You hear a lot of talk about digital natives and how their generational swamping of everything will change the world. I don't really buy that. I don't buy many generational generalisations at all. But if we accept the general generational generalisation premise, then I think its time to start cherishing the skills and attitudes of analogue natives.
I was recently slightly involved in a sort of art project done by some alpha digital natives that involved sending a real physical object to people. It was a nice idea. But you could tell they hadn't given enough thought to the problems of analogue friction. My participation in this nice little idea required two specific trips to the post office and about 40 minutes of waiting around in queues. Which is too much for a nice little idea. A digital version of this idea would have required about 3 minutes of commitment while not going anywhere. And that would have been fine.
Of course, part of the charm of this thing is that it was physical/analogue/real - but I think an analogue native would have recognised that they'd have needed to work much harder to remove the friction, or make it much more than a nice little idea.
So much joyful digital stuff is only a pleasure because it's hugely convenient; quick, free, indoors, no heavy lifting. That's enabled lovely little thoughts to get out there. But as 'digital natives' get more interested in the real world; embedding in it, augmenting it, connecting it, weaponising it, arduinoing it, printing it out, then those thoughts/things need to get better. And we might all need to acquire some analogue native skills.
Or something. Anyway.
I've had a few anxious emails from would be modellers, wondering where their Lyddle End buildings are. Suffice to say it's not you it's me. And it's not Royal Mail. Demand for properties has bucked the general down turn and it's proving difficult to keep up. (Partly because I'm only buying houses in sets of ten or so, in a feeble attempt to hide how much I'm spending from myself, and Anne.) If you've asked for one, please be patient, or if you'd like to pop out and get your own, let me know and I'll paypal you the money. This would be especially convenient if you're outside the UK where it's proving difficult to find online suppliers. Still, onwards. Or something.
I'm a big fan of ebooks. I've had a Rocket ebook. A Franklin eBookMan. Still got them somewhere. And I've read books on my palm pilot, my clie, my phone and my psion and newton (I think, but I might be imagining the last two.)
Apart from all the usual reasons for liking them I have particular requirements of ebooks. I love to fall asleep reading, I've always loved that thing of reading until your eyes are closing on their own and the book falls from your hand and you fall straight asleep with no time for left worring about tomorrow. Unfortunately my eyesight is now so bad that I have to have contact lenses, glasses aren't powerful enough. Which means that as soon as I get to that state I have to wake up enough to remove my lenses, which is a palaver, and then I'm awake again and I'm staring at the ceiling. Curses.
So ebook back-lighting and the option to make the type HUGE are perfect for me. But things like the Kindle and the Sony Reader aren't because they've got no back lighting. And they're pricey.
And then along comes Stanza for the ipod/iphone. It's lovely. Quick, free and simple and it's easy to download stuff. The type goes big, the lighting works.
But then you discover you can't turn the rotation off. So when you're lying down, the text is oriented the wrong way. It seems I'm not alone in wanting to be able to do this. It's not a big thing, and you can make it work if you're very slow and careful and don't jog the accelerometer, or whatever it is. But it's a shame. And it's another little example of the way the ipod/iphone is such an attention-demanding device. It doesn't orient to you, it orients to itself. Ah well.
Well, it turns out Stanza's even better than I thought. You can stop book rotation from within the Stanza settings. You just can't do it for your ipod overall. Thanks to Tom for that.
John Cleese is a strange and wonderful man. He obviously has his demons. He has the demeanour of a very experienced colonial Colonel, shipped back to Blighty with all this experience and discipline to pass on. Except his experience is about making silly, silly comedy. I spent quite a lot of time on a plane recently,catching up on his podcasts and they make fascinating viewing. Some of them are meant to be funny and pointful and aren't either - he's trying to make a point, but it ends up so leaden and obvious that you can't watch any more. Some of them are just him doing Stanley Unwin. Or one of his own old sketches.
But some of them are brilliant. There's a speech he did at the National Radio Conference in Sydney in 2006 which is a textbook example of how to do a speech. (Not a presentation.) It's funny, it's clever, it's got good stories and surprising facts, it's about radio. And he plays some of his funny radio ads that he made. It's in many parts: one, two, three, four. He's a real pro. He makes sure to do a lot of stuff that's directly relevant to their audience - and he's clearly made an effort to remember people's names. But he's also not afraid to swing off into a few set-piece bits that are just entertaining. Splendid stuff.
But the really interesting things are two bits of film (here and here) of him talking to film/acting students. He talks about his rewriting his scenes in the second Steve Martin Pink Panther movie - and it illustrates the huge amount of rigour he pours into getting stuff right and believable and right. And he refers to A Fish Called Wanda and Fawlty Towers to make the same points. It's about the long hard slog of making something really good, not the occasional flashes of inspiration. I suspect the less funny podcast stuff didn't go through the same disciplined processes.
It rememinded me of the sort of thing that Merlin Mann talks about here.
There's something almost sad about the way this Casino in Lisbon shouts for attention and yet is completely ignored. It's like a crazy person on the street. We're already acquiring the muscles required to ignore this sort of augmented spam, but at what cost to our connection to the world around us?
Well, the Lyddle End project seems to be going nicely. James has speculated the first speculation - and it's a triumph. Awesome, well-researched and perfectly logical. About 15 buildings have found their way into the hands of builders, with more to come. I've found a supplier in Australia so they'll go out soon too. I've not found one in the US yet, so I might have to ship some from here. Which'll be a pain but do-able.
People have been asking for a deadline, so I'm going to say end of January. That should give everyone a decent amount of time. Then we'll work out how to get everything together. News and linkage is all being gathered automatically here. Just use the tag lyddleend2050 on flickr or delicious.