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I am honoured at today’s announcement that I have been elected to Open Rights Group’s Board of Directors.

Open Rights Group is an essential organisation in today’s connected world. With so much of our lives conducted or mediated by technology, human rights and civil liberties in the digital sphere need to be defended and promoted. Increasingly we are seeing how important this is to the health of our democracies – I am looking forward to putting myself in the service of this cause.

Open Rights Group

Open Rights Group

This was my statement to the electors (the members):

I’m Tom, I work with digital media and film to help empower citizens when they vote, and to help companies and charities communicate effectively.

A proud ORG member since 2009, I’ve long been passionate about how the Internet and social media enable diverse creative voices: freedoms we must defend. Only people who understand the power of the Internet can help ensure it serves society and does not oppress.

I co-founded Swap my Vote as a direct, practical response to our iniquitous electoral system. Public and press alike have responded tremendously, tens of thousands of people signing up to collaborate and help each of their votes count: a simple action enabling real change. Interviews with high profile press and TV outlets have given me valuable insights into dealing with media.

Managing creative teams at award-winning agencies, I have produced and/or devised social and digital strategy for projects including Downton Abbey, Magnum Photos, and Unreported World; producing Shorts for Channel 4, I worked with Scope to shift attitudes towards disability. As Director of Media at Blurrt, a Cardiff startup, I sat on the company’s board and led its Media offering. I am currently training clients including the BBC on digital engagement strategy and skills.

With social media and video such important channels in reaching and shaping public opinion, I would love to offer my experience to the ORG board and team, helping us to continue to communicate important messages simply and relatably, and further deepen our positive social impact.

Addendum: as an extra bonus, the election (the first I have stood for) was under Single Transferable Vote (STV), by most accounts the best system of PR, as recommended by Electoral Reform Society.

I’m excited today to have confirmed an excellent partner with whom to #SwapmyVote, in my ideal marginal.

It’s been something of a lifelong dream for my vote really to count somewhere. Win or lose, it feels so much more worthwhile.


Marilyn Monroe in her iconic ivory dress, featured in The Seven Year Itch; public domain.

It’s deeply upsetting to know that this feeling of democratic potency is so rare, and that a ‘hack’ has been necessary to bring it about.

Every day I see hundreds of people trying to get the same, meaningful, vote. It’s beyond strange, this in a supposedly advanced democracy.

I’m proud of the community of people who have taken part in what is still an experiment, who’ve shared the idea with their friends & family.

And by doing so allowed more and more people to work together, two at a time, across the country, for a better representative democracy.

It’s a long haul — I don’t expect that more than a few hundred to a few thousand people will escape the tyranny of First Past the Post, this general election.

But we are building a new way of working together, a community of people prepared to take action. That is truly valuable, now & in future.

If you feel similarly, you can sign up at http://swapmyvote.uk and hopefully find a voting partner.

And if you want to campaign, or share links to promote specific swaps with people in certain constituencies, try http://bit.ly/swapmyvote-links.

The campaigning links are built on the Swap my Vote API, which you can find out more about here http://bit.ly/swapmyvote-api.

Happy voting!

NB: Originally published as a stream on Twitter.

(It’s seven years since the blog post where I originally proposed the platform.)

I’m terribly sad to have heard yesterday that my primary school headteacher, and friend, Brian Thompson, has passed away.

Brian was an exceptional person, inspiring and helping equip hundreds of people to lead creative lives. He had a natural curiosity and wonder at the world, a wry and cultured sense of humour, and the school he created reflected and amplified these values in its students and in the community.

It was often noted that Brian could easily have been promoted through the education system, but that he chose to stay a headteacher, because he loved teaching and making that difference to people. Brian always had creative projects on the go, whether the children’s  books he published with Quentin Blake (update: and many more – see the Guardian’s obituary below), the annual school plays he would research and write himself, the silk screening, the sculpture..

I remember fondly going with him and my mother, who had forged a friendship through working together (she was his right hand woman as secretary of the school), to some of the plays and musicals he watched as research for his own work – these outings were a bit of light in what was a darker time for me around my parents’ divorce. We would also help out and water his plants when he and his partner were away and I was always struck by what wonderfully green fingers he must have had – the countless plants in that sunlit room that overflowed with such an extraordinary vitality.

I’m so glad to have seen them both as recently as a month ago – Minko and I were passing nearby, knocked on the window, and with great friendliness and cordiality were invited in for tea. We saw the house, some of the inventive beach sculptures he had made, their lifelong collection of art made by good friends adorning the walls throughout. I’ve since learnt that they had just heard that he was very ill and hadn’t long to live. Brian’s grace and humanity shone through, even more so now in the knowledge that they were dealing with such very difficult news.

I will always remember a good, kind and wonderfully creative man. RIP Brian.

Other lives: Teacher who sought to give children control over their education and their lives

Brian Thompson obituary | Education | The Guardian

[I posted this tribute To Brian a few weeks ago, and thought that now would be a good time to post it here.]

This spring our vote swapping platform took off by way of some networking and influencer work, a few choice retweets, some nifty web design work, and a groundswell of people getting behind the idea, and as a result I ended up doing quite a few interviews about the phenomenon for press and radio, even a bit of TV.

Here are the radio interviews gathered together. Meeting John Humphys at New Broadcasting House before dawn was probably my high point – as captured here for posterity.

It’s strange revisiting this now in the light of what we now know about the eventual result – how wrong the polls were puts everything into a different context.

But socially-enabled vote swapping is an innovation which may yet prove to have an important effect in a future election.. Watch this space.

selfieportrait.co.uk Frank

Devised and produced new work for Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014, with The Project Factory and Syndicut, and resulting in over twenty thousand selfie portraits posted.

How would you look in a Da Vinci?

More music out today from the ever inventive songstress-producer, Minko.

Following her two recent EPs, this time it’s a double A-side digital single, to which I’m the proud contributor of cover photography (embedded below).

Which do you prefer; the lazy pop bossa of ‘I Miss You Tomorrow’ – or the pastoral waltz feel of the mythical ‘Mrs Magpie’?

Very chuffed to hear our team has won three four Lovie Awards 2014: two for Downton Abbey‘s social media, one for our Sherlock: The Network app, produced with Hartswood Films, and one for Unreported World Shorts with Channel 4.


Downton Abbey – Bronze Lovie Award Winner 2014


Sherlock: The Network and Unreported World | Shorts – Silver Lovie Award Winners 2014

Downton Abbey won the Bronze Lovie Awards in two categories: Social: Overall Social Presence and Social: Entertainment.

Sherlock: The Network won the Silver Lovie Award in the Mobile Handheld: News & Entertainment category.

Unreported World won the Silver Lovie Award in the Internet Video: Documentary category.

Well played Rebecca Winch, Lauren Fenner, Sarah Howell, Rob Barnes, Sandra Lehner, Chike NewmanAz Newman, and the whole team at The Project Factory, not to mention our wonderful partners, in all the dedicated work bringing these top notch storytelling projects to life.

When the time came to let the world know about The Project Factory’s official Sherlock app, we knew we had a winner.

We’d shot exclusive content for the app with two of the moment’s biggest names in TV and film,  Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and wanted to reward the shows’ fans with sneak peaks – and let them share their excitement and enthusiasm to spread the word about the game far and wide.

The app is named after Sherlock’s network which players join to help him solve cases. We built a dedicated social site with a hashtag counter where fans could get a sneak peek of exclusive images from the app – and tweet to unlock content, calling others to do the same and help the network reach the next milestone. So, of course, the campaign hashtag had to be #jointhenetwork.

Join the Network viral site

Join the Network viral site

We wanted to allow the social conversation around the television show to run its course, but with only a few days between the show airing on BBC One and the release into the App Store,  we had just two days to build the buzz before launch. In those two days, 16,000 people used the #jointhenetwork hashtag in tweets and 12,000 people followed the dedicated Twitter account. We had hoped we might see 10,000 tweets; at the time of writing, the counter is about to tick over 30,000.

In the fortnight after launch, Sherlock: The Network became number 1 Entertainment app in in 34 countries, topping the overall charts for over a week in the UK. The game so far has 279 ratings with 233 of them being 5 stars. On Twitter, #jointhenetwork tweets are reaching an average of a million people a week, and have been seen by 24 million.

Find out what the fuss is about: download the app and join the network

Cross posted with kind permission of The Project Factory.