bookmark_borderWatching the Ones and Zeroes Go Round

Big thanks to the best ever Post Reality Service Provider for restoring full operations just in time to share this from BIG DATA LDN at Olympia from 14 November 2018 a mere near fortnight ago.

The Data Lake laps the shore as the seas rise.  Water finds its own level everywhere.  Our narrative is drowning in data.  Quagmired in the data swamp, we sink fast in the data quicksand.  You need to dredge the lake and rescue your data set.  Clean it and hang it out to dry.  Or even better take it to the launderette for a service wash.NoorDinTech tweet#BigDataLDN Joshua Robinson Data Lakes @NoorDinTech

Deep beneath the Data Lake run the cables that connect us all, a filigree of fibre filaments. 120 years ago one of the first long distance underground cables was laid.  The London Birmingham No. 1 Cable consisted of 38 pairs of 150 Lbs Per Mile Conductor (2.461 MM Dia). The outer sheath was lead and the individual conductors were insulated with paper and air.  It was used primarily for telegraph circuits rather than speech.Close up of one of the first Underground CablesThe London Birmingham No. 1 Cable (thank you National Museum of Computing for bringing a sense of perspective and heritage and context and scale to the conference)

Back at the data launderette we select the programme for ‘warm’ or ‘delicate fabrics’ and process another load of metadata.  As long as we can decouple it enough from the rest of our stack it will be alright.

Another week ends at the data launderette

bookmark_borderYou Decide (The Maskifier: Part 2)

‘And that’s it really.  The sea.  And the way it pounds the shore.  It takes our old defences and turns them into battering rams.  It pours over the fields at high tide,’ you say.  The Maskifier nods, fingers tapping away, looking at the robotic arm next to them carving rose wood marquetry in intricate loops onto a pawn from a half complete chess set.

The whir of servo motors the only sound.

‘So the thing is,’ you add, feeling more unsure by the minute.  ‘I need you to make up something to fix it.  To change it.  The Coastal Erosion Plan doesn’t work for us.  The sea breached the last line months ago.  We’re being washed away.’

The Maskifier rolls their shoulders, stretches their neck from one side to the other.  Then smiles.

‘Come back tomorrow.  I’ll give you a demo.’

And that was that.  After a sleepless night you return.  There is a baroque madrigal playing gently in the background.  The robot arm is strumming a lute.  You put on your headset and look around.  Nothing has changed.  The smoke effects still drift along the corners.  Then you notice a small white stone on the floor, holes worn through it where the sea has washed away the old sediment.  You bend down, pick it up, and the stone feels heavy in your hand.  As you hold it, the white of the stone rises around you, it’s sides curve over your head, and you’re inside it, turned inside out, the sound of the waves in your ears, rinsing thoughts from your head.  You run one way, then another, then hug the porous chalk, reaching for a handhold to haul yourself up.  There isn’t one, the stone walls beneath your fingers worn smooth by the sea.

‘Hey!’ you shout.  ‘Where’s the way out?’

‘Walk on the water!’ The Maskifier says.  

The smell of sea spray and the bite of salt in your mouth.

You’re being rolled around in the stone, and then you hold onto the lip of the last curve and swing yourself out, legs telescoping below you, to walk on the sea.

You brace yourself to fall feet first into the ocean swell, but your feet touch the surface instead.  The waves rise up to meet you and you splash through them as if they were puddles, swaying in the tide.

‘There’s nothing else here,’ you say, indignant, ripping off the headset.  ‘This isn’t what I paid for!’

The Maskifier shrugs.  ‘I disagree.  My name is my bond.  My job is to mask things.  And mask things I do.  I’ve given you something to hide inside, something you can see through in a different way.  I’ve acted to heal, mend, mitigate, reconfigure and celebrate.  Before you get all cross, ask yourself this question.  How do you feel? And what would you prefer?’

Not The Only Pebble On The Beach…

bookmark_borderThe Maskifier Will See You Now (The Maskifier: Part 1)

In the corner, loops of old smoke effects lurk and spill outwards. You hold your breath as you walk into the shimmering billows.

Peering through them you see a word float forwards in front of you and read in rainbow bubble text ‘Welcome’.

You’ve waited weeks for this meeting, and now you’re here, actually here, right in the heart of the Post Reality Service Provider that everyone says makes the best Empathy Patches ©®™ in East London.  You reach out towards the word.  It smells of candy floss and your fingers tingle as you get closer to it.

‘Don’t touch that!’ a disembodied voice shouts.  You pull off the headset and stand still, the space around you turning back into a studio, a comfy sofa next to you.  The Maskifier is typing away at an ancient keyboard, muttering as they adjust code.  ‘I need to tidy up that smoke.  Things aren’t quite what they seem in there.  But right now I’m just going to do this.  Perception Filters.  You need to care less about some things and more about others mate, you really do.’

You haven’t said anything yet.  What does the Maskifier know about what you really need to care about?

Another flurry of taps and ‘UPLOAD COMPLETE’ pings across the screen behind the Maskifier.

With a final flourish they turn to face you.  ‘Trust me, I know what I’m talking about’ they say, in answer to the question you never asked.

Run Fast to the Future, Don’t Look Back