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Festival Day

Friday, 25th August 2023

9:00am — 9:30pm The Town Hall, Hebden Bridge



Getting Wuthering Bytes 2023 off to a start with a welcome from compère, Dr Laura James.


Bill Thompson

Opening Keynote: This is not my beautiful web…

From TCP/IP to Instagram Threads, a journey into the betrayal of our dreams and a glimpse of redemption with Bill Thompson.

Bill Thompson has been on the internet since 1984 and organised the 1986 Community Computing Network conference via X.25 dialup using Geonet and the Manchester Host.

He was at the first World Wide Web conference in 1994, built websites for Comic Relief, the Edinburgh Fringe and his local MP. Now he works for BBC Research & Development and says his job is to ‘fix the internet’.

So what went wrong? Why does the net need to be fixed? Where did we lose the fight for a humane, supportive and decent digital public space? And can we do anything about it?

Come and find out if old socialists can remain optimistic in a networked world.


Lisa Kinch

The Architecture of Telephone Exchange Buildings

Technological developments will soon make the majority of the UK’s 5,600 telephone exchange buildings redundant, and many have already been sold for change use or complete redevelopment. This talk will celebrate these modest buildings by tracing their architectural, technological and historical developments from the opening of Europe’s first telephone exchange in 1879 and the General Post Office’s underhand tactics to create Britain’s first nationalised industry (although Kingston-upon-Hull rebelled to retain their independence), through war-time constraints, standard types and iconic buildings, automation and the ‘waving goodbye to the hello girls’, to the present day and examples of telephone exchange buildings that have now been converted to accommodate other functions.

Attendees are invited to share their own stories and to go for a stroll around Hebden Bridge’s 1963 Standard H-Type telephone exchange, extended in 1977 by the Property Services Agency's senior architect K. Brown and job architect A. K. Dixon.


Tea/Coffee Break


Matthew Venn

Learn to Design Your Own Open Source Microchips!

Until recently, designing a custom chip would have cost hundreds of thousands in software tooling costs and then tens of thousands to get a few prototypes made, not to mention the hassle of signing restrictive factory non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

In the last 3 years a huge amount of progress has been made in the world of open source silicon. We now have the software tools and libraries that enable anyone to get their hands dirty making chips. Even better: Google has sponsored a chip lottery and if you submit a design it might get made for free!

In this talk Matt will briefly cover key moments over the last few years and what is happening now in the rapidly evolving world of open source chip design.We will look at how the tools are becoming easier to use and how the accessibility of open source tools are a perfect fit for training and education. The talk will end with a presentation and quick demo of SiliWiz and Tiny Tapeout, new educational projects that aim to demystify microchip design and manufacture, while dramatically lowering the barrier to entry in terms of ease of use and cost.


Rachel Coldicutt

Re-Building the Digital Commons

Rachel Coldicutt is a technology researcher who's worked on the Web since the mid-90s. In this talk she'll share some of the work that she's doing at Promising Trouble to strengthen and rebuild the digital commons. From instigating a pilot in south London that will hopefully lay a new blueprint for community-owned connectivity for everyone, everywhere to building a network of community tech organisations who can more easily share technology, skills and resources, come and find out how you can get involved in shaping and building a resilient alternative innovation economy, outside of the market and the state.

And if you're interested in developing solutions for digital connectivity in high density urban housing, come and brainstorm over coffee afterwards.


Ed Rogers

Mapping the World, the Terminal and Everything in Multiline Refreshable Braille

This talk will describe the Canute Console, the full-page refreshable Braille Linux workstation that is the new product from Bristol Braille, building on Open Source applications to equalise the playing field for blind programmers.

The talk will then cover the remarkable applications that have started to emerge with the new found freedom of spacial refreshable Braille, in particular interactive maps of the world, top-down representations of sports matches, and command line ASCII-art rogue-likes designed for sighted people that now work for Braille readers.

Talk attendees will be invited to consider how their applications and projects could work with minimal adaptations for blind people in this exciting new field of computer science.




Sarah Angliss

Daphne Oram - drawn sound on the Acorn Archimedes?

Daphne Oram’s life and legacy is the starting point for this talk on electronic sound culture and the problems of preserving early digital art.

A Vermeer still hangs on the wall 350 years after it was painted; its organic paint colours are almost as pristine as the day he first laid down the paint. But digital artworks stored on the earliest floppy disks, just four or five decades after they were encoded, are rapidly turning to dust.

Daphne Oram (1925–2003) was a visionary electronic composer, co-founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and inventor of Oramics, a means of synthesising sound by drawing waveforms, pitches, volume envelopes and other properties on film. The original Oramics system was analogue, but Sarah is currently exploring what appears to be an attempt by Oram to encode her Oramics system onto one of the first Acorn Archimedes computers off the production line. Working with Acorn and floppy disk retrieval expert Phil Pemberton, Sarah has been attempting to retrieve and execute some of this early code before the surface of Oram’s floppy disks irretrievably decay.


Professor Martin Campbell-Kelly

The Rise and Fall of ICL

ICL set out in 1907 as the British Tabulating Machine Company, selling punched-card machines. It moved into computers after the war, and after a series of mergers became the “national champion” computer manufacturer and Europe’s biggest. After heavy losses in the 1980s, it was rescued by the government before being acquired by Fujitsu in 1990. Could it have survived?


Shortwave Collective

Feminist Approaches to DIY Radio

The ‘Open Wave-Receiver’ is a feminist re-interpretation and reclamation of foxhole radio technology used by soldiers during wartime. Shortwave Collective makes this radio technology accessible in workshops; participants create Open Wave-Receivers and are engaged as co-researchers and curious experimenters working with a very basic set of materials: copper wire, metal clips, a ground, an antenna, a tent peg diode. Then at dusk, when atmospheric conditions are most favourable, makers go outside together, extend antennas and receive signals.

The Open Wave-Receiver is not tuned to specific frequencies so all signals are welcomed into an organic composition. Receiving becomes an experience of enchantment and intergenerational sociality. Through this listening, Shortwave Collective posits alternative narratives of radio technology, radio waves, signals and reception that ripple into a more symbiotic awareness of electromagnetism, atmosphere and communication. In this artist talk, we share our DIY making and listening processes.


Tea/Coffee Break


Chris Burton & Théo Reignier

Bringing Useful & Safe Quantum Computing to The World

Chris & Théo will present on Quantum Computing and its trajectory in the coming years. The presentation will look at opportunities coming from quantum and its application to tough challenges faced by the tech industry. This will include a look at IBM’s Quantum roadmap and how IBM is building a quantum industry. The presentation will also outline the security threats introduced by this new technology, motivating the urgency for quantum safe encryption.


Dr Sally Rodgers

Closing Keynote: The Poetry of Everything

Dr Sally Rodger’s doctoral research considered the idea of the diachronic, technology-led abstraction of oral, written and music based poetries. From the Romantics engagement with advances in auditory science to how sample culture and televisual technologies gave birth to Hip Hop's explosive, oral performativity, it’s a broad sweep of an impact narrative. As a DJ, producer and performer of electronic music they are subjects close to her heart, and she even considered the beautiful concrete poetics of the memes we share everyday.

In this presentation Sally will talk about her life in music, research obsessions and her firm belief that if we consider the technological context we’re working in, poetry resonates in all communications.


The Legendary Wuthering Bytes "Happy Valley" After Party​​

Mark Tranmer (Gnac, The Montgolfier Brothers), Richard O'Brien (Vespertine Records) and Cosmic Jane (Duende, Ambient Bowls).

Playing folk to electronica, dream pop to space rock.

Food will be available from the cafe. Finishes around 21:30 (last food orders will be earlier).

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Hebden Bridge

35mins from Leeds & Manchester