28 March 2007

Several anniversaries for me, recently. Last weekend was my college reunion; 30 terms since I matriculated (ie: went to university) means it’s time to get back together with my contemporaries. In real money, that’s three and a half years since graduation; not a vast amount of time for significant change, but still enough that our vectors have already begun to diverge more significantly.

A handful of marriages, at least two babies; quite a few (proper) masters’ degrees, some now on the way to PhDs; quite a few trainee lawyers. A smattering of medics, one policeman. Many people beginning to look to leave their first jobs. What you’d expect from 25-year-olds, I guess.

Most of us were apprehensive before it; it’s easy going back to see the friends you’ve stayed in touch with, but what of the people you barely knew? What of the relationships that were strained to begin with? They turned out not to be a problem, because it’s hard to remember that everybody’s grown up that little bit more since we left. Most of us have been away from there longer than we studied there. It makes a difference; it was an excellent night if only because of how calm it felt – people that, whatever their difference, were comfortable in each other’s company.

Our contrails may be scattered, but our origins are still the same; we settled back into old jokes, old routines, the old bar. And it’s a useful reminder of the things that we all share in common, not just that place, and the many different paths we could have all gone down. Several people asked about how the whole journalism thing was going, and I felt a bit sad to explain that I wasn’t really a journalist – I’d just worked within journalism and publishing, and from time to time had written a bit on the side. At the same time, it was a reminder that I really enjoy the software/design/web/media thing I do, but one that made me consider what would have happened if I’d pursued that more vigorously.

An excellent day, really, and a better night; it continued long into British Summer Time over Polish lager, bourbon and port. My brain bore the brunt of that assault.

It feels like a tiny milestone. Perhaps because it was the first thing this year I couldn’t really see beyond. But it’s in the past, now. 2007 has been exhausting, so far; busier at work, busier outside of work, feeling I’m falling behind in personal projects but having lots of fun nonetheless. The next goal is to try and bring some of those ideas to fruition. And to answer the eternal question: where next? I’m beginning to feel like I’m diverging too far from some critical path, but hey, maybe I misread the path to begin with.

12 months in this job, too. This year I’ve really begun to feel a bit more settled in it. It took me a long while to settle into the whole “corporate” atmosphere, and I don’t think I ever really will, but I’m generally left to get on with things so that’s good. I still wish the making process wasn’t so fragmented, though. I’m glad I made the move, though; it was the right time, and I’ve learned a great amount so far. I’m hoping that learning will continue.

12 months since last year’s ETech, where I gave a talk – my first real “speaking in public” as a professional (if that’s the right word – I’m still not sure). That was a scary and exhilarating time, but again, great fun: I learned a lot and made new friends, and that’s always worthwhile. It would have been good to go this year, but it’s no great loss. I’m going to be at Reboot again this year – at least in attendance – and am already looking forward to that. I’m a little concerned I’ve coasted a bit in 2007, and there’s nothing like Reboot to force you to raise your game.

Oh, and, finally: I started blogging a bit over six years ago. It seems like an age; it was, I guess. I still haven’t imported that content, like I promise so long ago. I probably should – but it’ll be heavily edited of teenage mush. I really just want to prove it was actually there.

Six years of this internets game, and look where it got me. I’m rather glad I ended up here.

2006 in review

31 December 2006

I feel like I’ve been neglecting Infovore a bit in recent weeks, and so thought I’d begin my return to form (as it were) with a semi-obligatory year-end post.

2006 has been really quite a year, on many levels. Certainly one of the most eventful so far. The most obvious change it brought has been a change of job: after two years of working for the New Statesman, I left for a change of scenery. I haven’t mentioned where I am specifically, up until now, but given that most people who know me know, I’m happy to say that I’m working at the Nature Publishing Group, known best for their flagship title Nature. I’m a front-end developer there, writing markup and front-end code to build interfaces and sites. It’s been a great experience so far; after an inital unsettled period I’ve slowly managed to find my feet and am enjoying it a lot. It’s also given me a chance to work, full-time, in Ruby on Rails, which has proved most enjoyable – and at times eye-opening.

It’s also been a year of travel. Between leaving one job and starting another, I went to the USA for the first time – to speak at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. That turned out to be fascinating, exciting, and terrifying in equal measure; I poured perhaps a little too much of myself into the talk, but was very pleased with the results and had a great time at the conference – both in terms of what I learned and the relationships I made and solidified. A shame not to be going again this year, but I’m glad to have been once.

I also travelled to Denmark for Reboot 8 in the summer, again to talk. Less terrifying, this time around, and perhaps my favourite work of the past year – lots of lateral thinking and answering of what-ifs in that talk. Do check it out if you haven’t already. A very different environment to ETech – creative, artistic, and holistic in its approach to technology; really wonderfuly to attend something truly European. As long as it’s on this year, I’m definitely going again.

There was also travel that didn’t so much resemble work. Alex and I went to Barcelona in the autumn for a wonderful holiday – lots of food, sun, reading, and art. A really lovely city, and an excellent holiday. Just the rest I needed, really. Lots of photos of it are up in my Flickr profile.

Life is slowly becoming more settled, really. I’m feeling more confident daily in my work, in my play, and in the city I live in; London is really beginning to feel a little like home. It’ll never truly be home, but it’s great to live somewhere with so many good friends, and so much to do with them.

And what does 2007 hold? No idea, really, though I’m beginning to have some thoughts. I’m seriously considering a fortnight’s holiday – I usually stick to just a week. And I think it could well end up being spent in San Francisco – another trip to the US, to a city full of friends (and, seemingly, more of them every day), and a summer in the sun.

2007 should also be a year of making. I’ve got at least one project to launch very early in the year, and several more on the go. And I mean “making” of everything: making more words, more music, more photographs, far more cooking – more stuff. I’m always wrestling to create, but I plan next year to really make stuff happen. I hope to share more of it here.

I’ve really loved 2006 – ups and downs, for sure, but so many opportunities, so many new friends, so many magic moments – from watching the sea roll in at Barcelona to being mesmerised in the cinema, from late nights talking with friends in far-off hotels to many happy memories in the kitchen.

I hope your 2006 was good; I hope your 2007 is even better. Do keep reading.

Big News

30 December 2005

OK, so my big news is public on the internets. I’m going to be speaking at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in March, over in San Diego. The talk is called From Paddles to Pads: Is Controller Design Is Killing Creativity in Videogames? (the title you can see on that page is the one I originally submitted it under, but then I realised that I’d much rather ask a question than answer one).

The talk is about hardware interfaces to games, what they teach us, what’s wrong with them, and how they’re fundamental to gaming as a whole. The precis over at that link is roughly right, but I wrote it a long while ago and it’s definitely subject to change – so don’t hold me to it 100%.

I’m very excited.

I’m also very scared.

Tips, advice, comments, questions, all appreciated. Looking forward to seeing some of you in San Diego, maybe.