Last week I headed to the fourth London Creative Morning, which was the latest in a global network of monthly talks. The best way to describe it is a mini TED Talk, with free coffee and pastries.
Creative Mornings was started three years ago by Swiss designer Tina Ross Eisenberg and the network of monthly talks is spreading around the globe.
The UK CMs are organised by Drew Smith, who kicked them off in July. They involve, simply, getting someone interesting to come along to talk to "creative types" (the attendee list included everyone from students to architects to telephone execs) about their work.
It's a simple idea, with a short talk, a short Q&A and then time for everyone to get into the office by 10am. The November CM was hosted by Chris Hatherill, one of the founders of Super/Collider, a non-profit group aiming to use skills from fashion and branding (Hatherill is a veteran of fashion mags like Sleaze Nation and Vice) to promote the work of scientists and specific projects – such as the CERN super hadron collider, which inspired their name.
It's this mixture of fields that allows creative industries to mingle, talk and swap ideas with scientists and engineers which inspired Smith to persuade his own employer, Sense Worldwide, to provide funds for a London branch of the network: "I'm really interested when you connect industries that wouldn't normally talk to each other," says Smith.
If you'd like to attend December's London CM or try and set up talks in your city, visit creativemornings.com for details.
Tipple of the pops – let Drinkify match booze to music
Whether it's paying through the nose for a pint of watery lager at the Apollo or settling down with a fine drop of aged bourbon in a basement jazz bar, alcohol goes with music like Simon goes with Garfunkel or, er, Gabriela Cheeky goes with Monica Cheeky.
So bottoms up to Drinkify – a hack of Last.FM created in "24 boozy hours" by developers Hannah Hannah Donovan, Lindsay Eyink and Matthew Ogle. Their creation allows tipsy readers to simply input the music that they're currently listening to and recommends a drink based on their suggestion. It even handily plays a random track by said band.
So, obviously if you put Oasis in you get... a bottle of Buckfast which, says Wikipedia: "is associated with drinkers who are prone to committing anti-social behaviour when drunk." Hmm... Others include "the Rage Against The Machine" – made of Jack Daniel's, coconut milk and egg; "the Joni Mitchell" – neat gin with an olive; "the Paul Simon" – whisky on the rocks and obviously "the Cheeky Girls" – which is Red Bull on the rocks, garnished with fire.
Choose your drink: drinkify.org
The global language of memory
You may recall Ed Cooke as the star of Josh Foer's account of becoming a memory champ – 'Moonwalking With Einstein'. Now, the memory grandmaster, alongside neuroscientist Greg Detre, has launched Memrise, a not-for-profit website which combines Cooke's memory-building techniques with Detre's scientific know-how.
Its initial focus is on language learning and it offers online courses in languages that you can drop in and out of as time suits. The techniques include mnemonics, pictures, videos, audio and cartoons. So, for example, the shape of the mandarin symbol for "mouth" transforms into a cartoon mouth. It certainly looks great – but I'll get back to you with progress on my "basic Italian for the restaurant course". See: memrise.com
A digital makeover for the 'Silicon Roundabout'
Silicon Roundabout in east London looks about as close to being digital utopia as any slightly decrepit British roundabout, ie. not much. This is why Russell Chopp, head of London property firm, Space Station (plus architects 00:/), is proposing to turn the space above Old Street Tube/rail station into an all-singing, all-glowing LED advertisement with space for tech firms and start-ups inside.
The site – on one of London's busiest roads – currently features a lucrative advertising space owned by JC Decaux. That relationship would need to be maintained, but Chopp hopes that Startup City will mix the current advertising space with a slot for both smaller firms (eg, local bars) and individuals such as artists.
"The amount of hype generated by Silicon Roundabout doesn't merit what is actually at Silicon Roundabout," Chopp told us. "We want to make it what the name suggests." For the development to get off the ground, there needs to be agreements with Transport for London, the local authority and JC Decaux – but once that's in place, Chopps suggests work could start straight away. Watch that space.
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The Ideas Factory is a weekly round-up of the best, weirdest and most interesting new discoveries, theories and experiments from around the world. If you have an idea you'd like to share, I'd love to hear from you. You can email me on email@example.com or tweet me at @willydean