Reading the Cluetrain

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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 lastminute.com 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 | Leave a comment

Count down to Over the Air – 9 working days to go!!!!!!!

Normally, I don’t think that palpatations are a good thing. I either have some sort of heart condition am drinking too much coffee or I am suped up on event support adrenilin. I just hope I last long enough to get to and indeed through Over the Air.

We have 9 working days to go until this mobile development extravaganza (who suggested an Easter holiday anyway) and my mind is in over drive. I am sure it will be peachy-keen on the days but I am a PR, we worry, that’s our job. Anyway, half the tickets are gone now according to Ian Forrester’s blog post so I guess if you wanna go you need to get in quick. It’s free so what the hey? Hope to see you all there. I will be the frantic looking one in pig tails with a walkie talkie…  

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who gives us permission to explore our world?

‘The question implies that the world in fact belongs to someone else. Who gives us permission to communicate what we’ve experienced, what we believe, what we discovered of the world for ourselves? The question betokens a history of voice suppressed, of whole cultures that have come to believe only power is sanctioned to speak. Because the ability to speak does involve power. It entails ownership and the control conferred by ownership. ‘

Okay so I am finally back on the Cluetrain after too long a hiatus. Today I came across the above paragraph and my first thought was – good point. Who the hell is the government, the church, my employer to tell me what I can and can’t look at?  Unless you are God (and I have suspicions about the existence of that particular landlord) then frankly the world, terra friggin firma, our planet is not theirs, it’s ours.

However, I believe that the majority of punters (and I include myself in this) don’t need to know everything. I loved the X-Files and Independence Day (leading to my  film degree dissertation on Religious Motifs in Science Fiction which I still think I should have got a 1st  for) it was cool to look into the world of those ‘in the know’ but I have to say I agreed with those fictional characters strategy of ‘plausible deniability’  

“God damn it Mulder, if we told the little people that aliens were regularly visiting the Kentucky state mini mall there would be anarchy!”

I did a personality test once while enrolled in Executive Job Club, (yes that is a real club, it’s where the Job Centre send you when you get made redundant from your first PR job and they don’t know what to do with you, there was me and a bunch of 50 year old men who were lovely but it was a bit like take your daughter work day) anyway, I did this test and I came out Submissive 9/Confirmist 10.

If you know me you wouldn’t think that I would be like this. My ex boyfriend once said I was the least conformist person he had ever met (bless him he went to boarding school) but fundamentally I think that people do need structure. They want to feel safe and they want someone else to take responsibility for their lives, they want to listen to a commanding voice and trust that someone or something else is going to take care of the big things while they decide whether to get their chicken tikka masala from Tesco or Sainsbury.

 As I write I am questioning myself again, do people want someone/thing in charge so society doesn’t go off on one Lord of the Flies stylee or are we, am I just scared?

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Over the Air

I haven’t posted anything for a bit due to, a) having spread myself a bit thinly on the work front and b) basically getting out of the habit of blogging so apologies. I do intend to finish The Cluetrain. I’m not sure what stops me more, the habit thing or having too much to do or is it a bit of both but Dave Crossland has sent me someone’s post about making something a habit which should help, when I get round to it…  

Anyway, in the meantime I wanted to post something about an event that the BBC is supporting in April. You may have heard about it already but it’s called Over the Air and is a handheld device related 48 hour hack event. I think, and I mean think that you can get on the site and register now if you want to come along so give the site a look if you get the chance.

After attending hack day last year I am planning to go down there for most of the weekend and I think it will be fun and I am quite excited about seeing the difference in the sort of ideas that people come up with compared to what I saw at Alexandra Palace. Also since I’ve been at the BBC I have been out of the mobile world so I would like to know what’s rocking and rolling there anyway. It will be like old times. Here’s the blurb, hope to see you there! 

Calling all mobile developers, designers, experimenters, and enthusiasts! Mark the 4th and 5th of April on your calendars for Over the Air, the largest grass-roots mobile developer event that London has ever seen.Over the Air will be 48 hours of mobile development hack-day-style; featuring workshops, tutorials, speakers and lots of other good-stuff like network APIs and emerging platform SDKs. This is one that you won’t want to miss, so pencil it in now, and watch out for the big announcements that will be coming soon. To get the latest news on Over the Air developments as they roll out hot off the press, simply subscribe to our feed at www.overtheair.org…..

March 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

8 random things about me

I have just noticed this thing that Ian Forrester reckons I should do. I don’t really get it yet. Memetics? Something to do with cultural transference, erm – what? When I have the time I will look into this more but at the moment I am following instructions only.

 Here are the rules:

  1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose four people to get tagged and list their names.
  4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

 1. I attended Lady Diana’s funeral 

You may remember that when the funeral for the Princess of Wales was held various groups of people walked behind the royal family. One element to this mix of people were representatives from the 500 charities she used to endorse. At the time my Dad was on the executive committee for one of these charities.

My Dad has had a bad leg for years so he asked me if I would like to go. At the time I was a twenty two year old film graduate so even though I am not a huge royalist I thought it was a historic moment that could not be missed.   On the train up to London I met a particularly notorious member of the Medway massive who had surprisingly decided to attend along with this fold up stool. I never ever would have thought this guy would go to something like that but I guess it is true her influence certainly transcended societal divides.   As I met with my fellow charity processionals we were ordered about by people in uniform, (which reinforced my status as a pacifist) I discovered that Jayne Asher wears a lot of perfume, and more importantly that I was now an eye witness to the biggest international news story of that day, week, even year. 

 2. I don’t wear high heels  

Some of this is because A) I am already five foot 8 so a lot of people, (particularly men these days I have noticed) are really bloody short. B) I naturally walk very fast and purposefully. High heels do not allow me to do this. It makes me late for things, vulnerable to the perils of South London and it hurts C) I feel like a man in drag.   

3. If I wasn’t a PR I’d want to be a singer. 

I love it! It makes me happy and I’m not even scared to sing on stage.  At present I am learning Valerie. My brother Matt and I tried it out last time I was at home. He gets the guitar tabs off of the internet and I sing a long. My favourite song to sing is ‘By the sea’ by Morecheba and second favourite ‘Blow your mind’ by Jamiroquai.   

4. I want a dog 

One of the reasons I am currently obsessed with Nintendogs is because I want a real dog. I doted on my childhood companion Jinx (RIP) so I know a real one would make me really happy. However, I will have to wait until I grow up as a one bedroom rented flat in South London is not really appropriate home for a dog.   

5. I’m mostly Irish 

Well I say mostly. My Dad’s side of the family are from Northern Ireland. I went back there for the first time last year. It’s a beautiful country. Bloody wet though. I am pleased to say I can still do a mean Newry accent. The best way to do this is by saying the following: ‘I have here in my hand a letter, a letter of peace, chips and fash fangers’.

 6. I once gave myself amnesia by hitting a tree with my head – hard 

I used to ride horses a lot. When I was 11 I went riding in a wood with my friend. I am told that my horse went a bit mental for no reason, (as they do) and through me off where my fall was gently broken by a tree. I can’t remember anything else after that until I woke up in hospital. My first words… ‘Where’s my riding boots?’

 7. Sometimes people think I look like Davina McCall.

Ever since Big Brother started and indeed especially over its summer season people either stare at me funny, say I Iook familiar, insist we have met before and then finally the resemblance penny drops.  I don’t think I look like her, except the odd side view and I think that’s because of our less than perfect noses. The fact she is several years older than me makes this less flattering than you would have thought.

 8. I am incredibly divvy

Professionally frankly I am pretty switched on but to be honest in the outside world I don’t know my arse from my elbow. I’d get lost in a lift, can’t read a map (AT ALL) have in the past broken, walls, irons, table’s and once wondered why the kitchen looked like a bubble covered image from a cartoon when I used washing up liquid in the dish washer.

I know quite a bit already but I’m sure there’s more to learn The London Biker

These are my mate’s folks, they live in France what a good idea The Trims

This is a blog with very funny stories about everyday folk – Sunnyside

 Probably the most important blog you will ever read, and you think Scientology is crazy – Wangology

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment