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West by West Midlands Social, Saturday 13th March 2010, Birmingham UK

WxWM – Sue Ellen Haz A Thirsty | Saturday Social 13th March 2010

One year ago, I was frantically organising the first WxWM event. It was slightly chaotic and nerve-wracking but what came together in the space of the week was mad fun. With it came the acquisition of 3 fellow team buds.

In 2009, we ran 3 successful events – the original WxWM (in which we were narked that we weren’t going to Austin); WxWM 2: Sue Ellen’s Almighty Hangover (in which I was narked for another reason – tee hee!) and Moseley Barcamp, son of WxWM (in which I was not narked at anything at all!), ran as part of the Moseley Festival line up.

In 2010, many things have changed. I’m busier than ever with my artwork and the day job; one of the team has escaped to Southern shores; one has juggled being a mother, seeing her business grow with exciting pace and bouts of poor health; and the fourth, our technical guru, is naffing orf to Austin Texas as our WxWM ‘delegate’ for this years SxSWi. These challenges and pressures have meant that we’re not hosting an event as we did last year.

However, all things said and done, Sue Ellen is still a thirsty girl. Some call her greedy, I just like to think of her as a tad parched…..

On Saturday 13th March, we invite all those who feel right proper miffed that they ain’t going to SxSWi to join us to mark the anniversary of the pivotal shoehorning-about-thirty-people-into-a-smallish-room-and-making-them-talk event. We are not asking for anyone to prepare talks or ‘owt fancy; just a social event to get together and banter. If anyone wants to being a question to the table, please feel free to do so – hopefully we’ll have a few of those lovely beggars who know what they’re talking about to get a good discussion churning. You can even wear a hat if you want to.

At 3pm, we’ll be meeting in the Kitchen Garden Cafe, York Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham – a nostalgic return to the original venue. We’re not booking out the meeting room – we’ll just scrabble around gathering bodies and tables and food and drinks with joyful abandon. This will allow those with chiddlers to join us for the initial stint of the get together. Bear in mind we’ll be descending on a public venue, so there’s no reservations – git your bum on a seat and grub on a plate.

At 5pm, when we get booted out of KGC, those who are after my own heart will merrily skip (I expect some mad skipping) to the Hare and Hounds over the road. They have beer. We like them.

Depending on how we’re faring, later we might even stumble back across the road for a curry. There are no tables booked. We live life by the seat of our pants and guffaw loudly in the face of caution and planning.

Please indicate on our wee Doodle thingy if you’ll be joining us!

And so, what will occur this Saturday will be the original plan that I for the event one year ago. It was going to be about people in a pub, talking and tweeting about webby/soc media stuff or what their nan had for dinner. But I got a bit distracted along the way….. 🙂

All are welcome. Please join us for, what will hopefully be, a pleasant afternoon and evening.

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WxWM 2: The Hangover’s Hangover

Well, true to form, I had a teensy hangover this morning. Par for the course, I say. Needless to say, WxWM 2 went brilliantly – in its anarchic, chaotic, wibbly way. Just how we like it!

The Gwyneth-Paltrow-Gushing-Oscar-Speech Bit:

A massive thanks goes to our speakers Dave Harte, Jon Hickman, Nicky Getgood, Jon Bounds, Gavin Wray, Neil Houston and Ben Whitehouse whose input made for, yet again, interesting and diverse content and acted as pivots for interactive discussion, debate and, in the case of La Getgood’s Digpuss talk, a chance to win a damp, muddy hat.

Jon Hickman on the floor
Jon Hickman speaks (It’s the bear on the screen behind Jon that makes this picture sooooo right!)

Rhubarb Radio were, once again, superheroes of the highest order. Paul and Alex showed their usual grit, spirit and professionalism to help us take WxWM 2 to those who couldn’t be there. We’re very fortunate to have their support and can’t stress enough the excellent job they do.

I’d slap myself senseless if I didn’t thank my fabulous WxWM (and Moseley Barcamp) team Nat and Julia Higginbottom and Jaki Booth. Slick, smooth and organised, they made getting it all together a breeze and were totally unflappable. Nat had to put up with me yelping at him across the room on several occasions when there were technical issues, and he just got on with it and sorted everything out. Jaki valiantly drove the WxWM twitter account for the bulk of the event and did clever things with gaffer tape. Julia provided much needed support and prep for the event – she also attended the Screen WM event, too – so was a link to their event and encouraged a few of the folk there to come over and see us once their event had wrapped up!

Alex Hughes‘ live cartooning skills have to be seen to be believed! Give Alex a tablet PC and a pen and he’s like a kid in a sweet shop. He deftly captured speakers in his own inimitable way – his rendering of Neil Houston as a knife-wielding psychopath was one of my particular favourites!

Alex Hughes live cartoons Neil Houston

A huge thanks to John Tighe and the staff at The Spotted Dog who let us have the venue for nothing. They opened up early, kept us stocked up with liquid refreshment and let us get on with the event! The Spotted Dog is a fantastic boozer in the heart of Digbeth and I’ve never had a bad night in there. Highly recommend it if you’ve not been there before.

To all attendees, thank you all for making the event such a success. I mentioned at the beginning that you all make the content – not the WxWM team – and you did exactly that. You lot knock me for six at how utterly brilliant you all are. As Ben said in his closing talk, “awesome” people.

Other incidents of note:

  • Jon Bounds and Danny Smith announced that they will be attempting to set a world record attempt at radio broadcasting on Rhubarb Radio in the near future.
  • Jaki Booth and Paul Taylor generated interesting discussion and debate from the room when they were picked to set a random question/topic to the room.
  • Ben and Nicky plied us with a load of cake. Amazingly, I have not managed to get my mitts on any cake provided at either WxWM event!
  • Morocco watched as Jon Bounds spoke – Clare Edwards was Skyping with a colleague in balmy Maroc and gave him a flavour of what WxWM was all about.
  • A nice chap in Twitterland piped up about starting up ExEM as competition to WxWM. We threw down the gauntlet and encouraged him to go for it!

The ExEM challenge

Who was there

Good-humoured MP, Tom Watson, joined us for a few after-event cheeky vimtos – was great to see him, even if I did start poking fun about MP’s expenses!

My favourite little diva Gaby Higginbottom and her excellent brother James were with us for the duration too. Amazing, amazing kids and a huge credit to Nat and Julia.

..and then there everyone else who made the effort to come along (please pipe up in the comments if I’ve missed your names!)

Who’s blogging about it

So far:

Dave Harte

Gavin Wray

Alex

Please pop a link to your WxWM 2 blog post in the comments if you’ve scribed one and it’s not mentioned above.

And finally….

Once again, thank you to all of you for making it a success. Our next venture is Moseley Barcamp on 28th June and we’d love it if you could join us for a larger and slightly more structured event taking place as part of Moseley Festival. The stetson’s back on the stand and I’ve kicked off my spurs for now, but the WxWM spirit goes on unabounded!

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