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February 25, 2014

The Embers of One Man's Day

What do we have here? A video promoting a piece of software called Ember, starring me (and completely scene-stolen by my daughter):

This all came about at the last TEDxBrighton. Thibault - whom I'd first met when he was working with Brilliant Noise - has recently joined Realmac, and I was singing the praises of Ember to him, as I'd recently discovered it. Would I appear in a video promoting it? Yes, I said. And promptly forgot about it.

He didn't.

And so, a few months later, I found myself under the watchful gaze of Frit's lenses for a day's filming in Brighton and here at home in Shoreham.

It was a fascinating insight into how talented filmmakers construct the narrative of a video like this. And it actually makes my life seem significantly more cool than it actually is. (Hazel is exactly that cute, though - and demands her appearance fees paid in Duplo).

All in all, a worthwhile experience, in the service of a worthwhile piece of software. It's probably the only advert I'll ever appear in, but I did enjoy the process.

January 20, 2014

Brighton's digerati: understanding the media continuum

Brigton's digital leaders in the Observer It was lovely to see the Brighton digital sector highlighted in The Observer a week ago. With all the fuss about Tech City, interesting online stuff happening elsewhere is all-too-often forgotten.

But what was really nice was to see the pleasure with which the Brighton digerati reacted to the news. My Facebook newsfeed and Twitter timeline were full of friends and contacts celebrating their (or their friends') inclusion in the article. That mythical old/new media hostility was nowhere to be seen.

For example, I swiped the above photo (with permission) from Antony Mayfield, co-founder of one of the companies featured: Brilliant Noise. (They're former clients and current friends.) He was more than happy to be featured.

Positing Old and New Media as completely separate sets of businesses is never a useful thing to do. Things rarely divide themselves into such neat categories, and instead tend to form along a continuum. People who try to define them as separate and hostile entities are missing the point - or grinding a big old axe. Back in 2003 when I started this blog it was often the bloggers and "new media" types making the claim that they would replace "old media" - but that was a disguised plea for legitimacy. These says it tends to be the "Old Media" creating the distinction - as a result of seeing their power diffused into a wider range of outlets.

The smart people - and there are an awful lot of smart people featured in that article - understand that the skill is in understanding the continuum between traditional and emerging media, and where you need to be along it for any particular project.

Brighton is full of those people - and it's good to see The Observer acknowledging it.

August 11, 2013

View from Devil's Dyke

The South Downs from the Devil's DykeThere's certainly been a different tone to my photography since I moved out of Lewisham nearly two years ago...

August 5, 2013

TEDxBrighton 2013 is go!

Thumbnail image for TEDxBrighton Cupcakes

TEDxBrighton 2013 - brought to you by the same team as last year's successful event - is go. The theme is "Pass it On", the first speakers have been announced, and you can apply for tickets now.

Hope to see you there...

March 11, 2013

Sussex by Snow

Well, that was an interesting trip home...
Shoreham station in the snow
Several inches of snow on the car


October 29, 2012

What could be more Brighton than TEDx and cupcakes?

TEDxBrighton CupcakesFriday, as anyone who follows me on Twitter will be aware, was TEDxBrighton. It's my second TEDx event (the first was TEDxTuttle a few years back), and the only one I've been involved in organising - although just as a storyteller (which in this case, essentailly means blogger). And I had a blast. After a few technical hitches with the sound in the opening minutes, it ran very smoothly indeed. Feedback from friends who were there was largely positive - most thought the speakers were a mixed bag, but there didn't seem to be universal agreement about who were the good ones and who were the bad ones, which was a good sign of diversity amongst both the audience and the speakers...

I, sad to say, got virtually no time to network, as I was busy either liveblogging, or editing photos or video to add to the liveblog. You can find all the liveblogging over on the TEDxBrighton site. My thoughts about the contents of the talks are percolating, and I'll post more about the day in a little while.

In the meantime, I'd just like to highlight these:

TEDxBrighton cupcakesThe format of a TEDx event is rigorously - and I mean rigorously - controlled by the TED organisation. Fair enough. It's their brand, they're sharing it, and they're entitled - sensible, even - to protect it. But the area outside the main event is where the organisers can really cutomise it. Natalie Lloyd did a fine job of bringing in lots of Brighton organisations and bodies into the main mingling space outside the Corn Exchange, to give the event a pretty multi-generational feel:


But the only part of these I had actually time to experience were the wonderful cupcakes baked - in a 13 hour baking marathon - by this cake-baking lady:

Emma Jane, baker of Brighton cupcakesEmma Jane was also one of the few people I didn't already know I got the chance to chat with. I was obviously delighted to discover as well as being a cupcaking creation fiend (and they were a great source of sugar for a energy-sapped liveblogger...) she's also an avid blogger at Cakes and Catwalks. She's even blogged about the experience of the day - which was something of a mixed bag for her, sadly:

I love TED and really enjoyed the talks again this year, I also met some really lovely people and very much appreciated the 'thank you' I received in person from many of the delegates and team - also the tweets that people sent me and seeing photos appearing of my cakes across social platforms was very rewarding. But I had to request that delegates were told a)- that there were cakes and b)- where to find the cakes. I guess I kind of assumed that having asked me to bake 350 cupcakes (which were branded for TEDx), that people would be encouraged to enjoy them.

Which brings us back to the brand control aspect of TEDx events. What you can and can't say about sponsors (and indeed, the various behind-the-scenes folks) is pretty limited. It's a tricky balance - but I think Natalie did a pretty fine job in her first outing organising an event like this.

Thankfully all 360 cupcakes were consumed in the end. Here's Flora Koska, speaker at the event, choosing one of them:


October 26, 2012

The TEDxBrighton choir

Liveblogging: TEDxBrighton

TEDxBrightonI'm liveblogging TEDxBrighton: the Generation Gap all day today. Follow it on the TEDxBrighton site... (and say hello if you're there)

June 15, 2012

Brighton's future as a smart city: finding a vision

Jason Kitcat, Leader, Brighton & Hove City Council

Jason Kitcat

Jason, as befits his position, gives us a pitch for why Brighton is so very great.

He highlights Brighton's position as a "super-city" and one that will drive job growth and help us out of recession. The jobs are being driven by the sustainability and new media sector. And he runs though the list of attractions of the area - the universities, the South Downs. Kitcat came to the city 12 years ago to start a digital business. 

Consulting on a 20 year plan, that will keep all existing employment spaces, as well as identifying new places. 

He highlights a range of developments that have been built (or are planned to be) to very high BREEAM ratings: the new American Express building, some public sector buildings, including The Keep, and the i360 proposals 

Tony Mernagh, Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove Business Forum and Executive Director of Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership

Tony Mernagh

"Brighton is a city of the future - and it always will be". That needs to change. They need to make it happen. 

The 2007 economic strategy doesn't really reflect the situation the city finds itself in now. The intent is to review, revisits and probably rewrite it. How do they create the growth they need to support the next generation of workers sustainably, against a background of recession and global economic crisis - and climate change? They need a constant policy vision - the city has had three separate administrations over 12 years, each with their own vision. That's not great for investors. So they want a vision that all political parties can buy in - and that's quite an ask. But doing this will determine if Brighton will actually become the city of the future. 

Scott Marsh and Bruce Nairne - the City prospectus

Scott Marsh

They've consulted with 70 businesses and individuals within the city - and outside it, to see how people view it - and if they see it as a serious business location. 

So, what makes it attractive, according to the consultation? It's unique and distinctive. People struggle to name a similar city. But, from a  business perspective, there's not so clear a distinctive message. Access to London and the airports is seen as valuable, as is its approach to business and cosmopolitan nature. One person commented that they've never come across a place so engaged in architecture debates. It does business in cafés and on the beach, not in boardrooms. 

Bruce Nairne

There are challenges - no financial incentives or grants. There are limitations physically - with the sea to the south (although that means that return on developments is good). Cost of living is high. Parking and congestion is an issue. Consistent policy direction is needed. There are public realm issues, with run-down areas in some of the gateways. And there are social divide issues. 

Does it need another big corporate here? Some think so, others think not. Crawley is very corporate - and Brighton is never going to be Crawley. We might need to be careful about being too restrictive about sectors. Should we be looking more for international investment - or should we target London?

Is it a world class city? It isn't a Barcelona or a Manchester - but there are businesses that do world class things here. 

He has a whole chart full of buzzwords that people apply to the city, but it all comes back to "Creative": The Creative City. 


Is Brighton too laid back?

Nairne: there is an issue with "sharpness", particularly in dealing with businesses from London. Business done in cafés can be effective, and as effective as business down in smart suits in boardrooms. 

If we are dealing with a lack of assets and readily developable land, what is the willingness of the current administration to put into that mix publicly-owned assets?

Kitcat: Business rates retention is incredibly complex. As regards to council assets, it's clear that our assets aren't necessarily in the right places, and we could release some through rationalisation. 

Mernagh: We're going to annex Adur: no, we're not. But we want to persuade Adur and Lewes that they want to be part of Brighton. They have land that could be devoted to housing or workspace. Burgess Hill is creating homes - it's only five miles away. It's also creating a business and science park, on 23ha. Brighton has always been inward-looking, we need to work more with our neighbours. 

The digital cluster in Brighton is invisible. Maybe there's something in digital and creative being a world leader...

Kitcat: Every business can have a digital challenge - but we have businesses that create digital stuff. That's different.

Mernagh: Green has gone on the back burner, but the world crisis will end, and green agenda will still be there...

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June 12, 2012

TEDxBrighton: new site, new theme

the new TEDxBrighton site
One of the most satisfying aspects of my new, freelance working life is that I can give time to unpaid projects that interest me. One of these is TEDxBrighton, the second edition of the independently-organised TED event, which is now being organised by a completely different team to last year's.

The conference's brand new site, pulled together by Digby Killick, the Content & Motion team and Pragmatic, has just gone live. You'll be seeing a lot from me on the conference blog because the talented Louise Winters and I are the official storytellers for the conference. You can grab the RSS feed, or subscribe by e-mail. 


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