Some time ago, I used to work for a company called Conchango (now EMC Consulting UK).Â It was a great place, with some really fantastic people, although I’ve lost touch with many of them in the intervening years. Even so, some of the guys and gals at Conchango EMC Consulting [sorry, can't get used to the bland corporate name for such a creative company] pop up from time to time on the same social networks as me (online and physical) and I’d started to see reference to this thing called The Fantastic Tavern (TFT for short).
TFT is run by Matt Bagwell (@mattbagwell) and Michelle Flynn (@michelleflynn), and when I asked Michelle what it’s all about she suggested I come along and see. Last night I did just that and found the whole event quite inspirational (although the free beer probably helped too!).
The Fantastic Tavern sounds rather magical: like platform 9Â¾ at London Kings Cross station; or something from a Terry Pratchett novel. In reality, it’s a meetup, in a pub, with two themes: beer and ideas. The people who come along are called Taverners and we all do something digital – whether it’s as practitioners, clients, or in agencies. The rules are simple: have a drink; exchange ideas; but no selling!
Last night’s TFT was entitled “What happens now?” and there were ten speakers, each given a few minutes to talk on their chosen topic, which was then rated on a care graph (do we care? vs. will we take action?). Don’t ask me what happens to that information later (it was my first visit) but it might have something to do with future events.
The diversity of topics was pretty wide – but they all had something in common – they were genuinely interesting!
- Lee Provoost (@leeprovoost) from Headshift spoke about privacy, how it’s not a black and white issue, and the need to control the grey area in between (think about what we share with whom – and to educate our children to do the same).
- Chris Thompson from Ravensbourne Hub spoke about the need to radically change the way that we look at education – with a new seamlessness between education and business.
- Sam Duncan-Brown (@samdb) from A&N Media spoke about the rise, rise and fall of news – how journalists are finding (and need to continue to find) new models for the digital age.
- Gabriel Hopkins (@gabehopkins) from WorldPay showed us how mobile commerce is becoming ever more significant in the world of online payments.
- Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe (@gilbertrolfe) from EMC Consulting talked about tribalism – using AFC Wimbledon as an example of of how football has very little to do with players, coaches, kit, balls and a stadium; and a lot more to do with identity, community and Â a collective intent.
- Chris Howell from Dixon Stores Group talked about finding “Jack” (“Jack of all trades… Master of none, sometimes better than the master of one”) – how we don’t need experts but people who can work outside their comfort zones and evolve to cope with many different roles.
- Ted Hunt from This Is Helpful spoke about why now is the now – Taoism and living in a real-time connected society.
- Dominic Vallely from See The Difference (@stdifference) talked about why charities need to change and give the power back to people.
- Gavin Payne (@gavinpayneuk) asked who owns my information in this age of social media? And how are the organisations that hold it accountable to me?
- Finally, Richard Sedley (@richardsedley) from Foviance talked about time and the information deficit – how he (and we) use time poorly.
My first visit to The Fantastic Tavern was enlightening – and I was genuinely in awe of the creative talents that surrounded me. I’m definitely planning on being at the next one (even though it involves schlepping into London… or New York!). Â Find more at The Fantastic Tavern site (or @TFTLondonNYC).
[Updated 14 February 2011 with full speaker names/organisations and links to presentations]