Posts tagged as workshops

  • In the past couple of years I mentioned working on an early-stage startup project I codenamed Wrekin (see relevant blogposts) - in part because it hadn’t launched out of stealth. Since then lots has moved on, not least the launch of the product as Castrooms.

    Castrooms brings the energy of a crowd to music livestreaming. It’s a streaming platform designed first and foremost for music - for both performers and fans. Audience members watch streams with their camera on: performers have a crowd to perform and react to, and fans can go to shows and performances with their friends, the live music experience of “small groups as part of a bigger group”.

    The product has taken off since I worked on those early prototypes. Back in 2021, I built just enough to help them validate the idea, work out what was feasible with available technology, and understand what would need to come next.

    Since then, they’ve fleshed out the offering, developed the branding, greatly expanded the technical platform, run many test parties, forged relationships with DJs and musicians, and raised more funding. Since I last wrote there’s been a little more advisory and consulting work with them. It’s been exciting to see the product take off, and hear the team tell me about their growth and successes.

    I spent some time this between 2022 and 2023 working with a very early-stage health startup, delivering a few strategy workshops.

    This consultancy work began with a request for a single day’s workshop. I immediately suggested this would better be spent as two half days. Anyone who’s workshopped knows the “4pm lull” well - but I also believe that a break between the workshops leads to more effective outcomes. Yes, participants get a break, and can come back refreshed - but it also forms a neat point to do any ‘homework’ required. Sometimes, doing some independent research, confirming some facts, or thinking through ideas with other people outside the process, is what’s needed to make any decisions or move things forward. That’s better done outside the workshop space. We returned to the second half of the workshop much more focused, and with ideas that emerged in the first half already fleshed-out and ready for deeper discussion.

    A follow-up workshop some time after the initial engagement was similarly productive. It was also rewarding - it was great to see how much the product had developed in the months that had passed, how many ideas born in the first workshop were being validated or developed in the world, with customers, and how the offering was being focused.

  • Week 138

    9 June 2015

    The usual pattern of the week – primarily Selworthy, coupled with a few personal projects or trickling future work forward – was broken up this week with a couple of days workshopping with Max and Mike from After The Flood. Productive, interesting, and challenging as ever.

    Selworthy continues to be in a strong position: we’re wrapping up a few very last features before we get ready for deploying it for a client.

    And Richard and I continue to chat about Twinklr. Lots of interesting discussion points, from player pianos to modular sequencers this week, and lots of new images shared to our moodboard on Pinterest. We’re at the phase of the project where the more ideas and diversions, the better: we’ll start narrowing things down later.

  • Week 95

    11 August 2014

    I’m sat in the Hubbub studio in Utrecht. I’ve been visiting for a few days, and on my final morning, thought I’d catch up with Kars, and borrow a desk to catch up on some email. It’s lovely. A pleasant, cool space with excellent light, and Vechtclub XL (the co-working/studio environment Kars’ studio is part of) is wonderful: lots of makers, craftsfolk, and designers under some very big roofs. I’m a little jealous.

    Week 95 was short. I spent it in Newcastle, running a three day workshop for CreateInnovate with David Varela. In that time, we took four pairs of filmmakers through a crash-course in what’s described as ‘cross-media’. I focused on technology and procedural work; David spoke a lot about writing and story, and we both neatly intersected around narrative and games.

    It was a busy, exciting three days. We managed to cram a lot in, thanks in particular to some diverse guest speakers Skyping in on Monday afternoon, and thanks also to the enthusiasm of the participants. It’s always exciting to go on a journey with new people, because you never quite know where you’ll end up – and I certainly left with many new ideas, not to mention a broader window onto Film. And, of course, it was a delight to work formally with David for the first time.

    The rest of the week was spent out of the studio, visiting friends in Utrecht, and how I come to be in Kars’ studio. Back in the UK, at the Guardian, on the Tuesday of week 96 – and then it all begins again.

  • Week 21

    11 March 2013

    Very busy this week.

    Early in the week, I helped Amblr with a workshop in Bristol as part of their REACT Sandbox project, The Next Time[line]. Coming into a short project very briefly, I wasn’t quite sure what role I’d take – design? Code? Something else?

    In the end I bounced between people, in a role very similar to what we used to call “Sheriff” in Berg workshops: holding people to their word, making sure explanation is clear, being firm, pushing through to get decisions made. Hard work, but it was a productive two days, and everything’s lined up for the final weeks of the sandbox. Always interesting to work on other projects like this.

    However, the bulk of the week was focused on bringing Dundry in to land. That means: implementing one last feature, just enough polish to make it feel less hacky and more like it has the potential to be a thing, and lots of documentation.

    I’d produced wireframes early on to sketch the interactions in the project – but they’re not the only documentation I’ve been working on. I’ve also been making notes on the data structures within the project – simple explanations of the schema, of course, accompanied with some of the reasoning behind how they ended up there – and talking a little about the decisions made in the rendering layer, which, though not the focus of the project, turns out to be where a lot of the engineering meat of the prototype lies, and which needs to have a very carefully considered architecture in any future versions.

    And I’m probably going to produce a short screencast. Videos are useful cultural currency – easily shared – but also serve as documentation, illustration, and proof of a project that works even offline; live demos are great, but not when you haven’t got a network connection. I’ve been making little videos throughout the project to demonstrate it to the client, and it appears to have been helpful.

    I’m hoping to ship final documentation and code – or at least, nearly final – before the beginning of Week 21.

    And then it’s onto new things: next week sees the beginning of Detling over at Caper, which should be really interesting: a tight, creative project, about social listening.

    Busy, then – and a learning experience about how to slot various projects together, how to make sure that timelines don’t collide too much, and how to push myself forward at a reasonably rate when I need to get things done. As ever: onwards.

  • Week 6

    23 November 2012

    Week 6 began with a couple of days helping Alex with a workshop.

    I also a spent a day with the fine folk of Pan exploring some pitch work – and it was lovely to just be in a space, working through ideas with them; they’re all good folk.

    Squeezed into Wendesday was a day of writing: working up a draft for the Four Thought talk in just under two weeks.

    Thursday saw the launch of Spirits Melted Into Air, a piece of work for the RSC that I’ve mentioned in passing (but not detail) in weeknotes a few times. It’s now live and in the world, and I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out; it’s nice to finally be able to show people a piece of work.

    And now it’s Friday. I’m writing this from the back of economy on the way to the US, for a last-minute, spur-of-the-moment holiday – I’ll be in New York for the next week, taking some time to take stock, settle my head, and see the sights (and friends). Do say hello if you’d like to. I’m also going to take the time to perhaps write a little, and think about trajectories. But mainly, I’m going to eat, read, and have a bit of a holiday and an adventure.