Last year’s note starts with a sentence about craving new challenges and quitting my job. This year, I craved new challenges and started a studio. But let’s backtrack a bit.
My first half of the year was spent working on Contributoria with Dan, Matt, Sarah, Dean and Robert — a stellar team. Sadly, Contributoria shut down in September. Dean wrote about the iterative design process and working with a self-organising team, and Dan wrote about the thinking behind Contributoria and about the hard work that goes into shutting down a service the nice way. We wanted to leave something valuable behind even if the service wasn’t going to continue.
Earlier in the spring I had the pleasure to work with James Bridle on Citizen Ex — browser extensions that that let you look at your browsing habits just like the algorithms of surveillance agencies do. James is brilliant at using things to explain complex, nuanced ideas in ways that are immediately self-explaining. The extensions are accompanied by stories that investigate the history and geography behind a handful of top-level domains.
I worked on two projects supported by the Space. Citizen Ex was one of them, and the other was Away With the Birds. The site allows you to explore the hand-drawn score Hanna Tuulikki created for a composition of the same name.
In the autumn I worked with a brilliant team assembled by Katy Beale to produce a site for Big Bang Data at Somerset House. BBD is an ambitious exhibition touching on many aspects of living with the internet. You have a chance to see it until 20th March 2016.
I decided to open up some of the courses I taught at universities to general public. The result was a one day, intensive Browser Prototyping for Designers. Training people who are keen to use new skills at work is a bit different to working with students. For example, everyone turned up on time!
I wanted to do some workshop field-research, and pick up some useful skills at the same time, so I attended two events. I had a refresher of design fundamentals at a workshop run by Cennydd Bowles, which helped me regain some lost confidence in that area. I also did a riso printing workshop at Hato Press.
After Contributoria shut down it was a good time to consider what’s next. Dan and I decided to team up and start a studio called Buckley Williams. Combining our skills means we can be more ambitious with our projects, and can offer a more rounded service to our clients. We research, invent, design and develop digital things (and you can hire us).
From October we’ve been hard at work conducting material exploration of wireless energy, prototyping new ways of reading poetry, and visualising the GPS paths.
It’s been a very busy year, but somehow I managed to read thirty three books. I wrote about my favourites on this blog. My love of fiction was rekindled after a few months filled with books from the January Verso sale. Non-fiction always feels a bit like work, so I am less inclined to make time for it now.
In August I started weightlifting. Within two weeks all other activities — running, swimming, cycling — stopped leaving me exhausted, breathless, in a pool of sweat. I discovered stamina. James convinced me that it’s possible to cycle from Shoreditch (where I work) to Peckham (where I live) twice a day. I tried it on my shitty old bike, realised that James was right, bought a proper bike (or as I call it, Bikey), and started commuting to work on two wheels. Let me tell you this — there isn’t a more convenient way to get from A to B in London. There just isn’t.
I started the process of sewing my own suit. I have made three jacket prototypes, but I’m still far from cutting the cloth. It will be a long time before it’s finished. I knitted a pair of socks and a jumper. I am still knitting the never-ending computation scarf.
Owning a copy of A Modern Way to Eat made me a better cook. Anna Jones’s recipes are brilliant, and her latest book, A Modern Way to Cook is just as wonderful as the previous one. I have been eating food inspired by Anna at almost every mealtime.