Ever since I came to Tiree I’ve had a vision of bringing people here, to share some of the atmosphere and work together. A few of you have come on research visits and we have had some really productive times. Others have said they wished they could come sometime.
Well now is your chance …
Come to Tiree Tech Wave in March to make, talk and play at the wind-ripping edge of digital technology.
Every year Tiree hosts the Wave Classic, a key international wind surfing event. Those of us at the edge of the digital wave do not risk cold seas and bodily injury, but there is something of the same thrill as we explore the limits of code, circuit boards and social computation.
The cutting edge of wind-surfing boards is now high technology, but typically made by artisan craftsfolk, themselves often surfers. Similarly hardware platforms such as Arduino, mobile apps for iPhone and Android, and web mashups enabled by public APIs and linked data are all enabling a new maker culture, challenging the hegemony of global corporations.
The Western Celtic fringes were one of the oases of knowledge and learning during the ‘dark ages’. There is something about the empty horizon that helped the hermit to focus on God and inspired a flowering of decorative book-making, even in the face of battering storms of winter and Viking attacks of summer; a starkness that gave scholars time to think in peace between danger-fraught travel to other centres of learning across Europe.
Nowadays regular Flybe flights and Calmac ferries reduce the risk of Viking attacks whilst travelling to the isles, broadband Internet and satellite TV invade the hermit cell, and double glazing and central heating mollify the elements. Yet there is still a rawness that helps focus the mind, a slightly more tenuous connection to the global infrastructure that fosters a spirit of self-reliance and independence.
Over a long weekend 17 – 21 March (TBC), we plan what I hope will be a semi-regular event. A time to step out, albeit momentarily, from a target-driven world, to experiment and play with hardware and software, to discuss the issues of our new digital maker culture, what we know and what we seek to understand, and above all to make things together.
This is all about technology and people: the physical device that sits in our hands, the data.gov.uk mashup that tells us about local crime, the new challenges to personal privacy and society and the nation state.
Bring your soldering iron, and Arduino boards, your laptop and API specs, your half-written theses and semi-formed ideas, your favourite book or even well-loved eReader (!). The format will be informal, with lots of time to work hands-on together; however, there will be the opportunity for short talks/demos/how-to-do-it sessions. Also, if there is demand, I’d be happy to do some more semi-formal tutorial sessions and maybe others would too (Arduino making, linked data).
Currently we have no idea whether there will be three or three hundred people interested, but aiming for something like 15 – 30 participants. We’ll keep costs down, probably around £70 for meeting rooms, lunches, etc. over the five days, but will confirm that and more details shortly.
Follow on Twitter at @tireetechwave and the website will be at tireetechwave.com. However, it is still ‘under development’, so don’t be surprised at the odd glich over the next couple of weeks as we sort out details.