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The new OpenLibrary integration on Flickr is a lovely example of small things, loosely joined. You can see how it works on this photo of London Orbital.

london orbital

You could do some fun stuff with it. Perhaps augmenting my reading history on Bkkeepr, with photos I’ve taken of quotes and pages. Or knitting together photos of places with geodata, as a way of letting people explore the places mentioned in stories.

Hiding data, content and technology in real world games

Chris Thorpe on play, cities, and the built environment, from the Ogilvy Gamelab day. And it’s good, not just because Chris is a smart cookie, but because Chris actually makes things and understands making things.

One bit I especially liked was how comfortable ‘And I Saw‘ was with people hacking the game, to the point that it was, to all intents and purposes, built into the game. More platforms for play, please.

Newspaper Club

I’ve been quiet about work and that sort of stuff for a while. Sometime very soon, I’ll be able to point towards a thing I’ve made with some smart folks — Cupertino based companies permitting.

At the moment I’m working on a thing that has been an open secret for a while and now isn’t. Newspaper Club is a service to help people make newspapers, and Russell, Ben and I are blogging about it over here.

Just cycling

“What’s happening?””We’re cycling.””What are you protesting about?””Nothing. We’re just cycling. Grab your bike!”

Somewhere in London is a police control room, monitoring the thousands of CCTV camera littered across central London. I would love to be in that control room on the last Friday of every month, sometime around 7pm, as Critical Mass rolls up the slope from the BFI onto Waterloo roundabout.

I’d love to watch the hundreds of individual cyclists reduced to a single body behaving like a fluid gliding around town, gently affected by the varying viscosity of its surroundings, and deforming around obstructive nodes.

Critical Mass is important. Not because it’s a celebration of cycling, or any of the various groups that try and hijack it. Not because it’s a great way to see London or to meet interesting people. And not because it’s a metric ton of fun.

It’s important because it’s a wake up call to the rest of London that the city is here for you to use, so get out there and use it.

Clarke 0.2 released – now with actual working

It took a few days longer than expected, but Clarke 0.2 fixes the Skyhook bug. Your installation should automatically update (or you can force it manually, or download direct).

When I launched, I didn’t realise that my developer account was limited to 350 users… until it started failing for everyone. Thankfully Kate and Ryan at Skyhook have been very helpful, and I’m set up with a proper account now.

I also added an option that Tom at Fire Eagle requested — to be able to pause location updates whilst your computer is idle.

There’s a little bit of housekeeping that needs doing before I can open the source code, but it’ll be Real Soon Now.

Clarke – an OS X Fire Eagle updater

I’ve been doing some iPhone development recently, which I’m looking forward to talking about very soon. This has meant levelling up pretty quickly in Objective-C/Cocoa, which has been really quite enjoyable. I’ll come back to this another time.

Writing iPhone stuff means that you’re a short hop away from writing OS X stuff. And so, to prove I could, I made a small desktop application.

It’s called Clarke. It’s really not very exciting — don’t get your hopes up. It’s just a toolbar thing that sits there, quietly, using Skyhook’s API to triangulate your location from nearby wifi points, pushing it to Fire Eagle. Yes, it’s YAFEU (Yet Another Fire Eagle Updater).

Clarke

Anyway, it scratches a small itch of mine, allowed me to poke around with proper desktop coding a bit, and hopefully you’ll find it useful. Download Clarke.

Where in the World is James?

As of 11:19:15 (GMT) today, James Bowthorpe was at 41.0928, 28.0028, otherwise known as the town of Fevzipaşa, Northern Turkey. He’s making great progress in his attempt to beat the bicycle circumnavigation world record, and raise some serious dosh for Parkinson’s Research in the process.

James got in touch before he left and we quickly developed a live dashboard, tracking progress and raising awareness of his 6 month journey. Where in the World is James?

SPOT were kind enough to sponsor his use of their Satellite Messenger unit, which has been faithfully reporting his location every 10 minutes during cycling hours for the last 20 days.

It’s an impressive piece of kit. Because it backhauls over satellite rather than cellular, it avoids poor reception and roaming charges, and somehow it manages to last two weeks on a pair of AA batteries. It’s quite affordable too, should you want to play with one for a protospime project.

If you have any smart ideas of things to do with the route history, there’s a complete export available in JSON format. Go wild, do something fun, but please let me know if you plan on hammering the server.

Fighting natural laws

I’ve always considered natural laws not to be worth fighting. It’s just the way the world works, and it’s best to roll with it.

One of my favourites is the classic (albeit clichéd) ‘information wants to be free‘, which stings people all the time. The most recent example that springs to mind, because I just finished reading the article, is the Labour smear campaign suggestion emails. Oops, and all that.

But, this is an easy one to deal with: be nice, and everything will be fine.

My other favourite is the second law of thermodynamics, which says that the universe tends towards disorder, or, it’s easier to break things than make them.

Considering these two laws together suggests to me that information follows a pattern of burst and decay. This is why your permalinks will never be permanent. This is why I have no qualms with wiping six years of my blog. This is why I don’t care if my URL shortener disappears.

I consider my activities online to be ephemeral, contributing to the machine for only as long as is necessary. I hope my children and their children’s children will be able to explore and experience this, but what’s most important is that they can experience all of this, and anything else is just ego.