Culture Hack North: Leeds 2011 – thoughts

So, the weekend before last we held the first ever Culture Hack North at NTI Leeds. We played host to about 35 developers, 7 speakers and 30 talk attendees. I think it went incredibly well, of course there are things we could’ve done better/different and I’m determined to be ruthless in identifying what those things are so that next time the event can be event better, but for a first go I think it went pretty damn well.

So, some quick thoughts, these are just my thoughts – I’m still in the process of gathering and collating feedback from all the attendees.

The Good:

  • The venue; was awesome, seriously, I cannot thank Linda Broughton enough for letting us use Old Broadcasting House. It was perfect
  • The developers; bloody hell these people are clever/creative and then some.
  • The hacks; there were some absolutely amazing ideas executed incredibly well, the standard was so high – consider me impressed! You can see all the hacks here:
  • The talks; Rachel Coldicutt did a great job at putting together a really interesting, diverse range of talks – the format seemed to work really well and sparked off loads of interesting discussions (as I mentioned the Leeds Met guys filmed the talks – hope to have these online at some point).
  • Cultural organisations; the cultural bods who were there were really open to discussion/asking questions and really seemed to get a lot out of talking to the developers – we need more of this type of thing.
  • Leeds Met students; we had Computing students taking part in the hacking which was brilliant to see, we also had a load of Broadcast Journalism students down to film everything, I am yet to see the results but I look forward to it!
  • The organisation; blowing my own trumpet a little but I think the event hung together pretty well, everything turned up when it was supposed to and I was pleased that Dom and I could answer any questions that were thrown at us!

The Not So Good

  • Data quality; It became clear very quickly that some of the data just wasn’t up to scratch in terms of either breadth or format, however I do believe that this was, to some extent, an inevitability. I still consider the fact that we managed to get the organisations involved that we did, a success. And the good thing is that the developers were very clear about what could and should be done to ensure that the data is more useable in the future so that’s actionable stuff that I can feed back to the arts/cultural organisations.
  • No-shows; we had over 60 developer signups yet only around 30-35 turned up on the day. We need to do more to ensure that, if anything, the event is oversubscribed next time around so that the number of developers at the event is higher.
  • Social/’bigger picture’ aspect; the atmosphere at the event was brilliant throughout however we probably could’ve done more to give an ongoing overview of what everyone was up to – luckily the hack that Dom worked on does precisely this!

If you were at the event and have any more thoughts about what we could do to make future events better then please get in touch via the comments below or to

Pyrenean coast to coast

So, planning has progressed slightly. The whole Atlantic-Med ride will start on 7th June next year and should take a week.

The route will start in Biarritz and finish in Argeles sur Mer. Along the way we will climb, amongst others, the Aubisque and the Tourmalet (both of which I think feature in the Tour de France next year) which look like this:

Col de Tourmalet

Col d'Aubisque

“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” – Abraham Lincoln

So, in an effort, to be more like Abraham Lincoln apparently, to widen my literary horizons I have been soliciting book recommendations. Twitter and Facebook, it would turn out, are tremendously useful for things like this (as well as the more traditional ‘borrowing books from your actual real life friends in actual real life’

I’ve bought the following:
Life of Pi
I, Lucifer
Einstein: his life and his universe

I’ve been lent this:
This Book Will Save Your Life

And these are on my ‘to get’ list:
Magician by Raymond Feist
In The Half Light by Anthony Lawrence

So it would appear I’ve got enough books to keep me going until Christmas – I will try and post some articulate thoughts once I’m done with all the reading n that.