I’ve taken a days leave today as I am shockingly wiped out but it has been another interesting week.
The big JISC event this week was JIF10 – a bi-annual conference that brings together representatives of the majority of the projects and services JISC funds. It took place at the stunning Royal Holloway Uni and was a great success with an interesting mix of plenary talks and more interactive sessions plus plenty of time to catch up with people.
For me the real highlights were the Thunderbolts and Lightning sessions expertly hosted by the trio of Flanders, Phipps and Danson. These kind of sessions are always a favourite of mine and this was a fine example of how to really make them work.
The panel session on ‘open’ at the end of day one was also great in the most part – Rufus Pollock from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Ross Gardler gave especially interesting talks that resonated with a great deal of my thinking these days.
There was also a fun ‘Dragons Den’ session on day two. I usually find these things a bit too contrived and as I pretty much hate the show anyway I’ve never been a great fan but this was well handled and with a couple of great and fun ideas from Mark ‘Call me Dave’ Stiles and Yorick Wilks. Not that there was anything wrong with what David Prosser spoke about but it just didn’t seem to have the spark or the scale of the other two. I think these things work best when the ideas really are BIG and blueskies otherwise it all just gets dragged down by the reality of the times.
I am however glad I left before the final session as I fear it may have soured the event for me. I had Googled the closing keynote in advance and could see that it was unlikely I would get through his talk without feeling uncomfortable and likely a little angry so I used the ‘law of two feet’ even if it wasn’t officially in effect and headed to the train station. Judging by the Twitter buzz I did the right thing – one colleague in particular seriously got irritated.
Anyway it was pretty great and I go to meet alot of people I’ve only known on Twitter previously as well as catch up with many JISC people I’ve known over the last seven and a half years. The likelihood is that this will be my last big JISC event so it was a nice one to go out on.
Outside of JISC world I had the go ahead to push on with my education startup event idea. It is an evolution of my Bettr idea from a couple of years ago – this time shamelessly inspired by the format of things like Playful but also the conversations that came out of Hacking Education in NYC. Once I have a few more things locked down I will write about it a bit more but I’m pretty excited.
I also had a long, helpful conversation with Kevin – my former boss at Jiva and successful Angel investor with a particular interest in digital publishing and education (sound familiar!). He gave me alot of ideas and inspiration for the sort of thing I could do as a freelancer and re-ignited my confidence that things could work out.
I am still not 100% sure that freelance is the way forward for me – I have applied for two jobs that I think would be great – one of which I think is pretty close to my dream job and the other would be a nice slightly sideways step but one that would open up so nice opportunities so we’ll see.