Tag Archives: tuttle

The Social Artist I

@artbizness has a huge teabagThis came out of a conversation with Mike Radcliffe at the BFI this morning – part of my Human Scale Conversations. There were a few points and it was going to be one mega post, but I think I’ll break it up a bit.

We got talking about being artists (go back and click on that link to Mike’s site if you don’t know his work – go back and preferably buy something from his gallery!) and being blocked and what we need to do to keep relatively sane and solvent and working and happy and stuff and it seemed worth exploring them a bit – especially how they relate to my experience as a nascent Social Artist.

First of all we talked about the need for artists to be with other artists.

Artists need to spend time with other artists.

The rider to this is that we need to spend time with people who are in their flow, who are looking after themselves and doing their work. If we are blocked, it’s these people who will feed us and help us through – it’s far too easy to find other blocked artists to hang out with, who reinforce and rationalise our own blocks – then we just all get depressed together!

And even if we’re not blocked, it’s great to spend time with people who understand the creative process, who get what it’s like so we can all remember that this is normal and it’s the people who don’t do it who are weird…

Signs that you’re with the right people are: they’re encouraging you; you and they are smiling and laughing together, preferably at yourselves rather than others; you’re both talking more about the work that you’re doing now, rather than the work you used to do once or the work you’d really really like to do one day if only someone else would give you a chance.

Signs that you need to find some new friends are: the person talking to you is only talking about reasons why it’s hard; you’re feeling low and so are they; you hear yourself whining; you find yourself thinking about that project, you know the one, and how it’s never, just never going to get done.

So get out, and find some shiny friends instead!

That’s why I keep going back to Tuttle. It’s a place that attracts all sorts of creative people in large numbers. Creativity and different ways of thinking thrive among these people. It’s where I get my fix every week. I know you all think I’m doing it for you, and that’s true, but I’m doing it for me too.

SXSWi in 2010 via oh I don’t know loads of places

homage to wankergirlSo here’s my poorly thought-out, unplanned, half-baked, undetailed, but totally awesome idea for the Spring of 2010.

I’ll be attending SXSWi in Austin, Texas again. My panel was not picked, but emotion aside all that means is that I’ll have to pay $blah or so for a ticket. So I’m definitely still going to go – it’s just well, you know, too lovely and awesome not to.

Last year we flew over a few days before and had some holiday time hanging out and getting acclimatimed and then flew back the day after interactive closed.

This time I want to take it a bit more gently. Here are the bare bones of the evil plan, which I’d prefer to do with a gang of tuttle-istas if we can find ways of funding it:

1. Find the shortest flight to North America possible (does that mean least-polluting? I don’t know but that seems like a good aim to bear in mind) and fly at least a week before SXSWi opens ie arrive March 5th at the latest.

2. Devise a series of train journeys from wherever I land, down to Austin, preferably going via New Orleans to visit that good friend of Tuttle, Mr Taylor Davidson and see how his Crescent City adventure is panning out. Yes, you read that right, train journeys. I understand that the US train system is not quite as beautiful or efficient as its European sisters. However, train travel rocks, it just does.

3. At stopping places throughout the journey hold Human-scale Conversation sessions with local people talking about differences between US and British culture – not trying to solve anything particularly, just getting the subject out on the table and seeing what comes of it. There will be heavy-duty social reporting of these conversations. Note that the format has been refined since July with some extra flourishes – this is how I introduced something like it at the Tuttle/Counterpoint event in December.

4. Once in Austin, continue to hold Human-scale Conversation sessions on the same subject and present #kebab-style what we heard, found, learned, saw along the way.

5. Make our way back to the east coast overland again, putting together a documentary film from the footage shot during the first part of the trip, so that we have something ready to show when we get back to London.

Howzat grab ya?

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Here’s 8 ways you can help (and I’m sure you’ll come up with more)

1. Tell me how you’d improve on the plans and make them even more exciting.
2. Tell me why this is oh so very wrong-headed, misguided and stupid (I won’t listen very much, but I’d rather ask you for this than you just provide it out of the blue!).
3. Help me work out rough costings for each variation.
4. Provide money (just loads of it, regardless of the costs!)
5. Suggest routes and interesting stopover points, tell me why you think it’s interesting.
6. Volunteer to tag along and tell me how we’d pay for that.
7. Find other supporters with more money than time who’d like to see this happen.
8. Introduce me to sponsors who might provide help in terms of cash, food, shelter, transport as well as social reporting equipment.

UPDATE (18/01/10): The planning for this trip is now going on over here Come see!

Why I won’t make a Twitter List for Tuttlers

16/10/2009I just got access to Twitter Lists – the feature where you can create and publish lists of people to follow. The obvious thing for me to do is to make a Tuttle list, innit? But I’m not, and I can’t and here’s why:

You’re a member of Tuttle if and when you decide you are, it’s nothing to do with me. Now if you really misbehave and hurt people in the group or something (it’s never happened yet) I might ask you to leave and not come back (it’s never happened yet) but that remains a hypothetical case.

So I don’t know who should be on the list, and I can’t and I shouldn’t – that’s what decentralized power means, it’s none of it up to me, it’s up to you. If I made a list, I can guarantee you two things: 1) I would miss someone out and 2) I’d put someone on there that someone else doesn’t think belongs (say they came only came once and you didn’t see them) and every week I’d have a god-awful job of asking new people if they wanted to go on the list or something. Blaaah. No. Not going to happen.

So now I’m pondering what it means about Twitter (the company) and their attitude to centralisation, personal choice, list-making and popularity contests. But it’s time for bed.

Holding uncertainty

030620091518It’s very easy to get paralysed at the moment. Either stuck in the headlights of the juggernaut coming to crush your industry or befuddled by the sheer number of possibilities, choices, opportunities.

One thing I hope that I do for people is to give them some thinking space by saying “Hey yes, it’s all quite uncertain and generally a bit scary, but I’m willing to hold up the ceiling that seems to be crumbling and about to crush you all, while you finish your conversation”. OK so it’s not always that dramatic. You should know by now that I’m prone to melodrama, but you get the idea.

Many people tell me they value Tuttle for that reason, that it gives them time out from worrying about what they’re going to do next, time to think but also time to look around and see what’s really going on.

Someone once told me that when they were recruiting creatives, they knew they’d struck gold when they found someone willing to hold uncertainty for themselves and others.

The consulting work we did together last week (which continues tomorrow) felt a bit like that too. It seems to be something people value and something that people find hard to do for themselves.

So. y’know. yeah.

Tuttle We-20

Ahead of the G20 summit I want to run a we20 session with tuttlers on Tuesday. We’ll meet on Tuesday morning at the ICA. There is another related event going on there and I’m not sure how much I can say about that, but it’s exciting and I will let you know as soon as I know that I can.

UPDATE: Thanks to Toby Moores, I can confirm that this session will include, at some point during the morning, a live video link-up with Bob Zoellick, President of the World Bank.

So this is how it will go. There will be a maximum of 20 people. We will have a very structured conversation about what we can do to use social media and online social networking to boost the London economy, resulting in a set of personal and group commitments to action. The exact form will depend on how many people are there. The conversation will be recorded and published on the web.

If you don’t like the idea and want to do something different then feel free to set up your own conversation or attend one of the other conversations that are going on next week.

The session at the ICA will run from 9.30 and close before 12 noon when the public come in, but as always you’re welcome to stick around and chat. Please sign up here to get a place.

more random notes from Austin

#kebab was interesting in what it brought out in people when they were given the opportunity to run something themselves. It certainly showed the appetite, particularly among the British contingent to do something different – the only problem was that everyone wanted a different sort of different. It also showed up the difference between UK & US cultures – one I want to explore more, I think there’s something to do to try and build bridges.

The Texas Tuttle went well on Sunday , lots of people packed onto the stand and I got to meet some new people plus Justin Souter who I’d only chatted to on the phone before. Big thanks to Sam and Emily for making us so welcome and arranging the catering. Which reminds me that I need to give a special Tuttle merit badge to Dougald for courage in the face of US customs, risking a full body search by entering the States with PG Tips in his luggage.

The regional whuffie panel put an interesting perspective on coworking and social capital building as a means to raise the social capital of a city or location as well as to that of individuals. junto.org looks an interesting event. Tony Bacigalupo put together this list of links to all the people on the panel and their various activities and endeavours. I came out able to say the word whuffie without dying of embarrassment. The single most important thing I’ve got from attending SXSWi has been the inspiration and motivation to pick up the coworking element of Tuttle again and make sure that we’ve got something to talk about with these folks, this time next year.

Standing room only…

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Definitely the busiest tuttle so far – we had nearly 70 people signed up on the wiki and although they didn’t all make it, the numbers were swelled by many more who hadn’t said they’d come.

For the first time, for those who still have no idea what happens at a tuttle, I did what I’ve meant to do for ages, I wandered around with my recorder and captured reactions from some of the folk. Mike doesn’t like it being called podcasting, as you’ll hear, so welcome to Tuttle Radio.

This is also for those lovely Lawsons who are clearly pining for something tuttlish.


Download (13MB)

Oral his-stories

We like to talk, don’t we? At least some of the time. Chatting, telling stories over and over in different ways and with different embellishments, all the while helping us to work out who we are and who we’re not, what we might choose to be or do next. But also who we’ve been, who did what, what’s been done (or tried) what’s been talked about before and so what’s fun to talk about again.

I’ve found this history bit interesting in online communities. It’s not as important to some people as it is to others but I often find myself playing the role of reminding groups of what was said before and why, as a reminder of where we’ve been together, why we took certain decisions together or else to help out a newcomer who’s repeating the mistakes of the past, going down a real blind alley.

I was reminded of it when coming into contact with some of the “old-time” seesmicers at LeWeb. It’s only a year since the peak of seesmic for me, but a lot of what we were talking about is lost. And I noticed this at the time that as the community grew quickly there were a set of first behaviours or topics that were obvious when yu were new. But because seesmic didn’t have an inherent way of recording what we’d learned, the understanding and the rituals and traditions that came about could only stay alive as lng as the people there were willing to keep talking about them and reminding each other of them. The traditions were loosely held, it only took a few people to make up a new tradition and for a few people to leave for a once fiercely guarded tradition to be discarded.

There were many reasons why my seesmic activity tailed off, but one of them was that a greater proportion of my time was spent on watching new people go through the initial phases and I was left either waiting for them to catch up or spending my time helping them to catch up more quickly. Less time for me to be creative and just enjoy the flow.

There sees to be a difference for example between talking to people at Tuttle about how it all started and what I think of it all, between that and the tangible stuff on the web that you might find if you were bothered to research it. Does that mean I need to write down more of what I say to new people every week? Or has the saying f it been enough, are there enough people who know the story in rder for it survive without any other effort? Or might that lead to a distorted story? Is it important? Is it valuable? What would be lost if it were forgotten? And what is the definitive story anyway? Is there one? Or is it that my version is dominant because of my role and repeated attendance?

Dunno.

The long-tail of face-to-face

The gentle end of the Tuttle ClubI don’t know where I’m going with this one, but I’m musing about some attitudes that I see popping up around face-to-face events.

One seems to be: Big is beautiful (or at least successful) ie in order for an event to be considered a success, you have to have loads of people there. I disagree. I look at Tuttle and shudder at the idea of there regularly being 100 people there. I find it’s pushing the format to have more than 50. New people seem to expect me to be disappointed if there are fewer people this week than last week. I keep telling them that it’s OK, I’ve experienced nobody turning up to something I’ve arranged, and it didn’t kill me. I think that I’m going to always represent an extreme of Tuttle attendee, if anyone’s going to make sure they meet everyone in the room then it’s going to be me. And meeting 40 people in 3 hours is a lot, fairly comfortable, but nearing the maximum.

Now that’s not to say that I don’t think big events are any good. I enjoyed Web2.0 and I’m sure I’ll enjoy LeWeb08 which is going to be huge. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think size is a sign of success, it’s just a sign of, well, how big something is…

Another side of this is the feeling that everyone’s got to go to everything. OK, so it’s not that bad, but I do see people feeling like they are seriously missing out by not getting to go to things. And I know that’s how I’ve felt as well. We tell ourselves that we know that no-one can go to everything and surely no-one can be that interested in everything, and if you spent all your time going to things, you wouldn’t get anything done. But still, it would be just my luck that it will be this event that I’m not going to where something brilliant and amazing and paradigm-shifting will happen, something that the attendees will remember for ever and tell their grandchildren about, and level of awesome that will never be repeated in our lifetimes.

I think we’re going to be doing more and more of these meetups, scaling from 4 or 5 right up to the thousands and recognising that we don’t need to go to everything just because it’s there, any more than we can buy, listen to and enjoy every CD available on Amazon.

In fact I’m personally going to be choosing to attend things that are the 4 or 5 right people to talk about a very niche, specific subject – I still love 40 people on a Friday, but next I want to add in some smaller, more focused things. Note, that the “right” people doesn’t necessarily imply the best, brightest, coolest, sexiest, funniest or any of those things. It just means, if anything at all, the most appropriate.