A Piece of China

Against the advice of those who thought I should post every week I took a break from Blogging. I thought you had earned a rest from this place (sorry, PosterousSpace). But I just realised it has been a bit too long. Weeks in fact. Great Googly Moogly! as Frank Zappa would say, if he were still with us.

I could say that I write today about design and technology but that seems rather grand and pompous. The connection is China. Full of surprises they recently closed down several entire fake Apple Stores (yep, the whole sleek Geek temple). In fact not just one – but dozens. Extraordinary enterprise. Gasp here.



The design part is a cover of a book by William Hinton. It is an account of every day life in rural China. It is called Shenfan and it has a sister tome called Fanshen. The design is simple. Not much to say about it. A well-chosen photograph of a villager painting the name of the town on the end of a house. Long Bow. This is married to a fine choice of typeface by Joy Fox. Check out Joy’s recycled jewellery.

The technology? Cow Gum for that cover to be honest. But I found a great use of current technology to amuse myself on the Devon/London train last week. I sat in the last seat before the area for luggage and seats for the disabled. Four young Chinese sat cross-legged on the floor playing cards. The two girls facing me. The two boys with their backs to me. The girls were losing every game.

Needing distraction from fretting over an important imminent presentaion at One Alfred Place I turned to technology. Taking my, now ancient, iphone surreptitiously from my pocket I channelled Spooks and started taking pictures of the boys cards. Then showed them to the girls. They stifled giggles and started winning regularly. A little creative mischief.

Eventually my cover was blown and they disembarked at Reading, amongst much laughter as a fair section of the carriage was by now in on the game on the boys blind-side. One of the boys came over trying to look menacing but grinning from ear to ear. “You owe me wun pownd!” he declared.

So there it is, China, Design and Technology. This Friday I shall use my phone to attend a feast probably at Wong Kei where fierce waiters will force march me to a table and interrogate menacingly me over a menu.

And I shall think of the kids on the train. And grin.



Trey Pennington

How can I write a blog post about Trey? We only physically met on three occasions. A whole bunch of Skype time. Lots of twitter/facebook banter – when he would tease me for my delight in the lexicon. I doubt there is much I can add to the exceptionall tributes already paid by Scott Gould, Olivier Blanchard and others who knew him so much longer.

But how could I not acknowledge the passing of such a special individual? We called each other friend. So to not look for some words is unthinkable.

Like Minds Exeter Conference introduced me to Trey. Unusually I was taken by the straight guy in a preppy suit. He told stories with a beguilingly soft Southern drawl. Not for him the marketeers’ jargon and sometimes specious generalisations. He spoke his truth with tales of real people who breathed the same air. He struck me as a kind of Garrison Keillor of Social Media. A vital part of the oral tradition. I liked him. He took time to talk to me without glancing over his shoulder to see who else was around.

We bounced things around quite a bit on twitter etc. and again he gave his time, with those special tweets that seem to make eye-contact. We hooked up again at Media 140 Bristol. Instantly comfortable in his company. And we talked then, and later, about the conventional way his website showed him. I saw him more conversationally, as a narrator. Not a businessman. A storyteller. Almost a Norman Rockwell character of our times. Maybe fanciful but I’ll remember him that way.

A kind, personable, warm, honest, generous, open guy. A suicide? What pain must he have been suffering? I learnt he had big troubles and tried to get him to talk about it. Not hard enough I guess but it seemed wrong to press him when he wanted to be private. Even in Social Media not everything has to be ‘out there’. I hope the God he believed in so surley is there for him now.

And I was so looking forward to seeing him this Friday in Lincoln. But not now. Farewell my friend of two years, I would have liked more time with you.

Who will tell the stories now?