HUGO Launch – all events should be like this


I believe in practicing what you preach. And yesterday was a prime example of that. I did one of my presentations about Digital Storytelling and its role in digital inclusion at the launch of the HUGO project in Leeds. As I usually do, I focused on the fun and joy that is to be had out of using the internet, and how the best method for getting those on board who don’t use it is to focus on the enjoyment, entertainment and education they are missing out on. And I am really proud of the people I am working with at Leeds Federated Housing Association, particularly Sue Jennings and Keilly Harrower, for making the launch event the embodiment of those principles.

2013-11-28 12.28.43

It was engaging and participatory: As well as “talking-head” speakers, of which I was one, each talk was interspersed with a section in which the audience got to do some work. HUGO has been designed around the HUGO family, a fictional family which is moving to Leeds and starting its digital inclusion journey. At the beginning of the day, delegates were asked to choose a badge with the cartoon representation of their favourite character on it, and they then re-arranged themselves into teams representing each character. This process culminated in the last break out session when each team wrote a blog post on behalf of their character, intended to be published, there and then. As Sue Jennings said, we were trusting the audience to have bought into the ethos of the character, and to take it in interesting, but not too incongruous directions, there and then, live to the world. Those of us directly involved in the project will have to live with the consequences of what they publish from hereon in.


It all seemed to work. There was lots of positive backchat on Twitter, which was displayed to the room via a screen. And then, as people queued for their lunch, there was one last surprise which caught them all unaware. Take a look below.

No one was expecting that, and it rounded off a fun, exciting, informative event, which, I hope, people will remember for a long time.

All events should be like this. It’s possible.