Ian Singleton


Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on April 27, 2011

I’ve written before now about the Chris Anderson book, Free. I went to listen to Anderson when he appeared in Bristol to launch the book.

This Free isn’t about that. It’s about the fact that tonight I’m going for a beer with a developer who has offered to do some work for me. For free. That’s the first time ever that a developer has offered to do that.

In film production, especially, a huge amount of work wouldn’t get done if the crew didn’t work for free. The overwhelming majority of shorts are made with crews who are working unpaid. The same applies to lots of the no-budget (hence the description) features that get made.

Why is this? I think it’s because people work for free on a film in order to get experience, to pad out their credits list and to find new collaborators. Software developers don’t think in the same way.

You wouldn’t expect the plumber to come round and fix the cistern for free. Or the woman who makes your curtains to knock them up for nothing.

And there’s a great rant from a screenwriter about why he won’t read your script for free here



Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on April 23, 2011

I’ve long been interested in the idea of being able to pack all of my possessions into a Transit van. I no longer own anything that I can’t carry myself.

A couple of summers ago, there was an article in the Sunday Times about this. http://guynameddave.com/100-thing-challenge/ The Hundred Thing Challenge.

And all of a sudden, it’s resonated with a whole bunch of other people. From Jonathan Fields – here – to Selina Barker – here

I’m a Content Developer!

Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on April 20, 2011

I’ve been casting around for a while now to describe what it is that I do. I found the following in a job advert for duarte.com

Do you love to tell stories?

Do you pride yourself on being equal parts intellectual acrobat and lyrical heavy-lifter who can deliver idea after idea long past the point when everyone else has run dry?

Is communicating ideas powerfully one of your core values? Are you a systems thinker who thrives on a deadline? Could you see yourself as a screenwriter?
If you have experience in message development, product positioning, or speech writing, you might be a content developer and not even know it!

A little about you
You communicate with passion, in-depth knowledge, and demonstrated experience in business or process analysis, marketing strategy, promotional copywriting, journalism, interaction design or a related field.

You’re a strategist who can execute. You push beyond fact-regurgitation and simple copy-editing; you consistently add new perspective and value to client content. You dig through dense content to uncover essential truths, then bring them to life on the stage, the page, or the web.

You’re a deft client wrangler. You can take command of a room in a discovery meeting or content brainstorm. You are a quick-read of client needs, and you can go “toe-to-toe” with Directors, VPs, and C-level executives, quickly earning their confidence and offering fresh perspectives and insights. You earn respect for making the complex simple and the invisible visible.

A little about the position
The content developer role centers on researching and understanding client messages, coaching clients in more effective ways to convey their content, and executing concepts, storylines, and data in written form to provide a design team with everything they need to build an engaging and compelling visual presentation.

Typical project activities include:

  • Interviewing stakeholders
  • Investigating audience, business and technical requirements
  • Reviewing competitive positioning and strategy
  • Creating interesting and compelling narrative structures
  • Developing visual metaphors
  • Writing marketing and technical copy
  • Writing scripts and speaker notes for various speakers
  • and otherwise building the logical framework for compelling, informative communication

Additionally, you will work with our design teams on a daily basis to turn concepts and information into visual explanations, diagrams and multimedia presentations.

And so it begins again…

Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on April 6, 2011

I’ve just bought myself this from here http://amzn.to/hk97ns


Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on June 17, 2010

What’s really been going on is that I have finally moved my scans database over to a tag-based filing system. This is a really big step and one that has taken a long time to get right. It’s thanks largely to my friend and database (and everything else) wizard Paul Beddoe. And at the moment, at least, it relies heavily on iPhoto on the Mac.

This is how the scans appear when you look at them in iPhoto. The thumbnails appear, along with the file name – in this case the scan number – and then the summary of the scan tags. If you double click on the thumbnail, the scan then appears full frame. But the real significance of the system is when you enter a keyword into the search box at the bottom of the iPhoto interface. Or a combination of keywords. Then, for the first time, the system is searchable in a way that you could never access physical pieces of paper or photographs held in a series of filing cabinets.

What It Might Look Like…

Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on June 17, 2010

It’s been a while since I wrote anything on here. I wanted to have a look at the iPad and see what impact that might have.

What I envisage is a situation where I can see a tag cloud based on the information contained in the IPTC tags of my scans. At the moment, there are two sorts of information – document type and subject. So I’d see a tag cloud like this one (scan20843).

If I chose the invoice tag, I’d expect to see a secondary tag cloud that looked like this one, a list of all the organisations from whom I’d received an invoice (scan 21036).

From there, I’d like to see either a thumbnail of the relevant scans – like this (scan21034)

Or a list based on my narrative summary of each scan – like this (scan21035).

By highlighting either the thumbnail or the line in the narrative description, that pulls the relevant scan up onto the screen.

What packages exist already that are like this? I’m sure there are lots, it’s just that I can’t find them.

This isn’t really an iPhone app. The cloud would be tiny on a phone screen and it’s not a lot of fun trying to read a legal contract on a three and a half inch screen.

For the iPad, though, this is a completely different matter.

Comments Off on What It Might Look Like…

First Outline…

Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on February 9, 2010

What I envisage is a situation where I can see a tag cloud based on the information contained in the IPTC tags of my scans. To begin with, I classified all the information by two basic types – document type and subject. These can merge together in the tag cloud. From the first time I saw one, I’ve always thought that tag clouds are a brilliantly visual way of displaying information – not what the contents of the database might be, but also what their respective weightings are.

By selecting one of the value, I should then proceed to a second level of choice, this time effectively as a subset of the first tagcloud. If I chose the invoice tag, I’d expect to see a secondary tag cloud that looked like this one, a list of all the organisations from whom I’dreceived an invoice. Equally, if I’d selected a supplier first, then I might be presented with a list of options that include “invoice”, “letter” or “brochure.

From there, I’d like to see either a thumbnail of the relevant scans – like this – or a list based on my narrative summary of each scan. Of course, there’s going to be a problem when it comes to subcategories that have large populations, where there might be several screens of thumbnails. And while the thumbnail option is great for photos and visual images, it’s not going to be of great value with, say, the pages from a contract.

For text-based documents, it’s going to be important that the user is presented with a catalogue list of the documents which the user can scroll through to find the relevant data – or indeed, to be able to scrutinize even more closely with another search in order to extract the correct file.

Dunbar's Number

Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on February 6, 2010

is a theory by Robin Dunbar, about the number of friends you have in a social network. Any more than about 150 and it becomes unmanageable. More about that here. Although there is an interesting counter-argument here.

What about the number of backups you’re supposed to have?

Years ago, I had a graphics guy working at my house while I was in an office preparing a tender document. From the minute he called me about an hour after I left him to it, I knew that there was trouble.

He explained that as he’d stood up to leave the room, his chair had pulled the lead of a hard disc drive, which in turn had pulled the disc drive onto the floor. The drive was now making a strange noise and wouldn’t read. Was there anything on the drive, he asked, that was important?

My life, I answered.

Which was also backed up onto a different drive.

If the photo of my son going into the playhouse when he was four is priceless, what value do I put on the digital copy of the same photo which resides on a different drive? If there are five copies, is each of them worth a fifth of the original?

And how many copies am I supposed to make? What happens if the original and the backup are both destroyed. How many versions do I need to keep in the cloud so I can access them without recourse to the physical drives?

All of this material would fit onto any one of the SEVEN portable disc drives that I have. But at the moment, since all of these drives are sitting on my kitchen table, this isn’t a backup policy. It’ a burglary waiting to happen.

I can’t find a reasoned policy for how to distribute this information – I should give a number of these drives to friends and ask them to look after them for me.

There’s already a version of the compressed scans sitting on Zumodrive. And my end game for this material is for it all to be accessible from anywhere. Which raises a series of questions about passwords and access rights.

Trial And Error

Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on February 5, 2010

It’s been a frustrating week of (non) progress.

I’ve been aware for a while of IPTC tags – more here – but didn’t know how to strip the information from my Excel sheet and insert the relevant info into each of the JPEGs. Paul Beddoe has been invaluable in helping to overcome this problem. The first stab successfully wrote the contents of the Excel sheet – but wrote the metadata to the EXIF fields of the JPEG which aren’t readable by Photoshop or Flickr. Even though Paul’s hugely busy with his dayjob, he’s now managing to find some time in the evening to help overcome the problem with IPTC tags. If we can crack that, then we’re a long way towards having a workable application.


Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on January 27, 2010

Here’s the pic I screengrabbed, the first photo I had seen of the iPad. Jobs appears in a photo taken by   Stephen Fry in front of a slide which reads ” Our most advanced technology in a magical & revolutionary device at an unbelievable price.”

And when I showed the picture to my nine year old daughter, her response was “That’s so cool.  When I’m a grown up I want one of those. But then it won’t be as much money because by then there’ll be more new things.

And when I went to Twitter to see what the reaction was there, all I could find was a screen which read as follows