Follow the Blue T-shirts

Posted on: Thursday 07 July 2011 11:06am


John Kent heads to the Wednesday evening drinks reception… with laptop in hand.

So, it’s the end of day one at the 2011 CMC, and under the instruction of Anna Home to pay attention to the ushers, we troop across Sheffield city centre from Lord Putnam’s keynote to the drinks reception. In itself, the walk’s a chance to bond with fellow delegates.

I’d never been to the Millennium Gallery before – but for what it’s worth I think it’s nice… bright, modern airy, with a great animatronic sculpture made of cutlery. Go back and press the buttons if you missed them. And the inevitable congestion around the bar tables as a bunch of media types seek to quench their mighty thirsts.

Being asked to blog on this kind of event is quite enlightening – as you’re forced to take a step back and watch what’s going on, as well as participating.

These can be difficult events to attend – lots of people know each other, lots of others are on the periphery. Some oil is needed to lubricate the wheels of sociability, and a few glasses of wine seem to do the trick.

Early in the evening: first impressions are that it’s a sociable friendly event… the buzz of chatter is loud and omnipresent, interspersed with regular peals of laughter. And there seems to be universal appreciation of Lord P’s speech. But when you look, there seem to be three themes of chat – and I’d bet everyone can relate to them: 

Probably the favourite (and most prevalent) is the..

Catch-up– groups of people that have known each other for a while, but rarely have the chance to chew the fat. Then there’s the…

Networking – using the opportunity to the max to make contacts and conjuring proposals from pockets with the deftness of a stage magician (it’s a conference – no shame there). And then you can see the occasional…

Duty Chat – those people you just need to speak to because it would be rude otherwise, but all the time you’re looking over their shoulder for a Catch up or escape

After the third glass of wine, the business becomes much more easygoing, and there’s the shared realisation that they’ve run out of white. Which inevitably causes a blitz spirit to form between erstwhile strangers as they disperse for food and more wine.

And for the bloggers, that means a second invitation to follow the blue t-shirts this evening, as we head off for a volunteers’ dinner at the CMC’s Pizza Express (I feel a déjà vue coming on –  and Thursday’s proper CMC Pizza Express Meal hasn’t even happened yet)

But before we log off for the night, one of Lord P’s points that resonated for me was that an online conversation is networked amongst the community. Writing a blog is in itself a solitary pastime, but the way to make it a community event is by starting a conversation. So please do comment below and tell us what you think of Day One.

Have a good night!