An introduction to coFWD
Coworking Community & Participatory Space

coFWD is a self managed, independent community of people united by one common purpose – getting stuff done. Venture through the doors of our old bank building at the end of Rochester High Street and you’ll find an eclectic mix of individuals from all sorts of backgrounds and disciplines. Together we’re building a community where people are encouraged to share and develop ideas, roll up their sleeves and get plans and projects off the ground. More information available at coFWD.org

[A short edit of the following was published in WOW Magazine in April 2012]

Kent is often referred to as the garden of England; for the past few years I’ve fondly referenced Medway as the compost heap. Sure it’s a bit rough around the edges but once you know where to look and who to look for, you’ll always find fertile soil to grow ideas, nurture communities, cultivate participation, and create truly sustainable value for everyone.

I prefer ‘doing stuff’ to writing about it (but I blog, occasionally). Back in 2009 I began a journey by challenging some of Medway’s authorities and the cultural landscape[i]. And I began exploring the soil and creative ecosystem[ii]. By 2011 some awesome people had found each other and a vision existed to create something disruptively better[iii]; through empowering ‘Personal Responsibility over Rights’ and a refocused importance to ‘Identify Passion and Redefine Creativity’.

coFWD (pronounced Co Forward) is a coworking community and participatory workspace, based at 161 (High Street, Rochester). The former three-storey bank building has become a bank of social-capital and community interest, a developmental and participatory place for a diverse community of people (amateur, pro-amateur, freelance and professional ‘problem solvers’, ‘doers’ and ‘social enterprisers’).

Creative insights and innovations often come in non-linear ways, through seeing connections and similarities between things we hadn’t noticed before. coFWD hopes to become an engine of such serendipity, to disrupt the traditional stereotypes of ‘creative industries’ and ‘creative practice’. Artists studios, media agencies, serviced office spaces and creative business hubs can be found elsewhere; at coFWD you’ll find overlapping circles of people whom might just create something much greater than any of them could create individually – to become more than the sum of their parts.

We moved into 161 on November 1st 2011, now only a few months in, the participatory space and its numerous rooms and environments have evolved considerably (painted, second-hand furnished and equipped with pro-bono exchange) but much is left untouched, waiting to be written and shaped. Our vision is open to anyone but we know it isn’t for everyone.

The book selection in 161’s ‘Library’ room is perhaps the most introspective clue about the diversity of the community and its overlapping circles and themes: Graphical Navigation Systems to Fundamental Techniques Of Serious Hacking, 101 DC Comics & Gig Posters to Introducing KANT, The Business Model Generation to The 1000 Journals Project, A Guide To Electronics to The Pedagogy Of The Oppressed, The Handbook Of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines to The Third Industrial Revolution, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to The Brainstorming Toolbox of Game Design, to name but a few.

If you have an incredible curiosity then it’s likely you’re a ‘Hacker’ of things (not to be confused with the malicious geek term ‘Cracker’). Whether you’re interested in how words shape, technology connects, culture forms or understanding develops; coFWD is an agent of change, rather than a guardian of tradition. coFWD and 161 are independent, shaped and run by people not organisations, but legally framed as and supported by ‘Creative Medway Community Interest Company’ (CiC).

Our community calendar currently lists contributions, sessions and activities including: ‘Dr Keevil’s Guide to Teaching Things and Stuff!’, ‘Monthly Coworking Jelly’, ‘Tuttle101’, ‘Lets Ruin Cinema’ and ‘Rochester Writers Retreat’, to name a few. If you’d like to know more or participate please do watch the film below and signup to our mailing-list at coFWD.org.

Tipple.101 & Tuttle.101 in February 2010

This month we’re trying something new – we hope you’ll join us!

Twuddle by anke.blogs.com

Photo: Twuddle Tunbridge Wells
Original photo taken and licensed by @ankertw


The growing community of Tuttle.101 has lead to repeat comments, ideas and suggestions from attendees:

  1. Not everyone can make 9:30 am on a Monday morning.
  2. Coffee doesn’t calm nerves when introducing yourself to a room full of strangers – a beer or glass of wine might prove even more social.
  3. Its difficult to get round and speak to everyone at a single Tuttle, and many folk feel bad interrupting/joining others long conversations.


With the above in mind, we’re adding an evening Tipple to the February Calendar – inspired by the fantastic Royal Tunbridge Wells Twuddle.

Tuttle.101 – Monday 15th February 2010 (9:30 am)
will be upstairs in The George Vaults Rochester (Kent)
(35 The High Street, Rochester – click here for a map)


Tipple.101 – Wednesday 17th February 2010 (7:30 pm)
will be upstairs in The George Vaults Rochester (Kent)
(35 The High Street, Rochester – click here for a map)


A few additional things to note:

1) A big thank you to Matthew at Innovation Centre Medway who supplied the free coffee and tea at last months Tuttle.101

2) You don’t need to sign-up to attend either but please do try and leave a comment below (with preferably your actual name) so there’s a rough idea who and how many might be in attendance.

3) If you’d like more information about the above or would like to sponsor the coffee, please email Carl at tuttle101@fellow.ventures or call me directly on: 07929 601737. More information on the ‘now global’ Tuttle Club can be found via the original tuttleclub blog. We hope you like the sound of the above and look forward to seeing you there! =)

Twuddle by anke.blogs.com

Photo: Twuddle Tunbridge Wells
Original photo taken and licensed by @ankertw


Tuttle.101 9:30am Monday 18th Jan 2010

Its back for 2010! Hope to see you there folks *-)

On Monday 18th January 2010 (between 9:30am – 12:30pm)
Tuttle.101
(otherwise known as Social Media Café Medway)
will be upstairs in The George Vaults Rochester
(Kent)
(35 The High Street, Rochester – click here for a map)

Tuttle Coffee & conversation
Photo: I enjoy increasing conversation! Original photo taken and retouched under creative commons from James Whatley

Tuttle.101 isn’t your traditional business networking event, its about conversation and inspiration over coffee, not business card swapping or customer referrals. If you’d like to know more about Tuttle.101 click here.

Every Body Comes Here
Photo: Every Body Comes Here Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by Lloyd Davis


You don’t need to sign-up to attend but please do try and leave a comment below (with preferably your actual name) so there’s a rough idea who and how many might be in attendance.

If you’d like more information please email (tuttle101@fellow.ventures) or call me directly (Carl: 07929 601737). More information on the ‘now global’ Tuttle Club can be found via the original tuttleclub blog.

Probably the ideal freelancer /
co-working headset?

Last Thursday (Sept 17th 2009) I had the opportunity to try out Nokia’s *new* Bluetooth Stereo Headset (model BH-905).

NH905_nokia

Photo: Nokia Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-905
Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by Me

Now, upon hearing the term ‘Bluetooth headset’ you can be forgiven for conjuring up images of ‘traditional earpieces and call-centre esq microphones’. The truth does in fact reveal a pair of sleek looking DJ-esq headphones, equipped with microphone functionality, and capable of connecting wireless-ly and seamlessly to almost any device via Bluetooth – including your mobile phone and Bluetooth enabled laptop (my Mac integrated them within seconds without any need for a separate software install).

As a freelancer, and regular co-worker at places like The Skiff, I spend much of my time wearing a pair of Sony MDR-500 DJ headphones, after four years I’m now on my second pair. Without breaking the bank (available for around £50), and remembering that I’m not a professional DJ or Sound Engineer, the MDR-500’s are my preferred ‘cans’ for both sound quality, environment-noise reduction and build comfort (DJ professional MDR-700’s are available for around £85 but these are unwarranted for my uses).

With the above said, I’ve now tried Nokia’s BH-905’s, and I might never buy another pair of MDR’s (and from a life-long fan of Sony this is big news!).

Nokia’s headset is priced at around £250, that’s £200 more expensive than my beloved Sony’s and I’d suggest the sound quality and build quality is extremely similar, but as a user of audio/video services like Skype and Phreadz, and as a regular attendee of virtual events and sometimes noisy co-working environments, the Nokia headset comes equipped with ten powerful weapons that appeal to me greatly:

Its the first product to feature ‘multi-microphone feed-forward active noise cancellation technology’… meaning its equipped with ten individual microphones that work together to provide more accurate noise cancellation for both voice and music.

For any freelancers or co-workers out there who’d like to make calls to clients without them hearing everything else that’s going on around you, or as a co-worker who’d like to work to the sound of your music (or even in silence) without distraction I suggest that Nokia’s certainly worth a look.

Nokia are convinced they’ve created the best Bluetooth headset ever built, and being totally honest I’m inclined to agree but I feel the £250 pricetag won’t make it the winner it should be.


However, when I think how much some people spend on other microphones, headsets and VOIP services, and how ridiculous some Bluetooth earpieces look, I think £250 might actually be warranted – especially if I could actually charge it through the USB port of my Mac (on the move) but from what I’ve seen it currently has to be charged directly from a plug on a mains supply which in my book is its only major flaw – I hope you’re listening Nokia! please correct me if I’m wrong but there was no USB cable in the box I demo’d ? =)

The Headset comes packed in a case with audio cables and adapters galore. Finally I’ll note that the headphones do work via a normal audio-jack if you wish to save Bluetooth juice, but be aware that if they run out of power the noise cancellation feature won’t work (I’m yet to discover if the voice microphone dies at this point too but I’m guessing it does?).

PLEASE NOTE: Micky Fin (Editor of NokiaUsers.net) has since informed me that the Headset does recharge via a MicroUSB FTW!! – many thanks Micky ;-)

Here is Nokia’s explanation of the technology:



More details can be found here on the official Nokia BH-905 micro-site.

To read more content from our Budapest adventures here are some relevant links:

#BudaViral: Social Media Adventures in Budapest with Nokia
Nokia Nseries Campaign: A Storyboard of Secrets from Budapest #BudaViral
Brand Philosophy: Is Nokia a Starfish or a Spider?

My Review: Nokia Booklet 3G
Ben’s Review: TheReallyMobileProject.com – Nokia Booklet 3G
Stefanos’ Review (in Greek): Pestaola.gr – Nokia Booklet 3G

N97 mini and N900 stuff can be found here: http://thereallymobileproject.com