Category Archives: Content 2.0

Round up of my NMK events

While at NMK as Editor, I gradually (and unexpectedly) became the developer and organiser of many of its regular events.

NMK (New Media Knowledge)As NMK is a publicly-funded organisation that exists for the benefit of the digital media industries, in order to fulfil its accessibility remit, reports of these events (and conferences) were also produced by me and posted on the website.

I hope these reports have been, and to some extent continue to be, useful for practitioners, researchers and students of digital media.

They’re also historical records of a group of very interesting discussions and debates that happened at a time when the UK digital economy finally emerged from the long, nuclear winter of the first dotcom crash.

The reports are linked to at the end of every event page listed below, with the following exceptions…

Reports for Beers & Innovation numbers 5 and 6 (+) are available here on my blog. There is no report for Beers & Innovation 4 but part of the event was captured on this video by Ian Forrester of BBC Backstage and others have blogged about it.


Charities: Making Digital Gains – 26th May 2005

Blogging: A Real Conversation? – 28th June 2005

New Directions In Search – 8th September 2005

User Content: The Real Deal? – 8th November 2005

Beers & Innovation 2: User Generated Content – 30th March 2006

Beers & Innovation 3: Mash Ups & Web Services – 27th April 2006

Beers & Innovation 4: RSS Frontiers – 12th September 2006

Beers & Innovation 5: Aggregators & Upsetters – 17th October 2006

Beers & Innovation 6: Social By Design – 14th November 2006

Beers & Innovation 7: Do Agencies Innovate? – 30th January 2007
(with input from Zoe Black)


In The City Interactive – 7th June 2005
(also had conference steering committee input)

Rethinking Digital Branding – 10th October 2005

Beers & Innovation 1: UK Start Up Culture – 9th February 2006
(with thanks to James Governor and Tom Coates)

Content 2.0 – conference 6th June 2006
Content 2.0 website
(also had conference steering committee input)

In The City – Manchester music industry conference, 30 Sept-2nd Oct 2005
(co-programmed 3 digital panels and a keynote)

In the City 2005: mPod The New iPod?

In The City 2005: Digital Creativity & A&R (Ralph Simon keynote)

In the City 2005: Tomorrow People

In the City 2005: The Digital High St


New Directions In Mobile – 3rd October 2006


During my time at NMK (Dec 2004 – Oct 2006) we also held many further events that I wasn’t involved in developmentally, but I helped market and promote them via editorial, social media platforms, attending external events and general outreach to the UK scene and beyond.

I’m listing them here as much for my own reference as anybody else’s

[NB. Some internal links within the pages above are broken as the NMK website has been redesigned since I left and the URL structure was changed, ie. persistent URLs were not maintained]


The craic with social media

In the course of Beers & Innovation 6 Meg Pickard elaborated a little on the motivations to create social media.

Staking a claim, and staking out your territory, in other words expressing, defining and developing your identity, are the principal spurs for younger people, Meg said. But these needs are not so prevalent for older people, because they (mostly) reckon they know enough people and have enough friends (with the exception of the Linked In professionals’ network).

But once you’ve amassed all your friends and acquaintances on your digital social network, then what? What follows that, and the reason social media excerpts an ongoing pull, is what Meg termed as “web craic”.

Celtic connections

Right across Ireland, where I’m from, craic is a malleable term that means, fun, excitement, good times, but also stories, news, the latest gossip, the general state of affairs.

“What’s the craic with her?” means what’s the story / context with the girl/woman in question. “The craic was great” translates as “it was brilliant”. Its meaning can also be as general (as in “what’s the craic?”) as “what’s happening?” or “how are you?”

But enough digression for one post. It’s not my fault that the Irish have the best version of the English language going  😉

“Web craic” (broader than just chat or banter, as we’ve established) is what enervates and gives legs to the likes of MySpace, Bebo and Flickr, Meg stressed.

Social by accident – context is king

Topic-based social networks, in turn, revolve around social experiences. Here, the person isn’t at the front. The topic is the important thing; sharing stuff is the way that you create relationships. Hence it’s popularity with older people, Meg continued.

She went onto explain that the topic – photos with Flickr, music with – provides the context to get together and talk about everything and anything. Context is king, and the users bring and make their own content through the context of the topic (whether that’s sneaky, collaborative or selfishly motivated).

Hence with delicious, its incidental that making my bookmarking tasks easier has a community impact. So it’s social by stealth, and that’s common across the board – whether via ratings, what’s hot or interestingness permutations.

Delving deeper

The recent Financial Times profile of Danah Boyd gives a good introduction to research into and analysis of social networks that was broadly referenced in the course of the event. But John Hagel’s 29th October post on social networks and urbanization raises a bunch more interesting questions, specifically his view that:

“Social network sites are more often a supplement to physical space relationships.”


“A lot of forces are at work on a global scale that increase the need for us to both broaden and deepen our network of social relationships.”

[I’ll revisit this later]

Given the proliferation of social media sites in every niche: social bookmarking, communities, to do-lists, web analytics, news aggregation, social shopping (see also, Stylehive, Kaboodle and others – ref: Pete Cashmore – as well as speaker Philip Wilkinson’s own Crowdstorm), video storage sites, calendars and more, who has time, Philip reflected, to register and look at all these regularly? Will it turn into a Darwinian survival of the fittest contest, he wondered.

I listed Philip’s tips on how to get attention in this crowded sphere in my last post and he’s recapped his talk here.

Attention, presence & data portability

The potential of Second Life to supersede the likes of MySpace and Bebo was queried by Meg on the grounds that Bebo et al thrive on asynchronous communication. Second Life hasn’t cracked that yet, but presence is something that we are going to see a lot more of in our world.

Mike Butcher raised the issue of other technologies that will allow us to network independent of the portals (verily, Mike was listening to Marc Canter’s talk at Content 2.0 back in June 😉  )

Philip agreed insofar as we will see data follow us around via web widgets etc, so if things go pear-shaped and you want to take all your data out, data portability is the answer.

Digital natives

Responding to the observation that this will make the content and value of social networks ephemeral, one woman in the audience commented that emphemerality is a good thing, because when I leave Bebo and joined My Space I don’t want my Bebo profile be associated with my Myspace profile anymore.

This dovetailed perfectly with the thoughts of 18-yer-old Dot and 19-year-old Rory in the Invisible Culture session at Content 2.0 in June 2006. They in turn embody what Gary McClarnan said about digital natives at NMK’s In The City Interactive conference in June 2005:

communities are migrating across platforms which are not “mass” as such. What’s missing here is the technology to support the taste makers, he reckoned. The music industry has done this for years with street teams and suchlike. “Now we need to allow people to migrate around their blogs and communities.”

Among the many opinions and questions coming from the floor, Alan Patrick wondered is the social network hit-based or long-tailed? Rob McKinnon has summarised his question about the role of social media in socially-motivated public actions with more observations here, and Meg’s responses about using social media for mobilisation are here.

Jamie Kantrowitz of Myspace highlighted the mobilisation potential towards the end of the Marketing 2.0 forum at Content 2.0. But even simple text message and email-based networks fulfil this function, in the form of flashmobbing.

Is tagging worth the time, wondered Sue Thomas from De Montfort University. For a comprehensive update on developments (but not statistics) checkout Niall Kennedy’s 27th October post on bookmarking and social sharing trends.

Media’s ingrained campaign mindset

I asked about the campaign mentality of brands who are launching themselves into the social networks sphere in increasing numbers if not always with a long term perspective. The issue of (Mint Digital created) Islandoo’s future after the next series of Shipwrecked is populated with participants (the initial rationale of the network) and then broadcast (they have to keep it going at least that long) is very much apropos of this issue.

Is it any wonder consumer trust is declining and their attention turning to P2P networks for recommendations when brands treat them as campaign fodder and ultimately disposable?

Clashing with structural barriers

It’s something that not only confronts the challenging idea of brands and corporations truly adopting policies of engagement and valuing attention and feedback (ie. rather than cost-per-click, cost-per-conversation) that Meg noted.

It also betokens a structural barrier in media planning and buying which Nicolas Roope of Poke (and Hulger) noted, in economic terms, underwrites the short-term campaign format that typifies marketing and advertising today and is deeply embedded. James Cherkoff is also on the case with this infrastructural stumbling block.

This latter territory is ripe for discussion at the next Beers & Innovation in January. See you there [and my first post on Beers Innovation 6 here].

Moving on from NMK

Second and last post of the day, hopefully!

After snoozing for 3 days, the NMK email has reawakened.

But after this week I will be moving on from NMK.

I’m going to be editor of Chinwag. In turn, soon the old Chinwag site will be gone too, to be replaced with a new site that builds on the achievements of Chinwag Jobs, which recently celebrated it’s first birthday.

More on that soon.

In the meantime, what happens here?

More Beers & Innovation!

Yep, Beers & Innovation 6: Social By Design on Tuesday 14th November is all sorted and looking like another one to watch.

The line-up features Meg Pickard, Consumer Experience Lead in Social Media at AOL Europe, Tim Morgan, Commercial Director of Mint Digital (blog) and Philip Wilkinson, the Co-Founder & CEO of Crowdstorm (blog). Chairing is the wonderful Neil McIntosh, Assistant Editor at Guardian Unlimited.

We’ve already taken quite a few bookings, so if peering deeper into the social media sphere floats your boat, don’t hang about!

I’m also in the final stages of putting together another B&I for January, which should start to face up to some of the very cogent points  – about the UK’s strengths, not just it’s weaknesses – outlined by Tom Coates in the original post that inspired this whole series.

I’ll still be introducing the November and January nights, and blogging around the subject.

What then?

Beyond that, a lot depends on:

(1) NMK hiring 3 people to work here in light of the recent staff exodus (apparently they are advertising these jobs soon).

(2) One or more of those people taking on the development and organisation of Beers & Innovation (in tandem with community input of course).

(3) One of them starting a blog.

I’ll be keeping this blog, but as the title differs from the URL (I’m now really glad I did that when I started this blog in March!), I can keep the blog and handover the Beers & Innovation title if and when needed.

What happened?

Overall the NMK experience has been much broader and more absorbing than I ever could have foreseen or expected. I’ve developed, organised and “marketed” a lot of events, which isn’t in my job description but which was required by circumstances. I’ve done it before though, and it seems I’m not too bad at it. Content 2.0 wasn’t even the half of it.

I’ve not been able to do much writing or analysis, which has been less satisfying. But the role has given me an incredible overview of the evolving digital media sector in the UK and beyond. And don’t get me started on SXSW Interactive or I might go on for hours  😉

Best of all, I’ve got to meet, discover and collaborate with loads of amazing people and hopefully (mostly through organising events) helped shed some light on interesting stuff that’s happening, facilitated some meaningful debates and brought other people together in ways that couldn’t be construed as unpleasant.

It’s all a work in progress 🙂

Was that the week that was?

It’s been another period of blogging lite in this corner, but things have been picking up elsewhere…

You probably know about the launch of TechCrunchUK already. Sam has been busy busy busy riffing on the why’s and wherefores of interesting UK start-ups.

In turn, Mike Butcher has outed Pete Cashmore of Mashable as a Scotland, UK resident (and clearly a man with global ambitions) even if a few folks knew that already. And Robert Loch has been listing UK start-ups on his new Internet People blog. So the week has been quite revealing across the board.

Calendar overload?

Meanwhile, tech and digital events are piling up thick and fast. September 14th’s Beers & Innovation on RSS Frontiers is sold out and the waiting list is quite sizeable. For details of what else is on check the Jigsaw UK events page or the Techrunch UK one.

Indifferent to the little people 😉 the swish London digital advertising and marketing scene continues to pump out pricey conferences for its execs, grand fromages and high-flyers. What about Next Gen TV – only £1,345.50 for their two day conference. Go to their pre-conference workshop as well and the whole package is a snip at £1,795.50. Yes, and some people complained to me that at £376 (£258 concession) Content 2.0 was too expensive. Deary me.

Nurturing talent beyond the hype

But there’s more to building a business than swanning around posh hotels and getting funding. What about some training to get your people au fait with all that’s new and essential in digital design, business development, project management, accessibility, usability (yep, these skills are still needed in 2006 and beyond), open source marketing and online communities..?

Well you could do worse than check out the courses listed on NMK’s Events & Courses page. And given the current recruitment crisis, good to see Chinwag Jobs are running a new Online Recruitment course. Takes a lotta skills to pay the bills. Word.

Long tail of Content 2.0

At NMK we like to do things back-to-front, that’s part of what makes it (and us?) interesting (yes, I’m still taking the tablets).

We have a conference about the future of content but don’t yet have blogs or RSS on our own site.

So we (ie. me and m3m media) build another website for the conference – with blogs & RSS – but of course barely anyone looks at it once the conference is over… Yup, gotta love these hoop games!

Which way is up anyhow?

This is all my convoluted way of reversing up to the announcement that the written reports of all the Content 2.0 sessions are now available (I know, it’s incredible how quickly they’ve followed the conference, I mean, in 70 days no less!).

So, not all strictly B&I, but how would the blogosphere ever have a whiff of them unless I post about it here..? (apart from via Marc Canter who posted when I put up the first batch last month – we need mensches more like him).

Anyway, after this lightning blitz of content, I need to go and lie down. Here’s the links:

KEYNOTE: Mesh Up – Connecting Content To People

SCENESETTER: Goodbye New Media Hello Social Media

FORUM: Marketing 2.0 Forum

DEBATE: Can Brands Be Trusted?

KEYNOTE: The Future Of Web Search

SCENESETTER: Folksonomies – What Are They Good For?

FORUM: Search & Enjoy Forum [with much ado about microformats 😉 ]

YOUNG PEOPLE & MEDIA: The Invisible Culture

BEERS & INNOVATION @ Content 2.0
Featuring Robbie Williams’ manager Tim Clark (BTW, i didn’t take notes or record this last session and relied on our events assistant Dawya Sadani to note things down)

Mothership downtime & Content 2.0 podcast update

Okay, it’s not really the mothership technically speaking, but the NMK website will be taking a breather this weekend, starting anytime now.

This is simply due to need for the University Of Westminster to power down all their servers (including ours) this weekend for essential maintenance.

So what? Well you may ask. For starters there’s a lot of links on this blog to the NMK site that will be temporarily dead. Including that which takes you to the booking page for Beers & Innovation 4: RSS Frontiers on 14th September.

iTunes back in the frame (ish)

Secondly, podcast junkies who still haven’t downloaded the Content 2.0 podcasts might be sweating it a bit when they find an Error 404. Yikes! Can’t have that can we. So here’s the links direct to the, Feedburner and iTunes pages.

The iTunes situ has been resolved as much as it can be, although you may only see the four most recent files (out of a conference total of eight) on iTunes. Don’t ask me – ask iTunes why they do this. I know – it’s pointless asking them anything.

All things going to plan, the NMK site will be back up sometime on Monday 17th July.

UK widgetsphere pioneers

Whoah, this one slipped in under the radar! Two UK web entrepreneur veterans legends have recently tied the knot and are cooking up something that (could be) quite spectacular.

On 6th July 2006 Steve Bowbrick and Ivan Pope publicly announced that Steve was joining the good ship Snipperoo – a Brighton-based start-up aiming to revolutionise the overly-technical process of adding widgets to your blog.

Nothing less than the democratization of widgets is their goal, with their rallying call to the masses “we don’t want no stinkin code'”. 🙂

Steve set out their manifesto:

“Never again will you have to cut-and-paste a line (or a paragraph or a page…) of scary-looking code into your blog’s HTML just to add a simple function like a weather ticker or links to your flickr pics or your diary.”

Mainstreaming of widgets

Well, I can see the appeal of this, especially as it applies to me (note lack of widgets in sidebar – it’s perfectly normal you see 😉 ).

Ivan and Snipperoo colleague Jay Gooby were over spreading their meme in Amsterdam the next day at the inaugural Next Web conference – which also featured real elevator pitches (yep, in an elevator) which have been vlogged.

Web heroes come full circle?

For folks too young or dumb to remember the UK Web 1.0 scene: Steve was the founder of pioneering web design firm Webmedia (the UK’s first such business) and the boom era UK email service

Ivan set up the groundbreaking World Wide Web newsletter in 1993 then sold it to Future Publishing, where he launched .Net magazine (to which I contributed features 1995-97 – ah, nostalgia). He then set up a web design business in 1995 and spun Net Names out of it in 1997. Ivan is also an accomplished artist. And, he was a guest contributor at Content 2.0 last month.

Steve was also the very discerning chair of a half day conference I organised for NMK in June 2005 – Blogging: A Real Conversation – featuring the Observer’s Rafael Behr, Adriana Cronin, Johnnie Moore, and Suw Charman among others…

Brighton, Europe

The Snipperoo team is now four-strong – and they’re looking for offices in Brighton. Get in touch with them if you have any recommendations for where Snipperoo can rest its hat.

As to who coined the term “widgetsphere” – well Ivan did, on 16th June, however he rightly points to others in this “strangely European” new field. In turn, his coinage was mirrored just one day previously by Irishman Fergus Burns with his identification of “widget marketing”.

Watch that space.