London Tube Map with Walklines now in London Transport Museum

In Nov 2015, the London Transport Museum opened its new permanent gallery London by Design, and they’ve included my Walklines map. It’s an honour to be in the same display case as the tube map’s creator Harry Beck.

Of course, a dozen years later there are real-time mobile services like Citymapper, but I still dream of maps that could switch between tube/walking, symbolic/geographic modes, while remaining on paper, foldable, pocket-stuffable…

Here’s my post from 2003, corrected for expired links though not for new stations and tube lines!:

London Tube Map with Walklines: sometimes it’s quicker to walk

For some journeys it’s really not worth getting on the tube: it takes a long time, and costs you money. Sometimes it’s quicker and easier to walk.

For instance: Leicester Square is only 250m from Covent Garden; Charing Cross to Embankment is about 300m; Chancery Lane to Farringdon by tube requires two changes and 4 stations. Mansion House to Bank: change once, 6 stops - as noted by Bill Bryson in Notes From a Small Island (though you could walk to Bank District Line, aka Monument, and go in two stops, but his point is still well made). Possibly, even Finchley Road to Hampstead (change twice, 9 stops) could be walked in half an hour, although the standard tube map won’t tell you that it’s up a steep hill.

One of the very few weaknesses of the standard tube map is that its distortion of geography (a very successful attempt to present the different stations and lines more clearly) sometimes means that it’s not clear when the tube trip is unnecessary. This has been discussed on Edward Tufte’s site and in many other places, and there are many geographically corrected versions of the map.

But here’s a slightly altered map showing which stations are an arbitrary and as-the-crow-flies 500 metres apart from each other (there are many more stations 600, 700+ metres from each other). It doesn’t look great yet, and definitely reduces the readability of the standard tube map at the moment, which isn’t a good thing. So it’s not an improvement on the map, but it’s an interesting exercise.

Why am I interested in personal finance, healthcare and technology?

We’re living longer. The average cohort life expectancy 1 for a British person aged 65 in 1982 was 79 (male) and 83 female. The same life expectancy for someone aged 65 in 2012 is 85+ (male and female). And the same life expectancy for someone born in 2012 is 90+ (male and female). A third of children born in 2013 are expected to reach to age of 100 2.

In healthcare, this demographic trend means the demand for good health care, social care and related support will grow in future. At the same time, it’s clearly getting harder for the public sector to fund and service that growing demand. The patient journey through healthcare is often uncertain, confusing or scary. Post-austerity, we can expect the NHS to be under permanent pressure to change, to do more with less. Software is ramming itself into every industry, turning many of them inside out. So innovation is both needed and inevitable, and we will see technology innovation in both the public and private sectors.

In personal finance, the story’s the same. Our post-retirement lives will be longer. In the UK, the state pension will fund less and less of your retirement, and those minty defined benefit pensions of your parents’ generation are becoming much rarer (not least because companies and governments cannot afford them when we live longer). So working adults will have to do more to provide for their own futures. Anyway, if you’re smart and have a decent job perhaps you feel a moral duty to provide for your future 3 so that the social safety net can more easily catch those whose need will be greater than yours.

And here’s my personal angle: Yesterday - yesterday I tell you - I was 25 and felt immortal. Minutes later, here and now in 2015, I am in my mid-forties. If I’m very lucky, I’m halfway through my working life. I have experienced a few family and personal journeys through human frailty and medicine - sobering, thought-provoking, sometimes terrifying, occasionally joyful experiences. I have half of a financial plan worked out and a lot of things I wish I’d known when I was 25. What would I tell my 25-year-old self? What should I do next?

There are so many questions. How do we imagine our futures? How do we plan for the longer term? Why is it hard to plan ahead? What motivates us to put tomorrow’s needs ahead of satisfaction today? How do we know if we’re on track? How to think about risk? What to think about future-you? Where will you need help? What to do now?

I will explore these ideas, then perhaps some tools and toys, maybe even a business. If you’re working in these areas, let’s talk.

  1. period vs cohort life expectancies - in short, cohort is often a more useful measure because it makes allowance for future mortality improvements and this is a good exploration of the differences between the two.

  2. The sources are all Office of National Statistics: 65 in 1982, 65 in 2012, born in 2012, age 100.

  3. An October 2015 poll by OnePoll for Abundance found that 80% of those aged 18-34 see themselves as responsible for ensuring they have an income in retirement, yet just 44% currently hold a pension

Spreadsheets are dreams

They are numeric descriptions of the intent and direction of a body of work, of a corporate body, or of their outputs. They are the financial part of your business plans, or the proof that you cannot afford to rent that house, or an MPs tally of their expenses, or a schedule, or a to-do list. The grid admits everything.

[…] their ordered data and formulae always comfort you that you have authored a controllable certainty, most spreadsheets are mere conjectures, provisional plans, ideas or hopes.

Spreadsheets are dreams was a piece I wrote for Hand & Brain alongside contributions from William Gibson (!) and others.

Slightly frozen by the clever questions about design/craft Beeker asked us, I wrote instead about spreadsheets, dreams and making sand castles with my then-3-year-old daughter. There is a spreadsheet that goes with it, and the smart formulae were done by Will Wragg. These magnificent images were made by Jack and Timo of Ottica.

Hannah Higgins’ The Grid Book and Michael Welland’s Sand were very helpful, as were all of the things bookmarked here and here.

Spreadsheets are dreams

Holdfast Projects


Before Holdfast, Rod was:

2004-2014: founder/director of Mobbu

Mobbu makes mobile security and communications software for businesses, UK police forces, Ministry of Defence.

  • PassWear, a two factor/password replacement security product for mobile apps using Pebble/Android Gear/Apple Watch smartwatches.
  • Field Ops, a real-time situational awareness product on BlackBerry, iOS and Android for UK gov surveillance/security. Annual recurring revenue of ~GBP1m between 2007-14 and helped achieve multiple convictions.
  • Ran Mobbu finance at ~GBP1.5m annual revenue and 30-40% NP. Business modelling, finance, strategy, commercial management and contracts, procurement, due diligence. Designed SAAS and hybrid SAAS/consulting business models.

2001-2003: Product Manager at Eckoh plc

Designed and product managed a speech recognition service, the early product seed of an AIM-listed customer communications business now at 22m annual revenue.

1998-2001: Head of Design at 365 Corp plc

Ran design/UX, Front-end development and delivery teams for Football365 and other content websites. 365 LSE-listed in 1999, and the sports division has been owned by Sky since 2006.

Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.

Last time I started a blog it was 2003, a time seemingly closer to 1876 than now.