New year, new thinks

We have three great presenters for the next Service Design Thinks Leeds on Tuesday 1 February 2011.

  • Simon East, of Drivegain, on “Designing a new eco-driving service”
  • Jean Mutton, Student Experience Project Manager, University of Derby, on “Designing the Enrolment experience”
  • Lauren Currie, Snook, Glasgow, (by Skype link) on “How Snook do Service Design in Scotland”

You can find out more at or book your free ticket at

With thanks to NTI Leeds for providing the venue, Old Broadcasting House.


Bee meets bonnet: the Other Fourth Plinth

If knowledge and enthusiasm are the raw materials of our post-industrial society then The Culture Vulture is proof of the rich seam of the stuff that runs beneath Leeds and Bradford. It’s all the more amazing because it’s the independent, unfunded achievement of one person, Emma Bearman, who routinely marshals a large and eclectic mix of contributors to keep the site choc full of new and interesting things.

So I’m delighted to have finally got around to contributing something myself, by way of a modest proposal for Leeds’ own fourth plinth. Some may call it rabble rousing or think I have a bee in my bonnet :) but I like to think of it as a simple amuse-bouche for a couple of forthcoming events.

I’ll be speaking about the Makers of Leeds at TEDxLeeds2010 on Wednesday 10 November and about James Watt Junior’s feud with Matthew Murray at Interesting North on Saturday 13 November.

The two talks will be separate and self-contained, but both are part of a wider arc of discovery and storytelling that I started with a GeekUp Leeds talk in February last year and continued with “1794” at Ignite London and in this experiment.

The plan also involves a newspaper, of which more follows.

Give me five minutes and I’ll give you a year – Ignite London, 18 November

Wow, I’m privileged to have been invited to appear alongside some amazing speakers at London’s first Ignite event on the evening of November 18.

If you were at the first ever British Ignite in Leeds in January, or any of the others around the world, you’ll know the deal:  20 slides advancing automatically every 15 seconds for five minutes – multiplied by dozens of speakers talking about technology, science, the arts and everything in-between.

The full London line-up includes:

  • Ben Hammersley, The Sex Lives of the Great Renaissance Masters: How the Old Masters and their Mistresses Changed Art
  • Craig Smith, The Upsides and Downsides of Standards (web, language and otherwise)
  • Katy Lindemann, What We Can All Learn from Children
  • John V Willshire, If Advertising is a Firework, Social Media is a Bonfire
  • Ashley Benigo, Italy as a Country Not Found

… and many others.

My own talk is “1794 – so much to answer for” wherein I shall tell the stories of as many of my personal 18th Century heroes as possible, based on the strange coincidence that all of them encountered life-changing (some life-ending) events in that single world-changing year.

Europe a Prophecy - William Blake, 1794

Eagle-eyed readers of this blog may recall that I scribbled a map of this name some time ago. I’ve taken it off the blog for now. You can probably still find it somewhere in Google’s cache, but No Spoilers!

[Also, I don’t normally post directly about my dayjob on this, my personal, blog but am making an exception to mention that I’ll be on a panel at Informa’s Mobile User Experience conference, also in London on November 17 and 18 before I go over to Hammersmith for Ignite. If mobile user experience is your thing, this also has some very interesting speakers.]

Steven Johnson presents “The Invention of Air” in Leeds on 3 November

If you saw my talks earlier this year at Leeds’ GeekUp or Barcamp, you may recall I recommended reading Steven Johnson’s “The Invention of Air” which tells the tale of pioneering scientist, theologian and political radical Joseph Priestley.

“The Invention of Air” reveals, more than I’d previously appreciated, just how important were Priestley’s experiments during his time as minister at the Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds,  so when I heard Steven was coming to the UK in November, around the time of the book’s publication in paperback, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

A couple of cheeky tweets later, I’m delighted to report that the author, the good people at NTI Leeds and Penguin Books obliged: Steven will be talking about Priestley, oxygen, and other interesting stuff, at Leeds Met Rose Bowl on Tuesday 3 November, starting at 6pm. For more details and to register your attendance, see the NTI website.

Whether you’re interested in the history of science, the history of Leeds, or even if you just occasionally breathe air, I hope you’ll come along.