Interesting 2011

Roo Reynolds has written a very comprehensive summary of what went down at Interesting 2011 yesterday, but here are my favourite bits:

1. Stanley James Press got us stitching together our own notebooks in a few minutes. They provided the basic materials, including needle and thread. This is what went into getting the materials together:

Interesting 2011 Notebook Making Preperation from Curtis James on Vimeo.

and this is what my finished notebook looked like.

2. Leila organised Hack Circus, a collection of very geeky cool performances. I really enjoyed Mark Hibbet‘s guitar act, especially that of Hey Hey 16K, which will make you laugh as you remember the days before the internet when the computer was used to do basic stuff like – erm – adding numbers up. Here it is:

3. I now have a very strong desire to visit the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, who had a lot of instruments and machines running during the day, especially the ASR-33 teletype.

4. Timmy Printface is right up there with Bubblino and the Tweeture as one of my favourite digital-enabled analog things.

5. I realised I should have played with plasticine more as a child. My creation was not even a quarter as good as some of the works of art created during the day.

6. Chris Heathcote’s molecular gastronomy session reminded me a bit of the Heston Blumenthal talk I went to recently, but I really appreciated and enjoyed it because of the passion he clearly has for the subject, as well as the effort that must have gone into obtaining samples of things as uncommon as sodium benzoate, tomato caviar and of course miracle fruit, the last of which essentially meant that the wine I had during lunch tasted like juice (it turns sour things sweet!). Excellent session.

7. I wish I’d had someone as inspiring as Alby Reid as my science teacher at school. He got us putting together mousetraps and placing ping-pong balls on them to illustrate how nuclear fission happens. This was the result:

Paul Downey has shot a video of it from a super close angle here.

Great job, Russell Davies and team.

Interesting stuff from Interesting


Some interesting things I learnt at Interesting 2009:

1. Arthur Jefferson, father of Stan Laurel, had a mission to bring culture to the working class by setting up or managing theatres all over the UK, the largest of which was the Metropole Theatre in Glasgow. (It’s amazing how litte clear information there is about him on the internet, Cait Hurley must have spent a lot of time in libraries to get her presentation together!)

2. Facebook has its own Konami cheat code, which results in a lens flare on your screen. I tried it and it works – awesomeness. Toby Barnes took us through a number of video game cheat codes, I wish I’d noted down the rest!

3. What the word teratogenic means (teratology is the study of abnormalities in physical development).

4. There were books that spoke about ‘appropriate’ behaviour for women way back in 1475. Like these, I assume. 

5. Sir Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin was a slightly mad man behind such brilliant efforts as trying to perform arithmetic by smell, creating a beauty map of the UK (yes, plotting where most good-looking women in the country tended to be found – London, in case you were wondering, with Aberdeen having the least beautiful!), and the measure of fidget (or how you can find out when people are bored). I mean, what can you say when hear about genius like that?!

6. What electroporation is.

7. What heimat is.

8. The fact that there is a place in the UK called Havant

9. That a ‘shaw‘ means a small wood or thicket. 

10. The Great American Streetcar Scandal, where apparently General Motors was at the centre of a plot by private companies to get trams off US streets and replace them with buses so they could make a profit.

11. German style board games, which aim to keep all players in the game till the end and are less dependent on chance than regular board games. 

12. That May 1st is International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day.

And this quote by Jack Handey regarding sunsets made me laugh: “Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he’s carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he’s carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you’re drunk.” (!!!!)

Thanks Russell – and all the speakers of course!