PSFK Good Ideas Salon – three top things…

So, after my first ever liveblogging experience at PSFK‘s Good Idea Salon (yep, tiring, but well worth it I think, given all the stuff I’ve captured), Simon asked a very pertinent question… 

Would you say that any sessions or ideas particularly stood out for you?”

He’s essentially asking for a summary, and he’s right…

So, first off, here’s a wordle of the whole post, that’ll give you an idea of the major things that cropped up:


Clearly there are too many people called Matt around…

Then, to save y’all reading the whole thing, what are the three big things that I learned at the PSFK Good Ideas Salon…


Wow, big claim.  Especially from someone who cavorts around with ‘Head of Innovation’ on his business card.  But throughout the day, numerous folk reinforced this view.

It was fitting that sitting in the new Guardian offices we discovered from Simon Waldman just how they’re approaching changing the old, print driven machine into a new era…

…and earlier from Kevin Anderson, this quote: “If the change happens fast enough, then no-one will know”.  Which reminded me of the Seth Godin quote “Change does not come about by asking permission.  Change comes about by asking forgiveness, later.”

Basically, just do stuff.  If it doesn’t work, you’ll learn and do it better next time.  If it does work, wahey, brilliant!!

Of course Mark Earls’ talk (which set the scene for the day) really brought the subject to life, about why engaging with ideas is vital for a company that wants to go places (or even just survive)…

He summarised a lovely manifesto of the questions you MUST ask yourself every day:

What does this challenge?

How can I explore this further?

What’s the offer for us here?

Where does this suggest things are going?

What must I absolutely – can’t wait – to do next?

How might this make our jobs more interesting?

It’s that last point that’s key… how do you make your business a more interesting place to be?  Because if people are interested and engaged, their ideas are better, they feel more engaged, and more inclined to make those ideas happen.  So your company gets better, share price goes up etc etc etc.  Be more of a Fraggle


Tying back to point 1, the panel on ‘Good ideas in London’ (Matt Hardisty, Matt Brown, Taryn Ross, Justin Quirk) enthused about
the quality, diversity and energy of creativity in London at present… which then fuels the work of the creative people who work there.  So as well as being inspired by work, you should be inspired by the city and culture around you.

Crucuially, the London they described was a place, not just a location.

What’s the difference?

Well, as Matt Jones of Dopplr described later on the Good Ideas in Mobile panel, “Computers and Phones are great at ‘location’.  But we describe where we are as ‘place’ – where culture meets location… computers can’t do this easily, they can’t really relate in terms of place.”

Looking back on quite a few of the talks during the day, you can really start to see how important the place vs. location issue is going to become…

So, for instance, Christian Nold’s work in bio-mapping, which takes real human emotions, feelings, reactions, and combines them with the factual ‘location’ data to really get a sense of ‘place’…


…or the photosynth application demonstrated by Richard Banks of Microsoft, which lets you build up a 3D environment of all the pictures you, and other people, have taken of it over the years…

…or the work that Eva from Troika talked about, specifically the ‘guerrilla SMS’ projector they built which allowed them to reframe the context of any environment…


It all seems to be pointing in the direction of a year in which we’ll move out of the realm of GPS and geotagging that simply refers to ‘where’, and starts really getting involved in ‘what’; what is going on there, who’s loving it or hating it, why you should go, which shop you should use…

…and largely fuelled by the mobile phone; as Matt Jones said, the phone “is superpowers; a tiny universal machine in your pocket that can do lots of things”

Exciting stuff 🙂


Finally, the day brought home to me something that we probably all know, and feel, and believe, but is always worth reiterating; we’re not necessarily interested in things themselves just on their own, but in the story and belief that come as part of the experience…

(…like the Hugh McLeod social object stuff I’ve posted before…)

So, for instance, the Good Ideas in Design panel (Amanda Gore, Kate Moross, Cameron Leslie, Coralie Bickford-Smith & Nicolas Roope) talked a lot about the design of physical music products (CDs, vinyl etc) and other things, and why design isn’t necessarily either the start or the end of a creative process… it’s something that happens along the way between the two.


I came away from that session thinking that design is almost the thing that tells you just how committed the people behind the project are to it… they believe in the things they make so much that they lovingly craft something that a large, faceless organisation would simply do as cost-efficiently as possible.

The Good Ideas in ‘Youth’ panel also pointed out the power that storytelling had when trying to communicate to people who ‘can’t see the join’ between the digital and physical worlds…

Paul Graham from Anomaly pointed out that connection between companies and people with a youthful attitude “is about being genuine, having something to say, to offer…”

(So, like the Entertain/Educate/Useful/Connect thing I keep referring back to…)

Then there was Colin Nightingale from Punchdrunk on ‘storytelling’…


 Punchdrunk are a theatrical production company who create deeply immersive, experiential productions that the audience wander around… they don’t see all of it, but when they get together afterwards, can start piecing together what happened… the stories that the audience can tell afterwards to their friends must be amazing.

What it all boils down to is the power that great stories have to spread, and that the world we live in now is much. much more technically adept at spreading the stories easily. 

Which then makes the job we do about spreading compelling stories, rather than trite, dull information, as people are too busy listening to the former to be bothered by the latter.

So, that’s it, a summary of the day… remember, if you want a constant stream of inspiration, subscribe to PSFK here.  You won’t regret it, I promise.