Bristol Art

2 February 2008


Originally uploaded by Poo Bar.

Part of the walk into town runs along the Frome River, just after the M32 underpass there’s a rather bland concrete wall.

Over the last year or so, various artists have been putting up graffiti murals, some of them really good (to my untrained eye).


Went to the CTN Launch last night at the Watershed. Cracking keynote from Michael Johnson (Pixar).
Full notes over on my jbsh company blog.

Local graffiti art

20 June 2007

Local graffiti art

Originally uploaded by Poo Bar.

This appeared on the wall of the underpass I walk through from Easton to the River Frome heading into Bristol. There are some rustic scenes at the entrances to the tunnels, but this is much more colourful!

I was at the Dorkbot Bristol celebration of the 10th Anniversary for the Camera-phone.

The opening instruction (after some networking and beers) was ‘All phones on!’ and on speaker phone. Almost immediately we had two interruptions. Scott Fletcher was self-proclaimed expert out the front, and did an excellent job at entertaining and informing.

The story was that Philippe Kahn invented the camera phone 10 years ago to capture and share the birth of his new daughter (though there’s some dispute about authenticity), he wouldn’t share that but did record his daughter’s 10th birthday cake being blown out. Confusingly he was calling his dog ‘CameraPhone’ which must make for some interesting conversations in the park!

The main highlight of the evening was a movie compiled from submissions sent in celebration of the nearly ubiquitous device. As Scott said, individually they weren’t much good but as a composition, well my notes from the event read ‘Disjointed, grainy, crap sound but weirdly compelling – a bit like the mind washing Clockwork Orange scene’

There was also a longer montage of stills taken on a phone that were then sequenced into stop frame animation, at roughly 1 photo every 4 minutes, the sequence was sped up to roughly 4 frames a second. The result was very captivating and entrancing. Not sure if it’s on YouTube or somewhere?

Not my immediate expertise but having playing around with data driven applications & websites many years ago, I was keen to see how they’d evolved and also to learn a bit more about rapid prototyping in the software world. Andy Parkhouse and Ben Whitnall from Team Rubber stepped up to the challenge.

Andy introduced agile and rapid prototyping as a very practical requirement that they adopted as larger projects were no longer sticking to the original plan and budget. Being a relatively small company they can’t afford to let projects wander, rapid prototyping and an agile approach meant they were able to get closer to the clients actual wish list (rather than their published tender specification) and to have more control over the development process from there out. Andy didn’t adopt a formal approach (e.g. Extreme Programming), preferring an approach that was organic to his company.

There was a short comedic break while they installed a vanilla Plone on the laptop and found the working folder (some bright spark pointed out the more straight forward install on Windows).

Starting with 3 discovery meetings to establish what client really wants, Andy and Ben pretty much dove straight in. They asked for audience members to be the client and began with an exploration of what the web site would be, who it was targeted at and some of the functionality. After that there was a short filmic interlude from the Kensington Report courtesy of Rubberductions (part of Team Rubber).

Plone was used as a wire frame prototyping environment. Although Plone was also used as their product delivery platform, Andy was very firm that they threw the prototype away and began again from scratch to prevent hacks used in the prototype finding their way into release ready software. There was some talk about Druple as a Plone killer (apparently lots more folks code php than Plone) but Andy was sticking with Plone for the time being because so much is already built which leaves time for design & run.

Then it gets technical – but they set up up a new cms driven site and started editing in real time (i.e. prototyping with the client in front of the laptop). Others have highlighted the speed of prototyping (most noteably for me was Rick Segal) but to see it in real time was still pretty cool.

Thanks also go to Ed for organising SkillSwap in Bristol, Watershed and Knowledge West for the room and Netsight for the beers. 🙂

I was catching up with some of the Futurelab researchers (Dan, Rich and Ben) so was a bit late to the Connecting Bristol event. Fortunately Clare was live blogging everything.

Just after I arrived, Stephen Hilton was talking about a new proposal to the DC10 group for a digital environment project, specifically looking at the impact of digital technologies on environmental issues. This was one of the trickiest parts of writing the original challenge proposal. Now it looks like Bristol, Birmingham, manchester and the others are putting together ‘Green Shift’ to look at smart digital media and smart energy technology (living lab as test bed).

Matthew Taylor (RSA) was mentioned in the context of coffee house challenges and community based environmental solutions, but I’m not sure quite how that fits just yet (Stephen is hopefully going to send a draft of the Green Shift proposal over so I can read it). That’s scheduled for an Oct/Nov submission.

Stephen Dodson (Director of the Digital Challenge Programme), mentioned that recent findings from target=”_blank”Ability Net suggested that Microsoft’s new Vista has better accessibility features to the ‘alternatives’ I.e. Open source? That was in response to quite a forceful proposition that any solution would be open source (Linux) based.

One of the closing ‘announcements’ that caught my ear was Thomas Rawlings from Fluffy Logic (and lots of partners) trailing the launch of a p2p open source, media content sharing platform, nearly similar to LionShare from Penn State University. Definitely one to watch out for in the future.

Last night’s Open Coffee Bristol meet up doubled up with the Bristol Enterprise Network event (though I’m not sure they knew about it). Irfon Watkins from Coull TV and Clive Birnie & Martyn Shiner from Severn Delta stopped by before joining the BEN crowd (they had free wine). I stayed for the Entrepreneur’s Question Time and asked if Bristol was ready for a Y Combinator/TechStars/et al type investment and incubation fund/service. The panel (Mike Bennett, E3, James Foster, Xmos, Sandu Hellings, RiskHive, and Irfon) all thought that the mix of research, enterprising spirit and creativity made Bristol ripe for such an undertaking. I also asked if they’d (as entreprenuers) put their own money into such a fund, Irfon went so far as to say he’s already putting something together.

I later got chatting to Andy Parkhouse from Team Rubber (got to love creative industries for company names) and he was also thinking about something similar. This could be a tipping point.