The future of Nocci?

Berlin U-BahnI’m putting together a presentation I’ll be doing in a few weeks time. It’s about time-management, simplifying your life, and achieving your goals. But far from being an instructional talk, it’s more about how I’m incredibly bad at most of these things, and how I have to trick myself into getting stuff done and striving for that ideal life. For example, I’m writing this while sat in a cafe that has no wifi. And I sought it out on purpose. And I’m doing that a few mornings a week now. I call it “blackspotting – the act of purposely seeking disconnected areas in order to get more work done” (mainly in a vague hope the phrase will catch on, it’ll become a trendy thing to do one day and I can pretend to be the inspirational founder of a global movement that someone actually thought of years before me).

The thing is, like many creative people, I’m quite easily distracted, and with email, web, twitter I’ll often find myself sitting down to do some work and find I “need” some information. I open up a browser, ask a question on Twitter, or search through my email archive. But I’ll get distracted by a shiny link to an interesting report/blog/site/whatever. And before I know it half an hour has passed and all I’ve been doing is browsing.

Anyway, that’s beside the point. I’m finding that with all the things I’m doing now, and the increased amount of time I’m spending on Dizzyjam (full launch any day now!) and various creative industries consultancy projects, I’m finding less time to spend on the things I love that I do for free. The case in point is Nocci. It is a success story, with events happening all over the UK, and has attracted a huge amount of attention. However, because it doesn’t generate any revenue (well, at least not at the moment), I can’t justify giving it the time and attention it deserves. People have told me it’s been incredibly valuable to them in terms of meeting new people, finding project & business partners, and generating thousands of pounds of income. And now I’m starting to get requests to run international events. It’s on the cusp of being a truly global network of events for people in the creative industries, all run by members in their own towns and cities. But despite being effectively run and operated purely by its members, it still takes time to administrate, upload pics of events to the site, keep the news pages up to date etc etc.

So, I’m thinking of how I can get more people involved to get it expanding at the rate it deserves to. Do I ask for volunteers? Do I give “ownership” of countries/territories to members that are pro-active there? Do I appoint a news editor; someone who can write an interesting and engaging news piece once or twice a week? Will people be willing to give up their time to be involved?

Or do I go down the hard, sweaty path of trying to attract (a relatively small amount of) funding – say £40,000 a year – to pay someone to work fulltime for Nocci and have a small budget to work with? And what about crowdfunding (anyone had any experience of Kickstarter.com)?

To bring it back to the beginning of this post, one of my tricks is to put stuff “out there” as a means of creating dialogue between friends, Twitter followers etc that will spur me into action. By publically committing to running Berlin Marathon before I’d even found out whether spaces were available i kind of had to do it! And so hopefully by writing this down and committing it to the ether, it will have a magical catalytic effect!

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12 thoughts on “The future of Nocci?

  1. Man this is a difficult one. Get some funding, or get Dizzy Jam to sponsor it.

    Nocci is a great idea and it’s nice to have some support. It feels quite out there for us and although I have spoken about running a Nocci over here at FunkBunk I am still looking for tools that will help the creative word spread.

    Maybe with that funding you can help creative groups pull together….

    Loving the idea of Blackspotting.

    Cheers

    Sam, FunkBunk

  2. Hey, I agree with the disconnecting thing. I tend to be online during the morning, and ‘switch off’ in the afternoon. There’s plenty of design work I can do without the need for the net, also using Google Reader in offline mode is great. Not to mention, writing blog posts… the first draft never requires wifi – its all creativity baby!

    (jeez – just said ‘baby!’ in a comment)

    mark

  3. There is no right answer. It depends. But I think you should look at opening it up.

    One “organisational” model to look at is that of BarCamp.

    It’s more of a movement than anything. You just let other people run with the idea independently. They can adapt it to their local needs. Nobody owns it and everyone owns it – which can be a factor in the success of such things.

    Maybe you could put together a Nocci starter pack “how to kickstart the creative industry in your area” and release it all under Creative Commons. It’s all about scenius (baby).

    (This is all similar to the ethos we picked up with Trydan, which was inspired by social media cafe events like Tuttle in London.)

    Some kudos goes to the people who champion and promote an event in their region, which is important. And most of the kudos comes back to you anyway because you are the source of it!

    Occasionally you can emerge to dispense wisdom and nod your head sagely at your young admirers and their naive ways.

  4. Hey Sam – thanks for the thoughts.

    Mark – Yeah (baby)!

    Carl – that’s pretty much exactly the structure of Nocci at the moment. We don’t enforce any structure or format on anyone who wants to run one. It can be whatever they want it to be. And yes, they get kudos for being the local “leader”. The difficulty comes from the fact that I want to provide a free web space for everyone to come together and communicate internationally, on top of the local groups they can hopefully attend. But this all takes time and administration. Not to mention the cost of a site that allows event creation, provides galleries, forums etc.

    Not sure anyone would want my “sage” advice though! 🙂

    p.s. Lloyd Davis and I have talked about some kind of Nocci/Tuttle crossover. There’s lots of potential there…

    Thanks again for the thoughts and links!

  5. Cool. I wasn’t entirely sure about the structure. So maybe you could make the terms clearer? In other words, you could actively encourage people to pick up the idea and do it.

    Look deep into the BarCamp, the worldwide community do a lot of the organisation on the wiki.

    Other than that the “web space” you require can be the entire web itself, distributed over people’s own blogs and social network platforms of choice.

    If the idea has a presence across the web, it’s a sign of success.

    Hope this helps somehow.

    The aim is to be like an international criminal organisation that has independent cells. Except nicer.

  6. Esko Reinikainen 5 October, 2009 — 8:23 pm

    Carl always says it better…

    My version:

    License the kernel, open source the admin.

  7. Kieran Masterton 5 October, 2009 — 11:27 pm

    Crowdfunding is the way that @arincrumley and I have gone with OpenIndie. We’re in something of a similar situation in that we can see potential revenue streams in the future but at the moment are focussing on getting the thing built and our goal of getting a revenue stream for filmmakers which is, in part, the point of our site. However, we are currently 5 or 6 days into a 29 day campaign to raise $10,000 to fund 6 months of fulltime development. Our reason for this was twofold:

    1. If this is something that filmmakers and film fans want / need they will give money to make it a reality. The web 2.0 approach of everything for free isn’t sustainable anymore imho.

    2. Arin already has an audience and has been successful on Kickstarter in the past.

    So, my only advice would be right now is a) do you think you have that audience already? And b) what are the users’ rewards for donating. The rewards are key with OpenIndie if a user donates $100+ they get to be one of the first 100 films on the site plus get an hour of Arin’s time consulting on the film and self distribution. Oh, and the film community gets a place to self diatribute their flicks!!

    Shameless plug 😉
    Go to http://openindie.com and click on the Kickstarter logo to learn more and donate!

  8. Hey Neil,

    I know what you mean about getting distracted by information – middle-click learning is a huge time waster on my behalf.

    I’m a big fan of blackspotting (see, it is catching already!) whenever I need to get a decent amount of writing done. Also, as a guy that does a lot of programming and development, I also disconnect myself from the internet and even the laptop if possible whenever I need to draw up the structure or design of my programs/sites/whatever.

    I’ve always got a number of projects running at any given time so something I’ve had to start being really strict on myself with is putting aside blocks of time to spend on various tasks. I make an assessment on how important different projects are and I assign certain number of hours a week accordingly. The most important part is that I keep a tally of how much I’ve been spending on each of the projects.

  9. Yeah thanks Neil, you’ve just successfully distracted me from achieving my potential for this morning!

    I think the nature of Nocci means that it would be difficult for one person or organisation to make a significant income other than from associated, branded goods and services. Its too organic and the nature of organic networks is that they are self serving.

    There’s no doubt that you as the instigator have benefited directly from the increased profile and reputation which has happened as a result. I don’t think it would be possible to own that success in other regions or countries.

    Let Nocci run free and see where it leads. Each “Chapter” will have its own champion and focus. If you try to dictate how this is run you will alienate the people its there to support.

  10. Kieran – we should chat. Sounds like there’s plenty of shared experiences we can learn from.

    Chris – It’s all about that self-discipline, isn’t it? Now where do I get that from? 🙂

    Steve – yeah, i couldn’t agree more. Each group/area/territory needs to be completely autonomous. I just want to make it easier for people to set up their groups….

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