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I recently went to a tech talk in Manchester where a speaker introduced his topic with this – “We are now naturally urban animals” Or in other words, we’ve moved on from our rural origins, have long since walked out of the savannah and our chosen birthplaces are now among skyscrapers.

The hills are alive

We’d certainly be forgiven for thinking that we’ve turned our backs on our old ways and that we’ve evolved into concrete dwellers. As trends go, we have consistently been leaving our rural homes behind since the very first cities shot up. On average, 74% of all developed and 44% of all emerging countries are now urban.

But aren’t we forgetting something? Isn’t nature where our origins lie, isn’t it still our habitat?

Moving to the big smoke has always been about getting a job, finding new opportunities or leaving a ‘worse’ life behind. It’s never been about putting ourselves in concrete mazes away from nature, it’s just become a by-product.

There are also scores of studies that prove flora and fauna aren’t just pretty, they are integral for our health and sanity. Increased exposure to nature is directly linked to decreased levels of stress, depression and anxiety which often have a detrimental impact on physical health – which means we need to be near nature to feel better.

Windows Explorer

Our online spaces are, in theory, the most far-flung spaces from physical nature, and it is perhaps for this reason that we are constantly designing and coding with nature in mind. Perhaps we are unable to truly design or invent anything completely outside of our own viewpoint or experience and so logically our most high-tech inventions have their origins in something that already exists in nature.

Take the internet itself, which represents a spider’s web in its most simplistic form, and how our brains make connections in its most complex. Or if we think of ‘the Cloud’ it works in a very similar way to how we store memory.

You can link the structure of code to how soil works for living things, it creates strings of organic matter (or code) which forms connections and binds those separate connections to form more complicated organic structures.  Even our phones are created to work in tandem with how we think, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to use them or understand how to extract information. Our smartphones sync so well with how we communicate and connect ideas that they now feel like an abstracted part of ourselves.

Our most forward-thinking robotic experts are also building biomimetic robots to either to look like us or to represent an animal or the best parts of lots of animals that already exist.

Let there be light

We are also slowly realising that the concrete gap between us and nature needs to be bridged with metaphoric gardens.  Biophilic design, or designing with nature in mind, is a great practical example and is a trend that is moving at the speed of light.

We are quite literally bringing natural elements through our windows and into our internal spaces. Panoramic views, wood, indoor gardens, rooftop greenery, natural colours, open spaces, floor to ceiling windows and circadian lighting are all trendy examples. But biophilic design reaches far beyond architecture or office décor and has jumped right into the digital world.

Gone are the fluorescent colours and jarring navigation of the early noughties. Our websites and social media accounts are now designed with clean lines, simple navigation and fluid connections. We are creating open, light and welcoming digital spaces that mimic our old natural spaces.

SEO is also riding the trend. Most words that have a naturally meaning score highly on user retention and engagement. Words like social, open, organic, natural, green, local, sourced, community and space, are all prime terms for websites and branding, and are all systematically linked to nature and our roots.

Another great example is UX design, which basically foresees what is going to happen to our online behaviours and physical designs around those predictions. If you ask any UX designer they will agree that it’s paramount to create navigation from A to B, B to C and C to A in the most fluid possible way, because it is a sure-fire way to create a positive and productive user experience. It is because of this that internet spaces are now completely interlinked, just like our real lives because conversation and communication are naturally fluid and interconnected.

Digital Organisms

Our mass urban exodus also doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. In 2050, 70% of the world will be urban. The challenge for the future will be adopting practices and developing innovations that truly merge nature into our physical and digital spaces, so that we create real urban jungles that are healthy for both us and the planet.

I think it would be naïve to think we can go back to a simpler time, but what we can do is use both the future and the past to create a balanced present where urban and digital nature more than just lovely a sounding paradox.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Where is your phone right now?

Mine is flashing next to my laptop as I write this, never too far away and always patiently waiting for me to over use it. I’m not the only one who feels like they’re on their smartphone too much, with 50% of teenagers admitting that they are probably addicted to their phones.

Shockingly, our handy digital helpers have only been around for 18 years, that is a shorter amount of time than most people have spent on this earth, yet they’ve managed to turn our lives inside out within a blink of a screen shot.

Like any 18-year-old, smartphones are fresh faced and doggedly shaking up our way of life. How much time we spend on them, the way they’ve changed our hobbies, what we view and read, how we search for information and communicate, and even our attention spans have been deeply affected by our clever devices. But the influence that smartphones could have, has the potential to become a lot deeper and weirder.

Through the looking glass

We type our thoughts, habits, conversations, relationships, passions, hatreds, careers, and hobbies into our screens. We use it as an extension of our own brains, to help store information, jog our memories and communicate.

You may think that we keep a lot from our phones, but it’s a lot less than you think. Smartphones aren’t just about apps or social media, they also monitor what you look for and how you use your phone when you are alone and left to your own devices. And all that information isn’t lost or static, it’s stored and, according to experts, gives each smartphone user a unique code or a digital personality.

It might also explain why we feel strange being away from our new best friends for too long or why we feel such a compulsion to use them as much as we do. We aren’t just addicted, we are also developing a symbiotic relationship with our phones.


Symbiotic smartphones might sound like one of the new Black Mirror episodes, but it’s actually something that is already happening to us. We might not yet put 100% of everything we think and feel into our phones, but we are relying so heavily on them that they are becoming our surrogate brains or at the very least an external hard drive for our thoughts and lives.

Relying on our phones to do what our brains are actually good at, means we are systematically using our brains less. Our cerebral supercomputers are being side-lined for an external device and experts are warning it could have an irreversible effect on how our brains work.

The smartphone revolution is moving so quickly that it is becoming a slippery beast, and the scope of information at our fingertips is enough to overwhelm and affect even the most ardent memories and those who still know how to focus.

Beam me up

And things aren’t going to stop there. Smartphones are already IoT enabled with software such as Siri, and so if you choose to have voice activation on your phone, it effectively listens out for keywords so that it can instantly react to your instructions. What if in the near future the likes of Siri become an obligatory function that stores your every conversation to predict how it can help you with your daily life and long-term goals?

Even weirder, what if smartphones could start recognising and recording our body language, all in the quest to become the dream personal assistant. Face recognition software is already a well-established tool that is used for passports, law enforcement and less serious apps. It isn’t a huge stretch to assume that one-day technology could also start to recognise body language and blur the line between us and our phones so much that the line won’t even matter anymore.

Cycle of Life

Everyone likes a happy ending, so you’ll be glad to hear that it isn’t all doom and gloom.

We always do the same thing when inventions change our way of life. We tend to go full throttle into a movement, panic and then end up finding a balance between the old and the new, and eventually even strengthen our roots with the old ways. Think chains vs. independent businesses, the industrial revolution vs. environmentalism, fast food vs. clean living, capitalism vs. ethical consumerism.

Technology’s opposite, physical engagement, will come back to the forefront, because our current relationship with our phones is unsustainable and because we always go back to our innate needs.

We can already see the tide starting to turn. Huge watchwords such a tech fatigue, digital detox and tech free days are storming their way through the smartphone clouds. We might still have our heads firmly stuck in the digital sand, but we will never be able to alter our need for physical interaction in the real world. And this intrinsic need will create a future where will hopefully find a much-needed balance between pouring ourselves into our digital soul mates and actively searching for those healthy and brilliant moments when we live completely free from our digital devices.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

It’s official – Bamboo Manchester has spent 365 wonderful days as Clockwork members at Ziferblat Edge Street!

We’ve had a fantastic first year co-working from Ziferblat Edge Street. We still love coming to work knowing that each day will be different – from how the space is used by everyone in it, to the people we meet or the eclectic events constantly going on in the northern quarter’s very own eccentric grandma’s living room.

The origins story

We were actually looking for a fixed office space in the area when we first decided to take the plunge and become northern quarter co-workers. We’d rented an office in Bury for a few years but felt the next logical step was to work more centrally and have a Manchester post code.

We decided to start looking at offices in the Northern Quarter and spent a whole morning traipsing around the quirky red brick streets. By the end of the morning, we’d gone from one white washed room to another and hadn’t really felt that lightbulb moment where you think ‘this is our kind of office!’.

After what felt like the millionth drab space, we went for a much-needed break and decided to put our feet up and eat some cake at Ziferblat. As we sat in the communal living room café, we watched the friendly buzz mill about the room. People were playing chess, working from their laptops, playing on the piano, and having a good chat over a cup of tea on the balcony.

We realised right then that Ziferblat was the sort of place that we’d love to work in. It was the complete opposite to the standard office spaces were looking at. It was brimming with creative character, was friendly and sociable but also had a calm feel about it – exactly what we needed for our web design business!

We then bumped into Ben Davies, the Marketing Manager at Ziferblat, who genuinely loves the living room area so much that he works in the open space with fellow Ziferblatters. We told him our plight over a cup of tea and he told us about the Clockwork Membership.

Let there be cake

Sometimes in life those perfect moments just come out of nowhere, and this was one of them. We’d stumbled across not only the ideal space for us but also the perfect office package. We didn’t even realise that co-working would be ideal for us until we walked into the Ziferblat doors looking for refuge from a draining morning. And there we were, happily signing on the dotted line for membership and a Manchester post code.

Since we became loyal Ziferblatters, a number of surprisingly brilliant things have happened to us. We firstly realised how truly great co-working is and how much it suits what we do. We then noticed a lot of freelancers congregating and eating a lot of cake together on Fridays.

Katy Carlisle, who is the founder of Freelancer Folk, welcomed us with open arms and we are now part of her friendly remote worker community. We meet every Friday and not only socialise but help each other out and even work together on projects. It’s what all offices should be like – open, supportive and motivational.

We’ve also had the privilege to collaborate with other inspiring people just by working in a space that is social and open to genuine conversation with strangers. We’ve even met new clients by having a good chat in the kitchen, sharing co-working tables or having collective breaks in the sofa areas.

We also realised that having the flexibility to work how you want and in whatever type of space you feel like, is helping us be more creative and work more productively. We’ve even branched out into video creation and are working on a rebrand to reflect our Mancunian co-working awakening (watch this space!).

In the end, having that break was one of the best decisions we’ve made, not only for Bamboo but also as individuals. It still makes us tremble in our co-working boots knowing that we could’ve missed working here if we hadn’t given in to our love of all things cake!

Manchester is a city that has something about it. You can’t quite put your finger on it but it’s there, chatting in the old city pubs, brainstorming in basement warehouses, or weaving along the industrial streets. Northern city dwellers forever doing their own gritty, creative thing.

We first moved into the Northern Quarter because we wanted to be more central for our clients and get a Manchester post code for Bamboo. But in the end what we got was much more than an address, we got to live and breathe what the city is about and reflect that in our work. Breaking norms, doing our own thing, laughing about it and then breaking norms again. Creating something from the richness of the past and making it completely, inspiringly new.

Red Brick Road

In our mind, Manchester’s uniqueness, in part, comes from the fact that it was the starting point for the industrial revolution. To create such a global movement which transformed the planet’s future has to take a very unique way of thinking and some stubbornly forward-thinking guts.

But post-industrial Manchester was in danger of living in the shadows of its past and resigning itself to a very long concrete slumber. Luckily, Manchester’s never-ending love of music and unique art rose to the challenge and kept the creative candle burning, making sure the Mancunian spirit never really burnt out.

Then when Manchester’s time came again, purpose flooded back into our empty red brick buildings and made sure music wasn’t the only thing shining across our city. Warehouses were splashed with street art, Victorian mills adapted into creative spaces, and empty factories became digital hubs. The transformation happened when Manchester needed it most and made it that little bit more special.

Let me go my own way

This city is also in creative flow when it revives the past but doesn’t drown in nostalgia, when it isn’t afraid of blending the old and new by letting them clash and collide until they learn to be in each other’s company.

Manchester also doesn’t care about what is expected of it, and often rebels against that expectation. Which is also where our simmering hatred of most things from London comes from, and why the city quickly wriggled off its ‘Northern Powerhouse’ title – because it’ll most likely achieve the same thing but in its own way.

Even the architecture doesn’t care about what a city should look like. Towering glass structures sit next to elegantly decaying Georgian buildings, as do Tudor houses and concrete tower blocks. Manchester’s architecture is a defiance of standardised beauty and architectural norms, which is the perfect backdrop to what is happening on the streets. Heritage being reaffirmed with innovation. Creativity coming from the freedom of disregarding rules.

Family of strangers

Something we also love is that we work in an urban cosmopolitan city that still acts like a local pub. Stranger talk to each other at bus stops, laugh together in queues and chat about the weather in cafes. It’s this mix of innovation and genuine friendliness that creates the unexplained buzz flitting around the streets and helps to slow down the train to pretentious city living.

Working in the northern quarter, which acts like an urban village, has also helped us be more creative and productive just by being a part of something truly exiting. We are all talking, inventing, and creating an idea of a city together, and it’s inspiring to build and adapt to the times together.

Bamboo’s coffee adventures at Ziferblat, Edge Street

Coffee has been married into our lives for a very long time. From the first people that discovered the beans, to the millions of coffee shops across the planet. We just can’t get enough of the stuff.

In recent years, coffee culture has been working fervently underground. Coffee experts have been toiling away in backrooms to ensure that the coffee poured into our porcelain cups is lovingly cared for before we put coffee to lips. Experts, such as Sean from 92 degrees in Liverpool, concentrate on sourcing good quality beans and meticulously processing them into great coffee. The time, temperature, and nature of the roast all adds to why some brews beat the rest of the flock.

Good Coffee is also a staple for any urban co-working space, and very important to the average freelancers and remote worker. So when Ben, Marketing Manager at Ziferblat, invited us and other Ziferblat friends to a coffee tasting of the most expensive brew in the world, Gesha Village Coffee, we threw out the Nescaf’ and listened to Sean from 92 degrees with bated breath.

Freelance folk, Manc Made, MCRhookup and Fraiche Ink were also the resident coffee drinkers, on hand to taste the record breaking brew and listen to Sean, who explained the legend of Kaldi, or the Ethiopian goat that discovered coffee, and why Gesha Village sold at auction at an eye watering 85 dollars.

According to Sean, Gesha village has ideal natural conditions and ecosystem for making the best coffee in the world. The farmers also did something very unusual for the coffee world, they left the coffee plants alone and let them do their thing. Their gamble paid off when the beans went to market and broke coffee bartering records.

So is coffee ever worth paying £85?

All we can say is that tasting the best coffee in the world is like when you think you know what vodka tastes like, and then you try a good vodka and you realised you’ve been sipping on fuel for most of your life. Or more poetically, a bit like seeing colour for the first time, the colour of velvety brown.

Why people want to know the story behind the brand

Humans have always connected through stories.

Even when we didn’t know how to write, we passed on stories through folklore, songs and pictures. Some of our most beloved stories and books are actually just modern versions of the most ancient of tales, which shows how truly enduring a good story can be.

And so it comes as no surprise that we want exactly the same thing from our favourite brands. We want companies to tell us why they are doing something more than what they are doing. We want the back story, the origin of the idea, the raison d’être.

Hole in my soul

I’ve talked a lot in my previous blog posts about brand ethics and how consumers are getting tired of being obviously sold something. In the same vein, nothing sells less than knowing that behind the snazzy product or sleek website is a hollow company that effectively has no soul.

What do I mean by this? Well, people want to humanise brands to emotional engage with them. They want to know that the brand reflects their ideals, projected image and values. The easiest way to humanise a brand is to tell the reader a background story.

That is why so many adverts and promotional material now shy away from obviously promoting the benefits of their products, focussing instead on their core principles and how they reflect society’s values. Think about how adverts have changed from the ‘buy me now’ 1950’s poster to the ethereal embedded videos that now freestream on your Instagram or Facebook.

Paint me a picture

Some companies don’t market their product at all, but gamble on the fact that an abstract and engaging story will translate their brand idea and make it more memorable. For me, the undisputed UK maestros are the producers of John Lewis Christmas adverts. Each video never talks about what John Lewis does or sells, but always goes viral and becomes a staple annual discussion point around the Christmas table.

Getting people to truly engage with your brand without actually selling what you do is a very clever thing to achieve. People will always promote your brand when they want to share a great story, and will accept that part of sharing that story is also talking about your brand.

Digital Ancients

Like most things in life, branding has come full circle. Forward thinking Marketeers have realised that tapping into ancient traditions that stand the test of time, such as storytelling, is a sure fire way to get their audiences more engaged.

In the end, it’s quite ironic but also comforting to know that in our modern, digital world we engage the most with a brand when it lets us do what our ancestors did – share stories that speak to us and bring us closer.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Getting through to your audience has never been more complicated.

We are living in an age of hyper-communication where each individual, on average, processes the equivalent of 174 newspapers and is exposed to an estimated 10,000 adverts every single day.

The hurrier I go the behinder I get

Cutting through the noise and grabbing fickle attention spans means that content must be engaging, digestible, genuine, and quick.

People essentially want to know the core point of any online content in under 2 minutes. 80% of people won’t read to the end of your page and most of your audience will only read 20% of any web content you post.

With these depressing statistics to hand, the only way to persuade audiences to read on is to galvanise your page titles and make sure that your first few points really pack a punch.

Made in his image

And let’s not forget the colossal importance of videos and images that give the reader a quick energy boost between grammatical constructions.

Infographics came on the scene to transform deep data into visual short hand. These visual ‘word bites’ are an extremely effective way of sharing a lot of information in an easily digestible and shareable format.


So why use infographics?

  1. Visuals boost engagement

    The human eye is naturally drawn to images, users pay more attention to graphics and are more likely to linger and retain more information because you have engaging visuals.

    ‘Engagement’ is banded about a lot on marketing sites, all that it really means is that there is a two-way interaction between the audience and the source. Infographics are the best of both worlds because they combine detailed information with images so that you get the necessary attention and engagement from your target audience.

    Crucially, they help move your content away from static results nestled in lengthy paragraphs and elevate data to build a visual information grid that captivates the reader.

  2. Infographics are more likely to go viral

    When a reader is engaged and believes that the information will also help others, they are more likely to share and generate a social media snowball effect.

    Visuals are a great way to highlight important information that your audience might not have time to read or even skim through in the body of your text.

    Without visuals, especially infographics, insightful and shareable information can often be over looked and can disappear into the pool of content swirling around the internet.

    Infographics help users immediately process and instantly relate to what you want to get across, which are the building blocks of social engagement and ultimately creating a viral post.

  3. Infographics are highly shareable

    Some people don’t actually need to go viral and just want to create enough awareness to start attracting new customers or increase their followers.

    Infographics are a great way to achieve sustained awareness and increase web traffic to your page or social accounts. They are a great tool to reach every corner of the internet and spread awareness far and wide.

    You can pin infographics to Pinterest, tweet one via your twitter account, share via private message or embed an infographic into your blog.

    A relevant and useful infographic will increase your site’s traffic because the people that share it will also link to the source and you will create organic traffic back to your site. You can also add HTML coding to your infographic so it becomes searchable and helps increase your google rankings.

    You can even let your infographic loose in the real world and print it for marketing campaigns, presentations, posters or leaflets. In fact, it’s a wonder an infographic isn’t taking over the world as we speak.

The Circle of Life

The reason infographics work is because they don’t just emit out information, they use engagement to push people to share which draws the audience back to you, your company or your online passion.

The circle works because, when you do it right, the traffic loop should never end. Your information is out there and every day someone is picking it up, and the more its shared the more it will attract users right back to the source.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

What does your online presence say about you?

‘Who am I?’ is a timeless question, and answering it has never been straight forward. Your true self not only changes through time and experience but is also adaptable to different situations.

Then there is the projected self, or how you show yourself to the outside world. You could call this your public profile or your own brand. The projected self is basically a more socially acceptable you that can jump more easily through life’s many complicated hoops.

In the past, this would usually mean understanding how to act respectfully in society within the laws and social rules of the time. Now, there is an additional way to project yourself, and that’s through your online presence.

Forever Me

The main difference between how you project yourself face-to-face with someone and declaring who you are online is that your thoughts and ideas are written on the internet with permanent marker and can be accessed globally.

If you aren’t very savvy on your privacy settings, any prospective boss, new love interest or potential follower can search where you went out when you were 18, what music you liked when you were 25 or what political beliefs you had when you were 30.

Away from your private online moments, there is also the intentional, public image you are uploading on the cloud. What you are doing on the internet matters not just now but in the future and the idea that you can balance separate personal and professional images might apply in your real life, but the distinction is blurred on the internet simply because both worlds can search for you.

Here are 3 examples that come to mind:

  1. If you own a business and don’t regulate all your online accounts, including your personal social media, you are setting yourself up for a damaging impression from a potential client who will automatically carry out a google search.
  2. If you are a CEO and share environmentally focused articles on your social spaces but your own company has no environmental image or accreditation, the two online profiles will look at odds and both will seem superficial.
  3. As an employee, shouting loud and proud about any idea on a public platform that is opposed to your organisation’s values can often lead to disciplinary action.


Push the Button

In a world that is quickly throttling towards never being offline, understanding how to balance your personal and professional online presence is crucial. Finding the balance between respectability, reputation and originality has always been a goal in life, but now getting it wrong can have a much more lasting effect.

The internet is what it has become today because we not only extract information out but we also constantly add our own selves into the framework, and simply pushing a button can catapult a thought or view across the internet. Knowing your own moral limits, personal values and professional goals are key in being able to navigate a digital world riddled with communication potholes.

The ultimate solution is knowing what to put under lock and key, understanding your online rights, keeping up to date with current branding trends and knowing what to SEO like mad.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Sharing is caring

Are we transcending traditional social media?

There is a lot of online buzz about whether social media has replaced traditional marketing and journalism. The short answer to this is yes in a fashion it has, and quite a while ago.

What is more importantly happening is that traditional social media channels are being completely overhauled in favour of one streamlined and integrated communication space.

The clever coders and designers, that have helped each social media giant rise to fame and cling to it, have adapted their platforms to their users by using social media analytics to track how their platforms are being used and then adapt them accordingly. Some platforms are even letting their code change organically with each end user. This means that we are quite literally evolving and transforming social media channels just by using them.

If humans are naturally social, and want social media that can give them the most rapid, easy access and logical way of communicating then the unfaltering end-point will be that separate social media accounts will be transformed by their very users who will need all the channels to be part of one global platform.

Welcome to my world

Social media works because it lets us connect to others better and helps us feel part of a network. The birth of social media is often attested to Facebook, but often the invention before the invention is the place you should be looking.

Myspace, in my opinion, was the grandfather of social media. It has all the hallmarks of all our slick 2017 social apps; you had your own personalised space, you could share your tastes, beliefs and most importantly connect and communicate with other personalised spaces. Myspace was infamously left out to dry because it wasn’t integrated enough, didn’t update fast enough for its users, and didn’t put ease of communication on the pedestal it should have been. In other words, it became a static space.

Then Facebook came along and truly started the concept of social media. It used the concept of myspace and elevated it to immediate communication and used our need for recognition and popularity within digital circles to set the web world on fire. It is not an exaggeration to say that Facebook changed the world, in the very least for the first Facebook generation.

Time for a change

What Facebook and all other major social platforms do well is that they understand that the world of social media is ‘adapt or die’. The user is fickle and will jump to another platform if it fits more with their lifestyle, viewpoint, and modern way of connecting. This has forced the social media channels to constantly react or face Myspace style extinction and so what we are seeing is a mass merge of unique social media features.

Like kids at the playground asked to share a bag of sweets and thinking that by taking half of another kid’s sweet they have more overall.

The list of examples is long but here are 5 that come to mind-

  1. Instagram is becoming the place where you post your status via images (instead of content only on Facebook or even album sharing) You can also post on Instagram and instantly share on Facebook, twitter and Tumblr. Basically, making all three platforms one sharing space via Instagram.
  2. Hashtags are no longer a Twittersphere phenomenon but can be used on any social media and searchable on google.
  3. Instagram and recently Facebook now have ‘stories’ just like snapchat and even have Snapchat style video filters.
  4. YouTube is testing community features to allow creators to share images and text (just like Facebook)
  5. Facebook is trying to be the go to place for sharing stories, videos, and news articles (aka twitter and YouTube).

In their dogged quests to outdo each other, eat up the competition and remove the others individuality, they are inadvertently throttling towards one, open and integrated communication space. Soon all social media will have bitesize and immediately streamable/shareable video, image and content that you will be able to share over all social platforms at once to get the maximum impact.

This then brings about an unavoidable prediction – If all social media is reacting to the user and the user wants to be connected to all platforms at once then an elevated super social platform that transcends traditional social media channels is where we are heading.

And if that is hard to believe, think about if people in the 1960s would have believed how much journalism could change with the invention of an online social address book.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Why Manchester is becoming a global centre for digital creatives

The red-brick northern giant, the home of Oasis, the set of Shameless and the birthplace of the industrial revolution. The city today is as iconic as it is infamous, as gritty as it is cosmopolitan and as northern as it is global.

Manchester has always been a rule breaker and a thought-pioneer. The city and its inhabitants like to do things on their own terms and in their own way, which has inspired ground-breaking inventions and an outpouring of creative spirit. From the invention of the computer, the discovery of the electron and the creation of graphene, Manchester has never been afraid of using science to create innovative technology.

From the ashes

Manchester’s regeneration after the IRA bomb in the 90s catapulted the dormant city onto the global stage once again. Huge reconstruction and historic investment were pumped into the Northern Powerhouse. The city was rebuilt, re-modelled and transformed until it inadvertently had everything it needed to become the global tech hub it is becoming today: strong economy, cultural heritage, historic innovation, and a surplus of creative people and ideas.

The tech revolution hit the Mancunian streets like a fish to water and took the city on by storm.

Innovative start-ups, digital collectives and tech entrepreneurs filtered into the once empty red brick warehouses and old Victorian buildings. Modern offices, co-working spaces and freelance friendly cafes are now popping up more quickly than quirky restaurants or independent boutiques. And as the city’s architects plan to build up to the sky, similar plans are set in motion for the Manchester digital scene.

What’s all the fuss about?

Manchester is currently the largest tech cluster outside of London, it has the UK’s second largest GVA growth and has the 4th highest digital turnover at £2.2 billion.

Local and national government are intent on keeping this momentum going to ensure that Manchester realises its global digital potential and has recently granted Manchester £4 million to create a tech hub centre which will nurture start-ups, be a place of digital mentorship and help ingrain digital collaboration across the city.

Away from government investment, the city is receiving masses of ex-Londoners as part of the historic exodus from the capital, and is also importantly retaining northern talent who no longer feel the pull to move down south to be able to realise their professional goals.

Welcoming companies as they decide to relocate, open a branch or be based in the northern city is also becoming a common affair. Companies and organisations such as Google, the BBC and Bohoo.com have all decided that Manchester is the place to be. There is even tongue-in-cheek talk of moving the capital up north.

Cobbled Roots

Whether you believe that Manchester will become a totally transformed global digital mega city, that it will cling to its northern-rooted creative identity from yesterdays, or that it will be a mash up of both identities, one thing is irrefutable: Manchester is going through a phenomenal metamorphosis.

The risk with such a dramatic push towards a ‘better’ Manchester is forgetting the city’s history. We risk, like many cities, favouring gentrification instead of accepting our imperfect but real identity. We risk doggedly pursuing global recognition and lobotomising what made us famous in the first place: being Mancunian.

There is however something that will always save us from ‘growing at all costs’ and that is our thirst for originality and our intransient need to navigating our own way through anything, including  becoming a global centre for digital innovation and talent.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Are Millennials actually 21st century hippies?

Millennials are receiving a lot of, sometimes unwanted, attention in the media. The privileged, digital dream seekers that are shaking up the modern business age.

Millennials though are much more than social media inventors or hipster café owners. They are part of the new technological revolution and are helping to forge a new way of not just running businesses but how society thinks and views itself.

The historic change we are seeing in collective mentality is actually directly linked to how the hippies influenced the 1960s and still have huge relevance to this day.

Power to the flower

The 1960s hippies and the baby boomers in general, were living in a time of social disquiet and heightened war. Hippies were a generation born into a world they didn’t agree with and felt disconnected from, they were misunderstood by the previous generation and felt both voiceless and helpless in the face of injustice.

If we raise a mirror to our own time we see a very similar thing happening now but with a 21st century twist.

The hippy solution was to campaign for the humanitarian ideals of love, justice, and equality. Hippies passionately believed if enough people united on these three common beliefs the government would have to act and the world would change for good.

We all hopefully agree that love, justice, and equality can only do good in the world. But I am sure we also all agree that the hippy dream fell flat on its well-meaning face circa the 1980’s power suit wearing, capitalist mega-boom.

The hippy dream, was in the end just that, a dream; and it lay bubbling below the surface for decades.  Something happened though to slowly re-awaken us, and that something was the world wide web.

Equality Uploaded

The children of the internet and specifically social media were of course the Millennials. This generation grew up with idea that global networks and open, mass communication were not only a norm but a birth right.

Millennials subconsciously wired their brains around accessibility for all and formed their identity around global social connection. Millennials could talk to someone from any country and any background instantly from their dial-up home computer for the first time in human history.

What this openness and accessibility created was the idea that we are not just individuals, forced to be part of an economic dog-eat-dog chain, but that we are in fact a plateaued communication network, which can and does work outside of the current status quo.

This by nature had the hippy fingerprints of equality, love and justice built into the framework. The hippy ideals were effectively uploaded onto our digital world and its main ambassadors were and still are the children of the technological revolution, the millennials.

I am you and you are the internet

Millennials, as a generation, also share that same hippy hunger – to do something good and to make a difference in the world. This innate nature and a digital world at their fingertips, meant that Millennials unintentionally managed to do what the children of the revolution failed to do – they found a practical way to disseminate humanitarian ideals.

Instead of trying to create a shared, ethereal belief to shake up the government, they side-lined the powers-that-be and went straight for tools of the people.  What they helped to create is a living and social hub of connectivity which is so powerful it is now holding authorities, businesses, and social norms to account. It has turned society on its head without the majority of people even realising.

You can see proof of this everywhere. Here are 3 hippy concepts that have been adapted for the modern age, have become mainstream through technology and are widely propagated by millennials:

  1. Conscious Capitalism

Something that sets modern day apart from the 1960s is that we have come to the pragmatic conclusion that necessary evils can’t be avoided. Conscious capitalism was born out of a need to stop the rampant injustices of money over people but also being fully aware of the complexities of overthrowing such a deep-rooted system. Conscious capitalism tries to find a balance between the two, some examples include:

  • Fair Trade
  • Social Enterprise
  • Corporate Responsibility
  • Collectives and cooperatives
  • Ethical marketing
  1. Reinvention of Currency

The idea of currency is changing. The internet has given rise to the question “if we can exchange information freely, shouldn’t we be able to exchange everything else without using money?”

Huge movements have sprung up from this very idea, including bitcoin, streaming, free apps and online courses, skype and even WhatsApp. The very fact that we are trying to find a way of helping each other and running a business at the same time without necessarily paying each other is the modern version of a hippy colony.

  1. Social Media changing Political Landscapes

Social media has inadvertently created a worldwide platform for the common man to be heard. Inadvertently because the main goal of social media in its infancy was to solely connect people. It is now a digital megaphone to shout, debate, laugh about or cry into our opinions, hopes and wishes.

Because major social platforms are free and accessible to all, they subsequently have huge audiences, followings and create immense public awareness. This means that if a social issue creates a buzz or goes viral on the internet it now puts pressure on governments, who need to act because they are voted in by the people angrily typing on their twitter account.

Social media has created the seemingly impossible, it has given a voice to the individual and the government has to listen.

There are of course negatives to the story – fake news being one of the biggest issues of our time and arguably one of the main causes for Trump and Brexit as well as heightened violence and racism in many parts of the world.

However, the overriding point remains that we are now more in charge of our future than we have been before and we are actively using technology to finally push for what society should be – more just, more loving and more equal.

Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.