Dudes, radio update: Tune in to London Thing, my new show with @charmlshake on Pulse Radio.

It’s about the best things happening in London, with some historical smatterings and crap jokes.

Every Thursday from noon. And you can listen again here.

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Is apparently back for a new series and a movie! COME ON!


Ages ago I went to a Russell Davies talk in which he spoke about the Google ESP game, which turned a tricky task for a robot (tagging images) into a fun game for humans. Clever stuff. Though computers think quicker than we do and are great with the complex calculations, humans are still much better at solving problems with intuition and non-lateral thinking.

And that’s the idea behind FoldIt, an online game where you have to solve complex puzzles about how proteins fold. Apparently that’s one of the trickiest areas of biology and one that has serious impact on how we tackle diseases.

FoldIt’s founders have just published research saying that players “provided the crucial insights to solve the structure of a protein-sniping enzyme critical for reproduction of the AIDS virus,” according to Scientific American. “With help from game-players’ strategies, researchers revealed the enzymes’ structure within three weeks and identified targets for drugs to neutralize it.” (my emphasis)

What? It took three weeks for gamers to come up with the solution? Alright, granted, it’s not a cure for AIDS yet, but that’s a hell of a thing, no? Using crowdsourcing and games to take on medical problems. And it works! What an innovative approach to research.

For more deets, or to have a go at “solving puzzles for science” head to the FoldIt site, and if you’ve got any more examples of this sort of thing do drop me a line.


A quick plug here for a new comedy night run by good people I’ve met on the circuit over the last few months. Launching tonight, Wisecrack Comedy is a new act night in King’s Cross, run by Sahar Mirhadi and Lucy Jagger. It’s a chance for newbies to have a go at stand-up for the first time, or older hands to get new material out.

Granted there will be some dross (there always is), but having now been to about a gazillion open mics, I’m pretty taken by the level of talent there is out there. Also, as this is run by new comics, I reckon there’ll be a good atmosphere for folks to have a shot, which always makes it quite a fun event. And it’s free, gratis, for nothing.

So if you’re free on Mondays, you could do worse than heading over to Kings Cross for a new talent showcase. Or even better, have a go yourself. Details below.

Wisecrack Comedy, Mondays, Central Station, 37 Wharfdale Road, Kings Cross, N1 9SD. New acts should check out the Facebook page for more details.


The Book Barge

13Jul11

A nice reaction to the ‘one-click’ approach to book buying, with the emergence of the book barge, a floating bookshop that’s moored in Staffordshire, but for the next few days will be on the Regent’s Canal, just behind the Guardian HQ.

According to the Guardian article, the owner Sarah Henshaw says that “by setting up on a canal boat we hope to promote a less hurried and harried lifestyle of idle pleasures, cups of tea, conversation, culture and, of course, curling up with an incomparably good Book Barge purchase.” Of course it’s supporting independent bookshops as well, which can only be a good thing.

The barge is now on a six-month tour of the UK’s canals and doing all kinds of onboard author events. Check out the website for more details.

The Book Barge. Photo from The Guardian


DWS Tumblr

12Jul11

Oh and while you’re here, check out my new Tumblr site (I’m still messing around with the themes)

http://danwalkersmith.tumblr.com/


Hacks/Hackers

12Jul11

First off, apologies for all those who’ve been missing the DWS molten eloquence. I’ve taken on a new start-up project, so it’s all busy busy busy (mainly working out what I’ll do with my untold riches when my ship comes in – colossal equestrian statues and gold-plated yachts, I imagine).

There have been some good non-start-up things blipping my blipper, though. A month or so back I managed to squeeze in a session at Hacks/Hackers, for example. If you don’t know H/H, it’s a meetup for journos (hacks) and techies (hackers) to smash around with different ideas of media and how we can make it better.

This sesh was at the Guardian stronghold in Kings Cross, and was hosted by Mozilla, so immediately attracting the right mix of techheads and embittered fag-ash journalists. And though there was a serious theme to it, it was really a chance to try out daft ideas. How do we stop trolls from sabotaging message boards, for instance? How can we take video beyond the flat-screen embedded vids? Can we ever create ‘people-powered news’?

The various heads all got together over pizza and post-its. I was in a group of designers, techies and content-producers tackling the problem of getting the right people involved in the right conversations. And after a certain amount of charading, thought-showering and pissing around, we came up with Badger (TM), a tool to invite people to add expert opinion to chat rooms.

I seriously doubt it’s going to win any nobel prizes or sate my desire for equestrian statues for the moment, but, as always, it’s a joy to try out new forms of journalism and storytelling with curious minds, particularly when media’s in such a sorry state.

If you wanna see more crap about Badger (TM), have a glance at our glossy, high-end, pitching video (which we themed to cash into the upcoming Harry Potter flick):

Oh, and this is a thing from another Mozilla sesh; some Dundee University students’ anatomy of a comments thread, which made me nostril-laugh somewhat:




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