Tag Archives: technology

Swimming, Shopping & The Future of The Internet

At the end of September experts gathered in Tiree from all over Europe, to discuss the future of the Internet.

The European Network of Excellence on Internet Science (EINS) includes economists, technologists, mathematicians, social scientists, architects, and legal experts, many of whom advise their own governments and advise or lobby on Internet issues at the EU.

When Clare Hooper, who works as part of EINS at Southampton University, started to organise a workshop ‘Re-Thinking Architecturally‘, she thought of Tiree as a venue, as she had been to one of the Tiree Tech Waves, and called upon me as ‘local expert’ to help with the logistics of managing an event on an island. In the end, the biggest problem turned out to be an Air France/KLM strike that delayed some participants and meant that one coming from Greece was unable to get across at all. However, a dozen participants managed to get here despite the European air chaos, including one all the way from Umea in northern Sweden, and I was able to attend as Tiree representative.

Topics covered included privacy, net neutrality (whether Skype, YouTube and BBC are all treated equally), governance (US vs UN control), the regulation (or not) of global companies, and the relation between the digital internet and the physical world as more and more devices become ‘Internet enabled’. I gave a short presentation about digital connectivity in a rural area and as participants wandered to the end of the pier at Hynish to find mobile phone signal, I think they got the point.

The word ‘architecturally’ in the workshop title was principally about the digital and social structures around the Internet (from fibre optics to social networks); however the workshop did include a number of ‘real’ architects. So, on Wednesday afternoon, our lightning tour of the island (from gift shopping at Chocolates and Charms to rock scrambling at Balevullin) included a visit to Noust with its blend of traditional timber construction and state-of-the art digital fabrication.

A key element of the success was the helpful and welcoming folk of Tiree: the wonderful team at the Hynish Centre, especially Lesley who kept on smiling despite a seven hour wait for participants whose travel was disrupted, everyone at Ceabhar , Ring’n’Ride, and at the airport rearranging travel across Europe when the Thursday plane was cancelled.

Despite the transport problems, the participants loved Tiree, indeed half of them managed morning swims! One of them wrote after the event: “one great consequence of the week in Tiree was a kind of intellectual regeneration that let me set aside the stresses of the coming academic year and…think openly a bit.” Another mailed a picture of swimmers in the water with the title “I’d rather be in Tiree!”.

Cable Laying Ship Working In Tiree Passage

cable laying ship in Tiree PassageAs An Tirisdeach reaches our deadline date for publication, we are delighted to see that the cable laying ship Rene Descartes is back in the Tiree Passage laying fibre optic cable for future broadband services, after spending the weekend in Belfast.

The ship is currently working between Calgary Bay, Mull and Scarinish, Isle of Tiree, where the broadband fibre-optic cables will come ashore. An Tirisdeach understands that shore based work at the Scarinish BT repeater station is already complete to receive the new fibre-optic cable.

Local organisations including Tiree Broadband, Tiree Trust and Tiree Community Council, successfully presented a compelling case to Marine Scotland that the sub-sea cable between Mull and Tiree should be commenced immediately, despite objections by Clyde based fishing interests to the sea bed cable work.

It is unlikely that faster broadband services will be available to BT customers on Tiree until the completion by BT in 2015 of infrastructure planning.

Readers who are interested in following the daily progress of the Rene Descartes can do so on their tablets or iPad’s by downloading an app called “marine traffic”. The app shows all ship movements in the area, including speed, destination, cargo carried etc.

An Iodhlann Goes Mobile

An Iodhlann

An Iodhlann has just been awarded funding of £21,300 by the Scottish Digital Research and Development Fund for Arts and Culture to make historic archive material available through a mobile application whilst ‘on the ground’ walking, cycling or driving around the island.

Have you ever been walking, seen something and wondered “what is that?”, or been looking for something that you know is there, but can’t find on the ground – perhaps the Kirkapol stone crosses? By the end of the project (March next year), you will be able to download an “An Iodhlann” application onto any smartphone or tablet. This will show you information about nearby sites and artefacts … and help you find them. And in case you are wondering – yes this will work when there is no mobile signal!

As well as adding an extra service for those who already visit An Iodhlann, we hope that this will attract new users, especially younger tourists.

The Scottish Digital Research and Development Fund for Arts and Culture is run by Nesta, Creative Scotland and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This was a highly competitive process with 52 applications of which just 6 were funded. The other successful organisations are:
The National Piping Centre, Lyceum Theatre Company and the Edinburgh Cultural Quarter, Dundee Contemporary Arts, National Galleries of Scotland, Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse. These are all big city organisations as were the projects funded by an earlier similar programme run by Nesta England. As the only rural-based project, this is a great achievement for Tiree and a great challenge for us over the next nine months! In addition, a team of researchers from the Universities of Stirling, Strathclyde and St Andrews will be studying the progress of all the projects, so we will become an exemplar of advanced technology adoption in rural communities … no pressure 🙂

We will start a blog for the project soon, and post updates in