The Dude Abides

The boy bought me a ‘Big Lebowski’ figure for Christmas… the similarity is almost painful. And I, too, will abide.

Bill and the Dude...

Facebook foolishness

I like Facebook, and I use it a lot, but I don’t trust random applications that ask for access to my profile data or want to be able to post on my Wall, so I don’t add them even when people I like ask me to do so – I’ll settle for the few apps (like Causes and 30Boxes) that are useful to me.

But it gets a bit silly…

Current requests
Current requests

Going Mobile

[As ever, you can read this on the BBC News website too]

Most weeks I am fortunate enough to hear about interesting and innovative developments in technology around the world as the in-house commentator for Digital Planet, the World Service technology programme presented by Gareth Mitchell.

We hear about solar-powered wifi in Brazil, computing in Nepal, driverless cars in the USA and silicon chips that can tell when their calculations have been affected by cosmic rays.

We get to interview interesting people like Feargal Sharkey, former Undertone and now a lobbyist for the music industry, author Steven Johnson and head of the Mozilla Foundation Mitchell Baker.

And we find out about new initiatives and projects that could shape the emerging networked world, like One Laptop per Child.

But having a worldwide audience doesn’t stop us being interested in developments closer to home, and last week reporter Anna Lacey went to Park House school in Newbury, where they have been experimenting with the use of mobile phones in school.

Continue reading “Going Mobile”

From Art to Activism

[As ever, you can read this on the BBC News website, where Mark has titled it ‘Net Politics is all Rock and Role’!]

This afternoon my son and I drove from Cambridge to Lode, a small village just north of the city. When we got there we made our way to the old watermill and I lobbed half a brick across a river while Max filmed me.

Earlier in the weekend my friend Matt Jones, co-founder of the social network site Dopplr, had made a significantly more strenuous expedition to Knowle Park in Hildenborough to leave a rock shaped rather like a flint axe-head in a field.

Matt and I weren’t just randomly littering the countryside, but making our individual contributions to the ‘Britglyph’, a project that will eventually be the most extensive work of public art ever seen in Britain, one that follows in the tradition of the White Horse of Uffington and the Cerne Abbas giant.

Continue reading “From Art to Activism”



Originally uploaded by parkylondon.

A fantastic time at Twinterval last night – and many thanks to @amanda and @girlonetrack for the organisation and good times!

This photograph from Paul (@parkylondon) shows what a good photographer with a good camera can do to make even the hairiest of us look good(ish)…

Home Life

We had a visit from Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent, yesterday – they wanted to film my home network setup for an internal BBC presentation and talk to me and the boy about the future of television.

Rory also blogged it and even made a short video

As a BBC veteran, I’m obviously not the best person to take a completely impartial view on the importance of Project Canvas.That’s the plan outlined on Thursday by the BBC, ITV, and BT to co-operate on a common platform for IPTV – or, as an ITV statement put it rather more usefully, to “bring broadband and television together in one box”. There are plenty of obstacles to be cleared – regulatory rows, technical teething troubles, standards snafus – before we start plugging a set-top box into our broadband and watching the iPlayer and other online video offerings on our televisions rather than on a computer.

But I think that this is an exciting development that could be an important step on the road to the connected home that technology gurus have been promising us for so long. Just one question – by the time the rough sketch of Canvas becomes the full picture, won’t millions already be choosing different ways to pipe web content around their homes?

By chance, as Thursday’s announcement was being made, I was in a house that is already wired for the future. We were filming at the home of Bill Thompson, top technology pundit and columnist on this site, as part of a report on the way we may all consume the media five years from now.

And I even managed to make it into the iPlayer day coverage 🙂

Making the Market Work

[As ever, you can read this on the BBC News website]

Twitter, despite the attention it receives around the place with its high-profile users like Stephen Fry, is not the only micro-blogging service out there.

I quite like Tumblr, and Stumbleupon does something useful, while BrightKite links notes and photos to your current location and is growing fast.

One service I never really tried seriously is Pownce, and now I’ll never get the chance as the company has been bought by Six Apart and is going to be shut down.

Continue reading “Making the Market Work”

Want a Second Classroom?

[As ever, you can read this on the BBC News website]

Although it’s common to hear technology entrepreneurs and investors express concern about the possibility that Google will move into their market niche and take away their business, the reality is that neither Google nor anyone else is guaranteed success in a new area.

Google’s social network, Orkut, has not challenged MySpace or Facebook, online calendar services like 30boxes are still doing well despite Calendar, and the recently-launched voice and video add-on to Gmail is unlikely to supersede Skype as a business tool.

Last week Google announced the closure of Lively, the web-based virtual environment it launched in July, in order to ‘prioritize our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business’, as the announcement puts it.

Continue reading “Want a Second Classroom?”