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Ugh I’ve had a kind of emotional hangover since about lunchtime yesterday. I feel rotten about getting stuck in a cynical snarky frame of mind. To blame twitter would be like blaming my exercise books for having blank sheets at the back that were perfect for writing notes to pass in class. To blame anyone at NESTA would be like blaming Mr Liberal for not being able to control his pupils. And to blame any of my fellow participants would be saying “they made me do it, sir”. Oh bugger, now I’ve got the Grange Hill theme running round in my head.
But anyway that’s what I did yesterday, I regressed into can’t-be-bothered schoolboy (the one who ended up with average O-levels and piss-poor A-levels), a role I reprised at university as smart-arse know-it-all (who had to pull far too many all-nighters to get a 2:1). People found some of my twittering amusing but it wasn’t really a productive use of my time to sit there snarking, steadily becoming more frustrated and in the end getting, well, a bit depressed really. In fact I felt just the same as when we had that backchannel hoo-ha at LesBlogs2.0. Stuck in a room with far too many smart people not able to say anything while some other smart people sat on the stage and weren’t able to say enough. But I have to recognise that that’s just how I see it, it doesn’t mean that everyone else had the same reaction.
The thing I can take responsibility for is that I went into it entirely unconsciously – I didn’t really look at the programme, as was evidenced by my shock on arrival at the scale of the whole thing. If I had thought about it, I would have known that I was likely to rebel against the keynoting and panelling and would have planned to do something entirely different and positive with the opportunity instead of sitting there and trying to disrupt it. The only bit I behaved in was Bob Geldof’s bit – he’s a great performer and I’ve loved him ever since he tore up that picture of John Travolta on Top of the Pops.
So I’m sorry NESTA for poking you with a stick. I’m sorry Jonathan Freedland for calling you names on twitter. And I’m sorry to myself for using up a valuable day so miserably.
Ho hum. On to better things. I’ve sat in similar events and said “We can do better than this” I don’t think that’s true – it was a great event, but the programmed content was not for me. What I will say is “We can do something other than this – in fact we already are” That’s where my effort’s going today rather than in trying to pull somebody else down.
Bonus Link: The bit that Geldof quoted from WH Murray
It struck me that Clay Shirky’s lovely notion of cognitive surplus has another expression in these panel and single speaker conferences. Where sitcoms mask cognitive surplus, occasions like this NESTA Innovation conference amplify and magnify it. We have 3,000 smart people (ok not smart enough to not come, but pretty smart nonetheless) sitting in a room listening to 4 other smart people on stage. The weight of ideas, thoughts, inspiration and excitement is enormous, and for me anyway painful – we all rush out to grab food and talk rapidly before coming back in to listen to the prime minister. Gaaaah! Cue Desperate Housewives.
Just a snippet. Cross not to have power supply.
Sir Tim says something to the effect of:
People doing interesting things fall between stools. The web has to be thought of as humanity connected, rather than an interconnection of computer systems. And you have to remember it’s big, very big and it’s complex. It’s not apparent yet what all of its characteristics are. We don’t know yet for example what the blogosphere is and how it will behave. We just don’t know – we can’t show that it’s stable. So we have to study it, we have to understand it better so that we can take care of it.
Live blogging a bit from the Royal Festival Hall as and when today. No power in the hall at all, so currently on 53 minutes
We’ve got a whole bunch of big names talking to us this morning, TB-L & Bob Geldof with a rumoured appearance by the PM. First impression – it’s bloody huge! We’ve heard talk of 3-4,000 people. The hall is full and I think we’re just about to be moved out of the front-row seats we’d grabbed by being the first in. It was too good to be true.
Or maybe not. No, we’re sitting still Ha Ha!
A slow project this one. Ask as many people as I can remember to do when I’ve got my camera with me to answer a “simple” question – “What is the web for?”
I tried it out at the Tuttle Club a few weeks ago. This is what came out of the mouths of some of the Smartest People in Social Media (TM)
So there are two ways I want to take this forward. I want to do it with a more diverse group of people, and I want to edit a bunch of them together in a watchable way. Your thoughts on how to do this are welcome.
I have more. I will release them. Soon.
One of the things twitter has taught me is how fragmented our social networks are. Not everybody who reads this blog knows everybody who reads this blog. So there will be some folk who don’t know Stephanie Booth in fact she teetered on the edge of my network mostly through the european KM folk until twitter made us all feel much closer.
When I last saw Steph, in Berlin at the girl geek dinner, she had a twinkle in her eye and shortly thereafter announced the reason to the world – Going Far is going to be her vehicle for running cool events and the first of these will be on May 16th in Lausanne – Going Solo a conference for people who work by themselves (and with others) on a freelance basis, covering how to run things in a business-like way, how to market, how to charge…etc.
The thing I like about this is that it’s another example of the demand side supplying itself – the speakers already announced are Suw Charman, Stowe Boyd, Martin Roell and Laura Fitton rather than some list of people you’ve never heard of organised by people with no idea of the industry and totally pwned by their sponsors.
There’s a few days left of early early bird discounts but even after that the fee’s under £200 for another month. Should be manageable from most parts of Europe. And unlike many such conferences, you’re likely to learn enough from it to make it pay for itself quite quickly. If you can’t currently recoup the cost of the day, travel and accommodation in a couple of days of consulting, then you *definitely* need to go and learn how to
Just to be clear – I’m not involved in the organisation of this in any way beyond friendly chats with Steph from time to time – but I have great faith in those involved that they will make it a really special day. I’ll be booking my place just as soon as those invoices get paid
Bonus: You can see Steph talking about it herself in the corridors at LIFT08 last week.
Unpacking that it’s a barcamp for people interested in the Web for UK Government – all of those terms are very widely defined.
I’ve been in sessions so far about Managing Risk (war stories about how to get stuff done without getting fired or in a scrap with IT people), Communities of Practice (Steve Dale on the difficulties of getting I&DeA to move from knowledge-repository to connecting people) , Twitter (Jenny Brown opening up a discussion based on why she loves it) and right now I’m listening to Tom Steinberg talking about MySociety. And we haven’t had lunch yet.
I can feel the overstimulation already creeping in. I’m going to do a sesh on Social Media Cafe around 2pm I may also do a Seesmic demo.