Tag: New Optimists

Food Integrity: The Elliott Review and Elliot Review Birmingham

Back in April Podnosh worked with the  The New Optimists and Professor Chris  Elliott to pull together how a city like Birmingham would respond to food crime – the horsemeat scandal . I work was part of a prcoess to make the Elliott Review as concrete as possible. People from all levels of the food chain in Birmingham were bought together to share their experiences with Professor Chris Elliott – their thoughts and experience were shared by our social reporters on the New Optimists website.

Today both the full Elliott review and a shorter report into Birmingham’s contribution, as a result of that event have been published – you can read both here:



Science engagement and communication with social media

How do scientists let us know what they’re up to?  More importantly, perhaps how do they help us understand what they’re doing?  The communication of science is crucial… and next week Podnosh will be working with science communicators from all over Europe to explore how social media can play a role in their work.

It’s not the first time we’ve done this. We thoroughly enjoyed social reporting for a Europe wide project on communicating science early in 2011.  We were supporting Kate Cooper at The New Optimists and our work helped flush out enough detail in one conference to create a final conference report (essentially) on the day (radically speeding up how these things often happen)

It’s all part of a European project, ‘PLACES’ and as well as finding out about projects from other parts of Europe we’ll be looking at two very successful projects that we know about – Shane McCracken from Gallomanor will be giving the background to ‘I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here…’  and the (again) Kate Cooper’s New Optimists  is a great example of how social media can help to grow a project.

Any science projects online that we should be looking at?  Tell us about the ones that have caught your eye.


A new form of planning gain: Supermarkets share their data with the public (sector)

New Optimists listening to the conversation about food at last night forum
New Optimists listening to the conversation about food at last night forum

Below are some questions but first the context:

Last night I was working on the first of a series of conversations about how Birmingham will feed itself way into the future.  The New Optimists Forum is organised by Kate Cooper who has the very powerful idea of getting groups of scientists from different disciplines and policy makers to think about this thorny problem.  She argues, I think rightly, that getting practical about problems and places helps us understand best what we need to change now.

One of the scientists was Ian Nabney who talked about the opportunities that will come to make better decisions about complex problems when we have more data and more power to crunch and use that data.  Here’s what he said.
Ian Nabney – the future of food and opendata ? (mp3)

It made me ask the question what if we created a new form of planning gain: supermarkets share their data with us rather than build a new badminton court. 

Could knowing what they know about our eating habits help us lead healthier and better lives?

Mark Braggins Tweeted this this morning:

Mark Braggins tweet on depersonlaised data
@markbraggins on twitter

And it also tickled a local MP’s curisosity.  Richard Burden (who’s Northfield constituency may have a few urban “food deserts”, another idea kicked around at last night’s forum)  tweeted this question about half an hour ago:


So here are some questions:

  1. Is asking supermarkets to share their data a good form of planning gain?
  2. If so in what form would we want it – opendata, depersonalised or maybe full data to be share just with civil servants
  3. What would be the arguments against (so we can anticipate) or just how naive is this! ?
  4. How would Kate Cooper of the New Optimists go about talking to sainsbury’s about this?
  5. Would you rather have a new pavilion at the local park?

Odd what comes out of combining real world conversations with online stuff!


Looks like Adrian Short was thinking about supermarket card data as a public good back in April – scroll to the bottom of this post.

The New Optimists – "the most exhilarating of books"

Nigh on a year ago Kate Cooper walked into a social media surgery here in Birmingham and started talking about a book she was going to publish.

She had, she told me, persuaded 80 or so scientists from the West Midlands to write a few hundred words in response to the question “what makes you optimistic?” Jenny Uglow (the historian who wrote the brilliant story of the Lunar Society:  The Lunar Men) had agreed to write the foreword.

At the time I thought oh yeh… Read more