Reading the Cluetrain

Just another weblog

Another 48 hours…

Okay, so Over the Air wasn’t exactly 48 hours, more like 36 (as my colleague Sally Trim pointed out) but to be honest it feels like I was camped out at Imperial College for about six weeks.


I left the office on Thursday lunch time after having a terse conversation with someone about the non delivery of fact sheets. They say PRs not rocket science but getting the fact sheets on time, blimey o’reilly!!!


After dumping my stuff at a near by B&B I trotted through Hyde Park to Imperial to find Ian Forrester alone in a dining room guarding 300 bean bags from the paws of passing students. He had his laptop though so all good.


After a fashion Delores from Imperial who took me upstairs to the Internet Centre so I could get on with my first job – stuffing 500 goody bags. During the three hours that this took more or less on my lonesome I had several flashbacks to the school holiday when I tried my hand at fruit packing. Nightmare, couldn’t eat a grapefruit for about three years after that, yuck. Thank god for my discovery of holiday telesales. I am much better at that and it was a great training ground for PR, but ho hum if a jobs got to be done…


The rest of the crew arrived around 4pm and started to build the event. We finished at 11ish then found ourselves in the Imperial SU bar for a swift half before bedtime.  


Up again at 7am and before you know it I am sitting behind a registration desk looking pretty damn miserable, I have never been a morning person. My face contorted into a smile though as the first attendee arrived and I was relieved to see that we had a steady trickle of speakers and attendees coming in and settling themselves on the reception area bean bags before the keynotes started.


The radio began to crackle at just before ten as the runners got into position to move everyone to ‘configuration 1’. It’s no mean feat to get 300 people up some stairs and in the right place safely but Matthew Cashmore and his number two John Bevan and number two and a half Toby Stokes directed superbly so no one dead. Excellent.


The boys continued to get runners from A to B to C throughout the event with amazing smoothness the only slight hick-up was when the fire alarm went off on Saturday right in the middle of one of the seminars due to a student microwave incident. I have found out that I look absolutely stunning in a florescent yellow jacket though and that’s an important development.


I know I started off going through the event chronologically but the fact now that I am going to nip around a bit is just a symptom of my tiredness and the extra day that I am absolutely sure exists in a week when you do something as strange as a 48 hour hackathon. Suddenly a normal week goes, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Hackday, Sunday and you are transported to a parallel universe where there is only you, the team and the attending punters. Nothing else matters, except for keeping them happy, safe and productive. We did it and I am very glad.


Highlights and lowlights…


I’m not even going to state which ones are which here. If you know me well you will be able to figure them out and frankly it depends which way you look at it and when you ask me.


Werewolf – played by a group of hackers and team members from 2-3am on Saturday morning. There were strange noises, times when it was very important to be quiet and apparently this then spawned advanced Werewolf. I’m not sure who won or even if anyone does actually win. I can’t even play 21 so I thought best off out of it.


The Torchwood swede – according to wikipedia a swede is to recreate a film using amateur resources. The lovely but frankly mental Ewan Spence and a team of very excited followers bounced up to me on Friday afternoon and the conversation went like this.


Ewan: Do you know what a swede is?


Me (with some trepidation): A vegetable?


Ewan: No


Me: A person?


Ewan: No


Me: Okay what is it Ewan?


Ewan: A swede is a recreation of a film or TV programme? We are going to recreate the season finale of Torchwood!!!!!! Can we borrow your camera?


Me: Oh, okay then and you want to play it on the big screen before we screen Torchwood right? (Lots of nodding from Ewan). I am going to have to send a cameraman with it though. BRENDAN!!!!!


We got through two cameramen by the end of the filming. I didn’t go with them but when the second one Ant Miller came back I thought he would need a cup of hot sweet tea. I had never seen that look in his eyes before and I don’t think I will again. Anyway, have a look enjoy and look out for a guest appearance by Matthew Cashmore as Reese.


Phone Fight – not being particularly techy despite my role with the competition entries I was mostly happy when I could understand what something was. Phone fight, the hack by labs was a fight to the death for honour, valour using Series 60 Python over Bluetooth. I really have no idea what I just wrote but it was cool because when two people holding phones pretended to have a sword fight you heard a clinking sound. I was impressed. There’s a nice picture of it on the BBC Internet blog today


Cocktails – a team from erm, I think Italy made some sort of cocktail directory. At the same time as the demo one of the team made a cocktail for the compare Dan Appelquist of Mobile Monday. This was funny for two reasons, a) the team soon realised that their audience when they saw Sally and I perk up at the thought as we sat in the front row and b) about three hack demos later Dan suddenly commented from the stage, ‘What was in that cocktail?’ It appeared to have suddenly hit him like a steam train and he was still carrying the glass when we saw him outside the Great Hall half an hour later.
It’s all over: I had one and a half hours sleep, I ate absolute crap when I managed to eat, (which wasn’t much) but as usual despite this I had an absolute blast. Just like Hack Day I’ve seen things I never saw before, talked to people I would never have met before I started this job and I have learnt so much I think my poor tired PR brain is going to explode.


What I value the most though is knowing that we can put this sort of event together and make it a success. And it doesn’t matter what the mainstream media say good or bad, (The Guardian (good), Digital Planet (good), The Register (not completely straight but that’s The Register) the BBC team I was part of to make this happen are the best of the best of the best, I love every single one of them and I can’t wait to do this again so watch this space.



Roll on 21st/22nd of June.   



April 7, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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