Mark Perkins
Mark Perkins
7th February 2014

For the next four weeks the Clearleft weeknotes are under the control of Mark Perkins and me (Ant)- control is an oft misused term, but we’re doing a bad cop/ good cop routine that seems to be working so far.

I was meant to be up at eLife Science today with Ben and Mikey presenting back the results of a really interesting job with this cutting edge academic publisher, but given infrastructure issues we ended up doing it over Skype (and once again having an office space with meetings rooms earned its keep). The guys have been up in Cambridge on and off over the last four weeks, with workshops on Monday, and design playback yesterday. Ben’s also working up a presentation with an impressively confrontational and sweary working title for conference, but I shan’t steal his thunder (or incur the displeasure of the weeknotes language censor).

The work we’re doing with NBC Universal is kicking up a gear now, with Mark, Andy Parker and Jon getting their teeth into the project. Andy has been trying to understand the psychology of the film industry- never let it be said we don’t stretch our people. Jon still managed to get a smart haircut though and Tess has had a lovely haircut too (I wouldn’t have mentioned it but she did specifically let us know when prompted for weeknotes, so there we are).

With a little bit of headroom in the UX and design teams we’ve decided to crack on with one of the projects we kicked off at Hackfarm. We can’t spare a huge amount of effort to put on this, but the aim is to go back to first principles and get a shippable product from the prototypes. Viv, James Bates, and Graham have been hunkered down on that project for much of the week with help and support from Andy Budd as project sponsor and James Box.

Incremental improvements continue here at 68 Middle Street- the penny has finally dropped for me that this place won’t ever be ‘finished”- and it shouldn’t be. As we develop as an agency, and the ‘family’ of tenants grows and changes, what we need out of the space will be different over time. We’re in a brilliant position of being able to adapt and change the space and the way we use it to meet those changes. It does mean Tess now has a regular spot at the counter in Dockerill’s hardware store though. Biggest update this week was the final fettling of the user labs space- we can now do discrete user testing in either a desk or living room environment, and flip the space around with a quick tweak of the lighting.

The Auditorium, as well as hosting Connections on Tuesday night (se below) was also used for an Adobe After Effects workshop this afternoon, and next week will host the Open Rights Group Crypto Party .

We posted about the inaugural ‘Connections’ event earlier this week- it was a brilliantly successful evening, and the format seems to have emerged fully formed and functional straight from James Box’s head. Hat tip to Andy parker for A/V support there- he’s busily cleaning audio for release ASAP. As one happy attendee proclaimed in the pub afterwards it was as if “all of Brighton’s illuminati” had come together for the night. I think that was a positive comment…? The next event has already been programmed, and connections 3 and 4 are already being earnestly discussed- at some point we’d really like to use the roof space for these sorts of events, though the weather of late has been turning the street outside into a briny wind tunnel, and the roof garden into our pet typhoon.

Other conference news- UX London ticket sales are really strong this year. The schedule publication gave that a significant boost and it looks like the standard 3 day tickets will all be sold out very soon (great work from Kate there). And there will be a small posse of ‘lefties’ traveling to Stockholm in early April for the ‘from Business to Buttons’ event courtesy of our erstwhile intern Emil.

Andy mentioned last week that it’s been a busy time for new business, and it has- no new engagements to announce as of time of writing, but the conference calls, meetings, catch ups and chats have been pretty much back to back all week, and some of the larger proposals we’re working on have moved forward very well.

There has been a bit of headroom too to think about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of new work. We launched our new timeline page this week (nice work Graham), and feedback internally and externally has been very positive. One key point it’s raised for me is that the Clearleft track record is amazing- full of surprises and adventures. This variety and willingness to push ourselves is one of the reasons the agency is such a great place to work, and such a creative team to work with, so tune in next week for another weekly review of a wild ride!