2² Decades

Thu 20 April 2017 by Jim Purbrick

Several years ago when we were in 100 robots together, Max was celebrating his 40th birthday. When I said that mine would be in 2017, it felt like an impossibly far future date, but, after what feels like the blink of an eye, here we are.

Along with many other lovely gifts I received this morning was a book with the subtitle Whatever happened to Generation X? by Tiffanie Darke complete with a bright yellow acid house cover and a quote by Douglas Coupland on the cover.

I’ll read the book when I go to Simon and Pinar’s wedding next month, but I’ll share my immediate reaction now. Despite the term being popularised by Coupland’s book, whatever did happen to generation X we won’t read it in a book. We’ll read and write about it on the web we built.

While I remember my parents freaking out when I wanted to wear a bright yellow acid house badge to school, at the time I was more in to loud guitar music like Nirvana and Blur. From the perspective of loud guitars it felt like I’d missed the party: Metalica’s Master of Puppets was already receading in to the rear view mirror and Led Zeppelin firmly in my parents era. While we didn’t have The Beatles though, I did have computers.

There are plenty of people who would argue that I missed the boat there too: Boolean algebra was developed in 1848; the Halting Problem proved to be undecidable over Turing machines in 1936 and Quicksort was developed in 1959. While the Infer team refused to give up at the halting problem and are now producing amazing real world results using static analysis, a lot of computer science was finished before I was born.

My kind of computers weren’t huge machines crunching numbers and doing maths though, they were small pieces loosely joined. Connecting to things and each other they didn’t operate on maths, but changed the world or built new ones. They automated my physics experiments so that I could spend more time kissing Ali in the common room, helped reverse engineer Grand Theft Auto maps and automated synthesiser parameters when I didn’t have real controls for them.

They let me record hours of music and made writing books, making films and recording music accessible to everyone. While that made lives harder for those trying to make a living from their art it helped many more lives flourish. Napster may have made Metallica pretty upset, but the french horn player from my school could plunder the past for funk loops to accompany his synthesisers.

The DIY explosion gave us hip-hop and a million flavours of dance music and the networks to share it. Eventually it also gave us digital versions of the Beatles and, now I have been able to download and listen to it all, I’m convinced they have nothing to top the Aphex Twin.

The same democratization of tools meant that as a software engineer I could scratch an itch and choose to build my own service on top of world class open source software or work for one of the companies that became huge making the web easier to use. I’ve seen enough of how the startup sausage is made to know that a lot of the glitter is not gold, but owning the means of production means I at least have the choice to strike out on my own.

Climate change may mean that our real world horizons are closer and the piles of stuff we collect smaller, but the virtual vistas we can explore are ever growing.

When I watch my children grow up with YouTube it’s amazing to think about what they will accomplish in the future. If they want to do something, they watch it, learn it and do it. Nothing is unknown and nothing is impossible. They’re incredible, which is lucky, as together we’re going to have to save the world.

These thoughts are my own. They don’t represent my employer. They don’t attempt to speak for my generation. I write them and share them because I can and because I want to. Someone might read them and comment on them or link to them to build a web. Thats how my generation works and that’s what we built. We may not have had the Beatles, but I’m OK with that.


#recordstoreday

Fri 15 April 2016 by Jim Purbrick

StoryBirdAlbum

3 weeks ago I spent a few hours with photoshop working on the Story Bird logo that Linda made a while ago to make it suitable for print. 2 weeks ago I spent a few hours researching the best way to convert the 24 bit 48 Khz Story Bird mixes ...

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#bandcampday

Sat 26 March 2016 by Jim Purbrick

Black barn mixing desk

I love record shops. Whenever I had pocket money it would go on Metallica and Nirvana CDs bought from Our Price or black t-shirts to match. When I lived in Nottingham I bought Boards Of Canada CDs from the same Selectadisc that my Dad bought a rare Fairport Convention single ...

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100 robots Vs The Audience

Wed 04 January 2012 by Jim Purbrick

A couple of years ago I had great fun putting together the London Geek Community iPhone OSCestra at Open Hack London and I’ve been controlling Ableton Live with iPhone tapped to my guitar as part of 100 robots for a couple of years now so when @andybudd suggested I ...

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100 robots Attack!

Fri 09 December 2011 by Jim Purbrick

Lots of exciting 100 robots news! Our debut album, Attack!, has been professionally mastered by Chris at Melograf Mastering who has done an amazing job and made the album sound incredible. The new version is already available at bandcamp and will be available on itunes, amazon and many other download ...

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Data Is Not Art

Sat 01 October 2011 by Jim Purbrick

This week I experienced two remarkable combinations of music and the moving image.

Natures 3B from Quayola on Vimeo.

This evening I watched Nature — Mira Calix and Quayola’s audio visual piece which took video footage of flowers blowing in the wind and used motion tracking technology to generate music ...

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100 robots attack!” Album Out Now!

Thu 19 May 2011 by Jim Purbrick

100 robots first album, “Attack!” is now finished and available to download now from bandcamp. I’m so glad that it is done and very proud of the result. It’s the first album I’ve made since 2005 and the first I’ve produced using Ableton Live, which once ...

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Meaningful Choices

Mon 27 September 2010 by Jim Purbrick

On Friday I jumped on the train to London to attend Playful 2010, a one day conference put on by mudlark of World of Love fame. Despite billing itself as a day of cross “disciplinary frolicking” and featuring designers, podcasts, discussions of narrative, iphone augmented paper games and Disco Snake ...

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Disco Snake

Wed 15 September 2010 by Jim Purbrick

Rock Band does a great job of inspiring people to play music, can you develop a game that inspires composition? Lumines and Rez create music while you play, can you make games where music creation is the goal, not a side effect? Pictionary does a great job of using game ...

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HTML 5 Audio Redux

Sat 04 September 2010 by Jim Purbrick

My recent experiments in to using Procssing.js and HTML5 audio to generate multimedia web applications didn’t get very far. I first tried generating a new HTML 5 audio element for each audio event, which quickly caused the browser to grind to a halt, and my attempts to reuse ...

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HTML 5 multimedia

Mon 07 June 2010 by Jim Purbrick

I’ve been morbidly fascinated by the Rich Internet Application technology blood bath for a while now: Whirled,Metaplace and others tried to stuff virtual worlds in to web pages using Flash, Second Life stuffed Flash in to virtual worlds via Webkit, Unity stuffed Mono in to a 3D engine ...

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Always Watching The Watchers

Sat 01 May 2010 by Jim Purbrick

On May 17th, the first 100 robots single, Always Watching, will be released online via Amazon, iTunes, emusic, Rhapsody, napster, spotify and many more digital outlets.

Always Watching has been one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever worked on. Using a commodity PC and the incredible Ableton Live ...

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Battle of the Battle of the Bands

Thu 25 March 2010 by Jim Purbrick

Somehow, 100 robots have ended up playing 2 different Battle of the Band competitions on consecutive nights in Brighton: at The Providence on April 2nd and The Lectern on April 3rd.

So, which band is the best and which battle of the bands is better? Early indications favour The Providence ...

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An Open Source, Guitar Mounted, Multi Touch, Wireless, OSC Interface for Ableton Live

Thu 17 December 2009 by Jim Purbrick

Guitar mounted iPhone controller

(100 robots images by Steve Marshall )

Ever since playing with iPhones as music interfaces with the London Community iPhone OSCestra at Open Hack London in May I’ve been wondering how I could use my iPhone as a controller in my rock/electronic band 100 robots. The 100 robots set ...

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4 Robot Attacks!

Sat 21 November 2009 by Jim Purbrick

Incredibly, 100 robots have 4 gigs lined up in the next 3 weeks: tomorrow we’re playing at an electro/rock night at The Freebutt with Bang Bang Eche, Son of Robot and labasheeda, then next Thursday we’re playing at a more hip hop themed night at The Hope ...

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100 robots vs 100 geeks

Sat 05 September 2009 by Jim Purbrick

We’ve just about finished setting up the 100 robots gear at BarCamp Brighton 4 in a derelict building that’s going to make the gig feel like an illegal rave. If you’re at BarCamp please come downstairs to hear us sing songs about the surveilance state, Twitter and ...

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The London Geek Community iPhone OSCestra

Tue 12 May 2009 by Jim Purbrick

On Friday evening while mulling over potentially interesting hacks to build at Open Hack London I remembered an idea I’d had a while ago: there are now loads of interesting ways to use iphones as music interfaces and the iphone to hacker ratio at hack days tends to be ...

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100 Robots Vs 200 Zombies

Fri 27 March 2009 by Jim Purbrick

Dance Of The Dead Flyer

I may not have blogged much recently, but I’ve been hard at work writing new songs about the financial meltdown, the surveilance state, gene therapy cures for hiv, anger and guilt for the new band I’ve put together with Max Williams and Aleks Krotoski: 100 Robots. We’ll ...

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Music Again!

Mon 12 January 2009 by Jim Purbrick

Since moving to Brighton 18 months ago I’ve been pretty busy finding my feet, moving house twice, sorting out schools and setting up Linden Lab Brighton, so I haven’t had as much time to make music as I’d have liked. It hasn’t helped that my brother ...

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