Free speech

Jimmy Wales from Wikipedia was in Oxford yesterday at the launch of an Oxford project which aims to generate global debate about free speech. Along with Wikipedia’s blackout in protest of SOPA, which I don’t know enough about to comment, it seems the citizens of the internet are feeling the ground start to shake with rumble of tanks rolling into their territory. I guess it’s always the nature of government to want to control the people, and without a government for the internet, governments of countries will attempt to fill that gap and control the people on the internet within their geographic boundaries.

And then today, Megaupload and Megavideo have been shut down for piracy with the sites owners facing court and most likely jail. But I wonder what the charges will be against them? If it’s not paying tax on their earnings from the site, then that’s justifiable in my book. But it’s the piracy bit which is more messy. I think it comes down to a clash of world views.   Virtual vs. real. Trying to apply the way the real world works to the online world is never going to succeed in any clear or satisfactory way.

I think this realisation is going to have to be one of the big things that comes out of the information age. The online world that we exist in as online citizens is to all intents and purposes a separate country from the geographic countries we live in, and as such has it’s own language, customs, cultures, currency. Not accepting this and dealing with people as if they are only physical entities, and not virtual ones too, is not only an out-dated way to consider a human being, but is also destined to fail because of that. Maybe the UN needs to look at and recognise the Human Rights of the virtual aspect of the citizens of the world.


Turns out only displays content it found today and if it doesn’t find any, it doesn’t display anything. Blank spaces aren’t good so that puts in the ‘of-not-much-use-at -the-moment’ box. Guess I’ll go back to messing about with Yahoo Pipes and generating aggregated feeds that way.

Those boys know how to build a track

That may have been the most technically challenging and physically demanding ride of my life. 

Nompa at Aston Hill

The Nompa 2.2 did well, twisting and turning in all the right places but wet clay on top of chalk on top of a stupidly steep and narrow mountain bike track in the dark makes for one hell of a ride. But I got what I wanted. Sitting here all alone in the dark woods, I feel… at peace.

Just started experimenting with, the content aggregation service that you can use to pull content from RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter, and keywords. Will be interesting to see what it brings up over the next few days to see whether it’s worth implementing on any websites.

The Domino Project

What happens when a publisher has a tight, direct connection with readers, is able to produce intellectual property that spreads, and can do both quickly and at low cost? A new kinf of publishing, the brainchild of Seth Godin, and powered by Amazon.

The Domino Project is named after the domino effect—one powerful idea spreads down the line, pushing from person to person. The Project represents a fundamental shift in the way books (and digital media based on books) have always been published. Eventually consisting of a small cadre of stellar authors, this is a publishing house organized around a new distribution channel, one that wasn’t even a fantasy when most publishers began.

We are reinventing what it means to be a publisher, and along the way, spreading ideas that we’re proud to spread. Our core beliefs:

  • Exceptionally high quality ideas, created without regard for what bookstores and middlemen want.
  • Ideas packaged with cogency and urgency in mind, not a word wasted, no filler.
  • Permission at the heart of the model. Ideas for our readers, not more readers for our ideas.
  • Virality first. An idea that requires a direct sale won’t thrive in a world where the most powerful ideas spread from hand to hand. Create content that works best when spread, and then package it so it’s easy to spread.
  • Reward the sneezers who stand up and spread these ideas.
  • No patience for obsolete institutions. Bestseller lists are not worth compromising for.
  • Speed triumphs. Rapid time to market, rapid evolution, rapid response to reader feedback.
  • Format agnostic. Kindle, audiobook, paperback, collectible… all good.
  • Different products for different customers. A variety of price points and formats to match audience desires.

My darling clementine

Second session of my Diploma in Digital Marketing. Looked at segmentation, which I found really interesting. Wondered about the threshold of how many customers would you need in your database to bother segmenting your marketing, and also is there any company out there that does successful marketing without segmenting? Just got to get down to doing the reading now.

Which way to turn

Heel-side, toe-side, front-side, back-side? Turns, spins, slides, rails? Which way round? I’m confused. I need some clarity.

Let’s start with why we can’t just use left and right. Obviously really. Since we stand sideways on our boards, left and right would correspond to the front and rear of the board, which isn’t very helpful, especially as some riders are regular and some are goofy. So we can’t use left and right to describe direction changes on a board, hence the whole heel-side, toe-side, front-side, back-side thing.

OK, let’s think about toe-side and heel-side. Obviously this comes from snowboarding where being able to tell one edge from the other would be useful.But we don’t really have edges on mountainboards so toe-side and heel-side got mutated into defining which way the rider was turning and gave us toe-side turns and heel-side turns.

Then mountainboarders started getting air and so continuing to use toe-side and heel-side to describe the spins didn’t really work. Front-side and back-side makes more sense. All the other boardsports use these terms to describe the direction of the spin so it was natural that mountainboarding would adopt them too.

But now we’re left with the remnants of both these ways and the confusion that comes from not really being sure which term works in what context.

I’m going to stop using toe-side and heel-side. I can see how they work to describe turns but since mountainboarding involves more than just turns and I want a clearer means of describing everything, it seems the best way to go.

So we’re left with Front-side and Back-side. They work fine for rotations (Back-side 360), and rails (Front-side board slide) as they describe how the rider is approaching the feature (kicker, quarterpipe, rail). But does it work for turns, slides and scrubbing? Well, yes it does, if you use the idea of ‘approach’ to explain whether a manoeuvre is Front-side or Back-side.

Turns first. What used to be called a Toe-side turn is now a Back-side turn as it tells us that the rider is approaching the slope with their back, just as they would approach the lip of a kicker if they were doing a Back-side rotation. And so a Heel-side turn is now a Front-side turn as the rider is approaching the slope with the front of their body.

This idea of using how the rider is approaching the slope makes slides a bit easier to understand too. The usual ‘powerslide’ of grabbing between your toes and turning on your heels sharply is, by this new definition, a Front-side Slide as the rider is facing the direction in which they are sliding.

Now scrubbing. Same thing really. If you’re scrubbing on your heels, that is a Front-side Scrub as you are turning like you would if you were doing a Front-side 180 and you are facing the apex of the turn.

So, that’s it. No more Toe-side and Heel-side, Just Front-side and Back-side to explain it all.

Modelling tracks or just playing with play-doh?

I’ve been experimenting with modelling boarderX track features in play-doh to help me understand how they should be built correctly, and seeing how we can put a bit of science into feature design rather than track-builders always having to make it up as they go along.

Roller – 1:7 ratio sine wave
Roller – 1:7 ratio sine wave
Roller – 1:7 ratio sine wave
Berm – width to height ratio 2:1
Berm – Not much science, just thinking about an Euler spiral for the track transition curve
Berm – Not much science, just thinking about an Euler spiral for the track transition curve
Berm – width to height ratio 2:1, starting to use Euler spiral to create transition between berm and track.
Berm – width to height ratio 2:1, starting to use Euler spiral to create transition between berm and track.

OxCom Day 1

Had my first session with the Oxford College of Marketing for my Diploma in Digital Marketing. The session was really good, and I was impressed with their professionalism and seriousness. The sessions all have learning outcomes attached, the powerpoint slides have a bibliography, and there is a strong focus on making sure you know what needs to be included in your assignment. They also seem to make good use of web-based learning materials with webinars on each topic and all the course material available online.