Connections, Ideas and Emotions


Do you listen to tweets, real ones ?


July 2010: It was a year ago this week, we had #CozyTweetUp in the Queeens front Garden – St James Park, the blog post from that night is below, it was awesomeness, a lot of love, really. This year we are gathering at Regents Park, and celebrating Glenn @Lesanto 50th Birthday. See you in the park around 7ish – Baker Street tube entrance – somehwere around there. Just tweet #CozyTweetUp.

Skip to the first photo below of a Picnic if you’re not interested in a *Totally* indulgent section about me, it could be be a waste of your time and I wouldn’t want that.

If you know me from Twitter, you can also skip to the picnic photo if you want, as you probably know all the stuff below already.

Where to start, erm…I’m a very fortunate man, discounting monetary value, I  believe I am quite rich, certainly in 2009 anyway, who knows what might happen in 2010 though ?

Why and how am I rich? (you maybe thinking, oh please)

  1. I don’t have to work the 9-5 (does that exist?) five days a week , but I do have to work, which I love because, I love my work, so it doesn’t feel like work (most of the time).
  2. I have three sons, the age spread is 21, 16 and 8 – all three have different natural talents and they know what unconditional love is. Jayne my partner loves me (still) too. I’m surrounded by love.
  3. Physically, despite my best efforts (I smoke too much), I have good health, I am not impeded in anyway,  hearing, sight, touch, smell, no disfigurements and all my limbs function.
  4. Mentally, I invest in the fitness of my mind. I’m paid by some to think ( others to talk), so it makes sense for me to spend money on servicing my mind. I am blessed with a two forms of intelligence, the “normal” ( i.e. measured) IQ and Emotional Intelligence (CISCO rate it, I like CISCO, but not academia really, I could be wrong though?).
  5. I’m trusted, respected, quoted and I’ve been “missed” (being “missed” is I think the greatest compliment you can receive) both on a personal and professional level.
  6. I know how to love men as well as women and I’m not afraid to cry. ( I cried the heaviest for many years a few weeks back when Richard Mitchell died, Richard was just 28 and a truly exceptional young man).
  7. I may have another 20 years on the planet with my good health.
  8. I know how to use the internet, Wifi and some other mobile devices. I can have a good Mac and when I need to I can buy “Game Changing” gadgets like the iPhone.
  9. I’ve worked (and still work) at a senior level in industry, I really get about 🙂 For example: I’ve been with Bill Gates in a meeting for over the usual  hour.  (please… it’s not a brag, just trying to frame things for later). And right now, my embryonic business is starting to progress beautifully into it’s next stage.
  10. I can dance and I love music. But I’m not big on Rock, not sure why, I think because I can’t dance to Rock, I feel stupid when i try to dance to it.
  11. Because of Twitter, the number of wonderful people that are a part of my life has  blossomed like a great big like a sunflower over the last 12 months.
  12. I belong.

If you have listened to my tweets ( I say listened, because a tweet is a noise right?) over the last year or so, you would know all of that 🙂

If you haven’t listened, I don’t blame you 🙂 I’m noisy, and it’s a bloody noisy place, full of all sorts including Porn Spammers (that’s the internet I’m afraid)

I haven’t always been rich, I started  life very poor (maybe one day I’ll cover the poverty story, this is about life’s richness) which is why this week has been such a special week and I just wanted to share it.

CozyTweetUp Nomnomnom

I went to a #CozyTweetUp Picnic this week, I missed the first one (#CozyTweetUp) in the restaurant, because Joe(21) had SwineFlu. But @mazi asked me where we should do the next one, I said a picnic in St James Park London SW1 (Her Majesty the Queen’s Front Garden) and @ilicco agreed. Then as he does @mazi made it happen, even securing a drinks sponsors because of Twitter conversation with @hedgewhytch (pic below)


Sponsor 1. #Magners… who delivered 7 cases (84 bottles) of Pear Cider to my flat in Westminster. Thank you #Magners ( and their London based digital marketing agency), it was delicious I loved it. I don’t drink pints of anything usually. so here’s to Pear Cider 🙂


Sponsor 2. #Media140 who I went to the Tesco’s with to grab some wine, plastic glasses, black bin bags and some ice. Ande (#Media140 Founder) picked up the bill out of his own pocket as well as the Black Cab fare to the park. “Well Played” Ande thank you very much.

#Media140 Founder

#Media140 Founder

So… We arrive at the park and someone is “on” Ande within seconds, literally as we were getting out of the cab, nice guy was congratulating Ande on his London and Sydney events being confirmed. Anyway, walking up to the picnic area there are loads of people (scarey to walk up to) under three big and beautiful shady trees, it 30 degrees in London. Thankfully ( I get really nervous entering any kind of gathering, just the entrance bit.) I was greeted by Izzy who had also invited Olie. Olie had decided to do a wonderful spread of food, enough for 5/10 people maybe (see first pic in this post).  Amazing!  he also brought along some nightlight candles to take the edge of the darkness. I had never met Olie, so Olie was, you could say, a total stranger! from Twitter!

Has that ever happened to you ? Someone you’ve never met before, creates and serves food for you by candlelight for no other reason than kindness and a desire to connect. It’s weird stuff some might say, for me, it’s a new age of computing and communication. The art for me will be, how we you use online to connect people offline to deliver real, social and world change. Mankind 2.0 by 2050 maybe 🙂

Anyway, back to the picnic! The Picnic was a first for me. Heading to the park, for a picnic with friends and friends of friends after work is something I have never done before, I’m in 41 years old, I felt like a child. But… this is no ordinary picnic, it’s a picnic for “twits” or is it “twats” ?  well I prefer “tweeters” myself, so I can relax and just be a me and enjoy the moments.

The picnic lasted about three hours. And for three hours I was just in this bubble of relaxed pleasure with some great people, (some uber smart and earthy), some I knew, most I didn’t. One person, Britt traveled all the way from Devon for the picnic, and saw her kids in London on the same day. “Well played Britt” 🙂 [When I use “Well Played” it’s in the style of a very pleased Football (Soccer) manager.]

Inevitably I got a little merry on the cider, It doesn’t take much for me to get a little cheeky and say edgey things to shock or make people laugh, sometimes I get it wrong and offend people ( it mortifies me), I’ve seen Jayne cringe several times over the last 21 years (that’s another post I guess).

About 2 hours in, I was stumbling through the darkness trying to avoid treading on rugs and food etc, as I was stumbling around Vikky reached out with her voice, “Daren, this is one of the most lovely nights, this year”. Hearing those words, from a person I had only met a few weeks previously, whom I admire and respect, just melted me.


Well… I’ve never had a large picnic in the park with friends, especially not in the beautiful St James Park and since being a  kid, I have always dreamt of it.  Vikki re-enforced my own feelings of just how lovely the picnic was, it felt surreal, it was Perfect! actually. I don’t think you can get any richer than that. And “that” is being with friends, feeling at one with them and sharing your thoughts and feelings with them. We often share our frustrations with our family and friends, how often do you share your feelings of enjoyment ?

Thank you Vikki and James who tweeted the same feelings the next day.

IMG_1873 IMG_1876

So… that’s it really, a beautiful night in a park with friends, for very little expense but with a big bag of Happiness in return. I was brought up to believe happiness was achieved by having more than somebody else, a better car, a bigger house, more fashionable clothes, in my house, even being a better fighter (harder) was supposed make me happier. Luckily that’s all behind me now (my  up bringing), and my son’s have certainly never had a whiff of such nonsense. If you can find some happiness, you’re rich, and you’re richer than most, because to me, it just “feels” like there ain’t (I know that’s not a word) a busting lot of true happiness in society. Except on Twitter of course 🙂

The picture slide show below was put together by Benjamin Ellis (great man). The pictures in the show were taken by Paul Clarke, Ilicco and Benjamin. I hope you enjoy the slide show. I like listening to the track from Elbow, performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra (I trained at Ashridge Management College with a wonderful man from the BBC Concert Orchestra team) – One Day Like This.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “cozytweetup tag“, posted with vodpod


Is Twitter a real community?

Let me start by looking at two definitions of Twitter:

  1. Twitter.com defines itself as a social messaging utility for staying connected in real time.
  2. About.com expands this definition: it’s miniature blog, a social messaging and news reporting tool and is used for social media marketing.

I would also include that it’s a network building tool where people ‘like you’ can discuss anything (in 140 characters) and take an online relationship offline via conferences and tweetups.

My thought
I’ve been using Twitter daily for a few months and have seen people using it for different things: heated discussions (Twitter doesn’t lend itself very well to following these threads), asking questions, arranging meetups or conferences and up to the minute news stories (e.g. Iran election, Michael Jackson’s death). I’ve met a few people on Twitter that perhaps I would have never met in the normal course of my life – very interesting people and not those in my industry. One of those people is Daren (@DarenBBC) whose analogy of Twitter is the easiest one to understand and goes something like this:

Map in a pub

Image from Steven Carver - Flickr.com

You move into a new area and go to the local pub that’s nearby. You order your drink and sit down. You watch people and observe how they interact with each other. You finish your drink and go home. You return the following day and do exactly the same as the day before. You go through the same routine for a few days even weeks. By observing those around you, you form impressions and you know which are the people you want to avoid and which you’d like to talk to. One day, you go into the pub with the intention of starting a conversation – these people are not at this specific moment in time, your friends – but you do engage in a conversation.

So, you’ve been going to the pub regularly and the people in the pub have become your friends. These are the friends that are happy to see you as soon as you walk through the door, that will talk to you about anything that pops into their heads or who include you in the conversation they’re having with their friends. Some nights you go in and the pub isn’t full of any of your usual friends and other nights, the pub is the place to be – full of fun and banter.

Missing out
We know the obvious thing that happens when you don’t go out to the pub is that you miss the conversations your friends are taking part in. You miss the gossip, the invitations to events, etc. but you don’t worry because you know that the next time you see them, if it’s really important, they’ll fill you in. The unimportant things will be left unsaid – they only filled the gaps throughout the night any way.

For me, Daren’s analogy is perfect – someone explaining Twitter in a way that’s easily understood!

The missing bit at the introduction stage
Daren’s analogy covers people who engage with Twitter after a while but what about those who don’t. Going back to the analogy, you get some transients – those that either accidentally stumble across the pub or those whose friends have recommended it. These people may pop into the pub to have a drink and they may never come back. Can we entice them back? I guess that answer needs it’s own separate post.

Popular kids on the block
Of those new people that have moved from introduction to integration, hopefully very few, if any, will be exposed to an uncomfortable scenario. It’s the one where the ‘popular’ people won’t allow any new people into their circle (unless they’re popular too). I have noticed the cliques forming on Twitter, it may have something to do with the fact that I’m new to the area. The characteristics that I’ve found are that they have a managed to get a huge number of followers yet they only seem to engage with a few over and over again and do not reach out to anyone else. There are exceptions to this and I don’t want to say that everyone that has a huge number of natural followers behave in the same way, some are extremely inclusive.

Community leaders?
I’d like people, who have experienced the benefits of Twitter, to reach out to newbies, to try to engage with them – not all newbies feel confident enough to approach people with huge follower numbers, after all, they are new in town and observing.

How many times have we heard the following from people who aren’t active Twitter users:

“I don’t want to hear about people washing their hair or about what they’ve had for dinner.”

Yet, some will still go to the trouble of setting themselves up on Twitter. For those of us who’ve been on Twitter for a while, we can see the benefits of the site whether personally or professionally and if we want to help this site grow into a community, we have some responsibility for ensuring we engage new people and that their first experience is so fruitful that they’ll come back.

So, next time you see someone on their own – just say hi. 🙂


What’s the story with #Habitat Intern?

This is my first post on Daren’s blog – the opinions therefore are mine and not Daren’s.  His passion is short comms and you’ll find him on Twitter – @DarenBBC (He’ll also be writing his thoughts on here from time to time)

So, back to the story.  As someone who works for a big corporate, I must say that I’ve looked and observed with interest how the HabitatUK story has unfolded over the past few weeks.

For those who are oblivious to HabitatUK’s venture on twitter the first case study came out a couple of days after: How not to use Twitter: HabitatUK as a case study. Basically, HabitatUK were using the tags in trending topics to market their wares.

Image from Digital Tip – How not to use Twitter: HabitatUK as a case study

It was particularly insensitive as there was political unrest in Iran at the time and some of the tags were those closely associated to the troubles.  So what followed was of course predictable, the twitter community are eagle-eyed and saw what was unfolding.  The retweets and comments started soon after.  Even the media (BBC, Telegraph.co.uk, SkyNews) picked up the story. HabitatUK’s response – delete all of the tweets they had ever written (bad move).  The next tweet was quite controlled:

@HabitatUK tweet 20 June

Apology – too little, too late?

They made no reference to what had happened until 24th June – too little, too late?  Then they blamed the error on an intern.  Habitat’s press office sent a letter to Social Media Today:

Habitat explains

The hashtag #HabitatIntern is born

So, now here is where Daren gets involved.  He is trying to hunt down the intern that was blamed for the hashtag debacle and offer training and an internship with him. Some of his followers also tried to help by offering CD’s and vinyl records to find the intern.  One of Daren’s followers amended Habitat’s wikipedia page with a spam entry.

There have been over 200 tweets written by Daren and others trying to find this intern to no avail.

#HabitatIntern tag

HabitatUK’s response so far, well there hasn’t been one.  I would have thought that although it’s quite hard for a big corporate to respond to all tweets (as there are other more appropriate channels), HabitatUK should have taken Daren’s concern offline as soon as they saw that he had managed to engage other people in his quest – this didn’t happen.

Daren has given HabitatUK a deadline of 4pm UK time to respond… what happens next? Only Daren knows 🙂


Some Twitter friends

I have been on twitter for a while and during this time, I have managed to engage some people and built online friendships.  The people that I have met are of all ages, professions and even countries.  It is always a pleasure to speak to the people that follow me and also new people on twitter.  We are all redefining the word friendship. To honour this, in an Al Pacino Scarface voice: “Say Hello to some of my Twitter Friends!!”

Get your twitter mosaic here.


#UnderAPound #Under2Bucks – Share some pleasure

This blog post won’t change the world… but maybe, just maybe it might inspire folks to share some joy and pleasure. That’s the simple aim of #UnderAPound and #Under2Bucks. It won’t happen without *you* though.

One of my favourite days on Twitter is Saturday, the mornings are chilled, the afternoons can get footballie sometimes, and in the evening you can stumble on a #DrunkenTweet or two, always makes me smile.

But when I think about it… Saturday is my favourite day of the week, it’s rare that I don’t treat myself somehow on a Saturday, so it got me thinking…

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ejpphoto/

Twitter and Saturday, Saturday! What a day!

What about a day when people share a simple pleasure, something that makes them feel happy or content. Something that costs less than £1 or $2 (or any world currency equivalent) and tweet it with the Hashtag #UnderAPound or #Under2Bucks for USA.

So many creative and imaginative people  hang out on twitter that I just can’t help but feel (and mentally picture) a Saturday where loads of ideas are floating around the twittersphere. I can see folks performing a quick Twitter Search for #UnderAPound or #Under2Bucks before they head for the shops.  Maybe you could discover something really cool and that you’ve never tried before, but best of all, for #UnderAPound or #Under2Bucks

I launched a proof of concept last Saturday (May 9th 2009, Jayne’s birthday) and it seemed to go down quite well, some great ideas (and personalities) came out quite quickly with their ideas and even dirty secrets 🙂

Picture 59

Picture 57


Picture 67

Picture 66

Picture 58

So… my treat if you’re interested is an  iTune 79p or a McD’s Cheezburger 89p.

I think some amazing ideas could be unleashed leading to some great connections between people  if #UnderAPound #Under2Bucks catches on..I’m trying to think of a downside, maybe you can tell me one ?

A great guy @lesanto launched a #Hashtag this week called #WhyITweet , the results were amazing, I really enjoyed reading some of the tweets, lets hope with your support we can all share #UnderAPound & #Under2Bucks ideas every Saturday.

All you have to do is share what you love and enjoy that costs under £1 or $2 Bucks on Twitter, for newbies you type out you’re tweet and add the following #UnderAPound or #Under2Bucks – that’s it 🙂 Give it a try for me ?

Maybe, brands will get involved in the future, selling us things that are usually £20/$40 for a £1/$2 , well we can dream can’t we.

For the first few weeks I’m going to RT the #UnderAPound / Under2Bucks ideas that come in, so if you want to follow me on Twitter I’m http://twitter.com/DarenBBC – BBC stands for Building Better Connections , not the UK Broadcaster.

Have a great Saturday and hope you find something very cool or pleasurable for #UnderAPound or #Under2Bucks

Thanks to @Dizzle ( “The Bonce” of EnabledbyDesign )who really encouraged me to give this a go.