Favourite online games of a 6 (soon to be 7) year old girl

Just been have a chat with my little Game Girl. At the moment her favourite games are:

1. CheeseDreams

‘it’s fun bouncing around’

2. Moshi Monsters

‘really fun being with the monsters but I just wish my monster was better cos then it wouldn’t be ill. I really like Moshi Monsters as well because you get Moshlings. They’re like pets.’

3. Club Penguin

‘fun waddling around around but there should be more parties’

4. Sweet Little Grannies

‘fun to play and they’re really sweet and they’re really kind (but can’t remember where it is)’

5. Chop Shocky Chooks

‘you get to fight a ginormous monkey and pressing space bar makes you trump and that’s funny’

6. Commando 2

‘has fighting but they’re easy to kill and there’s animals’

7. Kindergarten

‘it’s fun moving the babies but I wish they wouldn’t cry and be sick’


Loving these biogs…

Checking out the Amazon books blog, I was amused by these witty profiles….

Mix one part casual anthropologist with two parts avid reader, add the occasional culinary inspiration and a penchant for haiku, and what you end up with is Anne Bartholomew. When she’s not working her way through the books on her nightstand, Anne tests new recipes and wishes she could write like Billy Collins.

Dave Callanan is a full-contact reader. A quick glance at him immersed in a book will always reveal the title’s genre. He grins broadly with comedies, furrows his brow at dramas, and nervously bites his lip during thrillers. It’s no surprise that even on a crowded bus, the seat next to Dave is rarely taken.

Daphne Durham: Rarely seen without a book, she reads while walking to work, at red lights, and before the movie starts. She keeps a “just in case” book in her purse for emergencies (like an extra long line at the grocery store). Reading taste ranges from literature to pure trash.

Jon Foro is not ogling you; he just wants to know what you’re reading. A word freak since age six when he ordered his first Big Boy Book with a coupon clipped from the back of a Cheerios box (“Hardy Boys 53: The Clue of the Hissing Serpent”), Jon enjoys ancient history, literary stylists (Nabokov and Amis), true-life adventures & nature writing (Abbey, J.W. Powell), and books about bears.

Lauren Nemroff insists on carrying her own bag (purse, suitcase, backpack, or beach bag). Not because she thinks chivalry is dead, but because it usually contains several pounds of books. The contents: new fiction, the latest art and photography books, mysteries and thrillers, a section of the Times book review, and a vintage Amazon bookmark (ca. 1998).

Tom Nissley knew he wasn’t like the other kids when they assigned Thomas Hardy’s “Return of the Native” in 10th grade and he spent dreamy afternoons in Wessex with Clym Yeobright and Eustacia Vye (Eustacia Vye!) and then came back to school to find that everybody else thought it was “boring.”

Once called “the Cameron Crowe of the food world,” Brad Thomas Parsons balances his pursuits equally between all-things literary and culinary. He has interviewed Mario Batali, Danny Meyer, Ina Garten, Anthony Bourdain, Giada De Laurentiis, and Marco Pierre White, along with Jon Stewart, Amy Sedaris, Don Rickles, Sarah Vowell, and Chuck Barris, among others. He is a regular guest on Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen where he offers commentary on trends in cookbooks and food lit.

Other Contributors:

Heidi Broadhead and Paul Hughes have just started raising their first child, Silas, amidst piles of well-loved books. In utero, the little guy heard a steady stream of plays (including Macbeth and King Lear more than once) and poetry (by the likes of Elizabeth Bishop and Frank O’Hara). Now Silas is more likely to have Entertainment Weekly, the Sunday New York Times, or some random blog post read aloud to him, as his parents try to catch up on sleep and rejoin the world. (Until he can read on his own–and hopefully not even then–Silas will not be exposed to the NYT Sunday Styles section.)

Mike Smith reads a lot about geology, languages, and British history, and is working his way through an ad hoc self-made syllabus of British literature to cover up the gaps from his feckless undergrad days. As an adolescent he read way too much Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Alistair Maclean. He is a staunch supporter of the Oxford comma.

Jeff VanderMeer’s sense of adventure is so strong that as a kid he hoped he’d lose his eye in a tragic accident so he could wear a pirate patch. Maybe that’s why as an adult he likes fantasy, SF, horror, magic realism, slipstream, interstitial, and whatever-you’re-calling-it- over-smokes-and-coffee-this-morning. An author inspired by everything from Nabokov through Hindu superhero comics and Hong Kong cult action films, he has been known to write about squid, frogs, and fungus. Once, he wanted to be a marine biologist, but only so he could putter around in tidal pools.

Innovation Edge

Shepherded into Royal Festival Hall for start of Innovation Edge. Going to try to blog liveish, could be hard as I’ve only got my phone…

First break

Completely inspired by Tim Berners-Lee. His commitment to the web as a social structure, one in which we must learn new ways to interact amd govern ourselves, but that has the potential to provide people with the tools to develop new forms of society, democracy and ways of doing things.


Have ducked out of last session to recharge, in more ways than one. Have copious notes that I will try to transcribe (until I’m compelled to seek hot beverages of the Tea varietty – and maybe a little biccie too?)

The moring was kicked off by Chris Powell, NESTA chairman.

Key points:

Problems our society faces – working population is declining, people are living longer, yet we still need to finance their old age. We face global issues of climate change and population movement.. We know we have to solve these problems, but we don’t know how – yet.

We must be able to compete in the future global econmy. India and China won’t be satisfied with to be cheap producers in the long term – they will compete on innovation. We want/need to stay a high wage economy. We need to adapt to survive. This requires iteration – the ability to try, fail, adapt and try again. An ongoing sequence in order to win.

Momentum is building. Innovation is essential.

We need to improve the capacity and climate for innovation in the UK.

The key lies in embedding innovation in our culture. Change must be systemic, focus on pull through of demand. Cites Fair Trade as an exampl, creating business success by following the ground swell of public opinion in favour of ethical consumerism.

The DCMS wants to educate consumers to build the early adopter market.

NESTA has created new models of support for start ups, getting a better return for investors which in turn encourages investors to back start ups.

However, change can’t be imposed from above – it must be systemic.

We are in the early foothills of embedding this culture of innovation – this conference is designed to stimulate it further.

Video: Imagine a world without innovation.

Amusing, well made, easily digested message.

Jonathan Kesterbaum, NESTA Chief Executive (suit!)

Key points:

Encourage risk

Partnership/collaboration/diversity = success

It is said that the UK doesn’t have the appetite for innovation – this isn’t true. Curiosity, problem solving is part of the national character. We have a broad national population, full of ideas.

Video: Some NESTA sponsored ideas

As a suit Kesterbaum has brought rigour, discipline and emphasis on results, but he praised his organisation and staff for their dedication to the mission, characterising them as people who genuinely feel they are playing a part in shaping the future of the country.

Andrew Marr introduces a video conference with Tim Berners-Lee, citing the Victorian book ‘Enquire Within Upon Everything’ as an inspiration. Berners-Lee wanted to recreate the interconnectedness of the information within the book – to create a ‘web of connections’. He developed this as a system that would allow computers to share information and by 1991 had connected scientists around Europe using his ‘world wide web’.

A modest, public-spirited English scientist who ihas done more to change the way we live today than any government. He’s part of the history of modern Britain and the epitome of innovation.

Jonathan Freedland interview with Tim Berners-Lee

Berners-Lee originally submitted his proposal as part of a side project he was allowed to work on even though there was no real mandate for it. His boss was later found to have written ‘vague but interesting’ on the proposal and then by not explicitly disallowing the project provided support.

TBL suggested managers can learn from this attitude, believing 10% time to be a great idea. Managers need to give people a long leash to think, to solve problems in different ways. They need to not expect to be -told what will be developed – otherwise the same old ideas will come back. State the problems and then give people the freedom to solve them.

Always expecting ROI on research goes against the whole idea of innovation.

Q: The web is still in its infancy. What are your hopes and fears for its adolescence / adulthood?

A: It could be characterised as being in its adolescence now. It’s strong, flexing its muscles but doesn’t yet know where its boundaries lie. I hope it will grow up to be responsible.

The web is a subscript for humanity interacting. If we provide powerful tools for people to develop new ways to interact we will see new forms of society/democracy/ways of doing science.

TBL wants the web to support society / democracy / civility.

On societal impact:

Blogs are social machines, supported by technology that has been invented. There are lots of new machines to come. People have to figure out how to behave in the new environment. There are some growing pains, but these will settle down. Used wikis as an example. Initially anyone could write but a blacklist developed to handle those people who couldn’t play nicely. Elaborates into its own democratic / meritocratic process.

In this way we’ll find better ways to govern ourselves.

TBL talked about his new project: Computer science, economics, psychology – people doing interesting things fall between different disciplines. The web is not about technology but is a people connector. It is a big, complex, collective brain.

They are developing a science to help us understand the web and the way it works – we have a duty to understand it as an emerging phenomenon.

Q: If we attempt to classify the web will it lose its spontaneity?

A: Setting up societies online and thinking about how people interact can be expanded out onto the macro level. Look at how the model of trust built through eBay has changed the world.

Q: Is the web more fragile than we think? Will it be with us in 50 years.

A: It’s less a matter of the web collapsing under the weight of too many pages, as was predicted. More to do with whether it will be a force for good. Look at the tranition of email as a useful system to one that carried spam. Could this happen to the web.

The future of innovation is collaboration, due to the web. We will see innovation as a collective activity rather than an individual one.

Then a casual reference to ‘and that’s why I made the web’ – pretty cool statement to be able to make (especuially as he created entire industries – to which I belong).

Once you’ve contributed it’s there, mashed in – there is no boundary between innovators and the rest. The web makes things transparent and allows everyone to contribute. The web can help two half formed ideas to come together and help humanity.

*Update* Sadly I lost my notes for the event (must’ve left my notebook at the venue – Doh!) So no run down of the hugely energetic and energising Bob Geldof contribution, or Gordon Brown’s surprise appearance. I did write up a more considered piece though, which can be found over at the NixonMcInnes blog

Targeting niche short breaks for South West Wales Tourism Partnership

Designate’s client, South West WalesTourism Partnership, exists to help local businesses work together to promote the region. Publicly funded, they were concerned not to duplicate the already considerable web presence and marketing spend of the Tourism Authority and Local Authorities in focusing solely on the destination. Instead they run three separate targeted, niche campaigns based on the main attractions of the region – active breaks, gardens & green spaces and a more loosely defined cultural product.

The three existing websites were ineffective and our first task was to conduct a business review to see where improvements might be made. I was tasked with conducting the review, and once the recommendations were accepted, to implement changes. We rebuilt the three websites from scratch, supplying a bespoke admin system to enable the administering of events and offers by the client and incorporating a data feed from VisitWales to ensure up-to-date accommodation and operator information is displayed.

I worked with the design team to specify the information architecture of the sites and then oversaw the built to completion. I have since implemented a new analytics and reporting regime to demonstrate the business value of the three sites.

Showing the stylish side of Wales


Wales in Style homepage

A not-for-profit organisation part-funded by VisitWales, Wales in Style promotes Wales as a luxury break destination. An online pure-play, the organisation is entirely reliant on the website to produce leads for local partners. Designate won the business at pitch and I was tasked to lead the build. We identified two main types of user behaviour to which we wanted to appeal – the first being those who are visiting a specific place and want to find accommodation nearby, and the second those who are planning a luxury break in the UK but are not yet aware of Wales as a possible destination. The site provides both a search and a browse route to cater for both sets with users being encouraged to package accommodation with a restaurant booking and activities through the use of relational data on all product pages.
Fundamental to the success of the project is the ability to report – as it is this that will secure long term commitment not only from VisitWales but also from the local partners featured on the site. To this end I put together a comprehensive analytics plan and have overseen the training of developers in implementation and account handlers in reporting through the WebSideStory (HitBox) system.

a visual browsing experience for designer jeweller Jeremy Hoye

Found some portfolio stuff in an old job application email, which made me think that really I ought to post my projects here. Will have to rewrite to be less stuffy, but can’t be bothered right now.


Designate were commissioned to review the performance of a newly launched site for designer jeweller, Jeremy Hoye. Having identified a conversion rate of only 0.6% I wrote a proposal outlining how the business performance of the website could be improved. We were then tasked to completely redesign and rebuild the site. I lead the functional design of the site, taking an approach based on visual browsing of the product, attempting to replicate the in-store shopping experience of jewellery as far as possible. To this end, the user experience was moved from a linear, text based selection process to one driven by images and the relation of products to each other in terms of material, type and designer.


Homepage – lovely Flash animation runs in background. Whole thing is content managed and optimised for search

search results page

Search results page: Visual browsing with enlarged detail on rollover

product page

Product page: similar products shown either by collection (from same designer) or as cross sell through items of same type but from different designers.