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A group distraction, presented by nige.


The first instalment of Interview52 is now complete! It started on Friday 18th July 2008 and finished on 13th September 2009. A little later than expected, but we got there.


52 mobloggers from around the world...

Some familiar, some not...

Each will publish a unique self-portrait, accompanied by a short interview.

Candid portrait meets candid interview.

The Rules

Every Friday the next interviewee in line will publish a new portrait and interview, consisting of their answers to the ten questions they have been given.

After they have published, the interviewee will then become the interviewer. They will be responsible for finding the next participant, as well as compiling the questions that this next person in line will answer. Interviewers can change as many or as few questions as they like, but they should change at least one before passing them on to the next lucky punter.

Thats it! Simple. More detailed instructions will be given to each interviewee as and when they are approached, so fear not.

The interviewees so far









Jig along



Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri








Jane Doe



Spiderbaby / Freakdog




George w/Blue Eyes






















Strange Little Girl




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1. Where are you currently and why? Where would you rather be on an ideal day in an ideal world?

>>Currently I'm sitting at my desk writing a presentation for a conference I'm at in Manchester next week. It's sunny outside. It's Sunday. Gah. Right now I'd like to be on a beach in Durban, South Africa. It's 27 degrees Celsius and there's a 5 foot swell achingly close to utter perfection breaking in 6 set waves just off the new pier, and I'm paddling in to the last, most perfect wave in the set.
>> 2. Tell us your moblog story, how did it all begin for you, what purpose does Moblog have for you?
It's a bit random and sort of funny actually. I had been using Textamerica (which you may remember, it went under last year) for a year or so, moblogging away. I'd had a real interest in mobile technology for a long time, my first start-up being a site for video media for Palm devices. So anyway I was using Textamerica and then one day, for *no discernible reason whatsoever*, they deleted my account.

There was so much stuff there that I couldn't believe I'd lost. For example I'd recorded the pin hole surgery I had on my knee after a skateboarding accident - utterly unique bits of my life. I was so furious. Really, just utterly furious. I got it into my head to create a competing service, a better service, a service that would never behave that way to one of it's members.

I went to a forum I used a lot at the time and started chatting with friends about the idea, and asking people if anyone had been working on a mail parser for mobile blogging or would like to work with me on creating a mobile blogging site. That's when Mat and I got together and MoblogUK was born.

Moblog has been such an enormous part of my life since that beginning. It's been the child that you sacrifice everything for - in my case that sacrifice was living at the breadline for a long time and well, not sleeping an awful lot. But Moblog has given me so much more in return. It's been the proving ground for many of the ideas that I've had and have wanted to explore. It's taught me so much about community and people.

>> 3. What are your favourite moblog memories? from both your own and other blogs.

Wow. Bronxelf and Eversion, Dhamaka, Joe, and everyone coming down to the We're Not Afraid exhibition launch night was just amazing, as was working with so many mobloggers on actually running that site. Travelling up to a Moblog party at Geodyne's house in Oxford and getting us all thoroughly lost in the car. For me it's not particular posts that stand out (although there are plenty of those), it's the people and the things we've done together that are my fondest memories of Moblog.
>> 4. Name three things you would change in your life that would make you happier?
A return to a high level of fitness (Im lazy)
Be able to take a year off and go surfing around the world.
Have greater financial stability (im working on this one).
>> 5. Where do you see moblog in another 5 years time and what do you consider has contributed to moblog's success?
gosh. this is just.. unanswerable... :) i really dont know.

>> 6. Are there any causes or principles you would be prepared to fight for? What form would your protest take?

When you say 'fight' what do you mean, like, fisticuffs? If you mean 'put all my energy into' I'd have to say that right now, no 'cause' really. That might sound cavalier or selfish, but let me explain. There's so much
wrong with the world right? There are *so many* things to care about, to take action on, to get involved in, that it's overload. And not only that, but in the vast majority of the cases when it comes to 'causes', addressing them doesn't address the root of the problem. I don't actively support major charities; they are so often basically *broken* bureaucratic entities that are no longer effective. For me, the *only* causes to get involved in would be addressing the root issues around global poverty and illiteracy.

But I'm an Optimist (capital O). I'm an optimist in the idea that our technologies will take us past the barriers our meat heritage imposes on our behaviour. Moore's law says that since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958, the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has increased exponentially, doubling approximately every two years. So this law (very much a constant for the last 40+ years) means that by 2020 we should be able to buy the most powerful computer today for about £5. What does that *mean* for transforming the world?

Individuals are becoming super empowered through technology - a danger as much as there is potential for positive transformational shift in cultures and societies. It's an Asymmetric power model - so terrible things can happen, but it's the bargain we make because of the positive transformational potential. Just imagine, say, being able to create an antiviral HIV cocktail with inexpensive consumer available tools- imagine being able to just download an instruction set, feed it into a machine along with base compounds and in 5 hours have a years supply of the drugs. These transformational technologies along with education will lift the poor of the world to a place where they can feed themselves, heal themselves, and make sure the water that they drink is clean. Education is the greatest force for peace imaginable, and that's what Moore's law means for the future of our species. Mobile phones in the developing world are the first pervasive vector for educating the world, so I'm intensely interested in and actively keep abreast of projects and trends in this area.

So what am I saying to answer your question? A lot of the work that I've been doing lately (Britglyph, FindMe) has been exploring what I call Hypercontext - a property of the Semantic web. This idea that *everything* is or will eventually be connected, an internet not only of ideas but of places and things, and people. From this work I can see myself taking what I've learned and trying to apply that to problems of education through technology in the developing world. The reason for this long winded explanation is that there isn't a cause or principle I can honestly say I'd fight for - I think charities are mostly broken. What I *will* do is keep learning and keep applying what I've learned to making the world a more interesting place, and hopefully one day what I've learned can be put to true and effective use in helping the poor of the world gain access to the knowledge that will lift them out of poverty.

>> 7. What's your motto? Your tagline? Your favorite saying?
Hmmmn. I don't really have one, but if I did, when asked where I work I often say "At the department for really moving things along" - a line from a Michael Marshall Smith book, 'Only Forward' (an author who I thoroughly recommend btw).
>> 8. What question were you hoping to be asked? And what would your answer be?
Q "Where shall I send the cheque?"
A "As usual, wire it to my Cayman islands account".

>> 9. What movie have you most often recommended to others and why, or what's your favorite movie?
Hmmn. Tough one. I mean, how do you answer it? A different 'top' movie should be recommended based on the context; I wont recommend Happiness to the soft of heart, nor Angel Heart to a Catholic Nun. Hmmn. There is one movie which stands out as one I recommend most often though. It's called Primer and deals with the ramifications and timeline of two friends who unexpectedly invent time travel. It's incredibly inventive and thought provoking, and requires at *least* 5 viewings to start to grok what's going on.
>> 10. Of all the places you have traveled or lived, is there one particular place that feels most significant?
For me it will always be Durban, in South Africa, where I lived for some of my pre-teen and most of my teenage life. It's where all my strongest memories of growing up are, couched in soft and hot year-long-summers. It's a city of depressing extremes, and I lived both in Apartheid and watched it come down, and all the intense shifts that that revolution brought about. It's a city (in a country) where it's hard to be optimistic about the future, but it's just so beautiful and extreme, and the people are amazing.

Posted by Alfie

16th May 2009, 10:55   | tags:,


Twiglet says:

Reading this with BS. We love your answers Alfie and rejoice in your success!

16th May 2009, 11:14

Joe says:

The party was in Cambridge...but who cares, it was one hell of a party.....especially the bit where Kikuchan drank enough to kill a horse and fell over :)

16th May 2009, 11:23

beth says:

I missed BOTH those parties!

16th May 2009, 11:34

Nice one Alfie, very eloquent, good luck with your future plans! thankyou.

16th May 2009, 16:30

Alfie says:

@joe -of COURSE it was Cambridge! See how lost I really was?

16th May 2009, 17:12

OJ says:

Ha ha. No wonder you were lost!

Interesting - and good to hang out with you a bit yesterday.

I'm going to digest your thoughts on question 6 properly later.

16th May 2009, 18:16

great interview Alfie - and I'm glad someone else said the Cambridge thing

thanks for mentioning me at the WNA It was a fantastic evening for me, closely entwined with my memories of being dragged into this community, the idea for which I thank you and Mat again

re Michael Marshall Smith - seconded. If you've read none of his books start with 'Only Forward' or 'Spares' I *wish* more authors could deliver punchy paced prose and not-so-foreign futures like his


16th May 2009, 18:21

factotum says:

Good interview! Your capital O Optimism and idealism shine through.

16th May 2009, 18:58

Viv says:

Long may you hold onto those 2 attributes - relly interesting read

17th May 2009, 17:56

Glad to see you made it into this series. I've been pretty quiet for months while I get caught up at work, but I've been reading -- and I read every single one of these interviews.

There's nothing like the motivation of seeing something broken that you personally have a need for, making a stab at fixing it, and offering the fix up for public consumption. It's the perfect mix of enlightened self-interest and compassion.

Also this is the first time I've heard someone mention Angel Heart other than myself in ... twenty years? :)


17th May 2009, 21:12

Caine says:

Good reading, Alfie. I've only seen Primer three times. :D

17th May 2009, 23:37

nige says:

Great interview, star. Very thought provoking and funny, except for that utterly RUBBISH answer to number 5. Bloody inexcusable! Hahaha! ; )

Love the way the questions have been remoulded over the last fortnight, thanks to OJ & beth. Anything that mines deeper for more information is a great thing : )

18th May 2009, 09:26

540air says:

Alfie and his directional skillz are legendary. As nige said, great interview :)

18th May 2009, 13:20

Spike says:

a great read man.. fab

18th May 2009, 16:17

swamprose says:

alfie, thanks. wishing you time in houts bay, sometime soon.

18th May 2009, 16:39

Alfie says:

Thanks everyone, I really enjoyed answering them, well done Nige for starting it. OJ, was great to see you too, I need to find time to post the pics! Xalieri, I love Angel Heart so much, can't count the number of times I've seen it. Also, I'm intensely aware I owe you TWO emails, will get on that.

20th May 2009, 07:48

nige says:

Get on it Dennen! Who's got next?

23rd May 2009, 13:47

Alfie says:

It's Richtard innit, Rich, where are ya's?

23rd May 2009, 16:01

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