Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A New Logo for Brrism

The great thing about the web is that it makes everything so visual and exciting. The downside, of course, is that everything that is not visual and exciting is doomed to be lost in the background noise.

Back in the summer, when I wasn't even sure if Brrism would get off the ground, I realized that if it did not have a graphical identity it would also get lost and so, armed with a Creative Commons image, an open source graphical editor (the GIMP) and approximately 30 minutes of spare time I came up with the Brrism “prism” logo. This logo featured on Brrism's Twitter account, the EventBrite events pages, the blog, etc etc. The logo has done its job. But the time has come to put the "dark side of the moon" logo out to pasture and to come up with something a bit more professional.

Karl Louden of MakeDesignEnjoy designs logos for a living and when he offered his services to Brrism free of charge I gratefully accepted. Karl facilitated some logo brainstorming at the last Brrism meeting and came up with the design you see on this page.

I like it for a number of reasons:

  • It’s simple and easily recognizable
  • The shape works at large and small sizes (right down to favicon size).
  • The shape is distinctive enough to be used in different colours and still retain the Brrism "essence".
  • It makes Brrism look friendly, human and fun. (Come to a meeting and you'll realise that's what we're about.)
  • The shape of the b looks like a hand with the index finger extended or a thumbs up sign. Both of which have positive connotations.
  • It’s memorable
  • All of the people that I’ve showed it to so far have liked it.
  • Most importantly, it draws attention to the double r in Brrism. (The double R is necessary for uniqueness - URL & IDs - and for SEO. As well as reflecting Bristol's Brrizzle burr.)

I've been involved with logo design in the past and I know what a sensitive, subjective subject it can be. Past experience has shown me that you can't please everyone all the time and also that, sometimes, logos can attract initial skepticism only to later grow on people. But this is very much a collective community and so I ask: What do Brrismers think of it?

Please let’s have a discussion on twitter (hashtag: #brrismlogo), the wiki, LinkedIn group, or this blog (leave comments below). Negative comments are, of course, welcome - so long as they are constructive. If you don't like the logo, please say why.

We will, of course, be able to discuss it face to face when we meet again (the next Brrism meeting is scheduled for the 20th January). Over to you, Brrismers...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

December's Fail Whale

I don't know what the world is coming to! Real life gets in the way of social media and December's Brrism is cancelled due to mince pies.

But don't worry. Brrism is returning in the New Year with a new, revised format: future Brrisms will feature three speakers and three separate discussion streams.

The next Brrism will be on Wednesday 20th January with the following line up:

The icebreaker will be the "2009 Social Media Memory Game".

Watch this space for more details.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Brrism 4 - the one with the daemons

Everybody brought along a daemon to last week's Brrism event. There was a snow leopard, lions, bears, mice and even a giant panda. The daemons were of the Philip Pulman/Golden Compass variety and they were all part of the Brrism icebreaker.

We'd experimented with an icebreaker at Brrism3, and now with the experience of Brrism4 under our belts, the icebreaker is here to stay. Icebreakers are a wonderful technique to use and, in the Brrism context, they seem to: Increase energy levels in the room, encourage people to open up and start talking to each other (an effect that persists long after the icebreaker finishes) and, from what I saw, foster a sense of community. Which, after all, is what Brrism is all about. And they're good fun too!

Social media is more about people than it is technology and so this post is mainly about people. Peter Tecks (Giant Panda) turned up to the meeting with more cameras and re-chargable batteries than you could shake a stick at and his photostream can be seen here. (Videos will be online soon and we'll also post the photos to facebook.) Ady Harold (Roe Deer) was "twitter scribe" and broadcast #Brrism tweets from her twitter account. Sam Downie (Snow Leopard), webcast the entire proceedings from his Mac and, much to my amazement, a few people watched the webcast from home! Karl Louden facilitated a Brrism Branding session which has started off a conversation about what we want Brrism to be (in terms of mood, brand values etc). More from Karl later. We also had some lovely catering for the event but on that topic I'm sworn to secrecy! The only thing I can say is the caramel shortbread was superb...

We actually had some serious discussion about social media too. The theme of the meeting was Social Media Machinery. The problem with "social media" is that it is a collection of disparate tools and they all need to be connected in order to achieve some overall aim. The interesting thing is that this particular "machine" consists of people as well as technology. (William S. Burroughs called this part the "soft machine".) The cogs and levers not only consist of Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc but also consist of individuals, groups, process and, strangely enough, games. Hence the daemons.

The overall turnout wasn't as good as usual and I think that may have been due to a last minute date change. There were also a few people who were off sick (including one who's still suffering from the lurgy even as I write). But despite that, virtually everyone at the meeting piled over to the Watershed for Apres Brrism. Which makes me think that Brrism has turned the corner in terms of being here to stay. Social Media is alive and well in Bristol!

Monday, 16 November 2009

You and your Daemon

This blog post is aimed at people who are attending this Thursday's Brrism event. If you've haven't signed up yet, there are still a few tickets left on EventBrite.

Bristol Social Media events aren't just about social media - they are also designed to be entertaining, fun and encourage networking. That's why we had the Who Are You Hoedown at the last meeting. (If you are interested in hoedown please read the Brrism blog entry or what other people said about it on their blog: Ady Harold, Emma Newman, Team Rubber.)

The hoedown was incredibly well received and the only bad thing I heard said about it was that it was a bit long. So, naturally, we're going to do a another icebreaker - only shorter.

This one's called "You and your Daemon" and, as well as ticking the usual boxes (fun, icebreaking, networky) it also has relevance to the Brrism Branding session that we are running at the tail end of Brrism4.

The way it works will be explained on the night, all you have to do right now is to choose your daemon. In case you haven't read the books or seen the film then a daemon is the animal that represents your inner self, your hidden self. If your inner self is a perfectionist and concerned in getting things absolutely right then you might like to take a look at this YouTube video to make sure you understand the concept. Otherwise choose the first animal that pops into your head - you might find that your subconscious chosen the right one for you.

Once you've decided on YOUR daemon simply fill out this form and we'll make sure you've got a natty little name badge when you arrive at the event on Thursday. See you there!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Brrism4 - Social Media Machinery

As everyone who’s watched this video knows, its very important to “hook your twitter into your facebook and plug your blogfeed into your reader” and, in a tongue in cheek way, we’d have to agree. Plugging things together is important but the real idea behind Social Media Machinery is about using different social media tools in a coordinated way to achieve some sort of objective (business or otherwise).

The fourth Brrism meeting takes place at the Pervasive Media Studio on Thursday 19th November. It's meet at 6:30 for 7 PM start and after 2 hours we'll decamp and carry on the conversation over a drink or two at the Watershed. If a picture paints a thousand words then this photo album will give you an idea of what to expect.
Thanks once again to the fantastic Pervasive Media Studio for the use of their excellent facilities and, once again, you must sign up on EventBrite (see below).


Previous Brrism events have “sold out” so grab your ticket fast but please don’t sign up unless you’re pretty sure you can attend – otherwise you’re denying a ticket to someone else.

Everyone’s welcome, social media expert or beginner alike. And if you are a beginner then we promise that no one will offer to “hook your twitter into your facebook”. Or at least I hope they won’t…


  • Intro, overview
  • Social Media machinery – Developing systems, copying best practice, how to construct the Brrism social media machine (discuss & collect Tweet Seed)
  • Google Wave – overview & demonstration (discuss & collect Tweet Seed)
  • Mixer
  • 1 hour long unconference session where Brrismers can pick up on topics picked up in the Tweet Seed or simply discuss their own stuff.
  • Brrism branding – MakeDesignEnjoy have offered to design a Brrism logo. This is where we brief them.
  • Washup & decamp to Watershed

What on earth is "Tweet Seed"?

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Brrism3 - The one with the Hoedown

I was never a big fan of Friends but the one thing I liked was that they always gave the episodes straightforward titles. Even after all these years you’ll probably remember "The One with Ross's Wedding" or "The One with Joey's Fridge" just because the titles map onto the way that we organize memories in our brains.

The original title for the third episode of Brrism was “Who Are You” but I’m sure it will be remembered as “The One with the Hoedown” judging by the feedback and the blog articles that have been written about it. If you weren’t there you could read Ady’s (from Sticky Media) blog post or Emma’s (from Your Nisaba). The pictures tell their own story. The hoedown generated a huge amount of energy in the room, got everybody got talking and (this is only my impression) improved the sense of community around Brrism.

The Hoedown was the creation of an old friend of mine, Penelope Else, who sweated blood over the format and, ironically, the actual namebadges. All I did was come up with a the name. Thank you very much, Pen, you deserve a round of Twitter applause. (Social Media Experiment: If you enjoyed the hoedown, please tweet with the hashtag #thankspenelope.)

I’d also like to thank Lee Cottier who facilitated the feedback session at the end. I chose Lee to do this not only because he’s a great facilitator but also because I want to stress to people that Brrism is not mine – I’m just the catalyst (if you recall the Starfish and Spider terminology of the first Brrism). The reason why I have had to put so much of me into the event is that groups are a bit like snowballs. You have to push them a long way before they gather enough snow to carry on rolling on their own. But the snowball seems to be picking up pace. People have started to volunteer for Brrism jobs. Not just the sexy ones like volunteering to speak at the next Brrism but also the boring ones. I won’t list all the volunteers here (you’ll get a mention elsewhere) but I’ll pick out Paul Matthews of UWE for a special mention since he has volunteered to bring along the food and drink for the next meeting! You wouldn’t believe how heavy all that beer, nibbles and fruit juice is to carry so I’m totally over the moon.

The results of the feedback session were interesting. Some of you it seems are so interested in social media that you end up boring the pants off your friends/colleagues/partners. I can relate to that and so Brrism is appreciated as a place where we can talk about this interesting new field without fear of stifled yawns or rolled eyes. People also said that they were impressed with the turnout and energy levels. (Yes, I was too!)

From a negative point of view, it seems that Brrism has so many social media channels that attention is diluted, messages get lost and confusion sets in. The group self-solved this problem and we agreed that a Brrism portal (acting as an index to social media channels) is the way forward here and there’ll be another blog post about that soon. There was also talk that the sessions need to have more of a practical element to them. That’s probably true and the reason why the first three Brrisms have had a “high level concept” as their theme has been the result of my experience with the Bristol Knowledge CafĂ© (run by Bristol’s own Ed Mitchell). I think the conceptual approach works for the BKC but future Brrisms will be more practically oriented. Again, watch this space for a future blog article about the future format of Brrism.

Thanks for reading so far and, if you came to the meeting, thanks for your input too. I hope you can come to the next one – it'll be held on November 18th at the Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol.

Post Blog Updates:
Rubber Ductions also wrote a blog post (but there were more people there than their picture suggests!)
We also said at the meeting that we would try an experiment where we would tag our delicious entries with the tag "brrism" if we thought they'd be interesting to other Brrismers.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Who Are You (October's Brrism Meeting)

The persona you project (via social media) dictates the response you'll get. This is hard enough for individuals to get right but its even more difficult for organisations where the "persona" equates to the brand.

The third Brrism meeting takes place at the Pervasive Media Studio on the 21st October. It's meet at 6:30 for 7 PM start and after 2 hours we'll decamp and carry on the conversation over a drink or two at the Watershed. The previous two Brrisms have attracted about 30 people apiece and attendees have ranged from business owners, technical managers, social media newbies and even the local MP.

The meeting will be similar to the first two but with a few minor tweaks. If you attended the last meeting, you'll have received a brief questionnaire and, if you responded, we listened to what you've said. You asked for more mixers/icebreakers/networking opportunities; and you asked for more practicals/how to. We think we've taken this on board and so this is the meeting line up:
  • Who are you? Online identities determine the response we get from the social media "universe". How can we see ourselves as others see us? How can we put across what we think we're putting across? This session will comprise of a very short presentation from @KobB coupled with a group exercise that also acts as an icebreaker and mixer.
  • Twitter Tools. A quick tour of twitter tools and how they can help you.
  • "Ready, Steady, Social Media" - this is a bit like "Ready, Steady, Cook" but involves less food, more social media and a lot more audience participation.
  • Knowledge Cafe - (what's this?) this is an informal networking session where you can form your own groups, talk to who you want, and do your own thing. NEW: Give other people a heads up as to what you want to talk about in the Cafe by adding your name to the wiki page.
Its FREE to attend and there's FREE Wi-Fi at the venue so please bring your laptops. You'll get a lot more out of the Who Are You session if you do, plus we'll be doing an informal demo of Google Wave and, if you have a laptop, you might be able to join in. Laptops are also good because tweeting during the event is positively encouraged. Just remember to use the hashtag #brrism. Or, even simpler, just put brrism in your tweets and they'll pop out here. (Where, if you've signed up for the wiki, you'll find you can use threaded replies.)

You must sign up on EventBrite!!! (We were oversubscribed for the first event.)

Can you help?: I'm looking for people to help with the next Brrism. Here are a list of meeting jobs. Plus, if you know someone who would like to speak at the next Brrism please let me know. Note: speakers are not allowed to use the platform to sell anything.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sorry, Brrism is sold out

Brrism is sold out? Really? Really!

I suppose that's both good news and bad news. Good news that Brrism is so well supported. Bad news in that some people will have to be turned away.

If you haven't been able to sign up I'm really, really sorry. The problem is that the venue, the Pervasive Media Studio, struggles to hold more than 30. We are working to find a bigger venue for the second event (scheduled for September 16th) but obviously that doesn't help you right now. If you'd really like to come to the launch event then please email me and we'll see what we can do.

If you are lucky enough to have signed up on EventBrite or Twtvite or Facebook then please bear in mind that since the event seems to be oversubscribed then it wouldn't be good if you've "booked a seat" and on the night you're a "no show". We all have to stay in an wash our hair sometimes but, if you have signed up but now know you can't come then please email me.

Of course, the above doesn't apply to Pervasive Media Studio residents because we can't exactly turn you away from your own studio can we? But if you plan on coming and haven't signed up, please could you drop me an email just so I can anticipate numbers.

Venue Owners: if you own (or are responsible for) a suitable venue and you'd like a way of attracting a sizeable number of Brrismers to your venue then please drop me a line. You must have space for about 50 people, wi-fi and, preferably, PC projection facilities.

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Birth of Brrism

Brrism – It’s Brrizzle for "Social Media"

Is Bristol Britain’s premier digital city? After all, its home to a cluster of new media industries, part of Silicon Gorge and has recently been named as one of Britain’s Science Cities.

It’s always been a surprise that, given this level of switched-on activity, there’s not been a forum for social media types in the city.

This is changing with Brrism, which is Brrizzle for Bristol Social Media.

We’re aiming Brrism at:
  • Bloggers / social media geeks
  • Website publishers / managers
  • Journalists / Writers
  • Artists / musicians
  • Photographers / videographers
  • Activists / social entrepreneurs
  • Businesses/marketers
  • Academics/researchers/writers

The first event is in Bristol on Wednesday evening, 19th August.
Sign up on twtvite, EventBrite or facebook. The Event is FREE. Yes, FREEEEEEE.

Meetings organisation will follow the ethos that social media tools themselves follow – a mixture of the pre-planned-predictability coupled with the ability to self-organise on the fly.

The Pre-planned predictability:
  • The third Wednesday of the month
  • At the Pervasive Media Studio
  • 6:30 for a 7PM start
  • Finish at 9 followed by drinks at the Watershed
  • A meeting theme which will be in the form of a 10-20 minute presentation/web-based-show-and-tell
  • A brief self-organisation period (i.e. how will the rest of the meeting be run)
  • An hour long “open space”
  • The venue has Wi-Fi and so live tweeting, video casting, etc is positively encouraged. (Meeting hashtag = #brrism)
  • Wrap-up/wash-up session at the end
  • Drinks at the Watershed afterwards
  • Meeting resources on delicious

Self-organisation on the fly:
  • We’ll decide what groups to split into (and what the groups will discuss) on the night. NB you are free to self organise! If you want a group that doesn’t discuss the meeting theme at all then that’s OK too.
  • Law of Two Feet states that you can leave any group and join another whenever you like (please be civil about it and remember that “social” is a big part of “social media”)
  • You can bring your own food and drink but please respect the Pervasive Media Studio – let’s not abuse their trust in us.
  • Next month’s meeting (theme, organisation, etc) can be discussed via twitter using hashtag #nextbrrism

The key point of all this is sharing is to have energising discussions, learn from each other and to have fun!

The first theme for the first meeting will be “The Starfish and the Spider” and you can get a feel for the book by its Wikipedia article. I don’t want to pre-empt the discussions (I really am keen to allow the group to set its own direction on the night) but I am hoping it could spawn some interesting conversations on how Brrism itself should be run.

Thanks for reading. My name is Michael Corbett and you can follow me on Twitter, be my friend on facebook or simply meet me at the Pervasive Media Studio. I’m looking forward to meeting you. You can also follow Brrism on Twitter.

Many thanks to the Pervasive Media Studio (@pmstudiouk) and Ed Mitchell (@edmittance) without whom this first meeting would not be able to take place.