Ok.I’ve sorted my socks, cleaned the flat, put more laundry on and phoned my Mum. I don’t have many other excuses so it must be time to get this down on screen.
Amplified 09 – February – Some notes.
I got to Tiger Tiger near Piccadilly early. I’m not particularly sure why – must be the urge to recce places. Nick (@loudmouthman) is headed our way – bringing wifi. Toby (@sleepydog) is sorting out people and white boards – he has the air of someone wringing their hands but he’s not actually doing so. Mike (@sizemore) has set up equipment and as usual seems calm. Jo Jacobs is her usual power house of control and a good person to look too – especially as I am at a spare end.
I sit for a moment and take stock. Soon, the mezzanine of this bar will be filled with people, some want to listen, some want to talk and most of us will make new connections that will either help us professionally, cement friendships or change the way we think about our lives on-line.
The theme of Amped is to further conversations, identify ideas and see where we can take them. Of course new people come to each event and some were at the last one, so it’ll be a combination of getting into the flow, catching up and pushing forward.
Around me the bar staff are doing their day work, burly barmen in black carry boxes of beer up and down stairs. Nearby I hear the tinkle of Windows followed by the shoop of Skype starting up. We’re hoping to be wired to the web and streaming conversations for people who cannot be here. But with so many bloggers in the room, I suspect it’s not an issue if we end up talking and writing later.
Nick arrives and immediately starts tunnelling around the the place armed with cables and boxes to bring us on-line. It doesn’t seem easy and there are some jarring moments between him and the staff. It’s time for some lunch before kick off – naturally my tuna melt arrives at about the same time as forty people and I’m sitting near the door armed with name stickers and Sharpies and a list. That makes me door-bitch for a while, but that’s OK. I get to see how many and who and I’m nosey like that.
Lots of people file in, looking about for those they know or asking where things happen. An unconference can be pretty confusing it seems. Many people want to be told where and how to do things others are content in milling about. “Unstructured structure” can be tricky but it makes a really good way for people to relax and talk.
I’m still at the door as Toby leads the crowd together for some ground rules. People are still trickling in. I skip the first round of conversations to eat my lunch and make more notes. Given I can barely read my handwriting at the best of times, I wonder what they will be worth when it comes to write up, but, y’know….
There are many topics on the agenda and a lot of people. Various factions split up into larger and smaller groups. So I take my camera for a walk around and an earwig. The future appears broadly though government, books, music, wimax, churches, networking and identity. It’s fascinating and I see people smile and nod, gesture, listen and participate.
We get a break and people file to the bar, making introductions, finishing conversations and starting new ones. I bump into Steve (@Solobasssteve) and Lo (@lobelia) and we start to chat and catchup. We’re dicing around the ideas of news and music – our separate fields. It’s time for a new session and we start our own.
There’s something nice about a big open conversation. We sit at a booth and Ben (@Ihatemornings) and Xander (@quitexander) join us. There are others and I’m crap with names – but safe to say it was a varied mix of creative, corporate, musical, media and tech. One of my favourite flavours.
It’s sort of predictable and surprising that all of these people come together with different disciplines and stumble over the same problems. We hash over issues of trust – Do you trust mainstream media and corporate brands on-line? Do you trust bloggers if you want to upload something from them? Do you trust things that are free? Will you take them if they are not so simple to acquire as that that is paid for? Are you confident using your mobile phone as a multi skilling tool?
There’s a lot of trust on the table – or not depending on which area we are mashing up.
Eventually the conversation comes to a natural stall. I’ve heard a lot of points of view – and due to my appalling habit of long hand note taking, I almost missed making one or two of my own…But it’s nice to have adults around the table and listen to others – otherwise, how the hell would I learn anything?
The afternoon spreads out a little, there are odd short sessions and I catch up with more people I know. Then I crash a chat to meet someone else who works not a million miles away from my desk, he has interesting views on open source data and we talk over work and new issues for presentation and collection for documentaries and news. I hope to hassle him more and certainly look forward to seeing the shape his work will take.
By the evening people are a bit fried. There are so many ideas and so many angles to think about. We are gathered to applaud those who put it all together and there’s a lot of grinning and tweeting going on. There’s also some food to be had locally and more silly banter that is way off agenda.
That’s a sweeping observation for you at least. Most people seemed to be pleased or inspired, some were still shaking their heads in disagreement, I only saw one person leave because, “Y’know, there’s no wifi…” I am guessing that one is not familiar with how talking face to face can really be useful. I enjoyed it – though this time I was dipping in for flavour rather than calling a straw poll or discussing my work. Which certainly made things more relaxed.
There’s more to add – but this is just one document. I also have a few things to bring up in bullet points, sharper areas for discussion or reminders for me to think about. But if you’re not bored now, you will be if I don’t stop. Another Amped chapter – soon.