The LBC topic this week is online shopping, and this isn't about online shopping, but metamathematical analysis and predications to the London riots and looting which took place in 2011.

Hannah Fry from UCL has a nice video for the analysis. It seems that, yes the riots could be predicted, how the riot would spread, but not the spark to set things off.
It turns out that the distribution of rioters travelling to the riots match the distribution of shoppers travelling (or rather retail spending flows).

And as for the five finger discount, or "shopping with violence", matches shopping analysis and also the predator-prey model.

Looking at mobile phone analysis (memo, turn your phone in the airplane mode, or off before rioting), the spread of the "idea to riot" follows the contagion model, and the spark zones matches the recent budget cuts.

Which means I need to look at the new austerity measures a lot more closely…

I will admit that the idea hit me while watching the video below. Disney has its Disney Princesses line. Well what about those little girls and boys not interested in being kind and nice (and trust me, its a lot of people). Those girls will eventually grow out (mostly at least) of their princess stage. Boys grow out of their Power Ranger phase (says the guy still in his Transformers phase from childhood). Can we have the Disney Bad Girls.

Think about it. Some girls want more spice with their sugar.

I’m not talking about the Tinkerbell and the Disney Fairies franchise, (darker, but not black) I’m talking about the bad girls. Dr Agnes Nairn pointed out in a 2005 study for Bath University that most girls will torture their dolls as they get older. Maybe things should get dark.

Some RSS readers will not display the video. If you can’t see it, either click on the last link, of click through to the post.

Essentially a sub set of the Disney Villains grouping (rarely used as a group). Name-checking Queen Grimhilde (the Queen in Snow White), Anastasia Tremaine (the kinder of the Ugly Sisters from Cinderella in the video), Maleficent (the wicked fairy godmother in Sleeping Beauty), Ursula (the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid), Cruella de Vil (from The Hundred and One Dalmatians) and Madame Medusa (from The Rescuers).

The main problem with the female villains in the Disney movies is that they are almost all fully grown women. Compare this to the young princesses or the fairies. Is it hard for little girls to cast themselves as fully grown? Probably not. Admittedly in the case of stepmothers (the Queen or Lady Tremaine) it makes sense, Cruella is a well known character, and Maleficent is a major character in the Disney parades. But small changes can be made, just as happened with the princesses.

A shape changing Ursula could look like the queen she is in a black gown (with 6 frills or pleats on the way down the black dress to hide the fact that she is actually an octopus). Come to think of it, octopi can change shape themselves, as does the character. The major change for the character would be to have her walking out of water. Madame Medusa could easily be changed (she isn’t that well known) but a more flattering dress and stockings is all that’s needed. As for the Ugly Sister, she is already the same age as Cinderella if not a bit younger.

I’m sure that most of the princess stock could be adapted to the colour scheme of the “bad girls”, and Grimhilde or Maleficent would be good halloween costumes. Imagine a Ursula duvet cover or bedspread available with matching tentacle beanbags. And given the span of time-lines available (medieval witch queens and other magic users (yes, young Miss Tremaine gets a wand at some point) jumping to the 1930s and 1960s) there are more options available.

Unlike the princesses (who never really seem to acknowledge each other) have the bad girls working together. Maybe in a modern setting. Yes its a little bit Fables, but being bad can be just as much fun in the now, as well as in the past.

Just an idea.
Will Knott

I’m waiting for Ikea Dublin to open. OK, not waiting, but making some plans. So I keep an eye on the Ikea Hacker blog.

And today, this shows up.


The Good Vibrations table was created by Tim G Taylor as part of an art exhibition.

  • Materials:
  • one Lack side-table top,
  • four ‘ultra-smooth lite-up multi-speed simulators”,
  • one book ‘Great Railway Journeys of the World’.

The idea would be to have a traveling table at the exhibition, but it stayed in place. Rattling.

Obviously the choice of dildo is important. It has to be rather hard (ahem) to hold up the the weight of the table. But somehow the sight of the flexible ones, flapping about, trying to go around the floor would be amusing. Maybe tongues would be better (a telephone table to get tongues wagging!). Also the table being considered a “Lack” despite its clear endowment means that the artist is a very happy man. Something like this should win the “Filthy Butt Fun Award” from Maxi.

But I think I could go one better (even if I get weird looks from the TOG guys).

You see, one of the most popular hacks for Ikea products, is to make a multi-station charger for your phone, MP3 player, laptop etc.

Well why not a battery recharger.

After all the legs need something to keep going.

Maybe I should apply for a business idea grant. Is there a business to be made designing furniture like this? After all I can see an excellent horizontal Saint Andrew’s Cross being made out of four Norden benches and an Oddvar stool. Or would something like that be considered blasphemy?

take care,
and insert the batteries correctly,
Will Knott

28 Apr 2009

qik qik roam roam qik

Author: will | Filed under: Cork, mixing, mobile phones, network, news, Open Coffee Cork, opportunity

I’ll admit that I don’t travel that much. If I did then I would be looking in to getting a MaxRoam chip and account. MaxRoam is the brainchild of Pat Phelan and Cubic Telecom, and its a sim chip that lets calls be routed through local numbers and VOIP for the international sections of the call.

It also means that you can have multiple local phone numbers in different cities around the world.

But, until recenty it was mostly for voice (not sure about texts). About two weeks ago they struck a deal with Qik. This deal, called Qik Roam, is a Qik-branded SIM that users can user for cut-price calls and data.

The announcement goes…

The partnership with Cubic Telecom will see Qik give its users the opportunity to purchase Qik-branded SIM cards enabling them to stream video live from all corners of the planet – without coming home to an astronomical phone bill. The Qik SIM also provides massive savings on voice calls, email, web browsing and texting while they travel. Under the tagline “Go mobile, not broke,” Qik is offering its users a simple, inexpensive way to share live video no matter where they are.

This is something I should have posted sooner, but other things got in the way. I know Pat through the Cork Open Coffee and I haven’t met anyone with as much passion as he has.

Hoping things get even better,

Will Knott

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8 Apr 2009

A budget in the clouds

Author: will | Filed under: 2009, data, format, investment, Ireland, Irish, mixing, technology

Well the budget is over, and the government released the text of the Financial Statement (the budget preamble if you will) made my Brian Lenihan yesterday.

So I ran it through Wordle to see what patterns emerged.

wordle Statement of the Minister for Finance Mr Brian Lenihan, T.D. 7 April 2009

We have a big “government”, a large “tax” and a much smaller “payment”, “pay” and “spending”. Oddly, “Public” is almost as big as Government.

Now then, its unlikely that a Minister would put the text of their speech in to something like Wordle, but if they did, the resulting speech might be, well, interesting.

They have the statements from other years too. I think I might have to play with comparison tools (once I’m on a more powerful machine).

take care,
Will Knott

My schedule looks full at the moment. It happens, a rush of meet-up (usually unrelated to each other), yet most of these meet-ups are to do with the Irish blogging community (and yes there is an Irish Blogging community). The one exception is an effort to get a maker community working in Dublin.

Tonight has the BTW, a Blogger – Twitter – Whatever meet-up in The Porterhouse Central put together by Jason Roe.

Why do people do this. Organize meetings? Meet complete strangers even if there is a common interest between you? Actually look forward to meeting these strangers.

Well I wonder if neuroscience and survival instinct has something to do with it. In 1994 Ronny Eriksson proposed that our autonomic nervous system, our physical basis for feeling anything is divided in to four functions. The 4 Fs; Fighting, Fleeing, Feeding and Fu… er… mating.

There is one problem with this basis. If those were the roots of our instincts, then humanity wouldn’t have survived past one generation. Why? Well mating might happen, but without something else then the subsequent children would simply be left on their own.

For a group to survive there has to be another F. Fostering. Friendship. Family. Call it what you will but a need to reach out and nurturer in some way.

A need to meet others, meet-up is part of our hard-wiring. Kindness is somewhere in there. We are more likely to offer assistance to our own. The kindness of strangers is rare (it happens). Social media has had a strange side effect. We “know” complete strangers. Or at least think we know.

  • “You can steel your heart against any kind of trouble, any kind of horror, but the simple act of kindness from a complete stranger will unstitch you” –The mother of Chris Abani who talks about humanity at TED.

We know the passions of strangers (or at least their thoughts) due to their blogs. Thanks to the likes of LinkedIn and FaceBook (and so many others) we know who their friends are. Thanks to Twitter we know that they are doing now.

Do we “know” them? Sort of. Pen pals have known each other for years. But social media makes, almost necessitates a community. And in a vacuum, it will create a community (yeah, I’m stretching here).

But that fifth F. Fostering/Family/Friendship. So much of our lives are founded on that principle. How come it is still left off that list?

See you at the BTW then?
Will Knott

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From the fevered brain of Rick O’Shea, comes the story of a boy, a blog and an open grave.

no that’s wrong. Its Rick’s fault, he had an idea. A group pop culture blog, and he asked a few people to join in.

And for some unknown reason, he asked me.

I’ll admit that I have a shed load of tracks to review and put up there, but I’m also going to be posting about the impacts of technology on culture, and the impacts of culture on technology.

I need to thank a few people to get this going. So Thanks to to AJ, Rick, Darren, Sinead and Pedro for doing all the heavy lifting in getting the systems running. And a lot of the early posts (oops).

Now, I just have to write.

take care,

Will Knott

At the moment, I’m too tired. I had a long drive last night.

Driving in sub-zero temperatures, freezing fog forming overhead, hanging under road lights like dew filled money spiders webs; it felt like hidden, fragile beauty forming overhead, only to last until the dawn.

I feel tired. I feel that you’ll be interested in “we feel fine“. Jonathan Harris’ We Feel Fine is an exploration of human emotion on a global scale. Simply, it parses blog posts for the words “I’m feeling” or “I feel”. It seeks emotions using cold technology.

I’ll let this TED video explain what he means.

Some RSS readers may need to click through to see the video content.

I feel I can leave it right here. Good night,


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The way we interact with technology changes from year to year (and on occasion, something comes along and changes an interface overnight, like TwitterFone). Given that one of the creators of Twitterfone, namely Pat Phelan, posed the question “Have we over innovated?“, its surprising.

The wheel was invented circa 4000 BC, and has become one of the world's most famous, and most useful technologies.  This wheel is on display in The National Museum of Iran, in Tehran.Image via Wikipedia

The answer is no. I think that Robin Blandford, Damien Mulley and Alexia Golez all agree that we have more innovating to do. Part of the perceived problem is that the innovators produce something for the general person; but the general person doesn’t want it. The bleeding edge early adopters might love it, but not their less technology loving friends and relatives. The early innovations tend to be the “engineering model” with a few unfinished features, bugs and complicated instructions. A remote control which has an individual button for every function the device can do is not the most user friendly of interfaces. The early adopters will flock to it and understand it. But if it isn’t obvious and fast and easy to use, I know my Mum will hate it, and the chances are that the device won’t survive to a second model. Its an innovators dilemma.

The true irony of this dilemma is that its caused by a mixtre of a lack of communication, and too much. After all, some innovations were things that the users didn’t know that they wanted. An “unknown unknowns” sort of thing. This is a want, which is so convenient that it rapidly becomes a need. Sometimes this is generational (e.g. mobile phone uptake), sometimes this just swoops in out of the blue and everyone joins in (grandparents and grandchildren on the Wii). But sometimes they are consigned to the “ideas before their time” bin. Being able to “vote out” unnecessary parts of the solution, means that the idea has less of a problem.

The other type of solutions is the “What if?” caused by the “Why not?”. The “Why doesn’t this exist yet?” type problems. Which is usually what is thought about when people talk about a lack of innovation. The slow incremental kind where the steps seems obvious only after the product comes to market. And these steps are being sped up due to communication.

Now an idea or observation can become a idle tweet, which sparks another’s blog post, which sparks a small blog storm, which sparks a business plan, which sparks a gathering of minds and ideas, which sparks improved ideas and a flurry of research work, which (might) spark a business plan but is more likely to spark a business start-up first. And each step in an itteration of the idea, refining the initial notion with practicalities and possibilities. Due to the wonder of social networking at it’s finest, this allows people who know brightsparks to become involved in an interesting idea and produce something. Because ideas are easy, but the skills to do something specialised are, well, specialised, and few people have them. But knowing someone who knows someone who might be able to help you is a practical possibility due to the sped up communication of social networks. Then your idea moves from notion to production.

But you have to produce something which enables others to know some of your ideas. You have to give in order to get. You have to spend time or talent to get attention. To get communication. And you have to join the conversations, otherwise you are considered the unwelcome gatecrasher that will be ignored. But if that gatecrasher helps out, then he or she is no longer an unwelcome gatecrasher, but a welcomed guest. And this new guest may point out that part of the solution yo are trying to make already exists, so there is no need to reinvent that wheel (or how to avoid being sued by that wheel’s inventor).

Open source projects and wikipedia works this way. Individuals who may never physically meet work on a project in their spare time. And it works for businesses, where one entrepreneur meets another on line, or a third party brings them together virtually and then physically. Perinatal ideas get defined through this virtual iteration and idea refinement so that not only is a full bodied idea born, but the creation process creates a bit of interest in the idea itself. Enough interest, and there might be interested funders.

Can we over-innovate? Only if we are willing to accept it as (science) fiction, but science fiction frequently sparks the research to become science fact. Is innovation over? Not as long as others can spark ideas and collaboration. As for a visual representation of this collaboration, see the video below.

take care,
Will Knott

17 Apr 2008

Rapping 2.0

Author: will | Filed under: 2008, creativity, game, mixing, music, video, YouTube

Def; Grue: a fictional predator from the Zork series of text adventure games by created by Jack Vance of Infocom. Its origin is guessed to be fro, the work “gruesome”.

Beyond ZorkImage via Wikipedia

Def; Nerdcore : hip Hop by and for geeks about nerdy subjects. Such as Grues.

I came across the video below and remembered my first encounter with a Grue. No I never played Zork, however I read User Friendly and came across this cartoon in 1999 (its a recurring joke).

The song was the first time I encountered the concept of Nerd Core Hip Hop. Frequently rappers rap about growing up in the ‘hood, and the crimes and struggles of the area while proclaiming their sexual and finical prowess. But if you grew up surrounded not only be technology but a deep underlying love of tech (I love the smell of solder in the morning) then you would (or could) rap about them and your coding prowess. Imagine Emimem growing up in Peats of Parnell Street and playing 8 bit computer games (do I hear a snatch of Mario in that tune?) until his eyes bled and you get close to MC Frontalot.

MC Frontalot (self-proclaimed “world’s 579th greatest rapper) created the term “Nerdcore” (or at least got the blame). There are even two Nerdcore feature length documentaries available (hint to the Cork Film Festival bods) given that there are now full length documentaries about game culture such as Second Skin, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

So I’m going to hang my windows installation,
take care,