Sunday, 14 January 2018

Watch The Next Big thing

 Byte Magazine 1981 

Byte magazine had a tradition of including a few gag products in its “What’s New” section and for April 1981 Robert Tinney painted an image for the front cover of what a future computer might look like. 


"Many a true word is spoken in jest"


Robert Tinney's 1981 watch computer was a gag but wonderfully illustrates how the past, present and future are inter-twinned. The future has to be built on something and its built on the past and the present ... its a combination and an extrapolation of trends.

Exponential development is a common factor in digital electronics so that every 18 months to 2 years we often get a doubling of electronic capability or a shrinking in size. Robert Tinney's future computer shrunk a PC of the time to watch size but in terms of capability (processing, memory, storage, connectivity etc) it didn't go nearly far enough. A typical PC in 1981 might have 32K of memory 20Mb of storage whereas a typical PC today might have 4Gb of memory and 350Gb of storage - an increase of over 130,000 in memory and nearly 18,000 in storage over 40 years ... a typical PC today would be a super computer in1981. But things have moved on a lot ... development of the PC all but stopped years ago and it's the smartphone on which we build our ideas of the future and it's the smartphone we are trying to shrink to the size of a watch. The smartphone could be considered a stepping stone to the smartwatch and can be regarded as the personal computer (PC) of today but its so much more. Shrinking all that a smartphone does today into a watch is a big challenge ... probably similar to the challenge of shrinking a PC to a watch in 1981 and although its a leap of faith ... consider what exponential development might achieve over the next 10 or 20 years let alone 30 or 40.

After 20 years all these things fitted into a mobile phone
when might they all it into a watch?
Of course the smartwatch is already here ... Apple was late to the market but released its smartwatch in April of 2015 with 8Gb memory ... it was already more powerful than the ICL mainframe I learned to program with in the 1970s and similar in specification to the original iPhone less than 10 years earlier. Currently Smartwatches are generally used as part of a smartphone ecosystem ... a easily accessible accessory, remote control and interface for email, phone, calendar, messages, maps, music, photos, and reminders. 


So ... why is the smartwatch the next big thing

Familiarity
Carving out a completely knew thing is so much harder than changing something that already exists - the most successful technologies build on what we know and slip in as slow boiling frogs under the radar. The automobile is a horseless carriage, a smartphone is a mobile phone. We are all familiar with watches and most of us wear one so adding computer features to them is more of a value addition than a disruptive shift .... for the consumer at least. The little watch on our wrist is a place holder ready for the next big thing. 

Convenience
The best technologies are easy and make life easier ... we don't notice the technology - it just "disappears". We have to remember to carry our Smartphones and they can be awkward but with a watch ... once you have strapped it on your wrist it's there with you for the rest if the day and just a glance away ... its easy and convenient.

The Sgnl wristband ... use your finger to listen

Because we can
If exponential developments in digital electronics continue as they have over the last 40 years we will eventually see all of todays smartphone capabilities shrunk into the size of watch and the future smartwatch could well be orders of magnitude more powerful than a smartphone today. Even if digital technology doesn't develop as fast as it has in the past the combination of new technologies make the smartwatch as the next big thing more feasible than ever before. Battery size is the biggest problem for small devices but having a very small screen and reducing the need to use a screen interface by using voice instead could improve both convenience and battery life. The screen as an interface is still a problem with smartphones ... typing and reading such small screens is not that convenient - voice input and output makes a lot more sense for mobile devices for many uses. Shrinking electronics and embedding them in things is happening fast and many of these things are connected and more naturally have voice rather than screen interfaces - the smartwatch is just another part of this trend ... just another part of "the internet of things". 


"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction.
Bill Gates


Because the watch is familiar and convenient we may not even notice it as the next big thing ... it's already among us and while it has its problems today don't underestimate its potential over the longer term.

And after the watch .. .what comes next for the ever shrinking computer.

"Our intuition about the future is linear. But the reality of information technology is exponential, and that makes a profound difference. If I take 30 steps linearly, I get to 30. If I take 30 steps exponentially, I get to a billion." 
~ Ray Kurzweil

"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe." 
~ Albert Einstein













Sunday, 17 December 2017

I Never Make Predictions And I Never Will


The ghost of technology past
I haven't written one of these short term prediction posts for about 20 years .. back in the 1990s. I'm not sure if its because the past has been written already that makes it easier to read but 20 years ago it all seemed relatively straightforward - the technology landscape was simple and stable and the route across it could be seen in the roadmaps of Microsoft and PC manufacturers. Back in the 1990's computing was still quite a rare and niche thing ... mostly something that happened at work or at school and the way its future unfolded was relatively deterministic and written in the business plans of these organisations. My original "I Never Make Predictions And Never Will" were analyses for strategic plans for the year ahead - that were mostly in support of IT infrastructure changes rather than anything in the hands of real people .. . its very different today. Digital tech is part of everyday life and in the hands (rather than the desktop) of people and tech companies. 

The ghost of technology present 
During the first decade of the 21st century (the naughties 2000 - 2009) there was a spring-like emergence of new digital tech - social media, smartphones and the cloud all came together in a short time in a sort of combinatorial explosion of possibility.

Today digital technology pervades everyday life in a way that wasn't imagined 20 years ago .. did anyone really imagine the way a phone can access something called the Internet while you walk down the street ... let alone all the other things you can do with the phone that became smart. Technology today seems relatively stable - there haven't been any revolutionary breakthroughs for 10 years - there has been a steady linear progression in tech.

Today it seems like we are in between times - (the inbetweenies) and maybe that's why I am writing this post ... its a bit like the end of the 1990s when we were waiting for the next "big thing" to happen.

 Today many of the chickens that hatched in the naughties are coming home to roost. There is a growing unease about how social and mobile have worked out and about the power of the big tech companies. While the technologies of the naughties has mostly settled there are many technologies that are starting to bubble up - many of these bubbles will burst but some may flashover and leave the pan .. especially if they can get on the back of established technology to enhance them and create something new.

The ghost of technology future
The ghost of technology future is among us already. Every mid decade the seeds of the next decade start to grow. In the mid 1980s it was the PC, in the mid 1990s it was the Internet and the Web, in the mid Naughties it was social media, mobile and the cloud. In the mid teens there are many candidates for the next big thing or things - some have been "boiling like a frog" for several years but starting to jump around now and become very noticeable ... which will make the jump and which will sink back?

"The only thing you can't predict is the future"  

"I Never Make Predictions And Never Will" Paul Gascoigne


So here goes these are my predictions for digital technology for 2018 and a little beyond.


"The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed." ~ William Gibson

The quote is so well used but it is pretty useful when looking for the future because the seeds of it are already growing.

Predicting the short term can be done by extrapolating the present, looking at trends and company announcements and intentions ... its mostly a linear progression of the present. People talk of technology as if it has a life of its own but we must remember that its simply business ... technology is just products that companies make to sell you to make profit - how well these these predictions pan out depends on whether people actually use this stuff. The next big thing becomes snake oil and prophecies can be fulfilled through herd instincts. Back in the 1990s companies used their product roadmaps to bully the competition but today they tend to keep their cards closer to their chests (especially Apple) but its still possible to get an idea of what might be coming.

Artificial Intelligence

"The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” ~ Winston Churchill 

The rise of AI is a no brainer ... every company seems to have an AI strategy and some are "betting the farm" on it and jumping on the wagon. Adding intelligence to machines transforms them established companies don't want to be disrupted and new companies see the opportunity to build new empires with AI.

You can tell AI is hot because people are faking it .. companies and products claim to have AI but are not ... often old products in new clothes or even "mechanical turks" people pretending to be machines. To be cool and hi-tech you have to be seen to have AI.

Hardware and software advances combined with big data during the last decade has turned up the heat on AI. Sometime soon AI will boil over and form a whole new platform but for now it is being embedded and applied in more and more things and services. in 2018 we can expect AI to added in and sprinkled on everywhere and everything as if it were pixie dust.

Assistant Intelligence is the thin end of the wedge and the foot in the door for Automated Intelligence. It starts with intelligent features added to apps and services ... help-desk bots, apps, search, social media, messaging, photography, shopping, learning etc etc etc. Artificial Intervention will come to mediate all aspects of our lives ....paving the way for full automation and the eventual disintermediation of people from their own lives ... why bother asking or suggesting something for a decision or action when the digital assistant can just do it anyway and do it better and do it more efficiently.

Cyber (in)security
The digital technologies we use widely were designed with only the positives in mind - hands off approaches for sharing, designed for features rather than security. The security of our digital products is so bad and together with people's poor understanding of digital security and the pervasiveness of digital products means that the exploitation of digital (in)security will only increase - the opportunities are the rewards are so easy for those who know how.

Plain old fashioned hacking for the hell of it has been largely replaced by hacking for profit and being held to ransom by computers is the new thing. Pay the to get access to your own machine that has been cyber-locked by ransomware, Pay to avoid being put off-line by a botnet DDOS, pay to prevent or get back sensitive information stolen from you computer. 

Digital technology holds security like a sieve holding water and hackers, organised crime, states and even businesses are all filling their cups from the leaks of cyber (in)security - the computers of everyday people are used as shears to fleece them.

Cyber (in)security is so pervasive it will become big business and merge with mainstream business in a similar way mafia gangs have done in the real world. Why bother extorting money through ransoms or threats when you can simply inject code into people's browsers to crypto-jack and enslave their machines to click ads or mine cryptocurrencies for you. Grid computing was a voluntary way of contributing your computer's spare capacity to work for some common good like SETI or cancer treatment research but in 2018 we can expect your computer's spare capacity to be enslaved "working for the man" without you even knowing it. Rather than the quick in and out raid more sophisticated malware will be working under cover in stealth mode stealing your identity, doing your banking, mining crypto-currencies, clicking ads and spreading fake news without you having to lift a finger. The internet risks becoming a protection racket with your computer as nothing more than a bag for the man.

Internet Of Things

"We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works." ~ Douglas Adams 



"Technology is a word that describes something that doesn’t work yet." ~ Douglas Adams 


As the computers (PC, laptop, smartphone) mature with saturated fats tech pushers have to find new markets ... third world and developing countries are obvious candidates for exploitation but all the things around us are low hanging fruit ripe for the picking. Where once things just worked they are now being turned into technology - making them digital and making them smart means they can be sweated for cash on the digital treadmill of frequent and endless updates. 

The tech pushers need IoT ... the market is huge ... its everything and they will do everything they can to make it happen. Why sell a kettle when you can sell an eKettle for tens times as much and with an "app for that". Why sell a pair of earphones when you can sell eBuds for ten times more. Tech pushers want computing to become pervasive and ambient, they want to immerse us in their smart-world ... a real world matrix.

The Internet of Things includes all those things that become digital ... driverless cars, clothes, wearable things like watches and earphones, jewellery, TVs, radios, toys, kitchen appliances, toilets - you name it someone will try to make it smart - expect to see a lot of smart-things in 2018. Of course it won't stop there ... tech pushers won't be satisfied until they have properly penetrated us ... until they are inside our bodies and inside our minds ... until they posses us and we become their things. And there are tech fanboys who think this is wonderful ... that becoming a cyborg is something to look forward to .... "resistance is futile".

Digital Discomfort
2017 seemed like the year we saw the chickens hatched in the past coming home to roost with cyber(in)security, state and corporate surveillance and social media manipulation making many of us uncomfortable with how digital technology is working out. "The land of milk and honey" is turning sour ... the digital spring and summer is turning to autumn and winter ... rather than empowered us digital tech has been used to deceive us ... to monetise and manipulate us ... when was the last time we heard Google say "do no evil".

Fake news has become big news we can all see the problem but no one has the answer - the business models and vast wealth of the tech giants are built upon human weakness ... the biases in our psychology,  and this is being exploited big time by those who wish to manipulate us. People have become #woke to it but the whole structure of the web has caught us in a web if deceit and left us in a state of learned helplessness and I can only see it getting worse as machines will be able to create fake information and real manipulation on a speed and scale we will be powerless to defend against ... unless we use machines in our defence and we can only guess where that might lead. Going off-grid, even for a temporary digital detox could become the new cool ... new generations always rebel against the stuff of their elders ... while millennial's might only see the world and others through the glass of their smartphones a new generation might enjoy a freedom from digital rather than the fake digital freedom of their elders ... if they are given a chance. 

But what about .... 

Virtual realities
There will be developments in 2018 for AR, MR and VR .... a sort of Moore's law update of products and ideas from 2 years - they all need a little heat to keep them going cold.  

VR (Virtual Reality) is bound to "cut the cord" ... in one way or another being chained to a PC just cannot go on - VR has to "break free" either through mobiles, wireless connections or standalone headsets. Unchained VR will help a lot and VR really has a wow factor that I can recommend and the more immersive it is the better it is but that is its fundamental problem. People (apart from the geeks who make this stuff) are social and VR os not social strapping a screen right in front of your eyes isolates you and the more immersive it is the more you are isolated from what's around you. I think VR will climb back on the hype cycle again in 2018 but only to fade again.

MR (Mixed Reality) - where you strap a screen in front of your eyes and a computer blends virtual reality with what's around is fun and can be social but strapping screens to our faces still seems a bit of a gimmick. MR is complex and expensive to do right and needs to be less intrusive to be widely used ... I can imagine MR being the party trick of the 2020s but not just yet.

AR (Augmented Reality) is fun and it works with tech we are familiar with ... its just an app on our smartphones and its fun and easy ... all the hallmarks of something that might make it. Pokemon Go really got the attention of the major tech companies and their money sensor started tingling. The nice thing about AR today is that it works on most people's phones but this is not in the interests of the big tech pushers who want to get you dependent on their dope Apple is pushing ARKit and Google are pushing ARCore and for the Google dope you need to buy a new pipe. I expect their will be a lot of news about AR in 2018 and over time I think people will just take it for granted as they point their phone at something and see something else.

3D printing 
3D printing just chugs along in its niche... admittedly its niche gets wider as it rolls around in the trough before enlightenment. Prices and availability have all improved but its just too slow. 3D printing needs a revolution in speed to cross the chasm. There are technologies in development that might give 3D printing a boost - speeding things up 10 times for example or bringing new materials into the mix but they are probably several years away .. maybe in the mid 20s we'll have our star trek replicators :)

Smartphones
Smartphones are personal computers and they are on the same wash cycle that PCs have been through and the colours are running and fading just the same. Just like laptops, smartphones get bigger and smaller and get cheaper and dearer. Tech pushers are still fixated on a yearly upgrade cycle but in reality smartphones are only improving relatively slowly now - a 2 year upgrade cycle would make more sense as on that timeframe we would get some more noticeable improvements and it will fit better with people's upgrade finances - how about three years. Manufacturers should be more honest and use incremental identification e.g. 8.1 8.2.

AI will add some interesting new features to smartphones .. actually helping make them smart and I think we will see announcements about Smartphone AI in 2018.

The real wow factor would be a radical new design and form ... Samsung have been working on flexible screens. Will someone release a flexible smartphone in 2018 ... even something that bends just a bit or transforms in some way?



The Headlines 


"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten." - Bill Gates.

The really interesting things happen with tech over longer time frames so Moore's law and network effects produce step changes in technology and they have time to settle for the real effects to be gauged. However, its always fun to overdo it ... so here are a few overestimates for the next year.

AI ate my hamster


Tech fanboys are yearning for the next big thing and AI will be swooned over - expect to see "AI stunts" to demonstrate the snake oil.

AI Billionaire
We'll be able to rent AI platforms for business ... the AI will do everything from buying, selling, provisioning, accounting, customer support - all you need to do is think up a name and the parameters to start with and let the AI take the strain. You will be able to spin up hundreds of AI driven businesses "As A Service" - just pay the platform for what is used.


While we are at it .. why bother with humans ... the AI can spin up its own businesses and make its own billions. 

I dread to think what might happen if AI gets to understand the business potential of cyber (in)security and enslaves our poor innocent machines to mine bitcoin, click ads, manipulate us with social media, generate fake news and steal our identities.  Not only will we see AI business but also AI criminals .. but who or what will be able to catch them.

AI Discovers Aliens

The search for extraterrestrial life is a pattern search through data and nothing is better at doing this than machines ... using the same techniques AI has learned to recognise cats and dogs on social media AI has just discovered a new planet - expect more discoveries in the data from now on as AI starts mining the data.

Driverless Car Sets Record
Yet another manifestation of AI ... driverless cars are a way for the digital tech pushers to colonise another industry - they will make it happen - whether we like it or not we will be moved around inside robots and it might happen sooner than we think. During 2018 expect Driverless car stunts ... things like "Driverless Car Drives From Land's End to John o' Groats" or "Driverless Car Saved My Life" ... that type of thing ... lets hope we don't see any news like "Driverless Car Beheaded Passenger" .. oh .. we've already had that one.



------------


“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ~ Arthur C Clarke 

Don't be deceived ..  #staywoke




Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Electric Milk Float: A Vision Of The Future From The Past



I remember the electric milk float from the 1960s - the slow, graceful and quiet "creature" that glided and floated serenely along our streets every morning come sun, rain, ice or snow. 

We used to live just up the road from a co-op dairy and many mornings I would be woken around 5am to the clatter of milk crates being moved around. Like Santa, milkmen did their work while most of us were fast asleep and magically, as if it were xmas day every morning, our milk would be waiting on the doorstep for our breakfast. The milk float was such a part of local communities - many of us as children, if we didn't do a paper round did a milk round before school and everyone met the milk man at the weekend when he would collect the money for the weeks milk. We always gave him an Xmas card and a small gift.

Back in the 1960s few people could afford a car - the roads were quiet and people lived, worked and shopped locally ... the milk float fitted perfectly into its time but as more people owned their own car the way people's lives  changed - they could live and work remotely and do their shopping in larger quantities and less often. The milkman couldn't compete against the supermarket - it was just cheaper and easier to buy 4 pint plastic cartons of milk with the rest of the shopping, put them in the fridge and throw them away when done. The milk float had a long and lingering decline you could see it still doing its rounds late in the day as it had to travel further "just to stand still" - delivering to fewer and fewer people. During the late1980s milk floats were in their death throws - diversifying to try and survive by offering all sorts of grocery home deliveries like potatoes, bread and juice as well as milk but it seemed too late ... and in retrospect to early - the supermarket and the out of town shopping centres were the thing and the Internet wasn't even on the horizon. Today the milk float is a rare and endangered species mostly confined to the sanctuary of better off areas where the milk bottle on the doorstep to show you can afford it along with a national trust sticker on the window to show you care.

Once upon a time almost every house and flat had milk bottles on the doorstep in the morning ... it was taken for granted and there was trust - its been a very long time since I've passed a house and seen a milk bottle on the doorstep - I can't imagine it today ... everything has changed.

I'm not sure why dairies used electric vehicles back in the 1960s - I guess its because its because they worked early in the morning and were very quiet. The electric milk float could be charged overnight and the milkman, like the postman, would stop at almost every house so only had to move slowly and had a relatively small range. 


The electric milk float was a vision of the future from the past.

* Electric
Fossil fuels are finite, toxic and cause climate change - they will inevitably be replaced by something else and fully electric vehicles are the main contender. Quiet and clean - electric delivery vehicles are inevitable, especially in rural areas and the milk float provides a ready made example of how we used to do this.

* Home delivery
The 1960s was a progressive time not only did we get to the moon but we could also have our milk delivered to our door every morning. We had local shops and local delivery - I remember our coal being delivered by horse and cart, the grocer used to do delivery rounds, mum used to order stuff from the catalogues and we could enrol to do a degree delivered to our homes with the Open University! The Internet has created a new era of home delivery but the tables have turned and its the supermarkets who are delivering our groceries and a global-national-local combination of massive international platforms and couriers delivering our shopping.

* Just in time
Every morning the milkman would leave fresh milk on our doorstep just in time for breakfast - almost without fail whatever the weather. I remember those cold winter mornings opening the front door to get the milk in ... snow against the door and with the milk bottles covered in snow and iced milk inside ... we couldn't get the milk out of the bottle - I used to love that :) Amazon Prime, Argus same day .. we had that back in the 1960s everyday before we woke up with our milk!

* Recycling
Not only did the milkman deliver our milk but he collected the empty bottles we left out so they could be reused - it was all part of the system that we took for granted ... we didn't even think about it - put the empties out at night and bring in the new milk in the morning. After decades of throw away plastic its something we have had to relearn but its far less sustainable and efficient as it was back in the 1960s with the milkman.

* Environmentally friendly
Quiet, clean, and recycled - all of these things are among the answers to the problems of today - the electric milk float and its business model was 50 years ahead of its time.

* Local 
The milkman and the milk float were local, the milkman lived locally, knew his round and the people on it - they met face to face every week and many children worked on their local milk round ... helping deliver milk to friends and neighbours and even their own house. This type of local and community knowledge has been lost in many areas as car ownership has made us all more remote. As we enter the information age it is possible it is possible to flip the meaning of remote work ... rather than work remotely from where you live it is possible for many people in information processing jobs to "work remotely" ... i.e. to work locally or at home using the Internet.


Like going to the moon ... we have been there before

Environmentally friendly and local ... the vision of the vision of the future that many have is a reflection of the past ... there is no need to re-invent the wheel but the battery - the electric milk float was a vision of the future from the past.





Sunday, 21 May 2017

The art of life

Liz Atkin charcoal art   flat image from https://flic.kr/p/UJDtG3

Every picture tells a story and we all have a story to tell ... we are all artists searching for meaning.


The art of life is the life of art 
A life of art is the art of life.

The information age is upon us, robots and artificial intelligences will intrude, impact and even invade our lives and ask the question of what it means to be human. We have had art as long as we have had technology .. from the earliest cave paintings to today's immersive virtual realities. Technology and art have always co-existed with us to have one without the other could be catastrophic. Art is a quest for meaning and identity and is its expression ... in an age of automation and technology rush art will be vital in our quest for meaning ... art may be the key to our survival. It was with this in mind that I did the "Havelock Walk".







Havelock Walk  is home to a community of artists, designers and musicians in the centre of Forest Hill. They often open their studios for the public to wander around to see and chat about their art.

I had been meaning to go for ages and on a Saturday afternoon I went along and took a 360 camera.
The first studio in Havelock walk is the Havelock gallery and straight away I got talking to the people there and this is how "doing the Havelock walk" went - rather than just standing and staring at art we had a chance to talk with the artists about their art. It started when I asked about the dramatic image in charcoal and was told it was by Liz Atkin ... who has a compulsive skin picking problem and uses drawing to re-focus her hands and mind and how she channels her compulsion into 1 minute #CompulsiveCharcoal free drawings on public transport and gives them away.


Sooty .. unfinished  flat image from Flat image from https://flic.kr/p/UJDtG3
I turned around and asked about the painting behind me - a large Sooty the bear image with a wand - I was told that the artist didn't consider it finished and that Michelangelo only considered one of his paintings as finished. We had a conversation about life in beta ... about the importance of exploring, experimenting and learning. Our lives are in perpetual beta ... a presentation of self in everyday life ... only perhaps when we die are we complete.

The theme of life as art was made tangible in studio 9 f h  space "First Half" exhibition ... the first 50 years of the artists life. I related to the tangible, physical objects that were also in my life .. .the little Ladybird books that I loved reading as a kid for example. We spoke about the next 50 years .. how it may become more intangible through virtualisation ... what would a "Last Half" exhibition be like ... would it al be screens and virtual reality headsets ... would there even be a physical gallery and would you need one?

A physical gallery is more than flat walls .. its a three dimensional space of objects we enter with our bodies our senses and other people - its something that is difficult to convey with flat images on a screen .. this is why I did the Havelock Walk with a 360 camera .. to try and convey a better idea of being in the studios and galleries .. to give a first person perspective of being there.


Serena Rowe's Gallery flat image from https://flic.kr/p/TKvR9R
Serena Rowe's exhibition tucked down the end of a little corridor was a real treat ... a small darkly lit space packed with art and character and with music playing. I wasn't sure there was enough light to get a good image but the "claustrophobic" space was super for 360 imagery. The 360 camera coped remarkably well considering the very low light see https://flic.kr/p/TKvR9R, https://flic.kr/p/TKvTJk and https://flic.kr/p/UVrwgy .. the images are still quite dark but hopefully give an impression of what it was like in Serena's exhibition. We talked about how how the space and the music in the gallery affects people's mood and their experience of the art.

Art work .. the work of art happens in the space around the art and the observer - this is why we have physical galleries. 

Artists love natural light if they can get it .. Pip Tunstill's exhibition was modern and light and had sky lights to give great natural light at the far end of the gallery. They say a dog resembles its master (or is that a car its driver) and In so many ways the gallery resembles Pip's bright modern art work - see  https://flic.kr/p/UoVTx5  https://flic.kr/p/UoW1Gf


David Mach's studio .. flat image from https://flic.kr/p/UYYyKk
Getting an idea of the artist in their "natural habitat" was the main reason for doing the Havelock Walk and David Mach's studio 8 was a treat with its feeling of work in progress ... take a look around at the large benches and all the cuttings here https://flic.kr/p/UYYyKk and here https://flic.kr/p/TKwjHD

The last exhibitions I visited were Elizabeth Chisholm's in studio 10 and the Canvas and Cream gallery's "Age Of Anxiety" see https://flic.kr/p/TKwaLk, https://flic.kr/p/UYYab6 and https://flic.kr/p/UVrh5h. Elizabeth's CCTV inspired POV (Point Of View) artwork has a strong and obvious connection to the first person point of view imagery of 360\virtual reality (VR) technology. New technologies give artists new ideas, symbols, insights and techniques and 360\virtual reality one of the most relevant contemporary developments. There are many challenges to artists using 360/VR technology ... there is no longer a fixed point of view to your art ... the observer can look in any direction. Each 360/VR work of art is a three dimensional gallery installation - it's a three dimensional experience co-created by the artist and each viewer.

I didn't go into all the studios and galleries .. there were plenty up stairs that I didn't visit .. a big regret now but something left for another time .. for a life in beta ... nothing is ever complete.

It may not be possible to live the perfect life but it is possible to live a beta one.

The Open Day 360/VR images on Flicker https://flic.kr/s/aHskVtYtAa

Me ... I'm Martin King ... @timekord
Find out more about my work at http://inspireNshare.com 

Find out more about Havelock Walk on the links below

Havelock Walk Web http://www.havelockwalk.com
Havelock Walk Twitter @HavelockStudios












Friday, 12 May 2017

Technology Rush


Beavers dam rivers, birds build nests and chimpanzees use sticks to get ants but there is something different about the way we make and use technology.


“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”  ~ Thomas A. Edison

"Technology is the craft of science"

We explore, tinker, experiment and try stuff out in a feedback loop that dampens that which doesn't work and amplifies that which does work - forever building the next generation of technology on the successes and failures of the last generation.

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us."

Like it or not technology has come to define what it means to be a human being - like a spider and its web we are symbiotic with technology and each generation of technology extends our web - it extends what is possible and what yet might become possible.

Technology drive
It could almost be argued that technology is a core human drive an "excitatory state produced by a homeostatic disturbance ... an instinctual need that has the power of driving the behaviour of an individual." Its certainly true that many of us seek technology and are excited by it .. unfortunately for some its like an addiction ... they are never satisfied they need to seek out technology ... any new technology just to get a rush.

Our technology drive depends a lot on our age and our circumstances:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.


3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”
~ Douglas Adams The Salmon of Doubt


"Toys"
Children take to technology "like ducks to water" ... its just natural and they just play with it. 

There are those among us who cannot help playing .. exploring, experimenting and having fun throwing stuff against the wall to see if it will stick. These are the experimenters and innovators .. the people we depend on to develop our technology ... the people we depend on to extend our capabilities.

For many among us technology just brings out the inner child ... you know the phrase "toys for boys" ... for those (usually men) who have just got to have the latest shiny gadget ... for no particular reason .... just because "Iphone therefore I am."

"The Next Big Thing"
The stone axe, the spear, the arrow .. there is no doubt that technology gives those who have it an advantage .. just consider how the Mongols built an empire with one technological breakthrough

There are those among us who see the new technology being played with by the experimenters and innovators and apply it.

There are those among us who seek technology that can help us all. Take for example the story of how a 13-year-old Selam who had to many spend hours and walk many miles every day just to get water for her family from a water hole that is dirt and full of leeches. Technology allowed them to drill for water nearby .. now she no longer "has to spend all day collecting water" giving her the time and energy to study to become a nurse. You can see Selam's story in 360 degree video or in virtual reality if you have a viewer in the With.in video The Source.

Technology amplifies us and there are of course those among us who seek to amplify an advantage ... those who seek wealth and power - the business person, the politician. Being part of the next big thing can lead to great personal wealth and power ... this is what drives some people ... this is the technology drive for some - Technology Is The Fastest Way For 20-Year-Olds To Get Rich. While technology can amplify the few  .. we must be wary of its effects on the many - we must be wary of technology amplifying inequality.


Image  Bryan Mathers

"It takes all sorts to make a world" 
It takes all sorts to make a world and it takes all sorts to make and use technology - the playful experimenter, the philanthropic developer, the business developer and the "sceptical laggards" who quite rightly resist and raise questions about technology and put the brakes on.

Everyone plays their part in the technology game - we are all part of the drive and the checks and balances that balance the bad with the good and hopefully help stop us fast forwarding over a cliff!

Google Maps sends flood of tourists wrong way in Norway













Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Next Big Thing



"The future is already here - it's just not very evenly distributed." ~ William Gibson

"It takes 20 years to make an overnight success." ~ Eddie Cantor

"We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run" ~ Roy Amara

A mainframe in your pocket? .... It is difficult to imagine the unimaginable ... to "think outside the box" but  ... there is always a next big thing ... its about human nature not just technology.


The next big thing usually starts at the edge ... innovations and experiments that fail or progress slowly in the background ... things which the leading edge innovators and experimenters can't help messing around with .. its in their nature. Exponential development of digital technology means that big, rare and expensive things become small common and cheap things .. the first mobile phone experiment filled the back of a transit van and can you remember those big "brick" mobile phones.


"Old Technologies Never Die, They Just Don't Get Updated" 
The PC peaked in the mid naughties and the smartphone became the next big thing. We still use radios, televisions, PCs, photocopiers, printers and so on ... old technologies stick around - they also become accommodated and assimilated into the fabric of the next generation - its almost like an organic lifecycle .... dust to dust, ashes to ashes .. the passing of old technologies give life to the next generation ... and increasingly their bits are recycled as well :)

The next big thing is built on the last big thing ... infrastructure platforms are necessary to build not just the present but the future. The microcomputer was built on microchips .. the previous developments with integrated circuits. The Web was built on the Net. The Cloud was built on the Web and so on.


The next big thing is built from todays things ... combination gives exponential emergence - the iPhone didn't come out of nowhere 10 years ago ... it was knitted from mobile phones, PDA's and whole whole lot more contemporary tech and ideas ... it was the packaging of all these things together that caused the frog to jump and get our attention. Remember the Psion Organiser, the Apple Newton, the Nokia Communicator. In the early naughties the two big technology threads were mobile phones and PDAs and the next big thing was predicted to be a unification of computing and communications and just how these threads would be knitted together into the the next big thing. I remember using the Compaq Ipaq in the early naughties and could see how mobile phones could do away with keypad and just have a smartscreen ... however, I wasn't Steve Jobs :)


Evolution needs diversity to select from and today we have a cambrian explosion or rich primordial soup of new tech - the "genetic" ingredients and all the conditions for the "next big thing" to emerge. Today is one of the most exciting times for developing tech that I have ever known - AI, natural language processing, machine vision, IoT, VR, AR, 360, depth sensing "seeing" cameras, 3D printing, robotics plus all the platform and infrastructure of the last big things - smartphones, Wireless comms, Web, Net, Cloud and social.

Which ingredients are used, how they are combined and used for the next big thing is anyone's guess ... the conditions for the next big thing to emerge, get our attention and cross the chasm are like the ingredients of the next big thing - a combination. Chance, circumstance, design, economics, capability, need and desire.

One thing is clear though ... the next big thing is not determined by technology but by human nature - it can take quite a while but people will knit together the next big thing from the threads they find today.