Are you part of a project gearing up to celebrate the 2014 Commonwealth games event in a fun and inspiring way? Yes? Then we have a fabulous opportunity not to be missed! Right now you can get involved in a series of free Lottery funded community media cafes which will help you get the best out your podcasting, mobile audio and digital storytelling over tea, coffee and biscuits.
With the build up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games gathering pace, the University of the West of Scotland is running a series of these events in four parts of Scotland helping people to tell their own Commonwealth Games stories using a range of mobile and digital media tools.
A run of media cafes have already taken place but it’s not too late to get involved in an up and coming cafe in your area. The workshops are free. You’ll meet a range of people who are doing interesting things in the field of community media, get to test out free mobile audio and video tools or to try out social media for developing your community story.
Find out the latest dates and how you can enrol in a cafe before the Christmas holidays here. You can also find out more about hosting your own community media cafe by emailing Jennifer at the University of the West of Scotland.
The University of the West of Scotland received an award of £167,977 from the Big Lottery Fund back in the summer of 2013 to support its Digital Commonwealth project.
Stop press!! From January 2014 onwards, the project will offer more opportunities to join formal workshops in audio, video, blogging and social media to prepare people across Scotland to cover the Queen’s Baton Relay when it reaches your community. Come back to our blog in the New Year to find out more.
So, big changes. Since January 2013, I have been employed part time (2 days a week) at the University of the West of Scotland as a Research Assistant. Through this, I was lucky to lead on the development of the Big Lottery Fund’sCelebrate website, the Interface funded #digitalburns project (working with the Robert Burns Federation) and supported a number of shorter term projects (such as social media training for local authorities and research assistance) within the Department of Creative and Cultural Industries.
My contract ended at the end of August – and during this contract time, a full-time role came up within the department for a project coordinator on the Big Lottery Funded “Digital Common-wealth” intitative around the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. I spent most of July preparing, researching and applying for it – and a few weeks ago I found out that I got it(!) meaning as of last Monday, I am now working full-time at the University of West of Scotland. An achievement I am immensely proud of and a project that I am incredibly excited to be part of. I am looking forward to being able to pick up from some of the legacy of #citizenrelay but also to see a project of this scale from start to finish, something you do not often get the chance to on short-term contracts.
It is early days at the moment, but I am now hoping that with a greater degree of stability and routine that I can now look into returning to my PhD part-time in the new year – especially as my new role will be situated within the mega-event, community development and citizen media arena – and gives me the opportunity to update some of the work I already have. I am ready to return and just get it written now.
Anyway, loads to be getting on with – currently developing the brand, website and infrastructure of the project ahead of a launch in October. Stay tuned for more ‘formal’ information – but for those interested in the informal, development discussions, we are using the hashtag #DigCW2014 to wax lyrical about future plans, how big a task the project is and sharing ideas on twitter.
For more information on the ethos of the project, please do check out David McGillivray’s blog post on announcement of the project funding.
I’m trying out the new ‘twenty thirteen’ theme (which I like lots) and have been playing with for a project that I am designing the website for at UWS. I have much news to catch up on but also even better news to look forward to. I’ve done a few presentations, completed a few project write ups, coming to the end of my part-time research contract at UWS and moving into a newer, more experienced role which I will update in detail very soon. I will also be using my website differently as in previous occurrences I would write an update every time I did something “academic” but instead I am going to do shorter but more regular postings. I also realise that having a wordpress blog since 2008 (well, what it public goes back to then) means that a lot of categories, customisations and media files are very messy. I will need to spend some time tidying that up to work with new theme. Message end.
I was working with John Popham on the “Our Digital Planet” project when it visited Glasgow last October when we got chatting about the potential for exploring the potential for digital Robert Burns night. You see, it is a little known fact that I’m originally from a small costal town in the south west of Scotland that happens to share the same birth place as that poet bloke (you’re from Ayr, Jay Jay, you never said!) and John Popham is .. well Internet famous for his event amplification, community engagement and social media for social good chat – so it wasn’t long before we got plotting about potential for trying out something that mixes up the town.
A few months prior to our chat, the Robert Burns Worlds Federation approached UWS about potential collaboration on applying for an Interface innovation voucher (funded by the Scottish Funding Council) to carry out some knowledge exchange work relating to social media and community engagement. I’ve already worked on three innovation vouchers by this stage, so was excited that I could piece together some of the initial plotting towards exploring the potential for Robert Burns in the 21st Century.
RBWF and UWS made a joint application to Interface in February and were successful, which means the below proposal will go ahead and the work begins this week with a meeting in Kilmarnock tomorrow in preparation to pilot the study at the 3rd Degrees Burns Music Festival in Ayr on the 1st of June. I’m working with Prof. Gayle McPherson on delivering the innovation voucher and as it is very much about research and development, I will be blogging the process as I go.
Below is an extract from the original funding application form which has further detail of the project:
The scope of the Digital Burns project is to plan, develop and pilot a social media strategy and intervention for engaging with Robert Burns for the 21st Century. It will focus on using digital communication tools to harness and the amplify the ubiquitous nature of Robert Burns and use its strong, recognisable identity to map the cultural export of ‘Scottishness’ in the 21st century. The project will use an existing event (Third Degree Burns festival) to access and pilot a strategy to develop a “Digital Burn” night in 2014, which is a significant year for Scotland with homecoming, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the referendum debate and the centenary of world war one.
This will be done by promoting and testing a live stream of a music event at the Burns Museum on June the 1st, mapping regional, national and international community engagement with the event online and its impact beyond environment, using the geo-locative function of video and audio and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This will allow for the development of a social media strategy for future events associated with the Robert Burns community, producing a Digital Burns Supper toolkit to be distributed by the Burns Federation, that can be shared and tracked using social media analytics, allowing for curating an internationally connected Digital Burns Night in January 2014.
The Burns Federation are interested in looking at innovative processes to engage younger audiences post-secondary education and to investigate new ways to connect up the growing number of international Burns Clubs around the world, recruiting new membership in the process. This project would allow for the piloting and development of a social media strategy that capitalised the international focus of 2014 and to test-drive methods to amplify homegrown events to wider audiences, and to capture and evaluate impact using social media and emerging analytical tools.
This is tied in to the year of homecoming to encourage diaspora to return to Scotland during 2014 – and to encourage SME and tourism around Burns.
The University will gain by building on its portfolio of association with UK event research and social media interventions, which UWS is heavily involved in, by practically implemented strategies tested and embedded through cutting edge research currently being undertaken within the faculty. This in turn will impact on teaching in this area, offering opportunity for students to be involved in from a new media production, event management and cultural policy perspective.
By focusing on a widely recognised and understand cultural phenomenon of Robert Burns’ work, the project will allow the Burns Federation to develop social media interventions around existing portfolio of activity and to take ownership of the process that would allow to visualise and map impact of any Burns activity being amplified online.
This innovation voucher would allow for the development of a 12 month timeline strategy to work towards the curation of an affordable method of live-streaming and event amplification using free and widely accessible social media tools. A subsequent aim would be to work towards the research and development required to build a mobile application that was a “burns supper toolkit” that can be shared easily and monitored online and used to connect international audiences to an event happening in Ayrshire in January 2014.
Develop partnerships with local suppliers to put together Burns Supper kits that can be ordered ahead of the event and exported internationally.
Generate new interest in Burns from an accessible online platform, whilst looking at developing the current pedagogy for engaging with Burns education beyond the initial event. Utilising the current Schools Competitions to develop online activity which children and youths can engage.
Showcase local and upcoming talent from the local area and the university’s school of creative and cultural industries using the established platform of the Burns Federation and their international network.
This could be changed from local to Global engaging with Scottish Studies groups in other universities for example.
On Monday we held the first stage of training for the #citizenrelay project; an ambitious attempt to follow the Olympic torch relay across Scotland during two weeks in June, capturing the alternative stories of the games, the stories that you wouldn’t usually hear out in the mainstream media, and producing an national archive, connecting communities and beginning to construct a Scottish network of citizen reporters for future activities, events and festivals beyond 2012. The video above gives an idea of some of the ideas and discussions that were had between ourselves about how we just might make this happen.
In a way, the torch relay is a catalyst for a bigger project or even more of an aim, one that intends to map out those who using online media production skills to develop local and citizen generated media (so partnerships with the Media Trust’s Newsnet project is crucial), as well as offering the opportunity to train, support and demystify the mobile and internet technology required to participate, establishing ways of encouraging those who are exposed to the training to not only get the chance to ‘learn’ about social media, but instead to gain the confidence to go back to their own networks and spread the word.
The project, unlike mainstream media outlets, needs to be scalable so they workload is spread, but also decentralised, connected only in the loosest terms by a set of keywords (citizenrelay, media2012 for instance – more commonly know as hashtags (#) these day) but also connected by the wider event, the relay, the spectacle if you are coming at this from the academic world, but the fact that for a short period of time, at least the illusion of the international media coming to town is utilised for the benefits of citizenship, rather than corporate sponsors/government propaganda and the controlled public relations rhetoric.
In simple terms, there are very few opportunities where communities of a nation can feel connected together as being part of the same story. The story doesn’t need to agree with the story that those who are implementing the event would like to achieve. It is about asking the questions, at the time, about what this torch relay really means for people, helping them feel confident to express their opinions about it (and related events) and to see value in knowing how to not only understand the purpose and value of such events, but to become part of the media making process.
With a convoy of over 150 vehicles that accompany the relay (which I will be covering and demonstrating tomorrow in Leicester as part of the trial run with local community organisation citizenseye.org tomorrow) and the fact that it is not a continuous process, but an edited collection of separate runners, and possibly multiple torches on the route, packed up and driven between carefully selected locations on the map- demonstrated through the fact that they will be covering the majority of Scotland’s landmass in one day (Glasgow-Inverness, a long drive at the best of times without stopping for the photo opportunity) whilst spending three days in and around Edinburgh and St Andrews, potentially emphasising the most London/power/empire centric/friendly city in Scotland.
Through preparing and engaging communities on and also off the route, we can attempt to build/facilitate a bigger, more decentralisation or realistic coverage of the process. For instance, are we interested in the torch bearer, maybe, certainly not when they are running, we won’t get access, but perhaps instead before or after the event, building a picture of the decisions made by those who selected them. What is the wider agenda?
But we need help. And we need help soon.
We have had a lot of support from a range of individuals and organisations, including friends and friends of friends who are situated across Scotland who have been suggesting people based on local knowledge and engaging with groups on our behalf. That’s what twitter is great for, it cut through previous communication structures and hierarchies and allows for things to happen. We have also had many people retweet and share our recruitment drive for interns (who have all be selected based on their online skills and local knowledge) and reporters (a more general role that anybody, at whatever level, can get involved in) by posting the promotional materials on their own social networking profiles and has been reblogged by the Big Lottery Fund, Education Scotland and Creative Scotland, Creative Loop Student Media Festival as well as our own institution University of the West of Scotland and the Skillset Media Academy. This is great, and it legitimises the process and the project through the amazing institutional interest in supporting the idea and the event.
However, it is still very top-down marketing in traditional means, the assumption that because we are XYZ and funded by a public arts council that people will come in their droves. Press releases and project blogging can do spectacular things in terms of influence of the project content and what we might do beyond the event, but this activity is about the people who make it happen, and it will be shaped and changed by both those we encounter, those who champion it and those who tell the stories. So we need to move away from just using the online version of traditional marketing, that has a place, but the place is not two weeks before training.
It was always going to be difficult to recruit beyond the West coast where our networks are. Where the people we can meet for coffee and get excited about ideas for being creative with social media around a once in a lifetime event such as this, and face to face is not always easy with a country as unique as Scotland – where notions of time and space function differently from the rest of the UK (that’s another blog post I’m afraid) – so we need to utilise we have got, existing ideas, networks, opportunities.
So this post is less about championing about what we are and why you should get involved, it is a discussion, who do you know that you think would be great for being an ambassador, a contact point, a trainer, a curator, a champion, however you interpret the project – for a citizen relay in the place you live in Scotland? Have you got any ideas about how we might collaborate on your existing projects in your area? It doesn’t matter if the torch doesn’t come anywhere near you, we want to know about what is happening in your area during that time, it doesn’t matter if you don’t think that you are fit into the project, you probably can, it is about everyone, not just those who want to produce media content.
We are running training days in Inverness (3rd May), Aberdeen (4th May), Glasgow (5th May) and Edinburgh (6th May) and we would love to get as many people as we can to be there. We have expenses to help those who are not from the cities (and we don’t expect you to be) to get there for it – and the only thing that you need to do beyond that is to describe, capture, archive, narrate, the story of the torch relay in scotland on your own terms.
So can you help us? Can you suggest contacts or nominate individuals, groups or even yourself for the reporter role. Is it education? arts? media? libraries? voluntary organisations? creative businesses? or something else?
Last week was a blast. It has taken me 4 days to archive the social media content that was produced during the first @UWSInteractive Festival, and 4 days to come to terms with the sheer amount of energy behind the event that lasted 4 days across 4 locations in the South West of Scotland.
This was the first time since UWS was formed has their been a series of connected events to occur across all areas of the university’s catchment area and now having driven the entire distance between them in one week, you can really see and feel the size of the area that UWS covers as a ‘local’ university.
Below is the round up of each day of the festival, based on the tweets, images and videos from participants and partners and hosted using Storify.
Day 1: Social Media for Community Engagement, The Cat Strand (New Galloway)
We started the week in Dumfries and Galloway, where we have a campus based in Dumfries. The first day was formed from a previous public engagement project that was funded by the South of Scotland Business Solutions and aims to support local independent businesses in the South of Scotland.
Working with an existing community network that we has encountered during the first part of the SoSBS project in November (social media surgeries for small businesses), we met with the Glenkens Community and Arts Trust and hosted a community news cafe, workshops on community engagement and an afternoon of idea generating for the final section of the project, towards community education programs provided by UWS.
Day 2: Launch of #citizenrelay -from 2012 to 2014 in media and mega events. (Hamilton)
Tuesday brought us to Hamilton Campus, that specialises in events and journalism and to the launch of the #citizenrelay project, part of #media2012 network and aims to follow the torch relay across Scotland, covering the alternative stories of the event. There was plenty of free workshops and stands set up with our visiting partners and UWS students covered the event as part of their coursework.
Day 3: Social Media Surgeries, Film Making and Screen Acting @UWSAyr
The new Ayr campus was officially opened just before Christmas and hosts some excellent film making and screen facilities, as well as having an amazing central atrium that is acts as a meeting space for both UWS and Scottish Agricultural College students. There were workshops from citizen’s eye, somewhereto_ and the library, careers and student support – as well as contemporary screen acting students producing a play in under 6 hours. The event concluded with a teachmeet and a dogwoof documentary pop up cinema screening of Blood in the Mobile.
Day 4: Launching @UWSInteractive Social Media Alliance, @UWSPaisley
The week concluded with a social media roadshow in the library learning space on the Paisley campus. This formed the basis of the next steps for UWS Interactive, moving it from a one-off week long festival to a longer, more relentless project centred around social media for learning and teaching, support, research and external activities – beginning with those who took part this week, with the aim to grow support and training over the next few months.
I’ve converted the UWSInteractive festival website from a schedule to a wider resource, where over the next few weeks I am going to profile UWS staff and students who are using social media in their day to day work practice – as well as connecting to our external partners who can offer mentoring and support in this area. It is hoped that @UWSInteractive, the event, will have given people enough energy and confidence to take forward a more coherent and connected support network or as I’ve started calling it, the UWS Social Media Alliance. Stay tuned.