It’s produced a reasonably accurate portrayal of the kinds of things I do and am known for. But then I have the privilege of being on a lot of lists. Someone who has less of a public role (i.e. not a journalist or well known blogger) may not produce quite as useful a result.
What MIT Personas think “mikebutcher” and “Mike Butcher” is:
“Personas is a component of the Metropath(ologies) exhibit, currently on display at the MIT Museum by the Sociable Media Group from the MIT Media Lab. It uses sophisticated natural language processing and the Internet to create a data portrait of one’s aggregated online identity. In short, Personas shows you how the Internet sees you.”
Via iPhone. Contact details:
PSFK recently held a Good Ideas Salon in London bringing together commentators (including me) to discuss key areas steering innovation and opportunity. PSFK’s Piers Fawkes moderated a panel that included Dan Hon (Six To Start), me, Matt Jones (Dopplr) and Jonathan MacDonald (Ogilvy) on how the ever-presense of mobile is unveiling new, interesting ways for us to explore, work, and play.
Themes: People, not technology. Applications and tools. Individual needs and desires. Place versus location.
So yesterday I did a fundraising stunt for Red Nose Day / Comic Relief. In order to confirm the widely-held belief that most bloggers blog in their pyjamas, I tried to blog on Waterloo Bridge in said pyjamas. In Winter. It was cold, I can tell you.
So far I’ve raised a pretty decent £785, just by asking for donations on my Twitter account. You can still sponsor me here. Here are a few images and video from the stunt via Anna Bosworth and my own pics/video. It was fun. Even a few people turned up, including the person who put me up to this madness, Amanda Rose. I’d recommend anyone do something like that for Red Nose Day. Comic Relief’s interest in Malaria is also close to my heart as my Dad (Dr Geoff Butcher) has been a scientific researcher, working in Malaria almost all his life.
Many moons ago people used to talk about Work/Life Balance. You know the sort of thing: don’t work so hard that you can’t have “a life” as well. I little idea about what they actually meant in practice, but I imagine it involved having some kind of separation between work and living your life outside of work. Well I may have had something approaching that a few years ago, but that’s all changed now, because what I have now is what I like to call “Work/Life Hum”.
Now this may not be a new concept to many of you, but it made sense to me to actually call it something. I needed a phrase to describe “what just happened” as it were. Because what just happened was this.
Half way though last year I bought an iPhone. Once configured, I started doing the usual stuff: checking email, looking at the Web, etc. However, gradually it became apparent that there was no getting away from this thing.
The first problem was Twitter.
I’ve been on Twitter since November 2006. I now have over 5,600 followers, and I’m following 850. That means Twitter is both a joy and, at times, an amazing time sink (but generally a joy).
As you can see from my iPhone home screen (right) I also have tools there I regularly need. TouchType is a great app for making notes because you can turn the iPhone horizontally and type on a really good keyboard. The basics are also there, like Contacts, Maps, App Store, Calendar, SMS, Phone, Clock for alarms and Camera for impromptu pictures. Facebook I use more on the iPhone than on the Web. I also got the Night Camera app, which takes OK pictures in the low light of a bar – a common location in my journalistic trade. I also use Audio Recorder to record interviews. Xpense Tracker was a rather expensive app I bought to try and get my expenses in order – it will even take a picture of the receipt. Why are settings on the home screen? I often switch WiFi on or off to stop the iPhone connecting to a paid-for node.
The main other draws towards the Black Hole that is the iPhone are Email, Google Reader (for RSS feeds on Safari) and Yammer. The latter is used to communicate with my TechCrunch colleagues internally.
The final piece in the jigsaw is unlimited data from O2. Lord, how I love it so. It means I can do almost anything, almost anywhere.
As a result of this, I realised that the “background hum” of work eminating from my always-connected iPhone was a better way of describing how I now work – and live. It means I can send an important email while I’m fetching some milk and bread from the corner shop – or read RSS feeds while waiting for a train. And I can send a Twitter while walking between my chair and the bar in the pub, or while waiting for my kids to get tired of the climbing frame in the park.
There is no more “balance” any more – as if there ever was – because what I am working on and interested in swaps from second to second as I use my iPhone. The Internet is now an all pervasive background “hum” which never goes away unless I am out of battery or out of wireless signal, which is very rare.
Today is Blog Action Day, an annual nonprofit event that “aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day.” Last year the theme was the environment. This year the theme is world poverty (something I could use as a snarky lift-off comment on the coming recession, but I’ll resist that this point).
The real point is that, even in a bad recession in the Western World, we will rarely really understand true poverty. Such as what it is like to have to walk 5 miles to a well to fetch water every day. Or to see most of your children die young through malnutrition. My father, now retired, was a research scientist (actually he still goes into his London university lab to say hi – he just can’t keep away from the work). All his life he has been researching a vaccine for Malaria, a disease which kills between one and three million people, the majority of whom are young children in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The causes of Malaria are complex, everything from the standing water mosquitos breed in, to the mosquito carrier itself, to the massive complexity of the disease, which seems to morph at every stage of its life-cycle, making a vaccine near impossible to develop.
But it’s clear that one of the greatest weapons we have against poverty is education. If you can educate someone to use a mosquito net, you will have already improved the chances of their family surviving, thus broken the cycle of poverty which keeps every new generation from developing. And that’s where the technology industry can help. Already, the mobile phone has proved its worth in creating a sort of trading platform for African farmers and Indian fisherman to check prices at the local village markets for their produce. Mere SMS is a powerful thing. But that’s not enough. You can’t really read articles and browser the Web on a mobile, or educate children. So the efforts of Nicholas Negroponte to create a cheap laptop (under $100) for children in developing countries has been one of the great projects of our time. It’s such a pity that some people inside Microsoft and Intel appeared, according to some, to have done their best to stop it ever happening. Thankfully, that is not the official line of those organisations, and I hope they remedy their well-intentioned words with ever more action.
At TechCrunch, we generally think information is most powerful when it lives in the “Cloud”, hence the project to create a cheap cloud computer tablet for under $200. That’s not a project for children in poverty specifically, but since the whole idea is open source, the ideas could be applied anywhere.
Personally I was heartened by the Simputer project in India a few years ago. A handheld device like a mobile on an open platform. It may well be the case that Google’s Android ends up being the cheap, open operating system which could drive simple web tablets for developing countries as well as mobiles.
But for now it looks like the mobile phone is very much going to be the single most important piece of tech in developing countries going forward. You can use it to message and talk and it can be charged from a car battery. WiFi is no real use across the vast distances in Africa, and WiMax is still a pipe-dream. A few years ago the StarSight project looked like it was poised to WiFi-up Africa, though it seems not to have made much dent as yet.
Anyway, if you want to blog about poverty today, then why not register your blog and do something.
I recently asked my twitter friends how they protect their Windows XP PC from viruses and clean up all the crap you usually find on Windows machines (I wouldn’t know, I have always used Macs). Here are their answers:
freecloud @mbites as well as AVG, use something like Lavasoft and CrapCleaner and run those every so often. XP is quite clean, strip the addware
rmmarshall @mbites Windows defender can find adware that AVG won’t. Best rule: run all the programs several times to completion.