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Uploading Innovation – an Uncommon Unconference

Thanks to Steve Moore and his colleagues at Policy Unplugged for organising a terrific ‘unconference’ event at NESTA on Tuesday. Under the heading Uploading Innovation, they assembled an eclectic and engaging mix of authors, entrepreneurs, consultants, software developers, bloggers and other creative types for an afternoon of structured and unstructured debate, with food at the beginning and drink at the end.


We were spoilt for choice when it came to the ‘speakers’, who didn’t deliver lectures (putting the un- into unconference) but facilitated discussions around different themes. In the first round I went to Mark Earls‘ session about mass behaviour, based on his new book Herd (previewed here on Wishful Thinking last summer). The session started promisingly, with a group Mexican wave, and entered the realms of the faintly surreal during a discussion about Diana’s funeral when one of the group casually mentioned that he was responsible for organising the Royal funerals… My contribution was a story from my time in the trenches doing psychotherapy for the NHS, which has since appeared on Mark’s blog.


Theoretically all delegates were free to move from one debate to the next, but we got so involved in individual vs group dynamics that the hour went very quickly. Which was great, although it meant I missed the other sessions, including Charles Leadbeater about his new book We Think, Matt Hanson about A Swarm of Angels, a collaborative £1 million film that will be given away to 1 million people, Jeremy Ettinghausen of Penguin about their Million Penguins wikinovel, and Dan McQuillan from Amnesty talking about the implications of Web 2.0, intellectual property and online privacy for human rights issues.

In the second round I joined Johnnie Moore and James Cherkoff for a welcome bout of improvisational silliness, playing at being ‘slow-motion samurai’ and throwing and catching imaginary balls made of strange noises (hopefully those bits won’t surface on YouTube).

The structured sessions were just a part of the event though – the main attraction was the opportunity to meet up with so many enthusiasts doing creative things with people, networks and technology – many of which overlap, intersect with or hover in a conceptual space ‘next door’ to what I’m doing with Wishful Thinking.

Inga Clausen, Mark McGuinness

Special thanks to Deb Khan for introducing me to Steve Moore and indirectly wangling me an invitation to the event. Deb is a very bright and very charming lady who does lots of work around creativity, presentation and communication (see what I mean about the ‘next door’ thing?). I met her recently and we have a lot in common, although obviously I’m furious now that she’s blogged the event before me. Deb introduced me to Inga Clausen, another bright and charming lady who is also ‘next door’ to Deb and I, doing creative facilitation work with Artisan, whose website will be here soon. Russell was in the building and Richard Tyrie is doing something intriguing to do with labour markets, which I didn’t find out about on the day, so this is my reminder to investigate it.

Turning from the ‘people people’ to the ‘software’ side of social software, I met Fiddian Warman who’s got some dangerously addictive online creativity toys at Soda, Matt O’Neill, Sam Sethi, Christoph Schmaltz of Headshift, and Raj Anand and Jack Fairhall of Kwiqq .

“It’s a bit like blogging in real life” was a phrase I heard several times during the day (as if blogging weren’t real life…). Watching others typing into their laptops during the sessions reassured me that my ‘blogging addiction’ is probably nothing more than a mild recreational habit…

Thanks for the photo and videos to Lloyd Davis, self-proclaimed social media tart and one-man camera crew. If you want to see/hear/read more about the event, check out the Uploading Innovation blog and the nestauploading tag on , Flickr and YouTube.


  1. I would’ve liked to have attended. Looks like it was fun!

  2. It certainly was Roger – you’d have been very welcome, maybe another time…