Blog Archive: 2010 Wrap Up

Open Labs Hosts preFAB

December 17th, 2010 | Author: Allison

Anthony Braniff & Nathan Ryder from Winning Team (Image: Jason Jones)

Open Labs in collaboration with the Design Pod at LJMU’s Art and Design Academy (ADA), hosted preFAB; an informal evening of creative collaboration.

The event attracted a group of creative enthusiasts, designers, tinkerers and makers from the Merseyside area, who were interested in gaining exposure to the ADA fabrication equipment with potential opportunities arising throughout the evening to use laser cutters and 3D printers.

During the course of the evening, each team had access to both the fabrication equipment at the ADA and assistance from the Design Pod staff to help them flesh out their ideas.  The event was also a great opportunity for participants to meet, work and mingle with like-minded creative people.

IIsa Parry of Rethinkingthings commented, “preFAB offered me the opportunity to meet new contacts, as well as participate in an unusual creative evening.  It was also great to understand what ADA@LJMU offer in terms of facilities and services.  I’m now really looking forward to FAB Camp in January.”

The evening’s activity was centred around a brief provided by the Design Pod team, based on the traditional Christmas cracker.  The parameters and guidelines given were largely to reinvent the cracker for the 21st century.  Each design had to include, in whatever imaginative way they chose, the following 4 elements of a traditional cracker;

  • Sound (an element of noise)
  • Gift (presenting the essence of sharing & giving)
  • Motto (a piece of text)
  • Hat (or something to wear)

Andrew Hooper, Design Co-ordinator at the Design Pod, said, “Working in small teams, the delegates were pitted against the clock to re-design the Christmas ‘cracker’.   The challenge and promise of ‘prizes’ fuelled their competitive streaks as the teams produced a rough working prototype for demonstration and presentation back to the other participants.” 

The ideas that emerged ranged from a ‘kerplunk’ type game where people would bring their own prizes/forefeits and place them on a bread stick tree; A gingerbread tree structure made out gingersnap biscuits.  The idea being that you ate the remains.  Sustainability and minimising waste being a key theme in this team’s project.

Others included a long snap branch idea that was an elongated cracker that could reach across the dining table.  This could also be reused a number of times, giving you the opportunity to share it with more than one other party guest.  Inside the snap were mottos, memories and photos that you would upload when you bought the product online.

There was also a pyramid shaped customisable heirloom game idea; but the winning team produced an iphone application/device called Crack.r which shared random bits of information from your phone with people around the dinner table.  For example the surprise might be a photo being uploaded to your Facebook page or perhaps a really bad track from your music collection would be transferred.  This was really well thought out and mapped to each of the brief elements. 


Jason Taylor (Operations Manager at Open Labs) said, “preFAB is one of a series of activities focused on making local companies aware of emerging technology and market opportunities.  Events such as this are an ideal platform to raise awareness and encourage collaborations between the University and the Creative Industries.  A further more in depth event, FAB Camp Liverpool, is planned for January of next year.”


Students’ Hack Day

December 13th, 2010 | Author: Allison

Hack Day : Student Edition

Following on from the success of the professional Liverpool Hacks meet Hackers event in July, local company ScraperWiki, in partnership with Open Labs & Liverpool School of Art & Design, held a ‘Student Edition’ of the Hacks meet Hackers Hack Day for both LJMU’s School of Journalism and the School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences.


This practical event demonstrated how to utilise programming and design techniques to create online news stories and features based on ‘datasets’ from publicly available data. The ultimate aim of this event was to demonstrate to student journalists how to use programming and design techniques to create online news stories and features; and vice versa, to show student coders/developers/programmers how to find, develop, and polish stories and features.


Attracting a mix of students from both schools was essential to create the balance of hacks (journalists) and hackers (coders/programmers) who were introduced to the concept of data driven journalism.  The event was sponsored by Trinity Mirror which meant we had the added bonus of some professional journalists on hands to assist the students with fleshing out their ideas for projects.


Armed with laptops and Wifi, students fell into teams of around four to five based on topics which were of interest to them to develop project ideas.

The range of subjects which emerged included ‘Football League Attendance’: which related attendance at matches with performance on the pitch; ‘Police Helicopters’: an interesting investigation into the cost effectiveness of Helicopters in Merseyside policing; ‘The Class Divide’: a topical and interesting set of data reflecting the type of education current MPs enjoyed and whether some of them may have faired otherwise if they had to pay for their university education; and finally ‘Scraping the Barrel’: which was an unusual look into school applications in relation to Health statistics of a number of wards in the Liverpool region.


Towards the end of a feverish day of activity and excitement, each team where given the opportunity to present their project to the group.

The day culminated in a judging session, where all projects were assessed on a guidance criteria which included categories such as ‘concept development’ ‘execution of idea’, ‘project potential’ and ‘presentation format’, with a final prize giving session for the Judges’ winning project, which was ‘Scraping the Barrel’.Hacks meet Hackers Student Edition : a collaboration between ScraperWiki & Open Labs & the Liverpool School of Art & Design at Liverpool John Moores University and sponsored by Trinity Mirror.


Jelly Moves to Leaf

December 3rd, 2010 | Author: Allison

December’s JellyLiverpool was held in the new Leaf Bar & Café on Bold Street, where delegates traded their normal working environment for long tables and benches, which added an altogether different vibe to the day.

Word is clearly spreading that casual co-working is the way forward for freelancers and home workers, as despite the cold and snowy weather we had a great turn out with some new faces participating in the Jelly experience and in particular we had more females join us, which was great to see.

JellyLiverpool provides free wifi, free coffee and, on a good day, free butties, but mainly offers those in need of inspiration  an opportunity to work among other creative people in a welcoming environment. 

Jelly is a casual grass roots way of expanding your contacts and can lead to some interesting working partnerships and collaborations.  We are now attracting such a diverse bunch including freelance software developers, IT boffins, Designers & Technical Developers as well as Web Communicators and Trainers.

Just a reminder that there no specific criteria to participate in JellyLiverpool.  Join us for the day or just drop in for an hour or two.  It’s entirely up to you.  Everyone and anyone is made welcome whether you are a freelancer who usually works at home, or you just fancy a break from your normal office, come along and try the Jelly experience. You’ll be made very welcome. 


Signing up before hand isn’t compulsory but if you want to see who else is attending check out JellyLiverpool on Facebook.

JellyLiverpool is sponsored by Open Labs@LJMU.


Coworking goes Casual at JellyLiverpool

November 4th, 2010 | Author: Allison


November’s JellyLiverpool returned to the popular Parr St Studios venue. This great location provides such a welcoming and comfortable setting which is so well suited to the Jelly format that it has now become a favourite among Jelly regulars.

If you haven’t yet experienced Jelly, perhaps it’s time to check it out.  Ask yourself, do you:-

  • * work from home, trudge from coffee shop to coffee shop in search of wifi and power?
  • * wish that "working for yourself" didn't always have to mean "working by yourself"?
  • * get "cabin fever" and are desperate for a change of scene, some inspiration and motivation?  

If the answer to any of these questions is YES; then JellyLiverpool is what you need!  

Don’t worry, Jelly isn't about finding new clients, pitching your business or selling.  Jelly is for anyone who'd like to work alongside other creative people in a welcoming environment.  It’s a mixture of work, chat, comparing of ideas, passing on tips and help and maybe sometimes collaboration on the birth of a new project.  

Bring your laptop and some work, and Jelly provides wifi, a table and chairs, and smart people to bounce ideas off and collaborate with.

We hold JellyLiverpool on the first Thursday in each month, so the next one will be on 2nd December (venue tbc).  Don’t miss the chance to mingle with the up and coming movers and shakers in Liverpool. 


Hacks Meet Hackers : Student Edition

November 2nd, 2010 | Author: Allison

Scraperwiki in association with Open Labs@LJMU are hosting the first ever Student Edition of Hacks meet Hackers.


Following on from the success of the professional Hacks meet Hackers event in Liverpool in July, Scraperwiki  in partnership with Open Labs, are running a "Student Edition" of Hacks meet Hackers targeted at students from both LJMU’s School of Journalism and the School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences.

This event is a practical day demonstrating programming & design techniques, creating online news stories and features based on datasets, culminating in a final prize giving session for the most interesting and well presented projects.

So what’s this hack day all about? This practical day will demonstrate how student coders, programmers, web developers and designers will pair up with student journalists to produce projects and stories based around publicly available data.

Who’s it for? We want to attract students with skills in journalism, data visualisation, design, coding, programming, statistics & games development etc.

What will students get out of it? The aim is to show students journalists how to use programming and design techniques to create online news stories and features; and vice versa, to show student coders/developers/programmers how to find, develop, and polish stories and features.

What should participants bring? We would encourage students to come along with ideas for local ‘datasets’ that they are interested in.  Flexibility is key for this event. If you have a laptop, please bring this too.

But what exactly will happen on the day itself? Armed with laptops and WIFI, students will be put into teams of around four to develop ideas, with the aim of finishing final projects that can be published and shared publicly. Each team will then present their project to the whole group.

Overall winners will receive a prize at the end of the day. Food and drink will be provided during the day!

When is it?                                     8th December 2010

Where is it?                                   Academy of Art & Design

Time:                                                9.30am–5pm (food & beverages provided)

Want to know more and register your place? Click HERE

Liverpool Ignite 4

November 2nd, 2010 | Author: Allison

The ignite concept is an evening of lighting talks where no subject is off limits.

It an opportunity for presenters (that's you!) to share their personal and professional passions, using a 20 slides auto-advancing 15 seconds - that's quick -  for a total of just five minutes.

Open Labs is very excited to announce the 4th Liverpool Ignite will be held on Tuesday 23rd November at Liverpool Medical Institute.

The venue is amazing and full of history, you’ve been past it but have you ever been inside – come and have a look.

Doors will open from 5pm with talks starting at 6pm and the bar will be open, serving refreshments before and after the talks.

If you’re interested in speaking at an Ignite event, please get in touchThe organising team will give you all the help you need to get on the stage and share your passion.

Remember, enlighten us but make it quick!

November’s JellyLiverpool

October 14th, 2010 | Author: Allison

The next JellyLiverpool is on Thursday 4th November 2010 and will again be held at Parr St Studio 2.  We'll be there from 9am so come and join us….you never know who you might meet.

If you missed last month's, you missed the opportunity to work in a fantastic city centre location among a group of smart and creative people whose areas of expertise range from web designers, smart phone ‘app’ developers to legal eagles, psychologists, marketing & educational researchers … plus of course the free wifi, free coffee and on this occasion a bacon buttie!

If you are a Facebook user then you can sign up here.   Alternatively you can sign up on the main Jelly Wiki but you will have to sign up to edit the page.

Check out our main JellyLiverpool page for more information.

Liverpool Wired City Reconnected

October 14th, 2010 | Author: Allison

The Wired City Reconnected events are ‘collaborative’ networking events aimed at the digital, creative and ICT businesses interested in potential collaborations or the chance to share and exchange ideas. The events are facilitated by Les, Fiona and Immy of Alba Associates, who provide a bespoke matching and introduction service prior to the event.  Wired City Reconnected (WCR) events are all about making the best use of your time, by providing an invaluable networking opportunity, whether your business has a current skills gap or you are looking to collaborate with others to meet new or current clients’ needs you could benefit from attending the Wired City Events. 

WCR events seek to offer businesses a new and refreshing option to the sales pitched, speed dating and other unspecific and open networking events. There are no speakers at this event....just pure facilitated business networking aimed at developing business collaborative opportunities. 

Having developed this concept of a facilitated networking, Alba Associates have now rolled out the format successfully in cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds.

With the help of sponsorship from Open Labs@LJMU and Trinity Mirror this now well established format was brought to Liverpool on 7th October 2010 and was held in the Atrium of Liverpool Echo building in Old Hall Street.

The great venue provided a wonderful environment for those who attended and the concept was well received by new comers who benefitted from the match-making service to meet up with other businesses that they might either be able to collaborate with in the future or just gain a whole new set of business contacts that could help expand their business into other cities

Visit the website to find out more and keep uptodate on when and where the next series of events will be

September Jelly

August 20th, 2010 | Author: Andy G

A number of people felt that the end of the month was crammed with events so we have decided to move to the beginning of the month.

The next Jelly Liverpool will be on Thursday 2nd September 2010 at the Bluecoat.  We’ll be there from 9am so come and join us….you never know who you might meet.

If you are interested then please add your name to the wiki along with a little bit about what you do.  Alternatively you can confirm on Facebook.  Signing up is just so we have an idea of numbers for the tea and coffee.    If you forget to sign up then please feel free to pop along anyway.

Special thanks to the Bluecoat for sponsoring Jelly Liverpool.

Jelly Liverpool 2

August 5th, 2010 | Author: Andy G

What is Jelly Liverpool?

Jelly Liverpool is a casual work-together.  Anyone is welcome to bring their laptop and come work alongside other creative, fun people for the day.

Who is it for?

Jelly Liverpool is for anyone who likes the idea of working alongside inspiring, creative people in a warm and welcoming environment.

First Jelly Liverpool …

The first Jelly Liverpool took place at Static (off Berry St, Liverpool) on Thursday 29th July 2010.  Those who normally work at home or independently in remote office premises found themselves working side by side with like-minded people.  The coffee spot offered a great opportunity to mingle and those who vaguely know each other from the Liverpool circuit took the opportunity to speak to people and find out what projects they were working on.


The atmosphere at Static, were office space is regularly rented by some local and thriving SMEs, created an environment which stimulated a casual but great work ethic.



The format going forward will be to host a Jelly Liverpool on the last Thursday of every month.  So put 26th August in your diary…..we’d love to encourage a lot more to attend and to spread the word wider in Liverpool to attract artists, graphic designers, or anyone else who works remotely or independently … the greater the range of attendees, the more interesting the Jelly Liverpool becomes … and who know what you might get from it?  Come join us.


When and where the next JellyLiverpool?

Thursday 26th August 2010 (9-5pm). Venue TBC.


What do I need to bring?

Laptop, power leads, headphones and a smile!


What do I need to do next?

Nothing!  Just drop in, have a chat and do some work!

If you really want to you can sign up over at (but nobody will be offended if you don’t!)

Thinking Digital Videos

August 3rd, 2010 | Author: Andy G

The videos of all the speakers at Thinking  Digital 2010 have just gone up over at

I have already written a little about a few of my favourite talks so check them out.


The one session I really wanted to write about in my previous post was a talk by Tom Wujec  (I tried several times but I just couldn't do it justice).


The video below  is essential viewing for anybody interested in near future technologies and especially those interested in the future of digital fabrication.


Autodesk's Tom Wujec on the Technology's Future #TDC10 from Codeworks Ltd on Vimeo.


Tom Wujec speaking at #TDC10 from Herb Kim on Vimeo.

Hacks meet Hackers – 16th July 2010

July 22nd, 2010 | Author: Andy G

Hacks meet Hackers a joint Open Labs@LJMU, Scraperwiki, Liverpool Daily Post & Echo event.

Hacks Meet Hackers saw over 40 journalists and programmers put into the same room at the Art and Design Academy to see what they could produce in just one day's work.

The challenge - to ‘scrape’ the web for freely available but hard to access data and use it to produce a story, feature or even a new service.

After several hours of hard work the groups came up with ideas as varied as ‘the other World Cup’, an examination of the predicted and the real impact of the World Cup in South Africa and The Gavel, featuring Judge Duino – a gavel banging robot that monitors court decisions (video here).

After pizza and beer each teams' work was judged by Open Labs director Lindsay Sharples, Liverpool Post & Echo executive editor Jane Clare and technology lawyer and author Steve Kuncewicz.

First prize went to ‘Business Light’ – a scraper that retrieved data from a variety of sources and presented it as an online business toolkit.

Second prize went to ‘Why aren’t libraries more like Amazon?’ A book tracker that searched local libraries for a particular title.

Despite some fierce competition the day really wasn’t about who won the prizes.

Whilst each and every project idea was genuinely excellent what really shone through for us was how much can be achieved when you bring cross-disciplinary teams together.

As Aine from Scraperwiki explains:

"We want to show people what Scraperwiki can do, but the main aim for today was to see what could be developed when a programmer gets together with a journalist for a day."

What was really amazing was just how much each team achieved in such a short space of time.


Scraperwiki and Hacks and Hackers are now on tour. If you would like further information please contact Judith Townend: judith [at] or visit


Read more over at:


Mike Nolan

Alison Gow

Ed Walker

A few images are up on Flickr here and here.

You can view tweets from Hacks meet Hackers by searching for the #hhhliv hashtag.

Video by The Hatch available at our youtube channel.

Social Media Cafe Liverpool

July 16th, 2010 | Author: Andy G

The first ever Social Media Cafe Liverpool took place at Static on the 30th June (which just so hapenned to be the same date as Mashable's Social Media Day as well).

Social Media Cafe Liverpool is a informal (but informing) evening of talks, chats and beers around the subject of social media.  Chrissie Hammond from Full Circle Arts explains:

“A social media cafe is a great place to go if you’re interested in Social Media, but feel a bit of a novice, its full of everybody from people like you to passionate but helpful experts. Always assured a warm welcome, never feel a Billy and never feel daft, just get inspired, listen to great free presentations, pick up ideas and join in discussions over a drink“.


Our speakers for the evening included:


Alison Gow, Executive Editor, Digital, for the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, spoke about ''Data and the art of storytelling' is a digital producer in the public sector and on the council of Manchester Digital.  Josh told us 'How to win Foursquare friends and influence people'



Dave Coveney is the Director of Interconnect IT, one of the country’s top WordPress consultancies with sites like My Telegraph and Metro International’s blogging network running lots of their code.   Dave's talk was titled 'Work and Social Media'.



There are a few writeups online.   Alison's review of the evening is over at the Echo Tech blog and Mike Nolan has a nice piece on the Edge Hill Web Services blog.  For those who like their write ups in 140 characters you can search for the #smcliv hashtag

Update:  Alison’s presentation on Data Visualisation is on Slide Share and Dave's presentation is available as a Prezi.   Josh has written on his blog about How to win Foursquare friends and influence people.

We are taking a short break for the holidays but the next Social Media Cafe Liverpool will be on Wednesday 25 August 2010, venue tbc.  In the meantime if you want to know more about Social Media Cafe or other tech events in Liverpool then join us over at


Thinking Digital 2010

June 23rd, 2010 | Author: Andy G

Back in March I was lucky enough to hitch a ride over to Maker Faire, Newcastle.

Maker Faire is an event that celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, hacking, science and tinkering and just about anything in between that involves making something.    Started in the US by O'Reilly, publishers of  Make Magazine,  this was the second annual Maker Faire in Newcastle.




The Artbot IC Hexapod is a six-legged robot that can pick out and track faces in a crowd.  The younger visitors in the crowd loved the way this little robot followed them around.  I found it quite disturbing!  A photo really doesn't give you the full effect so check out this video by Matt Denton the man behind the machine.




Friispray was another very popular stand with younger visitors.  Created by the Jam Jar Collective FriiSpray is a 'guerilla infra-red graffiti installation'. Built out of a desire to allow people to express themselves through technology Friispray uses infrared spray cans, a back projector and a wiimote to allow people to spray paint their digital creations and then upload them to Flickr.

The whole project is open source so if you fancy having a go at building your own head over to


Jelly Liverpool – you’re invited!

July 17th, 2010 | Author: Andy G

What is Jelly Liverpool?

Jelly Liverpool is a casual work-together.  Anyone is welcome to bring their laptop and come work alongside other creative, fun people for the day.


Watch the video below to find out more about the global Jelly movement.


<iframe src=";byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="400" height="300" frameborder="0"></iframe><p><a href="">What is Jelly?</a> from <a href="">Amit Gupta</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

What is Jelly? from Amit Gupta on Vimeo.

Who is it for?

Jelly Liverpool is for anyone who likes the idea of working alongside inspiring, creative people in a warm and welcoming environment.

When and where?

The first Jelly Liverpool will be on the 29th July 2010 at the Static Gallery, 23 Roscoe Lane, Liverpool L1 9JD.

What do I need to bring?

Laptop, power leads, headphones and a smile!

What do I need to do next?

Nothing!  Just drop in, have a chat and do some work!

If you really want to you can sign up over at (but nobody will be offended if you don't!)

Hacks Meet Hackers Liverpool – Friday July 16 2010

June 25th, 2010 | Author: Andy G

Open Labs in partnership with Scraperwiki and Liverpool Daily Post & Liverpool Echo are proud to annouce Hacks Meet Hackers - a free hack day for developers and journalists.


Hacks meet Hackers is a practical event where web developers and designers pair up with journalists and bloggers to produce a number of projects and stories based on public data.


You can find out more about the day and sign up over at the Scraperwiki blog



June 10th, 2010 | Author: Andy G

Open Labs were proud supporters of OGGCamp10, the free software, free culture unconference that was held in Liverpool on the 1st & 2nd May 2010.

We convinced Oggcamp organiser Dan Lynch to take 10 minutes out of his hectic schedule to explain the thinking behind Oggcamp, free culture and the open source movement.

Many thanks to Neil Morrin for volunteering his interviewing skills!

Mashed Library 2010

May 24th, 2010 | Author: Jason

Open Labs partnered with LJMU's Library and Student Support department to organise and deliver Liverpool's first Mashed Library event at Parr Street Studios on May 13 - 14, 2010.

Mashed Library was a semi-unconference style event centred around the theme of data mash-ups in a library context. It brought together a range of participants (librarians, technologists, journalists and Liverpool's creative technology community) from as far a field as Europe and the US.

You can get a taster of the preparation, event and feedback on twitter, a breakdown of who said what on Mike Nolan's blog, photos are available on flickr and films on youtube (films produced by Wes and Chris at the Hatch).

Ignite Liverpool 2 – Contemporary Urban Centre

April 20th, 2010 | Author: Andy G

The second installment of Ignite Liverpool took place on 16th April 2010 at the Contemporary Urban Centre (Novas).

Ignite speakers have five minutes and 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds to talk about a topic close to their hearts.

Talks this time around ranged from brass band culture, mapping visualisations, inclusion in all its forms and  'Wimpycrawling' (a new extreme sport - watch the video after the break for an explanation).

Once again we received a great writeup in the Daily Post thanks to Alistair Houghton.

Open Labs is proud to support Ignite Liverpool and together with fellow organisers Neil Morrin (@defnetmedia) and Adrian McEwen (@amcewen) we aim to make Ignite Liverpool  a regular event.   If you would like your 5 minutes of fame please get in touch.

Dr Lorraine Warren - Value Creation In The Creative Industries

Emma Thurlby - Brass Bands An Undervalued Social Community Art

Chrissie Hammond - The Importance Of Inclusion And Collaboration

Fred Landmark - A Tribute To John Hughes

Herb Kim - The Near Death Story Of Thinking Digital & How Social Media Saved The Day

John McKerrell - Or Why I Track My Location

Jonathan Deamer - Accessibility's A Missed Opportunity

Kirsty Walker - How to be a Media Celebrity

Paul Freeman - Productivity Culture

Nia Moore - The Conservative Arts Policy

Ambrose Reynolds - How to get a Public Screening Licence

Alistair Houghton - Wimpycrawling

You can access all the slides from Ignite Liverpool 2 over on Slideshare.

Ignite Liverpool 1 – Liverpool Art & Design Academy

March 5th, 2010 | Author: Andy G

Open Labs was proud to support the first ever Ignite Liverpool which took place on the 4th March 2010.

O’Reilly Media in 2006 the motto of an Ignite  evening is ‘enlighten us – but make it quick’.   Ignite speakers are invited to share their personal and professional passions.  The catch?  They get precisely 5 minutes and 20 slides which auto-advance every 15 seconds to do it.

The first Ignite Liverpool, part of Global Ignite Week, saw talks on subjects as diverse as music royalties and art criticism, event organisation and online democracy.

Alistair Houghton (@wimpyking) gave us a very nice write up in the Liverpool Daily Post.

Adrian McEwen
Ella Wredenfors
Maria Barrett
Jonathan Deamer
Mark Brereton
Scott Jones
Rosie Harris
Robert Law
Francis Irving
Richard Smedley
Dan Lynch


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