Seven things: Jason Webley

1) Who are you?
I’m a musician and storyteller from the town of Everett, Washington, which is a town about thirty miles outside Seattle.

2) What do you do?
I used to tour around all the time stomping and screaming songs. But these days I’ve been building a houseboat, fixing up some old houses and cabins, and occasionally making up songs about giraffes and dead people.

3) How did you end up here?
Which “here” do you mean? This unlikely and lovely plane of existence, or Webstock? I’m still figuring out the first one, but I’m at Webstock because when my friend Amanda Palmer was performing here in 2011, she somehow convinced them that a scraggly accordion player who doesn’t really like social media would be a good fit. And this year they were kind and crazy enough to invite me back!

4) What are the most important issues currently in your field?
There’s a lot of talk about whether it is possible to make a living off of music in a world where fewer people are paying for music. I’m more concerned with how to make music something special and rare in a world where music is everywhere all the time. I suppose these things are not entirely unrelated.

5) Tell us more about your talk at Webstock – why should folks come listen?
Why should folks come listen? Maybe they shouldn’t actually. I mean – my talk is at the end of the day, they’ll be tired, wanting to get to dinner or something.

6) Who are your greatest influences?
There are so many! Here are a couple –

Herman Hesse. His writings did something to me – caused an almost hallucinogenic disorientation with ultimately a very specific spiritual trajectory. At a fragile point, it helped me find my path.

Lois Jameson. My sixth grade teacher. She was one of the first people to ever really inspire me to be a creative person and live an unconventional life. She gave me lots of encouragement early on, but what resonates more now is that she was very perceptive about some of my faults. She died shortly after I was lucky enough to be in her class and I think of her quite often still.

7) Tell us three things you love (eg movies, albums, songs, poems, artifacts) and why.
I love so many things!
You have to narrow it down!
Hmmm…. I’ll just pick a category, how about Tall Things?!

Watts Towers
These sculptures were built outside Los Angeles by a single man over the course of decades. Nobody knows why he built them. After he left, the city wanted to tear them down, but somehow they still stand. I wept when I first went there – it struck me as one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen – something about the mad tenacity of creation.

“The Two Skyscrapers Who Decided to Have a Child” by Carl Sandburg
This is from a collection of children’s fairy tales called “Rootabaga Stories”. The stories feature vegetables and accordions and all of my favorite things, but this little story, overflowing with heartbreak and whimsy, is the one I always come back to.

I want one.
Jason and giraffe

After Partying

To celebrate the Webstock Week that was, the fine folks at Serato are putting on a shindig at the grand Embassy Theatre on Friday night. Thanks Serato!

There’ll be lashings of hearty food, an excellent assortment of drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and The Amazing Travelling Photobooth will be in action to capture your precious party memories.

There’ll be spaces for listening and conversing, and spaces for dancing and getting your jiggle on. Smooth sounds and eclectic, atmospheric electric boogaloo will be provided by DJs Jizmatron and Coco Solid.

Doors open at 5.30pm and we’ll go till late. You’ll need your nametag to get in.

(You are welcome to buy a ticket for your special someone if you’d like to bring ’em along. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased  from the registration desk anytime after 10am.)

Seven things: Frank Chimero

1) Who are you?
This is a weird question—you sent me this email, you should know who I am. Anyway, I’m Frank Chimero. I’m a designer who writes. I live in New York.

2) What do you do?
See above. I also spend a lot of time thinking about dogs and music. Again, another weird question.

3) How did you end up here?
Took the Q train to Atlantic, then got on the Long Island Railroad to Jamaica Station, then got on the AirTrain (not an actual train in the sky, but one that goes to the airport) out to JFK, then flew to LA, got on another plane, lost a day in the air, landed in Auckland, then boarded a little puddle jumper out to Wellington. Other than that, I spent about a decade designing publications and things for the internet, and about seven or so years writing about everything I learned/decided/unlearned.

4) What are the most important issues currently in your field?
I design things for the web, and the web’s problems are the world’s problems: privacy, equality, corporate ethics, consolidation, wealth distribution, and an over-saturation of loud, fast, and stupid. Now I’m bummed. See what you did?

5) Tell us more about your talk at Webstock – why should folks come listen?
Here’s the thing: we actually do a pretty poor job of getting down the big patterns of making things for screens. Maybe we take our knowledge for granted, maybe we lack words, perhaps its the absence of a catchy conceptual framework—whatever. At the end of the day, if you want to honor making things for the web as a proper craft, I believe it’s necessary to think about the natural grain of the web and how it guides your work. You need to understand it as a material to work with and not a canvas to paint on. It’s not blank—the web has certain things it wants to do. I’ve been trying to spell out my version of these things for a while. This talk is the back half of a lecture I gave last year called What Screens Want, where I dig into what it means to natively design for screens. That last talk focused on flux, or the capacity for change. This time I’m tackling edgelessness.

6) Who are your greatest influences?
Jim Henson, Ray & Charles Eames, Björk, James Burke, Janelle Monae, Montaigne, and David Byrne.

7) Tell us three things you love (eg movies, albums, songs, poems, artifacts) and why.
This is 30 minutes of kinda ambient synth music for plants. And I like it, too! Funny story: the only way to get this record was to buy a mattress from a Simmons dealer in southern California in 1976. Logical.

Let’s spend a long time looking at this photo of Twiggy and Richard Avedon dancing at work. Let’s not forget to have that much fun sometimes, ok?

This drawing, for obvious reasons.

Seven things: Shelley Bernstein

1. Who are you?
I’m a thinker who believes people and community can change everything…if we listen.

2. What do you do?
I work at the Brooklyn Museum on projects that explore the intersection of public participation and digital.  We’re often developing projects that use crowdsourcing as a means to learn more and we aim for deep participation among our visitors with the hope they will own projects as much as we do.

3. How did you end up here?
I have a love of art, so working at a museum gives me inspiration every day.

4. What current issue(s) is/are most important to you right now?
Meaningful interaction with the people we serve.

5. Tell us more about your talk at Webstock – why should folks come listen?
I’m going to talk a lot about change.  It’s not an easy thing any project that we work on, but it’s fundamental to getting things right.   I’ll profile three former projects and the big lessons we learned from them. Those lessons are driving our current initiative, ASK Brooklyn Museum, and we’re building ASK in a way that allows for great change as we run up to our launch in June.

6. Who are your greatest influences?
My girlfriend, Sasha, and my dog, Teddy; both remind me of the value of staying present and mindful every single day.

7. Tell us three things you love (eg movies, albums, songs, poems, artefacts) and why.
I love where I live in Red Hook, Brooklyn, because it’s a community and that’s rare in a city this large.  I adore the open sky owing to my Texan heritage.  I love vintage things because they speak volumes about time and place.

Shelley will be presenting at Webstock on Thursday 19th Feb at 2.30. Details here

Seven Things: Cory Doctorow

1. Who are you?
Cory Doctorow.

2. What do you do?
I am currently working on a project with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to end all DRM, everywhere in the world, within 10 years. It’s called Apollo 1201.

I write science fiction novels for adults and kids, as well as graphic novels and nonfiction books. Some recent ones: HOMELAND (a sequel to LITTLE BROTHER); INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE (with introductions by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer); RAPTURE OF THE NERDS (with Charlie Stross) and IN REAL LIFE (with Jen Wang).

I co-own and co-edit Boing Boing.

I am involved with many tech/activist groups, including the Open Rights Group, which I helped found.

3. How did you end up here?
I was a computer kid, started a software company during the first dotcom bubble, moved to San Francisco (writing, blogging and publishing all the while) and ended up at EFF (which made sense, because I was raised by activist parents).

4. What current issue(s) is/are most important to you right now?
Global wealth disparity.

The remaking of information infrastructure as a tool of control, rather than liberation.

Surveillance, privacy and crypto usability.

5. Tell us more about your talk at Webstock – why should folks come listen?
I’m going to explain the secret history of how your world got stuffed full of computers that are designed to treat you as an adversary, what this has done to the state of freedom, justice and equity in the world, and how we’re going to change it.

6. Who are your greatest influences?
Seratonin, dopamine… (I kid).

Bruce Sterling, Shari Steele, Cindy Cohn, William Gibson, Abbie Hoffman, Rosa Luxembourg, Ian McDonald, John Gilmore, Woody GuthrieJoe Hill, Thomas Piketty.

7. Tell us three things you love (eg movies, albums, songs, poems, artifacts) and why.
Aeropress: makes better coffee than pretty much anything, with less fuss, and fits in a suitcase.

Volante Designs: they make coats for superheros.

Ubuntu: an OS that Just Works and gets out of your way.

Cory is speaking at Webstock 2015 on Friday 20th Feb, at 4.35pm. Details here