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Social Media and Community Sport – Channel 4 Thursday 1st May

Celtic football club

Photo by LittleMissSilly

I’m on a panel next Thursday 1st May, at All Together Now – Social Media and the Future of Community Sport, a joint Sport England and Channel 4 event at the Channel 4 building.

This is what it’s about:

Over the course of the past three years the emergence of blogging, social networking services and platforms which showcase and share user generated content have transformed the possibilities of how we connect, converse and collaborate with one another.

’In the 20th Century, we were defined by what we owned, in the 21st Century we will be defined by what share and give away’ Charles Leadbeater, author of We Think

The potential for organisations and brands to harness these technologies and tools to engage with users, customers and their communities in radically new ways is becoming clear.

How can all those organisations working to promote active participation in sports and the brands that wish to sponsor their activates and campaigns work together to make the most of the unrivalled viral power and network effects of the web in the run up to 2012?

Other speakers will include Thomas Godfrey, Commercial Director of Sport England, Jon Gisby, Director of Technology and New Media at Channel 4, Rebecca Caroe, Gi Fernando of Technlightenment, Antony Mayfield and Ed Mitchell.

I’ll be there as an ambassador for social media, to share my experience of blogging, social networking, Twitter, etc. and give the representatives of sports organisations some idea of the possibilities and pitfalls of engaging with people via the web.

After receiving the invitation I was struck by two thoughts: 1. How much time I spend on football messageboards when I should probably be doing something else, and following on from that, 2. that sport may be the ultimate social object [WARNING: cartoon with rude word] i.e. conversation starter and social catalyst. If I meet a stranger and they let slip they’re interested in football, I know we’ll have plenty to talk about and there will be no awkward silences (well not unless they turn out to be a Rangers fan).

So it looks to me as though sports organisations have an open goal in front of them – they have something that most people love to talk about and nearly anyone has an opinion on. But will they slot the ball calmly home or sky it over the bar? Or will they be fatally distracted by the animated advertising board behind the goal?

There are still a few free tickets left, so if you’re interested in any combination of social media, sport and marketing, then register for the event, ask me some easy questions during the debate, and come and say hello afterwards.

If you can’t make it on the day but you’ve got any thoughts on how sports or other organisations should engage with people via social marketing, please leave a comment below. I don’t think I’ll be able to link to you from the stage but I’ll certainly Twitter my thanks if I use any ideas from the comments.

Thanks to Steve Moore of Policy Unplugged for inviting me to join the panel and giving me an excuse to post a photo of Celtic.

EDIT: I’ve posted my presentation slides to Slideshare. You can probably tell I was trying to keep things as simple as possible.

Connect with Wishful Thinking Readers on Facebook

Wishful Thinking lamp

It feels like the entire human race is migrating onto Facebook – I joined a couple of weeks ago and it’s a lot of fun joining the dots with people in various social networks. I think I’ve linked up with at least one person I know every day since I joined.

I’ve just created a Wishful Thinking Group on Facebook – I’m hoping it will be a good place for Wishful Thinking readers to connect and share ideas, and for us to get to know each other a little better. You can link up with fellow readers via private messages and adding them as ‘friends’ – and there’s a discussion board and a ‘wall’ for public messages.

I hope you enjoy the group, let me know if you have any ideas for making it a useful and inspiring place for us all.

If you’re wondering what Facebook is all about, this tour should give you some idea. My impression so far is it’s a lot of fun without nearly as much hard work as blogging. So far so good!

Shapeshifters – Interview with Eric Poetschacher on Scribemedia.org

Have a look at this inspiring interview with Eric Poetschacher, founder of the Shapeshifters network for creative professionals.


Eric is an amazing guy – how many people do you know who have researched the creative industries in Africa, let alone gone there to meet the creatives and connect them up with like-minded professionals across the globe? He has a very unusual vision – there aren’t too many social networking platforms out there deliberately trying to stay small. And he’s got the energy and passion to make things happen – he’s been on the road for over a year, meeting creatives face to face and building his network one person at a time.

Watching this video, I had the same feeling of lightness and vertigo I had when I first read about something called ‘internet’ that was going to connect up all the computers on the planet. Shapeshifters is doing something similar for creative professionals all over the world, not just the fashionable creative hotspots like Paris, New York, Tokyo and (ahem) London.

Last time I spoke to Eric, he told me that the Shapeshifters website was just the tip of the iceberg. Frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if he unveiled a spacecraft he’s been quietly building in a disused warehouse in the middle of nowhere.

Blinding Ideas at Wired and Ready

Excellent panel presentations/discussion at last week’s Wired and Ready event at Channel 4.

Adam Gee was the chair and kicked off with an overview, from his position as Factual New Media Commissioner at C4, of some of the channel’s current online initiatives, such as the Big Art Mob project to create a user-generated map of public art in the UK, and 121 which features paired blog exchanges between the UK and countries including Iran, Russia and Sierra Leone. He also talked about Four Docs, a space for watching, sharing and making documentaries. This dovetailed with Emily Renshaw’s presentation about Current TV, billed as ‘the TV network created by the people who watch it’. Both sites rely heavily on user-generated content, but it was interesting to hear both Adam and Emily distinguish them from YouTube by describing them as ‘editorialized’ spaces. As an editor myself, I was intrigued by this – it seemed to go against the prevailing ‘wisdom of crowds’ ethos of many of the Web 2.0 success stories. So I asked them how they saw the role of the editor in the brave new internet world. Both acknowledged the value of greater interactivity between the editor and readers/users/creators, and saw this as an opportunity for editors. For Emily, the editor’s role will be to “set the tone, take a lead and curate” content in dialogue with users; while Adam emphasised the importance of the editor as a filter of information in a world of overwhelming data, who can become a trusted source of recommendations.

The second half featured James Kirkham of digital agency Holler and James Fabricant, Head of Marketing and Content for MySpace UK & Ireland. Both were enthusiastic advocates of online communities, exemplified in their recent collaboration on the groundbreaking campaign for Channel 4’s Skins, which fostered a massive community of fans on the Skins MySpace page before a single episode had been broadcast. Though understandably vigorous advocates of the possibilities of technology, they emphasised the primacy of human interaction and creativity. James K summed it up by saying that for all the technological wizardry, you still need a “blinding idea” to cut through. James F provided an example of one such idea, with Foureyedmonsters, who overcame the barriers to distribution of their film by using MySpace to get people to sign petitions to have the film shown in their local cinema, then took the numbers to the cinema owners and arranged the screenings.

Overall, a very stimulating evening that for me reinforced the sense that human creativity and relationships rather than technology per se is the real powerhouse behind the social media revolution. As James K put it, “technology facilitates, the audience creates”.

Thanks to Channel 4 for hosting and to Steve Moore of Policy Unplugged for organising yet another absorbing event.

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PSFK Conference – Morning

Very enjoyable time at the PSFK London conference the other day. It’s being extensively blogged elsewhere (links below) so I won’t try to cover the whole thing, just edited highlights. If you’re not familiar with the PSFK blog, it describes itself as “a lens of changes in cultural behaviour that influence all of us” – or to mix the metaphor, it’s a constant stream of new trends in media, business, fashion, the environment, entertainment etc etc. For someone like me it’s an interesting read, for professional marketers I gather it’s essential.

So where are all these trends leading us? The first conference session presented us with contrasting visions of the future. First up was Timo Veikkola, whose job is predicting the future for Nokia. I was intrigued to learn that we’re currently in a “Noah’s Ark period” of floods, cataracts and hurricanoes, not to mention Famine, War, Pestilence etc – but that by 2010 or so we’ll see renewed optimism in society, which apparently happens at the dawn of every decade. I was fascinated by Timo’s predictions and explanations of how he extrapolates from “What’s happening now?” to “What’s going to happen next?”. By the end of his presentation I was even starting to feel (dare I say it) quite optimistic. Thenl the bubble was burst (for me) when we were presented with the following quotation, apparently without irony:

“The one fact about the future of which we can be certain is that it will be utterly fantastic.” Arthur C. Clarke.

I was horrified. Surely the one fact about the future of which we can be certain is that we can’t be certain of it? And surely we’ve seen enough of the Brave New World to suggest that it’s not likely to be relentlessly “fantastic”?

Regine Debatty

As if on cue, Regine Debatty of We Make Money Not Art stepped up to offer a distinctly less Utopian take on the shape of things to come. [Read more…]

Brian Eno – 77 Million Paintings

A few months ago I saw an amazing art installation in the basement of Selfridges (I have such postmodern Saturday afternoons) – Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings. Like you, my first thought was “Brian Eno may be a genius but even he can’t do 77 Million Paintings… or can he?”. Well, he has – sort of. He actually painted about 300, then used software to merge and blend them at random, to create a shifting kaleidoscope, inevitably accompanied by his signature ambient music.

1 in 77 million

OK that description doesn’t sound too mind-blowing and even this YouTube video doesn’t do it justice – but when you see the paintings blown up on massive screens in a cathedral-dark space and you feel the deep notes vibrating through your body, it’s a genuinely mesmerising experience. As if stained glass windows had come to life.


One of the most impressive things about it was the slowness with which the images changed, so that the transformation was barely discernible. I would stare at an image, waiting for it to change, convinced that nothing was happening, then suddenly realise I was looking at a different picture. I had the feeling that at last I was looking at what computer-generated imagery should be capable of – not in terms of dazzling fireworks, but subtlety and suggestion.

1 in 77 million

So it was great to come across this post on the Bad Banana Blog, informing me that 77 Million Paintings is available as a DVD and software CD – so I can (ahem) install the installation in my living room and experience something of the (ahem) ambience of the original. And so can you – Amazon links on the 77 Million Paintings site.

Thanks to Roger for introducing me to the Bad Banana Blog which looks terrific – written by Tim Siedel, Creative Director of Fusebox, who have won so many awards they’ve given up entering them. A man who obviously knows his creative onions, well worth reading.

(Photos courtesy Mrs WT.)

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PSFK Friday

I’m off to the PSFK conference on Friday – if you’re going and fancy meeting up, send me an e-mail.


A Blog Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas – British Library Talk

Thanks to Create KX for inviting me to speak at the British Library‘s Business & IP Centre last night, about blogging for creative businesses. And thanks to everyone who came along to make it a really enjoyable evening. It was also a pleasure to meet fellow speaker Paul Caplan and hear his enthusiastic take on the live web.

As promised, here are the slides from the talk, some technical explanations of blogging tools and RSS, plus links to all the blogs I mentioned in the talk. Enjoy!


If you…

If you were at the talk the links below will take you to all the tools and sites I mentioned last night. You can also get all my future posts about creativity, coaching and the people factor in creative business, via RSS or e-mail.

If you weren’t at the talk, I hope the slides and links give you some food for thought.

If you run a creative business in the King’s Cross area of London, you should get in touch with Sian James and the team at Create KX, they’re working very hard to help people like you.

If you run a creative business within striking distance of the British Library, you should check out the Business & IP Centre, it’s a fantastic resource for entrepreneurs – lots of business books, journals, reports, research etc. And you can get a British Library reader’s ticket for free, and access the entire library.

OK I think that covers everyone, on with the links…

Slides from the presentation

Here are the slides from my presentation – you can also download them as a pdf from Slideshare.

[Read more…]

Hear Me Enthuse About Blogging – British Library 8th May

Create KX logo

On 8th May I’ll be talking about what blogs can do for creative professionals, at the British Library‘s Business & IP Centre.

The event has been organised by Create KX who are on a mission to promote creative industry in the King’s Cross area of London, and is aimed at helping creative entrepreneurs and professional artists develop their business via the web.

I’ll be talking about my experience of writing Wishful Thinking and my poetry blog, how blogging has transformed my own business and how a blog can help you realise your creative and commercial ambitions.

The other speaker will be Paul Caplan, author of The Internationale blog and an advisor to “media, local and national government and education on harnessing the Network Effect”.


The event is free although numbers are limited – so book up asap if you want to come. There will be drinks and networking after the presentations – it should be a good opportunity to meet some interesting creative people. It would be great to meet some Wishful Thinking readers – let me know if you’re coming and say hello on the night.

Whether or not you can make it to the event, if you’re wondering what blogging can do for you have a look at my page on Blogging for Creative Professionals.

Chris Ritke Interviews Me at 49Sparks.com

Chris Ritke of 49Sparks has just posted an interview with me we recorded last week. We talked about Wishful Thinking, coaching, people and creativity – including the use of online tools to facilitate co-creation.

49Sparks Logo

Chris is developing some very interesting tools for project collaboration at 49Sparks – you can sign up for free to check them out – and has a great series of audio and video podcasts. I originally noticed Chris’s site when he posted an interview with Neil Tortorella of Business of Design Online (where I’m a guest author).

As well as project tools 49Sparks offers social networking for creative professionals – Chris explains it better than I can, have a look at this video to see what it’s all about.