Interesting Visitors

Enjoyed Interesting North last Saturday in Sheffield, though not without some reservations. At the risk of coming across as too Tony Wilson, I was disappointed with the low number of Northern accents on stage, even less pleased with the London references and anecdotes.

I don’t have a problem with London, or the South, or non-Northern accents, and I don’t want the North populated only by Northeners, but an event called Interesting North that is light on Northern voices and ideas is missing something. Particularly when the idea for event has been nicked from London.

Yes, ideas are universal, but context is local.

But those are minor gripes. There was plenty food for the brain: people’s love of mapping data, the thrilling consequence of rules and no rules, genetically agile product design, poker economics, and the possible impact of bicycle commuters routes on city centre house prices.

Great soup, too. A good day.

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3 thoughts on “Interesting Visitors”

  1. You’ve highlighted an interesting issue here (no pun intended). What is “northern”?

    For instance, when I stand on stage and speak I don’t sound northern. Yet I’m by origin even more of a northerner than a Sheffield native. And I’ve spent a significant proportion of my life south of Birmingham. So what does that make me?

    Insofar as there was a “policy” it was this – I was happy for anyone to speak at Interesting in Sheffield if they fitted the criteria of interestingness regardless of their geographic affiliation. Hence Stefanie, who’s America, and Marcus who lives and works in Germany. No one regional location has the monopoly on this – and if we northerners are unrepresented in southern events, that could be just as much a measure of our reluctance to get on a train and make the distance irrelevant.

    What was important was that the venue and the location reflected the best of what Sheffield (and by implication the north) has to offer – hence Cutlers’ Hall, and Henderson’s Relish, and the Archer Project.

  2. Tim, hi. Thanks for the note – as I said, I’d have been unhappy if I’d just heard Northern voices all day. Engels, Rutherford, Shankly…the list of non-Northerners doing good work in the North is long.
    I agree that ‘interesting’ beats ‘Northerness’, but ‘Interesting + Northern’ is better yet.
    I suppose my main gripe (or touchiness) was seeing a map of London to represent bicycle cities, and sleeping Tube passengers. Small stuff, but important ‘branding’ details, if such things matter.
    Bottom line, I enjoyed the day and hope to return next year. And I did enjoy the content, not just the spectacular setting.
    Thanks again.

  3. As a boy from Norfolk who’s been to Interestings in London I think Interesting North was suitably Northern because of the very fact that anyone going had to go to Sheffield. I know that might sound a bit incidental but I think many who went spent some additional time in the North and enjoyed the experience of Interesting and the North equally. I know I did, come and see here : http://digyourfins.wordpress.com/, as did James Ward over here : http://iamjamesward.wordpress.com/.

    And from what I’d gathered the reason it was Interesting North rather than Interesting (in Sheffield) was that the Interesting franchise was being borrowed from Russell.

    More importantly though it was great !

    DW x

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