You should come to #NotatSXSWLDN

Let me tell you why…


Set to be the best ‘Not at’ event EVER, #NotatSXSWLDN is to be held Friday March 15th and you are invited.

  • Not making out to Austin this year?
  • Finding the whole thing just too darn over-hyped and over-priced?
  • Looking for some FREE inspiration on a Friday night?

Then JOIN US for NOT AT SXSW – LONDON EDITION where we can get together, drink, and generally have an awesome time.

On top of that we’re bringing you an awesome venue (I’m not kidding), an amazing set of speakers (who are bringing along their very own ‘shot of south by’) and of course, a stunningly beautiful group of attendees (that’s YOU).

So please, come hang out at the coolest new members club in town and enjoy a night of brilliance created especially for you.

You’re coming, right? Good.

Because tickets are available now.


We’re also currently taking sponsorship so, if you’d like to know more, please take a look at our background documentation and get in touch ASAP.


Engagement Currency

We were talking about alternative [read: cheap] ways to build engagement recently. Something tangible, that you can see, feel or hold physically. Like stickers, for example, they’re easy and silly – but what kind? And also, what type of community would they address?

The English definition of ‘currency’ (outside of its obvious monetary connotations) is ‘The fact or quality of being generally accepted or in use‘. Keeping this in mind (and given the universal habit tagging of all things technologically vital and important), laptop stickers could therefore be construed as a currency of the blogging community

If that’s so, then why not make some of those? Good ones mind. Not just your logo on a white background.

Something interesting.
Something better.
Something that will spark a conversation.

A social object, if you will.

This thought process is not new, we used to talk about this kind of community currency back in my SpinVox days: what was it about a certain place or a group of people that would always get them talking and, better yet, what wouldn’t.

A recent video from Heineken was what got me thinking about this again (and what prompted the tweet above, too). Have a look, we’ll regroup on the other side –

Right. Let’s deconstruct this for a second. First off, as I asked the team at 1000heads last week; is this cool?

The general consensus was no, it isn’t. It’s a good video, yes. But using technology for technology’s sake is never a sound strategy for success and alas, that’s exactly what’s going on here.

“Why is this Heineken? Where is their connection?” were other recurring questions. You could argue that the new brand message of ‘open your world’ underpins this whole activity somehow, but you have to look quite hard to see it. And anyway, that much at least is besides the point.

Could this have been done better by taking a closer look at the reality of a festival currency?

Festival currency: what it isn’t

Before we get into what and what does not work around QR codes, let’s first establish that I genuinely do buy the idea that they act as a conversation starter. That’s great in fact. Any excuse to start talking to a new person at large social events is welcome. Well done.

However, as anyone who’s ever been to a festival will tell you, the genuine currency of the modern day festival-goer is communication. To stay in touch, you need that most precious of camping-based premiums: mobile phone battery life.

There is a whole other blog post to come about how the success of the next generation mobile hardware manufacturer depends on this particular aspect of their devices (and breathe), but that’s not for today. Today is about realising that festival-goers aren’t going to spend precious battery life on QR code snapping, especially when it’s the only thing keeping them connected.

Heineken could learn from Orange here.

Back to those QR codes, hands up who’s got a phone that can scan a QR code out of the box? OK, next question: hands up who’s got a phone that can scan a QR code out of the box that you know about? See what I mean. Shocking.

QR codes are great, but there’s still such a large education piece to be done before anything like this creates any real traction [note: the video proudly points out that 5000 ‘U-Codes’ were printed, not how many were actually scanned].

Taking all of the above into account, it’s clear that the modern day festival goer needs to remain connected, visible and contactable.

Festival currency: what it could be

Flags. This isn’t my idea, first off. Scroggles planted this particular seed when we were working with MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation a few years back. At a festival, if the currency isn’t anything mobile-related (or at least, related to draining mobile power) what else is there?


Think about it.


Print your own message on a [Heineken-branded] flag and suddenly you have something that you can wave to find your friends, stand near or under as a meeting point and ultimately, personalise as much as you like within your own artistic boundaries.

No messing about with esoteric QR codes, no imposing your brand onto that super-valuable phone battery; just simple, visible and useful branding.

Flags, as currency for festival goers.
Laptop stickers, as currency for bloggers.

There’s more here. I’m sure of it.

What’s your engagement currency?



[Big thanks to both James Mayes and Gia Cavalli in the construction of this post]

1000heads: You down with NFC?

Yeah you know me!

If you’ve been following @1000heads on Twitter, you might know that we’ve been tinkering around with NFC of late, and for good reason.

Last week, as part of our activity for Nokia’s Symbian Belle launch, we arranged a special ‘48hrs in Hong Kong‘ for a very lucky group of six select bloggers.

Aside from running the very latest update of Nokia’s Symbian software – aka ‘Symbian Belle’ – these new Belle devices all come with Near Field Communications (NFC) baked-in. Which means, you simply tap – and go.

Working with the smart guys over at NFC-Hub we produced special NFC-enabled posters, similar to the below –

NFC Hub @ 1000heads

– that were placed up at different locations around Hong Kong. Delivering against Nokia’s release message of ‘Try Something New’, #NokiaTSN, we thought we’d set a two day course of exactly that, with our guests trying their hands at all things news. For example, riding the Crystal Cable Car or simply taking in a Tai Chi lesson in the park.

The best part being that once the on-site posters were tapped –

– the entrants would automatically check-in on Facebook and/or Foursquare (depending on the poster used) which in turn would produce results like this:

Much fun was had indeed.

With NFC becoming more and more prevalent [see Museum integration as well as Dennis Publishing getting in on the act], expect more NFC-based shenanigans from us very soon and, if you find yourself in the 1000heads offices at any point in the future, why not tap us up?

Inspiring new forms of creative expression through mobile devices

Or “How I predicted Google Photovine before it was announced”

A few months ago, I shared a research panel alongside one Marek Pawlowski. Marek runs the MEX (Mobile User Experience) conference and is a keen mobile futurist.

He and I had met before but it’s always good to refresh connections and, a month or so later, he asked if I could take part in a new MEX pathway entitled ‘Inspiring new forms of creative expression through mobile devices’.

“Sounds great Marek, but I’m off to Siberia next month and well, I won’t really be around to contribute properly.”

“That’s fine.” he said  “Just present at the event when you’re back in May.”

So I did.

And in fact, I probably gave a better presentation because of it: chilled out (after a whole month away from the internet), wearing a t-shirt and – probably for the first time ever – presenting in trainers.

Getting back to the event, the questions Marek posed as part of the pathway were as follows:

  1. How does ubiquitous access to new sensors such as touchscreens, gestural input and location tracking change the expression of human creativity?
  2. What does artistic experimentation at the boundaries of digital technology teach us about mainstream user experience requirements of the future?
  3. How does mass person-to-person communications facilitate new creative experiences through co-operative working?
  4. Will person-to-person communications enriched with new channels, such as haptics, emerge as a new form of artistic expression in itself?
  5. Are the text-based ‘Status Updates’ espoused by Facebook and Twitter the zenith of emotional expression or can human moods be better expressed?

My presentation (and the ideas around the answers I gave) can be seen in full below but, I implore you, click through to the actual Slideshare page so you can read the corresponding speaker notes. It doesn’t really make sense without them…

#MEX11: Inspiring new forms of creative expression through mobile devices

One thing I do want to focus on, however, is slide 17, MEX Pathway point number three [quick click through]:

How does mass person-to-person communications facilitate new creative experiences through co-operative working?

The answer I gave in my talk (or at least the one word that came to mind when I the question was posed), was ‘Meme‘. The two slides that followed explored the idea of the web-based meme going mobile. To quote:

“What about memes on mobile? I snap this, send it you, you change it, send it back.. An instant meme app? Yes please. Where do I sign?”

That, was May 2011. Two months later, in July, I spot this video from Google, courtesy of The Next Web

Alright, so perhaps it isn’t exactly the meme-based application that I was hoping for and/or predicting, but it’s pretty darn close. Theme-based sharing even. And, if you recall what the original pathway set out to cover – Inspiring new forms of creative expression through mobile devices – this app nails it.

Bizarrely, for an app developed by Google, it’s only available on iPhone right now, but I’m sure this will change over time. And when it does, I’ll be ready and waiting – because having my friends help drive my mobile creativity is something I’m really actually quite looking forward to.

Thanks for stopping by.

UPDATE: the video of said talk is now available –

James Whatley from Marek Pawlowski on Vimeo.


Like I said, go and read that Slideshare deck properly – with the speaker notes.

And when you’re done there, go and read this article on Mobile Industry Review that references some of the above findings. 

1000heads: Dear Blink-182. You Win.

Each morning I spend around 15mins of my day looking through my Google Reader for some decent content that I can share across the fairly interesting 1000heads Twitter feed.

Sometimes though, I come across such a fantastic idea, such a perfect execution that it warrants a whole blog post on its own.

Today is one of those days.

We’ve spoken before about what it means to reward engagement, surprise your fans and ultimately, let your community know you love them back but today’s effort, from American pop punk band (wikipedia’s definition, not mine), Blink-182, really takes the biscuit.

This video, explains it all –

Five reasons why this is awesome:

  1. Blink 182, unlike many, many other bands/artists, have decided to EMBRACE the ‘mis-use’ of their music and, instead of hitting ‘go’ on their lawyers, have recognised that if someone has used their music it probably means that they are a fan.
  2. The sheer dedication and commitment to using not just the famous ones. Being a fan is not defined by how many views you’ve had or how many likes your video has garnered. It’s about being passionate and actually giving a damn. You like Blink 182’s music? They give a damn about you.
  3. In the same way that the YouTubers featured in this video have ‘stolen’ Blink 182’s music, Blink have done exactly the same back by ‘stealing’ footage from their videos. The difference being the users in question won’t be hammering on the door with their lawyers.
  4. The title: “The Blink-182 Film Festival You Didn’t Know You Entered” – perfect.
  5. This is Blink 182’s first single release in eight years and they have a huge global fan-base. No matter what they did for their new single, they would’ve got huge coverage – the fact that they chose this particular idea for their return launch speaks volumes about how much they care about their community. To put it bluntly; that is epic.

So OK the video is part of a (somewhat strange) over-arching sponsorship deal with American mobile phone operator AT&T but still, it is a great idea.

And for that Blink-182, we applaud you. You win.