An Upward Trend

When I got my first iPod in 2003 I was quite happy to put the white earbuds in my ears and stroll around university with a seamlessly endless supply of music.

An interesting thing happened that winter though. As I walked from class to class when ever I would pass a fellow student with an iPod would would nod slightly to each other. We didn’t know the other person but we were connected by the shared bond of having one of the few iPods on campus.

Fast forward to 2010. On Sunday I went on a leisurely bike right around downtown. I noticed a vey similar trend taking place. Whenever I passed a cyclist (who was obeying the rules of the road) we telepathically acknowledged the other, nodded, and essentially provided them with (a tiny amount of) personal approval.

The iPod took off like wildfire and before too long there were more then justa dozen on campus. The exclusivity bond disappeared, but I didn’t mind that. Thousands of people had discovered the excitement of having all your music in your pocket and I was glad that they had.

I’m hoping and I’m optimistic that the same trend will be repeated with cycling here in London. I hope that one day events like Critical Mass are no longer necessary because there are tonnes of cyclists using the roads to commute.

Ignite London

Last night I was able to attend the second iteration of Ignite London. I left throughly impressed and encouraged by the people in this city, and the work that so many are doing to better our community.

I wrote a post last week, but never published it, about how I felt that Londoner’s weren’t getting enough recognition for the many awesome things that we are doing in the new media / digital media space. By recognition, I meant outside of the 519 and 226 area codes. Honestly I think this can be traced back to a larger London problem; that of humbleness to a fault and the urge to rather talk about a solution that actually implement one.

After spending an evening at Aeolian Hall listening to my friends, peers and acquaintances give short, from the heart, pleas about what we could be doing and what they already are, I’m starting to feel renewed.

Its no longer a bunch of people talking about how we could improve Municipal politics; its ventures like Hack the Vote.

We don’t have people complaining that the arts are inaccessible; events like SMarts continue on.

Innovation in the digital media space continues to flourish, and by an active community with varied insights and experiences. They collaborate to build an application like London Trash.

This is just a small sample of the projects in the city that are looking at a problem and tackling it head on. There are many more initiative either in the works and I’m excited to follow them into fruition.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men….

I turned on a feature in one of the many plugins I have running on my site that would post a weekly “livestream” of my various activities around the Internet.

I had hoped that this would encourage me to post more frequently so that this blog wouldn’t become a wasteland of automatically generated posts.

That plan backfired.

As you can see that past three weeks have been kinda (humanly)-quiet around here. There’s lots going on in my life, and the various projects that I’m working on are moving full steam ahead, but for some reason I haven’t been able to find the time or ambition to blog about whats going on.

So please forgive me as I neglect this space. I hope to be back soon.

In the meantime, I’m going to turn off those auto-posts – they only make me feel more guilty.

Upcoming Events

I just added a new page to the blog that hopefully will capture a snapshot of all the initiatives I am involved with.

At this point it’s by no means exhaustive; some announcements just aren’t ready for prime time yet. So be sure to check back again soon!

Until then there are a couple of projects that I’d love to draw your attention to.

The first is ChangeCamp London, which is an event that I’ve wanted to do here ever since I heard about it a couple of years ago. I’m ecstatic about the team that is involved, and I’m sure its going to be a great program with definite benefits to the city.

Secondly is the annual PodCamp London that is coming up on May 8th. Be sure to check out the wiki for a list of speakers and sessions. I’m sure regardless of your skill level or interests you’ll find a topic that piques your interest.

Old East Village

On two separate occasions this week I found myself in the Old East Village in London.

And I realised two things;

1. I need to come here more often, there a collection of what might potentially be some interesting shops

2. The area is really a microcosm of London as a whole, spread too thin with abandoned and forgotten sections.

I know many people are working hard to improve the area, and I hope their efforts are rewarded. Since I discovered a store stocking authentic Montreal bagels, I know that I’ll be back in the neighbourhood before too long.

The Concept of Openness

I’ve had the opportunity over the last couple of weeks to think about what “openness” means. It is certainly the buzz word of a web 2.0 and social media age; but what message are we trying to convey when we throw that term out? Unfortunately I think we get it confused with and mistakenly think it is a synonym for crowdsourced. I think both concepts are very important, but they refer to different ideas. Openness means sharing information with a community and letting them see and hopefully understand how decisions are made.

I’m involved in a couple of really fun projects in the City of London, one of which is PodCamp London. PodCamps are free unconferences; the attendees decide what sessions take place. There is no booked keynote speaker, and everyone is encouraged to move about during the day. Conversations and topic discussions spontaneously pop up in the hallways and information is shared in a casual and transparent manner.

Yet the planning of the event is still somewhat traditional. The community isn’t asked to provide input on every detail of the day. There are decisions to be made, and that requires an organizing committee. A group of people, who remain accountable to the attendees, and yet make decisions that will effect them.

That doesn’t mean that PodCamp London isn’t open.  The attendees have a huge say in how the day unfolds. However without a group of people making final decisions the event could never place. I think this illustrates two other important components of openness; transparency and accountability.

As I work on numerous projects, I push for openness. I also understand that I won’t nor should I be involved in every decision. There will always be things that have to remain behind closed doors and sometimes it is necessary to work within existing frameworks that don’t look like they promote any form of openness.

When we push for open concepts, whether it be government, data, or the organizing of conferences, lets make sure that we understand what we want to achieve. Openness is great, it just needs context to be effective.

Why I Live Here

I turned on the TV today and, quite by accident, turned the channel to TVO’s Agenda Camp from London Ontario. When I first heard about the event I was quite upset that I was going to miss it due to a vacation, so I’m glad I was able to catch some of the “debate” from London.  I did want to share a bit of my thoughts though.

What do I love about London and why did I choose to stay here?

Unlike other students at UWO, I grew up in the area (northwest of the city), and so I didn’t have “somewhere” else to return to when I finished my degree. Thats really reason number one.

Every since I became in involved in PodCamp London I realized the tremendous potential that their exists within this city. A few people have the ability to effect massive change and to make the whole city better. PodCamp was really just the beginning. The more I interacted with people and started to work together, I began to truly realize the potential this city had.

So, I love London and decided to make it my permanent home because of what it could be, not what it is now. I’m not going to sit back and wait for someone else do decide what it should be; I’m going to be an active participant in the process.

Time to Get Off the ‘Couch’

I’ve always found it a struggle to actually leave my house and go to the gym. However, once I get there I have a great time. As soon as I start running on the treadmill or lifting weights, I’m so glad to be there. And once I leave, while I’m exhausted, I feel great.

There are so many similarities in our own lives.

We sit on the metaphorical couch, knowing we should just get up and do that thing we’ve always wanted to do. But something pins us down. But just like my trip to the gym, once we actually make the move, we’re so glad that we did.

Whats holding you back?

Trust Agents

I just finished (I literally just put the book down) Trust Agents. My initial thoughts are that I’m going to recommend this book to everyone who expresses any interest in social media, or the web in general.

I also think I need to read it again just to pick up all the thing I missed the first time through.