving, themed chats — maximum dialogue and minimum structure
  • Every Wednesday morning, 10.30-12.30 (the first 30-45 minutes is usually the most informal, with introductions and establishing a shared base)
  • Level 5 of the Royal Festival Hall, London, SE1 8XX (free wi-fi available)
  • Free, open and hopefully welcoming to all
  • Details and sign up (not mandatory) are on Meetup.com, including tomorrow's.

This series of meetups began a year ago as the "unplugged" offshoot of the School of Everything, with Dougald Hine inviting a series of fascinating guests. Tony Hall has been co-host, and the meetings have also come under the umbrella of The Learning Co-op. For a while I considered setting up a separate strand of meetings under the Agile Learning banner, but the momentum and energy favour collaboration at the moment. As you can tell, these arrangements are very lightweight and flexible, so new paths may emerge, fork or diverge further on.

As a form of collective self-discipline, we set aside two meetings this month to reflect on the meetups so far and to plan directions for the future. The photo above (by Tony Hall) is of the first of these sessions, three weeks ago. Given the voluntary, self-selecting attendance at the meeting, I guess it was inevitable that most people had mostly positive things to say about the meetups they'd attended. We talked about practising what we preach in terms of self-organised learning groups. Fred Garnett referred to Mike Wesch's work on organising groups according to their learning purposes (I think this link refers to that) and the WEA's Learning Revolution project was also mentioned.

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7 July 02009

Round-up of talk and interviews

In a brisk (?!) follow-up to my last blog entry, I did a talk to teenagers from three Sheffield schools on the subject "Big Brother is Logging You", sharing the platform with Dave Pattern, Library Systems Manager at University of Huddersfield, who also featured in the TILE libraries event. This was part of the Sheffield 14-19 Diplomas initiative. It was also an experiment in speaking to one physical audience and two 'virtual' ones via videolink, with the occasionally sub-optimal results you might expect with remote teenagers. Both my and Dave's presentations are available online, as Powerpoint, Word supporting materials, and Quicktime video of each section of our talks (unfortunately not embeddable, as far as I can see).

Bringing things almost bang up to date, I was at the Reboot Britain yesterday, and recorded a couple of short interviews with Steve Lawson on AudioBoo. In the first one I revisit and update one of my old, old hobby horses, scepticism in the face of hype about games in learning. Then another old chestnut, mentioning how what Tony Ageh said yesterday about opening up the BBC Archives reminded me of similar proposals made almost five years ago.


Later Steve got me together with Stan Stalnaker of Hub Culture for a discussion. I'd literally only heard of Hub Culture three minutes before the discussion began, so you can hear me trying to work out whether this is an up-market managed workspace or an invitation-only business network, or some combination of the two. Even after hearing Stan speak later in the day, I wasn't entirely clear. Steve was kind enough to tweet my off-the-record explanation for why I didn't answer his second question.


There are plenty more Reboot Britain audio interviews, along with social media of all flavours.

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28 March 02008

Against Method in Innovation

InnovationCartoon.jpgI've signed up for NESTA's Innovation Edge conference in a few weeks. Though I'm looking forward to what promises to be a stimulating day, I'm kind of surprised that the abstract concept of innovation remains so popular with policy makers and agencies.

Using innovation as a catch-all term to cover a wide range of changes in products, services and organising creates the expectation that these changes share important characteristics and, critically, may share similar solutions. But do they, should they, or could they? To take the relatively narrow domain of integrated IT, on the one hand you have the Apple approach; on the other open source. How much do they have in common? Not an awful lot.

Perhaps my wariness and scepticism comes from being exposed, at an impressionable age, to Paul Feyerabend's "anything goes" approach to scientific method. Feyerabend didn't deny the value of method; he was arguing against hidebound adherence to any particular set of rules and methods. He argued for a more laissez-faire approach to combining multiple approaches, and being prepared to bend the rules when circumstances encouraged it.

If you want to wind people up, you refer to this way of thinking as epistemological anarchism. If you want to calm and reassure, you're better off talking of methodological pluralism. I'm hoping to hear both at Innovation Edge, which takes place in London on 20 May this year, and is free to attend (but places are limited and require registration).

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3 October 02007

On networking events: broadcasting information or building relationships?

Networking events are everywhere and all the time these days. Especially in metropolitan centres like London. They come in all shapes and sizes, too. Yesterday I attended two, almost back to back, which showed very different expectations and architectures — if that's not too pompous a word — for what makes good networking, and how to facilitate it.

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21 May 02006

A clutch of future-gazing events to plug

First is the b.TWEEN 06 forum of future entertainment, coming at the end of this week (25 and 26 May) in Bradford. The programme covers pioneering cross-platform work that straddles art and commerce. Sadly I can't make it this year, but I enjoed the 02002 event, and aim to be there next year.

I will however be at the one-day Content 2.0 event at the RSA, London, on 6 June. The programme looks interesting, as long as it doesn't descend too much into voodoo-speak and hand-waving about brands. If you'd like to attend, let me know, as I may be able to do a deal (for one person only) on ticket price.

Finally, I may be at the MusicStrands summer school on The Present and Future of Recommender Systems in Bilbao, 12-13 September, which includes participants from MusicStrands, Yahoo! and several universities. Thanks to Paul Lamere for flagging this.

14 April 02006

blog.ac.uk: educational use of weblogs

On 2 June I'll be participating in the blog.ac.uk one-day conference on educational use of weblogs and weblogging software. It's in London at Living Space, and is free to attend. There's an embryonic web site for the event, which will develop over the next six weeks.

My involvement comes through a connection with Josie Fraser, who (along with Steve Warburton) is a fantastic catalyst for bringing together bloggers in the learning area. Register your interest in attending by emailing Josie via her posting about the event

6 February 02006

Audio Branding Event, 23 February

In a couple of weeks I'm chairing an event called Sounds Subliminal: Branding the future with audio in London.

The event is about the pros and cons of using sound as part of brand identity. There's an impressive range of speakers, including Dan Jackson of Sonicbrand, who literally wrote the book on sonic branding, and Martyn Ware, now of Illustrious Company. See the event details for a full list of speakers and a link for registration (£80/50).

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28 December 02005

Great gigs in London for a tenner or less

This is normally a quiet time of year for gigs in London (as for on-topic blog posts) but one of the highlights of the first week in January is the Winter Sprinter series of gigs organised by Track and Field at the Water Rats Theatre (which claims to be the venue of Bob Dylan's first ever UK performance, in 01962).

This is the seventh year of Winter Sprinters, and it will be the third year Lucy and I have gone to one of the shows. The last two years we saw Herman Düne, and they're playing again this year, but tickets for that sold out in a few days, so we're going to see the show headlined by The Broken Family Band instead.

One of the great things about the Winter Sprinter shows is that you get to see three bands — some you know, some you don't — for under a tenner. Now there are some gigs I've enquired about in the last year where the surcharges alone — for (self) "service", (agency) "convenience" and mandatory stuffing of tickets into an envelope — were more than the face value of a Winter Sprinter ticket. (At this point I resort childishly to writing abuse in the Address and Credit Card fields and thus not completing the transaction.) With that in mind here are some other places where I've seen great acts at low prices.

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23 November 02005

Theatre of Voices UK tour performing Stockhausen

I was just clearing out my email in-box and found an unsolicited request to plug a tour on this site. Normally such messages would be deleted straight away, but I must have noticed the polite tone and decided to stay its execution until the next clear-out. Then, on re-reading it, and in the spirit of more or less random ways of discovering new music, I thought: why not?

Dear Sir

I manage Paul Hillier's ensemble Theatre of Voices, and I'm writing to tell you of Paul's exciting plans to perform and record Stockhausen's Stimmung in early 2006. Paul has a long history with the piece (having performed it many times with the Singcircle ensemble) and for a long time wanted to direct performances himself. Anyone who knows Theatre of Voices' fantastic recordings of Cage, Reich and Pärt will understand what an exciting prospect this is. Paul has chosen now to revisit the piece as the firts step in a new direction for the ensemble — to explore extensively a repertoire (both new commissions and classics) for vocal ensemble + amplification / electronics.
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21 November 02005

No Music Day

I found out rather late in the day (via the Soundscape UK email list) that today is No Music Day. This idea began with Bill Drummond, who apparently chose 21 November as it is the eve of St Cecilia's Day — St Cecilia being the patron saint of music.

The idea of No Music Day is to create some space in your listening so that you can, in Drummond's words, "do nothing but think what it is you want from music, and develop ideas of how that could be achieved".

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9 November 02005

Event: digital film/cinema

The informal network Cass Creatives is hosting a second event on the future of filmmaking on 30th November at City University (London, less than 200m from where I'm writing!).

The last time they covered this topic the presentations and discussion were fascinating — see the official report and mine.

The event is free. Here are details and booking (also here).

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21 August 02005

Werner Herzog film season and conference

Coming up in London this September is a season of all Werner Herzog's feature films, around a third of his documentaries, plus the two Les Blank documentaries about Herzog. The latter form part of a weekend conference on Herzog's work, which also includes the UK premiere of the director's most recent film The Wild Blue Yonder. Herzog has been invited to be interviewed before this screening.

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9 June 02005

Slow walk for longplayer on summer solstice

I've written a few posts recently (1, 2) related to the Longplayer 1000-year-long piece of music, and here's one more, including a request for your credit card contribution.

On 21 June, Ohad Fishof will be doing a fundraising slow walk across London Bridge and back, a total distance of 563.8m. For a contribution of £5 you can enter your estimate of how long this will take him, and, if you're closest to the actual time, you win a free flight to Brisbane (from London, so may be of limited interest to any international readers). Enter via the Slow Walk web site. As far as I can tell — though don't blame me if this is wrong — you can work out the shortest and longest possible durations from the fact that the walk starts at 8am, entries are allowed until 1pm, Ohad is having a one-hour break at the half-way point, and you can join him for a celebratory drink on the terrace at the Old Thameside Inn at 6.30pm (these latter timings are taken from an email from Jem Finer, composer of Longplayer and member of the Longplayer Trust). Please have a go.

The Slow Walk site has some links to 'slow culture' and long-term thinking, to which I would add the slow sound system.

17 April 02005

Time and Timelessness: Laurie Anderson, Doris Lessing, Jem Finer

Alongside her performances at the Barbican next month, Laurie Anderson is participating in a public conversation with Doris Lessing on the theme of Time and Timelessness (26 May, at the Royal Institution). The blurb for the event proffers:

Since the year 2000, the lighthouse on Trinity Buoy Wharf in London's Docklands has been home to the continuing performance of Jem Finer's Longplayer, a 1000-year-long piece of music commissioned by Artangel [donate]. Impossible to listen to in a single lifetime, does this constitute timelessness? Or maybe its simply a way for us to think about more than just our own experience, as science has always done.
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20 January 02005

Art applications of ubiquitous computing

The combination of wireless communications and miniaturisation of devices, from mobile phones to RFID tags, opens up a rich seam of new technology applications that do not depend so exclusively on screens for interaction with people. In some cases the user interface can be embedded in physical objects that are aware of their location in space. Howard Rheingold's book Smart Mobs was among the first to raise awareness of the potential for new services that give a new twist social and physical spaces.

At the start of February the two-day PLAN Workshop at London's ICA features a lot of research on applications of the new technologies in the arts: dance, sound, installations and new media. It may be conservative of me to say so, but I feel this area needs a better vocabulary to communicate to a wider audience: for a start, the word 'locative' has an established meaning, different from one that the PLAN people seem to give it.

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14 January 02005

January digital networking meeting

The next in the series of London networking meetings that I organise is on Wednesday 26th January (see the details of the first meeting for background). It's at The Gate in Farringdon (map) and starts at 6.30. It's free, and open to all.

Participants come from the new media, television, film, music, press/publishing, radio or advertising sectors — there are usually 10-20 people there at any stage of the evening, but whoever turns up are the right people for the evening (it's very informal so you don't have to be there at the beginning if you can't make it until later).

The whole thing is organised under the umbrella of Ecademy. Here is the page with meeting details where you can register if you're a member (basic level membership is free).

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16 December 02004

Seminar on 'Supporting e-learners', 20 Jan 02005

I'll be giving a presentation at this E.learning age seminar in Hammersmith, along with me old mucker (translation for non-UK readers) Seb Schmoller. We'll be giving a practical run-through of British Standard BS 8426 A code of practice for e-support in e-learning systems, which we drafted, and suggesting ways to implement it.

Other speakers include Howard Hills, author of Individual Preferences in E-learning, Mike Duckett, MD of Coaching for Success, and Clare Howard, MD of e-coaches. (Disclaimer: I'm not involved in organising the event; this is what I've been told, but don't blame me if it changes!)

Here are further details, including how to book.

11 December 02004

Christian Marclay at Tate Modern

Christian Marclay at Tate Modern 02004.12.10Here are a couple of grainy longshots taken with my so-last-year's-model camera phone at last night's Christian Marclay gig at the Tate Modern. The gig was tied into Marclay's Sounds of Christmas project, which is showing at the Tate until Christmas.

Marclay is another example of an artist who presents his collections as art: in this case, his collection of over 1,200 Christmas records, gleaned from charity shops over the years (though I spotted at least one Christmas record missing from the collection — perhaps beyond the pale of kitsch?).

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30 November 02004

Roundtable discussion: Beyond the digital download

Tomorrow afternoon I'm taking part in a roundtable discussion on how consumer behaviours may change as music radio, music TV, digital downloading and music retail overlap more and more. I'm one of the panel members along with Andrew Harrison (Associate Editor of Word), John Strickland (CEO of Tunetribe), Simon Hopkins (Head of BBC Music Online), John Ingham (Head of Content Development at O2), and Seth Jackson (Head of Marketing at YR Media).

The event (in central London) is organised by Fathom, and entry is only by their invitation. There may be one or two last minute places, and you could ask Jon Watts or Sarah Bradley there if you'd like to come.

24 November 02004

Digital media networking meeting in London

It's short notice, but if you're in London tomorrow evening, and fancy meeting a group of 15-20 professionals in the new media, television, film, music, press/publishing, radio and advertising sectors — very informal over a drink or two — then please come along to this event that I've organised. It's at The Gate in Farringdon (map) and starts at 6.30. It's free, open to all, and no salesmen will call.

For more details of the background, see the details of last month's meeting.

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25 October 02004

Forced Entertainment: Indoor Fireworks festival

I'm just back from seeing Instructions for Forgetting, the opening piece of Forced Entertainment's two-week Indoor Fireworks festival, which made me realise I should have plugged the festival before now, and I've been neglecting the Cultural Calendar section of this site.

As well as six performances of their new work, Bloody Mess, next week — I'm going on Thursday — there are other performances by the company, some of their video work, shows by other performers that they've selected for the festival, and on the final day (6 November), talks by academics, the eight-hour durational work Marathon Lexicon, plus a big party to celebrate twenty years since the company was founded.

Further details of Bloody Mess (including trailer) and archive pages. See also Forced Entertainment's Imaginary Evidence CD-ROM, in the design of which I had a small hand.

20 October 02004

Ecademy networking meeting for media sector

Speaking of social software (see previous posting), if you're in striking distance of London and interested in meeting people working in the design, new media, Internet, television, film, computer entertainment, music, press/publishing, radio and advertising sectors, you're invited to a meeting I've organised through the Ecademy online and offline network.

Here are the details of the meeting on 28 October. To register for the meeting you have to join Ecademy, which is free and there's a link from the meeting details. Though no-one will turn you away if you come along and haven't registered.

Ecademy is the best mix of online and offline activity that I've experienced — if you're in a metropolitan centre like London — and this event is under the umbrella of the 'media playground' club within the larger Ecademy network.

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17 July 02004

Saluting the Placard London Headphone festival

Placard festival flyerI'm just back from the 02004 Placard Headphone festival. Attendance seemed to be up on last year's festival which is a just and gratifying reward for the organisers who make nothing from this free event. As I write, there's still nearly 4 of the 14 hours left, and 11 of the 39 artists to perform to a silent room where the audience sits on the floor listening on headphones.

This is one of the things I love about living in the east of London: being able to drop in on the stuff that people like [no.signal] (Eric) and yaxu (Alex) put on in their own un-showy but determined and persistent way. Thanks.

26 May 02004

RSA 250th anniversary event

The RSA has been going for 250 years. I joined it because it seemed to be one of those Establishment institutions that had license to promote dangerous and subversive ideas without being pilloried by conservative forces.

The RSA has now revisited its 01754 mission mission to focus on social and economic challenges such as sustainability and global citizenship. The announcement of their international conference in October provide links to these challenges and the distinctly mixed bag of 21st century visionaries they're assembling for it. I will go... probably.

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10 May 02004

Lord Puttnam lecture on digital technology and film

Following on from their very useful digital film event last November, Cass Business School is hosting a lecture by David Puttnam on The Impact of Digital Technology on the Film Industry: Opportunity or Threat? on 2 June.

Here's the link for more details and registration. It's free (including the drinks) and less than 200m from my front door, so I'll be there for sure...

6 May 02004

Alain Resnais film season

As a prelude to a season of Alain Resnais films that will get under way in earnest next week, Michel Ciment (editor of the French film journal Positif) gave an introduction to Resnais' fifty year career, followed by a screening of Providence.

Ciment's overview of Resnais' work and practice was erudite in nailing his unique gifts, while correcting what he sees as common misconceptions.

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16 February 02004

Douglas Coupland play: September 10

Douglas Coupland is scheduled to perform his first play September 10 at the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon in October. Neither the news page on his web site nor a Google search reveal any more details at the time of writing. Whereas his recent novels have been preoccupied with how people respond to trauma, the title suggests he may be shifting focus to the eve of the shock. There's also a new novel, Eleanor Rigby, scheduled to be published in the UK by the end of the year.

I've been a fan of Coupland since 8 November 01995, when Alex Usborne gave me his tickets to DC's reading at the Showroom. The first thing that impressed me was that — instead of the zeitgeist-addled, hipper-than-thou preoccupations I'd been led to expect from reviews — DC read the introspective passage of Generation X about Christmas morning with the family. But the second thing was that he complimented me on my suit while signing my copy of Microserfs. I'd read everything he'd ever written within six weeks.

12 January 02004

Workshops on e-learning accreditation scheme

As part of the accreditation scheme project mentioned previously, David Kay and I are running a couple of workshops to consult private sector e-learning employers on the features they'd like to see in the scheme we devise.

The workshops will be held on two of the following dates, according to availability of participants: 19 January am (London), 20 January pm (Sheffield), 29th January am (London or Sheffield), 2nd February am (Sheffield), 5th February am or pm (London or Sheffield), 6th February am (Sheffield). Please contact me as soon as you can if you'd like to attend, including which dates you are available.

10 December 02003

RSA Music and Technology event - 15 January

I mentioned in an earlier posting about the future of music about the RSA's forthcoming programme on music and technology, the RSA web site now has details of the first event, entitled Policy Frameworks for the Future. It's on 15 January 2004, the day after Lawrence Lessig, noted commentator on Intellectual Property Rights in the digital age, gives an RSA lecture called Getting the law out of the way.

Apologies for the scarcity of postings recently, which will continue until after I have moved office and home on 16 December.

19 October 02003

John Cage Uncaged - January 2004

I picked up details of this major three-day weekend festival of Cage-related events around the Barbican.

Over ten concerts (some of them free), four feature-length films — plus a 3'50" film version of Wagner's Ring Cycle — and a string of talks. As well as Cage, there are performances of pieces by Satie, Varèse, LaMonte Young and Morton Feldman. Performers include Rolf Hind and Joanna MacGregor.

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6 September 02003

Robert Wilson at Sadlers Wells

Robert Wilson makes theatre like none other I have seen. I can't think of anything I've seen on a theatre stage that's captivated me more than his Saints and Singing show in 1998. So I'm very much looking forward to seeing The Temptation of St Anthony next Thursday.

Mind Your Head festival, South Bank

This festival of six concerts has the more revealing strap-line of Exploring New Meanings in Sacred Music.

Most interesting to me are the shows by Carter Tutti and Current 93 on 9th October, and by Acid Mothers Gong and Damo Suzuki on 21 October.

Carter and Tutti were members of the soon-to-reform Throbbing Gristle, while Damo Suzuki was the much-feted singer in Can during their 1970s krautrock heyday.

28 August 02003

Neil Young 'Rust Fest' 26-28 September

I was accosted at the Cambridge Folk Festival by Paul Docker because I was wearing a rare Neil Young t-shirt that he hadn't seen before. Yesterday I spent an enjoyable evening with Paul and friends — enjoyable for such as me who like debating the relative strengths of different Neil Young albums (as well as Bob Dylan, Keith Jarrett and many points between).

But the point of this post is to draw your attention to the London Rust Fest that Paul is organising next month. A convention for Young fans, featuring rarely seen films, tribute-style bands. £10 for three days, with any surplus going to Neil Young's Bridge School charity.

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18 August 02003

Folk music and protest festival, Barbican

The Barbican has a four-day festival dedicated to the role of folk music in popular resistance, Freedom Highway. Seeing the Levellers and the wonderful Chumbawamba in the Corporation of London's arts venue should be unmissable (if not great for dancing) — that's on 19th September.

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15 August 02003

Julian Cope, live, 30 Oct - 1 Nov

JC is promising three nights of his ur-pagan rock at the Lyric Hammersmith. Details here. I'll be going on 31st.