Time to live in Interesting Times

19 September 2012

At the beginning of October, I’ll be leaving Hide&Seek.

I’ve had a great time working here – on everything from phone-powered poetry games to web-based catechisms on death; consultancy and prototyping for major corporations and media companies, to a huge gallery installation of interlinked games built out of hardware, software, the network, and good-old physical manufacture. And throughout, working alongside some hugely talented and lovely colleagues (all of whom I will miss dreadfully). The company’s in great shape – with an NY studio recently established, and Mark coming on board – and I’m really excited to see what will emerge from them in the coming years. I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had here.

What’s next, then?

What’s next is: working for myself. I’ll still probably continue to work on games – I can’t really ever stop writing about them or playing them, for starters and I’ve got one of my own I’d like to spend some time exploring – but I’m returning a bit closer to my technology-and-design roots, whilst bringing my experience of the playful interactive space to bear on that.

What will that work look like? Well: thinking through making; continuing my efforts to work with technology as a material; sitting at the intersection of design and technology. Some space to work with a whole host of interesting people, across a host of sectors – which includes you, if you’re reading – and also to develop my own practice and understanding. A bit more writing. For now, it’s best explained as “I am available for freelance work, doing the thing I do“, and I hope over time I’ll refine the proposition and explanation. (I will find somewhere to blog weeknotes, too.)

On the immediate horizon, I have an upcoming piece of work in October, through Caper, with the Royal Shakespeare Company: a small technological intervention with a theatre company to make interesting and beautiful things. It’s a lovely project, writing software to make art, and letting me tap into my liberal arts roots. There’s some early code and documentation on Github (from some spare evenings) and I’ll write more about the project in due course here when I’m working ont it in earnest.

Otherwise, though: I’m available for hire from mid-October. I am not interested in a fulltime position; I’m probably not your CTO or technical cofounder. I like short projects with defined goals; exploration, iteration and prototyping; straddling design and technology. I work on the full stack of the web as well as increasingly doing more things you might call “physical computing”. Of course, if you read this site, you have a good idea of what I do or am interested in. And I’ll hopefully have more work to show to explain what it is I do in the near future.

If you have interesting problems, or are curious as to what I could do for you, do drop me a line. It is time to live in Interesting Times.

  • "…what he fundamentally had right was the understanding that you could no longer run a country properly if the elites don’t understand technology in the same way they grasp economics or ideology or propaganda. His analysis and predictions about what would happens if elites couldn’t learn were savage and depressingly accurate." Timely, sad, accurate, and lovely writing from Tom. A particular twinge of sadness for our loss as I realise I'm now older than Chris was when he died.
  • "…a whole art form has developed in my lifetime. I remember for the first time reading: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." I remember the first time I heard: "I believe in America. America has made my fortune." And I remember standing in an open field, west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here." This is quite baggy and in places unfocused, but every now and then, there are moments of sharp focus. Most notably: the relation of the impulse to write to the impulse to play games (an escapist impulse in Prebble's mind, but that's not a bad one), and the understanding that 'culture is culture'.
  • "A billion drinks per day of Coca-Cola is an amazing thought, but such uniformity is a symbol of inertia, not dynamism. For the most part world trade still travels at the speed of shipping containers, not data packets." I chatted to Matt at dConstruct about this, and I'm really glad he's written it up: so much good examples and thought, about recognising the difference between pace and impact, of attention versus raw numbers.