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Events update

January 19, 2009 · No Comments

A few quick events related updates today while I have a spare 10 minutes :)

Well I survived Bettr and all in all it went pretty well I think.  There were a few dodgy patches and my Chief Exec managed to to get the back up of the BBC folks pretty much immediately with an ill judged dig at the Beeb but it certainly got everyone contributing straight away which was helpful :)   A few veterans of Bathcamp made the trip from various bits of the UK for which I was grateful as it was nice to have some familiar faces around.  Met some really nice, interesting people and despite the fact it gave me even more grey hair I think I’d like to try and run another unconference at some point with a similar theme but on a larger scale - next time though I’ll get some more help!

bathcamplogo

Speaking of Bathcamp, Mike has started organising Bathcamp meetups and the first one is coming up soon (Feb 4th as it happens!) Should be a fun event though I won’t be attending this one but I’m sure to be around in the future.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere Bathcamp was a highlight of 2008 so I’m glad its carrying on in some kind of format.twestival-logo21

Another upcoming event thats get a big following on Twitter is the Bristol Twestival which will take place on the 12th Feb.  The most amazing thing out all the Twestivals (they are taking place all over the world!) is just how fast they came together due to the power of Twitter.

Last, but not least, the developers at Beanbag have started running a Ruby on Rails meetup and while it is my idea of hell I thought I would give it a little plug.

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One Laptop Per Child Project Struggling

January 9, 2009 · 1 Comment

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) was (is) a noble project originally based at MIT that aimed to create a cheap, durable laptop that could be used by children and educators in developing countries.  Despite these admirable goals the project has been dogged by issues almost since day one and the founder Nicholas Negroponte has seemingly done little but rub people up the wrong way in recent times.  Compromises to the original vision (moving from an open source operating system to Windows for instance), falling out with hardware suppliers like Intel and an inability to produce the laptop at the price originally strived for (it was often referred to as the $100 laptop in early days of the project) have contributed to the project losing some of its supporters.  The rise of cheap, commercially produced netbooks (which seem to have been somewhat inspired by OLPC) have also very much changed the environment worldwide.

2157804173_007afb1e3bOLPC now have responded to these issues and the current worldwide financial problems by reducing its staff by 50% and slashing wages for the remaining workforce.  This seems like a blow from which OLPC in its current form will be unable to recover from.  The organisation was struggling to achieve its targets with a full staff so how it expects to manage with half as many people who are likely to be unmotivated after a painful paycut is anyones guess.

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US Airforce Blog Flowchart - everyone should have one!

January 7, 2009 · 3 Comments

Now this is a bit out of date now as I meant to blog about this a week or so again when I saw it a week or so ago but I think its interesting and important enough to quickly mention - if only as a reminder to myself in the future.  This is exactly the sort of thing I wish I’d had the brains to come up with when I was at JISC (and later HEFCE) trying to convince people of the worth of engaging in the online conversations about them.  As it happens JISC have ended up doing pretty well without me but HEFCE could still do with dipping their toes into a more active participation with their online audience.

The flowchart isn’t perfect but its bloody good and certainly gives people a quick primer of how they should deal with social media and where and when they should act themselves or pass it on.  Anyway take a look - I think its a really useful resource. (I originally found out about this from someone on Twitter who I am afraid I have forgotten who - however the first blog I read about it on was http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/12/31/diagram-how-the-air-force-response-to-blogs/)

airforce

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Looking back(pass)

January 2, 2009 · No Comments

So here we are - day 2 of 2009 (I had itended to write this yesterday but I suffered from New Years Dayitis)

2008 was a bit of a weird year for me professionally - I learned alot, met some great people and had some really great experiences but could do with 2009 being a little less stressful if I’m honest.  Leaving the JISC nest back in April after a frustrating secondment at HEFCE was a big step - and one that I think was probably a little hasty looking back(!) and not following through on the opportunity to work at Ofcom in their Media Literacy team is a real regret but I just couldn’t find a way to make that work logistically at the time.

I learnt some important lessons - not least the fact that I have no clue how to pitch for work and left to my own devices I am a lazy b’stard!  The concept of freelancing had always appealed but at least I have got that out of my system now (though I have a much clearer idea of how I’d do it if I was ever in that position again).

Working on the JISC Conference in 2008 was a real high point - I had very specific role helping out with all the ‘amplified conference’ elements at the event - including Crowdvine, a Twitter backchannel, Flickr, blogging and keeping an eye on Hectors UStream video work.  I really enjoyed it and think it added something to a well established and well run conference.

I also enjoyed overseeing the blog and podcast aspects of the HEFCE Annual Conference - this was a much smaller scale activity but much higher profile and a big step for HEFCE.  Alot of senior HEFCE staff were very supportive and I hope it continues in the future.

I guess one of the biggest things that happened this year was falling into my role at Beanbag.  Initially I signed on for a couple of months to do some blogging and just give a different perspective on things but my role has evolved into something much closer to that of a Product Manager with oversight over the direction of development of our applications and I’m still there six months later.  At times its been a steep learning curve for me but its been a real experience - especially working so closely with the developers and using the Scrum Agile methodology to run our projects.  I still find some of the more..commercial elements a struggle - all of my years working in the public sector means I don’t really have a head for business - something I am really trying to work on.

This blog has ticked along nicely as well - it kicked off in February to document my trip to FOWA in Miami (which despite my lack of love for Miami was still a brilliant trip) and since then I’ve spewed out 54 posts which is a decent return given my previously mentioned laziness :)   The blog has certainly helped me build a reputation in my little corner of the web - particular around some of the events 2.0 and learning 2.0 stuff - and has helped me make contacts all over the place.

Bathcamp was a big event this year as well - I met alot of great people and really enjoyed the day.  Its also partially inspired me to run my own unconference, Bettr, in January and that has been another great experience so far.

All-in-all it was a unsettled but exciting year and hopefully 2009 will be even more exciting but with a little less of the stress - I have more than enough grey hair as it is!

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Big up Bettr

November 25, 2008 · No Comments

The lovely people at DEMOS (thanks to Mr Millers connections thereabouts) have agreed to host Bettr at their lovely offices near London Bridge on the 14th January.

To sign up for the event please go to http://bettr.eventbrite.com/ and there are also the obligatory Upcoming and Facebook listings all of which I will try and keep up to date.

I also thought we could use Google Moderator for people to suggest and vote on sessions in advance of the event - I think the individual sessions will be 30 minutes each and there will be a minimum of eight sessions - that should allow plenty of time for discussion, networking and coffee drinking - the real reasons that people attend events!

While its no Glastonbury its a big of a hot ticket.  Since I sent out the first tweet to say Bettr was a go and followed that up with a few emails and we have more than 30 people already signed up.

So far we have people have signed up from Wordia, Twidox, Notely, GroupSpaces, OU SocialLearn, SchoolTogetherNow, Talis, Futurelab and the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills as well as a few independent consultants and university staff (plus of course School of Everything and Beanbag Learning).

Its a great start and thanks to everyone who has signed up so far.

http://bettr.org

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