Tribe 2.0

What is eightbar? As the About page for this blog states:

We’re a group of techie/creative people working in and around IBM’s Hursley Park Lab in the UK. We have regular technical community meetings, well more like a cup of tea and a chat really, about all kinds of cool stuff.

That’s all still true. That’s who we are. Over the past four years this blog has featured lots of cool things. It started with an small group of folks into emerging tech talking about life at Hursley (who remembers Roo’s post about the dome of cups, in his pre-metaverse days?!). It continued to grow to cover virtual worlds topics as we began to explore those spaces. eightbar became a bit of a tribe and expanded to include many others who were into interesting technology. Increasingly we’re seeing the technologies that we talked about in the early days of this blog hit the mainstream – take 3D printing and augmented reality as just two examples.

eightbar is more than just a group of people. It’s a mindset, a grassroots culture. If you asked me to sum it up, I’d use phrases like “the frontier spirit”, “bleeding edge”, and “Web 2.0 is Web Do” (with a very definite nod in the direction of epredator for the last one!).

We’ll be including more folks from the lab as authors and guests here over the coming months – eightbar has always been a kind of “shop window to the world” for the things we are up to. The kinds of people you’ll find writing and contributing here are also likely to be found out and about at unconferences around Southampton, London, or other places. There may be a few changes to the look and feel as well as to the content, but the spirit is absolutely going to remain the same. Oh, and by the way, check out the links in the sidebar – you’ll find that many of the contributors have great content out on their own sites, too.

Why is this post entitled Tribe 2.0? Simple: fresh thinking and fresh ideas FTW! 🙂

Revising relationships

I’ve just done a sweep through the eightbar blogroll and links. From the look of what was there, I reckon we hadn’t checked it in a while, as a few of the links were dead or pointing at blogs which have long since relocated. I also updated a few of the About pages to reflect recent changes.

We’ve got two main categories of links – Blogroll broadly covers “former eightbar and sites of interest” and Hursley bloggers contains links to current active bloggers from the Hursley(ish) community. Check them out over towards the bottom of the sidebar. If I’ve missed an active Hursley person that I should have included, then it should be pretty easy to find me and let me know 😉

Hursley: where innovation happens

I’m over in the US at the moment, and I was out of the office all of last week as well, but I see that the BBC has been visiting my friends and colleagues at the Hursley mothership.

The coverage is in two parts. Firstly there’s a nice article on the BBC News website which talks about the history of Hursley, some of the software developed at the lab such as CICS and MQTT, and (of course) Andy Stanford-Clark’s twittering house.

There’s also a set of interviews with IBMers such as Kevin Brown talking about the twittering Hursley minibus, in the May 5th episode of the Digital Planet podcast (here’s a direct link to the MP3). The IBM coverage starts from around about 17 minutes in to the programme.

So, if you were wondering what wild and wacky things we get up to at Hursley – we do a lot of different stuff, and it can be very cool indeed 🙂

Blue Fusion at Hursley, 2009

One of the first Hursley-related things I wrote about here on the eightbar blog back in 2006 was how much I enjoy helping with our annual schools event for National Science and Engineering Week in the UK – Blue Fusion (the event website has gone AWOL at the moment but here’s a link to the press release).

This year was no exception. This is now the fifth year that I’ve been a volunteer. Unfortunately I only had room in my schedule to spend one day helping this time around, so I choose to host a school for the day rather than spending all day on a single activity (that way, I got to see all of the different things we had on offer).

So, yesterday I had the pleasure of hosting six intelligent and polite students from Malvern St James School and their teachers – they had travelled a fair distance to come to the event, but despite the early start I think they did really well.

I won’t go into too much detail and spoil the fun for people who might read this but have not yet taken part in this week’s event, but I think we had some great activities on offer. I twittered our way through a few of them. My own personal favourite was a remote surgery activity. You can’t see much in this image (it was a dark room) but the students basically had a “body” inside a box with some remote cameras to guide their hands around and had to identify organs and remove foreign objects.


There was also some interesting application of visual technology / tangible interfaces – a genetics exercise using LEGO bricks and a camera which identified gene strands, and an energy planning exercise which used Reactivision-style markers to identify where power stations had been placed on a map (sort of similar to what we built in SLorpedo at Hackday a couple of years ago). We also had some logic puzzles to solve, built a, err… “typhoon-proof” (ahem) tower, simulated a computer processor, and commanded a colony of ants in a battle for survival against the other school teams.

Once again, I thought this was a great event – just amazing creativity on show from the folks at Hursley in coming up with such engaging exercises. I hope the students had as much fun as I did!