Tag Archives: Silicon Canal

Where is ‘Midland’?

I’ve been involved in a number of heated debates recently about the creation of the https://westmidlandscombinedauthority.org.uk/ and the original attempt to call it “Greater Birmingham. As my neighbours in the Black Country define themselves primarily by the fact that they “ay a Brummie”, this proposal from the Birmingham council seemed extremely culturally insensitive to many of us.

The recent Silicon Canal Whitepaper has once more dug up the dead parrot so I’ve continued to try to come up with suggestions that might be more acceptable to everyone. I’ve been imagining the existence of a new area with Birmingham at its heart, though not necessarily at it’s centre. To the North and East, the A51 and Watling Street / A5 mark an ancient boundary between regions.  I don’t believe the people who live around Stoke on Trent, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester or Northampton feel much association with Brum but to the North and West, its influence extends out to Cannock,  Telford, Bridgenorth, Kidderminster, Redditch, completely enclosing Wolverhampton and the Black Country. It extends further South to Stratford and Leamington then back up to  Coventry, Nuneaton and the Mercian capital Tamwoth and the cathedral city of Lichfield. The boundaries are fuzzy but I think they look a bit like the map below.

I think this “Midland”, within The Midlands and towards the East of the West Midlands is a phenomenon that works by the magnetic attraction of people towards the culture of cities. Unlike the East Midlands’ proud independence, the whole of the West Midlands seems to have adopted  Birmingham as its commercial capital. That doesn’t mean they own us or we’ll do as we’re told. We’re Midlanders – fiercely free thinking and creators of new ideas. I give you ‘Birmingham & Midland’, crudely spray-painted onto https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Midlands. Those of us on the edges want a better deal from Birmingham than we get from London, if you want our co-operatation. We respect you too, East Midlands and we know you started the Industrial Revolution really. It’s all about networking amongst equals.


As a double-check, I also plotted the towns I mentioned above, along with a few extras, onto a Google Map of the Birmingham & Midlands border towns. I felt I had to stretch the borders a little to include ‘Ironbridge and Telford’, for making Brum’s iron and steel, Leamington for making a start on digging the silicon canal with a games controller and Stratford-upon-Avon, for the world’s most famous person who probably had a Brummie accent. The knot garden at the head of this blog is also in the grounds of the Arden Hotel, opposite the Globe Theatre. I think I now see an approximate ellipse with 2 bulges.

Screenshot from 2016-06-13 14-57-43crop



It’s all about The Community

Was it Margaret Thatcher who said “There’s no such thing as community”? No, of course it wasn’t. Neither was it the members of Birmingham’s (the Midlands, really) Lunar SOCIETY, who were fans of collaborating on big ideas, by the light of the silvery moon.

Birmingham was never a notable centre of organised labour or industrial unrest either, because of it’s lack of large industrial concerns being mean to people. It was more a cluster of craft workshops and small businesses, working co-operatively as though they were bigger; resulting in probably the only city centre made up of an ever-increasing number of Quarters, in addition to all its sides.

In about 2000, I started to burrow into Brum’s underground music and creative scenes,  both largely hidden, like some conceptual artisic ice-berg of a thing, and I was always impressed by the support given to others who appeared to be direct competitors. What these people intuitively knew, was that they were not fighting each other, but the apathy of their collective audience. Promoting together they had a broader product offering and were stronger.

A couple of years ago, as I became increasingly dissatisfied with my old corporate job,  I realised that the same might be true of The Tech Scene and I should start digging again. I’ve taken a few punts at The Silicon Canal meetings and last week I heard about and joined talk.planet.io, Brum DIGITAL tech start-up’s virtual talking-shop and this blog was subsequently invited aboard their Planet.

So, see all Brum tech scene blogs at: http://planet.birmingham.io/

We have Data, Information and Knowledge Quarters to build (I wonder if anyone invited ‘The Gadget Show’?)