Friday, 27 July 2012

When the olympic bid was won

(Inspired by Sara's post)

On 6 July 2005 I was living in our house (with R, a Scot) on an island (Berneray, population 130) in the Outer Hebrides, wondering if I would ever get broadband. And still getting used to seeing the open sea from most windows in the house. On the days it wasn't raining, I went for long walks on the beach, and watched planes fly high, overhead, to America. Despite the walking, I was overweight.

We watched London win the bid, on satellite TV. We were surprised, thinking Paris was going to get it.

I was a self-employed person, doing education research, working on funding body content, and doing local website work. Bits and pieces. I didn't really have a clue what I was doing, or wanted to do, in life. Faithwise, agnostic; politically, socialist liberal somewhere, I guess.

On 27 July 2012, things are different.

I'm in the West Midlands, renting with people I didn't know or meet until I turned up. The NHS are fixing me, and have been for a while. Brushes with mortality, travels to America (and a couple of years living there), Sweden, Finland, Denmark and other places, death and life, focus the mind.

Now, I'm engaged to B (an American), and do have a clue what I want to do in life. I'm still self-employed, but am more focused on a few specific things, academic, science and literature.

I've written a heck of a lot in various media over those seven years, probably a few million words. Not sure how much of it is good, or was worthwhile. But, generally, writing is usually a good thing to do, even though the media changes, sometimes necessarily.

Politically, I'm somewhere between liberal and libertarian. I really can't stand intolerance, in the myriad of forms it takes. Still overweight, and still agnostic, though.

There's no real point to this post (to paraphrase Sara). It's momentarily interesting to think of then, and now, and the changes (many, some good, some bad) in between. And watching the opening ceremony itself... Many, many good things in a quietly subversive but also proud (in a positive way) ceremony; of which the best thing was:

... which is also ironic, or appropriate, on a personal level as I've spent much of the last two decades, and especially the seven years between the bid being won and the ongoing opening ceremony, using his invention. Tim Berners-Lee is up there as one of the great scientists, and inventors, of mankind. Like other scientists and inventors, he used the discoveries of others, and built on them to make something new. In this case, an easy way for anyone to share and access information and digital content with anyone else.

I met him and had a great chat, while failing to outdrink the other CERN people, at the WWW conference in Boston in December '95. The next month, just before giving birth to Ariadne, he sent a nice email with congratulations and a message that was read out at the launch event. Which was cool. 

His tweet during the ceremony applies not just to the web, but arguably to the NHS and healthcare, to information access both online and through libraries, to education and self-empowerment:

My favorite Olympic moment (and it doesn't contain any sport...).

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