Joining the dots

Procrastination can be a wonderful thing.

Honestly, bear with me on this. Whilst I am furiously working away on the website for Chinwag’s new media department, the Twhirl client that sits on the far left-hand side of the screen constantly refreshes with the stream of consciousness that emanates from the people I follow on Twitter. Some people call them Tweeps, but I’ve clenched slightly just typing that phrase, so I won’t.

Sometimes, just sometimes, this can lead to voyage of discovery of something that gets the old noggin’ ticking over. So, join those dots…

An old designer-friend of mine, Gideon, tweets,

Picture 2.png

I think, "that sounds interesting", especially off the back of a conversation I had on Friday about the web enabling off-line businesses to take on a new lease of life, e.g. Moo.

And that takes me to Gid’s blog which links to a post on the Magic Nihilism blog, discussing Papercamp,

Following Josh’s Paperbit’s work, Aaron’s Papernet thinking and Dave’s investigations of the changing form of books, we came up with a nascent plan for a PaperCamp – a weekend of hacking paper and it’s new possibiities.

This strikes me as a designer’s wet dream. Sadly, I’m blessed with sausage-sized fingers and a clumsiness that’s seen more than one mobile phone end up in pieces at the bottom of the stairs. Still, I’d love to see the results if they’re anything like this contest held at the Hirshhorn Modern Art Gallery in Washington, DC, One Sheet of Paper


Back on the post about Papercamp, there’s heaps of comments. Clearly, this is a popular topic amongst designery types. The first comment from Boris, includes,

Hugh McGuire ( who’s working on a web-based, optionally collaborative, platform for doing all the stuff that publishers do (everything between writing the book and printing/binding it), based on his experience with

Woah. "web-based, optionally collaborative, platform for doing all the stuff that publishers do". That’s some aim. The publishing business has already gone through major changes with the end of the Net Book agreement, the rise (and now fall) of the super stores, so this should be interesting.

The first post on Hugh’s blog, "Thing Our Friends Have Written on the Internet" rings a bell. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that come up a few times on Twitter in the last week, and I’ve definitely seen the picture before.


That leads to a long post on magCulture giving the background to his marvellous idea. Taking their favourite blog posts from 23 friends, Ben Terrett and Russell Davies, used good old-fashioned newsprint, to produce a tabloid-sized paper of longish blog posts, that they felt worked better in print.

As the magCulture post puts it,

A simple idea, beautifully executed, Things Our Friends Have Written on the Internet 2008 takes the online rules and applies them to print – the content has been appropriated without permission, and including all mistakes and typos, but with full credit and relevant links. Just like a blog. It makes for a beguilingly charming mix of content:

And then it’s on to Ben’s blog and a post which gives the full skinny on the thinking, design and production behind the newspaper. Reading through the design decisions, I was reminded on just how very little I know about actual design.

<doffs hat to designers everywhere>


The post is a good read and ironically, is probably just the sort of long-form blog post that would work in the publication it covers.

It gets me thinking about those moments when a box of freshly printed, well anything, turns up from the printers. How opening the package is reminiscent of a 5-year-old tearing open their presents on Christmas morning. And then the smell of fresh print. It’s got to be on parr with baked bread surely?

Probably won’t help sell your house though.

One aspect of the paper that particularly catches my attention attention is the numbering. From the comments on the Flickr page, it looks like Russell (allowed by Ben) has numbered each copy.


And finally, a possible use for this concept.

In the middle of March, I’m off to South by South West interactive (SXSW) as part of the Digital Mission that Chinwag is organising for UK Trade & Investment. Can’t wait. SXSW is one of my favourite events.

I’m even looking forward to the post-SXSW cold/flu/exhaustion that comes with 4 days of intense networking, learning and erm, well, more networking. This time will be even more full-on as the Digital Mission is taking 35 companies out to SXSW and organising a bunch of stuff including a whopping exhibition stand.

Digital Mission

It’ll be a full-on Brit-fest, especially as along with the other 35 there’ll be loads of other British companies making the trip, too.

One of the challenges for the exhbition stand will be producing some kind of take-away print material to publicise the Digital Mission companies.

<strokes chin> I wonder if Ben and Russell’s notion of reversing digital into newsprint could be the way forward </strokes chin>

After all, the UK is known for its tabloid press. In a good way? That’ll need some more pondering.

In conclusion, even after all these years of dabbling in digital (my mum still doesn’t know what I do) it’s great to join the dots during bouts of procrastination to produce something useful. I hope.

Right, that website ain’t gonna launch itself. Over and out.

[Pics courtesy of Hirshhorn Modern Art Gallery and Ben Terrett (lots more on Flickr)]

Also published on Medium.


Inquisitive. Hopeful. Jovial. Cantankerous. Digital marketer. Event organiser. Long-time fan of tech, collaboration and innovation. Exploring digital, social, business, technology, society, psychology & startups. Founder Chinwag, Digital Mission, Pitch NYC, ChinwagPsych. Former Exec Dir, Social Media Week London. More short stuff @toodlepip on Twitter.

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