Ideas in Transit @ Open Coffee Bristol

This morning’s Open Coffee had some visitors from the research community asking about user generated innovations in the field of intelligent transport systems. Prof Glynn Lyonns and Dr’s Juliet Jain and Tilly Line are leading the activity to better understand this bottom up innovation driver in an industry that is dominated by top-down incrementalism.

The discussions quickly wheeled around forms of innovation, the challenges facing government in supporting innovations, and the competing interests after the funding that the Technology Strategy Board is making available. Nick Sturge (SetSquared) was on hand to provide a wider city and business perspective and the entrepreneur / innovators started coming up with both ideas and examples that I’m sure will keep Glynn, Juliet at Tilly busy for several weeks to come.

It was great to also welcome Sam Tipper from Gloucestershire who was pointed at OpenCoffee by Chris and got the details via chatting with Sam Harding via the GTalk widget on this website; and Robin from Bath who’s providing media businesses with growth and development consultancy support (and launching a business start up; website pending).

OpenCoffee will be running through the summer, every other Tues from about 8.30 in Starbucks on Park St (the next few are on 29 July, 12 & 26 Aug). Contact me at to be added to the email reminder list and/or follow OpenCoffeeBR1 on Twitter for reminders and nudges.

Hidden Innovation in the Creative Industries

Uploaded on June 26,
2008 by Phil Hawksworth

Yesterday was spent in Manchester at the NESTA launch of their latest report (pdf not live yet) into innovation in the Creative Industries.

From a broad reading of the report, it seems to largely reflect last year’s report that much innovation in industry isn’t recorded in official statistics rather than not taking place. The Creative Industries face a further double whammy since very small and micro companies (under 10 employees) are excluded from the official returns, as are many of the SIC codes that cover the sector. Prof’s Ian Miles and Lawrence Green recognise that the existing surveys are a potential burden that the micro companies could probably do without, except that without the evidence base there won’t be policy and incentives from central Government.

This could be a valuable role for places like the Pervasive Media Studio and Universities? Aggregating and presenting an industry perspective on behalf of the micro business communities?

Most of the findings from the case study interviews could apply across pretty much any sector. Customers are more sophisticated, networked, discriminating and active. Not sure there are many industries where that isn’t the case. One point of note was a comment from the video games industry (one of the 4 sub-sector foci) for novel titles, sophistication and interfaces – wonder how that translates to the explosion in casual & mobile gaming, Kongregate, Gameloft, the Wii etc?

One aspect that might be unique was the reported lack of innovation management. Some of this is undoubtedly down to the speed of change and comparative size of companies, but may also be down to a culture of perpetual beta. Many of the associated issues that have been reported could be related to company size. How many firms under 10 employees have a dedicated R&D budget, or a formal knowledge management system whatever industry they’re in?

How about providing/managing a framework for Open Innovation as a role for HE in the creative sector?

Impact of perioperative hyperbaric oxygen therapy on the quality of life of maxillofacial patients who undergo surgery in irradiated fields

On the 8th April, I blogged about an article being accepted for publication in the International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Today I received the digital object identifier (DOI) can be used to cite and link to electronic documents. The DOI never changes which makes it an ideal medium for citing articles. The DOI my article is – doi:10.1016/j.ijom.2008.04.004. Depending on your institutional or personal access you maybe able to access the whole article from this link. If not you should be able to view the abstract, although I have written it out below (with permission from the journal).


From 2001 to 2005, 66 patients referred for perioperative hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO2) for debridement of necrotic tissue or prevention of radionecrosis were assessed with quality of life measures, before and after completion of HBO2 and surgery. The Medical Outcomes Short Form 36 (SF-36) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) showed no significant changes. The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Core (EORTC-C30) questionnaire showed significant improvement in pain, global health, and dyspnoea (p = 0.011; p = 0.027; p = 0.008, respectively). The Head and Neck sub-module (H&N35) identified significant improvements in teeth, dry mouth and social contact (p = 0.002; p = 0.038; p = 0.029, respectively). The University of Washington Scale (UW), showed significant changes in relation to chewing and shoulders (p = 0.031; p = 0.047). When sub-group analysis using ‘osteoradionecrosis’ and ‘dental extraction or implants’ was performed on the EORTC and UW data, variations in the patterns of significance were found. Adjunctive HBO2 should be considered for the treatment and prevention of some of the long-term complications of radiotherapy.

Lung Information Needs Questionnaire

What is the Lung Information Needs Questionnaire (LINQ)?

LINQ is a self-complete questionnaire that measures the information needs of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). LINQ can also be used for patients with some other chronic lung diseases. It is not suitable for patients with asthma.

What is it used for?

LINQ is designed to help clinicians identify which patients would be helped by information and the type of information an individual patient needs. This questionnaire can also be used to evaluate the impact of intervention, including pulmonary rehabilitation, for research and audit purpose.

Why am I writing about it?

I have been involved with the development of LINQ for the last four years, and think it is a really valuable tool. Over this period we have used LINQ in a number of projects and it has be embraced by doctors working with patients suffering from chronic lung conditions.

We have had several papers published reporting patient needs and the relaibility and validity of LINQ, and have recently had another paper accepted reporting LINQs ability to measure change in information needs. The details of this publication will soon be posted on the research page, but if this is a topic you are interested in, then visit the LINQ homepage and learn a bit more about it.

One last thing is,who can use LINQ?

The LINQ is freely available for clinical use and not-for-profit research. It can be downloaded from the homepage in multiple languages. Because it is still a ‘young’ scale, it would be helpful if researchers email me or one of the members of the team listed on the LINQ website let us know if they intend to use it, so we can update them if needed. This is, however, entirely voluntary. We welcome comments about the experience of using the scale, and any data you care to share with us.

Publishing Ethics – who should be named as an author?

People not involved in research may consider this a silly question, as the answer is obvious: the people that did the work or at least wrote it up for publication. But what happens when lots of people did something, or there is a senior member of the department who historically gets their names on the articles because of who they are? Indeed a question more often asked within departments is, ‘what is order of authors?’. But I would argue that many of the historical practices leading to multiple authors may be inaccurate and even inappropriate. Being the ‘boss’ or part of the larger team, does not entitle you to being a named author.

The International Committee Medical Journal Editors and Blackwell-Synergy publishing, say that the authorship criteria are;

1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and
3) final approval of the version to be published.
and that to be an author you should meet conditions 1, 2 and 3.

Whilst all other contributors who do not qualify as authors should be listed and their particular contribution described in an acknowledgement section.

I think these guidelines are very clear and consequently I would like this information to be more widely disseminated. This would be of great benefit to junior researchers who may have been left off papers and also as armoury to use with those higher in their institutions who feel they have the right to be included, but have made little or no contribution to the work.

In short what is important is your contribution, not your rank!

International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

I am particularly happy as I have just found out that a journal article I have written has been accepted for publication in the peer review journal – International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

The title of the article is:
The Impact of Peri Operative Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on the Quality of Life of Maxillofacial Patients who undergo surgery in irradiated fields.

The authors and full reference will be posted on the research page in the not too distant future and although the article may not be a page turner like the Da Vinci Code, it is easier and quicker to read than War and Peace.

I would dearly like to post the abstract here, but having already posted about the topic of self plagiarism it would be fool hardy to do so.

Keep an eye out for the article if its a topic you’re interested in and feel free to ask questions or make comments.


What should you expect when you attend an academic conference?

I guess the first thing to say is that to date I have only been to one conference when I have not been presenting either a poster, or giving an oral address, and usually I am doing multiple things. So I have relatively high expectations as to how I like things and what I expect from the others that are attending.

Also conferences are often a very good money making opportunity for the people organising them, so never be afraid to ask them questions, as you will probably be making a fair investment of time and money to attend. So make sure you get out of it what you want/need.

So what do I want to know before going to the conference?

If I have achieved a poster presentation I want to know the orientation (landscape or portrait) of the poster. Next when does my poster need to be put up, as some conferences want it shown for the entire duration and others only for a morning or other specified period. Then when I am expected to ‘man’ my poster, that is to stand beside it and answer questions. This is increasingly important as the concept of the ‘oral poster’ is slowly becoming fashionable.

An oral poster is one where you produce a poster then at a specified time have to give a short (usually 3 minute) over view of it’s content, and answer questions posed by the audience.

If I have been given a oral presentation I need to know the amount of time I have to talk for and how long the questioning period is. Next is when I am expected to talk.

Obviously it is also nice to be given an idea of possible hotels etc and maps and directions for getting there.

When I get there, what do I want to know?

Where do I register? This may seem like an obvious point, but I have been to many a conference where the sign posting is rubbish, and you can spend a considerable amount of time trying to track down someone that might know something about anything.

Hopefully after you have registered you will have a conference handbook which will give you all the other information you need, but don’t put money on it. One of the first things to do is make sure your abstract is in it and that the organisers are expecting you. Then the following questions can be asked:

Where do I hang my poster? – Not always obvious

Where is the room I am presenting in?

Is there any where I can check my presentation and maybe practice it? – this is of course something you should have done before you get there, but it always pays to make sure your presentation works on the conference computers. Also take two copies on two different formats (CD and Flash memory are probably the best). This may seem a little OTT, but it can pay to be paranoid about these things 🙂

Is there a dais? – I find it comforting to have something to hide behind, or at least put my notes on!

Can I have a microphone? – don’t be afraid of using a using a microphone, if it’s there then use it and talk normally. It saves you having to shout or not being heard by people that are interested in your work.

When are the coffee/tea breaks? – you may think this is a strange question, but it is really easy to dehydrate at these things and it is rare to go to a conference when drinks, even water, are free available all the time.

and last but by no means least

Where is the bar?

This last question is not because I am an alcoholic, but because at many conferences (especially medical ones) a lot of networking is done over a beer at the end of the day. Also if you have been presenting you will probably really appreciate the down time that the bar offers even if drinking a grapefruit juice and soda.
So hopefully there a few obvious questions to ask before you attend a conference and maybe even a few pointers as to how to make a conference you are organising more attendant friendly.

BBC/AHRC Knowledge Exchange Programme

Last night was the BBC/AHRC Knowledge Exhange Programme panel discussion on collaborative learning (British Broadcasting Corporation and Arts and Humanities Research Council, Mark asked on Twitter what the AHRC was, turns out there are at least 11 AHRCs and 79 BBCs).

Andrew Dubber has a pretty good write up of proceedings, there should be a podcast about at some point also.

There was a pretty good University turn out and a few companies along also to see what the BBC were up to and how that might represent future collaborative opportunities. I’m not sure there was a whole lot of encouragement outside the fairly academic sociology / ethnography work that seemed to be the bulk of projects undertaken. It didn’t sound like this was the start of a lanscape shift in terms of commissioning or technology R&D collaborations. But then the BBC is a pretty big beast and change takes time.

I did have a good chat with the AHRC folks on evaluation and how you measure the longer term outcomes and impact of Knowledge Exchange programmes.  This is a tricky topic since the impacts of knowledge exchange tend to become apparent long after the event, and can rarely be attributed to a single cause. What we tend to end up using are approximations and indicators of success (by ‘we’ I refer to my ‘day job’ with Knowledge West where we’re currently designing and implementing an evaluation of the Knowledge Exchange activities and their wider impact). This is also something that hopefully the newly formed Institute of Knowledge Transfer will champion (Disclosure: I am a member of the IKT and currently standing for election to the Board).

Serious fun in Coventry, part the first

This is one of a serious of posts about the Culture, Heritage & Tourism Technology Workshop at the Serious Games Institute on Tues, 4 March. The event was streamed to the SGI island in SecondLife but I can’t find a link to the slides or any recorded version.

The first session was kicked off by Professor Bob Stone from the Human Interface Technologies group at Birmingham University discussing Virtual Heritage, “Then & Now”. After a quick overview of the history of VR and location reproduction, Bob showed a couple of the older projects and touched on their work with Virtual Stonehenge (which suffered from some clumsy marketing/PR from Intel).

He then touched on a new human factors guidelines for virtual worlds that is about to be published (its currently being vetted by MoD). This should begin to formalise the experiences of the last +10 years into VR. He also mentioned the Virtual heritage network and VIZIN NIZIA (can’t find a website for this) as resources for folks interested in getting into this field (or learning from it).

A few very cool uses of CR that Bob described were Virtual snowshoe mountain, where real meteorological data was being using to show the mountain through the seasons but also demonstrate the effects of climate change over longer time periods. A Virtual great barrier reef where they could model the effect of human intervention and pollution, along with making a CAVE environment for virtual visitors. And a VR dreamscape formed from elements of Lowry’s pictures and reformed into a walk through animation.

Current Work included modelling the Scylla to verify artificial life models. Virtual Scylla blends highly accurate sidescan sonar of the Leander Class frigate with models of how seaweed, fish and silt blooms are degrading the ship faster than expected. There is a serious side to this in that a major tourist site is becoming a potential hazard to diving.

Bob then showed us a quick revisit of Virtual Stonehenge running on the Quest 3D game engine. This allows Bob and his team to link multi-media objects to in-game items quickly and much greater realism that their earlier Stonehenge project.

Mike Gogan, The Virtual Experience Company (now part of Blitz Games) presented 3D Visualisations for Virtual Experience and the interpretation of heritage sites. Having begun some years ago with very (by today’s standards) simple representations of Shakespeare’s birthplace, what Mike was focused on was the story of the heritage site. Mike stressed the need to working subject matter experts for the content but to build in interpretation experts to connect with the audience (and to work out who the audience is).

Around about this the backchannel on Second Life started to heat up. Apparently folks couldn’t see the presenter (cause it was dark) so it just went from night to noon. Folks happier! Except for when the presenter’s didn’t use the mic’s. 🙂

Anyway, back to Mike who was now giving us a flythrough of the Houses of Parliament around 1440. Someone asked about using advertising in-games / media funding to pay for experiences. This wasn’t something that Mike was working on but it might be something to be developed, Blitz have made adver-games for other platforms / purposes.

Last up (before coffee) was Martyn Ware (Future of Sound, Illustrious Company, founding member of The Human League and Heaven 17) with some staggeringly cool examples of 3D soundscape projects from around the world. The focus was on building immersive 3D soundscapes, emotionally engaging experiences through audio. His ambition was to build a “better than Star-trek holo-deck”. Part of the demo was a slightly disconcerting, but very impressive flight of a bird around the room (on the tech front Martyn can control up to 16 sounds, sync’d with 25fps for video meshing).

He was also experimenting with using 3D soundscapes to transport experiences to other locations (Mexico City in Long Beach California). They were also playing with city-scaping (LondonScape) – audio abstraction of a city rather than a representation of that city. The headline project that was on teh title of the presentation was Rome Reborn 1.0 – set in 400ad, Martyn was planning a full 3D sound experience to match the VR experience to convince you you’re in ancient rome. One setting that is in discussion was to repopulate the coliseum with 50k Romans cheering their gladiator.

Another (smaller but no less interesting) project was a sensory theatre at Threeways School in Bath due to opening later in 2008.

I’d really like to get Martyn involved in some research or demonstration projects at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol.

And then there was coffee!!

CV enhancement – the reason junior medics/researchers submit abstracts to conferences

It has been the case for quite some time that a medics (Doctor) CV is greatly enhanced by the addition of published research. Ideally ‘published’ means an article in a high powered peer review journal. But it is not until you have been doing research for a year or two that it really strikes you how hard this actually is. So it is no surprise that people new to research find a good first step is to get there work accepted for presentation at a conference.

This is the type of thing I have been working with a group of junior doctors to achieve. We have submitted abstracts and requested both oral and poster presentations and are currently awaiting a response from the organisers. But what is the difference between these formats and what does it mean to the authors.


A poster is a bulletin board, usually A0, providing an opportunity to disseminate an idea or findings from audit/research for discuss it with your peers. It may be an overview of a technical topic, a problem or question, a product or a case study.

A typical poster is not just a shortened version of a journal paper; posters are less formal, more interactive, and may provoke argument. They tend to be shown throughout the duration of a conference and although the authors are not expected to be present to answer questions all the time there is usually an alloted time for them to answer questions.


An oral presentation is a step up from a poster on the ‘CV’ stakes. The time span you have to talk for varies from conference to conference. It is a chance to tell your story to a group of interested individuals in a more dynamic way than a poster, and to clearly explained the research in more detail and to expounded its virtues (and vices).

The thing to remember is listeners have one chance to hear your talk and can’t “re-read” when they get confused. There are two well-know ways to communicate your points effectively. The first is to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid). Focus on getting one to three key points across. But a good rule of thumb is one key point for every 5 mins of presentation time. Second, repeat key insights: tell them what you’re going to tell them (Forecast), tell them, and tell them what you told them (Summary).


On a personal development front for a junior doctors, an oral presentation is classed as being a larger ‘CV’ tick then a poster. However both entail significant amounts of work. The preparation of posters is not something to be taken lightly. The colours, fonts, pictures, grammar, spelling are all important in just getting the poster read and all need to be considered and argued to be as important as the actual content. These same factors are relevant to a oral presentation. We have all sat through a meeting where someone has come PowerPoint mad. The other thing that will drive people up the wall at a conference is not sticking to time. Therefore practice practice practice what you are going to say and keep to time. If I achieve nothing else with my group of Dr’s they will run to time when giving a presentation even if they can’t do it when running a clinic 🙂