Hot Source, first impressions

I attended a local Norwich networking event for media/marketing types this evening called Hot Source. I’ve been attempting to go for about 6 months, ever since Ryan from Lambda Films told me about it but have always been pre-empted by other circumstances. And so the last Thursday of May rolled around today and it turned out I wasn’t double booked and therefore dutifully headed along to NUCA to see what the event was all about.

Coincidentally Rob Halden-Pratt from Tribe PR was speaking first and I’ve been working with Rob and his team for a few months now as we selected them as our PR firm over at FXhome for the PhotoKey 5 launch. A nice guy with excellent taste in geekery, he was speaking about Fab Labs, a concept with which I was unfamiliar but which instantly resonated with the inspiring concepts laid out by Cory Doctorow in Makers. Coming off the biggest DIY filmmaking project I’ve ever worked on – Arms Race Escalation – the idea of building a Norwich Fab Lab to aid local creators is very appealing indeed.

Next up was Finola Gaynor with a rapid fire presentation about designer Lance Wyman. A fascinating talk that started out small with her ordinary beginnings and rapidly ratcheted up over the next 10 minutes to include global politics and human rights, with the Mexico 68 Olympics as the focal point, it was the highlight of the evening. Very exciting to hear that one of the Black Power salute athletes was recently in Norwich to attend the exhibition that Gaynor has been curating.

Following the presentations was a debate on social media and the challenges and appropriateness of using automation to engage audiences. The points raised were all very true and I didn’t disagree with much but that was exactly the problem: this was a debate that was already held two years ago. Back then these discussions were happening to try to figure out the newly evolving online landscape: in the context of this evening, it was old news. As an affirmation that the panel and audience are all doing the right things it was vaguely useful but there weren’t any new insights – though hopefully it will have been more useful for anybody attending that is new to social media.

There appeared to be a slight undercurrent of amused disdain towards an absent Hot Source member who had originally been scheduled to appear on the panel. This being my first event I’m not sure what the behind-the-scenes politics were that kept him away (nobody seemed particularly upset by his absence) but I can’t help but feel an antagonistic presence might have been exactly what the debate needed! Bottom line is that a debate isn’t particularly interesting if everybody is clearly in general agreement within the first five minutes.

Will definitely be attending future events and look forward to getting to know some more of the other Hot Source members. Aside from anything else, it’s rewarding simply to engage with a variety of people on subjects that interest me, and it can only be a healthy thing from both a work and IAT point of view to expand my connections and influences with regards to marketing ideas.

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