#32 September 2021 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs

Pick through this months fascinating collection of curated thingamajiggies from the interwebs.

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The 4000-page IPCC climate report summarised (have someone to hold after this).

We should all be getting our bike as it’s ten times more important than electric cars for reaching net-zero cities.

Those clever swedes are thinking beyond the “15 minute cityscape” and exploring the ‘hyper-local one minute city’ option.

How to stop Google knowing where you are 24/7.

How those nasty folks at Facebook disabled the personal accounts of a group of New York University researchers studying political ads on the social network.

Nice news: the whales in Alaska have been happier than usual.

A nice piece exploring why do we devote so much of our attention to online platforms making billions from your data.

Igniting cognitive ‘long-termism’ plus the benefits of embracing ‘deep time’.

WATCH

EXPLORE

Bookstack is a simple, self-hosted, easy-to-use platform for organising & storing information (free wiki app).

cchound.com is a curation of CC licensed music from various artists and genres for you to use, however you like with correct attribution, in your creative projects.

A collection of royalty free 3D Images.

Iconduck has a shed load of free open source icons & illustrations.

A simple but mightily effective free color picker app for the Mac.

A free online ‘Paint By Numbers’ platform (beware of big ad which pops-in).

All monthly digital breadcrumbs posts.
Image credit: Writing board, via The Met – “His many spelling mistakes have been corrected in red ink by the teacher.”
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Bastard Brain | Battling The Internal Narrative

“You must feel your way out!”

For many, battling the debilitating monotone internal narrative is too hard to even start: that nasty voice in your head reducing you down, limiting your potential, constraining your joy, crushing your confidence, opening the doors to anxiety, igniting your loathing of self / life, feeding the dangerous black dog.

And due to the direct link from mind to heart, cultivating strategies for dealing with the bastard brain needs to be prioritised to experience fully this living experience. Unlearning where our precious attention goes is the key to unlocking the melodies which rounds off positive aspects of existence.

For most of my life this wicked voice held the reigns and defined the journey, complimented by the learned repression of any verbalised ’emotional’ state.

I’m starting to relearn the roots of my operating system and in doing so, rerouting many of its commanding protocols, releasing the energy for a more rounder me.

Recently, I sent the following to a friend who was asking how I was:

My heart is a beautiful mess of things, like an Hieronymus Bosch painting: full of magic and weird characters plus brilliance and terror!

Me

Here’s to emergence, light, kindness, revelations, celebrations, talking, crying, laughing, hope, dreams, attempting, love, courage, quietness, weakness, forgiveness, discovery, worthy, curiosity, flourishing, spirit, balance, soulfulness, respect, ok, contentment, unlearning, relearning, learning.

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#31 August 2021 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs

All the things I tweeted this month curated for your delectation.

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After posting the 20th episode, a reflection piece on ‘Connecting Humans In A Beautiful Way‘ regarding Creative Welly.

This journal paper which says what it does on the tin (in bigger words): Survival of the Friendliest: Homo sapiens Evolved via Selection for Prosociality.

How all of Britain was put on Denmark’s red list – apart from Wales (the first time an EU country has differentiated between the UK’s four nations when specifying entry requirements).

A zero-carbon approach to heating homes by flooding old coal mines.

WATCH

EXPLORE

Template Maker is a bunch of free custom sized templates for paper craft & packaging for all creative occasions.

A place to find and copy special characters (for pasting) to your clipboard.

Sheety, which turns Google spreadsheets into powerful APIs to rapidly develop prototypes, websites, apps & more.

This open-source software license that developers can use to prohibit the use of their code by applications or companies that threaten to accelerate climate change through fossil fuel extraction.

RocketChat is an open-source Slack alternative.

A delicious free font called Inter.

Extract vocal and instrumental tracks from any audio using AI.

Image credit: Annibale Siconolfi – solarpunk visions.
All monthly digital breadcrumbs posts.
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Wellington Civic Action Lab | Different Solutions Require Different Approaches

Wellington needs to become a capital city which leads through bold action.

Recently, I was approached to consider taking over an established annual event which gives a platform for ideas to shape the future of the city. I’ve been involved in the past both as a speaker for one event and voluntary organiser for two others, so know the people and format very well.

My response was:

“…bring those with power together and have them outline clearly and transparently what powers / resources they have (and don’t have) THEN what they are prepared to devolve / make available along with the processes for access. Only then, invite the wider community to impact on those areas as then you’re proposing / designing from the actual rather than perceived.”

Like most cities in the world, much of the power and resources are held by traditional institutions with established processes which aren’t very accessible and / or transparent. Revealing this and spending time *’sharpening the axe’ enables the citizenry to assist in directly shaping the priorities plus collaborate in the action needed.

So here are half a dozen ideas, in no particular order, which I’ve been thinking about for years (stretching back to my Collider days), and which could provide a starting point if some humans had the time / the money / the energy, to start an ‘action lab’ for the city (half of which can be easily achieved with a few grand, educated souls and the space in ones diaries)—feel free to steal, go off and start to actualise them out:

1. Central City Calendar

An event and activity listings for the city in one online portal. Developed through a reverse data-capture process which pulls in details from other places, this takes no extra collaboration or permission from anyone and would create a one-stop-shop for the vibrancy of activities in the city. With email subscriptions available and sorting by categories (like sport or art in a particular region) and an available RSS plus an open API for others to remix as well. In the background, these events would be analysed to illustrate what communities / topics are being served (and more importantly who / what are not – see ‘2. Capital Dashboard’).

Ref: RSS + API.

2. Capital Dashboard

A simple adoption of the doughnut economy framework into all the governing councils activities and plotting the activities via an online dashboard which tracks, records and displays visually the ‘health’ of the city. This would include data on such things as:

  • carbon emissions
  • traffic / public transport use
  • house prices / commercial rates
  • councils and other agencies budgets and where it’s going
  • building projects and their state
  • amount of green spaces vs urban
  • recycling / waste
  • weather and ocean data
  • police recordings of incidents
  • listings of new companies in the region by topic (pulled from companies house) etc

Over time the data will reveal trends which can inform policies and decisions. It also becomes a visual connective point for the civic understanding / education on interconnected topics.

Ref: President of Ireland backs Doughnut Economics + City Of Nanaimo + City of Amsterdam + what happens when you ask what economic model the Wellington City Council, it’s Economic Development Agency and Regional Council adhere to.

3. Amplifying Community Space Use

A map of publicly owned spaces / venues in the city with overlaying data of past / current / future use along with hireage costs, where this money goes plus processes of access and limitations (meaning conditions of use like only allowed to use certain ticketing, audio & visual and catering suppliers). This would again over time uncover insights on gaps / opportunities, types of use, who accesses, financial transparency of operations etc. and would create a blueprint for a community activation plan.

4. Beautify / Rewild

A open invitation for artistic collaborations to radically beautify the urban landscape through nature and / or art. The city has become grey or any new builds just full of glass and steel. We need more colour and beauty. Any new capital-builds will have to adhere to a new artistic policy before gaining permits to break ground plus demonstrate commitment to carbon zero / regenerative approaches (see #2). All this would be again transparently known, shared, tracked becoming another differentiating point of the city.

Ref: The New Science of the Creative Brain on Nature + Biophillic Cities: Wellington + 30-Foot Sculpture Of A Woman Opens Its Chest, Revealing A Fern-Covered Tunnel People Can Walk Through + ‘Endless ribbon’ decorates Coventry for City of Culture year

5. Windy Welly

Wellington is the windiest capital in the world with a rugby team with an associated nickname, so imagine an annual festival exploring through art, clean energy, installations, discussions, sport powered by and in celebration of this wondrous gift of nature we have here, and stop fricking complaining about it!

Ref: 10 of the Windiest Places in the World

6. Building Homes For All, Not Houses / Property

Introduce radical legislation to address ownership disparity and free up access to homes, not properties (such as to hinder things like 3rd, 4th, 5th etc. property owners). This is about local and regional government legally ensuring all new construction include social housing considerations and also introducing laws to impact on owners of rental properties to set a certain criteria of health and well being. If this can’t be done at a city / regional governance level then prioritise community initiatives to support and amplify up to national policy changes.

Ref: Dutch cities want to ban property investors in all neighborhoods

After nearly a decade here, the city has lost its shine, and hearing lots of people say how it’s become harder to do things and collaborate across disciplines plus even to live in the city due to the vast increase in living costs. Against the backdrop of the political infighting, crumbling infrastructure plus the awful rise in this country in wealth inequality, domestic violence, youth suicides and child obesity, unhealthy rentable housing stock, dangerous price rises of homes etc., other places in the country (and neighbouring countries) are starting to become more and more attractive (for those with the means and ability).

However, there’s certainly enough talent in this city to divert it from the current trajectory. There just needs an honest and brave attempt to uncover what I advocated for in the above quote. Then the citizens and supportive bodies can amplify this as an opportunity to ignite a more city-level collaborations through radical experimentation and positive action.

Go, Wellington!

*Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Related post: Creative Ideation Workshop | Facilitating Inspiration (aka Herding Cats)
Image credit: Photo (edited) by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash
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Creative Welly Season Two | Connecting Humans In A Beautiful Way

Reflecting on the journey so far.

Last week, the 20th episode of Creative Welly: courageous conversations with bold humans, went live.

The purpose of this unconventional endeavour is driven by the desire to produce something beautiful and intimate—exploring through conversation, the emerging intersections of interest with two people who have never met before—done by pausing the melee of life and intentionally crafting a space to be human through stories and in time.

“I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Visually, there’s nothing like it on the planet.

The completed twenty discussions featuring forty intriguing humans equate to 1943minutes / over 32hours, and in terms of the metrics of watches / listens: don’t know, don’t care*. That’s not the reason I started this (see above).

It’s also a wholly commercial free venture and costs time and money in the chunky pre-production investment organising the people, the space, the camera / lighting / mics, hosting of content plus post-production commitment to editing, audio podcast formation, uploading everything, posting online and crafting the subtitle snippets.

But when something so pleasing and unique manifests the effort is justified.

More episodes will follow, although for now we’ll take a break for a couple of months. Feel free to explore the growing back catalogue here plus subscribe in the way most pertinent to you.

Epilogue

This simply wouldn’t have been achieved if it wasn’t for:

I recently organised an exclusive gathering just for those who have participated in the project to celebrate and connect them i further conversation with the growing community:

*Postcript: Back in 2006 I started the MediaSnackers podcast. In 5 years I produced about 200 podcasts (which included a few dozen for other clients at the time). The stats were in the high hundreds per episode and it drove traffic to the website into the thousands per month. 15 years later, what success looks like is very different.
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#30 July 2021 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs

Go for a digital adventure by following some / all of the links below which I tweeted last month.

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Venezuela exodus reaches record levels: “More than 5.6 million have left the country since 2015, when it had a population of 30 million, escaping political, economic and social hardships.”

How in Argentina, cheap government-issued netbooks sparked a musical renaissance.

Be careful what you say to Baby Boomers, they are more sensitive than Millennials (study showed).

WATCH

EXPLORE

Google / Android are making it harder to opt-out of targeted ads (tracking, basically) so here’s how to do it.

An all-in-one browser called Vivaldi.

Slide Ace Ventura is why the web was invented.

An illustration of how we grow around grief / trauma.

Two audio episodes which are delightful: On Being discussing the new Rainer Maria Rilke translation of Letters To A Young Poet and Monocle chatting with Sir Tom Jones about his new album ‘Surrounded By Time’.


Image credit: “Pontty ty praid – the New Bridge over the River Taaffe in Wales”, former owner: George III, King of Great Britain, 1738-1820.
All monthly digital breadcrumbs posts.
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What Are You Willing to Be Bad At? | Designing Differentiation

What you don’t decide to do is as important as what you do do.

Scott Belsky (Adobe’s Chief Product Officer and Executive Vice President, Creative Cloud plus co-founder of Behance) gives a stunningly insightful talk which I revisited recently. It challenges us all to think about how to design / assess businesses and / or understanding our own business potential based on using a differentiating what we decide to do / don’t do:

“Self-awareness is the only sustainable competitive advantage you can find.”

Am hoping Mr Belsky won’t mind that I took the model discussed and made it available for download below as a blank template (just right click and ‘save as’)—it certainly helped me in some of my thinking about new service offerings:

Via 99u.com
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The Fuel Which Drives Community | The Company You Keep

Exist as an act of love.

Watching a Shirky talk always means leaving with a huge amount of pearls, but check out the above plus the quote below and tell me it doesn’t resonate with any creative endeavours you have been involved with:

“…they don’t care that they saw it in practice because they already knew it couldn’t work in theory.”

If you work with a client or in a corporation / organisation which doesn’t get what you’re trying to do even though you have showed them the solution, forget changing minds, time to change the company you keep!

Then surround yourself with people who take care plus improve each others output.

Video link if not embedding above.

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#29 June 2021 | Monthly Digital Breadcrumbs

Take a cyber-ramble around these jumble of things below.

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In a chilly foreshadowing of events to come, New Zealand’s foreign minister warns China ‘storm’ could be coming.

Greenland ice sheet on brink of major tipping point, shit!

How private is your Gmail, and should you switch? ANSWER: it’s not and yes (I use Fastmail).

WATCH

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This online Lofi streaming site coupled with the audio-based effects and rainy vibes for when you want to chill or for background music accompaniment.

So pretty, meteor showers as seen from space.

Simple and free, “do wtf you want with” pixel-perfect icons.

More for your ears, a generative music platform for ambient background audio whilst you work.

All monthly digital breadcrumbs posts.
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Kiwi Iconograms | An Idea Needing A Home

A set of icons which ignite kiwi-centric interest and conversation.

A few months ago I came across a set of icons and a wonderful offering to the world:

EXPERIENCE JAPAN PICTOGRAMS were developed with the mission to help as many tourists as possible by providing functionally and aesthetically well-designed pictograms as part of the basic infrastructure for tourism in Japan. For this reason, all the materials are made available for free use, whether that be personal, business, commercial, or non-profit use, so long as the user complies with the Terms of Use. The PICTOGRAMS were designed as minimum tools to convey basic information about Japan, as well as its diverse aspects. Despite the deceivingly simple design, each symbol, for the most part, is provided with a text–a story that gives you a glimpse into the everyday life and history of Japan.

Imagine a similar available set of visual icons which provide pictoral micro-stories of Aotearoa; as the world is still going in and out of varying degrees of lockdown, this ‘graphical tourism’ is a way for these tales to permeate across borders (both digital and real).

Here’s what fell out of my brain regarding what could be included in the set for starters:

  • Places: The Beehive, Hobbiton, Mount Taranaki, Milford Sounds, Huka Falls, Moeraki Boulders, Milford Sound, Rotorua Hot Springs, Franz Josef Glacier, The Remarkables etc
  • People: Gandalph, Golem, Jacinda Ardern, Sir Peter Jackson, Sir Edmund Hillary, Lorde etc
  • Wildlife: Kiwi Bird, Kea, Little Penguin/Korora, Whales, Tuatara, Weta, Fern, Kauri etc
  • Sports: Sailing, Rugby, Skiing, Netball etc.
  • Culture: Marae, Whakairo, Raranga, Kapa Haka, Tā Moko, Poi, Tiki etc

So if you’re a designer or agency who wants to offer the world something distinct, feel free to take this idea, give it a home and action with the agreement that the set of iconograms created will be gifted to the global community for use under Creative Commons 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) license.

Will share on with the many other agencies and organisations I know once making this live. In the meantime, throwing it out to the cyber-world to see if it ignites some creative souls who want to take a crack. Let me know if you do take it on please.

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