Hêtre, Germinal, 227

Well, it’s still quiet. My calendar is perversely empty. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that in case you want me to do something.

Supra Systems and the Cerebral
We had a good meeting of Supra Systems Studio last Thursday where we spent some time trying to figure out what we were about and why. We’ve got a larger group project coming up that we want to use as a demonstration of the studio’s potential and it was great to get just a load of super sharp people in a room together to hash out a plan, some ideas and a direction. It’s also great to have a whole day of intellectual discussion.

Paradoxically, the more time I spend in academia, the less time I spend in academic pursuits. Everyone has the usual complaints about the emails and meetings but I don’t actually mind the operational stuff, I actually really enjoy it. There’s a pleasure in feeling an institution, a subject and an attitude move forward and a privilege in having the opportunity to be part of steering it and that leads to a quiet appreciation the value of what might otherwise be quite prosaic activities. However, I do miss more cerebral work sometimes and it can be hard to jump out of the mindset of strategy and operations into intellectual discussion. I suppose it’s about keeping all these things in balance. That’s another reasons for redoing Ongoing Collapse, it gives me something technical to tinker with and keep those muscles active as well.

Anyway, the studio has some stuff coming up but we’re also at a point where big steps need to be taken to ensure its public and institutional legitimacy beyond than the fantastic excitement that was present at launch.

Decline online 
I haven’t changed much online decline.online (added a clock and tidied up some styling errors I found while playing with it (the perils of working on a 4k screen)) this week because of having to get a load of stuff done on the book. I got some time on Wednesday night to get the scraping script and JSON FTP uploading setup.

I’ve been playing with Python in recent projects and I really never want to touch PHP ever again so I have a new pipeline which is running a python script with Beautiful Soup (on my computer at the moment) which scrapes and compiles into a JSON file then uploads that via FTP. It works really well and is much less finicky than PHP.

I have several things to figure out now (hopefully tonight):

  • Can I run this python on my server? (Tips and help would really be appreciated here.)
  • At the moment it prints out direct to JSON, however that's going to eventually cause issues as the data set grows. 
  • So can I also set it up to send to an SQL database as a backup?
I also need to get into the grind of scraping all the sources, so if you have any I can add, please let me know. 

Speaking of the cerebral, we submitted the draft manuscript yesterday! I spend most of the weekend at it and we made a big push in the last few days to go over and over it and get all the styling and references sorted. 

It’s quite a different writing process to normal. Because we’re aiming at an audience who are designers or students of design we’re not assuming have much of a reading of critical practice. This means that we’re starting at the core stuff and by the time you’re getting into full flow you hit the word count wall. So, more nuanced ideas sometimes have to get cut to accommodate the core stuff. After re-re-re-reading each chapter I sort of sit there and go ‘Is this good?’ But then I (or one of the people I talk to almost every day) wrote it. So, is it just that I’m so used to it that it strikes me as not that interesting? Reminds me of looking back on old bits of work and thinking ‘Hey, this is pretty cool, why did I hate it so much at the time?’ Or every time someone says they like a project and I’m like ‘really?’ in a high-pitched squeal of disbelief. (This is often taken offensively as people think I’m belittling them. I’m not. I’m sorry.)

I’ve got a meeting with my PhD supervisor (the lovely Matt Ward) tomorrow where I’m looking forward to thinking through what’s next. I feel like I’ve got a large chunk of it done, maybe a quarter(?) But then maybe I’m wrong. At LCC there’s loads of organisation to do, planning for next academic year has already started and I’ve got a massive team I’m working with at the moment. There’s a lot of moving parts but I’m thinking they’ll all line up well enough. There's also still two jobs we're recruiting for so please get in touch if you want to talk about them. (Senior Lecturer, Digital Experience and Motion Design and Course Leader, BA Graphic Media Design)

Oh, I’m going to be in Milan on 10th-12th April for [accent and hand gestures] Salone. It would be lovely to see anyone who wants to hang out. 

I’m going back to Italy after that but I’m not telling you where or when because it’s my holiday with Mrs Revell. Leave us alone.