Much like the British Library’s Out of This World Exhibition the curators caught me off guard by starting much further back in history than I was expecting. 16th century mechanised monk. Fish catching mechanical swan gleaming like formal silverware and tin men that worked the various World Fair’s.
By far the creepiest Robot was the Japan Kodomoroid communication android by Osaka University and ATR Laboratories produced in 2014 to read the news. Jesse introduced me to the concept of Uncanny valley. Sadly is had nothing to do with valley girls. Instead it is the idea that human replicas elicit feelings of eeriness. To counter the weirdness Kodomoroid induced, I introduced Jesse to Pepper. Who was super cute and got the pair of them to teach me the American art of fist pumping (we even had to record it).
This exhibition really brought home how incredibly complex the art of creating and adapting humanoid robots are, even before we consider topics like consciousness. Making them walk. Recreating human eyes or skin. All will require a multitude of humans experimenting. Until Robots figure it out for themselves.
The exhibition which is running till Sep 2017 and is well worth checking out.
Every year I get an invite to Digital Toybox the end of year London Met undergraduate show hosted by the fabulous Fiona French. This has been the first time I have been able to go for a number of years. The quality has improved as the has the variety of games. Board games, 3d printing, robots as well as animation and game tech.
The stuff that inspired me to get back to my own digital toybox included
NYC Resistor is a hacker collective with a really cool loft space located in Brooklyn USA. They have Raspberry Pi’s in their vending machines. They are simply very cool. I figured their Interactive Show would be equally cool and I wasn’t disappointed. Well a little, I wish I was forewarned that everyone would be in ball dresses so I could have worn mine.
There were loads of interesting projects from Liisa: Augmenting InnAr Beauty and several Selfi devices. I obviously got distracted by the arcade machine.
Easter is a fun British holiday. A little like Christmas but a little too close to Christmas in that it always sneaks up on you. So when I agreed to speak on this panel the day after Easter Monday I didn’t factor being full of chocolate eggs and jet lagged from the clocks going back.
My specialist subject as ever was India. As I prep for my time on Mastermind I took the opportunity to talk about it at Global South event which reading the internet I don’t think actually includes India. Oh well.
Fiona French Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University invited me to her Games Jam last weekend at the Accelerator in Shoreditch. I did no prior research on what Games Jam might be but signed up as Fiona and I have been friends for a long time (having done our masters degree together), her annual graduation exhibition is always fascinating and we hadn’t hung out in ages.
It turns out that Games Jam is a day or weekend hackathon of game developers who plan, design, and create either a digital or board game. Global Games Jam is an annual well sponsored event with slick videos and easy to use website. This year the theme was Ritual and after deciding not to go for a religious theme with opted to focus on clown’s and their rituals.
I was worried that we would be coding all day and night, drinking and eating junk and I would have to dust down some recursive case statements that I hadn’t used for years. All these things happened. In addition I found myself in a room where I had lots of connections to the participants, met new talented people, learnt enough Unity to move a non-player character (NPC) on screen, debugged some painful mesh problems in Maya, was caught on my first twitch.tv stream and played games with Fiona’s kids (who also game tested London 2012 mascots site for me). And I was allowed to go home and sleep each night even if no one else did.
BITS Pilani a well established private university in the Rajasthan dessert held a TedX this week and in their wisdom invited me to speak.
I have to say I didn’t really believe the email, when it arrived back in August last year, but I replied anyway and was surprised to get a quick response.
The first challenge was picking a topic. The email said that the theme set was Bread and Butter. Later I learnt that the key sponsor was Amul. As the deadline for a talk theme loomed I was in the depths of writing my first book and after a few weeks of brain freeze I tentatively asked if Work and Happiness was a good topic, I was surprised when I got an incredibly enthusiastic reply.
By the end of year, with the book completed, I was wondering why I hadn’t picked my favorite topic of Humans and Robots.
The car collected me from Jaipur and my guide was a talented well read economist undergraduate who made me question my topic again. This charming ambitious student questions started by asking my views on the current low oil prices. My talk needed to be clever. A chai break, a temple tour and 6 hours of questioning later we arrived. I hurried over the new auditorium to rehearse. I was struck by how much hard work had gone into this event and how well organised the team of undergraduates had undertaken the brief. TED’s and TedX seems to me much more about the ability of organisers to put together a great event and pick an exciting audience. In this case 40 organisers and 60 ticket holders made up the 100 audience allowance set by the Ted licence. Each one writing a detailed application to be allocated their spot. No pressure then.
In addition TedXPilani 2016 had 4 female speakers out of the 9 who were able to make it in person. This is a far cry from the stats June Cohen a Executive Producer of TED Media in 2013 a workshop says that only about 20% of the short-listed TEDx talks that come to her for consideration on TED.com are by women. I really want to change my topic – something more unique.
Life on a campus set in a remote desert is very different to the universities I attended set in big cities where the drinking age was younger than I was at the time. After the event the students with talk of their incredible start up ideas were kind enough to show me around campus while explaining how they had fun. From my perspective they seem to work really hard and for the most part seemed very happy (and maybe didn’t need my talk after all).
As I continued to worry that my talk idea wasn’t unique or terribly deep or globally relevant an audience member approached me and said my talk really connected with him. Finally I realised Tedx is about the local connection whatever the idea.
At Grace Hopper Bangalore India 2015 this week I was part of a fun session that offered speed mentoring for lean start ups. It was part of the entrepreneurship track designed for business owners, employees and those considering to start their own venture.
Tathagat hosted the session which focused on the following case study with us the panelists:
Mythily Ramesh talked about how she transitioned from the corporate world in Wipro to the start up world and her incredibly interesting social enterprise NextWealth which helps rural Indian university towns develop a sillicon economy based on cheaper off-shoring.
Zainab Bawa CEO of HasGeek Media talked about building a developer ecosystem in India by organising communities and helping developers hone and consolidate their talent through highly selective speaking engagements.
And finally I talked about how raising funding has caused What’sMySize to pivot its business model dramatically over the years. Focusing on how my relationship with board has adapted and changed.
After which we broke out into groups and discussed specific questions from entrepreneurs right here in India. I loved some of the great new economy ideas being discussed. I was particularly excited by the medication distribution for near to expiring product as well as the dhobiwala (or laundrette) app.
I heard two things consistently in my groups which I am now thinking about;
“My husband has started this business and now I want to make it successful, how do I …. ?”
“How do I break into international markets while based in India?”
Elsewhere at this incredible technology focused conference attended by 2.5K people mainly women I was really impressed by talks on Indian farming and Skype translations services.
This conference beats SXSW hands down because it infuses real technology talks with the usual marketing and futurology one expects. What makes it unique is how many of the strands were focused on supporting women into the highest rung of an organisation and how many go-getting students I met. Loved it and the people around me loved the gifts (selfi sticks, bluetooth speakers, bags, headphones, GOQiii band to name but a few).
The lovely BT Expedite team asked me to play the part of Karren Brady. Having never seen an episode of the The Apprentice I found myself watching episodes from behind a cushion. Mainly horrified at the ridiculousness of the TV participants but also with embarrassment recalling my own business degree and how many of the mistakes we made learning our craft.
The structure of the day was rather brilliant. Enham Trust charity had organised a charity fashion show in Tatcham with Phase 8. The two teams had 5 hours to sell as many tickets as they could for the event. Only actual sales counted.
My team quickly decided to hit their own office, Newham and Tatcham high street and business parks along the way. Nothing like the TV show, these guys worked as a team maintaining healthy competition formulating sensible strategies. In total both teams sold 22 tickets ensuring the evening is a sell out. Incredibly successful day and I loved being Karren Brady raising my eyebrows strategically for the camera.
Being British is ‘Great’. After all its the home of computing with Alan Turing, Raspberry Pi and my Dad.
I thought Britain might be the home of Knitting but Wiki tells me, it was Egypt. Not only that, at a recently technology event I learnt that the classic form of British knitting I was taught as a kid, was inadequate.
The event was the annual British Computing Society London Central hosted Tech Adventure Night and I went because it was hosted by the wonderful Dr Sue Black.
As a newly resident (but often non resident) Indian, it has always intrigued me to see Indian talent leading the US technology revolution. Hosted by Guy Kawasaki this keynote was the first time I’ve had an upfront and personal reflection on the journey that my own parents might have made.
Amit is a search junkie, which is good, as he is the Head of Search at Google. It was obvious that he designs his product with everyone in mind. “Due to his roots as an immigrant” he feels a strong sense of responsibility. He rifted on the theme for a while in this talk, reflecting that Google products helps the farmer in Africa or the kid in India to further their ambitions. Amit said that this was backed up with Google’s choice to have local server based strategically to reduce bandwidth. Stating that speed is still the killer app, low latency in a key component to the developing worlds and emerging markets. Amit also noted that Google translates supports the mission. Allowing people not educated in English to participate and consume the predominately English written Internet.
Raised on a diet of black and white Star Trek repeats in Utter Pradesh India, Amit moved to the states in 1990. He told Guy that he advice to his own children was to “Follow your heart and sleep happy”. It was the philosophy that led him to quit a steady job to pursue a PHD at Cornell University in the underlying techniques of modern search. An attitude I would love to see spread in MBA hungry Indians. As Amit said there is no right decision you make you own destiny.
Guy asked about Amit’s mistakes after all Guy had left Apple not once but twice. Amit said he never looks back but after some prodding said that waiting 6 months to join Google had been a mistake. Guy jokingly asked how many billions that has cost Amit.
Asked about a range of Google products such as Google Glass , Amit was not so forthcoming. He was equally as evasive on Facebook search. “Lets see” he said.
Amit did say that he thought the future was in computers who will provide real language answers. Interpreted in the press at talking computers I think Amit wants a search facility that has wisdom. “Voice is a far more natural interface with a device…” he went on to say “but voice is a key component of interacting with search.” Amit example was the Star Trek computer who can respond to real world questions. Amit pointed out that Elon Musk is working on space travel and he is working on talking computer.
In a digital age where connection possibilities are endless it can be hard to actually ‘feel’ connected. So it was a surprise, that the purchase of my first digital SLR made me feel very much part of the world again. Having a camera in my hand at all times I was now part of the story. Part of the event.
As the Olympics opened its crazy schedule of sports Hackathon was taking place at http://centralworking.com near Tottenham Court Road in London.
Just in case you are wondering I couldn’t possibly attend as I was mostly sleeping, working or watching beach volleyball that weekend. In fact I was mostly sleeping, as at that point I had worked five nights straight.
I digress, details on the Hackathon can be found at;
Poor exhibits are upsetting. As is writing the review. You get excited about organising yourself on a quiet Easter weekend, make the effort just to be disappointed. As annoying as flicking through the hundreds of channels on Sky television to find that there is really nothing to watch. That probably is the problem with the Remote Control exhibit. Television has indeed had an enormous impact on our culture but perhaps it is to vast to cram into two small galleries in the ICA.
Since the Internet hit and I embedded myself squarely in its development I have been looking for the next revolution. In the early part of this century I really thought it would be about digital television and convergence. It’s safe to say I was wrong the media world is diverging with new devices and the applications are being built specific to medium. Although I would still love to see fiction story telling cross platforms just like following a friend’s life story via twitter and Facebook on phone and email.
The Remote Control exhibit coincides with the end of analogue broadcasting in the UK ensuring the nation is completely digital. The exhibit It is really an excuse to dust down a few artistic installments rifting on the notion that the television kit is art itself or that content can be re-cut to be installation art. Continue reading “Remote Control – ICA”
I noticed that the British Library had decided to trawl its vast archive and draw together a Science Fiction exhibition. It sounded phenomenal. A lecture on Lem, J G Ballard and a full exhibition. As I checked in on four square each week, I was surprised that others shared my excitement.
The truth is that this series is perhaps far to intellectual for me or perhaps too focused on the literary geek. I chose the lecture on Lem because I was sucked into a Radio 4 haunting adaptation of Solaris. I read J G Ballard Cocaine Nights when working on a feature film that was never filmed. Both authors have their deep links to film and it was wonderful learning about their lives and work from true fans and in J G Ballard case family.
If anything changed my relationship with Science Fiction then it was the inclusion of the Bronte’s in the main exhibition. Writers, the British Library tells us, have long asked the big questions; What does it mean to be human ? Are we alone ? What is reality ? Is there a perfect world ? and What are we doing to our world ? Apparently everyone has been asking these questions making them Science Fiction writers. In Iliad (850BC) Homer describes how the god Hephaestus created female robots and mechanical tripods. The Bronte’s children created detailed imaginary worlds. Mary Shelley created Frankenstein (1818). Pullman sent Lyra through multiple universe. The exhibit showed these all (including Pullman‘s manuscript). Continue reading “British Library’s ‘Out of This World’ exhibition and Lectures”
As long as we have had API’s (application programming interfaces), I have always claimed then we should design applications that may eventually talk directly to the brain. Even though I have been saying this for 10 years, I was surprised that my co-workers are still freaked out by the idea. Thus I had to check out the NESTA breakfast (22nd September 2011) who’s speakers included Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading and Emlyn Clay, Director of Openvivo and Dr Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University.
The full video of the event is worth checking out.
London Transport Museum is exquisite. One has to wander through an array of London buses old and new to attend the exhibit. I met Hudson-Smith sheltering in a proposed future bus shelter and he kindly showed me the city scape data visualisations from Carlo Ratti of MIT, Aaron Koblin of Google Creative alongside his own Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London. Publicised best as ‘beautiful data’.
I found the past future sections the most riveting. Here was a series of images that showed transport of the future as imagined in the past. Robotic driven trains and flying cars.
Most disturbing were the objects that I would once have considered every day. Such as AtoZ or the floppy diskette . The curator of this section was deeply excited by her eBay shopping. Next time, I suggested, she should come over to my house and grab my old technology from the loft. Equally bizarre was the inclusion of a terminology section detailing words such as blog and tweet.
The star exhibit for me was this set of Modern Mechanix magazines. It was also purchased from eBay. I love that every transport on the cover has materialised in some form but doesn’t look nearly as beautiful as these illustrations. I do think we are poorer for not living the alternative universes shown in this exhibit.
On invitation by emerging new talent Eleanor Litten I attended the Free Range Exhibition this weekend. London based Eleanor Litten is a Graphiste and Illustrator. She specialises in mixed media illustrations using lino print, and technology such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Her awesome illustrations compliment any published material. Also she must have the coolest domain name crouching-pencil.org.uk. Her piece in exhibition is a meditative publication. I could easily have spent my time curled up in a corner consuming the illustrations. However that wasn’t an option as this is UK’s largest graduate art and design show and there was a lot to see.
A couple of pieces really caught my attention. Following the the buzz of creating my last film Free Pixel I have to mention John Peters Bamboo Phone. Much has been reported about the material scarcity in mobile technology. To reduce the use of indium and nikel the Bamboo phone uses electronic ink screens and a bamboo case. John Peters is a 3D designer who studied in South Indian International Schools and Cornwall.
The variety of design, architecture, photography, fashion, art and illustration will keep you enthralled, and with so many ideas fully conceptualised you may even find your next recruit or big idea or both.
The first thing I noticed was the space. I had suggested that we meet at the entrance and found that space ran arched around the back of the orchestra pit. As there were two potential rendezvous point my first experience of the show was racing through the elongated round. I felt like the protagonist of a 1980’s cyber film set inside a game.
14 massive projected video games screens and their associated noise kept me company. I really wanted to grab a board and skate through the space with the show on. According to Arcangel’s website “Barbican install was made especially for their crazy big space” so sadly this was one you had to experience in person. Each screen showed a bowling game where the bowler threw a gutter ball each time. We worked backwards starting from games made in 2000’s. By the time we hit games made in the 1990’s the thing that was most striking for me was the varied emotions of the characters on the screen. As we weren’t the player and knew the outcome, it was easy to simply compare screens. The onscreen bowlers were angry, frustrated and sometimes distraught by their awful bowling. One constantly dropped the ball on his foot and was in massive amounts of pain.
There were a relief to hitting the games made in the 1970’s. The emotions had gone and that simplicity of game play was highly watchable. Like extreme sports the quick repetitive nature of these basic games brought through that feeling of the being in zone trance even though we weren’t controlling the games.
Once nudged out of my trance it was the bell shaped arch of realism of the games that struck me. Somewhere in the late 90’s the games were closest to a realistic bowling experience. The pins were reset after each attempt. Other lanes were occupied. The on screen bowler was truly distraught. Early games couldn’t do this. More recent games didn’t bother.
For me the most fascinating thing I wanted to take away and learn was how the games were controlled. Arcangel describes his games as “hacked”. It would be an easy task to film the game as it is played. However Arcangel chose a more complicated approach. Each game was controlled by a chip.
The show moves to NYC is late May and it is worth checking out.
Update: Collaboration Nation – Inspiring Innovations for a Digital Britain
Wednesday 31st March 2010.
Collaboration Nation: Inspiring Innovations for a Digital Britain was our opportunity to showcase What’sMySize along side other innovative technology projects and companies – winners of the Technology Strategy Board’s Digital Britain 2009 feasibility study competitions. We were in the same room as the open innovators and the funding community to collaborate and bring new ideas to market.
The event focused on several specific technology areas: Access to public services and public services data, enabling technologies for the internet, online application and services, and the deployment and operation of digital infrastructure.
The cool people at e-commerce expo today in earls court… (in no order)
redfish – new way to display products more like a catalog less like a search engine
TeamiQ.com ex accountant Richard has an interesting software solution which includes CVS, bugzilla and project management services in a outlook setting. Yes one for the developers.
www.smart-infosys.com I have looked at a number of product finders over the last two years and becuase of bandwidth and coding constraints they always end up being very similar. You could let these nice people provide yours as an online service. Markus Linder based in Vienna was very impressive.
Adobe Scene 7 Another company bought by Adobe in recent years. This one helps with managing your image library.
BazaarVoice I just love working with these people.