Facebook on Today

8 August 2007

Giles Brandreth and Rajat Agarwalla author of Scrabulous the latest Facebook app getting a big slot on the Today programme BBC Radio 4’s flagship morning news show. The bursting of the bubble or a light news day?


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

Topsham pub

River at sunset

Originally uploaded by Poo Bar.

I met up with Andy Gibbons (an old school mate) in Exeter by this excellent pub in Topsham, by the river, in the sun. We were later joined by Dave Lepiniere and the conversation moved from software to environmental engineering. All in all a great and stimulating evening, we even cooked up some ideas for new companies and projects…

One of the great things about Devon is the landscape and rural idyll, it’s also one of the draw backs. With so much green and pleasant (for the UK at least) there aren’t the urban centres that make for prime broadband & WiFi hot spots. This can make it look like there’s not much happening out in the sticks.

An hour with Barnaby Harris in the Dartbridge Inn, has confirmed that the truth is out there and it’s knowledge based. Devon & Cornwall have always had a creative industries strength (SW Screen, Culture South West, Creative Enterprise, Interactive SW, i-DAT & others, that and surfing; you can even take a degree in it here). What is beginning to punch through is the benefit of broadband that overcomes the geographical limitations of the A38. The local development agency (SWRDA) together with the EU has invested in the infrastructure but the businesses never really knew what to do with it. Early demonstrations of the technology were impressive, but lacked a fundamental reason for being (other than the funding) so consequently didn’t survive after the funding ran out.
What’s now happening, and what Barnaby linked up very eloquently, is a convergence of software features in social networking and a better understanding of the Read / Write web for businesses, together with sufficient bandwidth to make business work.

All of this set in the context of a conversation that ranged from the earliest social networking at Xerox where early field engineers would meet up to discuss customer service and informally coordinate their parts management to minimise the value held by each engineer but maintain acceptable service levels for customers, through to Swarm Teams and the principles of Beer Mat Entrepreneur. Barnaby also touched on WiredWest and more social/business networking in the Abbey Inn over the A38 on a Friday evening to discuss and network innovative wired businesses and individuals.

Access to finance is always a popular topic in start up and innovation circles and we discussed various micro finance initiatives such as Zopa and some of the more agile VC and Angel funding programmes that are beginning to take off. As we began to wrap up (I had to be in Exeter), Barnaby mentioned 8Apps.com as another social, collaborative, productivity tool. Masses going on and more to follow.

Ain’t University great

28 March 2007

Where else would you get a chance to turn yourself into Robocop?

The full story on New Scientist reveals that the research aims to improve seemless interaction between our technology (ubiquitous and wearable; if not implanted) and our environment. Sounds like a great idea but given the slightly tricky nature of technology interpreting human intention, I don’t think its going to find rapid adoption. Still if it can be implemented in specific situations, one thinks immediately of the emergency services, it could be really beneficial. Imagine a firefighter looking at an industrial fire, the third eye picking out the gas cylinders and reporting their contents and additional safety precautions.

I recall some work at UWE on a dynamic GIS system that could provide emergency services with some of this but without the person mounted camera (I think, it was a few years ago and I can’t find a link on UWE’s Built Environment pages).

Microformats, eh?

14 February 2007

I seem to be spending quite a bit of time ‘outside my comfort zone’ as Common Purpose would put it. Last night was a return to some geek heritage with the SkillSwap event on Microformats. Video should be online soon.

Thanks to Knowledge West (an innovation between the 6 Higher Education Institutes in the area) for the room and to ChinWag for the beer!

Tim Beadle from IoP was the expert explaining and navigating us through microformats and a live demo of how they could be used. In the event there was plenty of expertise within the audience and several times the demo became a joint editing and learning exercise.

Whenever there is a ‘standard’ or meta-code proposed (I remember some of the early work that was going on in the late 90’s on the Semantic Web) the experts rarely agree on the tags. This seems to have emerged from a defacto standard around iCards and iCal. There are a whole bunch of other microformats (including ones for social networks) which is good to see. This more pragmatic approach, plus obvious user benefits of easy(ish) capturing of contact and event info for your personal calendar etc looks like a winner. The inclusion of social networking demonstrates that the formats are being driven by the consumer and web2.0 agenda (which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing).

It will be interesting to watch and see if emerging formats develop for education2.0


28 January 2007

So I’ve just reflashed the ROM on my phone to Crossbow. Courtesy of a PDA site in Vietnam!

Everything seems to be working fine so far. Managed to get Skype, Adobe Reader 2.0 and PocketSmarpMT installed and working. The keyboard keeps cutting in with PocketSmart but that happened before.