Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Four years ago, buying a notebook was the second best idea I ever had.

The best idea was to put things in it.  I’ve no idea how many notebooks are sold world wide each year, but I’m sure a fair number of them don’t see the light of day past the second page – I know I’ve been guilty of it in the past (the trick is buy small, so they can be stuck in a pocket or bag with a pen.)

Now I’ve got past that, I can’t stop.  Half ideas, stuff I’d seen, songs from the radio, books I should read – I put the lot in there.  I’m not sure how much of it I’ll ever use, but I know it’s all useful – the process of training yourself to take an interest in the world around you is vital as a writer – Adrian Reynolds has written about this in his blog – even if the world you’re writing about doesn’t really exist.

Which is how I got to the Html Patchwork, an Open Source Embroidery project, which pulls computer programmers, knitters and embroiderers together to make a patchwork tapestry of a web-friendly colour palette, each part coded and stitched by hand.  Suddenly, a very 21st century concept becomes rooted in something older than recorded history, and like the internet, it happens through the work of people from different places, different walks of life – their combined differences make the piece unique, with it’s own character outside of the people that made it happen.

It’s amazing how other people, a half dozen connections away, are thinking about the same things.  The meshing of new and old ideas and technologies is something that comes in Hidden Daughter – Penny is a time traveller who tries to live a normal life as a seamstress, combining old skills in the modern world to keep herself stable in an unstable life.  And the Needle, the time machine Penny’s rivals have begun to use, is a mix of 21st Century parallel processing and supercooling liquids, married to with 20th Century industrial engineering, rogue telephone exchanges and elevator music that can’t be switched off.

All I need to do now is finish line editing it, and you can see how it all fits together for yourself…

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