Links for December 22nd through December 24th

Some links for you:

Links for December 19th through December 22nd

Some links for you:

Bourn(e)ville’s Heart of Darkness

One of the fiercest critics of this blog (you know who you are) reckons I don’t talk enough about the issues that concern real people. So in order to address this I’ve taken up their suggestion to discuss the worrying issue of recent changes made to Cadbury’s Heroes.

It started when, having opened the Heroes well before the designated Christmas start date (no more than 7 days before the 25th) we were struck by the absence of Crunchies and the introduction of dark chocolate (minature Bournvilles) and chocolate eclairs. The Guardian have already blogged about this and it is indeed a scandal. We’ve even had to top up the Heroes with some Celebrations (that’s right, a collection of chocolates has its own page on wikipedia – exactly what we thought the internet would be usefully used for).

But in my eyes it’s not half as big a scandal as The Granuiad contributing in said post to the contiual misspelling of Bourn(e)ville. Why do they think an extra ‘e’ belongs in the middle of that word?

Let’s get this straight. Bourneville is a place in Ohio, USA, not Birmingham.

Links for December 14th through December 16th

Some links for you:

Writing about worms & business

I’ll avoid cross-posting in future but my first posting at the Digital Birmingham blog is about a useful example of how social media can be used by small businesses:

I’m always looking for examples of how social media can support small businesses. I’ve raised the question before using the local builder as an example. Why on earth would the bloke who knocked a hole in my wall have a reason to use any kind of social media tool?

Well I found a partial answer to that in a video from Herefordshire firm, Wiggly Wigglers (amongst other things they sell worms for composting). Founder Heather Gorringe explains how a shift to social media over tradititional media helped cut her advertising costs without cutting her customer base.

What’s clear is that Heather knows her customer extremely well: “we sell stuff that gardeners may not know they want”. Of course Heather’s firm have had an e-commerce presence for quite a while but they’ve embraced social media in a big way.

She has a blog, a facebook group, uses podcasts and is all over Youtube. I can’t help wonder why Wiggly Wigglers aren’t on twitter (there’s certainly plently of chat about them). Social Media is ideal for building a community around your products, for ensuring customers value the advice you give them and the knowledge-sharing that comes from connecting to each other. Increasing value-added rather than cutting prices sounds like a good strategy in an economic downturn. Previously Wiggly Wigglers had bought in customer lists, now in effect they create their own customer lists for free through word-of-mouth on social media.

For her efforts Heather has won a global award for Small Business Excellence – that’s right, a worm seller from Hereford beat off international competition. Well done to her. We need more local and regional social media champions from the wider business community. Here in Birmingham I think we’re certainly adept at knowing how to make a buck by playing the local card – but maybe we could take tip or two from a rural worm-grower about how to build a global community who care enough to come back again and again.

Links for December 11th through December 13th

Some links for you:

Big City Plan – Digital Question Found!


It is confusing I know but the Big City Plan Consultation does indeed allow you to answer a question about digital connectivity. There seemed to be some concern that it didn’t but there it is, tucked away at the end of section 4 of the ‘Big City Plan Work in Progress’. If you click under 4.11 Street Design you’ll find it (yes I know that don’t make sense) The question is number CON 13:

How can Birmingham provide a digital infrastructure to enable new and existing businesses to have a competitive advantage, globally and locally? Can a ‘Virtual Birmingham’ improve people’s understanding and appreciation of the city centre, increase opportunities for the visitor economy and attract global business interests to trade with or invest in the city centre and enable the city to achieve its ‘Connected City’ aspirations both locally and internationally?

How should Birmingham ensure that the development of new households within the city centre have a digital infrastructure that supports family living across all generations and supports the flexible lifestyle requirements of 21st century living?

Addendum: On the leaflet section of the consultation there’s a shorter question (no.25) about Digital (scroll to bottom of link):

How can Birmingham provide a digital infrastructure to enable new and existing businesses to have a competitive advantage, globally and locally?

Obviously, go answer it there rather than here.
(pic found at Dave & Bry)

Big City Plan Consultation – my two penn’orth

Birmingham’s Big City Plan has gone live with its consultation process. After initially getting frustrated with the site this morning (had other stuff I was meant to be doing anyway, you know, work stuff) I’ve given it another go and immediately found a question on walking/cycling links between the centre and Digbeth that is a bit of a pet topic of mine.

So I put in my response (not overly considered, bit of a brain dump) and pressed submit. Turns out I’d answered question 42 when I wanted to answer question 41. The mistake was thinking the ‘add comments’ below the question was the right one – it isn’t, it’s above the question. Was a touch confusing or maybe I’m a touch thick. I can’t work out if the comments are viewable by others but here’s what I wrote in answer to question 41, ‘How can we ensure good walking and cycling connections between Digbeth and the city core?’:

There are some real practical problems in getting from Selfridges to the Custard Factory along Digbeth High Street. Leaving the Bull Ring area from the gap between St Martin’s and Selfridges presents a number of difficulties. The key one is the positioning of the bus stop outside the ‘Digbeth Cold Storage’ building. A crowd gathers here and on the narrow pavement it becomes very difficult to get past(especially with pushchair in tow, worse still in a wheelchair). There are five junctions to cross to get to the Custard Factory and the area has a slight feel of being in decline (fast food shops, a sex shop, empty former car garage, derelict land). Addressing this should be a priority in order to increase footfall in this area – to prevent it feeling like the place where the city centre stops. This could include traffic calming or major realignment of the road (which could include bike lanes).

An alternative connection to Digbeth, and one that is under-used is Fazeley st. this is an impressive, straight road with much industrial heritage on it. Perhaps this could be considered as a new gateway to the area? I see a tree-lined boulevard perhaps? Or perhaps this is the road that traffic could be routed down to relieve traffic on the high street. Whichever way, clearer signage and some consideration to how the area betweenthe city and custard factory ‘feels’ should be considered.

The canals could be better utilised perhaps – I doubt many people realise that they offer a direct(ish) route to the NIA/Brindley place from Digbeth. It’s a fascinating route as well – couple of lovely narrow tunnels and a glimpse of all the new flats around the post office tower. Making Fazeley st. a focus would revitalise Typhoo wharf as the gateway to the canal system.

Once you have responded it produces a PDF for you to file away – quite handy actually. Now that I’ve got the hang of it I’ll respond further (and will copy them on here until you get bored of them). As a process for formal consultation it’s not too bad actually – but love to have everyone’s comments come through in an RSS feed as they put them in though, that’d be great.