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Happy Birthday Social Media Cafe!

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Manchester’s Social Media Cafe marks its second anniversary tonight – a milestone occasion as I wrote elsewhere yesterday.

For that PDA blogpost I talked to the three people most active in organising tonight’s event at BBC Club – here’s their complete answers to the questions put below.

Unfortunately work commitments will keep me from celebrating at the event tonight however, if anyone wants to submit a guest post from the proceedings, please do get in touch, email is SarahMancunianWay At

Have a great night all!

1. When and why did you get involved in the social media cafe?
Josh: I got involved with the Social Media Cafe at the first meeting which I heard about via Twitter. It was held during the first week that I’d moved to Manchester to start a new job in the digital sector and it seemed like a good place to get to meet the city’s digital community. The atmosphere was very friendly and I felt like I’d managed to make a number of positive connections.
Following that, I kept coming back and ran a session quite early on, sharing some knowledge I’d learned about using video and social media. I guess my persistence paid off, as I eventually become more involved with running the event, initially by maintaining the online community side of things at

Julian: Originally got the idea for the Social Media Cafe after following a blog by @sizemore who is a screen writer. It was there that I hooked up with Martin. You can see the comments here it didn’t take long
I felt that it was needed because it seemed that there was a lot of cool stuff being done in Manchester but there was no regular event for people to get together and discuss social media and technology at the time. It was then that I met you by coincidence.

Martin: It all started back in autumn 2008 at a time when Twitter was starting to gain a wider audience and new technologies like live video streaming were being experimented with by geeks, bloggers and reporters. I read a blog post by Mike Atherton, AKA Sizemore, about the Tuttle Club in London. This weekly Friday meetup of people involved in social media sounded great and I left a comment saying
that it was exactly the kind of thing I’d want to go to if it happened in Manchester. Julian Tait, who I’d never met, left a similar comment and Mike replied saying that if we wanted it we should build it.
A couple of meetings later, we’d assembled a group of like-minded people to help set up a Manchester Social Media Cafe. Typically for Manchester, we did it our own way. Rather than a Friday morning coffee
event, we chose to hold it in the evening do so that we could attract people whose day jobs wouldn’t allow them time off to hang out with a load of geeks. It’s not so true now but at the time the number of
people making a living from social media in Manchester was minuscule.
When 80 people turned up on the first night we knew we were onto something. It quickly became a focal point for like-minded people across the northwest whether they had a professional or personal interest in social media.

2. Why do you think it has lasted?
Josh: Despite a rapidly developing digital scene, I think the Social Media Cafe has endured because it’s a dynamic and changing event that keeps up with what the community wants it to do. Though there are a few of us who play a co-ordination role, it’s really up to the community as to what they want to hear about each month; every event, we ‘crowdsource’ the agenda which means we’ll always have something of interest to most people, and something that’s usually quite topical. For example, in the run-up to the last election, we had a talk from Openly Local, a project seeking to open up local election data. That spawned a piece of work by Trafford Council to apply those principles across all their data sets, which is something I’m really pleased to be able to point to as a tangible benefit from getting involved in the Social Media Cafe. This month, we have the team behind the Greater Manchester Police’s Twitter experiment, which created headlines all over the world.

Julian: There is a really nice supportive community that has developed around the Social Media Cafe and I think one reason why this has happened is that I think no-one has tried to take ownership of it. It can be what people want to make of it. I think the format of the event has been such that it reflects the diversity of its audience. This has come about through an evolution of its format from panel discussion through to unConference.

3.What’s your highlight from the past two years?
Josh: It’s tough to pick out a highlight, but something that’s stuck in my mind is the crowdsourced video that was made by Social Meida Cafe participants about their memories of Ceefax. A slightly obscure topic perhaps, but there were some great reminders how Teletext changed people’s lives, and the interactive element that was the message boards: one of the early examples of social media.

Julian: Over the last two years the highlights, for me have been some of the more left field presentations. From talks about Emoticons through Mertz Web and Literature. It also has been crucial to starting a number of initiatives such as the regularly attended Social Media Surgeries, Manchester Aggregator as well as being key in helping Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council releasing election data after Chris Taggart spoke at SMC.

Martin: I don’t really have one highlight but what I’m most proud of is how it’s helped all sorts of projects bloom across Manchester, from social media surgeries for businesses to transmedia storytelling projects.
Many more digital community events have sprung up since like we started and it’s great to have been there, helping Manchester’s digital scene develop in our own small way.

4. Has it had any impact on other parts of your life – new job perhaps?
Josh: Getting involved in the Social Media Cafe has been a great way to network with the local digital community, which has given me access to the skills and knowledge of some incredibly talented people. It’s been really useful to know who to call to solve a problem, who might be available for work or who might want to tender for a project that I’m working on. I also feel that the community is a really collaborative one that looks out for each other – and in a climate where jobs are hard to come by, and more people might lose their jobs, I feel that my future prospects are stronger by having been involved. By taking on the online community management aspect of the event, I also feel that I’ve developed new skills that I can market to future employers.

Julian: It has impacted in numerous ways. For a start Littlestar, my company was supporting the Social Media Cafe with equipment and time at the beginning and through it I came to work for FutureEverything. I have also met many people who I now regard as good friends through the Cafe it is after all a very sociable place

Martin: Social Media Cafe really signalled the start of a new chapter in my
life. The network of people I’ve met through it helped me move from a
job that had run its course for me to one directly involved in social
media and digital content. I’m not the only one though, seeing people
go away from talks feeling inspired and trying new things is really

5. What does the future hold for Manchester’s social media cafe – hopes or fears?
Josh: I think the Social Media Cafe has been an incredible catalyst, bringing together Manchester’s digital and creative community in a unique way. Our attendee list is so diverse every month – comms, PR, journalists, developers, designers, techies – and beyond – teachers, lecturers… I could go on. This has meant we’ve spawned some incredible collaboration and spinoff events, like the Social Media Surgeries, Connecting 2.0 Communities; and been involved in bringing people together to start projects like Inside the M60, the MadLab and the Manchester Aggregator.

However, this has meant that we’re competing for space in a slightly more crowded digital sphere! I feel though, that this has presented an opportunity and, over the last 12 months, I’ve been working with Julian and Martin to develop the online network. Social Media Manchester is centred around the Social Media Cafe, but is a place for everyone and anyone interested in social media to get together, collaborate and start new things. It takes the discussions and the collaboration that happen at the event and lets it happen online. We’re coming up to almost a 1,000 members, and I think this just demonstrates what a strong and enduring digital community that we have in Manchester.

Julian: I would hope that more people get involved with the running of the Cafe which I think will happen, the more people involved with the running the more representative and relevant it will be. It does take work to manage it, especially with finding venues and sourcing guest speakers.

Martin: Although social media is far more mainstream than it was two years ago and the novelty factor has gone, the event still draws big numbers each month and I can’t see it dying any time soon. It’s a good starting point for anyone wanting to get involved in the local scene. We might have to tweak the format but from time to time but it’s such a huge area, with lots to debate and explore that there’s sure to be a role for it for a long time to come. The only thing we’d like is more people to volunteer to help run the event. Julian, Josh and I are all
really busy, meaning that some months end up being organised a little more hurriedly than we’d like.

Written by sarahhartley

November 2nd, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Future Everything and a whole lot more this week

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This week is surely the busiest so far in the 2010 digital media calender for Manchester.

While the central focus will undoubtedly be this year’s Future Everything festival, there’s also some great events in the run up too.

Here’s a quick run down of what’s booked into my diary – feel free to share any other events from your diaries via the comments below;

Tuesday: Manchester Social Media Surgery. 5:30pm-7.30pm.
The theme is: ‘What businesses can learn from how social media was used during the 2010 UK elections’.I shall be scrubbing up to be on the panel of surgeons alongside;
Adrian Slatcher
, Senior Digital Development officer, MDDA – Chair
Katie Moffat
, Social media consultant, organiser of Manchester Twestival and Manchester Digital council member
Nigel Barlow
, freelance journalist, co-founder of hyper-local news site for Manchester, Inside the M60
Matt Hackett
, Manager, Digital & Marketing Recruitment Team at Orchard
It’s all free and taking place at the offices of the Manchester Digital Development Agency (MDDA) Lower Ground Floor, 117-119 Portland Street, Manchester M1 6ED.

Wednesday: Digital Editors’ Network. 12:45 PM – 5:00 PM.

The bi-monthly get together of digital editors from newspaper groups around the country is moving from out of its usual setting at Uclan in Preston and heading to the offices of Northwest Vision & Media at Media City in Salford Quays for a special event to consider open data.
Speakers include:Julian Tait (from #smc_mcr and FE), who’s working to make Manchester the UK’s first OpenData City, , Paul Bradshaw, author of the Online Journalism Blog and convenor of the HelpMeInvestigate project and my colleague Martin Belham from The Guardian. Again, it’s free but places need reserving. Follow the link above.

Thursday: Future Everything and Social Media Cafe
The conference element of Future Everything get underway in earnest. The major theme of the day will be around data. I’m delighted to be chairing a panel discussion between 12pm and 13:30pm at the Contact Theatre to look at the rewards and challenges a more transparent future might bring. The expert panellists are OpenlyLocal’s Chris Taggert, IP lawyer Jordan Hatcher, GP and patient records holder Amir Hannan plus recent Gorton PPC Tim Dobson.
The rest of the day’s conference events are detailed on the ‘timetable’ found on the right-hand side of this page.

Social Media Cafe
Due to the FE event, our monthly get together is going global for May with live hook ups to Brazil and Canada. It’s an expanded #smc_mcr which is teamed up with Northern Digitals for a one-off special event – the Global Digital Cafe.Through high-speed synchronous data links, we’ll have the chance to expand our reach out of Manchester.
On the Ning’s blog, Josh says;

“Sit on a sofa alongside a counterpart from Sao Paulo, Brazil using the GloNet Front Room. Or try out the Talking Boxes for a beer and a chat with someone from Vancouver, Canada. Members of Manchester’s digital community will be in both locations, hosting the local interaction for FutureEverything so keep your eyes peeled for faces you recognise.”

Friday: City Debate and Gala
The City Debate: A special event exploring the future of Manchester. 3-5.30pm at Manchester Business School.
This promises to be a fascinating debate coming as it does in the aftermath and chaos of the election. Described as “an ideas event for evangelists, cynics, digital artisans, policy makers, property magnates, media vultures, urban planners, you, and me.”
It puts up key figures working today to build Manchester’s future who will be asked to give their vision. Each will reply to the FutureEverything Proposition, a statement about the future of the city region commissioned from leading international thinkers. A studio audience will then debate the future of Manchester.

Future Everything Gala FutureEverything Award Gala: Friday 14 May, 6-8pm at Manchester Town Hall
Sees the awarding of the debut award of £10,000 cash prize, and the FutureEverything trophy recognising outstanding innovation in art, society and technology.

In fact the week has turned out to be such a worlds collide mix of social media, journalism and digital networking that I’m taking some time off from the day job to make sure I don’t miss anything!

Which means, I’ll be blogging regularly here, and at other locations, as well as keeping everything signposted on twitter @foodiesarah.

I look forward to catching up with plenty of you over the week, on and offline.

Useful hashtags #mansms, #futr, #dendatameet, #smc_mcr

Social Media for Local People


There was a good crowd at the April Social Media Cafe, particularly so, given that it was the day after the Bank Holiday, and, from speaking to a few people, quite a number of new faces. Taking place at the BBC again, the night was themed around the idea of “Hyperlocal” media – in other words, looking at different web-based projects that are focused on the area in which people live. In an age when not only the city-wide newspaper, but the district or very local paper is close to extinction, more and more people are looking at the web as way to deliver the kind of area-focused service that many of us still have an interest in.

Nigel Barlow, discussing the newly launched “Inside the M60″ project, and Richard Jones, talking about “Saddleworth News”, were in the first session. Over the corridor, I attended a vibrant discussion on “why aren’t there any decent UK-based podcasts” where we talked about why there seem so few podcasts (both tech-based and other niches) from UK sources, other than those attached to existing media.

After the break our guest speaker, appropriately in the week that the General Election was called, was talking about opening up local government data to more scrutiny. I was particularly interested in this, not just because I work in local government, but because back in 2002-3 I was probably the country’s only academic Researcher in e-Government, at Salford University. Back when e-Government was first mooted, it was quickly realised that a large amount of people’s interaction with the state were at a local rather than Whitehall level.

OpenlyLocal has been developed over the last year or so, primarily by Chris Taggart (@countculture) He was surprised when he began on the project that there was not even something as straightforward as a simple list of councils. His aim is to tackle the problem that was clearly there even in 2002 – creating some coherent model for local government information, even the basic stuff, in order that it can then be interrogated. Asked from the audience whether there were any good applications of this data yet, he admitted there weren’t. Taggart has set himself the daunting but admirable task of collating data – both electronically through scraping council websites, and manually where necessary – so that it may be used in the future. I had a real sense of deja vu, as surely this was what the centrally co-ordinated e-Government agenda was aiming for?
Interestingly, Taggart made the point that although his aims had been accountability and transparency, he’d now added efficiency to the list, as used correctly, by government departments, service providers or others this growing data set could lead to better and more efficient services.

It’s the first time for a while that the Social Media Cafe has had a guest speaker, and it provided a nice contrast to the more freeform discussions. As ever, many thanks to the organisers, for an engaging evening, ably hosted by first time compere, Josh, (aka @technicalfault).

Written by sarahhartley

April 10th, 2010 at 8:34 am

Data, charity, eggs and geekery: Social Media Cafe returns


The first proper Social Media Cafe of 2010 was back to form and the usual mix of good natured meet-up, debate, preview – and this time with the addition of egg!

Back at the BBC Club it was a good turnout with a wealth of interesting sessions. The biggest debate of the evening – which subsequently spilled out to the pub and tweets, and is sure to continue into the blog posts – was prompted by Julian Tait’s presentation about work to make Manchester an Open Data city.

Social media co-founder Julian gave us all a trot through some of the initiatives happening in this area including the Govenment’s OpenData initiative, mashups of data such as Mapumental and Urban Eco Map.

In his FutureEverything capacity, Julian makes the case for Manchester to be at the fore of the campaign for opening up data in everything from the town hall to the transport system.

Forward-thinking certainly, but could it be a step too far for some? Reasonable concerns about individual privacy aside, questions about the ability for individuals or groups to make meaningful conclusions about the data, or whether it could be used in a way that’s harmful to the local population, soon appear on the horizon when this topic is discussed.

House prices, health services, tax issues – all areas of life where interpretation of data by bodies looking to charge more, or reduce services, could easily lead to cases being made by manipulative interpretation of such data.

It’s too simplistic to see the debate in two separate camps – all the points made are valid ones – but in weighing it up, for me this issue comes down to who holds that data. If councils did want to re-shape their charging for say, waste collections, at the moment they would be the only people with the data. Surely the free data lobby isn’t asking for anything more than equal access to stuff that’s already there?

As David Bird so succinctly tweeted: “The data is innocent, it’s the mining that makes it guilty.”

Anyone looking for more information on this topic can also follow the national campaign to ‘free data’ on The Guardian’s blog.

* The other session I took part in was Chi-Chi’s update on her ambitious fundraiser 7 Wonders in 7 Days.

The scale and scope of this venture makes it exhausting to even hear about. In brief, it will involve raising £770,000 in charity cash over 10 months in a trip of a lifetime.

It’s always interesting to see Chi-Chi present her ideas – not least because of the way the audience is consulted and encouraged to input into her schemes. I hadn’t realised before that one of the inspirations for her trip had come from the TwitchHiker which took place across Twitter last year and has obviously provided some valuable lessons.

Chi-Chi has posted more about her session here.

* Because it isn’t possible to attend all the sessions at Social Media Cafe with full attention, I missed out on Adrian Slatcher’s look at the annoyingly over-hyped iPad and another fundraiser for Manchester which looks worth further investigation – Shine 2010 as well as a talk about the Digital Economy Bill by Yuwei Lin and news of this year’s Twestival.

And finally, as they say……… yes, that egg. A subject destined to appear on my other blog, perhaps.

The Mancheser Egg – pickled, wrapped in sausage meat and black pudding before being deep-fried in a Warburton’s crust. In the best traditions of journalism, I made my excuses and left it…..

First came surgeons. Then a train. Now, is Tuttle about to start in Leeds?


The social media scene in Leeds is starting 2010 with a busy diary – and a possible new group for the city.

Some of the keen-eyed Leeds tweeters and bloggers have been in touch about the arrival of this Ning, exploring the idea of a Tuttle for Leeds.

Tuttle is the name given to the club which originated in London and which the Manchester Social Media Cafe (which I’m involved with) is also affiliated to.

The idea of Tuttle is to bring people with an interest in social media together, but, unlike more tightly defined groups which concentrate on specific interests or skills, it has no particular remit and definitely no ‘membership’ criteria – interest, passion or merely vague curiosity is enough.

As the Tuttle for Leeds Ning’s founder, York-based James Hester explains;

“Tuttle is open to everyone. Absolutely everyone. It is a place where anyone active in/interested in social media and its wondrous possibilities in helping people to come together and exchange ideas to meet up off-line, chat, make plans, have a drink and, most importantly, have fun. The location will have free Wi-Fi, so feel free to bring your tech of choice along and blog while you’re there.”

So there’s the invitation – sign up at the Ning here and join the first debate about venue. I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads, Leeds!

Other social media events coming up;

* The second Social Media Surgery will be taking place Thursday 21st January, 5:30-7pm at the Round Foundry in Holbeck Urban Village.  if you want an idea of what goes on, here’s a look back at the first event of this format at the end of last year.

* The Social Media Train will set out from Sheffield on February 10th. Read more about this unusual travel meets unconference here.

Written by sarahhartley

January 7th, 2010 at 7:57 am

Three, no five, dates for January’s digital diary


Updated: January 6.

With Manchester being such a bustling hub of activity, there’s sure to be more coming along but here’s three five events for social media fans to kick off 2010.

1. First up, this Tuesday, is a low key version of Social Media Cafe to ease into the new year.
January 5, 2010 from 6:30pm to 9pm
Location: The Britons Protection,
Organised By: Social Media Cafe Manchester
Event Description:
This Month’s SMC is on Tuesday 5th January and is a meetup at The Britons Protection, 50 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester M1 5LE .
As it’s just after the holidays it should be a relaxed and low-key affair. Join us at 6.30pm for some post Xmas social goodness.
See more details and RSVP on Social Media Manchester Ning:

2. Then the following week, the fledgling Social Media Surgery gets underway for the second time and features special guest Lisa Tse of Sweet Mandarin who will be sharing her experience of using Twitter in the restaurant business.
January 12, 2010 from 2pm to 4pm
Innospace, Manchester
Chorlton Street
Website or Map:
Event Type:
social, media, surgery
Organised By:
Chi-chi Ekweozor
Once again, check the Social Media Manchester Ning for the latest information on this event.

3. Next day, Manchester WordPress Users Group January meeting.
Time: Wednesday 13th at 7pm.
Venue: Manchester Digital Laboratory. Manchester Digital Laboratory aka Mad Lab, 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester in the Northern Quarter.

4. A new event for the city and one which looks like an interesting development when MySociety and the Democracy Club roll into town the Wednesay after.
January 20 from 7.30 pm
Location: The Britons Protection.
Street: Bridgewater Street
City/Town: Manchester
Website or Map:The Britons Protection.
Event Type: social, media, surgery
Organised By: Democracy Club

There’s more detail about this event at the Manchester posterous site.

5. Another 1st for the city the week after -  Manchester NetSquared / Net Tuesday meetup. The organisers say; “Net Tuesdays are free monthly gatherings for social changemakers and web innovators to network, socialise and share ideas about how nonprofits and social benefit organisations can use the social web for social change.”

Time: Tuesday, January 26th from 6.30pm.
Location: Manchester Digital Laboratory (MadLab).
Organised by: Manchester Net Squared.

If you’re organising an event in Manchester which is likely to appeal to social media types, please feel free to add details via the comments below.

2009: A year of turmoil for Manchester media

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Community reporters at work in Salford in 2009

There can be no doubt that 2009 has been a year of turmoil with plenty of surprises, some shocks – and a few treats as well – for media folk in Manchester.

As we bid it farewell and look forward to 2010, I’vestarted putting together this timeline with some of the events which came across my radar during the past 12 months.

TIMELINE. 2009: Manchester Media

Perhaps predictably for me, the comings and goings at MEN Media as well as the ongoing emergence of the Media City with all the hopes the BBC move brings for the city, have been constant themes running throughout the year.

But there’s also been the ongoing successes of digital media fixtures such as the Big Chip in its 11th year and the Manchester Blog Awards in its fourth year, as well as relative newcomers Social Media Cafe Manchester marking its first anniversary.

It’s not as detailed in some months as I’d like it to be (mainly because I’ve worked away from the city at points during the year) but it’s an attempt to keep a record for the future, so, if you’ve got anything to add, please drop me a link to include.

And here’s to 2010!

Written by sarahhartley

December 28th, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Manchester’s busy bloggy September

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Manchester’s bloggers and tweeters are a busy bunch at the moment judging by the number of events dropping into my inbox. Here’s a quick summary of what’s coming up in the next few weeks.

* First up is a charity event this Friday to tempt us all away from the computer. The “Step into the night” 10-mile sponsored walk is being organised by UNICEF and Barclays, who do some joint work over there to help get kids back into schools, after more than 600 primary schools were destroyed and 3,000 teachers were killed or forced to flee during the genocide. Organisers say that if 2,000 people walk in Manchester, each raising one penny for every step taken, their contribution could help construct four new schools. The walk kicks off at 7pm on Friday, September 4th beginning and ending in Castlefield and encompassing Old Trafford, Manchester Cathedral, Granada Studios and Salford Quays. Sign up at and follow on twitter @unicef_uk or by searching for #walk4rwanda.

* The monthly Social Media Cafe Manchester shindigs return after the summer break next Tuesday. Names requird in advance at the wiki for the security at hosts for the night, the BBC Club. I’ll see you there and, be warned, I’m looking for volunteers willing to put their face on camera and give me their thoughts on #smc_mcr’s first year.

* Another charity event on Thursday, Sept 10 with Manchester’s second Twestival. Tickets are now on sale with proceeds this year going to St Ann’s Hospice. MancTwester 2009 – the Twestival local for Manchester is at House9Bar, Century Street, Manchester from 6.30pm – 10.00pm.

* And another welcome return – Manchester Bloggers Meet up a week later on Thursday, September 17 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at Cord Bar Street: Dorsey St (alley off Tib Street), Northern Quarter City. Email: themanchizzle AT Kate Feld says: “All are welcome… bloggers, friends of bloggers, blog readers, whatever; come on down to the basement at Cord.

“The folks from Creative Tourist, the web magazine of the Manchester Museums Consortium, will be buying everyone a drink or two and giving us a brief rundown of their goings-on. But it’ll mostly be the same informal structure as past events.”

* Lastly, as I’m sure you’ll have heard by now the nominations for this year’s Manchester Blog Awards are open, until September 18 and they’ve already received more than 120 replies. Just goes to show what a bustling blogging scene there continues tio be in the city. Nominate your favourite, your own or your mate’s at the website at in the following categories: Best Writing, Best Arts and Culture Blog, Best City or Neighbourhood Blog, Best New Blog and Best Personal Blog. Now in its fourth year, the annual awards recognise the best of Manchester’s online writing. Eligible blogs submitted by the close of nominations on September 18. Once nominations close, a judging panel will select the winners, which will be announced at the Manchester Blog Awards event on the evening of Wednesday, October 21 at Band on the Wall on Swan Street. Organisers say: “We think this iconic Manchester venue is the ideal place to celebrate some of the city’s most talented independent voices. “  For the latest updates on the Manchester Blog Awards, subscribe at the website, or follow on Twitter at @mcrblogawards.

Written by sarahhartley

September 2nd, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Experimental BBC RandD turns to……… newsprint




The double page spread in the picture above has been produced by the BBC’s R&D department. Yes, the people more usually associated with cutting-edge technological advances have published a free newspaper.

In a collaboration with the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the 24-page colour tabloid was put together with the Newspaper Club - a name we’ll no doubt all soon become much more familiar with after the news that 4ip is to invest in it.

Visitor’s to last night’s Manchester Social Media Cafe became some of the first recipients of the publication thanks to host for the night at the BBC Club, Ian Forrester.

He told me that the idea for the publication had come about simply because people liked print and the Newspaper Club made it easy to produce.

The content for the paper has made available online, but the newspaper offers the chance to distribute it around areas where its readership are likely to gather.

It’s a meaty read with eight essays looking at some of the challenges faced by the BBC.

In the editor’s letter, Jim McClellan says of 8; ” So why is it called 8. The simple answer is that the Knowledge Exchange Programme (KEP) produced eight research studies in total covering everything from how the BBC works with user generated content and how older users use digital services to be the development of a 3D online world designed for children……..

“Overall the writers here are positive about the more open, sharing BBC championed by the KEP studies. In fact, they want more. Several suggest the BBC should become a kind of open platform, a space where others can build on the foundations it lays and maintains.”

Interesting stuff indeed – available online and now in print!

* Elsewhere at Social Media Cafe, the evening was dominated by a Ceefax love-fest with a remarkable TV page inspired bingo as well as the premiere of a documentary covering people’s memories about the service put together by Maria of Littlestar. I’ll update with a link to a version of the film just as soon as its available on YouTube. Well worth a click!

So far the other blog posts I’ve seen covering the Social Media Cafe event;

* John Clements takes a look at the session about the highly participative Cutting Room Experiment.

* Tim Difford filmed a flavour of each of the session and provides a round-up of the whole evening.

* Julia did the honours on the photography front and has produced some lovely portraits.

I’m sure there’ll be more out there so, please do share a link below if you have blogged it.

Here’s to the next one!

Written by sarahhartley

July 8th, 2009 at 8:14 pm

‘Mash this!’ whispers Aunty Beeb


Chances are, you won’t have heard of R&D TV. As the name suggests, this is an experimental new programming format from the BBC where footage is supplied with the intention that you and I won’t just consume, but we will take the opportunity to create too.

As it says on the site: “The clips are raw straight from our cameras and although this may be too much for most people, it makes great footage for those who want to remix and mashup our footage with there (sic) own or others.”

Trouble is, only one such mashup has so far taken place despite worldwide access and awareness of the initiative is very limited.

Is this just early days for something ahead of the curve , or is the mighty institution smothering its fledgling participatory offering before it can get out of the nursery?

The crowd at last night’s Social Media Cafe in Manchester were in no doubt it was the latter, provoking a lively debate with the BBC’s Ian Forrester (AKA @cubicgarden).

Why couldn’t the BBC promote the new programmes through established programmes such as Click? Why wasn’t it available in iPlayer? Will it ever be shown on BBC2 – or even 3?

(As a personal aside – just look at the URL, hard to think of anything less user friendly).

Ian was able to explain many of the issues around licensing which make it difficult for R&D TV – soundtracks with music under copyright to artists for example, couldn’t be just handed out for further publication and distribution.

Fair enough points but, as several members of the audience pointed out, surely there’s content which is wholly BBC produced which could be offered up – or even specifically commissioned – if a true collaboration is going to take place?

I was left thinking that probably the highest hurdle this  brave project faces is an organisational mindset one – let’s hope that doesn’t take too long or become too distracting and good luck to Ian in pushing this on.

There’s no doubt that, while those internal bickerings take place, creative mashups will continue without any regard to licensing issues, hurt egos or approval from Aunty Beeb.


* There’s an audioBoo of reaction to the talk here.

* A FriendFeed commentary I did during the session with Ian can be seen here.

Written by sarahhartley

June 3rd, 2009 at 8:25 am