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    Entries in Digital (7)


    Hyper Island Manchester Launch

    Last Friday we attended the first official event at Hyper Island Manchester. As regular readers of our site will already know, we have been heavily involved with the project and Hyper Island globally, so we were excited to check in and meet some of the students from the first-ever class and catch up with some of our other Manchester friends.

    Arriving at the Watts Brothers building on Lever Street we, along with the Hyper Island UK team, felt a bit like proud parents watching something that we have all worked so hard on, come to fruition. The first Hyper Island facility outside of Stockholm is a massive step for the brand, but one that we all believed would be a great success. The industry obviously agreed with the likes of Google, MTV, Channel 4, Wieden + Kennedy, Saatchi & Saatchi and loads more getting involved with the project.

    It was really nice to spend a bit of time with the new students. They are a real interesting bunch! In just a couple of hours we had been involved in conversations about the city of Manchester, the fashion industry, the use of the word 'viral', the re-birth of speed garage, problems with restrictions when working in government and loads more random yet facinating subject! We are sure that some amazing people and projects will come out of Hyper Island Manchester in the coming months. You can see from their video above, they are already getting in the zone!

    Check a couple of our previous posts related to Hyper Island here:

    Hyper Island Arrives In Manchester

    Creative Spaces Are Key To Creative Culture

    We will keep you posted on progress of this first class on here over the summer months. In the meantime check out some of the pictures from Friday's event below:

    The first class along with Hyper Island UK Director David McCall and Programme Assistant Amir LodgeShang Ting hanging with some of the studentsLee getting excited about something geeky no doubt!David McCall and some of the students along with representatives from Google, NESTA and Code Computerlove welcome everyone to the eventThe Hyper Island way already kicking inCollecting souvenir stickers of all the students :)


    Introducing: Imran Ali

    Photo by Cubic Garden / Ian Forrester

    In the latest of our 'Introducing' series, we check in with one of our favourite creative thinkers: Imran Ali. Imran has an amazing story which started at Freeserve back in the day. He is currently doing some really intersting things with CARBON:Imagineering and hosting cool events like LSx and TEDxLeeds. We sat down and talked to Imran about careers, creativity, events and cities.

    Imran graduated from Leeds Met in 1997 in Computing and Software Engineering. By his own admission that "sounds kind of dorky" but his graduation happened at the perfect time: the beginning of the 'multimedia' age. During the early stages of his career Imran was involved in some of the most exciting media companies around as he explains...

    "The first jobs I had were as a hybrid interactive designer/developer creating websites and CDROM (remember those!) at Leeds' now defunct Creative Convergence agency. After moving up into being a producer, our entire team resigned on the same day to join Freeserve at the dawn of the dotcom era in 1999…great timing huh ;) 

    Freeserve, became Wanadoo and Wanadoo became Orange. I ended up as a deputy director for Orange's disruptive innovations team, travelling between MIT, Silicon Valley, London, Leeds and Paris scouting for bleeding edge people and projects that'd scare the poop outta our executives!"

    We have got to know Imran well over the past year. He is one of those people who seems to have an involvement in lots of the cool stuff going on in and around the city. It is probably best for Imran to explain himself what he is up to at the moment: 

    "After working alongside so many startups, our team wanted to go it alone with some of our own ventures. We had great relationships with investors and media, so decided to setup an emerging technologies think-tank, CARBON:imagineering."

    "Most of our work is involves helping clients ask questions about the future and prepare themselves for technological, political and cultural shifts - from creating conceptual products and services, to architecting visions and scenarios that help clients to explore and experience future developments. In parallel to this, I've been a board advisor to various startups and conferences, as well as founding the LSx festival and joining Manchester's FutureEverything festival team as conference programme director"

    We have attended some of the LSx events including TEDxLeeds and Open Coffee. Our very own Shang Ting is a keynote speaker at the Girl Geek Dinner tonight (blog post to follow after event) and Imran is hoping to take the festival to new levels in 2011:

    "LSx is a group of people interested in nurturing Leeds' technology scene to put it on the map nationally and globally. LSx isn't about gadgets and code, but the culture of technology - what does digital tech do to music, politics, fashion, publishing, films and education that's interesting?

    LSx has largely been a shorthand for all the events, meetups and conferences we host throughout the year to bring together creatives, entrepreneurs, technologists, publishers and media people. LSx runs year-round events such as OpenCoffee, Girl Geek Dinners, WePublish and TED, but we also run an annual festival every Spring that includes the city's first unconference - BarCamp Leeds, as well as guest speakers from Google, Twitter, Creative Commons and other major technology brands like Carsonified.

    Our mission is to bring the planet's best tech thinkers to Leeds to share their insights. This year, we're moving up a gear with a our inaugural Conference of Emerging Tech; a large outdoor zombie game (!); the launch of an open government project and a super-secret film project."

    We often talk with Imran about Leeds as a city. We approach from the fashion / music / art angles and Imran from what may be refered to as the 'tech' angle but the bottom line is, both of these are creative angles. Instead of looking at the city as 'lacking' in certain areas, we often talk about a 'blank canvass' and of the potential to do something special here. Imran expands further:

    "Leeds has always been a vibrant creative and tech hub - from being part of the Industrial Revolution's Silicon Valley, to the dotcom era and now the Web 2.0 era. Leeds keeps inventing. A university that spins out the most ventures of any in the UK; entrepreneurs that created Freeserve, Sportal and Ananova and now home to cultural hackers tinkering with social software, mobility, and 'maker' culture.

    However, Leeds is terrible at sharing those extraordinary parts of its heritage - we want to change that with LSx. To showcase the city's past, but also provide a path to the future by bringing powerful ideas to the city.

    I hear a lot of Leeds creatives complaining about how Leeds isn't Manchester or London. Blah, blah. If you want your city to be cool, then experiment, innovate, create connections, throw your pet projects out into the world and see if they flourish. Your city is your canvas, use it.

    For me, Leeds is a great platform for experimentation and serendipity. Big enough to be diverse and exhilarating, but small enough to be accessible and human-scale. I can meet an undergrad with a great idea for a web app in the morning, then walk across the street and hang with the city's politicians to talk about how we reboot citizenship for a networked culture and in the evening listening to an evening of lightning talks" 

    We are talking with Imran about a number of projects at the moment. One of these is bringing together some of the cities most interesting fashion, music, art and digital creatives. By getting a group of people together who may not usually work together on projects could generate some cool projects according to Imran

    "I don't even know what we'll be working on, but I'm excited by the composition of the group. This kinda diversity brings creative frictions that are inventive and just plain cool. Already, Shang Ting's going to be contributing a keynote speech at the next Girl Geek Dinner that's got the LSx team super-excited.

    I hit it off with Lee from our first conversation - we see the world the same way and that kinda chemistry can only lead to something awesome… like Lee switching allegiance from Leeds to Manchester United"  (Lee: NEVER going to happen!)

    We are really excited to be working with Imran and know we can create some interesting stuff.  From the city's point of view, he is one of our most valuable assets, We often find ourselves saying to people "whatever Imran thinks we should do... just do it!" and we genuinely mean it.

    We also encourage everyone to get involved as much as they can in LSx and it's year-round events. You can do so by signing up for girl Geek tonight here. And generally we encourage everyone to try and get involved in LSx which has events all year round, it really is one of the best things going on in Leeds at the moment!


    DADI Awards 2010

     Last week Leeds played host to the DADI Awards. This evening helped bring to an end Leeds Digital Festival and a good time was had by all. Check out the winners here

    ps - Can you spot a certain Mr Chitty serenading the crowd? ;)


    The Business of Digital

    In the second of our Leeds Digital Festival posts we look back at The Business of Digital event presented by Marketing Leeds. The event brought together leading thinkers from various industries to debate questions put forward by the audience and through Twitter.

    The event had a very different feel to the previous evening's TEDxLeeds event, but in the same way TED did, provided some excellent content and insight from the panelists. On the panel sat Dr Norman Lewis of Open-Knowledge, Amanda Brown of First DirectKieron Matthews of The Internet Advertising Bureau, Daniel Pollick of DLA Piper and Buddy Ye of Shune River Media, who we had talked to the previous day here. The discussion was chaired by David Parkin - Editor of The Business Desk.

    The panel discussed a range of issues from the typical 'What is the next big trend' stuff to perhaps the more interesting subject of what digital means to young people, or indeed if the term "digital" even exists in conversations between young people. Some comments that really caught my attention were 

    "If you call a digital camera a digital camera and not just a camera, you are probably not a digital native"

    "Young people used MySpace as a way to connect with their friends without their parents supervision, it was the meeting place where young people could talk and build their own personality in the same way we used to dress like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones to show ours"

    "I have a 27 year old employee who has never read a printed newspaper, only online content"

    These types of statements really illustrate the point well that things have changed with the next generation of consumer. They do not think about online or digital as being different to traditional media because websites, blogs, apps are their traditional media! 

    'Mobile' was a subject discussed at length and as Buddy and I had discussed the previous day: is the area that every major brand is thinking about. The stats are even more startling in China, but a global trend is emerging that people are consuming more and more 'media on the move' and devices such as the iPhone, iPad have really helped to speed up this trend in the west. The panel agreed that mobile technology is changing communications and the way consumers interact with media content.


    There were certain points the panel disagreed on such as Facebook. Dr Norman Lewis said adults were behaving like children trying to 'win a popularity contest' on the social network. Kieron Matthews disagreed saying that the older generation are using the network to stay in touch with friends and share family photos. I think there is some truth in both of these points of view: Some people think it is a popularity contest but also lots of people use Facebook instead of email and the photo-sharing is a massive reason for being on the network. Of course the fact that a Facebook App is much easy to access then a lot of email systems for mobile has helped this trend also. 

    I really enjoyed the evening and speaking with a couple of people after the event it seemed that this discussion could of really opened up some eyes in the city to the potential of using digital and social media to help their companies / brands internally and externally. Sometimes it takes an organisation like Marketing Leeds to create this type of event in order to attract some of the more 'traditional' business leaders who may not attend some of the other more technical or creative events that take place in the city.

    A job well done to everyone.


    Hebe Media Talks To: Buddy Ye

    This week as part of Leeds Digital Festival, Marketing Leeds are presenting the fourth event in their ‘The business of’ series: The Business of Digital. This will be a question and answer style event on the impact of digital technology on businesses. One of the panelists will be Buddy Ye, and I spoke with Buddy yesterday about his thoughts on the digital landscape and his trip to Leeds.

    Buddy Ye is the Founder, CEO and Producer of Shune River Media, a Shanghai-based independent production house that is quickly emerging as a bridge between the rapidly growing Chinese media market and the rest of the world.

    Buddy studied for his MBA in the UK at the Said Business School in Oxford and explained some of the differences between the different education styles at the time “For my generation the learning environment in the UK was much more open. Students would be encouraged to ask questions and try new things. This was different to China at the time, although things are gradually changing now”

    After returning to China, Buddy set up WangYou, one of China’s first major social media platforms. The site focuses mainly on music and a massive percentage of the user generated content is Karaoke. “Karaoke is very popular with young people all across Asia. We provide the technologies for people to upload, rate and interact on their own user-generated content” Behind the scenes work is taking place on the next steps for WangYou as Buddy explains “We are currently working on the transition from web to mobile based versions of WangYou”

    As we talk further, Buddy and I begin talking about the future more generally and how things may move forward in the coming years “Over the coming 10-12 years there will be a high-speed development of digital technologies and I think over the next 3-5 years content will play a more important role” says Buddy.

    Which leads us on to discussing some of the reasons why he is visiting Leeds: “There is a high demand in China for international content. I am talking about animations, documentaries, films, what I would call professional digital content. I am here in Leeds to speak with digital professionals about some of the opportunities in the Chinese market and how we might work together in the future”

    I look forward to meeting Buddy on Thursday at the Business of Digital event. It seems there are some potentially very interesting relationships and collaborations that could take place. The more international relationships we can build for the already exciting Leeds digital scene the better.

    For more information about Leeds Digital Festival and to register for the event click here.