Three years ago I jumped at the chance to join a focus group formed of creative and digital companies working in Norwich to think about creating a better sense of community. Having recently started working in Norwich after a decade or so in East London I had some strong feelings about the afterwork culture here in Norwich. Easy to sum up in that there wasn’t one! All that creative work done over beers in bars didn’t seem to be happening and coupled with the general sense of competition rather than collaboration there seemed to be a space to make something happen.
The remit of the group was to foster a community strong enough to start raising awareness outside the community that there was a creative digital hub in Norwich. It needed to be inward looking but outward facing. I had the idea that we should actually do something and have an output. I loved the TED talks and suggested that we do something loosely based on that model. Jake Hithersay of Soak Digital and Tom Wood of Foolproof got the idea straightaway and the three of us set to making it happen. We decided to do a ‘talkie’ one month and a ‘drinkie’ the next month on the last Thursday of each month. We wanted to video the output so that it was accessible after the event. We wanted to use the expertise in our community, to be informal and interesting and social.
It was suggested that we wouldn’t be able to achieve what we wanted with no funds but we were sure that by pulling on the resources of the community we could do it and we did! Special Design Studio came up with the name and designed the visual identity, Soak Digital built the site, EPIC studios gave us a venue and video facilities and Tom kicked us off in December 2010 with the first ever talkie ‘A History of Human Interaction.’ Of course you can still watch it here.
On that first evening Tom, Jake and I felt as pleased as punch that 20-30 folks had shown up and felt that we were on to something. We have since then been entertained with talkies on subjects as varied as Behavioural Economics, Intellectual Property, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Makerspaces and the Mexico 68 graphics as well as covering what you might expect in terms of Social media, YouTube, Interaction Design and much more. We have hosted one debate, two hacks and a field trip!
Hot Source is still not an organisation, or company, we have no cash, no funding, or sponsors. We do have complete freedom and independence. Everyone who contributes to Hot Source does so gratis. Lambda Films & Trett Films do the filming, The Forum, NUA, CCN generously host us. Jake, Tom and I and Rowena from Foolproof still hack the events together, persuade speakers to speak and keep the website going.
In some ways and very selfishly we have simply created something that the three of us always want to go to on the last Thursday of the month! I always learn something new, gain insight in to something or have a eureka moment, I always get to meet interesting people who I wouldn’t otherwise and I usually drink too much beer afterwards.