Monthly Archives: December 2010

London dispatch: proposal feedback.

Travel chaos has blown a cool breeze through Britain’s festive spirit of late, with folks trapped at Heathrow and many more forced into extended circumnavigations of broken railway paraphernalia.  I suffered from the latter on my way down from Edinburgh, but this barely put me out and gave me a chance to catch up on podcasts during the way down to London: I’ve made it through worse.

And after a 24 hour stay in snowy Kent I’m now at RSA House: my premiere, some say inaugural, visit to the home of the Society.  Very smart it is too, from the perspective of the Fellows’ Library, several feet below ground level.  I’ll come back when there’s an event on to take in the splendour of the upper floors.  (There’s a bar too, you say… oh, well, if I must.)


Last week was my chance to present some PhD ideas to colleagues and generally it went OK.  There were technical issues to start: we changed rooms, fiddled with projectors and such like.  But I spoke, people stayed around and listened, and suggestions were put forward.  The need for greater focus and a solid theoretical base were recognised by one and all it seemed, with the following floated as possible avenues for further thought:

  • consumer behaviour > leading to consumption
  • knowledge management
  • relationship marketing
  • co-creation
  • social media > leading to innovation
  • social capital > leading to social modelling and socialisation

Now, I made the point during the presentation that I was keen to keep this research on a broader footing than marketing… but I think this probably shows up my ignorance of what marketing means and the breadth of topics and themes it can encompass.  My written proposal (submitted on Monday this week, just making the pre-Christmas deadline) focuses on social capital and social networks, which one reader of said proposal felt came across more cohesively in the written text than anything else up to that point.  I therefore feel pretty confident that the proposal itself is sound, with plenty of potential alternatives should my supervisory team and I feel they would be more appropriate.

And speaking of supervisors there’s a chance of an external supervisor who would be very good to work with – Scottish based too.  This has come partly from the Perth conference last week (which other people have written about too) and partly because I’ve started tracking #media2012: a UK-wide effort to encourage and enable public participation with the 2012 London Games, through social/open media.

A fruitful week all told, which led to a healthy discussion on Twitter during my journey south – all power to the iPhone for keeping me connected through the snowy fields.

And with that I’m going to sign off for Christmas.  It’s been a busy year, with an increased teaching load and more students on my programmes.  More productive too I hope, with several different projects on the go.  The next 12 months will hopefully see some progress into my research themes, some pictures on the wall in my dining/spare room, and continued good times in Edinburgh and beyond.

Happy Christmas to one and all.

EventScotland ‘International Events Conference’ 2010, Perth Concert Hall

Perth Concert Hall hosted yesterday’s ‘International Events Conference’ – a biannual gathering under the auspices of EventScotland.  In quick order, some of the key things I took home with me through the chilly, snow covered fields…


It was very good to meet familiar and new faces from Higher Education and Further Education in this field.  This included Jane McQueen from City of Glasgow College (formerly Glasgow Metropolitan College before it merged with others); Jenny Flinn and David McGilllivray from Glasgow Caledonian University (@dgmcgillivray); Joe Goldblatt from Queen Margaret University; and, in a virtual sense after the event, Robert Gordon University’s Events Management team (@RGUEvents).

The formal aspects of the event were mainly one-directional: lots of talks from the stage, no breakout sessions and fairly limited opportunities to grill the speakers.  That made the lunch and coffee breaks particularly important, likewise the way people hung around after the event had finished until they couldn’t wait any longer to run for their trains.

Of great interest to me was a talk from Mark Coyle: ‘Editor, BBC London 2012, Online’.  Mark spoke of the opportunities the BBC hopes to exploit with the coming of the London 2012 Games, a ‘coronation’ moment as so many people will be interested in accessing the many forms of output created by the Corporation.  As such it can act as a catalyst for new technical development, a surge in take up by the public, an international audience and will leave a legacy of technical competence and experience that can be exploited by future events.

Here’s a blog introducing Mark and his work.  And here’s the BBC’s Olympic site, which he oversees.

Other points from Mark’s talk:
– The BBC are adopting a very strategic approach to 2012, looking for ways that the Games can help them reach a variety of objectives.
– And it’s going to be a very busy year: the Games are not the only major events to take place, with the Cultural Olympiad, London Mayoral Elections, Paralympics Games also taking place.
– The ‘coronation’ event idea: a focus for much effort and potential.
– The BBC is keen to measure the demand for its services and their take up, comparing different events as a means of reflecting how and where people get access to BBC content.
– In the wider picture, the BBC is fully behind ‘youview‘ – a form of video on demand (with a set top box) with backing from a wider variety of UK broadcasters.  This is against a backdrop of mixed take up of broadband across the UK, where Scotland (and parts of Scotland in particular) don’t come up very well, but this is an opportunity.

As for the 2012 Olympic Games:
– 24 video streams available to viewers in the UK
– A focus on helping people access what it is they’re interested in:
 > FIND: a means of searching and personalising the experience
 > EMERSE: fully social in its ambitions, engaging viewers who can then contribute
 > UNDERSTAND: recognition of the value and power of all that metadata, providing feeds to help others exploit it
– ‘Seamless’ viewing experiences: watching something at home, while travelling and in the office – pick up where you left off across these different locations and platforms.
– Torch relay: happening all over the country, yet designed to involve everyone; the BBC acting as the ‘glue’ which can make that happen.

Why use social media, what do audiences wish to get out of it?:
– Sharing is key: almost regardless of the platforms used for this, there is clearly a widespread enthusiasm for sharing that won’t be going away.
– What is it people want to share?:
 > Emotion
 > Location
 > Content

As host broadcaster the BBC has a duty to play its part in providing what audiences have said they want to get out of the Games: being part of a ‘better Britain’; fun; opportunities; communities; finding new heroes.

Great stuff.

In truth there was a lack of recognition about social media at the conference overall, which surprised me.  No official hashtag was suggested and no mention of where or how to continue the conversation after the event.  In my judgement that academia has been slow to keep up with the industry in this area perhaps I should have included institutions of other kinds.  Fortunately, getting people into a room together it usually enough to get the ball rolling and they can take it where they wish – a good starting point on which to build in 2011.

Minor hurdle negotiated: PhD proposal drafted.

Feeling a sense of slight dizziness just now, I’ve drafted my PhD proposal and sent it to a couple of colleagues for their thoughts.  Referees have also been approached.  Hopefully all will be in place by this time next week and I can rest up over Christmas…

Right: what next?

(Meanwhile, English cities have witnessed student protests for quite a few days now – some of it has reached Scotland as well, although the legislation they’re agitating against doesn’t apply up here.  For now.  Rather like the Ushahidi example of collaborative data management, the students in London have been using Google Maps to plot developments as they try to outwit and outmanoeuvre the police.  More information here, while the map’s here.)

Click for curtain-up: technology and theatre | Culture | The Guardian


Theatre has the best technology? A quick post from a Guardian article looking at technology-in-theatre, as fostered by a ‘Pervasive Media Studio’ project in Bristol. The analogy is with the use of surround sound in the movies: it’s not what you buy a ticket for, but is now a vital part of the experience. There’s scope for much greater use of ‘pervasive media’ in theatre and the ‘magic’ and connections it can make possible.

Yes, connections: there’s a networking aspect to this too as these early practitioners go out into the world with confidence in their ability to combine media.