Monthly Archives: November 2010

St Andrew’s Day round up of links and events: part 3.

By the titles of some of today’s posts you’d have thought there were some events to talk about, which haven’t made much of an appearance so far.  Now that I’m nearly blogged out for the day, here are some comments:

– I attended an RSA event at the Scottish Parliament about ‘economics, internet and society’, which brought together a range of experts to contribute to the debate.  Topics ranged from market failure and the rise of Napster; persuasive technologies and vulnerable people; the law as it pertains to copyright, trade marks and data protection; consumer confidence, markets and the internet; the ‘Digital Scotland‘ report; levels of broadband access across the UK.

– Next up, a Festivals Innovation Lab keynote presentation on ‘service design’ from Sarah Drummond of Snook.  Snook have a mission to ‘make social change happen through people, design and practical action’.  They are behind innovative uses of the web such as MyPolice and improvements to the work of Skills Development Scotland.  Themes of collaboration, co-creation, embedding service design and the process/journey of innovation were ever-present.

– I also attended an event hosted by Edinburgh Beltane (not the fire people).  No, these people seek to promote public engagement with the higher education sector.  The benefits are hoped to be manifold, giving researchers greater confidence to take their work into the wider community, while creating opportunities for people outside the sector to engage with academic research and help realise its potential.  It was a breakfast meet up, yet I forgot this and ate before I left… leaving no room for the bacon sarnies.  Nevertheless, I left with a bolstered interest in making this blog work and carrying on my research.

– And later this week I will be attending an talk by Andrew Dixon of Creative Scotland: ‘Creative Cities are Creative Places‘.  I shall report back, hopefully without having to wait until the end of the next month to do so… (While finding the previous link I found a British Council project which also looks at Creative Cities; they’re everywhere, but particularly in Poland according to that page.)

…and with that I shall put my blog to sleep for the night.

Internet Week Europe – November 2010

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London has the best festivals, yes? Internet Week Europe is born of a similar event in New York, attracting some fantastic contributors, audiences and media coverage. Of course, in my world there’s every chance that these are much the same people – contributing by covering, blurring the line between audience and contributor.

St Andrew’s Day round up of links and events: part 2.

Following hot on the heels of a long post wrapping up disparate thoughts collated over a few weeks, this shorter post is little more than an annotated reading list: a to do list of thoughts and contributions.
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Building on his work with Robert Palmer on Eventful Cities, Prof. Richards is starting up an ATLAS Special Interest Group for events research.  I have been very fortunate recently to exchange a couple of emails with him and even to get my hands on his inaugural address on taking on becoming Professor in Leisure Studies at Tilburg University (8 October 2010).

The title of the address: ‘Leisure in the Network Society: From pseudo-events to hyperfestivity?’  …I think that’s just great, and what a starting point for my interests!  I swear I didn’t know about this before I first blogged about ‘Events in the connected city‘, but you’d say there’s got to be some relationship between the two.  I could be on the verge of switching to ‘events in the network city’, which it’s direct references to relevant theoretical underpinnings.  As I say, reading is required.
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@aleksk has just kicked off a new series of essays in The Observer titled ‘Untangling the Web‘.  From the blurb: ‘How has the most revolutionary innovation of our time – the Internet – transformed our world?  What does it mean for the modern family?  How has it changed our concepts of privacy?  Of celebrity?  Of love, sex and hate?’

Plenty to think about there, and of course contributions are welcomed: please do talk amongst yourselves.
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A busy few weeks has seen me slip behind in my RSA podcast listening, which distresses me somewhat.  Just when I was getting into some selected older talks of particular interest and relevance.  But no matter for I shall overcome such setbacks with nought but an iPhone and long train journeys over Christmas.

In the mean time, the RSA has been discussing networks and communities of late.  Their journal for autumn 2010 leads with a piece from Paul Ormerod on social networks influencing social policy; there’s also an article on networks from the prolific Krotoski, naturally, as well as others.

This is in addition to a major piece of work from the RSA titled Connected Communities.  Here are some arguments on why you (and I) should read it.  It seeks to link social networks, the Big Society, community regeneration.
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It is my hope that there is sufficient reading above and in the referenced sources that follow to compile an initial literature review.  When combined with some of the standard event management texts, central texts of my chosen theories and some relevant examples I’ve probably got enough.  I hope I’ll have enough.

It’s helping me settle on the themes that I value: events, festivals, social networks, social/open media, cities, communities and organisations.
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Image credits:
– First: ‘Read OR Listen?‘ (suchitra)
– Next: ‘Un libro, una sensación, una canción.‘ (Xanetia)
– Next: ‘Information overload‘ (Stephen Cummings)
– Last: ‘focus‘ (pastaboy sleeps)

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St Andrew’s Day round up of links and events: part 1.

This is my forking moment for the month.  A couple of weeks’ work on other projects, university business and time spent choosing a dining table has left me with a myriad different ideas, links, articles and events to try and rationalise… they are the spaghetti which this post will straighten out and wrap up for easier consumption.  Blog post as fork, creating bite-sized parcels for later consumption.

Enough of the metaphor, onwards…
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I’ve read few more eloquent discussions of the links between social media and events in the cause of getting on with things that this post from Marc Bowker’s (@marcbowker) blog.  It builds on the #begoodbesocial event I wrote about a few weeks back, but what Marc’s managed to do is breath life into his notes on the evening’s importance.  Of course, having actually attended the event Marc is at a distinct advantage, so his words carry far more credibility that mine anyway.

An important quotation (referencing Glasgow Twestival), which sits at the heart of why this interests me:

I had been tweeting a growing personal network of people within my vicinity for months in the run up to the Twestival and then bang, the event finally arrived. I turned up, wrote my Twitter name on my sticker and attached it to my chest, as had all the other attendees. Within an instant, I knew the person I’d been tweeting to the other day, week or month. Barriers were immediately broken down, the ice was certainly broken and we could chat to each other about our tweets and rapidly move on to something else. These people were no longer simply on my computer screen but were now physically in my network. I knew who I warmed to, who I wasn’t sure of and who I thought I’d like to get to know you better.

The people who attended could just get on with the business of the event, which consolidated their online networks and brought them into the physical world.  Technology, events, social media, networks, social capital: love it.
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More on Twitter, this time from Alan Rusbridger: Guardian editor-in-chief and general hero to right-minded clear thinking people the world over.  He delivered a lecture in Australia on the approaches media organisations are taking towards ‘the future – the Guardian’s is firmly an open and collaborative one’, which you can read highlights of here (and follow a link to the full thing).  It’s primarily focused on the attitudes media organisations should (?) have with social media, but the power of networks comes through in many ways – such as on Twitter:

13) It creates communities

Or, rather communities form themselves around particular issues, people, events, artifacts, cultures, ideas, subjects or geographies. They may be temporary communities, or long-terms ones, strong ones or weak ones. But I think they are recognisably communities.

Towards the end of the extract he uses the phrase ‘open media’ in place of ‘social media’, presumably helping take the argument beyond the novelty of it being social towards an awareness of the mindset which exists behind it.  There is open media, which encourages collaboration, and there is closed media which is monolithic and doesn’t encourage debate.  I shall now use Twitter to seek out references to ‘open media’…

Twitter has little to say on the matter just now.

Google and Wikipedia are little help.

…I might have to read the full lecture.

But wait, for here is Dr Ben Goldacre with his thoughts: he brings our attention to tweets, rather than tweeters.  To this end, a measure of something’s worth and its value is how many time it’s been retweeted.  There is also the opportunity to seek out people who are ‘obviously vaguely likely to have a vaguely similar outlook’… so is this an argument against the web’s powers of serendipity?

Goldacre goes on to enthusiastically outline a model of working with this information…

i think a lot more could be done using network analysis techniques (go, nodeXL nerds!) and other tools to try and divine algorithms and heuristics for sifting out stuff that’s worth reading, doing observational work on existing public datasets rather than following the model of active rating services like http://www.reddit.com/r/science and others.

How does this apply to festivals?  I guess it follows the lead of Festbuzz, working with the information which people are generating anyway to track and work with the data stream of tweets just waiting to be mined.  His argument shies away from limiting the analysis to reviews posted on a single site, yes?  …except of course that it all revolves around Twitter.
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In the process of compiling the Seminar Which Hasn’t Happened Yet Because of the Snow I read an earlier post about my wish to pursue the PhD in an open and collaborative way.  Thus it came to pass this week that @aleksk posted a link to ‘The economic case for open access in academic publishing’ from Ars Technica.  I asked Aleks (Krotoski, up there in the heroes league) what the results of openly publishing her thesis online had been, to which she replied ‘@dsrjarman don’t know if related, but it’s been requested enough at my alma mater that it’s been added to the #britishlibrary’s collection :)’.  Great work – and so on to the article…

– The focus is on academic publishing in peer reviewed journals, with the costs associated with this being closely tied to the process of peer-review; printing paper copies is not a big expenditure in the overall business model.  Editorship, marketing, content management and typesetting are also costly.
– Income is primarily through subscriptions: academic (68-75%) and industry (15-17%; US figures I think).  On this basis ‘open access publishing’ is a grave threat to the whole business model.
– But we also get to hear about author fees charged to those seeking publication… and the mark ups they are required to pay if they go down the open route.  Take up is ‘negligible’, unsurprisingly.
– Open access journals are discussed: they often publish more quickly, can be less selective, sometimes achieve higher numbers of citations and charge sponsors and authors.  Whether these will be sustainable approaches remains to be seen.
– The cost moves from subscribers to authors, yet JISC concluded that a country such as the UK would see big financial benefits from a switch to this model.  The industry objects, yet Ars Technica’s author isn’t too keen on their arguments.
– The concluding comments discuss the self-interested attitudes of key players, a tragedy of the commons argument.  And yet, authors of these articles are in fact often granted rights to ‘archive and distribute’ pre-print versions of their work –
if only they knew it, if only there was a way of co-ordinating their efforts.

Well, I share that argument wholeheartedly.  But not just with the end results, the process is key as well.  To that end I’m wrestling with whether or not I should post my seminar slides – when the seminar eventually takes place.  The information will be in the public domain anyway, so what’s the difference between performing it and posting it up?  Will anyone ever read the notes… unlikely.  Will I be jeopardising future opportunities to publish the work… I doubt it, and am not particularly fussed either way when the ideas are still so fresh and unformed.
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I have a colleague who works closely with me on my teaching, marking and research ideas.  She is a very valuable asset to our university and is very keen to contribute to research discussions and potential lines of thought.  And so she briefly introduced me to the work of Gilles Deleuze – who has a long entry on Wikipedia.  Now… this was said in relation to serendipity as a theoretical framework, although tragically the Wikipedia article doesn’t allude to this: I am thus bereft of any source of information, no?

The search for a theoretical underpinning is now becoming foremost in my mind.  Having accumulated ideas, examples and debates, I’m happy that there’s something going on here worthy of further research.  The PhD is however all about contributing knowledge and needs a theoretical base.  Current favourites are based around:
– Networks
– Social capital
– Serendipity
– Urban theory
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And at that point I shall bring this post to a close.  I have more to say, but that’ll come in the next instalment – I need to read more first.

PhD ideas: 25 November 2010

It’s a while since I posted an updated ‘ideas’ file, but there have been distractions since August. There may not even be anything particularly new here, although the file itself remains an important repository for ideas, notes, references and supporting arguments. It has been used pretty extensively in the preparation of my postponed presentation, pending a preferable paucity of precipitation. Attention has been shifting to the more formal requirements of the university’s PhD application process. I’m realising over time that by starting my work from an industry perspective I’ve now got to bend those ideas towards the theoretical discussions which will underpin the work. (This is where the presentation would have been very useful I suspect, which is reason enough to try and get something put in its place over the next week.)

Meanwhile, behold the latest iteration of My Ideas.

Silence reigned in EH14.

Alas and alack: snow scuppered my first chance to present my research ideas yesterday.  It’s St Andrew’s Day and the UK is going into stasis, one county at a time.  The campus was closed, the classroom’s empty, but thankfully the email held up and the daily cycle barely paused for breath.

I’m hopeful for a rescheduled slot next Monday, which I trust will be against a backdrop of green parkland and blue skies.  Yes.

Here are two pictures of snow around Edinburgh…

Image credits:
– First: ‘Fence in snow, Ratho‘ (Scotland City Guide)
– Last: ‘Royal Mile, winter night‘ (byronv2)

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Please come to my seminar! Monday 29 November.

I’ve a week to put together an informal seminar about my PhD ideas, building on the more formal written proposal which is also being compiled in the coming days.  The first step has been to prepare the following abstract for the seminar – please let me know if you’d like to come!
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PhD seminar: Monday 29 November 2010
Noon until 1pm, Craiglockhart Campus, Edinburgh Napier University

Abstract: ‘Events in the connected city’

David is hoping to start his PhD in February 2011 at Edinburgh Napier and is using this seminar to present his early ideas, respond to the requirements of the university’s PhD proposal guidelines and ask for questions and suggestions.  Open discussion and disclosure of ideas are at the heart of the proposed research, hopefully encouraging wider collaboration and shared projects.  A blog has been maintained to document the process since July 2010 (which will be added to shortly after the seminar of course).

The technological environment in which festivals and events exist today can be a rapidly changing, exciting mix of information, communication and cooperation.  Large sums of public and private money are invested in developing ‘digital strategies’, while the tools available are both accessible and engaging.  Many of those who attend or are affected by events (as audiences, delegates and the host community) are carrying ever more powerful computers in their pockets, changing the ways they relate to both the event and other people sharing the experience.  Festival and event producers continue to innovate in these areas in order to:
  • meet rising customer expectations and needs
  • produce, market and archive events to the highest standard possible
  • build relationships with their various stakeholder groups

It is proposed that the PhD will research: the ways in which technology affects the live event or festival experience; and ways in which live events contribute to the uses and benefits people find from technology.  These topics are more important and of longer-lasting significance than a particular website, application or piece of hardware – current favourites may not exist in four or five years’ time and will almost certainly have been superseded.  The twin themes will instead be approached through a mix of theoretical lenses, possibly including social capital, networks, serendipity, innovation, sustainability and urban theory.  It is also proposed that this work be focused on cities – reasons for this will be set out in the seminar, and can also be read about on the blog: www.davidjarman.info.
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It is likely that the written proposal won’t be posted here on the blog, so that I can hold those more precise thoughts back and develop them in the months ahead.  I’m ready for a mauling at the seminar anyway, so best keep some things out of harm’s way until they’re ready!

Meanwhile, some potential audiences…

Image credits:
‘confab.yahoo : audience for “Prediction Markets: Tapping the Wisdom of Crowds”‘
‘Presentation: Audience’
‘Audience for our Twitter presentation’
‘Sleep’

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