An interest driven life [137]

Greetings from my shed...

Hello new people. I’m Christian Payne. Welcome to newsletter #137.

On my LinkedIn it says words like ‘creative technologist’ and ‘narrative strategist’. When I’m working I do many things. Training, consulting, felicitating, public speaking, coaching and documenting. The rest of the time I’m looking for stories. Some of which I share here.

The best part about looking for stories is the journey itself is a story.


#TheAction

This week I’ve mostly been shed bound. The shed is my office and my office is currently a tip. A dumping ground for half finished projects, unread books and uncharged tech. Good job I can write anywhere. Especially where my phone isn’t.

I tried hiding my phone in the office while working. I caught way less Pokemon but tripled productivity. There’s more about how your brain works having your phone near you linked here.

I have shared other articles that discus how just having your phone on the desk limits cognitive capacity. I believe it. The linked article also states that the moment a device enters your proximity, even if it’s not yours, your cognitive performance starts to decline.

At the moment my phone is in the whiskey cabinet. The other object that may limit cognitive capacity in the office. I shall obviously celebrate reuniting myself and my phone with a wee dram.


In between shed bound stints I’ve walked the dog. There seems a lot more black squirrels foraging round here. They are brave and cocky. Apparently they’re an American variety that escaped into the UK over 100 years ago.


Earlier this week I noticed my newsletter got featured in the @stoop_inbox app.

Since then I saw a few stoop.email addresses pop up as subscribers. Welcome and thank you. I didn’t welcome you in the slightly more exclusive, full of secrets paid subscriber email, because you may never see it. The app Stoop uses a unique email address for subscribers. So if it fails you'll have to go find your favourite newsletters again. I’m all for a better way of reading newsletters but I prefer decentralised email over walled gardens.

I shared these concerns on Twitter and they responded.


#ThePictures

I saw Widows at the cinema.

I never saw the original 80’s drama so had no expectations. There was a lot going on and I was gripped throughout. I won’t say any more and spoil it for you. It’s worth a watch.


This clip made me think of friends.


Photero is a funky little cross platform app that enables high resolution photo sharing to a private group. Looks like it used the freemium/premium business model.

Create an event and then share photos into it. Invite others to do the same. Anyone in the group can download images and then a week after the end of the set finish date, the photos are removed from the app.

Next time I’m hired to document an event using multimedia i’ll be sure to share any images that go to social also into this app. That way my client can get hold of everything in high resolution, in realtime.

I imagine this app would also be great for family do’s, weddings and environments when you want that little extra privacy.


Some of the week’s news from James Cordon.

When I heard the bit about mobile phones being dirtier than a toilet I immediately covered mine in anti bacterial hand gel. I then imagined I could hear a million tiny screams and immediately felt better.


Thanks to a hawk-eyed Flickr user I was informed that one of my photos had been used in a publication without my permission. I had been credited but the photo was clearly listed as copyright on Flickr. I contacted the company and they apologised, offered some cash and a plug in their networks. I immediately recalled the fleet of flesh eating nano-bots I had sent to their location. Kudos to the editor. I shall use the money to pay for my Flickr membership. Over the year it does tends to pay for itself so I’ll keep it going a little longer. I just need to remember to use it for something other than newsletter selfies.


While I’ve been in the shed...


This is 18. Through girls eyes.


#TheWords

I was asked by the Arts Marketing Association to say some words on video for their Future Now Conference. This is what I said late Sunday night in my shed:

“Hello. I’m Christian Payne. Documentally online. And I work as a creative technologist, writing, talking, training and documenting.

One of my passions is narrative strategy. Particularly when capturing multimedia on mobile devices.

There's been a recent trend of organisations realising the capabilities of the mobile phone. How it can easily capture and edit broadcast quality multimedia.  To then be shared from anywhere, to anywhere, in realtime if need be.

I’ve been training BBC journalists to do just that. Reporters and content creators, equipped with smartphones, are now doing the job of shoulder mounted camera operators and editors combined.

So what does the future of all this look like?

I say we should worry less about the future and embrace the now and all the nows to come.

As William Gibson said. “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.” 

Of course more organisations are bringing their simple storymaking needs in house. They sometimes like to get the specialists in. But for how much longer?

Creating the shared experience has never been easier. Take for instance the live stream. We now have simple to use live streaming cameras that can do the job of nine different HD cameras in one unit.

Off the shelf 360 cameras capture both immersive stills and videos, sharing via the phone. Some can even select multiple 2D camera angles from the one 360 shot. Perfectly steady footage from a film crew that fits into the palm of your hand.

Next year the laws around flying drones will change. But manufacturers are ready to deliver simple, restricted, semi autonomous, low altitude devices. These can offer you unique perspectives in your videography. While simple enough for a child to operate. 

So what are you doing with your stories now? Are you giving people the back stage pass? Are you creating shared experiences?

Or are you stuck in a loop playing to your analytics when you can be experimenting, innovating.

It’s important you make the time and create the space for experimentation. Less targeting and more the sowing of seeds. 

Watching your analytics might keep you safe. But will looking backwards at what’s worked in the past help you innovate and shape your future?

Platforms continue to come and go. But the shape of the story is the shape of the story. Not the shape of the platform. 

Some academics say we are approaching peak screen. That there is not enough time in the day to be glued to a phone and still function as a balanced human being. 

Others will tell you that we are well beyond that. The tech companies must know something. Otherwise they would not be delivering weekly reports on my screen time. A number that I will not share here. 

Of course this will all change when the data is fed directly into our brains.

As our hand held devices demand more of our time how can you ease this? 

Making video content shorter is not enough.  

So what about audio? 

Recent developments in audio make it easy to deliver the emotional narrative. New mobile technology can wrap the listener in immersive ambisonic and binaural stories. 

Podcasting hasn’t gone away and the tools surrounding it keep evolving.

Remember that your audience is your network. If you let them, they are a community willing to help you shape the way you tell stories into the future. Give them a platform because their stories are your stories.

Less automation, more interaction.

Connect with kindness.

Computational creativity has A.I. deliver content that adapts to user interaction. Like humans do in conversation.

Like we do when we have a conversation.

Creativity is the last advantage we have over machines.

So let us play, experiment and have fun.

Make people feel something.”


I wasn’t sure this was serious when I first read it.

But it is. I think it needs more thought as feeding a fed horse must surely not be nice for the animal.


#TheSound

Find your default mode [135]

Greetings from a pub in Huntingdon.

In the pub with Steve Gullick and Adrian Storey. Using my phone as a hotspot. Steve took the photo above.

I arrived at lunch for a quiet pint. I’m still here at 5:40pm. Please read the following email with that in mind.


#TheAction

I’ve been exploring the mysteries of the default mode network. Finding those times to rest the conscious brain and daydream. Letting strange networks come to life. This might have happened more naturally before all these attention grabbing devices filled our every waking moment.

Going out without a phone does it. Leaving it in a bag when on the train or bus also helps. Ideas come think and fast. Not sure if that’s meant to happen. Try it. No one seems to know what the DMN really does. Just that it plays a part in brain health.

Outside of reading a lot of stuff I fail to grasp, I’ve been dog training, although I think she is training me faster than I her.

I’ve also been shivering. Nothing burns like the cold. I’m embracing the extra pockets but still dressed for autumn. Winter is for friends and warm pubs in the daytime. For stacking logs and putting some spice in your drinks. It’s only just begun. But we’ll soon be little woollen figures trapped inside a snow globe. Dreaming of summer.


#ThePictures

It wouldn’t surprise me if many Americans now see these as desirable properties.


Lovely photo essay of an alpine shepherd.

Via @F8AndBeThere


ChuChu TV. Have you seen it? I linked a video in the name there just incase you want to go look. But when I watch their programming I picture a locked shipping container in an undisclosed location. Inside tied to a chair is a ‘person of interest’, forced to listen to the channel on repeat.


#TheWords

Remember when we could modify our computers as we wished? It’s a lot harder now-a-days but still possible. If you want to unlock the potential of a newly bought (second hand) Nintendo 2DSXL and have it run open source games, you need an R4 card, a micro SD card and some patience.

Warning this will also allow you to run pretty much any game rom without the need of the official cartridge. Great if you would like to have a single cartridge with a back up of all the games you have ever bought. But obviously even that might fall under copyright infringement. So although this hack will enable you to stock up on free games this is not what I am recommending here as that would be illegal.

So anyway. With the help of some dubious online places you can find new firmware and load it on to the microSD card. Then, if like me you are a noob to this, you find the most recent youtube video and follow the steps.

I ignored the hour hand on the kitchen clock as it swept past midnight and instead poured another whisky. I was committed now. Or should have been. This perfectly mint Nintendo 2DSXL is the only thing on my lads Xmas list. I feel it just needs to be better.

It’s cold so I head into the living room where the fire still glows. My fingers dance through the requested key combinations as I as follow instructions from the man with the accent. He tells me again to ignore the on screen warnings and push on. Things keep getting interesting.

He asks me to go find a magnet and I peel one off the fridge. Then I have to do this. That was my favourite part of the whole thing.

Over all I really enjoyed the process. All the way up to the final step where I totally bricked the device. It was 1:30am.

I’d killed it and not had it two days. Dejected and angry with myself I managed to get the device to at least look like it was booting up. Sliding it back into the box I checked the no quibble guarantee. It’s good for two years. That’s handy.

On Wednesday I wore my most confused look and sauntered into a different branch of the shop I’d originally bought the DS from. The manageress obviously had better things to do and after a big sigh rudely ordered her ‘tester’, who she called tester, to look at it. She then berated me for having the child lock on and told me to do something else for 15 mins.

When I returned she stood hand on hips asking the tester “Well‽” He turned to me so she could not see his face and winked.

“Looks fine to me” he said and handed over the box.

He’d fixed it. When he didn’t have to. He knew what i’d done and fixed it to spite his annoying boss. I doffed an imaginary cap to his superior nerdiness, said an excited “thank you!” and left.


Why covering the environment is one of the most dangerous beats in Journalism.


#TheSound

You will never look at your breakfast in the same way again after listening to ‘Boring Talks Taxonomy Of Cornflakes’. And after recently working alongside the remains of Jeremy Bentham in UCL, this podcast also from the Boring Talks myth-busts much of what I thought I knew about Bentham’s ‘Auto-Icon’.


The Ten Minute Writers Workshop is no more. Shame. If you are yet to dip in and be inspired I envy you. I’ll certainly be revisiting some of this little chats. It’s fascinating learning about the workflow of others.


#TheConsumed

I don’t normally mess with whisky. But I’m happy to play about with whiskey.

If you fancy a play try this:

A winter spiced old fashioned.

60ml bourbon

2 dashes aromatic bitters

2 dashes of orange bitters (or an orange wedge)

15ml winter spiced syrup

Cinnamon stick for show.

Directions

To make the winter spiced syrup, simmer sugar and water, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, star anise, allspice, cardamon pods, peppercorns, and orange peel for about 10 mins. Then when done add some vanilla pod or essence. Strain and let cool. This mix should last a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Stir the bourbon bitters and syrup with ice in a glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick and/or the orange slice.

Drink.

That was the last of my bourbon. I have a couple of bottles embedded in my Amazon wish list. But I’d much rather people spend the small monthly fee and subscribe to this newsletter. That’s all I want for Christmas. To be able for this experimentation and writing to sustain itself. It’s probably the more ethical option.


#TheThings

While winterising the narrowboat I plugged in a couple of low wattage heaters and brought a few essentials back.

The old prop I had replaced, I’d like to polish it up and stick in my shed. (Anyone got a sandblaster?)

My little AMFM Radio. I’ve missed scanning late night frequencies.

My favourite tipple. It’s nearly gone but I figured i’ll need emergency whiskey more at home than on the boat this coming holiday.

And my favourite coat. I’ve had it eight years now and it keeps getting better.


The Garmin inReach Mini looked like it showed some promise. That is until I read the Amazon reviews. The latest in a long line of sat powered messaging devices that connect to your phone, some buy it without realising it requires a subscription to a satellite data package. It’s still early days for both this device and the extortionate satcom tariffs. I’m hopeful that Garmin will pull their finger out with their customer service in the UK and the recent swathe of satellite launches will also help to bring the costs down for this kind of tech.


Charity shop purchase £1.99.

Although they never seemed to leave the album charts when I was a kid I bought this for the song Mad World. I now realise I much prefer the Gary Jules version. As featured in Donnie Darko.


Found a load of old Play Station and Xbox games in a drawer so part exchanged them for the minty Nintendo DS I have already written about.

It will need some extensive testing before it is wrapped for Christmas.


#TheWeb


#TheEnd

Thanks for reading. Next week I’d like to focus on some kind photo/audio project.

I have some workshops coming up in the new year. Please share if you know people in the area who might benefit. I’ve booked Sheffield, Birmingham, London and Newcastle. If there is something else you would like me to deliver elsewhere let me know.


There are no bad pictures; that's just how your face looks sometimes.” 
~ Abraham Lincoln


Don’t forget the moon.

See you out there.

Over…

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