Long time listeners will remember a thing called the London Art Aggregator – an RSS feed I ran about 6 years ago, before moving to Helsinki. Basically it would remind you when art exhibitions opened and were about to close; set up completely selfishly, as I always forgot about an exhibition and missed seeing it.
In the intervening time, lots on the web has happened, but still nothing quite fills the same hole. So I’ve updated it to be 2009-friendly, and created a Twitter feed called localondon. Same deal – it tells you when exhibitions open, when there’s about a week left (two weekends, normally) and on the last day.
It’s all situated in the present – today, now, tonight, this week, this month.
Even though the output is similar to before, the technology is very different. I didn’t have to do any coding this time, instead relying on services that bolt on to Twitter, in my case Hootsuite, chosen purely because it was the first that offered scheduled messages that I found. Luckily, it seems to work fine. This meant I could go from idea to implementation in about 3 hours. Nice.
It’s been running for a few months now, and what I really like about not being completely automated is that I can throw in other interesting things, and mention when booking starts for ticketed events.
Matt Webb asked me if there was a page where you could go to see just what’s currently on in London. I almost too-immediately said ‘no’, as the string it’s held together with doesn’t facilitate that. And, as with many things I quickly object to, I’ve ended up doing it – London meta reviews.
A few conversations with Paul sparked the idea. We both liked the one bit of the Guardian that isn’t on the web – the G2 grid of culture reviews. After a think, the what’s on list had a bit more of a point if it collated and curated reviews from the newspapers, and around the web, so you could see both what’s on and if it’s good/to your taste. But I wanted to recreate the sweeping glanceable overview, rather than a set of pages you had to click around.
That’s why it’s a complete site on a single page. I hate horizontal web pages, but a true 2d web page is a little different. It’s still a bit clumsy with a mouse, granted, but it’s really designed for touchpads and touchscreens. When you no longer need to grab scroll bars, navigation around becomes a lot easier. And if you get lost, you can always slam up to the top left corner.
Whilst I like feeds like LDN, TheNotebook, SE1 etc. and sites like Londonist, ianvisits and ArtRabbit, these two services are trying to be slightly different – super simple, low volume, presented in a neutral voice and delicately curated. It reflects what I want to go and see, not everything that’s on.
So, two tentative, initial attempts to condense London into something meaningful. There’s still more tinkering to be done with these (probably a printable version of meta reviews is next), and then there’s other ways of seeing to make sense of the city. Soon…
Excellent. Really like the one-page round-up, and it reminded me of a couple of things I’d forgotten about.
Don’t find the width a problem (at least not with the scrollball on a Mighty Mouse), though had to drop the text size a couple of notches
I see a papernet possibility. Imagine a poster of this or even better a folded piece of paper with some maps here and there.
email: chris is at anti-mega.com