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“You think too much”

Fig.1. All that I need

This statement would be less damning if I hadn’t heard it before – indirectly as a child – directly as an adult.

It’s as if my mind fires too fast – ideas chase each other for expression, tumble over and one another.

To draw, to see, to understand and design, to write fiction and share it …

For too long I’ve climbed on a bus that takes me past all of this. I watch it out of the window. From time to time I disembark, where I can.

All I want is to stop.

Get off

and join in.


Here’s your 2013 reading list – one a week for the year.


The Agency Review

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A test for anyone who is about to speak in public is when the technology fails – do they know their stuff?

Themes trend, this week it is ‘curation’ which is why I drove 168 miles to a get–together of e–learning like minds in Bath.

Some contrast to the webinar I sat through the same morning and somewhat counter culture in the era of doing everything remotely. Social media far from killing off socialising, it encourages face–to–face social interaction.

It is one thing to read about curation, even to hear disjointed voices behind a presentation online or share thoughts in messages and quite another to follow a presentation face–to–face, to hear and see the discussion, to relate to the speaker and how they come over. Before, in breaks and afterwards the variety of thoughts, ideas and views is like tipping stuff into the compost bin of my brain – dribs and drabs work for me, even in a small group of people in preference sometimes to the sell–out and packed events hosted by other groups around the country.

A test for anyone who is about to speak is when the technology fails.

If they believe in their subject and know their stuff they are better off without a screen of text, diagrams or examples to play with on the Internet – they do that online. Without any hesitation both speakers presented ‘raw’ – reflecting on how well this works I wonder if a genre of presentations where speakers go without these visual props and prompts should be encouraged. What you are left with, and all you need, is someone who has some ideas, some experiences and suggestions and a passion for what they do.

Writers, thinkers and bloggers are constantly taking common terms, the meanings of which we feel we understand, and giving them fresh, broader or nuanced meanings.

My understanding of curation is embedded in museums – I overheard the curator of the current superhuman exhibition at the Wellcome Foundation Museum being interviewed by Aleks Krotovski on Tuesday. When I took a picture using my iPad I was approached and politely told that the ‘curator’ asked that people did not take pictures – curator as stage manager and executive producer of a collection of themed objects. The term ‘object’ itself embracing stills, artefacts, video clips and activities. You curate stuff in a space and set parameters so that an audience of visitors can get their head around what, in effect, has come the curator’s mind.

In the bizarre ways that these things happen I recall, age six at most, creating a fossil museum with ammonites found in the low rocky cliffs of Beadnell, Northumberland.

I was a curator, I brought together a themed collection of rocks, set them out in a room and invited people in – no doubt in the back of my mind imagining the glass cabinets and displays in the Hancock Museum, Newcastle.

Neil McGregor of the British Museum with his 100 objects is a curator.

And we now have, from the Quite Interesting team the radio show ‘The Museum of the curious’ and its host Jimmy Carr.

 ‘Curation’ for me already means many things.

I search that externalised part of my own mind, an extensive blog 13 years in the writing, for what I’ve said or StumbleUpon before regarding ‘curation’ and find three entries, one prompted by my intention to attend this session and feeding off a visit to the De le Warr and the other two excerpts from Martin Weller‘s book ‘The Digital Scholar’.

China-Britain Business Council – opportunities today

China Britain Business Council – Business Development Event – Free for IVCA Members (£40 for non-members)

The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) would like IVCA Members to join us THIS EVENING for the Wuxi City Creative, Cultural, Media & Digital Event.

This is an excellent opportunity for you to meet key government officials in the creative and media industry. Wuxi City, and the surrounding area is home to many major players in the creative and media industry in China. Further to this there may be some good contacts made for you and the International Visual Communications Association which can hopefully lead to excellent business opportunities in the future.

The event is taking place in the  London Film Museum and will start at 4.00pm and finish at 7:30pm.

We would be grateful if you could attend, or even pass this information on to anybody in your company who would be interested in attending. Our delegation from Wuxi has specifically asked for members in the creative industry or people who are just have a general interest. It would be a pleasure to host the IVCA at this high-profile event.

For more information about the event please click here. Also, please give me a call if you wish to hear more about the event and if you would like to register.

Kind Regards,

Pravin Wadhwani
CBBC Events Team

China-Britain Business Council
Tel: +44 (0)207 802 2006
Email: pravin.wadhwani@cbbc.org

Brighton Fuse (Part 2)

Free Clipart Images

Fascinating to attend the Miltos Petridis presentation hosted by Wired Sussex at the Skiff last night and in separate conversations to hear about Brighton Fuse.

On the one hand as a postgraduate student (Masters in Open & Distance Education: MAODE with the OU and the OU MBA module B822  ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’) I am fascinated in how collaboration works (Engestrom’s Activity Theory is the model I like to use to illustrate how minds meld between people and teams to solve problems). As a web agency person (coming to Brighton in 2000 to join Worth Media) I understand the employer position too, indeed the agency I worked for blossomed from 9 to 50+ at this time.

With so may micro-companies though, is Brighton more like a cluster of artisans rather than the South Coast Silicon Valley? With Google and others conveniently located at Victoria is Brighton not a suburb of London? Indeed, corporate video production (my background) often sees companies with a production base in the regions and a sales office in London (Speakeasy and Two Four Productions come to mind).

The contribution made to Brighton life by the University of Brighton and University of Sussex is considerable; students stay on to live and work.

Where are venture capital funded labs?

A year with the OU Business School has give me some insight into Tertiary Education and distant and applied learning, though the model I would also draw upon in relation to Brighton Fuse is the School of Communication Arts (SCA) which provides art directors, copywriters and designers into the advertising world. As they would/will do when employed people are teamed up.

They work towards a job, via placements and real creative briefs (which they may receive payment for if developed).

A qualification is now offered, though I wondered if this is a mistake and a distraction? What counts is how the learning is applied. One of the best ways to learn is vicariously, from the periphery, as an apprentice or trainee ‘being there’. How can this be brought into the mix? Learning on the job? As an apprentice as they do in Germany? That working to pass exams and to meet academic assessment criteria can be very different to working on and completing a commercial project. Instead of a marked assignment might money made or saved be the measure?

At the SCA mentors come in from industry, including many of the heavy weights from the likes of BBH and Saatchi.

It is a hybrid studio, part of the working world but distinct from it. There is talk though of moving their base from Vauxhall to Soho next year so that industry people can simply ‘drop in’. There is no use of webcasting which is a lost opportunity and common place in industry both from the desk and from boardrooms.

For electronic arts, I wonder if this team of two ought to be a team of three, that a visualiser working with a copywriter needs a programmer in order to develop ideas with this ‘third dimension’.

The analogy I would use is a band that requires a drummer, bass player and lead guitar/singer.

During the course of the evening having spoken to several people from Brighton University I realised there is a fourth requirement: the entrepreneur i.e. the band’s manager?

This is based on the view that ideas come to fruition through commercial exploitation by an entrepreneur (in may experience someone who sells well, who understands that a fresh idea will turn heads and open doors). The mindset of the innovator and the entrepreneur are very different too.

All in all, this calls for collaboration, team working, acknowledgement of gaps in our own knowledge that our only filled not by gravitating forever to like-minds, but to different minds with complementary skills. A micro-business of one is surely not a business at all. Might 3 be a minimum?

In this respect both The Skiff and The Works sound like valuable places to mix and through proximity and serendipity make things happen.

Mentoring students is two way, not exploitative, but a way to formulate and refresh thinking. Academics benefit from the interaction with their students while those in business benefit from a combination of being challenged and perhaps being reminded of how playful business can be.

Brighton Fuse (Part 1)


Event at the Skiff 29th March 2012 hosted by Wired Sussex introducing the New Head of School at Computing, Mathematics & Engineering at Brighton University

 Introduced by Phil Jones from Wired Sussex.

Value of Brighton and Sussex Universities to the sector

Wired Sussex (the host) supports the Skiff which is now used by 100 freelancers. (Another freelancer venue is ‘The  Works’)

Miltosh Petridis, New Head of School, Computing, Maths & Engineering

 Brighton University. From University of Greenwich. Interested in Artificial Intelligence. i.e. ‘machines doing clever things’ with very large amounts of data. For example, tracking stuff coming in and out of warehouses and using algorithms to identify patterns in email conversations and social media threads. Fascinating conversation on social media and the algorithms used to moderate or sift conversations, whether you are GCHQ or The FT.

‘Most of the time, rather than innovation, we just remember and do what we did before so a machine can be taught how to do the search to make sure something is done in an innovative way’.

Finding real problems from companies

e.g. Experience of finding a different way to recast wheels was used to fix a software problem.

School of Engineering, Mathematics, digital media and computing brought together as the boundaries blur this is appropriate. Finding ways for the hardware and software to work together. New course in mobile computer engineering. Creating multidisciplinary teams.

(See hand out or Brighton university website)

155 members of staff

1500 students.

£9.5m  brought in to the university and £2m to the department.

29 externally funded projects.

+CPD income £140k that we want to grow.

Helping people in industry to push the boundaries.

  • Want more direct interaction with companies.
  • Want to expand into digital media and product design.
  • Needs to move with the times and move with Brighton.

Universities tend to thrive in times of recession.

  • Our graduates will be those who in due course bring wealth creation.
  • A lot of our alumni are staying in the area.
  • In three years’ time creating very employable graduates who are wanted by Brighton.
  • A degree is for life.
  • Brighton Digital from Wired Sussex research is made up of very many micro-companies.


  • Collaborative microsystem.
  • Lots of freelancers.
  • Difficult to find the
  • Skills in niche areas.


  • Want more ‘fine-grained collisions’, sandwich courses and internships for example.
  • E.g. sandwich course put one speaker into Virgin at Crawley.
  • Employ graduates through the SIT programme at Wired Sussex.


  • Freelance because they have the experience or because they can’t get work?
  • Want freelancers to have experience having worked in industry.
  • Understand what works already like WordPress etc.: being able to apply themselves to a project
  • (Self–reliance and common sense).


  • ex Disney, ex Black Rock studio, had 60 people cherry pick from the best
  • Internationally. Worked with uni to go in for certain refresher courses. No
  • Freelancer mode, so get them in, train them up and keep them. Now @GoBo, ex Black Rock, to build a studio around graduate talent.
  • E.g. Disney and entertainment.
  • So TV and film onto same interactive platforms. May take the very best from a games course. Otherwise maths.
  • Attracted to the continental academy.

‘What we are calling clouds a few years ago used to be mainframes’. Miltos Petredis

For £9,000 the graduate with a 1st as well as the one with a 2nd hopes to get a job from it. Up the required grades from students coming in.

A deal with companies that they will have a job for a year or two from which they can grow.

Try telling a student to go on a sandwich course that they have to be a student for another year, yet they are more likely to get a 1st and a job. But they need to hear it from the horse’s mouth, from businesses and students.

Brighton Fuse with both universities


  • Many companies are a one man band with a brand.
  • A big sector of lots of small players.
  • Can they be offered small term projects?
  • Need for more practical knowledge, how to work collaboratively on open source for example.
  • With a music degree working in a small team.
  • Yahoo as a multiple set of five people units.
  • NB At Masters level you will reflect on it. For example through case studies.
  • People learn from mistakes.
  • A business learns by repeating what it gets right.
  • You learn by other people’s stories.
  • Apprenticeships.
  • Being mentored.
  • Creating a
  • Sense of accomplishment over a week.


  • From Design UB, industry to be able to say what it wants in Preston Barracks.
  • Our research is hidden.
  • Nothing on the website.
  • Lowsy at commercialising it. Vs clinging to IP, spending money on it and getting nowhere.
  • Physical co-location (staff and students)
  • Get research out
  • Commercialisation


  • Studio with creative … At Carnegie Melon
  • ITP in New York doing computer art

‘I’ve got hundreds of solutions but not enough problems’. Miltos Petredis

Getting more than you’d expect from WordPress.

An evening in the Lanes at the Skiff. 

This is Silicon Valley on the south coast of England. This was a Word Up.

Chris Harding from ‘More Than’ and memorial headstones insurance.

I’ve missed all of this, the casual, bright and open vibrancy of Brighton. Where else in on a Tuesday night do get beer, cake and good crack while talking shop?

Never in Milton Keynes.

Chris used a great analogy on bike riding with all kinds of sensors.

He monitors his performance when road racing to deal with the boredom and to understand what the training is doing for him. His joy is Mountain Bike riding.  Without analytics you don’t know a blog’s performance.

Set some KPIs before you start.

Yoast plugin

Clicktale – add in WordPress

Go squared

NB unique visitors

Dwell time now down to 5 seconds
Page impressions – eyes on a page
Bounce rate people leaving within 10 seconds

Keep key content above the fold to disclose as much as possible in the first 250 words.

Find out what people are saying

Reciprocal feedback
Fill yourself in slowly
Like at pub
Weave them in gently

Find niche for yourself

It is very much like a play
Hejaz a degree in theatre

Persona profiling

Real or people you have made up.

When you are writing a piece of content bare them in mind.

Translation packages for WordPress

How to avoid the stale

Recycle posts

Information arch

All in WordPress SEO pack

Use inbound writer

Re Resolving and Google

Your content is you currency

Use of video (Part Four)

What makes an elearning forum tick?

This is the crux of social learning for me, what John Seely Brown calls ‘learning at the periphery’ or Cox (2006) calls ‘vicarious’ learning and I have dubbed ‘learning through serendipity’. As a result of taking part you acquire knowledge, you develop your thinking and underststaning. It was no different for me learning French. The school way was hopeless, what I required was total immersion, which is what I got in my late teens turning up in France on an exchange, making friends and returning … then working a gap year as far from English speakers as possible. This is how I learn, many of us prefer this informal approach. Its something that corporate elearning companies and corporate learning departments have yet to tap into. Perhaps because it lacks measurement, that there appear to be no parameters.

There are many ways to get content noticed. All the traditional tricks of promotion are required here too. Email databases, events, trade promotions, press advertising and business cards; online is not a panacea, neither is it replacement technology. It is part of the world we live in, a choice, something else, that complements other ways of doing things.

The ‘long tail’ refers to the way content has a life before, during and after being posted. There is a story to tell in its creation and promotion; its release should factor in for a long shelf life, then there is this ‘after life’, how once posted content may then be picked up by others and developed into different, better and alternative things. Keep tabs on this and content online becomes more like street theatre, or talking from a soap box on Hyde Park Corner, it is an opportunity to engage with an audience.

I like to blog, use Linkedin and Twitter.

Better to be the master of some platforms than a jack of all trades.


Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

The mortality of ideas. ‘If the client still proves refractory’.

I’ve wanted to quote this for many years.

Winston Fletcher used this with images at an Advertising Association presentation at the CBI in October 1984.

When the client moans and sighs
Make his logo twice the size
If the client still proves refractory
Show a picture of the factory
Only in the gravest cases
Should you show the clients’ faces

Found in ‘Welcome to Optimism’ after several false starts finding the right search terms for Google.

This is another way to look at it:

I was a trainee Rep at JWT.

My merry dance around the world of advertising continues with occasional afternoons mentoring at the School of Communication Arts which I attended in 1987. I kept a daily diary at the time, most days a single sheet of A4 whether I felt like it or not. This was Tuesday 9th October 1984. It was a fortnightly or weekly IPA meeting that attracted graduate account managers from across the London advertising agencies. The diary entry reminds me who I was with, the ads we looked at, where I was and what I got up to. Plenty in fact to bring it all back in considerable detail.

The other quote or image I am looking for was a set of dimming light bulbs to illustrate the ‘Mortality of ideas’ something that threatens and crushes many a great project.

The commercially branded BA, certificate, diploma or MBA

Dr. Z.A.Pelczynski takes a philosophy tutorial, Pembroke College, 1960s.

The brand is the first and trusted touch point for the learner. Whether they want to be entertained or acquire learning that can be applied to their career or job seeking is a moot point.

Does an Oxbridge education cease to be one without the college and tutorial focus?

Would it be counterintuitive for the OU to offer campus based studying?

The School of Communication Arts is industry supported and may even be a Bartle Bogle Hegarty academy; I did this in 1987. There is no qualification as the end game is employment. A piece of paper demonstrates nothing other than ‘staying the course’, that you can deliver via the process and intellectualise it.

In 2001 I was involved with FT Knowledge in their first efforts to produce an online MBA: the brand may run to this yet, indeed as digital takes over from print and they employ a Forum Manager, informal social learning occurs by default. I would study animation through Pixar, civil engineering through ABB, Health Care Management through BUPA, logistics with UGC, computing with Microsoft, marketing with P&G, and as you have mentioned, Journalism with the BBC, so how about investment banking with Goldman Sachs and commercial law with Herbert Smith (which of course they already do in-house with substantial cohorts). If the author Steven Pressfield offered an online creative writing course I’d take it, the goal not a qualification but a book published.

Could you even focus the learning on a person rather than the brand? The Max Clifford School of PR, the Cherie Booth, or come to think of it, Tony Blair School of Law?

Were not the first universities in Bologna, Paris, Oxford and Cambridge developed around individual ‘educators’ who of necessity became associated with hostelries and libraries?

Seriously though, would a Virgin MBA sell with Richard Branson as self-appointed Dean?

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