Category Archives: Events

Spotted: Me and Ken Worpole talking utopias at Stoke Newington Literary Festival

Thanks to my recent initiation into post-punk anarcho-folk outfit Pog, most of the festivals I’m going to this Summer are of the muddy field variety. The exception is this upcoming talk at Stoke Newington Literary Festival, where I’ll be attempting to match acclaimed writer on urban policy Ken Worpole‘s insights on the architecture of utopias in the built environment with my own observations from the virtual realm.

It’s five years since I published Barefoot into Cyberspace: Adventures in Search of techno-Utopia. Re-reading Thomas More’s 500 year-old Utopia for this talk, and particularly Book One (the one everyone forgets), I was reminded that being sceptical about people in power and their ability to act on the best information and advice is not a new thing. In his introduction to the Penguin Classic edition, Dominic Baker-Smith talks about More’s work being essentially an exploration of the “problematic relationship between imagined worlds and mundane reality”. Although reformers of all kinds will recognise this relationship immediately, I suspect it’s also something good software engineers think about too: after all, it’s actually their job to design perfect systems for non-perfect worlds.

Ken and I were introduced by the lovely Travis Elborough, who will chair the talk. He promises to help us “explore the concept of utopia, taking in Ebenezer Howard in Hackney, Garden Cities, Buckminster Fuller, Geodesic Domes, The Grateful Dead and the World Wide Web”. It’s on Saturday 4th June in Stoke Newington and you can buy tickets here.

Spotted! Me at LSE this evening

I will be delivering a guest seminar as part of the IT Law & Media Seminar Series “Data Liberty in the 21st century” tonight at LSE. The seminar starts at 18:00 and lasts for an hour and a half. Attendance is free and open to all but space is limited so please email H [DOT] Tan1 [AT] lse [DOT] ac [DOT] uk to confirm your place. The venue is the New Academic Building NAB 7 Floor Moot Court.

I’ll be using the seminar to explore some of the ideas raised in my book Barefoot into Cyberspace. And I’ll be selling and signing books after the event.

Little Atoms at the Bishopsgate Institute: Whose mind is it anyway?

The Whose Mind is it Anyway? season at the Bishopsgate Institute kicked off in early September. It’s being co-curated with, among others, Little Atoms (which, incidentally, continues to air every Friday on Resonance 104.4FM – techies may wish to check out the recent episode featuring Misha Glenny talking about his new book on cybercrime) and the season runs into the New Year.

Why am I telling you this? Mainly because I’ll be chairing an event on the evening of Tuesday 15th November called “Information Dissemination in the New Media Age”. Featuring Heather Brooke (The Revolution will be Digitised), Brian Cathcart (a former colleague at openDemocracy, now Professor of Journalism at Kingston University) and Google’s Peter Barron. Here’s the blurb:

With rapidly developing new media and modes of mass communication, we continuously absorb information as well as giving information about ourselves. From political leaks to twitter, mobile location finders to credit card use, information is collected and roams. The beneficiaries are clear, with possible political advantages, marketing opportunities, subliminal advertising and surveillance as well as greater access to information for all of us. Who controls what information is circulated and to whom? And to what extent does censorship conflict with freedom of information or overlap with data protection and privacy?

Tickets are £8 (£6 concs) and the action starts at 7:30pm. More details here. I’ll be selling and signing books after the event.

Spotted! Me at the Anarchist Book Fair with Heather Brooke

Poster for the Anarchist Book FairThis Saturday, I’ll be appearing at the anarchist book fair in Whitechapel, London. Come along to hear me and Heather Brooke, author of The Revolution Will be Digitised in a discussion lead by the NUJ’s Donnacha DeLong on “Reclaiming the Media”. Here’s the blurb:

This year will hopefully be remembered as the year when Rupert Murdoch got his just desserts. 25 years after the Battle of Wapping, the UK’s biggest scandal-rag, the News of the World, became a scandal itself and was shut down. But Murdoch isn’t the only problem in the world of the media, only a handful of corporations own virtually all of it. All run to make huge profits and have been cutting staff and quality for years. Time to reclaim the media and build new economic models.

The meeting starts at 12 noon in the Mason Lecture Theatre at the Queen Mary campus on Mile End Rd. More details here. I’ll be around a little bit before and a little bit after, selling and signing books.

Spotted! Me at the Rebellious Media Conference with Noam Chomsky, Douglas Rushkoff and Bill Thompson

Next weekend, I’ll be down in London for the Rebellious Media Conference, which invites you to join the resistance to the corporate takeover of the internet and is being organised by Peace News, Ceasefire magazine, New Internationalist, Red Pepper, Undercurrents and visionOntv.

On Saturday, I’ll be speaking alongside Cambridge buddy Bill Thompson (with whom I was plotting a skit over the weekend that involves him wearing a rather ridiculous outfit), then joining a panel with Douglas Rushkoff, who will be appearing via Skype. That’s all under the rubric “Whose internet is it? Are we losing the war?”, and the action kicks off at 2:15pm.

On Sunday, I’ll be appearing alongside Noam Chomsky, Michael Albert, Zahera Harb, Taesun Kwon and Nadje Al-Ali to discuss the future of radical media at the final plenary session at 3:30pm.

The conference sold out months ago, but if you are lucky enough to have a ticket, do come and say hi. Copies of Barefoot into Cyberspace will be on sale on Saturday via the lovely folk at the Zed books stall.

An afternoon with the original code-breakers

Yesterday, I went to the Bletchley Park Summer Party, which was sponsored by the latest donor to the historic site of the WWII code-breakers, Google. Paul Clarke took a lovely set of photos which capture the spirit of the day. Here’s my measly offering, taken mainly at the National Museum of Computing (NMOC), which was a bit of a revelation.

The tradition of housing research scientists in ugly pre-fabs has a long history:

Hut 1 at Bletchley Park

Hut 1 at Bletchley Park

The WITCH is the world’s oldest computer. The NMOC hope it will soon be the world’s oldest working computer:

The WITCH at the NMOC, Bletchley Park

The WITCH at the NMOC, Bletchley Park

The PDP-11 was the machine that Stewart Brand wrote about in his iconic Rolling Stone article: “Space War: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums

A rack of PDP11s

A rack of PDP11s

Tomorrow night: technology and resistance at Dingwalls, Camden Market

I’ve no idea what to expect from this event tomorrow night, entitled “Technology and Resistance”, and taking place at Dingwalls in Camden Market thanks to the industriousness of an outfit, real or imagined, called the Camden Players. All I know is that I’m speaking at it, alongside James Ball (ex-WikiLeaks, now a Guardian data journalist, presumably because they their NDA had better terms), Sarah Morrison of the Indie, and a man I’m sure I’ve met before called Mark Simpkins. The event starts at 7:30pm, and I’ll be talking about some of the ideas in my new book.