That took you long enough: thoughts on Black Panther

I love how it took a panel to make me break my “eh I’ll wait for Netflix” self-promise but yes I have finally watched Black Panther. Now to be clear…

  • Yes I loved it from the start and followed the hype like everyone else. This is not a case of me being contrarian.
  • No I do not think the movie is a ‘sell out’ of Afrofuturism or that making Afrofuturism more mainstream is a bad thing. I was really happy it was being made, really happy it was so overtly marketed as ‘Afrofuturistic’ (even my white friends got into it! 😄).
  • OK so I am a bit meh on superhero movies in general but that’s not why I didn’t watch it in the cinemas.

Honestly? It was a mix of timing, me living on my overdraft and also… well, it didn’t need my help. It broke box office record after box office record so. Yeah. It was doing just fine.

But then I got invited to a panel on AfroFuturism in a post-Black Panther world at the Nine Worlds 2018 convention and thought… yeah I should actually watch it. And what I saw, well, it genuinely surprised me.

Continue reading That took you long enough: thoughts on Black Panther


Where Next for AfroFuturism? Thoughts on the Nine worlds panel et al.

I spent much of my Saturday at the Nine Worlds convention in Hammersmith, the first time I’ve ever been actually able to make it though not the first time I’ve heard of it. It’s been touted as one of the most inclusive geek events in the UK and for myself, I think that’s definitely the case, or at least from what I saw.

So wherefore my attendance? Well, I was on a panel titled ‘Where Next for AfroFuturism’, a panel I’d been invited to by Chella Ramanan from BAME in Games who I knew from January’s Afrotech Fest. A lot of – in fact all of – my recent talks have been on tech and inclusive design so it was nice getting to chat about AfroFuturism to a new audience.

Continue reading Where Next for AfroFuturism? Thoughts on the Nine worlds panel et al.

But *is it* decline theology?

This just in from the church side of things (how ironic – I’m trying to do more posts on critical theory of tech and the first blog post I write is online church stuff), I’ve been seeing this article by Revd. Goodhew make the rounds via a couple of priest-y friends on twitter. It’s yet another of those posts that make me realise there’s a whole other world the priests/vicars/etc. are living in to those of us in the laity.

Or just me. Yeah, maybe just me.

So anyway, Goodhew’s main argument in the article is that a key factor to the CofE semi-existential crisis is what he calls a theology of decline, or at least an organised spirit of suspicion from broad (so basically any non ‘Evangelical’) Anglicanism when it comes to the issue of church growth, where one finds – according to Goodhew – ‘hostility to talking of growing churches is widely shared, at least in the Global North’.

Continue reading But *is it* decline theology?

Writing again

For various reasons I stopped blogging properly a while back (not as long ago as the last entry here might suggest but… yeah it’s been some time) – partly because the ever present disdain for (and discomfort with) my online voice got a bit overwhelming, partly because I was just tired and changing jobs and realising how broke I actually was.

Maybe as result of this, maybe as a result of some other weirdness going on in my head – and goodness knows there’s plenty of it – maybe just because, I also slowed massively on my writing output. Actually, what’s interesting is that this went hand in hand with a decline in reading and that was as much because I hated being thrown into the depths of either melancholy (if it was really good) or irritation (if it was mediocre to poor).

Continue reading Writing again

The Post-Capitalist Museum and Derby Silk Mill

tonybutler's blog

I have only a rudimentary grasp of economics but I am thoroughly enjoying reading Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism

His provocation is that capitalism is broken. Cycles of boom and bust punctuated by state bail outs is unsustainable. Soon the state will be milked so dry that it won’t have enough capital to patch up the system. Bail outs transfer money from the poor to the rich, which eventually will make our society so unequal that social conflict will become inevitable.

But from the wreckage of a system built on unsubstantiated credit, a new economy can emerge. One based on information technology which is open-sourced, home-made and shared. This sharing economy is not made of controlled platforms like Uber or Airbnb, but of co-operatives sharing non-market goods, time banks and LETS currencies. It’s an economy based on sharing of knowledge skills and information.

In showing how we have got here, Mason…

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Poster Design time!

One of the nice things about organising events is that I get an excuse to sit down and do some design work. It’s never amazing as I’m under time constraints but it’s nice being able to experiment with photoshop and develop my style.

There are two events on the way at the moment – MancsterCon, a comic convention which will be held on 29th August and AfroFutures_UK, an Afrofuturist conference in October. I’m busy doing art for events promo, mostly for MancsterCon as that’s approaching right soon, but a little on the side for the October event – hopefully that means by the time September comes, I’ll have some truly amazing posters on the way.

As such, I haven’t been updating this blog that much, although as ever, there’s about 50 draft entries waiting to be finished up. There’s been a lot going on, from events management to coding to hackathons and I will get it all out soon… just not right now!

NASA is indexing the ‘Deep Web’ to show mankind what Google won’t

Understanding web technologies has become my latest obsession (which I think fits in neatly with my rediscovered enthusiasm for complexity studies and whatnot). One of the my favourite ranting topics is the segregated nature of the web UX – a term which for me is about more than the user interfaces, but the very processes used to enable discovery and information retrieval.

Hence why I found this article pretty well timed, in short.


There is a part of the Internet—most of it, in fact—that is hidden from Google. It is private, or illicit, or simply unknown. And NASA wants to help you reach it.

The space agency announced last month that it will join forces with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to help make sense of that part of the Internet commonly referred to as the Deep or Dark Web. Most Internet users first heard about it, if they’ve heard about it at all, in the context of Silk Road, the now-defunct online drug marketplace that was hosted on a hidden Web service. Silk Road was only accessible using the anonymity-enhancing browser The Onion Router, or TOR.

Now, NASA’s mission to explore the universe includes the furthest reaches of cyberspace. “It’s uncharted territory,” Chris Mattmann, NASA’s lead on the project, told Fusion in a phone interview. In a press release, NASA explained that it will help DARPA…

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STEMmette of the month: Natalie C

The greatest thing about being a geek is all the brilliant people you get to meet. One such person is Natalie C who I bumped into at the Manchester Girl Geeks Barcamp. We’re both really passionate about encouraging diversity in STEM, but with a similar emphasis on empowering women of colour to be able to make their own stuff and challenge the status quo (but that’s a whole other blog post…).

So, we’re doing a co-blog where we ask each other some key questions about how we got into our fields and any words of encouragement for other young lady geeks out there.

Anyway, without further ado, Natalie C!

Branded  (3)Name: Natalie-Claire

Subject/Industry: Structural engineering

Job – what you do: Currently a STEM ambassador and aspiring graduate structural engineer. I go to schools, colleges and career events to promote civil and structural engineering as a worthwhile career.

As a structural engineer, I would be involved in designing structures like: buildings, stadiums, airports, bridges and even oil rigs. By working with architects and other engineers together we create safe, sustainable and spectacular structures around the world.

Picture of Civil Engineers waving at the camera

Something cool about your career & why you love it.

The best part about being a structural engineer is to see your work/design become a reality and on such a large scale: London Eye, Tower bridge, The Shard, The Gherkin, Sydney Opera house, just to name a few well known structures.

How you got to where you are today – school, subjects, inspirational people.

At school my favorite subject were maths and science. So I went on to study: maths, physics and computing at college. My physics teacher was a great inspiration to me, he saw potential in me and encouraged me to look into engineering as a career. So I then studied Civil engineering and then Structural engineering at university. The best decision of my life!

Word of encouragement to younger women who want to have a career in STEM. 

If you love maths, science or technology research the many careers available out there. And you can become someone who makes a difference in the world we live in today. I am passionate about engineering and I want to spread the word to all the young women out there that it is a great career path to take!

Natalie blogs at Engineer with Unique Style and can be followed on Twitter @NatCLiberty

Tomatoes in bloom!

A few weeks ago I was given two tomato plants courtesy of a fellow chorister at my local church. When I lived in Manchester, there was a whole community around self-sufficiency and vertical gardening and I always wanted to have a go, so when my fellow congregant mentioned he was growing tomatoes, well I couldn’t help mentioning I’ve always wanted to have a go at growing some, which I have.

I was duly given two juvenile plants – a cherry tomato and a… bigger tomato type plant (forgotten the name). For a while I was convinced I’d kill them dead within the week as I am the least green fingered person in existence but I managed not to. It turns out they really like mussel shells (three weeks prior I’d ordered a kilo of mussels so I have plenty of shells to spare) and only a bit of watering and good compost.

IMG_0613Just over a week ago I noticed an array of buds on the tallest plant and then on Thursday, I was greeted with a few lovely yellow flowers! I also realised I need taller sticks and larger pots to repot them, which I’m not looking forward to as they’re so tall now. Which also suggests I need to do some severe pruning too.

As I mentioned to a friend, this is probably why I have no fear of a calling to motherhood. True, children tend to make more noise than tomato plants if you don’t feed/wash/clothe them properly but I suspect I’d still keep it too late.

A day of Girl Geekness in Manchester

Around early May there was a certain something, a frisson disturbing the still waters of online girl geekdom. A new javascript framework? A working implementation of Quantum Computing infrastructure applied to knowledge mapping Big Data sets? Bless you, no – the Manchester Girl Geeks Barcamp was back!

I’ve been attending the Manchester Girl Geeks barcamps since 2013 and they’ve pretty much become one of the highlights of my year. Each one gets better and better – I get to listen to a variety of fascinating topics, meet very clever and hardworking women from a wide range of backgrounds and get to eat amazing cake.


This year obviously I had to travel up from Warwick which meant getting up ludicrously early on a Saturday following a very tiring and stressful week. Still I arrived on time, even though it seemed not that many others did. Anyway, undeterred I checked out the speakers already signed up on the board and took a comfortable seat ready for the launch of what promised to be a day of girl geek amazingness. Not least because we were given adorable mini hemp goodie bags (obviously I took a purple one).

Continue reading A day of Girl Geekness in Manchester

Writings, Ramblings, Warblings and Scribblings