Breaking the mould or daydreamers?

Thursday night’s Beers & Innovation saw the bar being raised on discussion of user-generated content among a UK-only audience and clearly being taken to a new level.

And I say this not out of gratitude to the speakers Richard Sambrook and Paul Youlten for their thoughtful contributions and nimble responsiveness – which I have in spades – but with respect to the level of insight and challenging thoughts coming from the assembled crowd.

Digital marketing agencies were notable by their absence – with the admirable exception of much-garlanded and recently aquired Glue London.

Secret society?

While a fair few agencies are beavering away secretly (as is their time-honored approach) in this area, it still makes me wonder – don’t agencies want to be part of real, networked debate or publicly discuss Web 2.0? Are they somehow immune from – or above – so benefitting? Okay, the question is rhetorical.

At one point amid the fast-flowing discussion – like a kind of reality check – someone pointed out that we in the room were “the converted minority”.

What about everyone else in the UK digital media and technology industries who are still stuck in their ways and not plugging into the debates that actually describe, acknowledge and engage with the innovations and opportunities happening across the spectrum of user generated content – from citizen media through to untested or hybrid business models?

Where is the UK equivalent of Google, Newsvine, Digg or Craigslist? And where is the innovative community (is part of it springing up on UK-headquartered Soflow)?

Risk-averse culture

Such businesses and organisations are the pioneers that are making a difference in this transitionary period for business models and newsmaking that we have now unquestionably entered.

Yes, some of them will fail – let’s not be rose-tinted hype merchants already – but as we discussed at B&I in February and again this time, failure once should not equal a lifetime’s damnation.

And this is where the UK-US cultural chasm is really writ large… So must that difference be set in stone forever?

The message emanating from the crowd (still heterogeneous in backgrounds) was: don’t let the b******s grind you down, as we (all) love to say – some secretly, some with a t-shirt!

Thanks again to everyone for coming. A full report on the event will be available soon on the NMK website.

[NB. We were planning to podcast the event but our podcaster-in-crime couldn’t make it at the last minute. If anyone else fancies recording an audio file of Beers & Innovation 3 on 27th April – drop me a line in the comments or here where I’m listed under Editor]


4 responses to “Breaking the mould or daydreamers?

  1. Always cautious of posting comments about our business and being accused of self- promotion….”Reevoo”: is a London based start-up, where user generated content is at our core. Our focus is on on-line reviews. We provide a service to on-line retailers, such as “Orange”: , and are also building, where we have recently launched a blog aggregation facility, enabling bloggers to get more coverage for reviews on their blogs.

  2. Hi Richard & no probs – I’m sure readers will find Reevoo of interest, and I’d been planning to drop you a line actually! I was tipped-off about Reevoo about 2 months ago and it certainly caught my imagination when I looked at it, and more recently when I’ve checked out your blog…

    We are thinking about having a B&I on aggregators and I’d been going to get in touch about whether you would like to speak at it. However, it probably won’t happen until the autumn, hence my sluggishness in connecting.

    I’m also happy for anyone else to contact me about speaking at B&I nights or with any suggestions about topics. Best to drop me a line at the email address listed here

    Shamless self promotion on the blog has it’s place too 😉 But of course i’ll distinguish it from spam or blatant sales-pitching by its frequency, relevance and content. At the moment, I’m moderating comments, but i’ll see how that goes. If I decide to switch-off moderation, take a look at the About page for further info on what I’ll delete.


  3. Reevoo is great! Also, I was pointed over here just today and interested to see what’s going on. Perhaps I don’t read enough UK blogs, but I’d never heard of this meetup before. Looks like good stuff, and I’ll see if I can come along in the future! Perhaps the lack of a distinct ‘mouthpiece for the industry’ over here hurts a little too. Tom Coates is as close as it gets I think.

    For what it’s worth, I own / run which is a startup in the FeedBurner / RSS / tools area, but we keep it looking like a US operation since 95% of our users are in the US. Y’know.. that could be another problem.. why look like a UK operation when the userbase isn’t really there?

    Anyway, I’ve subscribed to this blog and look forward to learning more.

  4. Hi Peter, glad to hear this is something of interest.

    Your comments about "looking like" a US operation are interesting and an important area of the discussion. I understand completely about the bigger audience / userbase for a service like yours.

    But is also reflects the lag in the maturity of the UK market too, surely..?

    There also an underlying issue about UK media / publishing being more moribund than the US, and that fact that the dominant (dying?) business models can't keep up with entrepreneurs and innovation…. Which is okay if you want to score points against or beat big business, but it also means everyone is losing out from the benefits of agile technologies and more limber business development as we're all part of the ecosystem in terms of economics.

    Hmmm, I think I need to sit down now!!

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