Pedway: Elevating London

Notes from a film I went to see last night.


Its our 5th Birthday! Blimey, that went quickly.

The Story is returning to The Conway Hall, London, on Friday, February 21st, 2014 for its fifth year of inspiring talks and interesting stuff. Last year we had Molly Crabapple talking about illustration as journalism, Alex Balfour on running the online Olympics, Ben Bocquelet on the Amazing World of Gumball and Edwin Collins on how he recovered his ability to play music after his stroke, among many other amazing talks.

This year we’re lining up an equally inspiring set of speakers, and we’ll be announcing them over the next few months as they are confirmed. But first, here’s how you can get tickets:

Tickets are now on general sale via our Eventbrite site, so go get yours quick before they all go! We tried something different with ticket sales this year – as a thank you to everyone who subscribes to…

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Government Digital Service

We’re in the middle of a significant change in how people use digital services. Use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets is exploding.

People should be able to use digital services wherever they are, on the device of their choosing (see Design Principle No.7 Understand Context). Users now expect to be able to change the date of their driving test while on the bus, or pay their VAT while lying in bed.

Here’s how government services have been responding to mobile growth. To note for later: none of these examples are apps.

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An open and shut case, surely?

Barefoot on Baker Street

There has been a dramatic development involving the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate and the licencing of the characters Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Holmesian scholar Leslie S. Klinger has filed a civil action in the United States District Court arguing that the characters are no longer protected by copyright laws. Therefore, anyone should be able to use them in their writing, films etc without having to pay a fee to the Doyle estate who own the remaining copyright. Full information is available on the website.

Klinger and a fellow author were co-editing a book containing stories inspired by the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle works.

He claims that the Conan Doyle estate contacted the publisher and implied, that unless they paid a fee, the estate would put pressure on all major distributors not to sell the book. The publisher has had to suspend publication until the issue is…

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This articulates something I’ve started to understand at Folksy: making is about expressing and connecting, not the product.

Matt Edgar writes here

Get excited and <strike>make</strike>do things

I once worked in a Parisian office where the walls were emblazoned with encouraging slogans in English, “share ideas!” “create!” “go!” But my favourite was always the half metre-high vinyl entreaty to:

“do it simple!”

In my more cynical moments I would claim this word art spoke volumes about the culture of multi-national business, more I think than its writer knew or intended. But this is not one of those moments, and in any case who am I to criticise people who spend their working lives operating in a second language while I, through accident of birth, get to open my mouth without a moment’s thought?

No, the mangled motto always reminded that while English has two verbs – “to do” and “to make” – French has only one – “faire”.

This is important because something’s been troubling me about this whole thing for making things. What exactly are the…

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Lots of this rings pretty true, sadly enough. [I used to work there too]

through the looking glass

Last night I gave a short talk at Museums Showoff. This is a slightly more coherent text version of my set. But first, here’s a picture of the world’s biggest tyre (ground floor of the Wellcome Wing).

For several years in the mid-naughties, I was on the cover of the Science Museum guidebook. It was a blurry photo, but it’s me. I worked there aged 18 to 24. When I left, I realised I’d been there a quarter of my life, I’d spent way too many of my Saturday nights sleeping on the floor of the Shipping Gallery, and the very idea of a Science Museum is a big old pile of pants.

And that’s what this is about: The Science Museum is a big old pile of pants. Sorry if you were coming here looking for analysis, this is really just therapy for a misspent youth. I suppose it…

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My biggest Oh Shit moment: realising that I’d forgotten a significant feature hours before launching a site redesign.

Magical Nihilism

Back when I was in architecture school, about one million years ago, one of our tutors – I can’t remember but I think it was the brilliant Malcolm Parry – used to delight in taking us on site visits to semi-famous, or at least distinguished buildings; and then guiding us as fast as he could to an example of what he called the “Oh, Shit.”

The “Oh, Shit” was his short-hand for the condition of best-laid plans meeting reality.

When all the drawings, sections, detailed drawings and meticulous sourcing in the world clash with odd corners of the physical world, weather, materials and not least the vagaries of human labour.

It’s what Bryan Boyer calls the “Matter Battle”. He puts it beautifully:

One enters a Matter Battle when there is an attempt to execute the desires of the mind in any medium of physical matter.

Here’s a prime example…

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