Thinking Digital 2017

Last week I attended my third Thinking Digital Conference at the Sage in Gateshead. To quote someone else it is like a holiday for your brain. I never look at the programme before I go, I trust that Herb and the team will have gathered a really interesting group of speakers and that my brain will find some relevance. The talks which I got the most out of this time around were Dr Anita Sengupta and Adrian Westaway’s. Anita’s enthusiasm and thirst for learning and trying new things made her talk really engaging. Adrian shared the great insight of looking for where the experience usually drops and focus on making that magical (plus a story about a man with a chicken tied to his back).

I met great people, some for the third time, some for the second time and some for the very first time. Every visit I make an effort to connect with new people as well as speaking to people I already know. I missed the last session of the afternoon as I took the opportunity of having an interesting conversation in the Sage cafe (not for the first time). That for me is the real draw of the event, all of the fascinating conversations around the fascinating speakers.

What did I learn?
Lots from Christian Payne‘s Livestreaming Video 101 Workshop (watch this space). Darren Jobling’s talk gripped me from the start with his storytelling style and was a great reminder about getting your message across. I also really liked his plan, people and culture section. Mark Mullen reminding us all that it’s better to have a vacant post than a disruptive influence in our businesses, although those were not the words he used :) Check out the videos.

As I crossed the Tyne on my pre-booked train home I pledged to book an extra night’s accommodation and plan some fridge events next time. See you at TDC18?

LeedsJelly is back from a bit of a rest. We are meeting at T bar and Kitchen in the Tetley from 10am on Friday 2nd June. If you are interested in relaxed co-working come and join us. Sign up on attending.io.

Date: June 2, 2017
Event: LeedsJelly June 2017
Venue: T Bar and Kitchen
Location: The Tetley, Hunslet Rd,
Leeds LS10 1JQ

Easy alternative to Skype/Hangouts etc

I have heard about appear.in before but had not used it. After hearing about it again from @quiffboy in a Slack team I decided to try it out today and was impressed. I found it simple to use and I like some of the features such as claiming a URL (so that you can use the same one for regular meetings for example) and being able to lock a room (so that guests have to ‘knock’).

Go to appear.in using Chrome or Firefox and give it a try.

Learning together – being apart

What would a great virtual learning community look like?

I love being in the room with people but I also like being at home.  After working for over three years* delivering sessions to people in London, Cardiff, Belfast, Newcastle and places in between I would like to spend a little less time in hotels and on trains. Recently I have found it impossible to get a good night’s sleep for the majority of my visits due to noisy roads, noisy customers in the hotel, noisy lift gear and on one notable occasion being in a hotel next door to the apartment of a band practising Seven Nation Army until  1 am. I have also struggled in through illness and would have been much more comfortable (and less contagious) in my own space and am more and more irritated by things that are outside of my control such as travel disruption and bad weather.

I get the same feedback from the people who attend the programmes I run. They miss being at home with their families, begrudge the time spent travelling and are concerned about the cost to their department and the environmental impact. There is value in them being away from the office, with people from diverse workplaces and to meet a wide range of knowledgeable speakers but do the benefits outweigh the downsides and is there a viable alternative?

I would like to test this. I am looking for people who are interested in a virtual learning community. I don’t know exactly what it will look like yet because it will depend on the needs of the people who are part of it.

If you would be interested in helping me to test my hypothesis please get in touch.

Email: hello [at] sharondale.co.uk

Twitter: @pixlz

*Three years in this role but a total of six years in the previous ten requiring work away from home.

New cloud based PDF tool

One of my Twitter connections recently mentioned an online tool called smallpdf.com which (among other things) compresses PDF files. The files are stored on their server temporarily but they say that they are secure and removed in an hour. So far I have tested it with a couple of files and the reduced filesizes are impressive.

It reduced a file which was originally 37.5Mb to 11.34Mb. It says that it reduces the files to 144dpi. I printed a page with images on it after the compression and it printed well.

It also rotates, splits and converts to and from a range of formats.

IAF North of England Quarterly networking and learning meetup

Promoting the power of facilitation in the North of England

I’m looking forward to our first Leeds quarterly networking and learning meeting at ODI Leeds.

This afternoon session will allow time and space for us to demonstrate, practice and experiment with our facilitation together, and share feedback on that, as well as share presentations and support through discussion.

This quarterly networking & learning meetup will repeat on the second Thursday of every third month, at different venues throughout the region.

Date: May 11, 2017
Time: 14:00
Event: IAF North of England Quarterly networking and learning meetup
Venue: ODI Leeds
07833 488697
Location: 3rd Floor Munro House, Duke St,
Leeds LS9 8AG
UK
Registration: Click here to register.

KanbanFlow

I have been using Trello to organise my to-do list for a long time. Mostly this works well but I decided that right now I need to focus on a smaller number of things to make some real progress. At the same time, I discovered KanbanFlow. I find that it works for me as like Trello it is very visual but that there is a little bit of friction which works for my current needs (I find it too easy to add stuff to Trello). It has a handy Pomodoro timer and some cool reports. I am still working out exactly how I will use it but it has the potential for helping me to get more of the right things done.

Real Time Sticky Notes

Image of Tweet

I love sticky notes, I love working with other people and I also love working visually. Yesterday Lisette shared this Tweet by Kasia about Retrotool.io which right now is a simple, free, virtual sticky note tool. I love how it works at the moment – there is no login, you can use a couple of templates or set up your own and I think that the voting and prioritisation is great.