Unplugging themselves from their blueteeth and tearing themselves away from their tablets, a mix of Manchester’s digerati met tonight at a Northern Quarter watering-hole, for the latest in a long line of informal “social media” gatherings. Green campaigners who want to learn more about social media and its potential really should get along to these…
The “Social Media Cafes,” run by Julian Istar and Martin Bryant , have been going since late 2008. Formats vary slightly (sometimes panels [see our long report here], sometimes workshops), but the several I’ve been to have been friendly, informative and useful.
Tonight’s, at the Northern pub, was no exception. Six people (present reporter included) got five minutes to entertain/inform/inspire/provoke the small but perfectly formed gathering.
First up was a Cypriot-turned-Mancunian with an app that turns words into pictures on facebook (it’s a long story) and gets you more hits.
Next was some crazed Australian who tried to convince the audience that they wanted to help make Manchester greener, and to make activists more skilful and knowledgeable with all things social media. Someone helpfully pointed him towards “fix my street.”
Then Ian Forrester (a smc_mcr stalwart) gave his view on how to be interesting, which was, well, interesting. Not sure about talking to people in lifts though – they don’t have the chance to run away from you…
After a decent length mingling break (during which there was, in fact, lots of mingling) Martin Bryant then squeezed much of an hour’s worth of talking about various new mobile phone applications (or “apps”, as I believe the young people call them). There were too many to mention, but “social path” – “facebook for your real friends,” wavii.com (a news aggregator) and “taskrabbit.com” (microtask auction site – yet to come to the UK though) all looked fun.
A chap called Nathan, who’d been doing the filming, then interacted with a filmed version of himself while ruefully recounting how he had managed, in the aftermath of the Olympics opening ceremony, to get 100,000 people to sign up to follow… a fake Danny Boyle.
Last up was a chap called Adrian (sorry, didn’t catch his last name), plugging Manchester Metropolitan University’s scheme to get its undergrads doing work in the Real World. It’s called mmuagencylife.com. PR/Digital etc agencies take on (unpaid) students in various formats over the course of an academic year. He was at pains to say it was “HMRC legit – you won’t go to jail.” Sounds interesting, and MCFly will be trying to poach some free labour…
The wonderful Madlab has been hosting the Manchester-bit of a three day training event called “Young Wired State” for young coders. They apparently have a seven year old who is blowing everyone’s socks off..
The next event is on Tuesday 4th September. These events are fun, free, they’re interesting, and you might just meet someone who is willing and able to help you develop useful skills for your activism. Be there or be netsquared (which is happening at Madlab on Tuesday 25th).
Disclaimer: I applied for one of the speaking slots and got it. This may have given me an extra dose of the warm fuzzies towards the organisers.