BRIEF:
Produce a short multi-media blog post demonstrating creative industries clusters in your local area – if there is not one your piece should explore this issue and consider why this might be. You might also want to consider what support is given to the creative industries in your local area.

IDENTIFIED CLUSTER: SILICON ROUNDABOUT

Silicon Roundabout - image from Sparkpr

Just like you have Silicon Valley in the United States, Silicon Roundabout is a similar but creative and tech cluster, located in the Old Street / Shoreditch / Hoxton area of East London. To get a better view, check out this map from Wired, it’s a couple of years old but it paints up a pretty clear picture. Or if you want something a bit more visual and abstract, have a look at the Tech City Map (it’s pretty awesome).

Here you can find a lot of start-ups, as well as established tech companies, mobile app, software and game companies, as well as creative agencies such as advertising agencies, digital agencies, design and graphic design firms and so on.

From a music industry perspective, Mixcloud, the music service I introduced a few weeks ago, is located here, and bigger companies such as last.fm and songkick too.

This particular area of London is close enough to The City and Liverpool street for it to have it’s fair share of city folk on a Friday night, but alongside that it also has an incredible bohemian, artsy, hip and trendy feel.

Shoreditch High Street corner - image by piximiti

It is very vibrant area with lots of cafés, bars, restaurants, shops, vintage shops, exhibition places and lots of other quirky interesting things which means that the area attracts a lot of interesting people, from business people, to artists, to locals, to tourists – you name it.

Tea Building - image by architects journal

You have places such as the Tea Building – filled with already established creative and tech companies, as well as places such as the Hoxton Mix that offer cheaper desk and office space solutions for start-ups or small companies.

Because networking and sharing ideas is of such great importance when it comes to being an innovator and entrepreneur, there are different meet-ups and job fairs initiated by the people who work in silicon roundabout but that is open to anybody who wants to go. Examples of these are Silicon Milkroundabout that will take place in November this year, The Silicon Roundabout Social Club that was initially set up by some of the same people who set up Mixcloud, and Silicon Roundabout.

tech city map

Screenshot of the Tech City map

In the lead up to the Olympics, David Cameron announced in November 2010 that he and the Government wanted to make this East End area of London a rival to it’s counterpart in the United States (by that I mean Silicon Valley).

One of the policies to make that happen was to introduce “an Entrepreneur Visa to enable people with good business ideas and financial backing to set up their business in the UK, and an independent six-month review of the Intellectual Property framework.”

And even though one might argue that this “Tech City” that Cameron announced already was bubbling under the surface, there has been some great initiatives and programmes that are there to aid entrepreneurs and start-ups such as Tech City Investment Organisation, IC Tomorrow that is part of the Technology Strategy Board (their Digital group can be found here) and that is merely scratching the surface.

image by the guardian

There seems to be plenty of different grants (or look here), schemes, allowances, loans, tax relief’s and more available out there for entrepeneours, innovators and start-ups, but the sheer amount of them means that it is a very time consuming task to find the one that might be right for you and all the information and red tape can be a bit confusing.

BRIEF:

What’s been bugging you recently? How would you use technology to solve a problem in your life?

Using appropriate brainstorming ideas, come up with ten ideas in ten minutes. Each idea should be something you could pitch on Twitter – you should be able to summarise each idea in 140 characters or less. Consider tweeting your ideas as you go – you need to start putting ideas out there.

RESULT:

With the help of SCAMPER* I came up with the following ideas (in no particular order of good/bad!):

  1. App that auto-updates oyster card with cheapest option according to your schedule so you don’t waste money on days you don’t travel
  2. An app that acts like a shopping list & that also alerts you of what you might be running out of & have to buy soon again
  3. Container for coffee/tea/sugar/etc that indicates/flashes when you’re running low & sends a reminder to your phone to buy more
  4. App for record collectors that prevents them from accidentally buying the same record again & instead recommends one they don’t have
  5. Running/exercise app that lets you plan/map out & share routes on your phone & that guides you through the route whilst doing it
  6. Music app that auto-creates new playlists out of your own music depending on what you’ll be doing (2 hour run or 30 min cooking)
  7. A bookmark tool that recaps all the important bits you’ve already read in a quick & easy way in case you forgotten (some of) them
  8. An electronic wall calendar that is synced with & displays your “digital calendar/s” for the whole family to see & share
  9. An internet modem that switches to 3G when the service provider is having difficulties so you don’t end up without internet EVER
  10. An adaptor that lets you hook your decks/mixer with your iphone/ipad to record mp3s straight into your device & share them

No research for any of these ideas was required, so it might be that some or parts of these ideas already exists.

Nevertheless, it would be great to hear your thoughts on it as I am trying to nurture and develop my inner innovator and see what awesome things I might be able to come up with!

*SCAMPER is a creative tool and can be broken down into the following
S- Substitute
C- Combine
A- Adapt
M- Magnify/ Modify
P- Put to other uses
E- Eliminate/ Erase
R- Rearrange

Below is a brief case study of an online enterprise that is related to my own area of study, the music industries.

In short, I will try to highlight why I think this online enterprise is innovative, why the internet lends itself as an ideal space for this enterprise to operate, as well as some key strengths and weaknesses this specific online enterprise has.

For this first weeks assignment I have chosen to focus on one of my favourite online music services, Mixcloud. It was founded in 2008 by four Cambridge graduates who all had a passion radio, problem solving and building exciting projects. I became a member of the site in 2009 and at that moment in time, there seemed to be a gap in the online world for a website that was not just more angled towards DJs, people who made radio shows and podcasts, and people who wanted an on-demand service to be able to access that content, but also, one that was free and easy to use and that made  it easy to share and distribute audio content in a good looking and user friendly way. Mixcloud was and is exactly all those things.

Have a look at the video below that briefly explains what Mixcloud is all about:

As the video explains, Mixcloud is a website that functions as an on-demand audio service where people, both professionals and amateurs, can upload their own mixes, podcasts and radio shows for free, share and promote them on both the site and other different platforms, as well as listen to other peoples uploaded content.

MY MIXCLOUD


As a user, you have your own profile (like my own above) where all your uploaded content, also known as cloudcasts, are collected. You have a picture and some blurb, and people can also see what other cloudcasts you have listened to (under “Listens”), what cloudcasts you have favourited (under “Favorites”), people can look at playlists you have created from cloudcasts from around the site (I have two), they can see what groups you are part of (under “Groups”), see your activity on the site (under “Activity” where they see everything from listens to comments to messages on other peoples profiles etc) and of course, write you a message (under “Messages”) and see what users you are following (under “Following”).

MY CLOUDCAST

Individual cloudcasts have a name, an image, some info about the cloudcast, tags, a tracklist that will include buy links to either Amazon, iTunes or Juno Download and a comments field. You can also favorite the cloudcast by pressing the heart, adding it to a new or existing playlist by pressing the plus sign or customise a widget that is embeddable on blogs, websites etc.

MY DISCOVERIES
As a user you can discover music and other types of audio in many different ways and below are a few examples of how you can discover new music cloudcasts, as well as new users to follow:

Categories – you have both music and talk categories that feature some of the most recent and popular cloudcasts from user that fit a specific category

Your personal dashboard that shows the most recent activity of the users that you follow

Hot cloudcasts – the most popular cloudcasts of the moment on Mixcloud

Tags (I chose Jazz) – they can be found on an individual cloudcast page or by searching the site


Artist (I chose Archie Shepp) – they can be found on an individual cloudcast page on the tracklist or by searching the site

The choices just seem endless and what is even better if you are a music fan is that there are tracklists so you can go off and discover more from the artists that you like, as well as the functionality to time stamp mixes which seems to help enabling the buy link which means that you can buy the songs you are listening to. Below is an example of how Juno Download is integrated with Mixcloud:

SHARING IS CARING!
The website makes it very easy to share not just the cloudcasts but things like your profile, your playlists and so on. You can tweet, facebook, google+ links, or you can embed widgets on your blog, website, tumblr etc. You can connect things like your Facebook, Twitter, Mixlr and Last.FM accounts to your profile so it automatically shares things like uploads, listens, favorites and so on, and if you’re in real need of people seeing your podcast, you can but promotional slots around the site.

SO WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
I think it is fair to say that without the internet, it would have been close to impossible to create such a network of not just professional and amateur DJs and Radio/Podcast presenters, but the amount of audio content that Mixcloud has. It’s accessible to anybody around the globe who as internet on a computer, tablet or mobile phone. It is free to use and it is a legal way of sharing, discovering and promoting audio content.

I think it is great that there is a functionality that enables users to by the music that they hear, but I think it is a shame that only three major outlets are available through that functionality (Amazon, iTunes and Juno), so in my personal opinion it would be good to have an option for some smaller online retailers that offer downloads such as Boomkat for example. I know it is an online business, but another feature I think the buy functionality is lacking is the option of buying physical records.

An other aspect that I think could be greatly improved is analytics. At the moment, as a user I can’t really access much information about who listens to my cloudcasts, how many times one user has listened to a specific cloudcast, for how long they listened, where they listened and so on. It would be great to have a bit more information apart from just followers, plays, favourites, tweets and shares.

And without getting carried away, that’s it… in a nutshell.