Cath Richardson

SCAMP 2012: where were all the guys?

I went along to SCAMP 2012 yesterday and what a fantastic event it was. Friendly, inspiring, smart - there were some great speakers  and just as interesting attendees. I particularly liked the format. The curators of SCAMP deliberately selected speakers who wouldn't just stand up and talk to some slides. Clare Reddington brought a  lucky dip of props - the audience members picked one and then she spoke about it in relation to her work. Nange Magro presented a prototype of a dress which can be controlled with brainwaves. Salena Godden floored us with her fiery poetry performance. Mixing up talks with performances, conversations and audience participation gave the day a really nice rhythm and flow. One other conferences could learn from.

BUT. This is not what I want to talk about right now. There was one thing yesterday which irked me. Where were all the men in the audience? There must have been about 5 men there, 4 of whom were speaking. What's with this? No need to come because it's just for the ladies?

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How can innovation and technology play well together in the public sector?

Last night I went along to the first Ad Hoc enquiries. It's a new approach to doing an event. Someone is invited to present on a topic within the broad sphere of innovation in the public sector, a diverse mix of people are selected to come along, have supper and frankly discuss and critique the topic of the day.

 
Last night's topic was "imaginative, liberating technology" and it centred around a case study on Patchwork  presented by Ian Drysdale.
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What we learnt from prototyping ITV News

In all honesty I must log onto the BBC website and my local news website at least 20 times a day mostly through my smartphone or work computer, and I can honestly admit that I learnt more about today's events by logging onto this 3 times today
This quote from an early user of the ITV News prototype illustrates what's exciting about the news stream; this is the kind of behaviour we wanted to tap into, but it's ill-served by most news sites because they are tied to the idea of the article - something that's published once and is rarely updated (like a newspaper or news broadcast). When we started working with ITV, we knew we had to do something different. We wanted to explore realtime news and use it to show how news stories develop over time, i.e. that news is an ongoing process not a finished product.
 
An early diagram of the possible components of a filtered stream, and throughput across the day
 
Testing the concept of  a news stream and what that might entail with users was central to the creative process. It was through understanding use cases and user needs that we were able to develop the key design principles that underpin the stream: 'tell me what the world's talking about today' and 'whenever I come back show me something different'. We needed to make change highly visible.
 
We kicked off the project in May last year. After an initial warm up period getting to know stakeholders, digesting research and shadowing the news teams, we moved quickly to sketching ideas and simple keynote concepts. Within 5 weeks of starting the project we built a prototype in Node.js.
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Today is the most exciting time to be working in the internet

Bruce Sterling's closing keynote at SXSW was typically fiery and inspirational. But whereas last year's felt like a war cry, this year there was a strain of hope in his words.

And he summed it up this way:  

Be passionate about what you do, because now is a pretty awesome time.
Simply put, this articulates something I've been feeling for a while and the best things I saw at SXSW made me feel more like that.
 
Here are the reasons why I'm excited to be doing what I do right now.
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Can Good for Nothing help solve the 80/20 split?

Two weekends ago, Andrew and I went along to the third Good for Nothing hack weekend, appropriately titled Occupy Blue Monday. It was as inspirational and invigorating as ever. I've written before about what it's like to do a Good for Nothing. I love the way they take new, collaborative ways of working and hack culture to support the true innovators in social enterprise. As a participant, it's amazing to be able to use your skills to provide real value - a new kind of volunteering with tangible results.

Really, if you're thinking of going, the weekend is best summed up as there are no clients, no  creative constraints and no time for bullshit. What's not to love?
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Introducing Will

This week, we welcomed Will Roissetter to the Many. Being such a fresh addition, he's yet to be given an avatar. So while we wait to put a face to a name on the blog, we thought we'd ask him to introduce himself to you in his own words. 

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