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Work update: So how was your summer?

I’m now 2.5 months into my 6 months stint of final ‘writing up’ of the PhD. It has been some summer (spent sitting in my PhD kitchen den) – where I’ve been doing a lot more than I thought I would by this stage. Which is good. I’ve now got 3 months and 2 weeks until I hand in the full draft of the PhD (deadline 31st of December – symbolic, for sure). It has been good to be able to just focus on getting into the flow for writing, in particular, prioritising my own work over everything else.

There are the little things like being able to sit in the flow and the topic for longer than the 2 days I had set a side for writing – and it is getting there. Some weeks I have long periods of writing and push on in chunks. Other weeks, it’s more difficult – especially after I’ve submitted parts for review. I have a writing submission deadline set every 2 weeks – so everything runs up to that, and then I have 3-4 days where it is like wading in treacle to get started again. But the more I do it, the further it gets pushed on – and I’m just waiting for that moment when I manage to push it over the hill and towards the editing process.

I guess being able to spend dedicated time on the PhD allows me to track when I write best and how to structure my day properly. I do my best writing first thing in the morning, before the dogs get up – and after that, the progress wanes. I’m adding back writing days on campus (Wednesday/Friday) to shake up the scenery and work alongside others who are writing.

I’m also ensuring that I still do a little bit of creative work amongst it all – so I have a few part time projects on the go that mean that I don’t end up sitting in the house 24/7.

It is all very well giving yourself the space and time to write, but there are probably only 4-5 good hours maximum in the day, so it is making sure you don’t spoil them with meetings, calls and emails – and save those necessary activities for when I’m a bit more tired.

Anyway, I wanted to spend some time this Sunday evening to write about a few of the things I’ve been up to since July – mainly for my own memory, but also I think its always good to stop and reflect on these things to take on board all the bits of things that add up to wider projects when the PhD is completed (and I can finally finally move on!)

June: 

JISC Connect

On 16th June, I was invited to close the JISC Connect Scotland event at Clyde Valley College, Stirling. I spoke about social media (in and around) higher education – and about the realities and challenges of trying to implement some of the digital storytelling initiatives that were possible in projects such as Digital Commonwealth within a formal higher education setting. This is one of the things I struggle with in terms of thinking about a future in higher education – how do you maintain the ethos of a digital community/civic engagement project within the confides of an institution?

Slides are available on JISC’s Connect More website.

July:

21 Reasons…

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At the start of the summer, I had the pleasure to do some more work with Ayrshire Youth Arts Network – working with some of the gang who came to Arran with us in January for the film making retreat. They were commissioned to develop a digital media project for CVO East Ayrshire called “21 reasons…” – and I came on board to help manage and pull the final video together.

We developed a tumblr project blog and twitter account and over the course of 2 days, we drew up a list of positive reasons to visit Kilmarnock and recorded a short (21 seconds) film about each one. I then took the videos and edited them together for a final short film to be used as a civic engagement tool around the news that Kilmarnock had been voted “most improved town“.

The blog and twitter account were set up to allow for future use – and aim to visit other places in Ayrshire (and potentially beyond!) to promote positive reasons to visit and stay in each area.

You can watch the final film here.

Sheffield University 

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I was invited to speak at the Sheffield University Doctoral Conference – delivering a workshop on social media for early career researchers. Here are the slides:

August

Disabled Person’s Housing Service (Fife)

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At the start of August, I returned to Fife to deliver a second round of training with Disabled Person Housing Services (Fife). We worked together back in 2013 and it was great to come back to do more specific video training with some of the staff and volunteers of the organisations – including making videos about self directed support from those who have benefited from the service.

Here is one of the volunteers Shona, who was apprehensive at the beginning about making films – and after had produced those two of her own – talking about the benefits she’s experienced since moving over to self directed support care plan.

British HIV Association (BHIVA)

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screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-18-32-09After delivering a workshop for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with Nicola Osborne (@suchprettyeyes) before Christmas last year – we were then asked to deliver a similar session to BHIVA as a webinar. This was really enjoyable as we managed to take turns at presenting, answering questions and demonstrating tools and practices live on social media. Plus, the view for the day was pretty awesome – working from Nicola’s office at EDINA….

Better than Zero

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-18-31-59“We’re a group of young trade unionists, precarious workers and creative campaigners and we’re fed up of bad bosses who think they’re beyond reproach. We want to fight back against the bullies, and use the skills we brought to the 2014 referendum campaign into a collective project against zero hours, zero rights and zero respect workplaces.” (Betterthanzero.org)

I stepped in to deliver a short workshop on social media for campaigning at the Better Than Zero first birthday party at the Scottish Trade Union Congress (slides here). This was a really inspiring night – and great to see momentum when it comes to challenging zero hour contracts and unfair working practices.

You can read more about their campaigns and day of action on the campaigns website here.

Hyperisland

Last semester I supervised 2 of the MA Digital Media Management students from Hyperland – this semester I’m supervising 10 to complete their Industry Research project before Christmas.

Global Justice Now – Demand  the Impossible

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I delivered a short workshop on Media Events and Power as part of the Social Justice Now’s “Demand the Impossible” Activism training for young people between 16-25 at Strathclyde University.

Demand the Impossible included:

  • Sharing ideas with like-minded young people from across Scotland
  • Exploring ideas on capitalism and alternative economic systems, the position of young people in Scotland today, the power of the media and how climate crisis will impact our lives
  • Learning new ways of looking at the world from experts and activists from universities, social movements and campaigns
  • Building activist skills that teach us how we can campaign for a better world 

East Renfrewshire Council

I completed training and support for looked after young people to cover the council’s corporate parenting launch back in July. Those who took part planned, interviewed and editing 10 short interviews with senior council leaders and connected organisations to be used as part of the internet communication within East Renfrewshire Council.

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I also delivered a short “Social Media 101” workshop as part of the annual gathering of the PAs to the Chief Executives of Scottish Local Authorities that was being held in East Renfrewshire this year.

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September

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I can’t believe we are 18 days into September already – so far this month I delivered a presentation as a co-author at Strathclyde University at the Contemporary Childhood Conference (3rd and 4th of September) The conference presentation was based on our journal paper that was published in Leisure Studies last year “Young People, Media Making and Critical Digital Citizenship” (Available here.)

Institute of Fundraising Communication Group

Last week, I was invited as a guest to the Institute of Fundraising Scotland Communication Group to talk about social media and mobile video making. The slides are available here.

Social Care Ideas Factory (Brave Ideas)

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Last and not least, I’ve just began (over the last couple weeks!) as an associate of Social Care Idea Factory (that’s soon to become Brave Ideas) – where I’m producing regular video content for their online monthly magazine that will highlight amazing projects that have done things a shade braver. I’ve already carried out 3 interviews that will be edited over the next few weeks, have 3 more planned and I’m really looking forward to seeing how and what this will shape up to be as the stories emerge.


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In non-work related chat – last week I cycled 50 miles as part of the pedal for scotland troops and raised £312 for Glasgow Woman’s Aid. I’d been training for it all summer in a way, making sure I’ve been doing stuff that’s not been sitting at my desk. I was a bit wobbly the night before (these sort of things bring out the brain grelims) but I super pleased to be able to do the whole thing and actually really really enjoy it. The byproduct is that I’m now using my bike for everything, totally upped my confidence in riding around the city and looking forward to the next challenge.


So, that’s been the #notthePhD part of my life, the stuff thats been keeping me sane. I’m starting to think about what comes next – and I do really enjoy research in an academic setting (for instance, I’m working with the Visual Social Media Lab on exciting research – that’ll I’ll write about soon) and I’m loving doing the cross over between community/industry and education(teaching & mentoring) – but I’m not sure where to go next. I don’t want to go backwards – as I feel if I’m working in an institution, I get all ground up in the pain of certain work politics, and if I’m not doing research, critical thinking  and writing at the same time as delivering workshops and training, I’m not testing myself. I’m just not sure yet – but – there are definitely balls in play that coming together at the right time.

So I guess it’s just trusting the process. And the right opportunit(ies) will follow. There have been challenging things happening behind the scenes – but overall, when reviewing the stuff I’ve managed to do – despite what has been happening offline – there is so much good stuff that’s to follow, I can’t wait until we are back up to full steam again.

Anyway, this was the blog post that has been on my mind for the last few weeks and it’s been good to sit down and just get it all out. How’s the rest of the class of 2016 getting on?