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Cutting Room Experiment: the aftermath @ #smc_mcr

cuttingroom_smc

I managed to make my second appearance at #smc_mcr earlier this month.  In an exciting departure from the norm, the event was held at the BBC on Oxford Road and many thanks to all the organisers for making it happen and run so smoothly.  These meet-ups are always very open and welcoming; fashioned from a happy blend of creative wannabees, digital sages and the odd normal earthdweller snuffling up the crumbs.  (I am  a paid-up member of the first category).  This time we had some home-made cakes (awesome apparently), Teletext bingo and a subsidised bar.  Who could ask for more.

From the #smc_mcr wiki: “The Social Media Cafe is a place for ALL people interested in social media to gather, get acquainted, and to plot, scheme, and share.. emphasis on open and interesting conversation!”.

Given the Network’s copious skillsets, some great tweets and blog posts are always on offer if you are not able to get down on the night and you want to catch-up with the fun.  Check out Tim Difford’s extensive coverage on One Greener Day for more on this last meet-up.  I am going to concentrate on giving some feedback on the Cahoona and Ear to the Ground session which dealt with the groundbreaking “Cutting Room Experiment” which took place on 20th June in Ancoats.  To use their own words they were aiming to put on “the biggest user-generated event in the world” aiming to publicise the opening of a newly designed square in New East Manchester called The Cutting Room.

First off, I was a little torn on the night as I also fancied the Twitter talk (being a relative newbie into Twitterworld) and the fact that the session was delivered by an artist and writer (@thecharmquark) gave added interest.

In the end, I opted for the Cahoona fellas as I had heard a little of the experiment and wanted to find out how it all panned out.  Plus I’ve always found a good de-brief is often a worthwhile use of half an hour.

The session began with details of the Cutting Room Experiment’s inception and aims, then the plan of attack was mapped out, to hopefully ensure the experiment’s success.   It was clearly demonstrated that key online tools were utilised with creativity and skill, the resulting spread of publicity and visitors to the website, testament to the guys picking a winning strategy and social media playing a starring role.

However, things did seem to fall down a bit on the day of the experiment, 20th June 2009.  Though the target of 400 people attending was achieved (though the photo’s shown during the session didn’t illustrate that very well) the vibe was,  I think, that a larger audience was expected.

© TST 2004. http://www.space-hoppers.co.uk

© TST 2004. http://www.space-hoppers.co.uk

One can only conclude that different strategies are required to engineer different responses to any campaign.   The hardest deliver of all is real people.  Ones who wear out their own shoe leather, co-ordinate their day and put themselves out to attend an event.  The poor weather on the day may explain some of the problem ; sadly a common issue for outdoor promoters living in a rain shadow.  I guess that the harsh truth is that the user-generated ideas chosen were simply not a big enough pull.  Despite a fun-looking Spacehopper race and Manchester Science and Industry setting up Alka Seltzer rockets.

Sometimes, if enough buzz is created, then people will make an effort as they don’t want to miss out on an exclusive and potentially trendsetting event (moreso if something is free).   Maybe a band plays a secret hometown gig,  celebrated writer reads from a latest novel or respected thinker delivers a talk on an engaging subject.  The aim is to make those at the event feel they are lucky and are attending something with real pull.

I guess the Cutting Room Experiment showed that great publicity and user-generated ideas are not quite enough when the aim is to deliver a big audience on a wet Saturday in Ancoats.  Once the event date was drawing closer I wonder whether even more time and effort should have been concentrated on targetting the local population and reaching them using the more traditional routes?  Maybe the public still want a bit of old-fashioned entertainment once the avatar has been allowed the day off.  A bit of bribery might help too …. 50 free spacehoppers anyone?

Click through to Technical Fault’s blog where you will find a link to the whole #smc_mcr Cutting Room Experiment session, his own on-the-button thoughts, plus an excellent critique of the night.

LATE ADDITION.  Link to @MartinSFP ‘s freshly uploaded video of the Teletext Bingo session.

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Manchester peregrines return to the city, follow their progress live via webcam …

peregrine1

Sometimes it is hard to connect with nature when you are busy grinding away at the work coalface. However, the internet can prove a handy conduit to deliver a helping of nature live onto your desktop.

Using the BBC Manchester Big Screen website over the past few weeks I’ve been checking in with the Manchester peregrines who have their own webcam and nestbox perched high above the city.

It is a sign of the times, but if a high mountain cannot be found, then it seems a fairly tall building will act as a decent alternative for the peregrine falcon, one of our most noble birds of prey. 2009 is the third year this pair of peregrines have returned to Manchester to rear their family and once again it seems they are doing a grand job. Four chicks successfully hatched at the end of April and over the weeks I have watched them evolve from fluffy white balls to beautiful strong young hawks.

I had a minor panic on 20th May when the whole nest area was completely empty, but thankfully an explanation was posted up onto the BBC peregrine diary site explaining that the birds had simply gone on a walkabout! I think this illustrates the fact that the chicks are now itching to fly the nest and may fledge any day now. It has been really wonderful watching the progress of the chicks and heart-warming to see them being looked after so well by the adult birds, despite some very damp weather in the early days.

The young have been ringed by the RSPB, so hopefully we can see how far they roam to find their own partners and new territory. So, if you are out and about enjoying the sun in Manchester city centre this weekend, look up in the sky and tune your ears in for any unusual shrieks and whistles, as it could be the youngsters attempting their first airborn cruise. I believe the RSPB has a telescope set up outside the Triangle at weekends allowing a terrific view of the adult birds who are often found perched on the ‘A’ of the Arndale sign.

the chicks on walkabout ...

the chicks on walkabout ...

Other good live webcams I have found are;
a goshawk family in the New Forest (complete with live sound)

goshawks_newforest

and the Loch Garten Ospreys, an absolutely stunning location right ontop of a swaying tree!

ospreys_lochgarten

Both of these nests have chicks and should certainly help top up the battery til the next episode of Springwatch.

UPDATE. On the Manchester peregrine’s. The first chick fledged on Tuesday 2nd June and a second the day after, two are still on the nest today (Saturday 6th June) and it is pouring with rain so maybe they prefer to stay in the relative dry on their ledge?

• A favoured spot for the newly fledged two is posing on the Manchester Big Wheel … what show-offs! :-)•

• There are some fantastic photo’s of the Manchester birds and chicks on the BBC website taken by © Adrian Dancy.

UPDATE. June 2010. New blog post, why the webcam isn’t working and where the birds have nested in 2010.

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Patrick Blanc to be featured on a Gardeners World Special this week ….

gardenersworld

from the BBC website:

Last year Joe Swift described how back gardens are being sold for development, reducing the amount of green space that oxygenates our cities and soothes our troubled souls. But instead of beating his chest and saying how terrible this is, he heads off to discover how to grow gardens where land is scare. In France, he visits the Parisian botanist Patrick Blanc’s famous hanging gardens, which use an ingenious irrigation system to grow plants on vertical walls. In the UK, he meets one man who has cultivated a jungle on his balcony, and another who has a garden of succulents growing on the dashboard of his van. He also meets Nigel Dunnett from Sheffield University, who is an expert on green roofs – a way of turning the humble house roof into a demi-paradise; an industry that is booming.

This Special Gardeners World show will be broadcast this coming Friday, March 20th 2009 on BBC Two @ 8pm, definitely one not to miss!

For more information on Patrick Blanc and his amazing work with Vertical Gardens read my post from last year here.

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“b.TWEEN” event @ Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester. 19th/20th June 2008.

Things are getting a little frenzied as I prepare for the Opening Night of “The Chorlton Bench Project” this coming Friday, but I wanted to give some air to something called ‘b.TWEEN 08‘ a 2-day event which sounds like an interesting gathering of the great and the good @ MOSI, Manchester. With a leaning towards New Media, Advertising and Creative Technology, the sponsor’s are pretty high profile including Channel 4 and the BBC.

The website is worth a visit, the Interactive Gallery page gives the opportunity to view and vote on interactive new visual work, the winner will be shown @ MOSI during the event. You can also book onto a personal One-2-One Session with some of the speakers. Featuring representatives from amongst others; TwentyTwenty TV, Bebo and Fluorescent Media lots of talented specialists in areas such as branding, audience engagement, trends and digital strategy.

Despite all those sponsers, I am sad to say it ain’t free, it is quite expensive from £60 for a one-day student pass and £95 freelancers/micro company rate but could be worth it for the quality of speakers and networking/advice on offer. The website is free to browse though and many of the presentations will be available on YouTube after the event. Click here for some of the talks from “b.TWEEN 2007.”

UPDATE This event has now been and gone. If you wish to read a little about what went on then click over to “The Mancunian Way” were they blogged each day on the event. Also try the “Real Fresh TV” site for some really in-depth analysis by someone who was actually there AND took part in one of the sessions.

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“b.TWEEN” event @ Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester. 19th/20th June 2008.

Things are getting a little frenzied as I prepare for the Opening Night of “The Chorlton Bench Project” this coming Friday, but I wanted to give some air to something called ‘b.TWEEN 08‘ a 2-day event which sounds like an interesting gathering of the great and the good @ MOSI, Manchester. With a leaning towards New Media, Advertising and Creative Technology, the sponsor’s are pretty high profile including Channel 4 and the BBC.

The website is worth a visit, the Interactive Gallery page gives the opportunity to view and vote on interactive new visual work, the winner will be shown @ MOSI during the event. You can also book onto a personal One-2-One Session with some of the speakers. Featuring representatives from amongst others; TwentyTwenty TV, Bebo and Fluorescent Media lots of talented specialists in areas such as branding, audience engagement, trends and digital strategy.

Despite all those sponsers, I am sad to say it ain’t free, it is quite expensive from £60 for a one-day student pass and £95 freelancers/micro company rate but could be worth it for the quality of speakers and networking/advice on offer. The website is free to browse though and many of the presentations will be available on YouTube after the event. Click here for some of the talks from “b.TWEEN 2007.”

UPDATE This event has now been and gone. If you wish to read a little about what went on then click over to “The Mancunian Way” were they blogged each day on the event. Also try the “Real Fresh TV” site for some really in-depth analysis by someone who was actually there AND took part in one of the sessions.

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