Is it just me or is everything nice?

Russell has prompted me into putting something up about my interesting2007 talk. I'd come to the decision that it was a sort of live experience that couldn't really be recreated online. That makes it sound like Robbie Williams or something. Not quite. But just saying here are the slides and this is what I said didn't really sum it up.

So, saying that, I've put the slides onto Slideshare (which I've never used before - hope it's okay) and the notes onto Flickr. This is the more of less the jist of it - maybe not exactly what I said, but what I meant to say. There's an underlying theme which Eugenie from We Are What We Do said better earlier in the day - a belief that small actions can change the world.

I'm interested in stuff. All kinds of stuff. I get this from my dad. He has always had a series of peculiar interests. He's just joined the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Being interested in stuff led me to be a librarian and being a librarian led me into I like because I spent a lot of time helping people to use the web. I wanted to know how it worked and how websites could be better designed so I wanted a space to practice. And the only thing I could think of to write about what what I like. People talk about blogging like it's broadcasting - "it's all about ego" but for me it's like librarianship, looking across everything and picking out the best bits the putting somewhere that people can find them.

That sounds simple, but why is it so shameful? There's a complicated and unwritten hierarchy of things it's okay to like. It's okay to be into classic cars and wine, but not sweet wrappers or shopfronts or postcards. This is confusing when they're all things that are quietly doing their job. They were designed for a specific purpose and they carry it out in a beautiful way. I used to look after a special collection full of cook books and learnt that one cook book won't tell you much, but put them together in a sequence and you can see everything that happened in society - the economy, family size, kitchen technology, cultural influences, health concerns, etc. So with the things I like I'm not sure what they all mean but think it's important to collect them because one day someone might be able to pick out these patterns. And collecting these small, everyday things seems even more important because they represent real life.

I like is very much based on real life - travelling about the country trying to keep ourselves and two wee boys amused. We end up in lots of places that are cheap and warm like old cafes and museums, and these places have real atmosphere. The overall picture is a world that isn't going to hell in a handbasket but quietly surviving. And lots of other people see life like this too and document it on sites like Flickr where there are groups for everything and people are indulging their passions.

People on Flickr, and the web in general have good manners. There's a lot of encouragement - nice comments and people inviting other people to join in. It reminds me of growing up in Glasgow in the 80s. The 80s were quite an ugly decade and then came lots of c86 bands like The Pastels who weren't musical in a conventional sense but were really fresh and charming. They were very individual with a distinctive, immediate voice. The whole scene had little to do with being successful or making money but everything to do with making a stand against a mainstream culture that wasn't working for a lot of people. Within this scene were the fanzine writers, often anonymous, who documented it all and spread it around. That's the sort of thing blogs remind me of - people being nice and enthusiastic and supportive isn't anything new. Just basic human behaviour.

The support I've had has encouraged me to set up Nothing To See Here to build an alternative tourist map of the world. It could only work through being collaborative and I'm still amazed and delighted that people are willing to write for it for nothing. It's meant to be represent things and places that some people find beautiful and interesting - faded seaside resorts, power stations and strange attractions like The Knitted Village in Lancaster. A team of (old?) ladies and men made this, for no apparent reason. It's the sort of initiative that couldn't have made its way into a business case or past a commissioning editor but it's a totally amazing thing - made with a lot of love and a lot of care. They really went to town, knitting little beach huts and even a funicular railway. My impression is there are a lot of people knitting vilages at the moment, because they've got the space and encouragement to do it. And this is a very good thing.

So in the spirit of this I've made postcards, which is something I never thought I could do but I had the help of Davidthedesigner who helped me out for nothing. There is a nice ecosystem of people with different skills coming together to make things, and this is where it's getting interesting. To summarise:

  • Everything is interesting
  • Everyone has a place
  • Do something YOU like
  • Find your own voice
  • Make something that you're happy with
  • Share it

Lloyd Davis drew what it sounded like and there's a great drawing of the whole day.

I'm interested in stuff.

I think it's funny when I remark on a candy label or a flower box and people give me a puzzled "why-did-you-notice-that" look.

Your blog is a nice discovery for me today. Thank you.

Great lecture, great slideshow - I Like's greatest hits. Wish I'd been there to see it.

Inspiring sentiments. Good pop is always better than bad posh. The everyday matters because it's where most of us live our lives. When I'm an old man, whole wars and governments will probably have slipped my memory - but I bet I'll be able to picture the window display in Mr Guilliano's sweetshop.

Those postcards are a treat by the way. My favourite changes daily. Today it's the seaside shelters, partly because you've got a great eye, and partly because there are few things more pleasing than a modest but useful public amenity. Especially if it's painted a cheerful bright blue.

cheers, Spud

Great post, I like the sentiment, I may be tempted to make your summary into some stickers to brighten where I work :p

Just found your site and love this entry. Summarizes much of what my life is about and the summary is a great manifesto. Well done and now you're bookmarked! YAY!

why the 'what goes on tour stays on tour' statement. The origins of this are stag/hen/rugby tours where the stories and the pictures stay on tour or with the participants in case of embarrassment or lawsuits. Your photos are great and definitely not staying on tour and are very worthy of display.

Our site is devoted to touring and lightheartedly implies keep the damaging stuff on tour. and we are highly devoted to different and strange things happening on rugby tours, especially the world cup in france this year.

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