From December 2007

Top of 2007

With 2007 coming to an end I thought it would be a good time for a little reflection on the year that saw me spend almost 1/3 of it abroad in foreign lands and when Skype went down Randomwire went up. The year has flown past at incredible speed so goodness knows what 2008 will hold but fingers crossed there will be more adventures abound in my 6th year of blogging (I can’t quite believe its been that long since this all began!).

Here are the top 10 statistically most popular posts of 2007:

  1. Skype Down Worldwide
  2. Day 2 : Lost
  3. Mudchute Chilli Farm
  4. O2 SMS Woes
  5. Web Application Ubiquity
  6. iWant
  7. Day 4 : Crash & Duck
  8. South Korea
  9. Analogue People
  10. Englishman in Beijing

My personal unsung favorites of 2007:

  1. The Future Awaits
  2. E-Brain Construct
  3. Back to School
  4. Megalopolis
  5. Sheep Head

I had a stab at redesigning the blog earlier in the year but everything I tried ended up looking worse than what was there before so I’ve abandoned that idea for now. My feeling is that more minimalist is the way to go, all these widgets popping up all over the place are generally annoying fuzz in my opinion. Seeing as an increasing number of people are choosing to consume information through RSS the actual design is, in some respects, becoming less important as most people will never see it anyway. As ever content is king and this is something I hope to focus more on in 2008 (time permitting) with more in-depth posts on various topics interesting to me. Check back Jan 1st for the beginning of this 🙂

Did You Know?

I love this. Although it’s rather US centric there’s some great info-viz with some fairly thought provoking questions in there. The way in which the world has changed over my short lifetime is staggering already, it’s even more amazing to imagine where it will go and be the ones to take it there…

What does it all mean? [via]

Amsterdam

I arrived back in London on Tuesday evening after spending a very cold, but enjoyable, three days in Amsterdam – the capital of the Netherlands (amongst other things). Highlights included the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House & a boat trip on the canals, some tasty pancakes as well as many chilly walks!

Whilst I would have loved to have taken more photos it was simply to cold to hold the camera for long without gloves so I only took a few snaps, highlights below:

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I’m back at my parents house now for Christmas which means lots of delicious home cooked food and a chance to catch up on some much needed sleep! Apologies anyone who might try to call me – there is no reception here, drop me an email and I’ll send you the landline number.

Otaku Culture

I’ve noticed on recent trips outside London that being a “Londoner” tends to make you a bit of a snob towards the rest of the UK. A few weeks ago I visited a mid-sized town approximately 1.5 hours north of London. Upon arrival at the tiny railway station there could be seen a group of around 10 middle-aged men all looking rather dishevelled and bored. OK, I thought, they must be waiting for the next train out of this middle-of-nowhere hole. Two hours later when I returned to take the train back to London I was surprised to see that they were still there – upon closer inspection I noticed they were all carrying small notepads and some had cameras – this could only mean one thing: Trainspotters, otherwise known as Anoraks (persons with unimaginative/dull hobbies). What brings people to spend their free time watching trains and record useless trivia about them I will never know but unfortunately this sort of activity only reinforces the idea that there isn’t much life outside the capital (even though this isn’t really true… with a few exceptions)!

In Japan they have a word for similar sorts of behaviour: Otaku – a term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly in anime and manga, but can also refer to any fan of, or specialisation in any particular theme, topic, or hobby. The author William Gibson defined Otaku as “pathological-techno-fetishist-with-social-deficit” which is an interesting take on the way people collect data as opposed to objects in the information age. There are of course different extremes to which this can be taken and I guess we all are collectors to an extent…

I’m off to Amsterdam tomorrow but will be back later next week and will hopefully have a bit more time over the festive season to post more frequently 🙂

The Machine Girl

The Machine Girl

In the world of ultra-violent Japanese films they don’t come much more insane than this:


NOTE: TRAILER NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

Yakuza, Ninjas, Sushi, Chainsaws, Flying Guillotines… it has it all! Where else in the world would you find a movie about a school girl seeking revenge on her brothers killers and the loss of her own arm (conveniently replaced with a gun)?!

I’m not saying the film will be any good but it might just be crazy enough to become a cult classic. [via]

The Future Awaits

I was mulling over the technological progress which has been made over my lifetime so far and contemplating where it will take us in the future when it hit me that most of the “sci-fi” type developments predicted will only start to appear around the time that our generation are turning out the lights (taking into account that we live a bit longer than our parents). Will we see a person walk on Mars or have a brain transplant in our lifetime? Unlikely, but will our children? Probably. The next 60 odd years will no doubt see some amazing advances though so I wouldn’t get too depressed about it just yet – that’s assuming climate change doesn’t get us first!

Brain Image
© GE Medical Systems

I predict that much of what is to come will be driven by the deconstruction of our own physiology that we will mirror in machines/software which closely integrate with our own bodies as physical and virtual extensions of ourselves. This will redefine the notion and perception of consciousness and ultimately reality itself (is a virtual experience any less real than a physical one?). The process will not happen overnight and will be fraught with ethical issues as to how such technology should be used/controlled.

“It can also be argued that DNA is nothing more than a program designed to preserve itself. Life has become more complex in the overwhelming sea of information. And life, when organized into species, relies upon genes to be its memory system. So, man is an individual only because of his intangible memory… and memory cannot be defined, but it defines mankind. The advent of computers, and the subsequent accumulation of incalculable data has given rise to a new system of memory and thought parallel to your own. Humanity has underestimated the consequences of computerization.”

GITS: Man Machine Interface Manga

While this may seem rather far-fetched we are already only one degree of separation away from realising a physical connection between man & machine. Already devices like iPhones and Blackberries give us a constant connection to an endless sea of information wherever we may happen to be, albeit currently limited by bandwidth. In a world where being offline has become synonymous with being out-of-touch dependence has crept upon us without us even noticing. Social networks are the precursor, or virtual toe-in-the-water, to forging our digital identities and relationships between others in a world no longer constrained by boundaries or borders. Exciting but somewhat daunting at the same time.

“If a technological feat is possible, man will do it. Almost as if it’s wired into the core of our being.”

Those who yearn after “the good life” will no doubt not be particularly enamoured by this vision of the future but I would seek to put it in perspective: humans have long pushed back the boundaries of exploration, be it mapping the worlds continents or landing on the moon, and to my mind this is the next logical step in our evolution as the world homogenises and our understanding of it increases. Added to this with the inevitable increase in population and growing scarcity of resources technology becomes even more important in providing solutions.

“All things change in a dynamic environment. Your effort to remain what you are is what limits you.”

– all quotes Motoko Kusanagi & Puppet Master