Category Archives: Projects

Digital Identity

Eynsham Hall, OxfordshireI’ve had many thought provoking discussions with digital strategist, Natasha Reynolds recently while working on the “Digital Identity” presentation which we are both delivering for the Clore Cultural Leadership course in February.

The talk aims to provide professionals from the culture sector with a common understanding of the world of online communication, sharing and the balance of power between content creators and the platforms they use to distribute their messages and works.

DI RoadmapFor individuals working in public organisations there is an interesting duality between personal social engagement and professional social engagement. The new value placed on the networks we create around our own personal brands is a subject of interest, as stories of employers demanding access to your Facebook account or the handover of your LinkedIn contact list circulate online.

We’ve summed up our landscape survey with a straight ahead digital toolkit, which can be simply implemented as a digital health check and everyday aid.

The final futurology section will no doubt become dated quickly but contains some of our current favourite tips for emerging trends which we think indicate new models or new behaviours in the digital space.

Friday Afternoons

aldeburghsetup1The second half of 2013 was a whirlwind of new projects for me, with the work of SHPLive.TV taking off. I produced a ton of performance productions for live streaming, including The Place Prize Final, the “Embedded” improvised music season of 3 concerts, transmedia dance project Dare You Watch and a load of other events.

In November 2013,  I worked on an ambitious project as part of the Britten Centenary, celebrating the birth of the famous British composer, Benjamin Britten. Aldeburgh Music, a fantastic hub of musical talent and development in the UK, contacted me about a project to live stream as many performances as possible which were taking place on a single day, under the banner Friday Afternoons.

The title itself comes from a set of 12 Britten compositions, written for choir in 1935 and the performers in this project were due to range from schools in the Scottish highlands to large symphony orchestras.

My mission was to enable, produce and coordinate live streams of the performances from as many of the participants as possible. Many of the organisations had no digital expertise inhouse, so accessible solutions were the order of the day.

Some of the venues were able to work with simple production equipment and delivered their performances via the Ustream streaming service, while I organised streaming production teams to visit a few key venues. My own SHPLive.TV team delivered the production for the event at Aldeburgh’s Snape Maltings venue.

Guardian Friday AfternoonsIn a publicity coupe for the Aldeburgh team, national news organisation, The Guardian featured the whole series of 10 live streams on their website and gave tremendous profile to our work.

Quality and Limitation

It must indicate something about the project work load of the last 6 months that I haven’t posted since  August. Second phases of a few of my recent projects are on the horizon but there’s been a whole load of activity in between.

The live stream programme that I wrote about in a couple of previous posts has taken off and I’m happy to say that I’m now Programme Manager of this project, dubbed “SHPLive“. Our mission is to develop the “Opportunities to Broadcast” thinking that I’ve been harping on about for years in the culture industry.

We’re beginning to deliver some great live stream projects now, and as part of this it seemed vital to me to begin developing the thinking around content production for digital broadcast within the culture industry. A few weeks before Christmas I held a conference event which we called “Beyond The Stage“. The conference tried to get in right at the idea level of digital broadcast and live streaming to show a few example projects but also give a sense of scale and the exciting new opportunities that are emerging around connected TV and online delivery. One of the watch words for our SHPLive programme is “quality” and myself and my trusty Co-Producer repeat this to each other in moments of need.

Jon Pratty speaking at Beyond The StageAt the end of our event, Arts Council England‘s Relationship Manager for Digital Media and Creative Economies in the South East, Jon Pratty took the floor for a summing up of some of the main strands that had emerged during the day. Jon’s got a great affinity to the Punk DIY spirit, and flagged up a question about what did we mean with our “Quality” mantra ?

It’s always interesting when someone queries a theme that you have taken on but perhaps not precisely defined a contextual meaning for. So it made me think “Yes, well. What DO we mean ?”

In an arena where expressions like “Broadcast quality” are relevant, it’s not that technical interpretation that is a driver in this instance. My own talk at the event made reference to the relative nature of production quality which is flexible depending on the platform of distribution. The relevance of a single shot phone camera video on Facebook is different to a scenario where you use that as a public presentation of your organisation. It’s the new vocabulary of media platforms that we have all developed.

But quality of reproduction is not the essence of what we mean with our watch word. It’s quality that has an awareness of this platform specificity, but is actually applied to the conceptual and logistic detail of the content. Finding time to be thorough with one’s thinking and make the best that you are able regardless of time and budget constraints is what I have in mind. In our case, with the creative ambition of our conference we even had discussion about what kind of sandwiches to lay on during the lunch break to arrive our our most networking-friendly spread.

To get back to a good old Punk Rock example, many of the bands involved in the late 70’s wave and beyond embraced a DIY philosophy of independence that saw them record what is now classic music on whatever recording equipment they had to hand, and that didn’t make them any less compelling or vital tracks. In fact even into the Rave era, Orbital’s warehouse classic “Chime” was transferred from the cassette tape original prior to being released as a 12″.

I think we’re probably coming back to the very heart of things here, which is the content. Skilled thought is required to present it in the most effective manner, but good content will always communicate quality.