Connections, 2


As I was watching James Burke passionately explain the interconnectedness of everything, I was reminded of my friend and psychoactive-substance-made-hominid, Matt Webb.

In this epic post, Webb lays claim to being the auteur of the first BBC factual documentary series (or holomemetic thoughtgift injectionseeds) that they commission after we all collapse into the supercontext of the singularity.

“our cities are unfolded instances of the hippocampus, as a game of Ludo or, rather, Stuck in the Mud is the first and second and n-order unfolding of the game rules + social behaviour + history. Surfaces, ha!”

Ouch! Brilliant!

UPDATE: gordon bennett. loads of comments about this essentially flippant little post.

Since moving to typepad I’ve notice that posting a blog entry is more like handing in your homework, at a particularly strict school run by ascetic ex-Jesuits expelled from the order for their extremism. All I’ve had a re comments telling me (and matt webb) off for our self-indulgence and lack of intellectual rigour.

Newsflash – this is a personal site, it is ALL self-indulgence. Moreover, I have the intellectual rigour of a frisbee. Anyway – I have removed the “recent comments” feature from the sidebar in the hope of redcuing the ‘pile-on’ that happens.


I have just spent an hour of a cold, wet Finnish summer afternoon, transported back to being 6 years old in 1978, watching the first episode of “Connections” by James Burke.

What an incredible series that was, and what a magnificent storyteller y’man Burke is. Depressingly, I can’t see anything like that getting made now, although Schama‘s History of Britain is probably the nearest in terms of compelling, rhetorical, factual television.

The theme of interconnectedness and interdependence of civilisations, technology and nature is one that probably needs telling powerfully these days, too.

Oh, and dig that seventies on-screen typography.

» Palmer’s James Burke Fan Companion
» Wikipedia entry on James Burke

Superfantastique! Keyword RSS of BBC News

This is great – someone has hacked a service that generates a custom RSS feed based on a keyword search of BBC News.

So, for example, if I wanted to track the UK Labour government’s idiotic plans for ID cards, I just type in “ID Cards” and get a RSS feed to put in my news reader of choice.

It also works for the rest of the BBC website, so if I wanted to track any content on the band “Franz Ferdinand”, I just type it in and get a feed, which will return content the BBC have got on the hip scottish artrock combo.

UPDATE: Someone from the BBC has asked me to take this entry down, so as a compromise I have removed the links to the site outlined above.
David who posted from the BBC to ask to remove the reference has replied more fully to the comments below, and raised some good practical challenges to doing RSS and connecting to web-services on huge content sites like the BBC News. Many thanks to him for taking the time to clarify and explain some of the issues.

“By hook or by crook, we’ll get it!”

Which is of course, about getting information, from The Prisoner, being shown again this summer on BBC Four.

Pat Kane quotes Wilson/Bey:

“…the more of this information you take in, the darker things get. I call it the “lite age” as opposed to the dark ages. A situation where you have all the information all the time — completely accessible — where in other words there are no secrets, or there’s a perception that there are no secrets, that there’s no information that we can’t get. This kind of false omnipotence, this superman of information.”

Victor steps outside to see if the shape of all this information makes more sense than the substance.

Which is always an alternative if you’re allowed.

“Be seeing you!”


This week marks four years of this weblog. I started in June 2000, while working still at Sapient’s London office, using blogger. The longest I have been in a job has been around 2 years, my architectural education was 5 years; so this weblog is one of the things I have stuck at the longest.

It’s been useful, it’s been fun, it’s given me opportunities and problems (sometimes at the same time) and for not much effort. It’s a testament to the tools that make such a rewarding format so low effort: I’ve progressed over the 4 years from Blogger, Greymatter, Moveabletype to Typepad.

While I’ve had a procession of tools, in review, I’ve come full circle from posting links and effectively establishing a commonplace for notes and bookmarks using Blogger, through writing more and more discursive and long-form stuff about design for technology, to publishing experiments like warchalking and back again now to mainly links, notes and social bookmark hoarding using

It seems that the “outboard brain” model is the one I’m most comfortable with, and get most utility from, and now this memory prosthesis is becoming more mobile and less textual. I’ve been trialling Nokia Lifeblog for the last month or so, and along with I’m finding that it’s filling many of the roles of memory prosthesis that this blog used to.

So, the question is what to do here other than to write more self-indulgent bitkipple about design and social technology and comics and science and cities and games and most importantly, magic for another four years?

Wait a minute. I like doing that…


I’ve said it before, but I can’t recommend Radio 4’s “In our time” and the accompanying weekly newsletter by Melvyn Bragg highly enough:

“After the programme it was difficult to prise apart the guests. I think that what they had found was such a community of interest in what each other had to say, that they would have been very happy to have continued what I thought was a tremendous seminar for the rest of the morning. Perhaps they did. I had to push off and get on with dull work, ie: not talking about Renaissance magic and the association of the Cabbala, neo-Platonism and Hermes Trismegistus.”

» R4: In Our Time

» Wikipedia: Hermes Trismegistus