Category Archives: events

Twittermobbing Trafalgar Square for Colalife


If you are in central London this afternoon with a little time to spare, I suggest … no, urge you …. to pop along to Trafalgar Square and support the amazing Colalife campaign, which I’ve written about before. Simon Berry, family,  and many, many friends are organising a Twittermob rally to celebrate the appearance of the giant aidpod on the fourth plinth. Full explanation here.
Brief recap: about one in five children in Africa dies before they are five because of lack of basic medicines; just about the only outfit with a distribution system to every village is Coca-Cola; the campaign has designed a mini aidpod of medicines to fit into crates; Coca-Cola is talking.
Today at 3pm Russell Tanner will use his part in the One and Other project,  under which a different person occupies the plinth every hour for 24 hours over 100 days, to put the pod on the plinth… and no doubt do a little more to keep us amused.

I took a look around recently with this video, and will be reporting later in the day.
The giant aidpod was constructed in Sheffield for just such a promotional opportunity, and for the last few weeks has had a home at NESTA as you can see above.

sarahbrown

If you can’t make it to the Square, there a live stream here, and a wealth of suggestions here on how to connect online. #twittermob tweets are already flooding in, and Sarah Brown has added her support from No 10.

Oh, and if you do make it, wear something red to be supportive and sociable. Like everything else associated with Colalife, it’s going to be fun!

Social by Social book launched. And content is free.

We had a terrific launch of the Social by Social Handbook - previously trailed here – at the Reboot Britain event earlier this week. I’m only just catching up on all the connections made, and will post something more thoughtful later.
Meanwhile the content of the book about how to use Social Technology for Social Benefit – some 275 pages of it – is all available here on a holding site. You can order the print version, and we’ll shortly have pdfs to download. It’s all Creative Commons so you can freely use and remix the content.
The book was funded by NESTA, and written by Amy Sample Ward, Andy Gibson, me, and Nigel Courtney and Professor Clive Holtham of Cass Business School.
You can find out more on our blog, where there’s a report of the play of the Social by Social game. This time we were Saving Slaghampton.

Previewing Reboot Britain in the park

Tomorrow sees the launch in London of Reboot Britain – first as “an extraordinary one-day event which will take a totally different look at the challenges we face as a country and the new possibilities that – uniquely – this generation has to overcome them”. Then lots of follow-up conversations, events and who-knows-what (except that it will certainly be creative, innovation and no doubt fun as well).

Last week’s Tuttle Club in the park gave me a chance to meet up with Roland Harwood of NESTA, who are the main promoters of the event.  As you will hear, Roland is keen that Reboot starts to reach people  beyond the social media crowd. Over the past year we have done a lot to promote new ways of doing and thinking … but I believe that Twitter and the many social media meetups have led to a lot of talking among “people like us” who “get it”. The emergence of ideas like FailCamp, and Roland’s advocacy of a wider reach, show a welcome shift. Unless ideas and practices around open, collaborative innovation move into the mainstream, what’s the point? As Clay Shirky says, in effect, it isn’t until we get bored with talking about the tools that we’ll properly concentrate on their social benefits.

I’ll be doing a bit of social reporting at Reboot, as well as helping launch Social by Social, a handbook and website funded by NESTA to help people use social technology for social benefit. Andy Gibson, Amy Sample Ward and I will be running the Social by Social game – on the lines of the session in Edinburgh recently – with expert assistance from the game co-designer Drew Mackie. Andy has put a huge amount of effort into the final edit of the book, which will be available here online and as a download tomorrow.

I was also able to talk to Toby Moores, Joanna Jacobs and Steve Lawson about the way they are planning to help everyone at Reboot be a social reporter using Twitter, blogging and any other means to create a cloud of online conversations to complement the live streaming that will be provided by Richard Jolly and Diarmaid Lynch. There should be more soon on that linked from the official site – but meanwhile keep up with everything Reboot through the Twitter tag #rebootbritain. Toby and friends are using techniques developed through Amplified09, so you can be sure there will be plenty going on, with some good analysis afterwards. The creative force behind the event is Steve Moore, who curated 2gether08 and morphed the 2gether09 plans into Reboot. The event is produced by my friends Jess Tyrell, Lizzie Ostrom and the team at  Germination … so when I say in the usual way that I’m looking forward to tomorrow I really mean it. No tickets left, but plenty to follow online.

Update: aggregated newsdesk, Twitter, live streaming and live blogging will all be linked from here

Crowds, tribes, teams: Tuttle turns to consulting

Most Friday mornings in London social media types gather at  The Tuttle Club. It isn’t so much a place as a style of doing things, and a moving cloud of conversations gently crafted and convened by Lloyd Davis.

Tuttle started in a room over the Coach and Horses in Soho – as you can see here, together with an explanation of how the Club was named after Harry Tuttle from the film Brazil. Tuttle then moved to the ICA, and for the last couple of weeks has been on the roof of Inn the (St James) Park. Last Friday was a chance to ask Lloyd for an update and test out video on my new iPhone 3gs …. in particular whether I could get better sound by plugging in the headset and waving the mic in Lloyd’s direction.

As you’ll see in the video, Tuttle has been going very well, and has now spawned The Tuttle Team. This is an innovative consulting approach to discover  and understand client needs using a process of refinement through three forms:

Crowd: 10-15 of our members meet with a similar number of your people in a relaxed space for free conversation. People are briefed beforehand on the issues facing the client, but the conversation is allowed to wander in the same way that it does at the Tuttle Club itself. It’s an opportunity for blue-sky thinking.

Tribe: 7-10 more specialist contributors are identified to drill down further into issues raised in the Crowd session. These people meet again with a similar number of representatives from the client in a series of short facilitated conversations. The main output is a document detailing what we’ve learned so far, a strategic approach to untangling some of the problems and a few immediately realisable benefits and projects.

Team: 3-5 people come together with specific skills to deliver the projects identified by the Tribe. That is, to do a specific piece of agreed work — writing a document, creating a website, making a movie, working with staff in a mentoring or coaching capacity.

I was in on the first round of a session recently with a client, and I think it worked really, really well. Client feedback was good too. I’ve been in too many consulting situations where we start with the wrong brief because  it isn’t until you actually get going that you all understand the situation and what might be possible. The Tuttle approach allows a lot of re-framing, and re-thinking of what skills are needed, on all sides.

Harry Tuttle was a freelance repair man, played in the film by Robert de Niro. The defining Tuttle Team consulting quote is: Sam Lowry: Can you fix it? Harry Tuttle: No, I can’t. But, I can bypass it.

If you are interested in getting help from the team, contact Lloyd, or better still come along and say hello in person on Friday. All welcome.  Next week’s Tuttle is going to be rather special. As you can see here it is at Channel 4 with Manuel Castells author of The Rise of the Network Society – who, as Lloyd says, has been influencing thinking about the social dynamics of the web for as long as we’ve had a web. Demand is likely to be high, so there’ll probably be a signup linked from the club event site.

Meanwhile, I’m suggesting over here that the RSA might try some Tuttling for its London City Network meetings. We had something rather Tuttle-ish for a meeting of candidates for the Fellowship Council last Thursday at Royal Festival Hall, and staff are investigating whether there might be some flexible spaces at the House in John Adam Street. I think Harry would be impressed.

Time to celebrate failure at FailCamp

When you are starting something new the most useful stories are often honest accounts from those who have failed – as Clay Shirky said in an interview last year. Now the social media folk in Birmingham – source of many successes – are promoting the idea of FailCamp. As Pete Ashton says “A day where you tell us about your online experiments or experiences that went horribly, terribly wrong”. More on Twitter. I’m with Pete when he says:

Meanwhile I’m getting bored. Well, maybe bored is the wrong word but I want to shake things up a bit. The way I see it once you’ve got something established it’s time to move on. Sure, there’s an important case for sticking around and solidifying this new thing but that doesn’t interest me and there’s no point pretending. I want to be excited and amused. Going over stuff that’s worked well is good and important but the notion of slapping any complacency about how utterly fabulous the Brum Interwebs community is with a big fish and turning it all on its head appeals no end.

Over the past year or so we’ve seen an enormous growth in meetups and Twittering about how brilliant social media is, and how it will change the world … but as soon as you get outside the circle of “people like us” you usually get bland stares. No good sneering “they don’t get” … you need some really good stories to tell. I love this one on the Digital Engagement network from Chris (@cyberdoyle) about how social networks can do something to replace the over-the-garden-fence conversations we have lost.
However, working out just what sort of social network or other tool may help isn’t simple … it depends enormously on the situation, the people and many other factors. The answer to “what works?” is “it depends” … and that’s when the stories of what didn’t work are so useful.
I think FailCamp will be a huge success … and that’s OK.

Update: Ben Whitehouse, who sparked the conversation leading to FailCamp, says “Failure is the stuff that glues together to create success” and suggests October 17 as the date.
Update 2. There’s a now a Failcamp blog, which is already sparking an investigation into a possible failure … a council website.

Rebooting Britain project and event announced

Details are emerging from NESTA of Reboot Britain, a project to “take a top-to-bottom look at the challenges we face as a
country and the new possibilities that – uniquely – this generation has to overcome them”. read more »

RSA explores how online networking may help build social capital

The RSA is breathing fresh life into exploration of the relationship between two issues – digital inclusion and social capital – with a seminar tomorrow launched by a paper from Will Davies on The Social Value of Digital Networks in Deprived Communities. The paper will be available at some point after the seminar, informed by discussions. The opening position  is:

  • Digital inclusion is the use of technology to improve the lives and life chances of disadvantaged people and the places in which they live.
  • Social capital is a way of understanding the (positive and negative) impact of social networks and norms on people’s lives.

… with evidence showing strong correlation between those who are socially excluded and those who are digitally excluded. The seminar – and the Connected Communites project being developed by the RSA – will explore how far online networking may help develop the socially and economically important weaker links that connect people beyond friends and family. read more »

World entrepreneur summit update


The World Entrepreneur Summit on Friday March 20 is attracting about 250 people, ranging from the European chairman of Microsoft, to a social enterprise working with local agencies Africa to pepare resources before potential disasters. I’m social reporting on the day, and wanted a quick update from organiser Rebecca Harding. It seemed like a good opportunity to try out Call Recorder with Skype.
As you’ll hear, we covered why entrepreneurs want to get together (networking, finding a collective voice, influencing policy), what keeps them awake at night (big opportunities as well as the usual business problems), and what happens after the summit. Rebecca’s aim is to help develop a worldwide society for any type of entrepreneur.
You can join in online at the networking site, and also still register for the event here. If you can’t afford the full cost, there’s an option to just make a donation … so it is inclusive as well as enterprising.

Is your event worth the price of the ticket?

The other day I was discussing social reporting and other online activities for a £300-ticket, two-day event with the organiser, and he said: “Next year we are going to have to make it free”.

It really brought home to me how much the way that events are organised and priced is being changed by two influences, at least in the social media field: first, people can organise their own events much more easily by using online tools like Facebook, Meetup and Eventbrite. Secondly, it is relatively easy to extend your event by a mix of blogging, Twittering, video-streaming and networking as I’ve described in posts here.

read more »

Women entrepreneurs may be less fazed by the crisis

As I mentioned before, I’ll be socialreporting from the World Entrepreneur Society Summit in London next Friday, so I’m delighted to see activity warming up on Crowdvine … led by managing director Rebecca Harding who set up the site. It’s great when clients take the controls, as Ken Thompson advocates.
Rebecca poses the question: Are women entrepreneurs less fazed by the crisis and gives a taster of the report she’ll be presenting:

Results from a major survey of 1800 growth-oriented entrepreneurs that will be presented at WES on the 20th March suggest that women entrepreneurs are less fazed by recessionary pressures than men. Nearly two thirds of men are worried about the macroeconomic climate compared to just over 50% of women, and men are also more likely to be worrying about their credit profile, about cashflow, profitability, sales, managing teams and accessing finance than women.

read more »