Week 4 (of 6) at the Fourth Portal Great Yarmouth popup. These weeks are to iron out the wrinkles in the business plan and to reconnect with suppliers and the broader P7 network. Things are going well, and most importantly, it’s fun!
Welcome Drinks Invite | Thursday, 8 Sept 2022 from 6pm
We are on week 4 (of 6) at the Fourth Portal set-up stage. It is going as much as I was expecting. Some things are going smoother than anticipated, in other areas we have encountered challenges. We have nothing bad to report. In fact, it has – mostly – been fun. We are attracting attention and already have some cheerleaders. Our coffee is roasted in HMP Mount prison. It is going down very well and bringing people back. It looks likely we will have a really cool pizza popup from week 6 outside. Yet another business working with released prisoners.
Our attention this week shifted back to the hybrid Liftpod. The concept is challenging but also hugely enjoyable. I am annoying Lauren, my long-suffering occasional colleague who has to endure me each day! This week I am being deliberately too vague on what hardware we should use in the Liftpod 🙂 🙂 :). John and Val, developers of the Flatlands part of the LiftPod, are a real giggle to work with. Lauren is close to having the local network (our own internal Google drive) up and running. Once done we can then pick up the chat about the next stage of our internal network with guru James Stevens. A large chunk of the prep work for our provenance Annalist system is complete. Now Graham, the developer of Annalist, is back from holiday we will continue with stage one.
On Thursday, Peter Rodulfo brought his first painting of Stonecutters Way to the Fourth Portal. The artwork juxtaposes nicely with Kev Gavaghan’s work in the Mind Room next door. Local artist Lisa came in with some work to show us. We liked it and plan to display it soon.
Moonbow Margate 2011 Feel
There is a Margate 2011 feel developing. I can sense the slow build-up of positive energy. The Fourth Portal is inspiring confidence in locals. Already some are taking the plunge to ask to become involved.
Several couples from the Roma community have been popping by to try and buy a particular chandelier. I have resisted selling for two reasons. 1) the offers are too low and 2) it is a real attractor. The chandelier is forming relationships. Whereas at the beginning of this popup there were stern faces, now we receive big smiles and hellos. Despite language barriers, a sense of fun is building around who will manage to buy the light – if anyone!
There’s a different atmosphere in GY from the previous time I sought to open Fourth Portal. I cannot nail what it is, all I know is it is just a different feel. Maybe the unfolding economic crisis is focusing minds on what is important. Maybe it’s just because it is sunny and lovely weather this summer. No doubt we will find out soon enough.
Fancy some Prosecco?
If you fancy a glass of Prosecco on Thursday 8th September 2022, after 6pm then come down to the Fourth Portal at 2 Stonecutters Way, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, HR30 1HF. You’ll receive a warm welcome.
The Semantic Web is an extension of the World Wide Web (www). Whereas the www has been built for humans to read, the Semantic Web is for machines to read. The Semantic Web works by using Linked Data. The Fourth Portal will introduce Linked Data concepts to encourage members, clients and suppliers to consider how the Semantic Web could apply to their work.
The Fourth Portal is a new kind of hybrid cafe-bar work and meeting space that introduces the opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The locations will have several innovative tools that visitors and members can access. One such tool will be Annalist, developed by computer engineer Graham Klyne. Annalist will be used to introduce Linked Data, and the potential it offers.
Annalist is a software system for individuals and small groups to reap the benefits of using Linked Data. It presents a flexible web interface for creating, editing and browsing different types of data without requiring the user to understand computer jargon or perform any computer programming. It has been particularly effective in exploring and rapid prototyping designs for linked data on the web, covering science and humanities research, creative art and personal information.
For Fourth Portal, we will experiment with Annalist using different approaches. Experiments will include developing a stock provenance system and providing information on famous inventors and social and business innovators.
What is Linked Data?
The text below is the words of Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, written in 2007. It provides a simple introduction to what the Semantic Web is and how it works. Descriptions of the abbreviation with a link to more information are included for ease of reading. Press the link for the full text: https://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html
Linked Data by Tim Berners-Lee
‘The Semantic Web isn’t just about putting data on the web. It is about making links, so that a person or machine can explore the web of data. With linked data, when you have some of it, you can find other, related, data.
Like the web of hypertext, the web of data is constructed with documents on the web. However, unlike the web of hypertext, where links are relationships anchors in hypertext documents written in HTML, for data they links between arbitrary things described by RDF (Resource Description Framework). The URIs (Universal Resource Identifier) identify any kind of object or concept. But for HTML or RDF, the same expectations apply to make the web grow:
Use URIs as names for things
Use HTTP URIs so that people can look up those names.
When someone looks up a URI, provide useful information, using the standards (RDF*, SPARQL)
Include links to other URIs. so that they can discover more things.
I’ll refer to the steps above as rules, but they are expectations of behavior. Breaking them does not destroy anything, but misses an opportunity to make data interconnected. This in turn limits the ways it can later be reused in unexpected ways. It is the unexpected re-use of information which is the value added by the web.
Linked data is essential to actually connect the semantic web. It is quite easy to do with a little thought, and becomes second nature. Various common sense considerations determine when to make a link and when not to.
The Tabulator client (running in a suitable browser) allows you to browse linked data using the above conventions, and can be used to check that your linked data works.’
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring many challenges. As the world goes virtual, the role of public gathering places will need addressing. The Town Square must again become the centre of local discourse. If not, the 4IR may become known as the Period of Polarisation.
Town squares will become contested during the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Technology will permeate every part of daily life. As it does, the need for physical gathering places will rise. The risk is that such public spaces become battlegrounds.
Urban planners need to pay close attention, particularly in England. The virtual world is changing behaviours. These changes are spilling out into the real-world streets. 
Since the Edwardian period, England has neglected public spaces. Public squares that encourage the mixing of cultures are rare. The Georgians began the trend to fence off public spaces and streets. The policy was steeped in the British class system. In recent years, the privatisation of public space has accelerated.
Sample of English public spaces
In Southern continental Europe, the opposite is the case. Town squares are the centre of the entire community. The design, construction and purpose are all geared towards civic pride and participation.
Sample of Spanish public spaces
In Spain, all urban planning revolves around public space. There are plenty of elaborate squares and boulevards to be happened upon. Most though are of simple design and materials. They work for all occasions. Organised events, family gatherings, meeting friends or eating a sandwich. Finding a public space with a fence or a locked gate will be a challenge in Spain.
Some squares have a cafe or restaurant bordering the parameter; many don’t. It is unusual to see a cafe in the middle of a town square. Modern Spanish libraries and museums spill out onto public squares. Public spaces in Spain are welcoming and well used because of their simplicity. 
The two photo galleries above show the public realm where people live. These are not tourist areas or places of commerce. Public spaces are there, in theory, for the local community and visitors to use and enjoy. The public realm in Spain sits at the very heart of a community. Unless there is a commercial reason, public space in England is a low priority.
Town Squares can be a metaphor for what is happening in the virtual world. Some people wish to see them controlled with restrictions on who has access. Others want them completely open, freeing and welcoming to all.   
Recent history has demonstrated how the virtual world can spill out into the real world.
Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, is the most prominent example. Protests in 2013 began online, discussing government corruption and policies. WhatsApp groups and Facebook posts began to grow and to spread. Soon these virtual spaces were not enough. People had to come together. Tens of hundreds of thousands of people started filling Tahrir square. Night after night protests continued until Egypt’s President Mubarak toppled.
Similar scenes with different results played out across the Arab world. These 2013 protests became known as the Arab Spring.
Although not on the same scale, most areas of the developed world have seen similar protests. The rise of the online protest hashtag has been instrumental. #MeToo and #blm (#blacklivesmatter) are the most successful to date.
Britain’s exit from the European Union was a direct result of online campaigning. What followed has been years of disruption, strife and polarisation. The struggle between the Leave and Remain camps manifested physically in London’s Parliament square. The argument has continued right up to the present day. 
Brexit supporter carrying Great Britain cardboard cutout, Parliament Square.
Rise of technology
As life moves further online, the need for real-world gathering forums will increase. Failure of authorities to not plan for this change could lead to dire consequences.
Reasons for people to engage within the physical world has been declining since the 1990s.
The internet changed the world of work, allowing employees to be more distributed. The onset of the pandemic brought a further scattering of the workforce as people work from home. Retail has been shifting steadily online. Restaurant food can now be delivered directly to the family dining table. The world of supermarkets without cashiers is upon us. Online gaming transformed from a table gathering to global competitions. The gaming industry now dwarfs, by revenue, the movie and music industries combined. 
There are plenty of Apps that anyone can access for free. However, to receive the full benefit requires buying a subscription. Public squares in England surrounded by cafes and shops are similar. To fully partake in the space requires a certain amount of purchasing power.
Above photos from the Argent development, Kings Cross, London (2020). Below, public squares managed by Great Yarmouth borough council (2021).
In Spain, public squares are places where people congregate, play and celebrate. The public realm encourages the community to come together for serendipitous moments. Spending power is not relevant except in the most exclusive of shopping areas.
Public forum, with permanent outdoor screen, multilevel seating, no barriers. Eivissa, Ibiza, Spain, 2022. 
In England, the opposite is too often the case. There is heavy reliance on the private sector to create public amenity spaces. It is another aspect of Britain’s two-tier society. Money buys access.
Fenced public spaces, ‘Keep off the Grass’ signs and other rules are commonplace around England.
Public space needs to become the bridge between the virtual and physical worlds. Some may believe this is about introducing VR – virtual reality. VR will soon be playing a much larger role, but this is more about the physical spaces themselves.
The layout, ambience and purpose of the public domain in England should be along Spanish lines.
Free to access town squares must have 5G connectivity. Multipurpose seating and tables that encourage gatherings, games, meetings and work. Architectural flair can overcome issues around Britain’s inclement weather. The public realm needs to be attractive to all cultures, ages and abilities.
Without change, England risks further polarisation. Addressing the poor quality of places for public gatherings is now urgent.
The internet has slowly eroded the need for people having to meet fellow citizens. The pandemic has further reduced real-world interactions. Technology seeping deeper into everyday life raises the potential of a more isolated society. Free to access public spaces is critical for communities to stay in touch in the real world.
The political discourse around local issues cannot be online alone. To allow this will lead to unhealthy debate and will undermine stable democracy. Views are best challenged and debated in the open, in places where alternative voices can be heard.
Open, free, real-world forums, like town squares, are the best spaces for such discussion to happen. Being open will also allay some fears around privacy, censorship and freedom of expression.
Britain is in the grip of a mental health crisis, with loneliness and a sense of isolation increasing. Social media gets some of the blame. Not much is written about the lack of public amenity spaces.
England needs to rethink its approach to the public realm. Design should encourage serendipity and random conversations. Learning from Spain’s public spaces would be a good start.
We are in the fifth decade of the internet. It will be one that will see the virtual world and the physical world merge. Successful societies this decade will be the ones with the most engaging public realm.
Introducing technology into these spaces is the next phase around the world. Creating buzzing ambient public spaces will be essential for community lifeblood. Animated public squares will also attract the next generation of innovators.
England needs to rethink the public realm urgently! This is where ‘levelling up’ has to begin.**
It is three years since the outbreak of COVID-19. Discussions have turned to what the post-pandemic world may look like. Technology is at the forefront. Lost within the debates has been the importance of public space. As the world goes virtual, real-world gathering places will become the hot issue.
The internet will be 40 years old on 1 January 2023. It allows the creation of a virtual world almost unimaginable 50 years ago. The World Wide Web (www.) became available 10-years later. How much harder would the pandemic have been without the web?
The internet has become an extension of everyday life. It allows mass connectivity. People communicate through an array of online mediums. Social media chat has overtaken voice calls as the communication tool of choice for the young. WhatsApp and Signal have relegated the use of email in business. The email itself replaced the printed document, the business mainstay for centuries. 
Business meetings seemed unaffected by the internet. People in business still preferred to meet in person and sit around tables. The pandemic called a halt to these face to face meetings, except in specific circumstances. The rise of Zoom and other video technologies began in earnest. Ways of doing business changed and will not be returning to how it was.
The loss of workplace meetings has caused a widespread disruption within firms. Work meetings are now more likely online than one-to-one. It cuts off a source for meeting new people, social interaction and serendipity. For some working people, it has also reduced personal contact more generally.
These changes are not only taking place in offices. Automatic checkout in supermarkets removes this most mundane of interactions. Maybe not something missed for those with busy lives. For those alone, the shop cashier may be the only human interaction that day. 
The pandemic has sped up the automation of everyday life.
Doctors appointments by video link are becoming a norm. Banks close down branches, forcing people online. Buying insurance, holiday or toothpaste from an algorithm is as likely as a person.
Even in construction, the rise of efficient technologies, such as 3D printing, will reduce the requirements for human teams.
There are fewer reasons to meet in person for a non-social purpose.
Despite global connectivity, there is an increase in isolation and dis-association. Workplace reliance on providing social interaction has diminished. Workers are finding difficulty transitioning to a virtual world. Online activities only please certain aspects of emotional fulfilment. Humans are social creatures, by and large, and demand social contact.
The workplace for the majority will not be returning to how it was pre-pandemic. The impact will go beyond how people work each day. Social interaction at work will become unrecognisable from previous decades. New ways of working are emerging. However, new forms of social contact have not yet materialised.
Public spaces will need to adapt to fill the social void left by virtual working. Some parts will be picked up by the private sector. Work hubs, cafes and a redefined retail sector will fulfil some needs for people who can pay. The rest will require open, free to access public gathering spaces, like the old town square. 
The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the two-tier society existing in England. As financial disparity widens, so does access to the internet and public space.
Without paying for broadband, fast access to knowledge, easily accessible to others, is denied. Only those who can afford monthly contracts have access to unlimited mobile data.
The same is happening in public spaces. Even when public facilities with cafes are accessible, the inability to buy coffee can still create a barrier.
England requires a bridge between commercialised and non-income generating public spaces.
Extremes of English public spaces: Granary Square, London Kings Cross and a public square in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
In England, it’s the market that has presided over the public sphere through recent generations. The High Street is the most obvious. Privatisation of squares and whole streets is not a new phenomenon in England. The pace of privatisation is the real cause for concern.
Privatised space often comes with restrictions on who can use it. The right of all citizens to assemble regardless of wealth or age has become more restrictive. Public places not reliant on enterprise are often left neglected. The online world is seeing similar barriers. Barriers risk alienating people and furthering polarisation.
Public space has to be redefined in England. Urban design should follow the templates of European neighbours like Spain, where people are the starting point, not commerce.  
With workplace socialisation in decline, a rethinking of public spaces has become essential.
The lines between privacy, censorship and freedom of speech blurred as the internet evolved. This blurring is where the battle for social media is happening. Only real-world dialogue and understanding will produce a solution fair to all.
It‘s unfair accusing governments of abdicating duty around online communication. The issues are complex. Every decision a government makes will have long term ramifications. Unlike laws within a country’s borders, the internet requires global solutions. What one country deems libellous will be satire in another.
Culture. Economic standing. Educational attainment. Religious and political norms. Many considerations have to feed into the internet debate. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides the first step.
In January 2021, Twitter removed the account of Donald Trump. During this period, Donald Trump was one of the most popular accounts, by followers, on the platform. He was also the sitting President of the United States of America. In removing the account, Twitter effectively issued a D-Notice.
A D-Notice is an old UK government device sent to media editors to voluntarily not report on a story. The fundamental difference between a democratic government and Twitter is one is elected, and the other is not.
And herein lies the rub. Who gets to decide what is and what is not acceptable online?
Has Twitter become a new form of democratic state? Rather than built on votes, Twitter runs on Tweets and sentiment.
Marketers use sentiment analysis to ascertain campaign effectiveness. It is a powerful tool for understanding how the public reacts to a topic or event. What it does not have are policy setting attributes. And this is what sets a government apart from corporations. Governments, in theory, set policies for the overall good of society in its entirety. Corporate policies set strategic goals for the company, shareholders and customers.
Aside from politics, the Trump episode highlights a dispersal of power. Beyond a vote, citizens can now vocalise their views, demands and concerns globally. This vocalisation has brought benefits and worrying situations. The storming of the US Capitol in January 2021 is one case in point.
Printing press politics
At the time of its creation, the printing press was the social media platform of its day. What followed sparked the violence of the Protestant Reformation and widespread education. One saw families and communities torn apart while the other brought societies together.
Our present period is no different.
The 2011 Arab Spring was, in part, attributed to social media as much as the underlying discontent. In Syria, a brutal war ensued. In Saudi Arabia, women began forcing reform around equality.
Protests, Black Lives Matter (BLM) and #MeToo went global due to social media. Groups opposed to change also use the same platforms to maintain the status quo.
So who is the referee for social media? And who was the referee for the printing press?
Public space and the arts
Public space has been the one constant throughout the history of societal change. Back to the time of the Greek agora, public space has proven pivotal, along with the arts, in forging progress.
Technological interaction is integral to progress. Real-world interaction is essential to peaceful co-existence.
It has never been more critical to have open gathering places and public spaces. Real-world environments challenge opinions and viewpoints. There is more exposure when people meet in person. More reactions are on show; body language, sweat, pupil dilation. These reactions can be positive or negative, depending on the situation. It is a different dynamic to sitting semi-anonymous behind a keyboard.
Public space, where people come together remains the best place for consensus to emerge. The arts will play a pivotal role as always. The ability of artists to see beyond the mundane will light the path.
The haphazard business journey has been to uncover what a hub of the future will look like? What does it need to convey? What will make it different?
The Fourth Portal hub needs to counter-balance the online environment. A hybrid meeting place, operating in both the real and virtual world. Open discussion and dialogue are intrinsic to the hub.
A successful Fourth Portal will spill over into other public forums. The reassertion of the historical value of public space is needed. Encouragement is required to reevaluate the importance of the town square and marketplace as places to gather. Urban design needs to incorporate hybrid relatedness into all future buildings. A well designed public space will be both physical and virtual.
Censorship demands by one group will be freedom of expression for another.
Measures to balance different views have not kept pace with the growth of online platforms. Meanwhile, the internet has become an extension of everyday life. It has allowed mass connectivity. Despite this, there is an increase in isolation and dis-association. Something is not right!
Censorship and privacy laws will be unable to address the problems of online interaction. Only real-life engagement and dialogue will solve these issues.
Governments are struggling to draft legislation. Big tech presently fills the void with their own rules.
We are only on our second-generation since the creation of the World Wide Web. The printing press has had dozens of generations shaping laws, regulations and principles, and we are still tinkering.
Public space, where people come together, remains the best place for consensus to emerge. It may take a long time. Discussion allows a better understanding. Ultimately, new online manners will emerge through real-world conversations – not on Twitter. The Fourth Portal will play a small part in nudging this conversation towards equitable consensus.
Apple focusing on privacy is proving to be beneficial for customers. Unfortunately, the high cost of products deters many from owning a device. This brings into focus the price of online security. Is there a two-tier internet when it comes to privacy?
Internet consumer models
There are three distinct consumer facing internet business models; advertising, donation and pay.
Facebook is the most recognisable free at the point of use Internet product. It derives the majority of its income from advertisers and its content from users.
Donation models rely on users support through donating cash or personal time. Examples include online news sites, not-for-profit and charitable services.
And there are straightforward payment models.
A few brands stick to a single business model; Wikipedia is the best known. Many of the most famous online brands run on a combination of these models. Google, as an example, combines subscription and advertising for its free service.
Apple developed a different business approach. It built the company on quality hardware providing internet and downloadable services. Advertising forms a small percentage of its total revenue. The core income derives from selling computers. Charging App developers for access to the Apple ecosystem has also proved lucrative. Apple is one of the world’s most valuable companies, with dollar reserves in the billions.
For its supporters, the success of the brand is about quality, both of the devices and security. Unlike the advertising model, Apple does not sell customer or user data. Privacy sits at the centre of the business model. For Apple loyalists, it’s the most important aspect of owning an Apple over another product.
An Apple laptop can be three or four times the cost of other laptops on the market. Those who cannot afford an Apple device can find security cumbersome. Protecting data involves purchasing security software. Enabling security requires a degree of understanding of the device settings. It can be a daunting task.
Creating and maintaining security settings is complex. To keep on top of all the threats is time-consuming. Ignoring security leaves users open to great peril. Risks like someone stealing bank login details is commonly understood. Longer-term risks are less appreciated. Companies build profiles on individuals over an extended period based on internet usage. Browsing habits, fitness data, travel apps and social media posts all provide aspects of a person’s profile. Over years, how much will this data determine the cost of medical care, insurance or where a person may live?
There is a real risk of commercial exploitation of data in the future. Unchecked, this will be much worse than anything being experienced at the time of writing.
There is also the reality of what a hostile government could do? Brexit has already shown the power of data manipulation (see Cambridge Analytica reports). Profiling could be used to curtail fundamental liberties in the future. This is already evident in some countries. 
Apple has long recognised these risks. In response, it is actively seeking to protect, at least in part, customers. But what about those who cannot afford Apple products? Who will be looking out for their privacy? Their protection?
As it stands, the market is encouraged to protect people from these risks. Except the market tends to serve the wealthier at the expense of the most vulnerable.
The scale of Apple now allows it to dictate how all others within its ecosystem behaves. The company also has increased power outside of its ecosystem. The board of Apple recognised that customers were becoming concerned about privacy. Its response was to introduce a raft of measures to reduce app owners ability to harvest users data. Apple’s response needs to be replicated by governments and institutions. All citizens need the protections Apple is seeking to provide its customers. Data protection should be regardless of personal financial circumstances.
Returning to Great Yarmouth for the first time since moving away in May 2021, this post touches on some of the trepidation of returning to the deprived seaside town and catching up with the Haphazard Business blog posts.
Leaving Waking London
Leaving the slowly waking, pandemic-damaged city giant of London for the almost destitute Norfolk seaside town of Great Yarmouth provides an odd sense of trepidation. As the 13:30 Greater Anglia train out of Liverpool Street whisks through the new glass towers of East London, a sense of almost despair at what to expect on my return is on my mind. London has a long way to go to recover from the pandemic, with major thoroughfares like Fleet Street, Theobalds Road, Strand, and Bloomsbury at times almost like ghost towns with retail casualties littering once busy streets. Great Yarmouth was already like this before the pandemic, and worse on my leaving in May, so I can only brace myself for what is to come.
As we travel, the train reduces to a slow pace and the train crew announce that there will be a lengthy delay due to a fatality on the line.
I should be really optimistic about this journey. From the turn of the year there has been money pouring into Great Yarmouth in the form of multimillion-pound grants. The approval of the new third bridge is around £120m, the swimming pool on the seafront £26m, Winter Gardens £10m, Town Centre deal £18m and a number of other public grants, all awarded within the past 12 months (numbers approximate). Private investment that I could see was mainly property speculation, people planning to cash in on an expected rise in house prices, no doubt creating yet another false bubble as elsewhere in the UK.
Having met the leadership of Great Yarmouth, observed and documented the town from 2019 through to 2021, and spoken with a great number of people I have no confidence in the slightest that any of this money will make a significant change to the lives of the tens of thousands of people trapped inside this poverty strewn district. There is a denial that pervades the town’s power brokers and firms that is more akin to 1970s cartels, with business reluctance to invest in the future; instead choosing to gloss over the past with a lick of paint.
New Blog Posts
Since leaving Great Yarmouth in May 2021 a lot has occurred. The intention of this blog from the outset was to document the journey and accompanying push and pull that goes along with setting up any new business. Time and energy has made keeping up with the posts difficult, leaving a number of half-written pieces that I intend to complete and publish over the coming 4 days.
The Great Yarmouth posts will outline why, in my personal view, I think the approach of the local authority, the county council and other government agencies is folly under the present leadership in the town. I will set out my reasons and include photos, films and personal experiences and conversations from my time in the town.
I also intend to publish how the learning and observations in Great Yarmouth shaped the emerging Fourth Portal and look to explain the interconnectivity that informs how tiny experiences and events shape ideas.
Seeing Kamala Harris huge happy smile brings me back to what I wrote exactly 4 years ago, as Donald Trump was confirmed US President. Vice-President Harris represents ‘the first flower open[ing] through a crack on the rocky path where only the ignored moss seemingly existed.’
Listening to the Vice-President’s humble speech acknowledging ‘the strength of vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been, and I stand on their shoulders’, recognises that positive change is a fluid process, built over time, and by many who had to sacrifice themselves to the cause.
For me, Trump’s arrival signified the ‘Last Throes Of Capitalism’; he has represented, and continues to be, the personification of capitalism in its most grotesque form.
As the new world begins to emerge, it is essential that there is not a seeking of retribution or punishment for the white man, whose hands continue to drip with the blood of the earth. Our new world has to begin as it means to go on, taking the hand of the scared, confused, frustrated and angry and show them how beautiful the world really is, and the size of the universe and the joy ahead.
Like providing experiences for a child who has never experienced joy, the challenge now is to embrace and lead not through punishment but through love, and then we can really begin to create a new world that lives with our mother earth, not against her.
Trump | Last Throes Of Capitalism
John McKiernan | Nov 9, 2016 | 1 min read
There is an observation of the death throes of the capital system, beached as it is on the shifting sands. The huge tail swings wildly as it gasps for air. The white man keeper is becoming desperate as he watches the enormous beast slowly dying, and with it his power. He knows the game is up. He looks around observing the emptiness, it was all an illusion, nothing actually ever existed in his world besides the youthful conjuring trick.
Suicide beckons as fear engulfs the scarred mind of deluded dominance. Now alone, watching the only thing he ever truly loved, flailing in front of his own eyes, he scans the horizon for whom in which to blame. He sees no one. There is nothing left. He will need to sleep soon as he is hungry and weak. In his angry daze, full of confusion, contorted by hate, he stumbles inadvertently under the last great flap of the monstrous tail. There is silence. Serenity returns. The first flower opens through a crack on the rocky path where only the ignored moss seemingly existed. The sun begins to shine brightly again.
Photo gallery of the emerging Paget Garden. The garden at the pub had pots of neglected plants. Nurturing them back to health became an idea for a new app game. A fun introduction to AI and other algorithmic technologies.
Introducing the Paget Garden
The Paget garden has been inspired by a book by a local man called James Paget, whose name locally is more associated with the nearby James Paget University NHS Hospitals. Along with his brothers, James Paget listed all the Fauna, Flora and Birds of Great Yarmouth and published as a book in 1834 titled, Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood.
Although I have not yet seen a physical copy of this book, which I first discovered mentioned in Sir James Paget: Surgeon Extraordinary and His Legacies, the pages I have seen were enough to inspire the garden and the forthcoming game.
Dead Plant Resurrection
Before acquiring the keys to the St John’s Head pub to develop into Portal B in February 2020, I noted a large number of seemingly dead plants on the patio.
On seeing these plants, I recalled an old colleague and French Chef, Ginni Debert from my Margate 2011 intervention, who demonstrated how, with water, love and some attention, most plants can recover to their former glory. As a metaphor, this could also be applied to towns’ like Great Yarmouth where, to an outside eye, the town can appear almost lifeless.
So in winter 2020 I began my project, with only a very vague idea of a plan. My first task was to cut back the bamboo in the garden where I live and put aside to dry.
Creating the Lab
Once St John’s Head was secured and I had the keys I began the task of transporting the plants back to my home and creating two lab spaces, at the front and rear of the house, to try and recover the plants. I also bought some tomato plant saps, took some rose cuttings from a neighbour’s garden and a friend provided some beans, courgettes and other seeds.
I have little active experience of gardening so it was as much guessing, sensing and remembering things from what others have said, particularly Ginni’s tips. The only purchase beyond the tomato plants I made was compost from the local Moulton nursery in the nearby town of Acle.
During lockdown the lab took more of my time and the plants slowly started to return to life. Neighbours were not convinced by my endeavours, however slowly and steadily they watch the front lab transform over April and May 2020.
In the rear lab area I created a large compost heap from the discarded plant waste, newspaper and food using compostable food bags that the breakfast cereals are packaged in. The hope is that this will be ready mid-autumn to plant a winter crop. This also solved a problem of not being able to take the waste to the local recycling tip, which was closed due to lockdown.
At time of writing, 10 Sept 2020, the compost heap is now less than a third as high and some fine compost is beginning to appear at the base of the heap.
Back of Asda
As well as the Paget writing, the real motivator is the area of flat marshlands just outside Great Yarmouth, directly behind the Asda supermarket. An incredibly beautiful, wild and managed area stretching miles and home to a huge array of plants, fauna, migrating as well as local birds, fish and insects. The constantly changing weather and light makes the back of Asda a magical place.
As any beginner to gardening will exclaim, there is real excitement in spring when the first shoots appear and immense pleasure when plants begin to bloom. By June 2020, as lockdown restrictions were slowly lifting and more local people began going about their business, the lab had turned into a proper garden – although all in pots – and people began to notice. Neighbours fell in love with the space, it was a beautiful place to sit despite the increased traffic noise.
I started testing ideas, like building a bamboo fence and whether it would stay upright in the strong Great Yarmouth winds, find out whether barrels could be converted into plant holders and how to construct bean climbers.
On the Move
With licensed premises again allowed to open, time came to move some of the plants to Portal B, their new home and build the bamboo fence around the car park using the old beer barrels.
Inside Portal B there will be a plant exchange to encourage people to grow their own. The first plants in the exchange all come from a single mother money plant, the only plant in the pub that was still thriving when the keys were handed over.
First Crop and More Plants
The first sign of a crop began to show in July and it slowly expanded over August. Colleague Gillian brought some succulents to add to the money plants, and the beans and tomato plants in particular grew fast. Some of these were in old plastic milk bottles to demonstrate that it is possible to use any container. There has been the odd problem, like almost hurricane winds blowing over many of the containers.
As with the lab, neighbours to Portal B began to see this strange garden emerging in what was previously just a concrete empty car park space behind an old pub. As August pushed towards September 2020 a bountiful crop began to appear and neighbours became increasingly interested in what was/is growing. The harvest of beans, tomatoes and cucumbers are an ongoing feast and allows for sharing with many who live locally. The courgettes and chilli peppers have not been so bountiful as would be hoped and the snails and slugs feasted on the lettuces and onions all summer. No chemical sprays or pellets are used.
The garden has already proved a great conversation starter and breaks down barriers reasonably quickly. I have had a few opportunities to show some of the plant apps that I want to use to introduce AI and Machine Learning (ML) in particular. On the Patience, Perseverance and Hooks blog post I outline the importance of these slow build ups that allow people to engage at their own pace. Food and nature are great as both are imperative to our survival.
Over autumn 2020 and winter 2021, the intention is to develop a game to accompany the garden. The game blog post will follow soon, in the meantime, more on why this is called the Paget Garden.
The local NHS hospital is named after an inspirational local man, James Paget who was a pioneer of pathology and the inspiration for a game and garden that will begin introducing AI technologies to the people of Great Yarmouth.
James Paget in Brief
The James Paget NHS Hospital Trust is named after a local man to Great Yarmouth.
Sir James Paget became the Surgeon Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, and is now eponymous with a number of diseases, the most well known of which is Paget’s Disease. Paget had to overcome many obstacles and illnesses throughout his life, as well as financial difficulties, and was always aware of those who were suffering from misfortune. Throughout his early career Paget craved one innovation more than anything else, a microscope, the Machine Learning (ML) equivalent of that period.
From a teenager, James Paget, along with his older brothers began documenting the birds, plants and fauna of his home town and in 1834 published, Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood.
The introduction states the intention to engage residents and visitors to Great Yarmouth to become aware of their surroundings with “the idea that it might be useful’. They believed ‘persons residing in town’ may engage more fully with the manicipality and local environment if they ‘become aware of the number and excellence of the productions of their own neighbourhood are in some measure pointed out”. Fourth Portal has a similar aim, to raise awareness of the opportunities that new technologies can offer in benefiting individuals and towns like Great Yarmouth while attempting to reverse some of the environmental damage we have all caused.
Introducing Algorithms to Great Yarmouth
The Paget brothers book stimulated an exciting way to introduce Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Linked Data, Semantic technologies, image recognition and Virtual Reality (VR) to the residents and visitors of Great Yarmouth. In the process, I feel it could fulfil the central aim of the Paget publication that future researchers could complete the Sketch by filling in the gaps. It seems that time has arrived!
The idea to create a Paget Garden at the back of Portal B began simmering in late 2019, after reading Sir James Paget : Surgeon Extraordinary and His Legacies by Hugh Sturzaker. Sketch of the Natural History of Yarmouth and Its Neighbourhood was touched upon while describing the Great Yarmouth of Paget’s youth. Throughout Sturzaker’s book there are striking similarities to issues Great Yarmouth, and many other towns, are facing today, poverty, absence of adequate education, lack of curiosity and little active engagement or interest in the natural world.
Reading how the Paget brothers had listed everything they found, I decided to create a garden along the same lines using some almost dead plants that I found upon the patio at the back of St John’s Head pub, now Portal B. The garden I began creating, just as the UK went into the first national Covid-19 lockdown, is a good way to engage people who would not go into a pub or have little interest in technology, plants or the environment. In addition, I saw very few plants and kept gardens in Great Yarmouth and I thought it might work as a stimulus to others to grow flowers and food. For more read The Paget Garden and view the gallery.
Point of note: The Sir James Paget book author Hugh Sturzaker is himself a surgeon and was governor of the James Paget Hospital for 8 years from 2005, having previously worked there since 1979.
My initial idea was fairly simple, use the garden as a way of introducing algorithm based technologies. There are now numerous free plant apps for mobile devices that can be simply downloaded and used by taking a photo of the plant of interest. Usually within seconds the plant can be identified with a reasonable degree of accuracy and wealth of information is provided, from the latin name through to the origins of the species. As the use of these apps widen so the accuracy improves, a process called Machine Learning. They are impressive, and will be a simple way to begin to explain the power of some of these new technologies and hopefully stimulate ideas how these could prove useful in other contexts.
Using the interventionist approach developed with my Platform-7 network, the garden will emerge at a deliberately slow pace, allowing local people to watch plants arrive in pots, grow and change. As hoped, it has already begun to attract neighbours to ask questions with some enjoying the harvest of tomatoes, beans, courgettes and cucumbers. During the conversations about the plants, opportunity to use the plant app arises directing the discussion towards technology.
Along with colleagues from several universities, the Paget garden idea has developed, and now forms a much larger and important element of Portal B. We intend to create an open source game using various technologies to see whether the people of Great Yarmouth and beyond can fill up the Paget Sketch.
We are at the very outset. What we know for sure is that the game will be in the form of an app and open source, meaning anyone with basic coding skills can contribute. The intention is to draw in as many people as possible, by making it as collaborative as possible.
Beyond Coding | Creating Communities
The beauty of the Paget garden is there are numerous avenues to join in, even if a person has no liking or understanding of technology. The project is to inspire curiosity and develop new communities and ideas. Create interest groups and hopefully inspire some ideas that can be commercialised by individuals, for example walks around the town and local marshlands and riverbank.
The Paget garden and Paget game will serve as inspiration. They will allow people coming to Portal B, those passing through and potentially schools and local groups to engage in topics that may not be easily accessible or even considered previously. The programme will link people with people, people to technology, technology to environment, and environment and technology to people and community. It may also inspire some entrepreneurship, but that will be for another blog post.
Slow Time | Knowledge and Wisdom
A further key learning outcome to this programme is stressing how learning is lifelong, and how seemingly unimportant, insignificant or irrelevant knowledge and wisdom may have relevance and importance at some future time.
James Paget recognised this himself, a man whose career and fame did not arrive until quite late in life…
James attended lectures on anatomy and bone given by Mr Randall at the Angel Inn – it was not uncommon for inns to be used as lecture halls and for teaching purposes during this period. He later described this as being equal to anything learned from lectures heard in London during later years.
During his apprenticeship an outbreak of Asiatic cholera developed in Great Yarmouth. He saw many cases which were unsuccessfully treated using a variety of methods such as bleeding, opium and saltwater injections. He studied the disease intensively and created an orderly volume of abstracts of his readings, a skill he developed from his study of natural history.
Even when knowledge or knowhow is no longer relevant, the discipline of acquiring remains invaluable.
During his later years he wrote of the Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood “The knowledge was useless; the discipline of acquiring it was beyond price”.
It is hoped the game will provide some valuable information about the changing natural environment of Great Yarmouth and surrounding marshes. Norfolk, on England’s east coast is particularly susceptible to rising sea levels, storm surges and strong winds. How this has changed the landscape over the past 190 years might prove revealing.
This programme will begin quietly and grow and develop at its own pace, the importance is to start introducing different technologies at a level people are comfortable without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed.
Throughout the ages, technological advances share a common theme; how to apply them to everyday use and inspire new innovations and discoveries? Development of the microscope was no different and can be compared to how photographic imaging recognition needed people uploading camera phone photos to gather enough images to learn from.
It has to be said, however, that until the nineteenth century most microscopes were sold as gentleman’s toys rather than instruments for serious scientific experimentation. They were provided with expensive cases, lined with plush velvet and compartmentalised to accommodate various accessories that often went unused. To avoid disappointment the makers often supplied the purchaser with a set of pre-prepared slides.
The College of Optometrists, Early microscopes: The first simple insect viewers, undated.
1793; this was the time of transition from Hunter’s teaching, which for all its greatness was hindered by want of the modern microscope, to the pathology and bacteriology of the present day. Paget’s greatest achievement was that he made pathology dependent, in everything, on the use of the microscope, especially the pathology of tumours.
Introduction to Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood
It is sincerely hope, that the name given to the present work will be interpreted literally- at nothing more than a mere open “sketch” does it aim; nor were the motives which induced its publication any but of the most unpretending description. They were founded on the idea that it might be useful first, by aiding another to the number of local history necessary to a perfect acquaintance with that of the whole kingdom, and with the particular distribution of each species; and, secondly, that other persons residing in town may, when the number and excellence of the productions of their own neighbourhood are in some measure pointed out, be led more diligently to pursue their investigation than hitherto, while those only casually visiting it maybe enabled more easily to procure specimens of the several rarities. Should these purposes be even inadequately fulfilled, its intention will be accomplished, more especially if it excite a spirit of research, by the assistance of which the Sketch may at some future period be filled up.
It may be useful at the outset, briefly to describe the characters of the localities in which the species hereafter mentioned occur, as well as to give some general directions respecting the mode in which they may be best be procured.