Last week I attended the first of four Digital Transformation events. This event focused on Production and Creativity. Digital transformations mean that cultural and media organisations now find themselves in a new environment in which communities of participants interact to create, curate, organise and support cultural experiences.
It was really interesting to see the mixture of people speaking and attending this workshop. The audience ranged from Media practitioners, cultural heritage professionals, artists and academic researchers and this of course produced some surprising discussions about digital participation. And in my mind not all of those discussions were positive. One of the things that hit me during the day and the break out discussions was the term digital. Does digital just mean online? Lots of discussion during the day was about online elements rather than mobile and situated digital tech. Despite mobile becoming more pervasive in daily life, it doesn’t seem to have continued over into the critical conversations being held in the workshop.
This workshop considered three key things:
- How can the creativity of interested communities be unlocked for maximum benefit?
- To what extent can the creativity of enthusiasts be channelled and organised to achieve specific goals?
- What is the role of the professional producer as they find themselves in a community of enthusiast producers, fans, and other practitioners?
Here my notes from the day. The might not make too much sense; I’ve padded bits out here and there. It might be worth looking at the tweets from the day which are in a handy document here.
David Gauntlett kicked us off by discussing the usefulness of the metaphor of platform in transformation of ‘audience’. With a lot of Lego model metaphors. Brilliant stuff. David used the example of Tate Beta, and how cultural online presence has evolved from an online brochure to a channel to a platform.
1. Embrace because we want to.
2. Set no limits on participating
3. Celebrate participates
4. Support storytelling
5. Some gifts – exchange stuff.
6. Let them show off
7. Reinvent learning on/offline.
8. Foster genuine communities
Two key points for me came out of David’s talk. Firstly the idea of Celebrate participants, not the platform
This is something I really try to hit home in my user centred design and user evaluation work. It doesn’t matter how fantastic the technology is, it’s the opportunity and the input by the public, users, community that makes any digital project interesting.
Secondly a point made by Jim Richardson on twitter in response to the 8th principle. Jim tweeted;
“Most online communities aren’t really communities… #digitaltrans”
Begging the question are online communities actually communities? How do they form? Can online communities be classed as a community of practice? If not why not? Should we be placing physical terms and characteristics in an online world? Lots to think about on that one.