Archive for tag: Glastonbury

my Glastonbury History Part 2 - 1999

Glastonbury History Part 2

1999

Myself and a friend Travis Pedley spent a lot of time talking about the power of websites as a social medium, especialy where you could have a web site that was based on a database which allowed the division of people writing good quality content and outputting the code to the internet to build a website. We saw this as a change with far reaching consquences as no longer would web sites need to be a geeky preoccupation obsessed with the topics of the technically obsessed but would bring the reach of websites to new audiences.

We'd been looking at websites since 1996 when we were involved with Lionel Lodge in founding a free magazine in Stroud Gloucestershire to promote a patchy live entertainment scene which generated a large amount of high quality original writing and new writers but with economics that could never work. We saw a potential for the web to radically change this so long as it could provide material that would interest it's potential new audience.

What was this material? What was the big secret that we could write about comfortably and present as a web site that could assist in really changing the audience outlook - of going through all the effort of using a computer to read news at 28Kbits when picking up a newspaper was so easy?

Lionel's father, Tom Lodge, was an interesting character and had come to Stroud from California from where he brought society changing artefacts like inkjet printers and AOL disks! He had been heavily involved in Radio Caroline, Britains major pirate radio station, as a young man he'd written best selling books, he's been involved in the struggle for freedom against conservative administrations his whole life. He would constantly pepper conversations with fascinating references to writers and thinkers. He introduced me to the phrase "the medium is the message" and many other ideas and people who had changed the world of broadcasting in the 1960s. Stroud was a great place for the kind of conversations that could span weeks and months.

So with this illumination we thought about the question of web content. What was it about the medium that would inform the message? The fact that it was non broadcast. In a web application an individual copy is "served" to each individual user, it is not presented to the user as part of a programme but the user has to choose it and choose every step and turn they take. Therefore it is driven by the interests of the being exploring it and

In press, cinema, radio, record production and television a master copy is made and mass produced virtually unchanged for all who consume it. This acted to force the producer and consumer into a one size fits all mentality. There are seams of difference, tribes and nations but all communication radiates from a centrally produced point to be consumed by it's subscribers. In effect it acts as a conservative force where change to the core values represents a threat to the continuum. When newspaper production was more organic with regional offices and regional printing presses and much more significant local news organisations you had more chance of knowing the local journalists, but with the advent of radio, the cinema and then television the media was produced at such a distance that it was not part of the everyday world of which you were part but just an input into your everyday world from a distant endpoint. When people become more alienated from the story that makes their lives in turn the inhibitions to violence decrease. This is manifested not only at it's end point of physical violence but also in a decrease in peace loving harmony and a sense of belonging to the people around you, so this violence can be in discourtesy, petty criminality and gratuitous hurt as the person feels less connected to the people around them, as if they are living in different narratives. It's long been impossible to prove that violent video games and movies lead to actual violence but the need to consume these products is demonstrably anti-social and does nothing to foster an understanding and cooperation between people.

So what was in our world that would most benefit from this? Stroud has a long standing connection to the Glastonbury Festival. There are many strands to this connection, including musicians who played big slots at the first and early festivals and especially the annual decampment of many of the town to work on the acoustic stage. This was led by a quite brilliant, fondly remembered but sadly deceased man, Andrew Thomas who had been involved in the production of the acoustic stage since it began. I don't know the whole story but it is my understanding that Andy was involved in managing some of the great music pubs in Bath whilst Michael was using the theatre there to source the acts for the festival. When he came to Stroud to run the Pelican it had a profound effect on thousands of people's lives. He encouraged vast amounts of creativity putting bands on almost every night of the week, tours, opening a theatre in his pub. It attracted some trouble but there was an overwhelming sense of engagement between everyone who was part of the story. His funeral in the winter of 2002 was a day that changed my life very positively too.

A festival very much is a place where each and every person there contributes to making it happen. Just by being there, enjoying it and being part of it and being. The festival needs every single person from the biggest headliner, every trader, all crew and every single ticket holder. Once you are part of it most people realise really quickly that their enjoyment is driven by what they give and not what they take. Most realise they're not depending on a story being fed from somewhere else but they're adding their story to the whole thing. The best moments come from the heart and are shared with those around you. If you're not engaged then it's not happening and the festival loses the strength of one heart so all around act to bring all hearts into the one being. This is not a conscious act but it's in the nature of festival. That's not to say that this is universal, there are still some unable to engage, but the many do feel part of it

Travis and I came to a view that the best way to build a website that could really showcase the power of content management and community engagement on the web was to build a website that covered Glastonbury Festival. There was just so much content there you would always have an engaging site with something for everyone. There had been a number of websites before this but they had focussed on basic information rather than the content of the festival itself. They'd also appeared to be run from a broadcast perspective rather than a community one. Information was centrally debated and then disseminated. Contributions from the public were submitted, assessed and rebroadcast if they were acceptable. The new website we wanted to create would be owned by the festival and the contributors and not by private individuals with their own needs to fulfil.

So at the time Content Management software cost many hundreds of thousands so I took to my room and wrote a new version of my CMS in Visual FoxPro that operated on a LAN. Internet connection speeds at the time were too slow to allow lots of people to connect to a server so instead we had a database server and a number of workstations attached to it that allowed about 6 people at a time to connect and enter content. This then was compiled into a site and uploaded. We spoke to Andy who spoke to Michael Eavis and we had permission and ten passes to have a table in a portacabin and an ISDN line. We came up with a truly terrible pun and www.glastonline.com (see what I did there!) was born.

I'm very sad to say though that it didn't actually happen. It wasn't all bad - I sold my CMS to 14 customers at about £3000 a time. Where it went wrong though was I hit the giant crocodile filled moat that is the festival politics. The official site had a box for you to submit links, and so I put a link to GlastOnLine.com in there. Within hours I had a phone call telling me that I couldn't do this. That I had to stop. They told Michael Eavis this too, who told Andy, who told me. I told the other 9 who thought they were coming. I didn't let this go without an argument. There was grave concern that we would infringe the copyright of performers, and the rights of the official press and broadcasters. I had an exceptionally long telephone conversation with a festival production manager, who subsequently became a good friend and I'd prefer not to name, and I recall it in every 3 hour 20 minute detail. I was flat sitting in Kensington hanging out the front window to get mobile signal, then I went pacing around Kensington and ended up sitting amongst the flags outside the Commonwealth Institute in Holland Park. There are so many things remarkable about that conversation not least that I held the attention of the person I was talking with whilst he had the whole site build going on around him, and that his mobile signal on the Glastonbury site held for so long. I feel that I won the debate but by that time the passes and the portakabin had been cancelled and there was no getting them back. I don't think Andy was too happy with me for "getting him into trouble" with Michael, I never got to really talk with him properly again after that. The most memrable part of the conversation for me was the threat that my photo would be placed at every gate with instructions to ensure that I could not get onsite with my equipment! That was a little scarey.

All we were seeking to do was an experiment with content management, and share the joy of the festival with people on the web who couldn't be there, or at least see how or if that could be achieved. It wasn't to be. The 9 were quite unhappy. I bought a ticket from HMV in Swindon I think I offerred to do the same for them but they were too bummed out. There is a happy ending to this story in the year 2000, but I think only 2 of them came back.

I must admit I had a brilliant festival. 1999 was outrageously sunny which was especially sweet after two horrendous years of mud. I caught up with some of my best friends in the world. I had an excellent time of music, dancing and campfires. The stress of all this soon melted away.

Apologies for the long ramble and congratulations if you got this far through the story. This year was a real turning point for me. What followed was seven long years of really testing out these theories. Total immersion in it. I didn't take a single computer with me in the end in 1999, or a camera but I do have a lot of happy memories.

My Glastonbury History -pt1

A few people have asked me recently what I have been doing at past Glastonbury festivals. So I thought it would be worth posting:

1992, 1993, 1994

I went for the first time with my girlfriend Jenny Beasley because the Cud band were in the advert in the NME. Truth is I didn't actually get to see  Cud play but I did have an amazing time. Too many stories to tell, mostly more suitable for over a beer than a blog. I think my favourite tale is as it was my first time camping since the scouts I'd borrowed a hopelessly impractical tent from a friends Mum, it was a big 3 room frame tent thing and all orange nylon - nice! Back in 92 the bus used to drop you on the main road and you walked about 2 miles down the lane to the site. I'd already been introduced to the very strong Glastonbury serendipity earlier in the day - when begging Jenny to lend me some money (i wasn't proud) I showed her my empty cashpoint balance - only it wasn't empty there was a random £340 paid in - this was "holiday pay" a totally new concept to me that I had no idea was coming and being paid in that day and in the end I lent  Jenny money. So anyway  we arrive, we choose a spot, I look at this 50KG 70s marvel I've carried all the way  here and remember that I don't actually have a clue about putting tents up, I hadn't thought about this part until  now at all. Luckily Jenny was fairly sublime in nature and agreed with me that the best plan was to have a beer and think about it. We'd also  carried quite a lot of beer quite a long way. The weather was nice. It was a holiday. Why rush? So another beer, as no ideas had yet come. If Jenny was getting stressed she wasn't showing it. After 2 beers nature takes its course and so I head for my first Glastonbury toilet experience. I had no reason to fear anything, I had never heard stories of Glastonbury toilets before. As I queue and await my turn and naturally get to the front of the queue the next door to swing open ejects a character that I know. In fact in the most bizarre of coincidences ever it's my old room mate, a man called Andrew Demster, known as Demo, who had often shared a room with Jenny & I. More fantastic was the fact that Demo was something of a Venture Scout. He wasn't just good at camping, he loved camping and tents and that sort of thing. If there was one thing that could improve a less than dreary day for Demo it was some idiot with a random tent they couldn't put up. I had no idea he was going to be there. He did  come, he did help, we did have a tent. I was sold. Glastonbury was the most amazing place on earth. The bizarre events continued, the amazing coincidences abounded. We had a wonderful time. It opened our eyes to a world we knew was there but didn't know was so real. I returned in 1993 & 1994. Each time we bought tickets at HMV on the way to the festival. In 1993 I had my boots, money and car keys stolen in a tent slashing on the Friday morning but had an amazing festival living entirely on the charity of strangers.

1995

I played bass guitar in an Irishy folk rock band called Reincarnation. It was great fun, these were great times. Reincarnation was a vehicle created by fiddler Peter Miln and singer / guitarist Dan James. There were many often bizarre lineups and gigs. The glastonbury lineup was Dan & Pete, Neil Baker later of Flipside on latin percussion, farrier Garrick Nelson on Bodhran, Steve Paul (a man like myself and half the band with no convincing surname) playing rock kit drums, plus a couple of friends who danced on stage. At glastonbury we were booked by Arabela Churchill to open the outside theatre stage at 10:30am each day, and to play in the fire procession on the saturday night that was arranged to celebrate this being the 25th Glastonbury festival. This procession gig was awesome and we played, carnival style on the back of a truck, for about 3.5 hours to 10,0000s of people and they all danced. The absolute high-point of my musical career :D

1997

My very dear and deceased friend David Fleetham & I went as guests of Dubstar. I think on paper we were the woodwind section, and we took my flute and David's clarinet with us as props in case there were any awkward questions. Now David was haeomophilliac with many extreme complications including terrible arthritic ankles that made it incredibly difficult for him to walk. So I spent a fairly intense weekend with him, he was far too proud to use crutches and so most of the weekend I was his crutch, and also his drinking buddy. I think as usual we drank most of Dubstar's fairly substantial rider, just to help save Christian from liver failure. I have hazy memories involving David Baddiel and Hanson's Mum's who were camped next to us. I got very clear insights into being at Glastonbury with a disability too. It was extremely muddy. We did get out to see Radiohead and that set was lifechanging. We did also see Dubstar on the other stage and that was lifechanging too in a not so manic way.

1998

For the first time I bought tickets in advance, framed them put them on bedroom wall and then had them stolen at quite a good party, so again bought tickets on the way down from HMV in Reading. Again an incredibly muddy year. By the time I got there all of the friends I was meeting had left. I spent the time with my new South African girlfriend Shaldean Van Der Merwe her French friend Nadine and her American boyfriend, I felt like a cultural attache explaining everything that was going on. We made some amazing friends in the campsite, we worked together and kept a massive fire going all weekend, and I will always remember the Sunday morning Hothouse Flowers set (I think) where he started "WELCOME TO THE SURVIVOR'S CLUB" it was electric and great fun. That year the website had been run by the Guardian and I'd found it very annoying as it really wasn't very updated, there was very little of  the information I was looking for and I started thinking I could do a better job.

1999

With my friend Travis Pedley we worked  on this idea of a much  better Glastonbury Festival website. We wrote some quite detailed proposals and essentially the idea was to create something that today you'd call Social Networking and Content Management. It's name was a terrible pun (glastonline.com) but it still  makes me smile. I wrote an application that was essentially a networked database that could output web pages via FTP and could be contributed to by many people. We had an agreement with Andy Thomas who, had spoken with Michael Eavis about it, to have six people in a space in a portacabin in the acoustic field to take photos, write, get data, upload stuff and generally capture the richness of info available and make the internet a little bit less boring. The guiding creative principle was that in the way I had just stumbled into the festival 7 years before, someone could stumble  into  this website and confront some ideas that may inspire or entertain or maybe educate them. There was a new official website at www.glastonbury-festival.co.uk that had been put together by Simon Glinn of the JazzWorld stage and Neil Greenway of eFestivals.co.uk - when we sent a link to them for them to link to us and vice versa all hell broke loose. Essentialy we were threatened with a lot of "heavy shit" if we did this and compromised the festivals rights agreements with others. At one point I was told a photo of my face from my personal website would be distributed to all gates to stop me entering. On the Tuesday night before the festival I had a mobile  phone conversation of over 2 hours with Simon Glinn that we both laughed about afterwards, especially as  we don't even know how it was possible for the signal to hold out that long never mind distract  him from the setup. In the end I had to let my friends down and it didn't happen. But I went to HMV in Swindon, bought a ticket, came to the festival and had a fantastic time at the best festival I can remember.

 

READ MORE: 
my Glastonbury History  Part 2 :
/blog4u/2012/1/12/glastonbury-history-part-2

What's This All About Then?

OK please be gentle on me. I am going to  write my first ever blog post and it's been a long time coming. I feel on paper I should have written many blog posts, but this is not  on paper is it. I want to as briefly as possible get out of the way all of those questions like who am i, who are  we, why are we here, what sort of things have we done, what sort of things do we do, and will we do. You know those sorts of question. Then  once those are out of the way I can deal with lots of much smaller questions. Context  - that's what I'm talking about  - I want to post a kind of context introduction to our  brand new blog.

Who Am I?

My name is John C Scott  and I was given it on the 13th January 1972. It wasn't until 25th December 1981 that I got  my  hands on my first computer of my own in a Sinclair ZX81. Luckily my brother and sisters were very tolerant of me using the only TV in the house to write programs in 1KB of memory. I was hooked on that first day and would happily write the rest of  this post about how I learned to use memory and the 256 bytes of video RAM etc,  but this isn't that story. I've carried  on taking an interest in how computers work, and allowed them to inspire my imagination ever since. I've done other things too, but usually brought computers into it somehow. Unkind people might call me an obsessive Internet geek, kinder people would call me it  to my face with a big reassuring smile.

I took a route from ZX81, ZX-Spectrum, to Mac IIse, Atari ST, DOS 5, Win3.11, NT4 and at the same time Z80 machine code, Hypercard, DBase3, FoxPro, ASP, and currently C# .net. From 1986 onwards I did a great deal of DeskTopPublishing starting with Letraset's ReadySetGo!  then electronic Typesetting and from there got into databases, and then combining  the two with content management from 1995 onwards. I built my first web pages in 1995 using iHtml, then Coldfusion, ASP classic and currently working with .net.

I  got quite excited about "Web Applications" in the mid to late 90s, I'd built a few office LAN based applications around databases and and really saw the power of having lots of people contribute to different parts of a  database, and started developing around the idea of websites where the user didn't need technical skills to contribute their thoughts and ideas. Throughout this my ideas were very abstract  and about inspiring others to contribute, whilst providing the  tools and the training and supporting those I worked with.

In 1998 I thought a good exposition of all of  this would  be building a  site for Glastonbury Festival  and this became an all encompassing undertaking for the next 10 years. It had meant to be just a side project to test and develop some ideas to use in a commercial product. It was clear that the festival couldn't financially support what was needed and so I worked on some interesting 6 month contracts and then had the rest of the year to work passionately on Glastonbury. We pulled together some great achievments for that and  to do it justice this needs to be blogged separately too. Now the festival needs a new  approach  to it's website and it's time for me to climb aboard the leading-edge again after a period of learning, listening, growth, development and recuperation.

The world's moved  on a lot  since 1981 and many  of the things since then I thought of  as  science fiction are now very much fact, yet some are still to have their day. One thing to come about is blogging.  It's definitely better for me to use someone elses tool to start publishing my varied thoughts, plans, hopes and reminisces than to spend  time building and maintaining a  tool for  other people to do the same. In a few rare spare moments I've speculated what I would write if I had time,  and now I do, and now you're reading it.

I believe passionately in free (as in free and fair elections, as well as free beer) software and that the challenge of our times is how  well we can work together. The truly great art of the past may have been made by a single artist but the great pieces of our modern times, such as movies like "Slumdog Millionaire", are harmonic works between hundreds of collaborators each enabling another to exceed  what they could do alone.

I've mostly shared in the past by getting passionately involved in message board communities and always trying to answer at least one question for every one that I need an answer  to. However these contributions live mostly only in the context of those boards and if everyone is blogging it  then maybe it's time to admit I should have a go at this medium. So there are a couple of very specific projects I have in mind for this blog and some more random  ones, and I look forward to finding  out which fly.

Who Are "We" ?

c3x associates are people who enjoy working together. I recognised a long time ago that it was no longer possible to have an expert level of understanding of everything in computer, databases, operating systems, languages, design, publishing, the web etc. For example  I couldn't produce the  graphical treatment for this blog but that was provided by Wojciech Wawrzyniak. Across all the disciplines needed for a major  project we have associates who can provide stress-testing, clustering, hosting, content, copy writing, original music, photography, illustration, cartooning, database tuning, needs analysis, training, documentation, requirement gathering, project planning, security, encryption, design and graphical realisation plus many other things. The important thing is we have a track record of working together effectively, the tools to make projects work, the experience to advise if  a project can work and the honesty to say what needs to change to allow it to work.

why are we here

I really believe there is more to life than another day another dollar,  that every day is a conscious opportunity to  allow us to learn something new and to develop and that by this approach  we can deliver work that constantly exceeds expectations. We are here to understand what needs to be done and then to deliver it on time and on budget.

what sort of things have we done, do we do, and will we do.

This certainly needs to be the focus of many  more posts. Things we've done include content management systems since 1995, logistics and financial applications, and solved many challenges. That includes an understanding of how best to achieve change and what tools can best help the people at  the centre. Presently we are supporting Ektron CMS and Umbraco for a number of clients.

We will continue this collaborative approach and intend to form more relationships in an increasingly open world where you will continue to  be only as good as your last recommendation.