#smc_mcr 3 and john cooper clarke

wallpaper at the northern

Never noticed it before but The Northern actually has John Cooper Clarke wallpaper, how cool is that?

#smc_mcr #3

After missing the train (which was 5 minutes early), I arrived at #smc_mcr with enough time (6.30pm) to secure some refreshments and – armed with a fully charged laptop – settled down for the evening.  After brief introductions and some amusing directions about Twitter tags for each session, I made for Tim Difford‘s session:  Are Social Media tools the key to unlocking truly productive multi-location projects?  Interestingly, I learnt nearly as much from Tim’s laid back, accomodating presentation style about collaboration as I did from the content.  Well, I say presentation but facilitation would be more appropriate as Tim led through a few ideas and encouraged wider group participation.  Tim spoke of the use of Twitter as an aid to agile project management,  allowing instant global communication, increasing effectiveness and collaboration between teams and individuals.  This sparked off a discussion amongst the ‘audience’ about some of the downsides to using Twitter: privacy, data security, service availability etc.   A resolution that businesses need to host such tools on their networks provoked the remark: “When social media tools are adopted by business, they are no longer social.”  While this may be true in a wider sense, I tend to think that the social properties of the tool remain intact due to its nature to provide and expose connections that would not otherwise exist.

#smc_mcr #4

I arrived a few minutes late to Sam Easterby-Smith‘s Mashup Market and stood at the back for 5 minutes.  Unable to hear, I  blundered my way through to a spare seat under the big screen next to Ian Pattinson, writer of the Manchester Evening News cycle blog: On two wheels.  Sam’s point about using data – not just for mashups, but to make it more accessible – led to a general discussion about the reluctance of businesses to make the data easily obtainable.  The reasons for this included culture, lack of awareness, and fact that information is power, and I tweeted:

“orgs not providing information in formats that can be exported for mashups because they want to own and control your web journey”

One of the participants,who needed to mash up information from drug companies for his business, visited drug company websites to find the relevant product information and prices.  Because of a refusal to provide the data in portable formats such as xml rss, all of this information had to be screen scraped .  The discussion about which was the best screen scraping tool to use (Hpricot was mentioned), and a chat with Sam, left me in no doubt that the provision of portable data is as much an issue in the private sector as it is in the public sector.

shock and awe v hearts and minds – twitter and wikis

I have tried 2 methods of introducing new ideas into my workplace with 2 different results.  I started using Twitter as an R&D excersise after being introduced to it by Euan Macintosh at the Socitm conference: Web2.0 what it is and why it Matters. It didn’t take long to build up a good network of social media web contacts who are only too willing to share information, advise and collaborate.  I began to make the team aware of my use of this network by sharing some of the experiences and benefits I was having.  Over the past few months there has been a steady stream of people engaging me in conversations about the nature of Twitter and how it can be used.  Twitter is a funny beast that only reveals its benefits through engagement.  A brief demo, involving the ever willing and helpful folk in my network, together with the excellent commoncraft video was sufficient to get people interested and confident enough to give it a try.  

I am really pleased that 8 people in my team and a couple in other teams are now experimenting with Twitter, some making fantastic contributions. While in the end it may not prove to be the correct tool for us, I am very happy to have influenced some spirit of experimentation and change within the team after my brief failure with the introduction of the wiki.

The wiki was my shock and awe tactic.  When trying to introduce change, arriving at a team meeting, unnanounced, with a) a laptop and b) a wiki is not the way to do it.  I have written about this adventure in a previous blog so will not go into detail here.  I will continue with the wiki in a more subtle way as I did with Twitter as I think it is a useful tool from which the organisation will benefit greatly when properly introduced to the benefits.



  1. […] of the Manchester Evening News – has a post about last week’s #smc_mcr in which they quote my post on the event. Even though I’m no writer, I’m quite pleased about that, it must be an ego thing. As […]

  2. Steven

    Good post… a neat summation of the solid event… sorry for the mahoosive delay on commenting… life intervened in a somewhat unpredictable way. I think a Huddersfield Town commitment will prevent my attendance at the next SMC, which is a shame, but I hope to catch up with you at the next one… or maybe on a train 😉


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