Note: I wrote this with a giant stinking cold, and I seem to have left it slightly unfinished. For better reviews of Mashed, see the links at the bottom of the post.
As promised, here is my review-cum-grizzle at Mashed08. This is prompted by the excellent Guardian piece here which you should go and read, as it’s not at all as self-interested as what I’m about to write.
Firstly, I don’t live in London. Perhaps the only reason I was interested in going to Mashed was the fact that I could get there for free, via one of the buses that they put on. However, the bus was an epic endurance ride that managed to brake myself, Brian and Alistair for the duration of the weekend, turning us into shallow stumbling wrecks.
The point of the weekend was to actually make something cool with technology, and while I was unable to do that I kind of see how it works. You see, most people who work with IT are phenomenally bright, and their salaried job only covers a small part of what they can do. Events like Mashed allow them to use their other skills to create fun things – which the BBC where hoping would be ‘fun things that have some relation to BBC products’.
There was talk that there should have been a lot more people at the event – at one point, I heard that 400 people hadn’t turned up. I don’t think this can be a fault of the event management team, as attending did involve sacrificing your weekend. Those that did turn up where fully laden with free gifts, up to and including the BBC beanbags that formed the bulk of the furniture at the event.
This makes a huge difference from art conferences that I’ve been to, where you might get a free coffee if you are lucky. Mashed not only had free coffee, but also free food all weekend, making it a world apart from any conference that I had attended before.
Perhaps that’s the rub for me; art is seen as such a peripheral activity that it receives no investment, and yet it is constantly surrounding us. There is obviously huge amounts of money in the combination of broadcasting and IT that Mashed represents, and yet it could be described as a much more selective interest.
(Brian’s short blog-post on Mashed can be seen here)
(Further update: Alistair’s post on Mashed can be seen here)