Think and a Drink

Last Thursday I was invited by Gareth Rushgrove to speak on a panel at Codeworks’ Think and a Drink event in Newcastle.

Each month Codeworks orients the evening around a theme of interest for the (paying) audience…this month, the focus was on Web 2.0 & Business with a pair of talks from Gareth Rushgrove and BT’s Chief Web Services Architect, Paul Downey. Both talks largely focussed on Web 2.0 in general, rather than a particular focus on business or enterprise – that’s OK, maybe I misunderstood the brief 🙂

The panel session – which also included Hedgehog Lab‘s Sarat Pediredla – was much more broad ranging, exploring disruptive innovation, startup culture, routes to investment, consumer technology’s impact on the enterprise and the positive impact of that on productivity.

Some highlights included…

  • Meeting Codeworks’ CEO, Herb Kim for coffee just before the event – Herb has a really interesting background and seems to be making quite an impact with Codeworks’ role as a publicly-funded shepherd of the industry. I’m not sure how Codeworks compares to the MDDA or CSY, but they certainly put bmedi@ and Leeds Media to shame.
  • A cute demo of mojo from Paul Downey.
  • Meeting Sunderland-based Dutch entrepreneur, Dirk Kok of as well as Codeworks’ PR & Comms Manager Lewis Harrison and Aoife Ross.
  • A couple of guys who wanted me to explain how money could be made from social networks and open-source; I explained that I didn’t feel Facebook had longevity and that companies like Amazon, eBay, Google and countless startups are minting money from the utilisation of open source to create new value 🙂

My general impression is that the North East seems to be where Leeds and Manchester were perhaps in late 2006 and where Sheffield and Liverpool are right now. There’s a lotta energy and optimism but Newcastle’s tech+creative+digital communities are just starting to get a feel for how to find each other and collaborate; I’m pretty sure meetups like Refresh Newcastle, Think & A Drink and the upcoming Thinking Digital conference are only gonna make this a whole lot easier.

It’s easy to forget that the four other cities of the North are all handily arranged along the M62 and M1, less than an hour’s drive from each other. The North East is maybe physically more distant, but that could help avoid an echo chamber effect and lead to some distinctive digital culture for Newcastle and its neighbours.

If the M62 corridor can evolve into the North’s Silicon Valley, perhaps the North East will be its Seattle or Portland 🙂


  1. Hey Paul – it’d be really useful to have your talk online somewhere, there are too many great references there to hid it away 🙂
    Chuck me a link and I’ll wire it up to this post 🙂


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