Linked list on Digital Content

A linked list of interesting stuff that I want to record 🙂

Talking about public transport on the Twitters….

Talking about public transport on the Twitters, of course I’m a fan of “free” for public transport.

roywhite_ni: @cimota @Kalista63 @RationalPanic @ppdoddy @Olive1309 @EdSimpsonNI @AdamMurray88 Lots of gr8 PT in Euro,all req subsidy+fee paying customers

And yes, Roy is right, there are plenty of great examples in Europe of how it’s meant to work. In fact they just prove that the system we have here, which is almost identical to theirs, can still produce a stinker. But there’s plenty of examples worldwide of free public transport. And anyway, being “the same as” somewhere else is not how I would describe a progressive society.

Think bigger. Think about tourism. Think about low incomes. Think about freedom. Think about emissions and fossil fuels. Think about roads congestion. And then think about how free public transport has been proven to increase the use of public transport by 1300%. Imagine what that could do for the rush hour.

roywhite_ni: @cimota @Kalista63 @RationalPanic @ppdoddy @Olive1309 @EdSimpsonNI @AdamMurray88 PT has 2b paid 4 & seeking paying customers hlp improv serv

It’s a fallacy that public transport cannot be free. We already subsidise public transport in Northern Ireland nearly 50% for a service that doesn’t make anyone happy. The only people content with it are those who don’t have the choice.

Adding charges doesn’t improve the service. It makes the whole machine focus on costs rather than quality. We should refocus our public transport to put quality first.

roywhite_ni: @RationalPanic @ppdoddy @cimota @Olive1309 Pricing is one way 2 infl behaviour. If we want more 2 use PT, it shld be cheaper than driving

And the problem is that public transport rivals the cost of driving for one person but the pricing is destroyed when, for instance, a family want to go out. Buses and trains cannot compete on privacy, on punctuality, on flexibility or on comfort. They have to compete on the one thing that can: pricing.

Making buses cheaper just maintains the idea that public transport is only for those who have the spare cash to travel. We need to be much more progressive. Mobility is the right of every citizen. I would rather a low income parent use what little money they have to take their kids to the beach and buy them ice-cream rather than paying for a bus fare. That’s what I’m talking about.

Drone Farming

With virtually unlimited sunshine, Africa may need drones more than roads:

“We feel that if drones are going to be used to transport goods, the most logical place is Africa,” Simon Johnson, director of the Flying Donkey Challenge, told Quartz. “Not for humanitarian reasons. We’re not doing this because we feel bad for Africa. It’s just the perfect place to start. The fact is, there’s incredible growth happening there, but not a lot of infrastructure. Roads just can’t be built fast enough. So why not use flying robots instead?” Once developed, he says, he hopes the drones can be exported elsewhere, creating a new industry for the first countries to adopt their use. If a remote farm in Kenya can send fresh goods out on a drone, he says, a remote farm in the US could do the same.

I’m reminded of this, from the film “Looper”. Of anything in that film, it stands out. Mostly because the Time Travel subplot is a bit daft but also because it represents exactly the opposite of the urban dystopia that is painted throughout the movie. Why would anyone live in the city when you can seemingly exist outside the urban sprawl in the clean air?

Find more videos like this on DIY Drones

And then it make me think of this:

Any way you look at it, drones are coming.


This blog post by Green Party activist, Aidan Jones, annoyed me. I had to ruminate on it for a while but it still stuck there. Part of the problem is that I consider John and Steven to be friends and I am a fan of GPNI on their social policies. Part of the problem is that I did join NI21 last Autumn and, by association, Aidan is attacking my choices. But really the main part of the problem is blinkered thinking.

Aidan has taken a snippet of a conversation and tried to turn it into a political statement. My own politics are well documented here at and if you read through them you’ll see that it’s not a manifesto for the right wing. So, how, if I am not right wing, could I be supporting a party that is right wing according to the GPNI?

Firstly, I do not believe that NI21 is right wing. The right wing parties in Northern Ireland are those who seek to create a hierarchy of citizens. Those who would put their sectarian demographic before others. Those who are happy to accept everyone if only you support their point of view. NI21 has been very clear that society needs to move forward so there is opportunity for all. Opportunity, like aspiration, Aidan claims are loaded words that benefit only those in privilege. And I say that is utter bullshit. I’m reminded of a quote that inspires me every time I think that I cannot do something until someone helps me.

Opportunity is five Armenians, two sponges, one bucket and no English.

The second thing is legacy. A party like NI21 that is less than a year old is not encumbered by forty years of policy. Parties in NI that mark their maturity by the number of policy documents they hold are missing the point. Policy does not guarantee success, obviously, and it does limit your ability to grow with the needs and wants of a modern society. Having a policy library dating back forty years is a liability in my opinion as political opponents love to see any change in policy as it represents an opportunity to torpedo you. The Greens have this issue right now as evidence now shows that nuclear power is the only way to keep our air clean and ensure the continuation of our way of life. The strong stance on nuclear means they’re faced with having to change their minds. I see NI21 as a party that can be shaped to greatness. When John and Basil took their stand, it appealed to the young, the disaffected and the fringe because these needs were not being addressed by others. They, like I, see NI21 as a fine raw material that can be shaped by skilled hands into something exemplary.

No legacy is as rich as honesty.- Shakespeare

Thirdly I think it’s stupid for centrist parties to attack each other on the eve on an election. I would love to see the non-sectarian parties come to election agreements pre-vote. I have offered and, indeed, given my own in this in private conversations. It is absolutely a rare quality for any party to sacrifice party interests for the betterment of society. It almost never happens. All I can say is that I tried.

She taught me all about real sacrifice. That it should be done from love… That it should be done from necessity, not without exhausting all other options. That it should be done for people who need your strength because they don’t have enough of their own.- Veronica Roth

Lastly, I take issue with Aidan representing one aspect of my argument “pro-aspiration” as “pro-inequality”.

Inequality is what we have now and it wasn’t caused by those who aspire to better. We have inequality of ability, we have inequality of opportunity, we have inequality of available resource. We don’t live in a Minecraft-world where we can just magic arable land out of the bare earth and where resources are infinite and equitable. We have to take what we have and try and do the best we can.

Aristotle’s axiom: The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

Aidan mixes up aspiration with “money” as if there was a direct causal link.

Aspiration is all about equality. It is much more basic than money. It frees individuals to follow their passions and aspire to be the best they can be. This doesn’t mean that anyone who wants to be a neurosurgeon can be a neurosurgeon, however “equal” or “fair” that would be. It does mean that everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to society to the best use of their talents. It doesn’t mean that there should be a hierarchy of living and yes, it is unfair that a cleaner gets paid less than a pro-football player but rather than drag the football player down, I would want to see whether the cleaner is content. Being content is the absolute equaliser. Some, like me, will never be content until certain goals are met. I want to live in a post-scarcity society. That might be impossible in my lifetime, but I still aspire to it (and therefor my politics describe trans-scarcity society). I want to live in a post-conflct society; while everything in the news this week seems to be about raising the shoats of the past and creating new victims.

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”
– Gaylord Nelson

I remain committed to calling John and Steven friends. I remain confident that parties like GPNI, NI21 (and even the Alliance if they can raise their head above the sectarian mire of the Executive) represent the best options for the future of Northern Ireland. I am disappointed in Aidan Jones.

Asking Tough Questions to Scary People

£40 ($60) to change the face of journalism.

This is a crowd funding project. It needs 200 subscribers or the project fails. I’ve backed it for $100.

We don’t have investigative journalism that is brave enough to ask tough questions to scary people. As I write this, the wolves are circling around the civil servants in the Department of Health due to issues caused by busy A&E wards. Civil servants don’t fight back. This project is unafraid to ask tough questions to the scary people.

Do we have to wait for this to happen?

Paris air pollution so bad officials are temporarily making public transport free – link

While it’s only for three days and it’s only because of unseasonably warm weather (and it’s only March), this is a warning of what is to come. Other quotes in the article:

  • reduced the maximum speed allowed on main roads
  • the air is expected to remain exceptionally unhealthy
  • significant risks to the health of residents
  • air quality was “an emergency and a priority for the government”.
  • classified outdoor air pollution as “carcinogenic to humans”

Why do we have to wait until it’s about to kill us before we will act?


My kid wants to work in the digital creative sector, especially with games or animation, and needs a placement over the summer. Can you help?
A Parent

Dear A Parent,

It’s challenging to find a placement with a games company so I would suggest that they expand their horizons to include animation companies and e-learning companies (and, I predict, architectural practices and business process consultancies). They should set out their expectations of payment very clearly and, most importantly of all, I would expect to see some portfolio. We have 9 year olds with published games on the web and 16 year olds with their own games companies. If they have been at the degree for two years, there should be some sort of body of work that can be evidenced.

Every month, we have a meetup of games companies and animation companies and there will likely be heaps of businesses in attendance. There could not be a better time to start to network and make contacts. These are Bloc54 and ToodyThreedy. You can google them easily enough.

They should also come along to 3D Dojo on Saturday mornings and introduce themselves to the mentors there (and perhaps become a mentor). The industry is small enough to be extremely social in nature so being known as a “good person” is just as important as portfolio.

I hope this helps and I hope to see them join the industry.



All things are never equal.

I saw this earlier on Twitter and felt I had to challenge it.

It’s perfect for twitter. A short soundbite that seems easy to embrace but you have consider both the context of it. Thomas Edison (the businessman and inventor) was not one to shirk opportunity, often turning the most arduous challenges into new ideas and products.

But it is not the late nineteenth century. And Edison was the equivalent of a millionaire by the time he was 35. I am a fan of many quotes attributed to Edison, but not this one.

The problem I have with this quote is that it says that lack of opportunity is due to laziness. It implies that if you are suffering from poverty and deprivation, then it’s because you haven’t really tried.

This is part of the cornerstone of right wing economic thinking and a politician should know better than to peddle right wing economic soundbites.

In the United States, the political language of the Right includes: anti-statism involving a general mistrust of government, individualism, support of equality of opportunity while rejecting equality of outcome, and populism.

While it might be true that, all things being equal, one who is industrious may succeed while another may fail due to their sloth; all things are never equal. And it behoves us to be human in our outlook, rather than grasping to soundbites.

Far from inspiring change, this encourages the downtrodden to accept their fate. Even though they may labour longer hours, caring for family, working for a wage that barely enables survival, they are expected to accept that their lack of prosperity is because they were too lazy to grasp the nettle of opportunity?

Absolute bullshit.

We have to look at equality of opportunity and examine whether our systems actually provide what we claim. And whether the forces of our society (which we maintain) are enabling every citizen to fulfil her or his potential. Their potential may not have economic return but it may have social and cultural returns that are much harder to measure.

But if we must grasp a soundbite, why not a contemporary, Nicola Tesla:

Every living being is an engine geared to the wheelwork of the universe. Though seemingly affected only by its immediate surrounding, the sphere of external influence extends to infinite distance.

My interpretation of this is simple: We cannot succeed in life while others lie in poverty. We cannot progress in society while others suffer from deprivation. If we continue to labour this way, we have to understand it is because we are stealing opportunity from others. And if we have stolen their opportunity can we really identify laziness in not exploiting that which they never had?