We're doing a BarCamp

Big call out! We - and that includes you - are planning BarCamp Bradford as the city's first 'unconference', a event where the participant who attend create the programme of sessions themselves. BarCamps are open, participatory, democratic, 'workshop' events; the organisers and sponsors simply provide wireless broadband, a venue, beverages and food! The attendees provide the content - and the buzz ;- )
An unconference is a conference where the content of the sessions is created and managed by the participants (generally day-by-day during the course of the event) rather than by one or more organizers in advance of the event on Saturday, April 18.
The term BarCamp is primarily used in the geek community. Open Space Technology is an energizing and emergent way to organize an agenda for a conference. Those coming to the event can post on the wiki here ahead of the events the topics they want to present about or hope others will present about. The wiki can also be used as an attendee list and to manage the organization of the event from food through to the provision of wifi etc.
We're anticipating sessions on social media; blogging; 3D printing; digital film making; Augmented Reality interfaces; Cloud Computing; mobile technology trends; Drupal, games design; co-creation; public relations and marketing in the digital age; an SEO clinic as well as talks from some of the big digital players of the North.
We'd love for you to come - if you're a creative; an artist; a writer; blogger; technologist or a developer; a geek; an entrepreneur; an academic researcher; gamer or investor please join us. If you're just curious and interested in digital culture - we'd love to meet you too!
Come and demo, talk, share or just hang out!
The event - which will be held at Shipley College - starts with an introduction by the organisers rearticulating the purpose of the event, the guidelines for conduct during the day, parameters and health and safety.
Parameters explain the start and end time of the event, duration of the sessions, breaks for food, how to access the network etc.
The Rules of Bar Camp?
Rule 1: You must talk about Bar Camp Bradford.
Rule 2: You must blog about Bar Camp Bradford.
Rule 3: If you want to present, you must write your topic and name in a presentation slot.
Rule 4: Only three word intros.
Rule 5: As many presentations at a time as facilities allow for.
Rule 6: No pre-scheduled presentations, no tourists - we might break this rule with a key note speaker
Rule 7: Presentations will go on as long as they have to or until they run into another presentation slot.
Rule 8: If this is your first time at BarCamp, you HAVE to present. (OK, you don't really HAVE to, but try to find someone to present with, or at least ask questions and be an interactive participant.)


Amid the gloom - look at the positive

Up here in Yorkshire thebusinessdesk - the leading online business news portal - has launched a campaign in favour of positive stories regarding business.
I like this a lot because even if your business is doing well it is easy to become obsessed by the Radio 4 Today Programmes' daily morning relish in all the economic awfulness and become full of self-doubt about your own business.
At GREEN we are doing very well at the moment thank you very much - eight new business propositions in the past two weeks at least, solid team of colleagues determined to do their best, and a clear vision for the business.
However, in the last two days two companies in our market have gone belly-up - Designers Republic (excellent Sheffield design agency) and TAS Communications (award winning PR agency in Beverley - 15 jobs lost. Very sad).
So big pat on the back to David Parkin - who had the balls to launch thebusinessdesk in the first place and leave the comfort of his position as business editor at the Yorkshire Post - for calling for positive business stories.
David says: "While not wishing to underestimate the impact of the current downturn and the effect it is having on company finances and jobs, our users are really keen for us to highlight some good business news to shine some light on what has become a relatively gloomy outlook for business.
"Our users have made the point to us that the national media are increasingly focused on the latest corporate victims of the downturn and rarely balance that with anything positive.
"We understand that despite the gloom there are some great businesses out there that deserve to have their stories highlighted. Our audience is made up of people in high level roles across the region and they understand that if we all just accept that the outlook is bad and getting worse then no business will look at opportunities to grow."
Companies we are currently working for - I can't disclose them here for obvious reasons - are doing incredibly well. They are expanding, spending money on our services, recruiting staff and, crucially, seeing opportunities in adversity.
Make no mistake the next six months are going to be shitty but I think a lot of the companies that go under have probably been basket cases for years. Indeed, I could never understand all the media fury about the administration of Woolworths - it should have gone under years ago. And, I suspect, a lot of crap will be washed out by the current recession and the good companies will emerge.
What do you think?


Twittering on again, but how do you use it?

At GREEN we tweet, I tweet here too and I’ve also recently set up a Twitter account for BarCamp Bradford. In fact I reckon I have been tweeting for three years now.
But the micro-blogging phenomenon that is Twitter – and I am not sure I like that definition (see Stephen Fry’s take on the issue of Twitter here) – is now entering mainstream with several companies, particularly media organisations now adopting it. There are now several BBC, FT and Channel 4 Tweets out there.
Now I can understand that as a lot of Twitters – wonderful isn’t it: a verb, noun, adjective and adverb – break news. Most notably at the Mumbai massacre and the Hudson River plane story.
And Twitter has already been adopted by some major companies such as General Motors, JetBlue and Whole Foods Market.
These and other companies are keeping close tabs on the 140-characters-or-fewer tweets which are rising up from among the millions of Twitter users. They are looking to connect with people who happen to mention their brands during the course of daily life.
In response to this over-powering twittering noise, companies are now seeking to strengthen their relationship with consumers who have positive things to say. They move even faster to address the concerns of disgruntled individuals before their ur-Tweets can taint the opinions of others sitting in the Twitter nest.
There is an excellent piece on Ragan about how companies should address the issues regarding corporate Twitter.
It offers three key rules for any company considering Twitter as a means of communicating with its social media audience. It’s not rocket science just good common sense and honesty. Here they are:
Be You - Twitter outreach—and really all social media efforts—should be an inside job. Companies should not rely on outside resources, such as PR firms (like GREEN), if they want their social media interactions with users to be authentic. Those who are knowledgeable about and authorized to speak for the organization and its products or services should be the ones doing the talking.
The point is how is a PR firm supposed to respond if they have to go back to the client and get the OK first? It is also important to have devoted inside resources prepared to interact with users in real time, which is the whole point of Twitter.
Be Open - There is nothing worse than sending someone a direct message on Twitter and then hearing nothing back. In short, if you don’t want to engage directly with users who would like to engage with you, then why bother being on Twitter or other social media outlets designed for person-to-person interaction?
Be Honest - It’s annoying when looking at a corporate Tweet to see no names or bios for those who are doing the twittering for the organisation. It’s the equivalent of waiting in a telephone queue while transacting with your bank. After all Twitter is all about having a conversation.
Finally if you want to find out what people are twittering about your organisation check out Filtrbox or Tweetdeck.


Beat Blue Monday is.. this Monday

Check it out, get involved and blog about it... What are you going to do about Blue Monday?


Stuff to do this year

New Year Resolutions:

  1. Do more speaking gigs - at least six this year (two are already booked up). I am sure I get more out of the process than the delegates.
  2. Listen more to clients rather than telling them what I think they should do. In other words - just shut up.
  3. Do more writing - maybe even a book.
  4. Make social media a reality in every PR campaign - subject to point 2.
  5. Blog more than I have over the past few months - although I do write more here.
  6. Encourage colleagues and others to see the potential of Web2.0
  7. Maintain stable business. Keep staff. Keep Calm and Carry On.
  8. Network more in the real world - at least one meeting a week.
  9. Take one day off a week to do other stuff.
  10. Stop making resolutions I cannot maintain - except the banjo, ukele and guitar.
Oh, and get out of bed at 6.30 every morning and eat breakfast. I hate breakfast.