#8 – Eiffelover on tour in San Francisco

This is the first of two episodes of the Eiffelovercast recorded in San Francisco earlier this month. I was in the city to run some Think Up workshops, and so talk the opportunity to recorded some thoughts, interviews and sound bites related to my regular themes of engineering, creativity and practical philosophy.

“News from San Francisco: We are all part of the cloud”

In this episode I visit the Golden Gate Bridge (my favourite bridge in the world?), find out about experiments down in Stanford about what makes us collaborate better, try out as many modes of transport I can, learn about extended cognition and our relationship with the cloud, and experiment with ditching Google maps in an attempt to understand the city better.

The second episode from San Francisco will be on line later this week. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy listening.

To listen you can:

  • Click play on the player above
  • Subscribe by RSS
  • Listen on iTunes
  • Download the episode here
  • Access all episodes online here

Did none of those links work for you? Or do you access podcasts from another source that I am missing? Then please let me know in the comments below.

#7: Musician and composer Ellie Westgarth-Flynn on creative strategies, instruments as an extension of our bodies and creative feedback

Ever since I was a kid my Dad has been sharing musical composition strategies with me, so I think music has been a lens thorugh which I’ve thought about creativity for a long time. And so I jumped at the opportunity to interview my friend Ellie Westgarth-Flynn, pianist, singer, composer and performer about our shared interest in creative techinques for composition. As in many of these podcast interviews, I think that creative techinques from one domain can easily be transported to another, and so I hope that whatever your domain of work, you find something useful in the creative techinques that Ellie and discuss. In this episode, we get into:

  • The tension between technical mastery and creative freedom.
  • The freedom that rhythmic and harmonic templates or restrictions bring to our compositions.
  • Building up composition from motifs and building blocks.
  • The importance of feedback in the creative process – acting on feedback is where change takes place.
  • There comes a point at which you need to leave yourself out of it and get on the with the job of writing the music.
  • Three creative techniques for anyone trying to get into song writing.


  • Listen to it on iTunes
  • Stream by clicking here
  • Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”

Continue reading “#7: Musician and composer Ellie Westgarth-Flynn on creative strategies, instruments as an extension of our bodies and creative feedback”

Eiffelovercast #6 – Riding the Northern Line Ghost Train

In this episode of the podcast I attempt a sonic recreation of a part of the London Underground that never got built, a stretch of the Northern Line that would have run from Moorgate to Alexandra Palace. En route I reflect on the transport infrastructure shapes our experience of the city and the difference between what engineers plan and what actually gets built. I really loved making this podcast – it features my mother, Anne Soutry, as Northern Line announcer, making the most of her skills as a continuity announcer for BBC Radio Manchester many years ago. Also, as part of my research, I got a ride in the cab of a Northern Line train with my friend Stuart McGee – thanks Stu. So, have a listen, and I hope you enjoy the ride.

If you liked this podcast then you’d definitely enjoy:

Continue reading “Eiffelovercast #6 – Riding the Northern Line Ghost Train”

Eiffelovercast #5 – Nick Cobbing: photographing the Arctic

Photographer and photojournalist Nick Cobbing talks about photographing the Arctic, what happens to photographic equipment at minus 38 degrees, using drones to take photos, the role of the audience in the creative process, being reduced to tears by the beauty of the planet, the best places to swing dance north of the Arctic, life hacks for creative people working on their own and whether penguins tango or waltz.

Continue reading “Eiffelovercast #5 – Nick Cobbing: photographing the Arctic”

Eiffelovercast #4 – Crossing France very very fast: a paean to TGVs

The connection between two TGVs coupled together, cropped to suggest that the two trains are doing a French kiss

Ever since I saw my first one zoom past as a boy I’ve loved TGVs. In January I travelled from one side of France to the other and back by high-speed train to get to a conference, and used the chance to try to capture some of what I love about fast trains in France. It’s a mash up of travel diary, interviews and engineering history, all stitched together with familiar SNCF noises. I hope you enjoy.

If you enjoy the interview then please let me know in the comments thread below.

Eiffelovercast #3 – Andrew Scoones – is there is such a thing as engineering culture?

Metal panel with silhouette of bicycle frame cut into it mounted on a purple brick wall

We are trying to define the heritage of the future – the creativity and ideas in engineering that people will look back on – Andrew Scoones

Andrew Scoones is a filmmaker specialising in the built environment. Andrew seems to have interviewed or met almost all of my engineering design heroes, and so I was equally delighted and nervous when he agreed to let me interview him! In this podcast we explore one of Andrew’s passions, the identification and celebration of engineering culture. Along the way way we get in to some great stories about designers, what they design and how they do it.

Andrew is director of the Engineering Club, set up over twenty years ago to host events about the broad culture of engineering in an informal setting. In this podcast he shares some of his favourite stories from Engineering Club guests, which illustrate different aspects of engineering culture.

En route we get into bicycle design, designing trainers, whether there engineering culture includes creativity, and whether there is room for creativity in industrialissed systems. We talk about some great engineers and their projects. And we talk about building your own dishwasher.

Please enjoy this interview with Andrew Scoones and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Continue reading “Eiffelovercast #3 – Andrew Scoones – is there is such a thing as engineering culture?”

Podcast Episode 1 – Engineering, creativity and practical philosophy

I’ve been thinking about creating an Eiffelover podcast for over a year. Last week at Port Eliot festival I saw John-Paul Flintoff (@jpflintoff) give a great talk on creativity in which he challenged us to name one creative project that we want to do, and commit to taking the first step…

And so this is it, the Eiffelover podcast, the first of what I hope will become a regular digest of matters engineering, creative and practically philosophical garnered from the people I meet, the workshops I run and the material I read. I hope you find it useful.

To kick off, I created my first episode here at Electromagnetic Field camp, a non-profit UK camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.

In this podcast I meet some of the fantastic people here at EMF camp and their imaginitive creations, I dig around to find out what makes these creative people tick, and I get into a fascinating conversation with Richard Sewell about ‘Thingness’, a term he and his colleague coined to talk about the power of making things. Listen now to learn more.

People mentioned