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I'm Tav, a 29yr old from London. I enjoy working on large-scale social, economic and technological systems.

ESCaped Thoughts

[This is a reposting of a blog post that I had written at the first Espian Summer Camp (ESC) in July 2005]

Squarepusher pulses around as this is written. In contrast to the horrendous techno that some Germans seem intent on playing, this Brit demonstrates that electronic music can have soul.

Is music the soul of life? Or was that the spice of life? Who cares. Life is good. Too good. One can almost forget the rest of the world here. Enjoy the moment. Savour the taste. Wonder about the grasshoppers. What do they make of this funny existence we share? A shooting star blazes above. Make a wish.

The inevitable question arises. Why exactly are we here? No-one can give an answer. Everyone can give an answer.

“Have a bloody good time!” someone chirps. Yes grasshopper.

Seems we are also here for a coding sprint. What’s a coding sprint you ask. 500m relays with printouts of source code handed between the runners in place of batons? No. Well, almost.

A “canonical” definition:

A “coding sprint” is an event loosely inspired by Extreme Programming, where a number of developers get together for a few days of intense pair programming on a common project.

The practise was pioneered by the Zope and Python communities and is now being rapidly adopted by many software development teams — open sourced and closed sourced alike.

Fascinating eh? Well, no. But a good way to code. Load up emacs. Hit M-x make-frame-on-display. Collaborate. A good way to code. Collaboration. A good way to live.

The world within my mind differs so much from the world outside. Listen to “Jeder ist in seiner eigenen Welt”. Funny song. Within it lies the key to solving all social problems.

The continuing attacks in London worry me. Perhaps one should be afraid. But fear leads to the Dark Side. Our police murder an innocent man. Yet, they defend their new shoot-to-kill policy. Just as worrying as the attacks themselves.

The extremists are winning. Anti-terror laws are passed. Civil liberties and social politeness melt away. Al-Qaeda. Our government seems to have no clue about fighting this threat. They react in the traditional way. They mistake a decentralised organisation for one with a centralised hierarchy. They react just as they are expected to.

One can almost forget the rest of the world here. Almost. Lightning illuminates the surrounding landscape. Thunder puts it into perspective. Whisky flows through my veins. Mosquito bites all over. Must not scratch.

Where are we? Almost as important as why are we here. We are in Wokule. The village of Biesenthal surrounds us. S-Bahn Bernau (part of Berlin’s public transport network) is less than half an hour away.

Grasshopper on laptop screen.

Kpi and Jörg head off to a meeting with Vodafone. Trust maps. Toman. Community currencies. People are impressed. Good contacts made.

Time stands still. You wish.

I gasp for air. 20 feet of water below me. The bank too far away. I am drowning. Primeval reflexes kick in. I surface. They are teaching me to swim. City boy adapts to the lake. A descendent of the water people familiarises himself.

Everyone else in the lake is in the nude. Beautiful girls strip and jump in. Conflicting reactions within me. Be a gentleman and avert your eyes. Or enjoy nature. Neither win. Like this writer, I am left wondering “why we all have such different modesty-maps wired into our brains. What makes a Brit inhibited, a Thai modest and a German relaxed?”.

Are modesty and politeness merely illusions? Probably so.

Pride swells on learning that Comic Life had won “The Best Product New to Mac OS X” in this year’s Apple Design Awards. Atariboy, the head of the espian graphic design squad, is behind it.

The Wokule community do a party @ Schloss Lanke. We help out. I wander off into the forest. Return to meet some fascinating people. Rico introduces me to the 10 Euro intrument — a bastardised version of the Berimbau. I consider making one. Kpi buys me some string. A prelude to making the Jintra.

“Too young!” she exclaims disappointedly. She had guessed 31. I turned out to be 23. She was 27. Has happened to me too often. I consider starting to lie about my age. Perhaps 29. Perhaps 27. What do you think?

Life. A series of addictions.

We look into setting up a screencast of Kalati. Discover wink. Excellent tool. Innovative. Cross-platform. Only lacking in sound integration. Will come soon.

Amazing, the increasing acceleration of meme propagation. Networking effects going into overdrive. Take the term “screencast” for example. Coined by Jon Udell less than a year ago, creations already number many thousands. Whilst there will be no Singularity, it is hard to see why not. Faster! Schnell! Vite!

Microsoft puts out the first alpha version of its next generation operation system — Windows Vista (née Longhorn). Perfect timing. Couldn’t be better for us strategically. Thank you Microsoft.

An ex-Microsoft employee comes to visit us. He likes what we are doing. Next generation. Trust. Social Networking. Friendster. Affluent contacts. Managing contacts. German Senate. Berlin. Google. Vista. Double binds. The conversation meanders.

Zool tells me about the O’Reilly Mapping Hacks book she has written. Points me to the some of the interesting work she has been doing. I am happy that the espian community attracts the likes of her.

Kpi, Jörg, Ina, Kati, and myself head off to the NOG party. Other side of Berlin. Our human-based navigation systems break down. Would be nice to have good geo apps. We arrive just past midnight. Join the mass of hundreds. A friend is behind the bar. Always good. Hallucinogens. I wish she was here.

Oscillation. Grasshopper whispers.

Kpi leads a visualisation technique. We build a timeline across the fields of Wokule. High in the hills far away lies “Plexnet 1.0” — only half visible and far away.

Elka accidentally unplugs my laptop. Battery-less laptop dies immediately. Takes half a day’s work with it. Elka appeases me with sweeties. Mmm, sweeties! Thank you.

Kalati sprint to get the plexnet into a deployable state — version

Yet another of evangineer's predictions come true as Django is released. Pitching itself as “The Web framework for perfectionists with deadlines”, this Python-based framework follows in the wake of the hype-induced success of the Ruby on Rails web application framework. In its favour are the several well-established and high-profile deployments. Against it is the lack of a charismatic evangelist.

The relation between hype and fashion is a funny one. Whilst much of it is merely a passing trend, some of it sticks around to be relished by future generations. Like good sandwiches. Cucumber and peanut butter sandwich. Very tasty. Thanks qopi.

What is old is new again. DHTML is AJAX. Keywords are Tags. Virtual Folders are Saved Searches. Portals are Digital Lifestyle Aggregators. Usenet is Darknet. Push is RSS.

The dragonflies have grown. Come hither.