Category Archives: Uncategorized

A news idea

I am sure some of you have noticed me on twitter going on about news startups, my own new newspaper etc.

It stems from the impending launch of The Daily, reading Mediactive as well as Clay Shirky’s latest.

What I have wanted to do was reimagine what the digital news service of the twenty first century would be, not encumbered with the weight of existing news rooms, proprietors etc.

I know what I am imagining, what I want. Reading Mediactive I realise that it’s not a thousand miles from other peoples ideas as well.

  • I don’t mind a news service, or a journalist who wears their biases and leanings on their sleeves.
  • I happen to love devices, I want my news, information across them. I want the service to know what have been reading / watching / commenting / annotating regardless of which screen I use.
  • I want context, background, I want to understand the story and it’s path not just the story itself (I know that does not make sense fully, I know what I mean I just have not worked out how to articulate it yet).
  • I want new journalism, as well as being pointed to stories across the reporting field.
  • words, pictures, video, audio are all equally valid and important,
  • the archive is important.
  • a daily astronomy section, no astrology anywhere. For Carl.
  • histiography. Keeping a track on how the entries in wikipedia are changing because of news reporting.

That’s just a start.

So I quickly realise that I am not going to build that myself.

Last night I was showing some friends McSweenys. The newspaper from last year especially. They spent months imagining and creating what their ideal daily paper might be like. It is a beautiful thing and an interesting experiment. It got me thinking.

I don’t have the cognitive space to do my new news service, in fact I shouldn’t. A news service is a communal thing, as much the internal organisational structures as external pressures.

So here is the idea:

1. Let’s all imagine our ideal news service. Server space etc is not the problem, discussion space is available.

2. A hack week to build ‘it’. It being an idea of what the dream is. Why a week, well I am just tired of weekend events that I don’t attend because of family. I also work during the week but if the event was spread, the people will be able to find some time to take part.

3. Commercialisation, monetization and all that. The tricky bit. So here I hope to involve some clever entrepreneurs who might like to help work out any new models for this but the key needs to be this:

A trust fund to run the service.

In the end everybody’s work would be theirs, to use, commercialise etc as they will, but can a model be made that the whole, a true rich vibrant news service be created that can develop a self funding model ? Maybe not but it’s got to be fun trying.

So, who’s in? My next steps are to gauge some response, set up a google group or two and see if I can find any support for the hack event. I might also think about a pledgebank to seed the trustfund, but.

This might all result in nothing more than a one off site that reports the news for a single day in a way that some of us find beautiful, or it may become one of the first true C21 news service.

All I can say now is, remember what Dennis Potter named his cancer…

the day job

I now work at SIX and I am setting up a creative technology team.

We are looking to recruit:

Javascript / HTML5 / CSS guru

Objective C / iPhone / iPad / Device developer

QA Manager

Interaction Designer

If you want to work at SIX too, and one of these roles seems a good fit for you, then drop me a line. mark dot simpkins At

geekyoto 2009

As you may have guessed from the silence the three days in March is not currently going to happen. Its still on our cards to do the thing we had planned, but may have to wait for a bit.

We will be holding an event, hopefully May/June time and somewhere interesting.

In the meantime, join us at on April 25th, London for the first of the geekyoto Global Briefings.

storycubes and notebooks

at geekyoto, Proboscis, one of our supporters distributed their StoryCubes and diffusion e-Notebooks to everyone. Some of them were completed and we collected them up and Giles took them back to scan in.

He has now published them to the web.

So here are 24 of the geeKyoto StoryCubes.

Here are some of the notebooks.

Please take some time to have a look and comment on them and let us know what you thought of the idea of using them at the conference.

(Next time, we will make sure we give you more information on what they are about before we begin).

What Just Happened?

Saturday 17th May 2008, Conway Hall, London UK.

The day was overcast but the hall was bright with ideas.

I just wanted to say thank you to so many people, so to start:

To all our speakers, each of which put on an amazing show with little more guidance than ‘fix the broken world’.

To Eric who set up the video so that we should have a recording of all the talks (and taking a load of photos that we will post up soon).

To the staff of Conway Hall for keeping such an amazing venue going, for having everything set up in the morning when we got there and being helpful throughout the day.

To Russell Davies who put on interesting2007 last year and then shared the how with us. I can’t wait till this years interesting.

To everyone on my linkedin list who got spammed with the question ‘If I arranged a conference would you come?’ and a link to my original blog post. That so many said yes meant that I had to do something.

To Ben and in fact Ben (Saunders this time), whom I both emailed with ‘sorry to bother you but I think I have a daft idea, do you think its worth persuing?’ and both getting back to me within minutes with a positive and a ‘lets do this’. That Ben has been as excited and passionate about doing this as I have has meant that there was a conference for you all to attend.


Thank you to all of you for attending and then blogging and flickr-ing the day.



We were talking about tectonic warefare

Last night (wednesday 23rd Jan, 2008) I was at UCL’s Darwin Theater to attend a lecture by Geoff Manaugh, the author of BLDGBLOG.

He was speaking as a part of the Bartlett International Lecture series and a very interesting talk it was, though much of the content was of course from his blog. I have taken some quick notes (mostly keywords and the odd phrase) and they are presented here. Also check out Matt’s notes. As always, spelling is probably very bad. sorry.
BLDGBLOG – Darwin Theatre, UCL.

23rd January 2008.

How it started:

Living in Philidelphia, taking a free morning course on Archigram and reading a lot of JG Ballard.

Depressed & Claustrophobic.

Started to write about what he was interested in, what he wanted. -> Changed his life.

Uses blogger as it is free, like sunlight. So does not feel that there is a responsibility to write there, he writes because he wants to.

Climate Map 2071

London will have the climate of coastal Portugal

Building appropriate for the climate, but Canary Wharf is built for the climate of 2009, not 2071.

Climate Change Malancholy – (photographer, Australian, written about in Wired) – uses the term SolNostalgia

The earth is becoming unearthly.

Through climate change the earth is becoming an eco-adventure. A new alien planet.

Hashima- Battleship Islan, Japan. An old mining colony now deserted but you can visit it and wander through the ruins.

Bannerman Island, in the Hudson River, built by an arms dealer. Story/Myth that old gun barrels were used in the building of the place, idea of turning weapons into architecture.

Mansall Towers (??) – Whitstable – end of world war II. Recently an artist got a grant to live on the towers and write poetry.

Private Luxury Off Shore Oil Rig Market (approx $100 million for an oil rig, recent appartment sold in NYC for $70 odd million, Richard Rogers is building $85million appartments in London. Why is no one buying their own oil rig to live in).

Artificial reefs – collaboration between Jordanian and Isrealie scientists.

The reef is branded, OBS. The structures are similar to asronomical equipment, sunk to form reefs.

These reefs are designed to attract people as well as coral etc. So that people would visit the artificial reef rather than the natural one, so as to allow it to recover. A disney reef, simulation.

The future of colonialism is in reef science.

Assembling California – Book – John McPhee

Standing on california you are standing on lost islands. Arnie is the govenor of lost archipeligos.

A view to a Kill. James Bond film. – Terrestrial weaponisation. Baudrillard or Villio must have been involved in the plot :)

(see: Battle Beneath The Earth – film (Thanks Matt!)).

The US military are the next Archigram.

Geological pre-history to the war on terror. creation on cave complexes.

‘Instancing Gates’ – Wolrd of Warcraft

Nick Catford – Photographer, Subteranian Britannica

Trap doors – across soverign space tunnels across the mexico/us border.

Non invasive archeology – Ground Penetrating Radar.

Duncan cambell (??) (1985? New Statesman)

Opened a man hole cover on a traffic island in Bethnal Green and then cycled, underground across london to whitehall and back. This manhole cover is now paved over.

Urban exploration – Michael Cook & Silagen – Photographers.

Mars Rover – the landscape photographers of the future.

Comarative Planteology – Kim Stanley Robinson

Naming the planet – Columbia Hills Complex, named after dead astronauts. NASA is implementing Ballards fiction.

Mars Analogue Sites (they are scattered across the earth, there is a book in travelling and documenting these sites. (( WOW! now that is a project that I want to do )) ).

Final Image: The New Zelander – returns to find a ruined london. The centre cannot hold, only those on the outskirts, the edges / fringes still exist.

‘People want to see change’

‘Architecture as a political project’

‘Architect as anthropologist’

‘Architect as researcher’

Rubble – Book – Jeff Byles


Something will happen. Just a quick note to say thank you for all the positive emails so far about this idea geeKyoto / geekGreen 2008 will happen in some form or another in the UK, in 2008.

For those that are interested please join the google Group that I have set up to discuss this:

* Group home page:
* Group email address

I will also get a wiki set up as soon as I can, also feel free to email me, mark at geekyoto dot org if you have any comments you want to make.

Right, it is nearly Christmas, I have some other work I need to finish and some other family matters to attend too. Planning begins in ernest on this on boxing day.



at the bottom of the garden

How do you afford your first home?

In the UK to address the housing shortage the Government suggested that people build houses in their gardens. This is not as daft as it first sounds. Across the country many young people are being priced out of the housing market. Especially in rural areas. They are finding that they cannot afford to live in the towns and villages where they were born and grew up. Most of these areas are what would be considered green field sites and as such have restictions on new buildings being put there.

The Governments idea was that rather than decreeing that new houses could be built on these green field sites, which would have been a very unpopular move, they suggested that families give up some of the land they already own. Old houses usually have large gardens, compared to modern house builds these gardens are often huge. Enough space to build a small house, with its own garden space and still allow garden space for the original house.

By suggesting that families allow houses to be built in their gardens they would increase the housing stock in the places were there was a shortage of available, affordable housing. The families would be able to help members of their own family get on the propert ladder whilst retaining the green field areas where they lived that helped make the existing properties so valuable.

What is the impact of this?

Well it actually appears to be very little. Nothing has happened, large tracts of new housing is being built in areas that many claim are green field sites. Yet no one appears to be building in their gardens.

Part of the reason for this could be that local authorities are not granting the necessary planning permission.

My brother lives in the family garden. He is much younger than me and unlike me did not want to leave the rural air of Devon for London. Devon is his home and he is happy there. Only he cannot afford to buy a house there. He has is own company, doing gardening. He lives with his partner and their young son in a mobile home in the garden of my parents.

He wants to live in the village where he grew up but over the last few years property prices there have increased dramatically, as they have across the UK. In fact where he lives is little more than a Hamlet, with a local church (and therefore a Parish Council).

A search on the local councils website planning portal shows that planning permission was refused. You cannot yet access much more information on the application and they do not yet have a copy of the application viewable on the site.

All they want is a house, a small house and his parents have offered him the opportunity.

Further investiagtion though revealed a probable reason why the planning permission was refused. Someone on the local Parish council complained. They allegedly reasoned that the older people in the Hamlet did not want young people to live there, they felt intimidated. What they wanted was a retirement village, a space where they would feel secure.

It is fair to say that a lot of the occupants of the Hamlet did not grow up there, have not spent their childhood there. Most have moved there later in life, either owning second homes or finally retiring to the Hamlet.

I am currently investigating this further, and will report back here as it does affect the climate. The Government wants a lot of new houses built but finding the land on which to build them, that is the problem. Do we loose green belt land, clean up brown belt land or increase further the density of our current urban environs?