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A fortnight now since Interesting2007 and blogging time & opportunities have been scarce (at least on my own behalf) as I’ve just started two big projects where I’m making social media for clients (which is nice). I can’t possibly link to all the lovely people I met but most of them have blogged or flickr’d already. Slide sets are starting to appear on slideshare
I did get the feeling that something shifted, nothing world-shattering, but there was a subtle changing, we’d done something differently and as a result it all, y’know, shifted.
Look it was a one-day “conference” but it wasn’t a conference like any I’ve been to and it wasn’t an un-conference in the Bloggercon or PolicyUnplugged mould and it wasn’t a seminar, workshop, showcase, gathering, conflab or conglomeration – it was definitely not a symposium or a trade-show. It was a bit of a happening, an exhibition, a show & tell, a festival of ideas. And it held my attention all through from 11am to 6pm (I did get a bit of a numb-bum towards the end, but that might have been because I was wearing too many pairs of pants.
But it was a group of (mostly) intelligent people in a hall, sitting on chairs in rows listening to other people speak, one at a time. So what made it stand out as something different?
Nothing was ever more than 20 minutes away – actually that was a lie, because my slot was more than 20 minutes away from Rhodri and his saw (thanks Roo), but I guess no-one got bored with having lunch.
No Q&As – people seemed to accept that the majority of people were not going to speak. I have never seen a good Q&A session except at political meetings. We’ve got blogs now to have our say, or not and none of the speakers were up their own arses about talking to people afterwards – that would have been absurd.
Self-service – we all helped ourselves (as Russell said “we’re all grown-ups and you’ve only paid twenty quid”) but we all helped each other too. I arrived too late to help set up, but it was set up and nobody was crying or running around with scissors – and we cleared away quickly and fairly painlessly. There was no feeling (for me anyway) of separation between “organisers” and “punters” though these two did a splendid job of co-ordination. Also Russell was not “in charge” but he was definitely “in charge”.
It was on a Saturday and few people had a surname, let alone a job-title. The few collars I spotted were all open and any ties were undoubtedly ironic or accidental.
It was actually really good for me not to have wifi. I started off in recording mode as it was (I’m realising more and more that it’s one of my coping mechanisms for being thrust into large groups of people – I’ve been doing it with my camera since about 1979) but if I (and other similarly challenged folk) had the excuse to hide behind a laptop screen, we’d have had a much poorer experience.
It was village-hall-y and Festival of Britain-y and a bit arts-and-crafty and, well, just right for people who’s early life was a mix of oil-crises and moon-landings, dreaming about amazing cities in the sky with hovercrafts and no pollution and peace and smiling children and stuff.
It was hopeful.
As an experience, what was it like? Well, a bit like listening to Radio 4 all day, but with no long programmes, it was a bit like a random walk through the best bits of wikipedia, then again it was like live current.tv for people born in the ’60s & ’70s, or peeking at the RSS reader of someone really consistently smart. Does that help?
There were things I could have done with more of. More variety in presentation style, most people plumped for what we know, which is showing pictures or lists on a big screen. More music, preferably with acoustic instruments – the electroplankton quartet was a fun concept but I wish we’d made more of an effort with ukulele’s and kazoo’s. More analog, 3D art and time to really see the Folksy folk. More fun in the goody bag – I still haven’t used the shaving oil, but it was a point of “ooooh!”.
So some quick ideas for “next time” – Multiple locations – eg InterestingLondon, InterestingEdinburgh, InterestingBucharest, InterestingAmsterdam with video-linkups at set-times throughout the day. Bingo (or some other communal game) perhaps also played internationally via the video-link. Some form of backchannel – the twitter feed worked nicely before and after the day – one computer with a net connection projecting the stream might be cool.
And yeah, you *did* have to be there, really.
On Monday, I was in Holborn at lunchtime and had a meeting with Russell Davies up in Islington at 2. So I fired up the ever-trusty walkit.com and found out how to walk in an efficient way from Southampton Row to Chapel Market. However, as I was hungry I ignored the initial shortcut and walked up towards Euston, turning right at Guilford Street.
A fascinating walk it was too, through streets mainly lined with slightly grubby Victorian townhouses. What I didn’t notice on the map and directions is that the route took me through Lloyd Square, WC1 in the former Borough of Finsbury, beautiful in the sunshine, but I can imagine a bit grim on a grey foggy day in a sinisterly Dickensian way.
So Lloyd (that’s me), to get to his meeting with Russell, walked from Russell Square to Lloyd Square (and a little bit further).
You couldn’t make it up (or if you did they’d probably look at you a bit funny)
I thought I’d add a walkit.com widget to the interesting2007 wiki like the following, but it wouldn’t work (it showed up, but threw an error when I submitted it).
I’m posting it here to see if it will work any better, but wordpress.com is sometimes funny about these things too.
If it doesn’t work, Jamie should consider this a bug report
OK, so it’s a great idea – you should get an input box that lets you put your starting point in and then search for a route to a fixed destination (in this case the Conway Hall) but it doesn’t work for me in pbwiki or wordpress.com
I idly twittered that I was wondering whether the interesting2007 t-shirt printers (so cool!) would perform their service on an adult-sized romper suit.
Three of my friends responded.
Well I think that says a lot more about them than it does about me.
The very opposite of Interesting2007