Sunday, 31 July 2011

Crack The Surface - Episode I

In the first episode of new series Crack The Surface the folks at, and promise to take the viewer to the heart of the UrbEx experience...both the good, and the bad.

While offering a rare glimpse into the cutting edge of the UK's homegrown scene, it also provides a global perspective, including interviews with explorers from other cities across the globe.

Erm...Don't try this at home!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Street Photographers! Stand Your Ground!

Back in June six members of the Shoot Experience team, responsible for organising the London Street Photography Festival 2011 this month, took to the City of London with their cameras. Instructed to keep to public land while photographing the area, their aim was to test the reaction of private security to photographers, and the state of policing of both public and private spaces.

In previous years it was the police and PCSOs who were criticised for harassing professional and amateur photographers alike through the misuse of stop and search powers afforded by s44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (documented on Urban Orienteer here). However, following the suspension of s44 last July this should not be an issue. As guided by Chief Constable Andrew Trotter of ACPO in August that year: 
  • There are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place. Therefore members of the public and press should not be prevented from doing so.
  • We must acknowledge that citizen journalism is a feature of modern life and police officers are now photographed and filmed more than ever.
  • Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether from the casual tourist or professional is unacceptable and worse still, it undermines public confidence in the police service.
  • Once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order.
In the film above all six photographers were stopped on at least one occasion, though in each case this was initially due to the intervention of private security. On the three occasions that Police were called to attend they did not attempt detain, search or seize equipment from the photographer.

This is encouraging but clearly won't prevent photographer's being harassed by private security who then waste police time when they aren't satisfied with the result. It is likely that guidance provided by police to public and private sector organisations on security, counter-terrorism and crime prevention measures as part of their Project Griffin has been to blame.

While concerns over spending cuts on policing are being framed by the expectation of rising crime, perhaps we should be more worried by the 'rise' of private security with police powers and the prospect for the growth of informal policing that might be expected in the Conservative's new Big Society.

Remember though, it doesn't matter how big that society is if it's locked behind a gate. So why not get inspired in the last week of the London Street Photography Festival 2011, then head out with your camera and start reclaiming those streets back for the commons, first by posting them on the Londonist Flickr pool if nothing else.

via Londonist

Saturday, 23 July 2011

TED - Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world

In this recent TED talk by game designer Kevin Slavin on the impact of mathematical algorithms on our lives. Here he argues that the increasing complexity and co-implication of the autonomous algorithms we have created to help run our everday lives is rapidly outstripping our ability to read or control them.
These are the physics of culture. And if these algorithms, like the algorithms on Wall Street, just crashed one day, went awry, how would we know? What would it look like?
Particularly interesting is his discussion of the idea that architecture itself has become 'subject to algorithmic optimisation' according to a 'machine dialect' which, as in his example of the 'destination control elevator' with no buttons, is built to the measure of the 'bin packing' algorithm written to run it, rather than to the needs of the humans intended to use it. Further, it is not merely the man-made environment but the Earth itself and the natural landscape that are subjected to this new 'co-evolutionary' force.

Brilliantly Provocative!