My name is Meg Pickard. I describe myself as a creative geek, which covers both my personal and professional passions, which seem to overlap more and more as time goes on.
I’m interested in people and communities both on and offline, as well as social uses of technology and web applications. This is probably related to my background in Social Anthropology: In the mid-1990s, as part of my undergraduate then postgraduate studies, I conducted ethnographic research into cultural identity and customs with communities first in highland Bolivia and then subsequently on the internet. Despite departing academia for the bright lights of the Internet industry a long time ago, that strong interest in cultures, communities, communication and computing has stayed with me, and in many ways has influenced much of what I’ve done since.
I’ve been working in New Media for over fifteen years, mainly in creative roles for media companies you’ve probably heard of. I’ve worked and consulted with small startups and big corporations, global brands and charities. My main areas of expertise and interest are social web experiences, participation and collaboration, consumer experience and product strategy. I’ve also had years of experience of creating and managing content-led propositions and related strategies.
As a creative catalyst and product owner, I’m not a developer, but I know enough about technology platforms, systems and approaches to be able to communicate confidently and sensibly about their various challenges and benefits. I’m also completely comfortable working with agile development methods (including XP) and rapid prototyping or R&D, as well as innovation programmes. Over the course of my career to date, I’ve managed a number of multidisciplinary teams of people, including developers, editors, project managers, moderators, producers and strategists.
In my most recent role at Guardian News and Media, as Head of Digital Engagement, I worked with journalists, technologists and users to develop and explore all forms of engagement (collaboration, conversation, co-curation…) plus create and manage new social web strategies and experiences for The Guardian.
My professional bio (for conferences, speaking events and so on) is as follows:
Meg Pickard comes from a background in social anthropology: in the mid-nineties, she conducted ethnographic fieldwork into community participation and cultural identity first in Bolivia and subsequently online. Since then, she has worked in digital media including a long stint at AOL, plus consulting roles with a range of small startups, global brands and charities. Most recently, as Head of Digital Engagement for Guardian News & Media, she was responsible for developing and supporting existing and new social web strategy and interactive experiences, working between editorial, technology and commercial departments.
Meg’s particular areas of interest are community engagement and the emergence of new forms of collaborative and participatory media, which are inspired by her ongoing curiosity about the cultural, social and psychological aspects of online interaction plus an enduring personal passion for publishing and participating online. She describes herself as a creative geek, is one of the longest-running bloggers in the UK and lives in London and online.