Tag Archives: community

Flickr is ten today!

Photo sharing service Flickr turns ten today. This news has been a little overshadowed by the news that Facebook was ten last week, but I still love Flickr, even though it is now part of the Yahoo! empire.

This is the most popular photo I have ever uploaded to Flickr. It’s my Staffordshire Bull Terrier Matilda wearing a pair of boxing gloves in London. As I write this blog today, this photo has been viewed 12,980 times.

Staffie with boxing gloves

This photo of Matilda on the beach at Woolacombe in Devon is considered by Flickr to be the most interesting photo I have ever uploaded – with interestingness being different to just views because it includes a measure of how many people commented on the photo or made it a favourite photo of theirs.
Matilda on Woolacombe beach

However, this Rothko image from the Tate Modern art gallery in London comes in a close second…

Rothko - Black on Maroon

My photos on Flickr do still get quite a few views. Today they have been viewed 10,693 times and in total my collection of 30,008 photos has been viewed 4,130,107 times. Yes, that’s over 4 million views on my photographs on Flickr!

So happy birthday Flickr and here’s to the next decade 🙂

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Reclaim Ealing

When the Arab spring took place, earlier this year, it was because millions of ordinary people had finally grown tired of dictators plundering their national resource and ruling over their lives. It was an ideological uprising to create fairer societies across the Middle East and North Africa.

When the Greek people took to the streets this year, it was over a sense of outrage at the mismanagement of their national economy – the government forcing austerity measures on working people that resulted in enormous job losses and pay cuts for public workers.

When the Metropolitan police shot Mark Duggan dead last week without him being in a position to attack them with a firearm (all the facts are still to come out in the inquiry, but it appears he posed no threat), they made a grave error. It led to protests from the family and then the local community – ending up in the localised rioting in Tottenham.

There has not been any rioting in London for a long time. Sure, there were a lot of student protests recently – one resulting in a jail term for the son of a rock star – and some anti-war protests like the big march in 2003, but nothing like this. The nearest I can remember to this was the 1990 poll tax rioting and even that was concentrated around a single area rather than spreading across the whole of London, like we have seen this week.

It seems just something burst in the collective consciousness of the criminal underclass this week. Seeing the riots in Tottenham galvanised a sense of injustice – especially against the police – and soon riots were taking place all over the capital, though they were particularly nasty in Hackney, Croydon, and Ealing.

Being a resident of Ealing until recently, all I could do was sit here in São Paulo watching the BBC news live updates and following the discussion on Twitter. Watching Ealing go up in flames without being there to actively do something was a very strange – and emotional – experience.

Of course, there is not much I could personally have done if I was there – what does anyone do if thugs are rampaging down the street setting cars on fire? But, I could see people I know from the local community – including many councillors and the council leader – getting messages online, warning of trouble, calling the fire brigade… actively helping their neighbours.

The tragic thing about this violence is that it has no objective, it’s just the violent outrage of frustration. If these kids really wanted to change the way companies like McDonald’s operate then getting the staff into a union or campaigning for fair wages and conditions would lead to a better outcome for everyone – rather than just bashing in the window of every branch they see.

And by looting, any sense of outrage or protest has been destroyed. London has been taken over by thugs who don’t even have a political message. Some are claiming it’s because of youth club cuts and youth unemployment. Nonsense – it’s just the criminal destruction of property by those who don’t even understand what they want or why.

At least the class warriors of the left, who used to cause trouble for business owners, had some form of objective – even if it was as simply stated as ‘smashing capitalism’ (even though the smashers were often educated property-owners).

The threat of Irish nationalist terrorism that only ceased recently, and also caused chaos in Ealing in the past decade, was also more understandable. There was a political debate to be had, even if it was always impossible to debate issues when one side used bombs.

But these riots are meaningless. They have no objective or planned outcome. And perhaps this is the most dangerous thing of all for a government that is now implementing possibly the largest ever cut-back in public sector jobs. If the disaffected youth think they have it bad right now, then just wait for another year… our trading partners in Europe are struggling and hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs are about to vanish.

I am visiting Ealing soon – later this month. And I had arranged a large local community event that will be on September 1st. I hope many more local residents come along to it now than were going to before these terrible riots – there will be many of those local councillors who were doing such a great job at the event, and at least one of the local MPs.

The tweetup may in some ways just be about having a pint and listening to some great live music, but since I started arranging these nights in early 2009, I met many local people and found new friends in my local community.

Ealing needs the local community right now and if social media is going to take some of the blame for helping rioters to focus on new targets then it should also be used to bring the community closer together.

Click here to register for the Ealing Tweetup…

Red Lion Ealing

Lucy Parker at Durham with Prudhoe Community High School

Lucy Parker, chair of the talent and enterprise task force was in Durham yesterday speaking to delegates at the Northeast Economic Forum about the FutureStory programme.

FutureStory shows how real people on the front-line of globalisation are adapting to and succeeding in the new global economy. Everywhere across the UK today, the work that we do, the way that we live and the places we live in are changing.

FutureStory helps us to see how this change is affecting us, in our towns and cities. The FutureStory of each location brings together a set of case studies of real people in real organisations, who tell us about how they are experiencing that change. Through their words, we can see what the building blocks of success in the global economy are – and where the jobs and industries of the future will come from.

Lucy is the real champion of FutureStory, but what was really good to see at this event was some real young people who have been involved in the project at Prudhoe Community High School, a school located just to the west of Newcastle.

One of the teachers, Tim Smith, talked about the architecture of the school: “We needed to create a new building recently and were initially concerned about how feasible it would be to build on top of an old mine, there is a 10cm seam of coal running under the school field. Eventually it was discovered that there was a section of solid rock allowing the building to be safely constructed. The architects used dark materials so the building looks as if it was created from the coal – shining out into the future.”

The metaphor is appropriate as regions like the northeast have seen traditional industries decimated and many are asking where the new jobs will come from. Technology is one suggestion and Jonny McGuigan, a pupil at the school, had made a short video for the conference.

Unfortunately, the technology fell apart at the conference venue and the film stopped! Jonny was undeterred and spoke to the audience instead, really rolling up his sleeves and telling it as it is for someone less than half the age of most conference delegates: “New media is just media to us… we grew up with it. We don’t need to read an instruction manual. Industry has so many closed doors – I want to be able to get some work experience.”

This was an impressive impromptu speech from someone of just 14-years, standing up in front of the most important business leaders in the northeast and basically telling them that they need to wake up to a changing world and the insights younger people can offer.

Jonny made some interesting final observations that apply to both younger and older: “We shouldn’t underestimate ourselves… we need to explore what we can really do in future. I want to learn, but the door is so often shut – not everyone is the media stereotype of a young person.”

Jonny was like a youthful Chris Evans. In fact, he is already working on community radio projects, so you might hear him berating business leaders on air sometime soon. It should have been a hard act to follow, but another Prudhoe pupil, Mark Churchill, talked about his own experience.

Mark was very insightful about how he sees a problem in schools trying to connect creative and academic functions: “I’m in the sixth form, taking subjects like maths, chemistry, and physics. I could just keep on studying these courses and not thinking about the fact that the courses have probably not changed for decades, but I like painting, and Photoshop, and writing, and other creative activities.”

Mark told the audience how all these other activities were considered to be just a hobby by the school, which focuses naturally on the examination subjects. He showed the conference one of his Photoshop montages, which created an impressive murmur of approval from the audience – until Mark said he just “knocked out that picture quickly last night.” He might want to keep the people more impressed by telling less of the truth now and then!

The important question Mark asked was how he can find a career that combines his abilities in science and technology with his love of art and creativity. That needs mentors and advice from people who have done it and found a path into a career that combines those skills.

And that’s really what FutureStory is all about. Helping young people to see that the future of work is changing and that new opportunities are being created all the time, as well as getting businesses to open their doors to young people who want even more advice than ever before.

CompuServe is closed forever…

Before the ‘real’ web was launched, especially since 1994 when Netscape made it easy to go online, there was CompuServe. It was a walled community of users using dial-up Internet, paying Compuserve by the minute to be online and also paying the phone company by the minute for making a local call – at least for us in the UK as it was not common back then to have all-inclusive packages.

CompuServe offered much of the stuff you can find on the web today, gossip, chat, information, technical support… only it was all on their terms. You couldn’t build a web page and just put it out there, if you wanted to create an online group to support your product then you had to ask (and probably pay) them. I used to be a regular user of the music forums and the Sunday afternoon chat sessions where Brits and Americans would discuss the music news of the week were amazing – and very social. We used to get together for gigs and travellers were hosted when they were passing through London, just because they were regularly in the music chatroom.

Now it’s been shut down by AOL and a piece of history has been lost. Of course, it was pointless in the modern era of the web, but it’s still sad to see it go as that was a genuine online community long before the web grew to where it is now.