In my case, I’ve written for newspapers (The Independent, The Guardian, .Net and Web User) written a critically acclaimed (but lousy sales) ebook on cognitive bias in business (“ScrewProof: Doing deals that won’t f*ck up”). I’ve written peer-reviewed academic papers, brochures, adverts. Yes, including some adverts you might have seen. I don’t like to talk about it. Nobody really wants to brag about writing for adverts.
I’m that kind of writer. And fiction too. That’s my next writing move. Books.
For some reason, people can assume that if you’re a writer, you can’t speak. I can. In fact, I love speaking. I’ve spoken at conferences around the world, I’ve been a tech pundit on the radio and TV news, I’ve even given guest lectures ay universities… I taught some inner-city school kids once or twice too. And of course, I do a lot of social media ‘talking’.
Before I was a full time writer I was what they call a “disruptive digital entrepreneur” which is a term I’ve always disliked. I prefer to think of myself as a web designer that just went where the technology was pointing… even though back then, everyone though the web was a flash in the pan. No kidding. Every successful business I’ve ever been involved with (including a company that eventually sold to Apple) started with a big cheese telling me “that will never catch on”.
Disbelief and naysaying is the reaction that defines all good ideas.
In the last 18 years I’ve co-founded four successful digital companies. Creative agency & mobile app developer Thin Martian, social media monitoring news app company Tweetminster, election news monitoring company Electionista and Optanon (data privacy software). Perhaps most notable was a company I backed as an investor & was the first CEO, a big data analysis company MusicMetric (now part of iTunes).
Tweetminster was the first UK company to track politicians on Twitter, which meant I got to interview lots of politicians, including the UK Prime Minister. In fact I was the first person to hold a live interview with a Prime Minster, asking questions coming in live off Twitter. Which I’d like to say was fun but, suffice it to day, the PM was Gordon Brown in the election campaign he lost. Badly. It was all a bit tense. (For him, not for me, I loved it).
Since then, I’ve advised VC firms and angel investors, helped companies raise crowdfunding, consulted on new product development and all sorts. I’ve also experimented with new technologies. My experience in the emerging tech scene inspired me to write about the future of technology and its impact on culture and the economy. So I moved from the world of a tech entrepreneur into the world of the writer… almost without realising it.
But one thing I did realise is my love is writing. So, now I’m living a writer’s life. I swapped a warehouse pad in London for a cottage in the countryside. I ditched the commute for cycling to the pub to drink real ale. I traded in the rat race for playing Lego with the kids. I work on the projects that inspire me to write about them, with remarkable people I’ve met along my journey into the digital unknown/ People like me, who are interested in life will get better through technology, not worse.
Right now I’m working on two novel manuscripts and developing new non-fiction projects… plus I’m a contributor to Renegade Inc. My fiction is mostly speculative and science fiction. My non-fiction is much the same. That’s the world we live in now, where the fantastic ideas of my childhood are coming to life, every day.
So what’s next?