Working the Cloud – Launch Party

I was pleased to get a chance to head to London last Friday for the launch of Kate Russell’s new book Working the Cloud. Amazingly this is Kate’s first book which given how often she has provided interesting tech news on the TV on shows like BBC Click is pretty amazing. Mind you, I have not written a book yet either 😉
So yes I was at the launch party along with other media people and fellow tweeters, but I wouldn’t write about something unless I thought it had something going for it. This book and its supporting material certainly does.

So what is the book all about ? Well it is a fantastic curated collection of useful tools to help anyone who has not yet fully realised the power of the web in getting things done. Starting a business, communicating with customers, creating interesting content etc. it is all covered.
It is not merely a collection of URL’s as each is explained as to the benefits of a particular tool or web application. Each section also has more than one alternative and is also peppered with tips. This is because Kate is writing about things she has used, is using and in some cases maybe stopped using for a better alternative.
This is really an expression of Maker culture, but for the more apparent mainstream ability to just get on with things. Too often people want to read lots of instructions for each application, making decisions as if there was not way to change afterwards. I think the book points to a spirit of doing. There are a stack of tools out there, they are accessible, often free or very cheap and there is no excuse for not using them.
To prove the point that there is more than one way to uv unwrap a feline polygon model Kate has done more than just publish a book. There is the ongoing companion website and apps for mobile devices too.
The cover of the book itself is an augmented reality trigger for Aurasma’s app too. Something worth having a look (and listen to) if you see a physical copy of the book in a shop. The intro (without sound on) can raise a few eyebrows someone is looking over your shoulder 😉
AR working the cloud
Kate also did a virtual book signing. Oddly I missed this as I was in a Choi Kwang Do class at the time. However it was a transmedia gig using Google Hangout

There were some tweets with @andypiper about the other first virtual book launch back in 2006 in Second Life. Which I remember very well 🙂
Virtual book signing for Longtail

This is of course a different sort of event 🙂 So we are not going to take Kate’s first away from her 😉 Though the next edition of the book must have some 3d virtual world communication in it. Who knows maybe I can guest write that 🙂
I am looking forward to Kate’s next book which she crowdsourced the funding for on Kickstarter to write some science fiction for the new Elite Game which again proves that she is doing all the things in the book not just writing about them.

Veteran – Yes I do read books sometimes!

I have just go back from a great 2 weeks mostly off the net in Spain (well nearly!). Whilst I had the Mac with my it managed to stay pretty much closed and I focused on doing a few less techie things. The first of those was my regular Choi Kwang Do patterns which I spent quite a lot of time practicing in the hot sun by the pool at the villa. It was interestingly meditative as well as being physically beneficial despite it being a little out of context for a summer holiday.
The holiday though was not devoid of tech. With the ipad, kindle, 2 DSi XL and 1 3DS, plus a TV showing satellite channels including lots of re-runs of Star Trek original series and Voyager we were not totally unwired, just a local net. I finished Splinter Cell on the 3DS despite its initially annoying control mechanism.
This post is about something else though.
I only really get to read books, fictional based ones, on holiday. I should read more, but I don’t. Before we headed out I bought myself Veteran by Gavin Smith (in paperback as I don’t own the Kindle it is my wife’s)

I knew nothing about this except what I spotted on the sleeve, but it looked a good cyberpunk action book.
I have to say it was better than good, I even finished it before the end of the holiday.
For me it had everything I needed in a book of that nature. Armoured augmented human soldiers, social decay, post apocalyptic gangs, dangerous corporations. It also featured the hackers who access the net directly via a socket in their heads and then represented themselves in all sorts of interesting ways as they dealt with the odd experience of being jacked into the net.
There was a lot of shooting and fighting, a lot of rebuilding. So it had the action box ticked. However it actually wrestled with very interesting central issue. I am trying not to give any spoilers here BTW.
In a good versus bad with a confused 3rd party in the middle the notion of openness to information was being played out. one digital based information system, or weapon was being developed by the libertarian hackers. Throughout they spoke in open source terms, in a self determination that was working against the corporate, government and warring controllers. It didn’t preach though, it showed the though patterns the characters were taking, their various ideals and motivations clashing at times. However it also showed that they were not totally sure what the outcome of such openness would be, but that it had to be done.
I was not expecting such depth of though and reasoning to surface in the book as I was reading the comforting, almost stereotypical augmented soldiers fights. Replaced eyes for lenses (a la William Gibson), the net representation (a la Stephenson). However these were not so much stereotypes as clear genre requirements that were then used to take a further journey into the politics of freedom of information, over command and control structures. It was very thought provoking.
So much so I just went and bought the follow up book War in Heaven.

It also got me thinking about my own plot lines in this sort cyberpunk environment, in the days I did not have the book to read. Who knows they may express themselves somewhere too 🙂
Of course, if I had of been reading this on the Kindle on holiday I would have been able to just download and get on with it. Hmmm, maybe I do need one after all. Of course I would have to double that up with another holiday away from it all to make sure 🙂
Anyway, back to normal, whatever that is. Lots to do this month, several articles to write, some virtual world work to code and the (ever) ongoing search for the right funding for the ground breaking meta game project.