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A look back at Social Media Week Glasgow – Interview with Tim Wright

A look back at Social Media Week Glasgow – Interview with Tim Wright

– Why did you put in the bid for Social Media Week to happen in Glasgow?
For a number of reasons. The format of SMW is a very interesting concept of how to put together a conference, it aims to change the way we run conferences in the future, it is essentially crowdsourced so the format of the event was appealing to us because it was addressing some of the changes and effects that come with the collaborative models that Social Media enables. But more important than that it was to have a platform that allowed us to broaden the debate on Social Media to touch on a variety of subjects, and take the story or take the message to a wider community that Social Media is having a very profound impact on society, economy, and culture. We felt that Glasgow – and by extension Scotland – has a strong digital community, it is very digitally engaged and it has a history of innovation in many fields which is becoming apparent in the way Social Media is being exploited in Scotland. It was time that Glasgow got recognition for that alongside these other international cities that were bidding at the same time, and it was also right and appropriate that Scotland got representation; the only other time this event has come to the UK it was in London, so we felt that it was time that North of the border got some recognition as well.

– So was Social Media Week Glasgow a success?

It’s not entirely for me to say whether it was a success, it‘s really for others to judge, because it is very much a shared event, it’s crowdsourced in the sense that the vast majority of the events that were put on through the course of the week were originated by people who came forward, wanting to put something under the umbrella of the larger event. It was a shared experience and I have my personal views on whether it was success, but fundamentally is whether the community feels that it was a success, and thus far almost exclusively all of the feedback has been very positive. We had more than 100 events taking place through the 5 days, in a lot of different locations and one of the aspects of the pitch that we made to crowdcentric in our bid to bring SMW to Glasgow was that we would offer tremendous diversity, and I think we achieved that by bringing events that were taking place addressing consumer products, fashion, media, healthcare, really really diverse range in terms of the subject matter, but also the format, the size and scale of these things, so some were quite small events, some were very large events with a significant number of people attending. So I think in all of those cases we achieved more than we actually set out to do, we were more diverse than we could have possibly wished for; we certainly delivered more events than we expected when we initially intended to put the event on and I think that the reception that we received and the amount of coverage that the events received has been almost exclusively positive. There’s always one or two but on the whole I think pretty much everybody says it has been an extremely good and useful experience. Doesn’t mean to say that we wouldn’t change it if we had the opportunity to do it again of course, we would, that’s how experience works, but on the generality I think it has been an almost exclusively positive experience. Certainly for us: on a personal level and from the twintangibles point of view I think we would view it as entirely positive, if challenging and demanding at times in actually making it happen, but it was a privilege to be involved.

– Any personal highlights for yourself?

There are a number of highlights for me. I particularly enjoyed Jeremy Gilley’s presentation to open the event. His was a very inspiring story and it’s something that it’s often forgotten about how you can use these communication platforms for really significant and world changing initiatives and he’s very much testament to that, so that was an inspiring piece to kick off the day. The Nokia vending machine was a lot of fun, I didn’t actually win anything out of it, but ten people got phones, it was a lot of fun seeing people queuing up with the expectation of getting a phone and getting a chocolate bar instead, but that was fun. I really enjoyed both the wine and the beer events for obvious reasons but also because I think they were quite innovative. The intention was to demonstrate how social media brings producers and consumers much closer together and it was quite technically challenging to make those things happen but they went very well so I enjoyed those a lot. The Government involvement and the Government endorsement of it by the attendance of ministers but also by them putting on their own event was a highlight, because it represented some recognition that what we do had attracted the attention and the endorsement of those bodies. But the undoubted highlight for me was Don Tapscott. I said when I introduced Don on the Friday as the closing keynote that when we initially thought about bidding to bring SMW to Glasgow who would we ideally have on the list of events through the week, who would be the speakers, and it was one of those brainstorming events where you can put anything you want no matter how absurd on the table; and at the top of my list was Don Tapscott and we just laughed at the idea that we could get him involved with SMW Glasgow. And by the wonders of social media and the connectivity and the willingness and collaborative spirit that goes with that we managed to get Don Tapscott to do the keynote address, and for me that was an enormous privilege to be able to introduce him but also to have the opportunity to put questions to him, it was fantastic, and couldn’t have wished for anymore so it’s certainly my highlight.

– Where is the future with SMW Glasgow?

We want to try and build on the legacy of this iteration of SMW that took place in Glasgow. The event itself as you will probably know is now taking place twice a year because the demand from cities to actually get involved with this is growing all the time, so there are no guarantees that even if we were to bid for it we would necessarily be able to bring it back to Glasgow. Therefore our immediate focus is to build on what took place through the week and I think that most of the organisations that took part in Social Media Week are also looking to do that. We know that the next iteration of SMW is taking place in February 2012 and London is one of the participating city for that. So we will probably try and run some follow-up events as part of that to highlight Glasgow participation this year. We also know that the organisation crowdcentric in NY were extremely pleased with what took place in Glasgow and the fact that outside of NY we had more events than any other cities participating in SMW ever, which is a tribute to Glasgow. I think they were very impressed by the way that developed and how the city engaged with it so I think that if we were to bid to make it happen again in Glasgow then we would have a sympathetic ear in NY. But our focus at the moment is to build on what we achieved this time round with a view to considering whether we wished to do it again in Glasgow, and if we do what format that would take.

– Would you like to round up with a closing statement?

We pulled it off. It was a pretty ambitious thing to take on. Some people thought we were a bit crazy, I think we thought we were a bit crazy when we were first going for it, but it has been a tremendous success; it has been a wonderful thing to be involved with, we met a lot of fabulous people, made friend with people that otherwise we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet. I think it has kicked off some terrific initiatives off the back of it, and I hope it’s giving a lift to the digital community in Glasgow and Scotland generally but also allow Glasgow and Scotland to get some international well deserved recognition so all in all very pleased, tick, v. good, gold star as far as I am concerned.

The interview was realised by Cameron King, @CameronKing, as part of the SMWGla podcast series available on iTunes and Podomatic. [transcript]

A Cafe for Conversation and Social Knowledge

I was asked some months ago to assist a masters student in some research they were undertaking into the role of conversation in knowledge exchange. The intention was to look at the challenges and barriers to communication and what techniques and approaches can help overcome them especially in an organisational environment. Last week I got to see the paper she produced and it makes for a fascinating read.

It’s a fascinating topic and we have touched upon the importance of talking and conversation in the nurturing of social knowledge in this blog before. It is particularly interesting when you consider the aspect of generating high touch conversational aspects of social media and how the various tools that currently underpin the social media mindset have both strengths and weaknesses in that process.

The research was particularly interested in how one particular technique can be used to strengthen communication and knowledge activities, and if it had particular benefits through specifically acknowledging and mitigating some of the barriers that can often strangle good conversation.

That technique is known as a Knowledge Café – a deceptively simple but remarkably effective tool developed by David Gurteen. Both Daniela and I have known David for a number of years and have used the technique in the past, and have attended Dave’s training sessions where he can effectively describe the subtle elements that when applied and understood make the approach so successful.

I would like to take the idea and move it into something that is enhanced for application via social media platforms, with specific advice on how to make the best of this in an online mode, but that will have to wait till after Social Media Week.

However if you have never investigated this technique but would like to know more I would heartily recommend that you check David’s extensive website out at and get along to one of David’s regular training sessions. The next one  is on Tuesday 13 September, at the RSA in central London. So plenty of time to get to that and back to Glasgow for Social Media Week.

It’s fascinating how traditional cafes work though and I just want to say a big thanks to Martin Jack – or Jacky to his friends – for making Business Banter such a success. We love it and you deserved the back slaps you got on its first birthday on Friday. Well done mate!

Thanks to the unleashed crowd

What a great night at The Lighthouse! Social Media Unleashed – The Sequel – aired on the 5th floor of the stylish venue, and we had a great time. Despite it being the first sunny evening in Glasgow for weeks, we had a fine audience of about 150 to hear James Gibb of Dell tell us about crowdsourcing through IdeaStorm, John Ayerscough and Kirsty Burnham tell us about their innovative platform SoLoCo and its approach to making crowdfunding a reality for community focused organizations, and the skillful legal brains of Euan Duncan and Stewart Whyte of McClure Naismith help us through the choppy legal aspects of the evening subjects.

Opening the show we even managed a Video Conference  to  a very tropical New York with Toby Daniels of Crowdcentric telling us about Social Media Week and how thrilled he is to see it coming to Glasgow.

Some great question and answers and a few drinks in the doocot cafe bar made for a fine social network and Joe Blairs fine photography captured a good deal of it for posterity. Thanks to everyone involved for making it a great success.

A bit of advice about choice of hash tag seemed to work as well. Choosing a tag that didn’t pool our tweets with American universities and a Dungeon mistress seems to make for perhaps a less diverse stream of tweets, but enough and of such quality that we ended up trending!

Slides will be made available as will more photos, although it may take time for Euan’s detailed and complex slides to be released… 😉

Thanks to all and be sure to book your place on SMU3 which will take place during Social Media Week – gonna be a big one so watch this space!

Photos credits: Joe Blair –

Motherwell, Mindset and Meetings

Yesterday we made a breakfast presentation at the Motherwell College Knowledge Transfer Hub and what a pleasure it was. Packed house, engaged participants, intelligent questions, fabulous facilities. Loved it and loved giving them a great insight into the Social Media mindset and how understanding it is of such greater value if you want to extract real (and sustainable) business potential from the use of SM, in contrast with the transient and dubious value of just learning how to tweet.

What was particularly fantastic about being at the College is that it presents a shining example of regeneration at work. Set on the site of the former Ravenscraig steelworks, it is close by the striking Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility. The College itself has more than 20,000 students all learning rich and valuable professional and personal skills and doing so in a practical and applied way in what I can only describe as an entrepreneurial and uplifting environment. I compared it, in conversation with some of the College’s senior team, to the technical college I attended many years ago where they taught me to weld for a living, and how it and Borstal didn’t seem particularly different. But enough of my misspent youth.

The ideas around regeneration, the community of the College and the sense of reducing barriers to allow people to follow their ambition had much in common with the ensuing discussion of Social Media mindset. The sense of possibility and potential in the college is exactly what is on offer to organisations that understand and embrace the social media ethos. New business models, new value sets, new hope of change.

Later in the day we met with one of the many people who simply “get” the opportunity that Social Media Week Glasgow presents and are just bursting with ideas as to how to make it a sensational international star burst.

It’s days like this that make me reflect that our work in broadening people’s understanding of how social media mindset can truly make a difference in economy, culture and importantly society – means that I probably have one of the best jobs in the world.

Busy Times

You haven’t been hearing from us for a while, so just a brief post to update you on what twintangibles have been doing in the past few weeks.

As you know, on the 9th of June we will be hosting a new Social Media Unleashed event at the Lighthouse, in collaboration with our friend Arvind from New Media Corp. Things are finally getting together and a post about the theme and some of the speakers of SMU2 will follow shortly.

We have been doing some preparation for running a couple of our heads-on hands-on introductory workshops on Social Media in the next couple of weeks. You will find all details here..please spread the word!

We have also been finalising our paper for MSKE 2011, which will take place in July in Portugal. We will be presenting a case study on the use of Social Media in the brewery sector, as part of our ongoing research activity.

We’ve been doing a lot of networking as well.. A special mention goes here to our friend Jackie and all the wonderful banterers at the Thursday’s TDBB at Esquire’s coffee. Without forgetting anyone, we take the chance to thank in particular Jim of Shirlaws and Benedetto of The Loft Creative Studios for their wisdom and insight!

Last but absolutely not least, we found ourselves totally overwhelmed by the successful outcome of the application to bring Social Media Week to Glasgow!!! Great news for our city, proud UK host of this exciting global event. We have been in a continuous brainstorming session with – guess who – Arvind again (crazy minds think alike..) since last Wednesday, date of the global launch.. We are doing our best to make SMW Glasgow a most successful and useful event for everybody.  But we want you to be involved too! Please follow @smwglasgow on twitter and spread the word, stop by our FB page and like us, not just for the sake of liking us, join or start the conversation, share your views with us, tell us what you want to see at #SMWGla, you can be part of it too.. that’s the right spirit, join in!

More to come…have a wonderful week everyone!


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