Event Horizon

The last 2 weeks have been a blizzard of events, some that were organised when I was at the BBC, and some that were a consequence of moving to Channel 4. So I ended up talking and drinking far too much, sleeping not nearly enough, and barely seeing my family at all. Some notes, in chronological order:

RTS Education Awards
I was on the judging panel for the multimedia awards, which CDX deservedly won. But best of all was George Auckland winning the lifetime achievement award. George is one of those people who is *hugely* influential and yet not interested in credit. Hell, the man doesn’t even have a wikipedia page yet, and for someone who has achieved as much as him in the world interactive media, that’s a serious ommission (can someone who has his bio to hand sort this out, plz?). The fact that he was involved in Johnny Ball’s Think of a Number, the BBC B, and the BBC’s first websites – to pick three things at random – should make him a god to most british geeks of a certain age. Congratulations George, and even better that the award comes at a time when his influence at the beeb is growing again…

NMK Forum 07
…was strangely flat, although more than worth it just to see some old friends, like Euan. The keynotes were interesting, especially Jyri Engestrom’s final presentation, although that was a bit like a version of Tom Coates’ Native to A Web Of Data. Jyri was particularly good on desiging by understanding what the core ‘social object’ was in your app, then thinking of the key ‘verbs’ your users will want to perform on that object. The rest of the conference was a bit flat, though. The panels were far too big, and the themes too generic, for any real insight to emerge (and this is from someone who was actually *speaking* on the final panel, squashed between Dan Gilmour, Jyri, and Jason Calcanis). There was too much uncurated guff about subjects we’ve kicked around for years – TV vs the internet; marketing vs conversations; free vs money – yadda, yadda, yadda. There needed to be more insight into what *real users are doing*, the stranger the better, rather than the usual industry talking heads (myself included). Must Try Harder.

Fleetingly visited, but much more intriguing that the NMK Forum. The sessions were better designed, with a particularly innovative approach to Q&As – after each session, the speakers were hived off into breakout sessions, and the audience could choose who they wanted to go and talk more with. It worked really well, creating a more intimate space for discussion after the talk. It also gets rid of my pet conference peeve – the lengthy non-question from someone in the audience who clearly just feels that he (and it always is a he) should have been on the panel, and everyone needs to listen to his POV. Unfortunately, I had to leave at lunch on the first day of BTween, missing many of the most interesting-looking sessions. I promise to be there for the whole thing next year…

Hackday London
Enough said about this already below. Except to add that the Hackday t-shirts *rock*. Oh, and I took my medium format camera to update my ongoing taking-photos-of-geeks-at-conferences-with-an-analogue-camera project, and think i got some fantastic pictures. They’re at the lab being processed and scanned now, and will be up here next week.

Me The Media
I was not sure what to expect for this conference in Amsterdam, but was surprised to find about 300 delegates and a stage looking like a outlying Glastonbury event, with three 30-foot video screens hanging above the speakers. I was one of the speakers, along with James Alexander from ZOPA
, Gary Carter from Fremantle FMX; and Alan Moore from S/M/L/XL. A really interesting event, but the spectacular setting felt completely at odds with the emerging themes from all the speakers – the power of communities, how to engage in intimate conversations with your users, etc, etc, etc. Standing astride nearly an acre of stage, with an audience of be-suited Dutch executives stretching out to the middle distance, and the huge red-and-black banners saying ‘ME’ behind you felt slightly, erm, counter intuitive when you’re talking about tactics for listening…

So, somewhere admist all this (plus the 4Talent party at C4, the briefings to indies we did on Monday night, and the launch of the Crossover launch event at OneZeroOne) there is the perfect conference. Something that captures the networking of NMK Forum; the innovative design of BTween; the spirit of collaboration from Hackday; and the internationalism of MeMedia. In fact, something like Interesting2007, which is the one conference i *didn’t* make it to over the last fortnight.

Oh well. There’s always next year…

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