Monthly Archives: May 2016

Network creativity in Dundee: Mass Assembly 2016 #Mass16

Mass Assembly 2016Last Thursday, 26 May 2016, I headed up from Edinburgh to Dundee to Mass Assembly 2016. It was an early start, but the wonderful Scottish climate offers about 20 hours of daylight at the moment. That’s plenty enough to check on the new Forth crossing: looking good just now.

The whole event was devised and built around collaborations, networks, hubs and partnerships in the creative and cultural sector. I went along because of my interests in networks, as well as general support for Creative Edinburgh (one of the delivery partners). They worked alongside Creative Dundee to bring it all together. In the audience were those representing lots of other networks and organisations. A network of networks, a hub of hubs. All very meta.

The following notes lack much narrative. Rather than try to piece together the whole day, I have opted to copy and paste my bullet point notes. For further coverage of the day, please see the Storify constructed by Creative Dundee.

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Mass Assembly

26 May 2016, Dundee

Opening: Gillian E and Janine M

  • Setting out basis for the day, ref to ‘creative cities’ project that linked cities across Scotland.
  • Thanks to British Council and their support.
  • Notes boundaries that prevent people working together, including visas (in today’s case).

 

Session one

Canan Marasligil: Translation as a bridge

  • Discusses language (her personal journey) and translation.
  • Translation relying on networks, and translation can help build communities.
  • Project 1: #cityintranslation
  • Project 2: Spectacular Translation Machine. An activity based environment in which people translate materials (pictures) into their own words.
  • Highlights importance of networks for freelancers.

Josyane Franc: Creating the opportunities to engage the wider population (Saint-Etienne)

  • Links between Dundee and Saint-Etienne: both the first UNESCO City of Design in their countries.
  • Key stakeholders in network:
    • Buildings: concert hall, administrative institutions
    • S-E School of Art and Design
    • Cite du Design 2009: festival held in former arms factory, in the heart of the city
  • Process: took time to engage local people and administration
  • Local government: established ‘Design Manager’ position, to introduce design into planning of each new development in the city
  • La Manufacture: a creative district for the city, bringing designers, researchers, fab lab, companies, etc. – emphasis is on collaboration, within a focused built environment
  • Large scale project: involving residential, leisure and business environments
  • Future: national theatre due to open a space soon
  • Deliberate effort to publicise the network and the work it is doing
  • Important role of S-E biennale, which engaged local communities and other cities (international)
  • ’S-E changes design, and changes the idea of design’

Discussion: led by Clive Gillman

  • To create a community and a hub we need to think about: language, space, place, interactions…
  • Q: How do we describe a place?
    • A: The people. The people describe that place.
    • A: Ambassadors, at different levels, who play a part in the development of the city. From local politicians/authorities to activists.
  • Discussion led to urban/rural debate, including limits to what can be achieved in rural environments.
  • Digital: what can digital tools provide?
  • Real estate prices in urban centres can be astronomic, but still desired, yet workers are often remotely connected.
  • Libraries: what place libraries as a platform for social capital, knowledge, engagement, meetings, all parts of community brought together: making people feel comfortable in a space.

 

Session two

Steven Drost: Start ups and creatives – some thoughts / The live audit

  • The role of start ups, and start up culture, in the creative sector.
  • Start up culture is generally optimistic, but needs to be tempered by talking to communities and the people who will actually engage with them.
  • Lessons from start ups: iterate and improve; build a business around your ideas; work with pirates (not the navy).

 

Session three

Steve Hamm: The future belongs to crowds

  • Steve works for Swarm.
  • A trend towards a more crowd based approach.
  • Technology is taking us in this direction, allowing us to connect.
  • Economics too: the ‘firm’ operates to reduce transaction costs.
  • What of the connected world, where transaction costs are reducing, allowing for collaboration without the need for a firm.
  • Collaboration: necessary to collaborate with a diverse mix of characters.
  • The importance of meeting face to face.
  • Recording: important to track and capture the process and outcomes of a collaboration. Helps to produce something that can be shared.
  • Makes reference to SNA research into Broadway musicals: what’s the right balance between all new teams and those who are tired and stale with no means of introducing new ideas.
  • Uber: highlighted as a service that supports one group of users very well, but neglects others (e.g. the drivers). A need to develop a broader approach, of ‘user-centred’ or ‘community-centred’ design.

Alex Zacharias

  • From ‘August’ consultancy (New York).
  • ‘Responsive working’: encouraging companies to help businesses prepare for a new way of working. Large, old companies aren’t able to compete with newer ones, where they’ve been hamstrung by hierarchies and bureaucracies.
  • How to work with companies and individuals that don’t always see the need for change?
  • Key principles: open, learning, networked, iteration.

Discussion: led again by Clive Gillman

  • On ‘exploitation of intellectual property’: written into law that Creative Scotland works to support those who work with intellectual property. Yet also seen that many in the creative industries actually work with traditional means of activity: producing goods, etc.
  • A need for those who are being affected by collaborative work to be part of the process.
  • Super connectors: important in the development of communities, and can be found formally or informally; but can be important to look beyond these people in order to develop a broader understanding of the ways people might react to a particular project.
  • Embedding of artists and creatives within other sectors of the economy: what benefits can this bring?
  • Notes the importance of businesses working with creatives in order to reach creative solutions to problems: new ways of thinking can achieve breakthroughs, but it takes for the business to be open to new ideas and believing that they don’t have the solutions themselves.
  • Designers bring skills and superpowers to the table. Get yourself through the door!
  • Janine: notes use of ‘hot desk hangouts’ to get creative folk into organisations for a day, helping to show that creatives can have a place to work in that environment.
  • Nice section where different people stood up to talk about their projects and networks.