Category Archives: Speaking

A future of Politics and News Online

Warning – personal opinions, not official BBC policy or product announcements, within.

What with the Local and EU Parliament Elections, the Scottish Referendum, and a General Election next May, 2014-15 is a momentous year for UK politics. The BBC has, and will have, a big role to play in bringing coverage and results from these elections to the nation and the world.

Today, I talked to the team at the Government Digital Service about some of the work I, and others I work with, have been doing in the political arena of BBC News Online. Here’s a write up of said talk.

The BBC has a mandate, as part of the Royal Charter, to “encourage citizenship and civil society…by promoting understanding of the UK’s political system.” For ‘Vote 2014‘, the name the BBC gave to the local and EU elections, we used semantic tagging to bring together relevant content from across BBC journalism – traditionally siloed as TV, radio and online, centred around the things that were most important to our users – the councils and constituencies where they live.

There’s a lot more about the work I did, including making sure our tags were linked up to open data sources, in the blog post I wrote for the BBC Internet Blog, back in May. But there’s another side to the BBC’s coverage of Politics, online, aside from day-to-day reporting and election coverage.

Democracy Live is a part of the BBC News website which seeks to directly fulfil the requirement to ‘promote understanding of the UK’s political system’. In essence, it is the equivalent of the BBC Parliament channel on TV. Yet it has some added features – transcripts of the proceedings of most, if not all, of the representative institutions, are made searchable, and there is a page for every representative in each major House or Assembly.

Unfortunately, it is a part of the BBC News website which is also rather siloed. And whilst it has an important role to play, and an appreciative audience within the political class, it runs the risk of super-serving that audience – when surely the point of the clause in the Royal Charter is to bring the political understanding to a much wider audience.

As a result, in my role as Data Architect, working with both BBC News Online and with BBC News Labs (part of the BBC’s R&D division), I’ve recently created a prototype which explores how we might integrate the content and concepts present within Democracy Live, with the rest of BBC News Online. It’s also been a great opportunity for me to get back into the coding game. Having had a taster of Python at the beginning of the year, I’ve used this prototype as a chance for me to learn one of the MVC frameworks for Python, Flask.

the homepage of my Politics Prototype

the homepage


As part of our tagging effort, we have tags for every MP, every political party and every Government Department. So the first thing I did was build a page for each of these. The page brings together tagged content from across BBC News.

A party page

A party page

Importantly, though, I’ve tried to go to authoritative sources wherever possible. The BBC is not the canonical store of knowledge about Parliament or Government. Those institutions are. So, bearing in mind the principle of modular design, and of stitching into the wider Web, I’ve sought to include information from Parliament and Government APIs wherever possible.

For instance, for every Political Party in the prototype, if they have MPs in the House of Commons – I get a list of those MPs from Parliament. For each person, if they’re a member of the Cabinet, I ask GOV.UK for the role they play, and the department that role belongs to. And likewise, for every government department, I ask GOV.UK for the roles, and current role holders, in that department. There’s lots of other things that I could link up, too – GOV.UK has pages for each country the Government has dealings with, and ‘topic’ pages too – just as we’ve been trialling internally at the BBC. Linking these up would give our audiences both the latest news, and engagement with their own Government’s activities in those areas.

Using Parliament's APIs to display the seat for an MP

Using Parliament’s APIs to display the seat for an MP

Department and role information using the GOV.UK proxy API

Department and role information using the GOV.UK proxy API

That’s the idea, anyway. In truth, I’ve only been able to get this far because of the limited, but at least slightly useful (and currently being improved upon, I believe), Members Data Platform from Parliament, and a proxy API built by a kind developer at GDS, Camille Baldock. And of course, I’ve had to stitch the two together, maintaining a local store of mappings between IDs and things like that.

This shouldn’t have to be the way it is. Obviously, there is important distance to be kept between the BBC, the Government and Parliament – too closer a partnership, and the political independence of all three is brought into question, also blunting the role of a free press in holding the Government or Parliament to account. But releasing well maintained and structured data about the things each institution is an authority on, and using shared, web-scale identifiers? That should be a given.

As much as each institution will devote time to serving the needs of its’ own specific user base, time and again we have to remember that the concepts are separate from the providers – users don’t see the difference between a politician on GOV.UK, in Parliament or on the BBC – they are one and the same person, and it’s time the Web reflected that.

Of course, joining up information about MPs is only the start. The work that GDS do is brilliant, and quite rightly, they have focused on delivering services to users. But personally, I believe that the part of GOV.UK formerly known as ‘Inside Government’ is an untapped goldmine. It’s not just reference data – it is the cornerstone of the actual material of what Government consists of.

The fact that every Government policy, every statement, every minister, has a publicly addressable URL, and has structured information, is a potentially massive statement about our democracy. No longer does it have to be the case that politicians (and, indeed, the media) can get away with making announcements or press releases that are soon forgotten within the 24-hour rolling cycle of news. The commitments that a Government makes to its’ population are written down and made available to anyone. It’s the closest thing we have to a constitution. And we should be using it to do so much more – holding the Government to account, for instance via linking the latest developments in news, back to the policies, is just one way.

Directly linking the massive audience the BBC has, into GOV.UK, actually showing people that politics isn’t just about spin and publicity (or at least shouldn’t be, if we truly want to at least have a go at being some form of accountable government), is as much about serving users as any of the services the GDS team are working their way through improving right now. Those are important to – they nail people’s necessary interactions with Government – but for civic engagement and democracy? That’s what together, the BBC, Parliament, GDS, and all the other representative institutions (some of which are further ahead in this game – see, for instance, the good work being done with the Northern Ireland Assembly) in the UK, could build, if we work together.

Designing Webs – Euro IA 2013

On Saturday, I presented a talk at Euro IA 2013 called ‘Designing Webs – Information Architecture as a Creative Practice‘. Rather than write the talk up in full, for now, I’ll just link you to the slides (with my speaker notes), Martin Belam’s write-up, and Boon Yew Chew’s sketch-notes (ooh, my first ever sketch-notes!).

This talk was a long time in coming. The ideas contained within have been bubbling around my head for most of the year, indeed, ever since I (re)discovered TARDIS Eruditorum and, at the same time, was pointed to John Higgs’ book about the KLF (thanks, Libby!). Reading both at the same time, the connections between Alan Moore’s concept of magic, the ideas of alchemy, and linked data/internet of things, were both fascinating and strangely familiar.

I wasn’t the first to make these kind of connections – Dan Catt has touched on similar things with his Artisanal Numbers project. Indeed, a lot of the content of the talk owes much to others – Michael Smethurst, Leila Johnston, Alyson FieldingTom Coates, Tom Armitage, James Burke, James Bridle, Russell Davies – all far cleverer and more accomplished than I. And yet, I wanted to draw all these threads together. I’ve had about three draft versions of blog posts just touching on the magic/alchemy thing sitting on WordPress for ages, and I could never quite get it to gel. The talk, being forty-five minutes (or just under, once I’d cut out the various comedy clips I was going to include, given the rather tenuous Edinburgh Fringe connection), doesn’t cover all the ideas I would have liked to, or in enough depth. I’ve probably been far too simplistic about the ideas of the people I’ve mentioned above, but there is frankly loads to say. Indeed, I’m hoping that an upcoming episode of Henry Cooke‘s Unevenly Distributed podcast will expand on a few of them (it was recorded a month or so prior to writing this talk).

I’d also like to explore the themes a lot more – getting my hands dirty with Arduinos, bringing to life the Internet of Fictional Things and so on. Also, I can certainly see how the talk might be perceived as a little too wooly, hand-wavy, naive. In response, I’d say that yes, the magic/alchemy thing is just a metaphor, albeit a really interesting and fun one for me, but there are practical points underpinning it. Not least that by thinking of your product, service or creative work as a web, rather than purely as a website, you get to the absolute essence of what it is – which helps you design for both now and the future. Martin makes the point that when redesigning the Guardian’s Culture section, he tried a similar approach – yes, it’s not necessarily easy or possible to complete the task straight away, but remember, you’re trying to build something that will last, something that will add to human culture and society in the long run – something which one day we may not even need a screen or visual interface to interact with – we might be able to appreciate each web for what it is.

So, yes, there it is. Thank you to all those who encouraged me to write the talk, refine it and so on – oh, and one note of caution – the domain model for sport (really just football) which is at the beginning (and you may have seen in a much more visually appealing state in some of Mike Atherton and even Louis Rosenfeld’s presentations) – that’s not actually the official BBC one, it’s one I created myself a while back, but has influenced the BBC’s Sport Ontology.

Chain Reaction

In the last couple of years, I’ve been to a few conferences and meetups – more often than not, at the Conway Hall. I’m always uncertain whether I should be taking notes, or whether it’s better just to sit, listen and soak up what’s being said. Often, though, during a talk, I’ll have a question – or something that has been said will set my mind off on a train of thought, connecting it to other things I’ve heard, similar ideas and so on. I’ll tend to jot those down, in some form.

On the few number of occasions where I’ve been one of the speakers, and not been on first, I like to, if possible and relevant, refer to things that have been mentioned by previous speakers – because the audience will be familiar with that idea, and that might help form connections when understanding my ramblings. I like to think it also helps the conference as a whole have more of a coherence. But, at the same time, what I’m going to say is pretty much prepared in advance. As will be most of the speakers’ talks, I would expect. Which means that, in a way, we’re all operating in our own little silos. The conference organisers will have, hopefully, selected the speakers and topics, and arranged them in an order which flows well together, but, on the whole, the talks are, by their nature, self contained things.

Which, for me, seems a shame. Because in some ways the crucially important part of a conference, in my opinion, isn’t the content of the talks – it’s the thoughts and reactions that the talks inspire in everyone else. And at the moment, the reaction to a talk is too disconnected. It’s confined to blog posts, which mainly appear days after the event; Twitter, where it’s often hard to form a coherent response over a number of tweets (and the ‘twitter wall’ of real-time reactions can be a mixed blessing), or, worst still, just confined to someone’s own notebook, never to see a wider audience.

What I’d like to see is a conference where there’s a few speakers, who might be primed with some general thoughts and themes they want to talk about, but the main feature is in the reactions. The first speaker gives a fairly normal talk, but then the following person talks mainly in the form of reacting to the first speaker – talking about how the ideas presented by the first speaker chime (or otherwise) with their own thoughts, and so on throughout the day, so that each talk becomes not a silo, but a melting pot of constantly evolving ideas.

I’m aware that this is very much a format rather than a theme for a conference/meetup, and, in the very basic form that I’ve described above, it’s not completely practical. But it feels that with some tweaking, and perhaps framed with a theme, there could be room for a slightly different style of conference/meetup to see the light of day. And in the spirit of the new year, I’d be very interested in trying to make something actually happen along these lines, rather than it just being a blogged idea.

P. S. Yes, it’s basically taking the format of Radio 4’s ‘Chain Reaction‘ chat show, but compressing it into a conference/meetup, rather than strung out over several weeks – and less ‘interview’ heavy, more responsive.

This Was Playful

Yesterday I spoke at Playful ’11. Thanks must go to Toby Barnes, Greg Povey and the rest of the Mudlark team for arranging the conference and inviting me to speak, and to Sarah Challis for making some animations for the slides. What follows is a blogged version of my talk, with the slides and some commentary on what I was trying to get across. There will most probably be a little ramble towards the end about some of the themes that came out of the day, too.

Making the Web More Playful


Simple, really – does what it says on the tin. When I first talked to Toby about speaking, I had a couple of ideas. One was more along the lines of the rest of the stuff I’ve written here – stories and making them more web-like – and the other was this. Something I’d been wanting to get off my chest for quite a while. Essentially, the frustration of seeing the huge potential of Linked Data and the Semantic Web, and being held back by the lack of tools, and what seems like the lack of willingness to produce data other than for cataloguing information, Wikipedia style.


Thrilling Adventures in Time and Space

It wouldn’t be a talk of mine if it didn’t mention Doctor Who in some capacity. And since the theme of the day was nominally ‘science fiction and the future’, I thought it only proper that I should put at least one slide in on the theme. More importantly, I wanted to get across the notion that stories are information, they can be data, they can be imaginative and interesting. One of the other themes that came out of the day, which I’ll write more about towards the end of this post, was of almost a ‘failed future’, how the imaginative futures dreamed up in the sixties, seventies and eighties had, in a lot of ways, failed to appear. What was interesting from my perspective on Doctor Who, is that I don’t necessarily see it as sci-fi. Like Rachel Coldicutt, I’m rather uneasy with the stereotypical assumption of the science-fiction fan. Yes, I know I talk about Who a lot, but that’s because it’s an imaginative, thrilling, positive adventure series. I don’t expect it to be scientifically accurate. It’s the ride that counts. And that’s what I want to create more of – more adventures, more thrills. I like Doctor Who, but, aside perhaps from Star Wars (the films only), I’m not that much of a sci-fi fan. It’s fine to be one, but just as I like the Semantic Web and I can do a bit of domain modelling, that shouldn’t be what defines me. Rant (for now) over.

My talk was going to use a similar method of introducing the topic of Linked Data, but less about nostalgia. Again, growing up in what I referred to in the talk as ‘the Dark Ages’, when Doctor Who wasn’t on TV, was actually, I think, a huge advantage. I was able to see the whole thirty years of the series to date, in the space of about two years. And there was no room for nostalgia. I don’t have a favourite Doctor, or any allegiance to Sarah Jane Smith, because, unlike what seems to be the mainstream, I didn’t grow up in that era. So I don’t have the nostalgia, just the desire for more adventure. And so I wanted the talk to be more of a call to arms, an exhortation – look, we have this incredible technological concept of the Web, and yet we’re hardly using it at all – moreover, all those futures you imagined, and all the ones you’re imagining now – we can make them possible, we can make them using the conceptual framework of the Web.


Not So Thrilling Adventures in Government Data

…and this was the comparison. There was a lot of talk about hardware, about real, physical toys at the conference, but I wanted to get across the point that Web data sets are equally valid as toys. They’re things we can play with. But at the moment, the vast majority of the data we’re putting online isn’t very playful at all.


Life in the Cloud...


So, a traditional use of the ‘Linked Open Data’ cloud diagram. Basically to say that this is something real, something growing. It may not be the easiest thing to contribute to, or to use meaningfully at the moment, but it’s indisputably growing and if it has faults, let’s make it better.


...worthy but dull?

This slide originally had the full cloud diagram again, but with the word ‘BORING’ emblazoned on top. A little harsh, which is why I changed it. At heart though, it’s what I mean. I absolutely love the idea of the Semantic Web – that a URI can mean anything, and that we can use descriptive hyperlinks and URIs to represent anything in a universally accessible way. Because creative people should be able to have a field day with that. I want to see the equivalent of books, plays, radio shows, films – as Webs. Not websites. Actual informational Webs, machine readable first, which can then be rendered in what ever way we choose – with screens, through real world objects, in ways we can’t even conceive of yet. If we tie the information to a representation now, we’re hampering our ability to create a new future. Which is my way of saying what Marcus Brown said – we’re in danger of being unable to invent new futures because we constantly refer to the futures of old, we always have to couch it in those terms, we have to use existing representations, instead of dreaming up completely new ones. Now I’m being idealistic, I know – I’m perfectly happy to be pragmatic and realise that we have to deliver things that work for people right now, in ways that they understand and can use, but I do think it’s a valid argument and valid process to be both pragmatic and idealistic. I make no apology for being optimistic and wanting to dream a new future.


It's not the Documents, it's the Things

It's not the Games, it's the Things

Playful has its’ roots in a conference about Game Design, so whereas normally I’d talk about the Web and stories, here I wanted to focus on games. I’m not an especially hard-core gamer, but I’m a middling one. I like the Mario games, some sports and racing ones too, a few classics like Goldeneye (more of which later…), but I’m not into things like Call of Duty or massively serious FIFA sessions, nor MMPORGS. Again, not because I dislike them in any way, just that they’ve kind of passed me by, and I’m perfectly happy with the games I grew up with. Turn based strategy, a la Civilisation II or the mid-to-late nineties versions of Championship Manager, always wins out over the more modern, real-time, intensive games, because they were about fun, not necessarily about immersion. I could never be bothered with the training mode of Championship Manager, because if you cross that line, it begins to feel more like work than play.


This is not a Game :-(

It Could Be So Much Better...

Once more, the quick comparison of the Linked Data Cloud to games. It’s worth noting also that I have no problem with the current publishing of Linked Data – that’s all worthy and good and should be encouraged. And I know there’s some more cultural data being published too. There’s even things like Pokemon data on there. And yet, and yet, maybe it’s just the perspective I have, but that kind of data only seems to be being released as part of a cataloguing, bibliographic, encyclopaedic exercise, and thus is very generally modelled, almost to the extent of hardly being modelled at all. I’d like to see finely crafted mini sets of data being released instead. I want a Miyamoto of Linked Data, and I don’t see why we can’t have one.


The Three Worlds

This was the central piece of the talk. Luckily, from my point of view, a few of the other talks during the day had touched on elements of this, but hadn’t explicitly called it out. Maybe it didn’t need to be, but I always find it useful to state things clearly and get some kind of conceptual model to test against what’s happening in the world. So here we have the Physical world (i.e. the real world), the Data World, i.e. the purely machine readable, informational world of the Web, and the Fictional world, the world of imagination, the one that, until now, only really exists in our minds. My main point being that the Data World gives us an opportunity to solidify and communicate imaginative ideas in a way which isn’t constrained by any existing medium or by the physical constraints of the real world. And perhaps, if ideas can be expressed in a data format, in a way which is clearly defined and expressed, does that reduce or even eliminate the noise and confusion that normally accompanies the transmission of a message through a medium? If that’s the case, what’s then possible?


Data World to Fictional World

Going from the Data World to the Fictional World is fairly easy – this is what’s partly behind the current vogue for ‘storytelling’ in online circles. It’s all about making sense, in our minds, of large sets of data. Bringing ’emotion’ and ‘understanding’, making ‘information’ out of data. It’s what Matt Sheret and others do at, or, as Tom Armitage points out, what people do when they play games like Championship/Football Manager – essentially a spreadsheet of data, with an emergent story in the player’s mind.


Fiction to Physical

The Fictional World can be represented in the Physical World too. Building statues to the fictional Tripods in the real world of Woking, or the Sherlock Holmes museum/house on Baker Street. I’d also include here things like ARGs and pervasive games – people making stuff up, but then it being manifested in the real world. So far, so good.

Physical to Data

OK, so here’s where it starts to get interesting. Going from the Physical World to the Data World. Essentially, that’s what I was talking earlier about Linked Data – giving things that exist in the real world, an identity on the Web. Another side to the coin is the ‘Internet of Things’, that Russell Davies blogged about recently. That’s slightly more focused, giving objects an identity on the Web. Like Tower Bridge, or the ubiquitous Internet Fridge. And I think he sums up my point pretty well – the lack of playfulness of this movement. So here, I completely agree.


Data to Physical

Where I’m not sure I agree so much, is when we start to go the other way around the triangle. So now, we’re moving from data to physical. This is where we take stuff on the Web, and give it some manifestation in the real world. I’m thinking things that bleep or light up when tweets are received, that kind of thing. And that’s cool. A lot of what Brendan Dawes talked about on the day was all about this kind of thing. Hardware hacking, as it’s also known. Again, I want to make clear that I’ve no real problem with it per se, but that, like the focus on the ‘futures from the 70s’, it feels very much the product of a certain group of people, those who grew up in the seventies and eighties, who were very hands on with electronics and technology. I did those classes at school too, and whilst I’m not useless with a hacksaw or soldering iron, it just doesn’t hold the same allure for me. I feel a bit bad about this, but it just doesn’t (excuse the pun) push any buttons for me. What does, instead, is the Web – because conceptually it’s not limited by physical constraints. And, coming from a humanities background, once you understand the basics of the triple patten (subject, predicate, object), you can create almost anything – it becomes easy. So whilst we should continue to hack with hardware, and be influenced by the futures we grew up with as children, I find it difficult to feel moved or excited by that.


Physical to Fictional

Another easy one – things in the real world can inspire, or find their way into fiction. Another Doctor Who example, here, but Naomi Alderman also pointed out that the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, are an equally valid example of this.


Fiction to Data

All of which then begs the question – if there’s ways of going from Data to Fiction, from Fiction to Physical, and from Physical to Data, and back the other way, why aren’t we doing more of going from Fiction to the Data world? I think it’s at least worth a try, and the rest of the talk discussed some elements of the implications of this.


Red Dead Redemption as Data

The first example I used was Red Dead Redemption, primarily because having played it through the summer this year, I feel it really succeeded in creating an immersive and also fun world to explore and play around in. Here, I wanted to explore ways in which we could move from fiction to data. Simply put, this would be about identifying various aspects of the game – the characters the locations, the missions etc. and linking them together. Making games more atomic, as Dan Biddle has suggested for television. Again, I know things out there like Wikia allow you to do this kind of thing to some extent, but perhaps it’s just the front end which I’m not inspired by – it’s done from the point of view of an encyclopedia, whereas I think there’s other possible ways of representing that data.


Linked Data Mario

The second example I used was the Mario universe. Here, I showed six different representations of Princess Peach’s castle, as it appears in six different games. But of course, in the player’s mind, if they play more than one of these games, it’s the same castle. So those games should be linked together, not just in the minds of people playing them, but in a data way too. I don’t know exactly where this would lead us, but at the moment when we talk of ‘networked games’, we tend to mean players playing at the same time, using the Internet as a distribution mechanism. What if the games themselves were networked, so you could travel between games in one coherent universe?


Games as a Cultural Silo

Going back to the idea of ‘atomising’ cultural artefacts – the focus on the finished product is all well and good, and we should still give people that, but why not also give them the whole package of information to blend and mix and link to/from as well? Again, it gives us the flexibility to rework and build upon those products in the future. Just as you can take apart a piece of hardware and use a tiny bit of it in something else, why not do the same with a game? In the context of video or audio, I don’t just mean a temporal portion of the medium, but the actual concepts within them. Here I used the example of the Goldeneye 007 game – which I love. This level, Silo, is a level which doesn’t appear in the film. But we know the film exists too – what if you could blend the film and the game together?


Gameful Properties

Part of the criticism levelled at Semantic Web technologies right now is the lack of decent tools. So this slide was just trying to point out that in the context of games, there are some similar concepts. Customising or building a character, is essentially the same as creating a URI and assigning properties to it.


The Minecraft Reference

Similarly, Minecraft is a game all about resources – finding them, combining them, creating them and constructing beautiful new things out of them. The Web, and especially the Linked Data Web, is the same – it’s all resources, and now we need to empower people not just to consume them, but to play with and create new things from them. Here’s where I’d also like to reference Mozilla’s Web Makers initiative, as I think it’s trying to encourage people along the same lines.


The Adjacent Possible

Into the home stretch now – in Steven Johnson’s book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’, he talks about the idea of the Adjacent Possible – that ideas can come from anywhere, but only certain ideas can be manifested depending on the environment – so Charles Babbage was able to come up with the idea for the computer, but the technology he had to hand didn’t make it practical. And I guess this is where I want to be positive about the Semantic Web too. It sometimes feels as if these ideas were considered ‘right’ in about 2005-2008, but then it was tried and it failed. Which is a real shame, because those experiments were exactly what inspired me in my career to date. The point I want to make is that we shouldn’t dismiss Linked Data as a failed thing just yet. Whilst I’m not trying to claim that it’s the perfect solution, I just want us to keep experimenting – because the more we do that, the more likely it is that we’ll create the future that does make it viable.



So finally, a couple of quotes from people I really admire – Tim Wright is up first – he talks about not leaving space exploration to the professionals. Well, I don’t think we should necessarily leave the Semantic Web to the academics, scientists and governments. The Web grew not because people were doing it absolutely correctly, but because they were trying things out. And they were doing so with stuff that was interesting to them, and crucially, stuff which was mainstream and interesting to others. So let’s do the same. Let’s not just have academic, scientific, political and encyclopaedic data – let’s have fun, playful data.


Getting Vertigo

Because for all our talk nowadays of passive, lean back experiences, I think we deserve more. I think on some level, we want to wallow, we want to get lost – we want to get vertigo when we lean into the device.


And that’s about it. Phew, that was a long one. But ultimately I think there’s room for positivity, room to experiment with Linked Data, and to create the futures of the future. Soon, I’ll blog about the rest of the Playful conference (much shorter!) and an idea (possibly impractical) for a slightly different format of conference.




Upcoming Events – Immersive, Playful & Complicity

Excuse the slight self-promotion, but I thought this would as good a time as any to let anyone reading know that I’ll be speaking at two events in the near future.

Firstly, the Immersive Writing Lab, on August 20th and 21st, at Ravensbourne College, next door to the o2. Here, I’ll be talking about how writers can be inspired by the ideas behind the Web, how they can create more compelling experiences online, and some possible future directions for the mechanics of Web storytelling.

Secondly, Playful ’11, on the 21st October, at Conway Hall. There, I’ll be talking more concretely about Linked Data and games – and how we can perhaps have a little more fun with it all.

Finally, I’d like to point you all in the direction of Complicity, a one day workshop/masterclass led by Alexis Kennedy (he of Echo Bazaar & Failbetter Games) & Emily Short. It looks very interesting, especially the part about structure and architecture. On a related note, this post by Alexis (taken from his talk at The Story last year, which was excellent), has got me thinking – both about narrative structures/patterns, and especially the idea of ‘fires in the desert’. Go and have a read, and maybe I’ll get around to writing something more about it soon…