Writing which contains reference to or mentions about my lovely friends.
Feb 27, 2010 3
Part of my tenth blogiversary series.
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, and only really includes people who I’ve met or connected with through blogging rather than work or webbiness in general, though of course there are plenty of the latter who also blog. If you’re not on this particular list, please don’t be sad. It’s not that you’re not important too! And please note that everyone linked to here is still blogging…in some fashion.
- Paul is (now) my wonderful, talented, funny, endlessly patient husband. But before he was my husband or even my boyfriend, he was blogging at digitaltrickery and made me laugh and intrigued in his blog, over IM and at early blogmeets. He thinks a lot of blogging is nonsense. He’s not wrong. But I can’t dismiss the entire medium which introduced me to him, can I?
- Dan was present at the very first UK Blogmeet in June 2000 in Kings Cross (we must have a reunion later this summer, especially since I now work down the road from the place where it was held) and at the time, a student blogging under the name Daily Doozer. But Dan has gone on to amaze and impress me along with the rest of the world with his creative passion and insight about games and alternative ways of exploring worlds with the company he founded sixtostart.
- Katy was also at the first Blogmeet (back then, Kitschbitch) and in the last decade has gone from schoolgirl to student to insightful and accomplished ad agency doyenne, without breaking a sweat. How does she do it? Energizer batteries?
- Tom, another first Blogmeet attendee, but back then blogging at Barbelith. He probably needs no introduction to the majority of web-aware people. But in the decade I’ve known him, I’m glad to know there’s more to him than the web wunderkind legend many see. He’s playful, kind, creative and clever. Unfortunately, he lives thousands of bloody miles away now, the rotter.
- Giles is a dark horse. He came to the first blogmeet too, then (as now) blogging under his own name, and as a long-time freelance
writercreator he’s spent the last ten years being quietly, consistently brilliant both on his own site and hundreds of others, plus print and beyond. He’s funny and succinct and hugely astute. Giles is now, as much as then, an inspiration.
- Pete is a polymath. I came across him blogging at first at Bugpowder, then mainly about zines, but his unfolding adventures through his mental state, unemployment, a fascinating glimpse into a stint as a contract worker brought him to Birmingham and his current life which includes living (not just talking about) social media, co-working, creative experiments with the city and amazing photography using the most convoluted contraption you’re likely to see. Pete seems to have a knack for anything he turns his hand to. He’s a creative whirlwind.
- Darren‘s been doing this since before you were even online, probably. If there’s a good/interesting/funny/geeky site on the internet, he’s linked to it. Hugely (and rightfully) respected by old school bloggers, Darren’s been plodding away steadily at his site for about the same amount of time I have. His quiet dedication is obvious. Less obvious to the casual blog browser (but I’m glad to know it now as a friend) is his gentle good humour and kindness.
- Bobbie is one of the most talented writers I know. He’s bloody funny, brilliantly talented and vastly knowledgable in all sorts of expected (robots, technology) and unexpected (ukelele renditions of Radiohead) areas. Although he (until next month) works at The Guardian, I don’t know him through that context, though of course was aware of his name. No, our blog connection is a bit of a cheat, really. Not long after I started blogging, I helped my lovely sister hop on the bandwagon, and she became brilliant at it and through her general fabulousness eventually met BoJo, and now he’s my brother-out-law. So I like to think if I hadn’t had a blog in the first place, I might not have been lucky enough to know him as a friend and near-relation, not just a colleague.
- Mike is probably the most prolific blogger I know, with an almost neverending capacity for themeblogging, fresh thinking, collaborative projects, and funny, poignant, well-written think pieces. I’d long been impressed and tickled by Mike’s online persona, and was chuffed to discover years ago that it’s no facade. That’s who he is. Erudite, witty, charming, well-turned out both verbally and sartorially. It’s been amazing to see Mike’s hobby (going to gigs and knowing loads about music) turn into a burgeoning side-career, as well as watching him grow in curiosity and confidence about hyperlocal blogging for the village he (sometimes) lives in.
- Caroline is a true inspiration. She was, in fact, the reason that the first uk blogs mailing list formed in order to start discussing how to meet up when Prol came over in summer 2000. She didn’t make it that time, but we met up anyway (see above) and toasted her in absence. Caroline (who I’m afraid I still think of as Prol) is an inveterate, thoughtful, gifted web creator. Her personal blog is just the tip of a vast web iceberg which includes immensely successful community-driven fansites (though the word doesn’t do them justice) for U2 and Joss Whedon and accomplished artist site for her friend Gavin Friday. But she’s also managed to create incredible concert photography and thoughtful collaborative projects like the one which first introduced me to her – croon.org (now sadly gone, but not forgotten).
I’m lucky to have these people in my life, even if we’re not in each others’ everyday lives. And I’ve got blogging to thank for it.
Who have you met through blogging?
Jul 29, 2009 Comments Off
Before you do anything else, listen to this:
Richard and the Young Lions – Open Up Your Door
Even if it’s not strictly your kind of music, I defy you not to have shimmied your shoulders a bit, or bobbed your head fractionally, or tapped your feet. Some kinds of music just make people feel like dancing. In fact, I’ve been listening (and deskbopping) to that song on a loop all day since my friend, neighbour and co-conspirator in localised pub quiz glory Dan Maier posted it to Twitter earlier. Good, innit?
Dan’s hosting the fifth birthday of his 13th floor club – a 60s (garage, pop & psych) music event – this Saturday night (1 August 2009) downstairs at the Albany, which is a pub and music venue opposite Great Portland Street tube station.
I don’t know all the details, but it’s about £5 in after 10pm (FREE before) and it goes on until about 2am. It’s only a small venue – maybe 100 people can fit in? – and thankfully it’s dark enough in the club that you can dance without people thinking it’s weird. Unless that’s what you want, of course… In fact, sometimes people dress up specially in keeping with the era, and I understand that this weekend, the the Actionettes will be appearing, which will be awesome.
In case that hasn’t convinced you to make plans to come along on Saturday, I asked Dan to bung me links to some of his favourite tracks, exactly the sort of thing that might be played on the night. Here are a few, with more after the jump…
Cindy & Bert – Der Hund Von Baskerville (1969
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – Hold Tight (1965)
May 28, 2009 1
(sorry, couldn’t resist pun)
Just spotted (via James Wallis) this New York Times article – one of a series of seven about how people allow themselves to be fooled. This part cites the case of the infamous second world war forger Han Van Meegeren, who managed to fool Nazis, the art world and all sorts of other people with his clever forgeries of Vermeer works in the early part of last century.
The article references two books from last year about the forger and his story: Edward Dolnick’s The Forger’s Spell and Jonathan Lopez’s The Man Who Made Vermeers.
While I’m sure these are both excellent works, it would be remiss of me not to point out that an earlier biography also exists and is well worth a read (as reviewed in the Observer here) – I was Vermeer: the forger who swindled the Nazis by my good friend (and former colleague) Mr Frank Wynne.
Jul 21, 2008 11
Dear Twitter Friend,
There’s no easy way to say this, no sugar coating that can make this pill easier to swallow: It’s over. I’m breaking up with you.
When we got together, it was fun. The medium was young and we were playful; trading confidences and sharing snapshots of experience with our social groups via the constraint of 140 characters.
Offline, we met for drinks and events and our conversations spilled over into IM, email: You had my phone number, like I had yours, but we used Twitter to send D messages instead of texts – so much easier to type than thumb-fumble.
We lived in the fragile familiarity of the overlapping Venn of our friends. Life was good.
And then things changed. The site became popular. You grew with it, started to gather contacts and acquaintances until they began to multiply of their own accord, like copper coins by the end of a day. Soon, your Twitter contacts list was made up of more followers than friends – people with whom you had a string of casual textual encounters.
The intimacies we’d once shared, ambient and otherwise, were gone. I was still private, protected, placing trust in those I’d selected to belong to my community, but you had opened up, and it had all become a game. You had no time for mere status updates now, when you could be interfacing with the world; broadcasting, gaily @ting in public with the masses (where a quick D would have done just as well), flaunting public displays of affectation.
But still I clung to the relationship. I wanted to believe that the connection we had was personal, special; that you valued what I had to say as much as what you put out there; that like me, you were listening and speaking from the perspective that ours was a shared social space, that what we said needed to be relevant or at least interesting to everyone else forced to listen.
I was wrong.
You began to use our relationship as a way to bombard me with stuff. You carried on conversations with others in front of me (and everyone else).
You used our personal connection instead of a blog; instead of a search engine; instead of an IM client; instead of a loudhailer; instead of an RSS feed.
You mistook my lack of constant interaction for receptive listening and overshared the minutae of your day; that conference; the gig you were at. The platform became more important to you than the people on it. It became important to you that #everything #you #said #was #findable.
You blurred personal with public, and friendship with frequency. You used tools to interface with The Community (and me, somewhere in it) which aped IM clients or blogging extensions.
Or if you weren’t spreading it on thickly, you were silent: watching, listening, taking more than you gave, letting my candid confessions of everyday existence hang pregnantly in the ether between us without sharing your own experience of life, or what it is like in words. Silence sounds a lot like judgement: feels unbalanced when we’re down at the pub and is no more comfortable online.
The discomfort of the relationship became the elephant in the room; the moose on the table; the failwhale in the jamjar. When I found myself gritting teeth when you flooded a page (especialy when there was no “older” link) or @ted at people instead of IM, I knew it was time to do something bold.
So I searched for a pause button. I hunted for ways to stem the torrent of trivia, the bombardment of your broadcast persona loud in my browser. I wanted to find a way to keep the closeness we’d once had while also making you realise that I valued our relationship but I couldn’t carry on like this.
But there’s no pause button. And so I’m breaking it off. If you don’t see me in your contact list anymore, this is why: I’m a friend, not one of your followers.
I’m sorry – I wish there was another way – but it’s clear that our connection means something different to me than to you. There have been too many small irritations or lapses of what passes for reasonable social behaviour for this to be ignored.
It’s time to call it a day.
I still value your friendship – you must remember that – and we’ll still have pints in the pub, emails, and the occasional IM. There are loads of ways we can communicate comfortably again – I’ll still be reading your blog, looking out for you on my buddy list, subscribed to your RSS. I’ll look forward to you tumbling into my browser, full of the youness of your life and passions. Maybe you’ll be reading my online stuff, too. I hope we can hold onto something of what once brought us together.
Maybe at some point in the future, your Twitter stream will split and you’ll have different streams and modes of communication for different kinds of people depending on relevance and relationship. Maybe, one day, I hope.
But until then, until we can share the same social space without it feeling like a burden or an infringement or a chore, it’s time to make the break. It’s for our own good.
Until that day, I remain, forever, your friend,
(PS I’m not breaking up with Twitter, the app. I’ll still use it, and still see other people on it. I’m just pruning my community, is all; This isn’t about Twitter. This is about you and how you use it.)
Aug 16, 2007 28
Another post in the series of musings about Facebook as user experience and social microcosm…
The trouble with Facebook is that it’s a confused social space. There are too many different facets of personality being exposed through social openness. So much so, in fact, that it gets a bit difficult to manage.
For example, at present on Facebook, I have (among others) the following listed as “Friends”:
- My husband
- Several people I’ve known since I was 11
- College friends I haven’t talked to in 15 years
- My boss
- A couple of people from university I’d lost touch with
- Several people I know from t’internet, but haven’t met / don’t actually know
- A few people on a mailing list I belong to
- A handful of family members
- A few people who work for me
- At least one ex boyfriend
- People who I’ve seen around the office but never exchanged more than words of greeting with
While I obviously wouldn’t have connected with these people via Facebook if I hadn’t wanted to, it’s pushing the definition a bit to lump all of them together into the same bucket, labelled “friends”. Why? Because most of them aren’t strictly friends (although they’re all lovely, obviously).
Or rather, they may well be friends, but not all friends are equal. As we all know, there are different sorts of relationships, some of which are better kept distinct.
Put simply, I wouldn’t consider having a party to which they were all invited at the same time – apart from a wedding – so how can I expect to engage with them socially in a single setting online?
And most people I know are in the same boat.
Where in life we are each at the centre of a Venn diagram of all our social groups…
…in Facebook, it’s one big mixer.
All contacts are friends, regardless of their relationship.
Jul 7, 2007 11
I’ve noticed quite a few searches recently on this site by people looking for info about Girl With a One-Track Mind.
I *think* this is because Fridaycities recently published an interview with her, illustrated by a photo I took.
So, in the interests of disclosure: Girly One-Track is a friend of mine, and in April she asked me to take a series of shots of her which could be used for publicity. I whisked her down to the South Bank (stark architecture, interesting textures, interesting location which establishes her as a confident, modern, urban woman), took about 300 shots and later whittled it down to about 20 images.
Jan 10, 2007 13
I’m on several mailing lists at my company which give details of server maintenance outages and the like. And most of the time, they fly through the inbox and I can happily ignore them.
However, yesterday there were a flurry of mails with priceless subject lines:
I loved the idea that they needed to take all the little green Irish fellas out of service to give them new green trousers, or because the pot of gold was broken or something.
However, I’m sure that our colleagues in the US just thought about it as a server name – because that’s what happens, isn’t it? We give things names and the words – the names – themselves lose meaning as real words, and become forever associated with the thing we have names.
So my cat is called Pickle – but when I think of her name I don’t think of Branston anymore, I think “small brown cat with kittenish tendancies”.
And when (back in the heady days of the first dotcom boom) we used to have a meeting room at work called “Cyberspace” (I know, I know), we would inevitably end up mystifying visitors and newbies by saying “we’re meeting in Cyberspace” or “Oh no, I think I left my notepad in Cyberspace”. The word became meaningless (well, in that case, more meaningless) and described only the room.
Likewise, people’s names become attached to them, and stop being names after a while, becoming instead individual-descriptors. I’m probably the only Meg most people know, so for them, Meg = me, this individual. However, I know several Iains, Johns, Toms, Matts, Pauls and people called Chris (what’s the plural anyway?) so the relationship between name & person becomes less strong – and inevitably, we end up resorting to nicknames.
Perhaps this is why I’ve never really had a nickname – perhaps Meg is unique enough?
Do you have a nickname? What is it?
Oct 23, 2006 Comments Off
I’m a fiddler. It’s ok, I’ve had years of coming to terms with it, and I’m mostly fairly restrained, limiting myself to balls of blu-tack and the occasional corporate tchotchke. At home, I took up knitting, just to have something to do with my hands, and though I was singularly untalented at it, I did manage to make a blanket, which comes in very handy for anyone who’s home and ill, languishig on the sofa.
But especially, inveterately, I’m a fiddler with candles, as anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of sitting with me in an atmospherically-lit pub will be able to testify.
There’s just something satisfying to the furtive fiddler about the sensation of poking a hole in the top warm wall of a lit candle, and watching the pool of molten wax spill out onto the candleholder like lava. You poke it, and it almost burns, then turns into a petal of opacity on your fingertip. Of course once it starts to cool and harden, you can squish it and reform it, and melt it in the flame which birthed it to begin with. Hours of endless fun – for you, if not for the poor pub staff who have to clear up dozens of scraps of tiny waxy confetti from your table at the end of the night.
Anyway, as any fiddler will know, you can find yourself creating odd – and possibly very telling – forms with your blu-tack, or wax, or whatever. There’s a man I work with who makes the most beautiful smooth cubes of blu-tack during meetings. In fact, there’s a whole online museum dedicated to things people have made out of blu-tack – true masters of the art. That’s a level to which I can merely aspire.
And yet, the other night, in a quiet Fulham pub and eating house (their words, not mine), during a lengthy and wandering conversation with S, I found that I had semi-wittingly created out of molten wax and nimble fingers the very definite forms of:
a) a tiny mouse, complete with ears and tail and
b) a faithful interpretation of The Sword In The Stone (although to be fair it looked a little more like The Sword In The Pebble)
I’m not known for my love of rodents or Athurian legend, so can only assume that these two forms are deeply revealing about my inner mind at the moment. Your guess is as good as mine: answers on a postcard, please.
the story of a sword, stone, candle, mouse, meg and stripes, originally uploaded by stephanieontour.
Mind you, they’re probably not half as revealing as the neckline of the stripy jumper I was wearing… I had no idea it was quite so plunging!
Aug 22, 2006 2
So, for years I’ve heard about coincidences – we all have – from big ones involving Heads of State and/or natural disasters to more personal anecdontes. You know the kind of thing: a relative of my friend blah was travelling on a train through [insert country here] when the train struck a cow on the track and it later transpired that my friend’s relative was called Bessie and so was the wife of the farmer who owned the cow. Spooky, eh?!
Er, no, not really.
So while I can’t promise any tales of the paranormal, something happened to me that was definitely unexpected.
I was in Hamburg for a day and a night last week. We arrived mid evening, then headed out to dinner, then spent the whole of the next day at a meeting. We were supposed be coming back on a late flight, but the meeting wrapped up a little early, so we managed to transfer onto an earlier one. Sweet.
So we headed over to the airport, and then got in line to check in. C and I were chuntering away (about nothing, as usual) when suddenly, the woman ahead of us in the queue turned around and said “Meg?”
I looked at her – my age-ish but dressed like a businesswoman in heels and a neat skirt (as opposed to me, looking like a total mess in jeans and trainers and a jumper, having been involved in a long long casual offsite) – and nothing registered.
And then she said “It’s J_______” and the penny dropped.
We lived together in the first year of university, and were as close as friends could be. We travelled all over Eastern Europe together and kept the friendship going over years and diverse locations (me: Spain, then South America, her: France then Germany, then Liverpool). I danced at her wedding in 1997 (and then slept under a tablecloth in the marquee because I couldn’t get a cab back to the hotel) and we finally both settled at opposite ends of London as the millennium drew to a close.
Working for an airline, I last saw her when she was plotting her next career move, and we sat together in a cafe in Olympia rejigging her CV on my lunchbreak. That was 1999, and somewhere between then and, well, now, we lost touch. I googled her a few times but nothing came up. The link was broken.
And then suddenly, there she was, standing in front of me in an airport neither of us use regularly (notwithstanding the fact that I’m off there again tomorrow), standing in the same line, checking into a flight neither of us were supposed to be on. In fact, she now lives on the other side of the world, and this was her first trip back for several years – and she was only in Hamburg because she had attended a wedding at the weekend, and had stayed on an extra day. The wedding, it transpired, was of someone who until recently worked for the company I’d met with that day.
Weird how these things happen.
Do you have (or know of) any strange coincidences?
Aug 14, 2006 Comments Off
On Friday night a bunch of us piled over to Somerset House to watch a Jack Black double bill as part of the Film Four-sponsored outdoor movie festival.Now, I’m not the most rabid Jack Black fan in the world – truth be told, I can find him pretty annoying, though I liked him in High Fidelity – but the opportunity to sit on cushions in the courtyard of Somerset House with friends, drinking beer and enjoying films on a balmy summer night was too good to pass up.
Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out like that.
There were friends, old and new – Steph, Chris, Helen, Mark, Leena and Jasper.
There were cushions, newly bought from Primark at lunchtime, and surprisingly comfortable (or at the very least, insulating from the hardness of the cobbles).
Somerset House itself proved to be a good venue for films: we found ourselves a good spot towards the back right (good access to the beer tent and bathrooms, but infuriatingly close to the concessions tent, so that the smell of frying onions taunted us all evening) and the acoustics of the courtyard weirdly worked, making the soundtrack of the film neither echoey nor distant.
There were definitely films, though the quality of them is up for debate, and it’s fair to say that the enjoyment of the evening had more to do with the experience than the cinematography. I’d seen School of Rock before, which was OK, in a formulaic nonsense kind of way. But Nacho Libre – newly released that night – was something else entirely. It was like Jack Black, bouyed from the previous successes of SoR and his role in King Kong, had managed to convince the studio to let him go his own way, use his own sense of humour in this new film. And while there were moments of mirth, a lot of it was just…blah. Undoubtedly funny if you’re 14 and giddy from school holiday and fart humour, but notsomuch if you’re in your thirties and have been sitting on hard cobbles for the last three hours.
Which brings me to the final point: the evening, though summer, was not balmy. In fact, some may say it was positively soggy. Yeah, of course it rained: we were sitting outside watching films – of COURSE it chucked it down. Luckily, being British, we had all come prepared with brollies as well as picnic blankets, and Chris sorted us out with very fetching Film Four raincapes which covered at least individuals and cushions.
Still, we were definitely more than moist, as the skies opened and the films trudged on. Though to be fair, that could have had more to do with the pints of beer we kept spilling – they were in these stupid flimsy plastic glasses, which got tipped over at the slightest gust of wind. Grrrr.
Still, I had a great night – photos are inevitably on Flickr – though, as I said, more to do with the experience than the films themselves. Thanks to
Biscuit Eyes BeerEyes for organising it. Here’s to more suitably silly evenings in future.
Now, on a totally different note, I’m off to Hamburg for 36 hours. I’d usually just take hand luggage, but I now have to figure out how to pack with these security alerts in place. Hmm…