Who’s next for a Social Artist?

#c4cc buzzingI’ve been Social Artist in Residence at the University of London’s Centre for Creative Collaboration for four months now. I love it. It’s great to have somewhere to focus my practice around – not just so that I have somewhere to park myself to work, but to contribute to a mission while doing my stuff.

I set out here to make new connections between the centre and the various communities that I have a presence in; to create synergy between the work of the centre and other projects I work on; and to encourage others to join in by writing about what I’ve done and speaking about it widely.

It’s been more successful than I’d anticipated (I know, for example, that the majority of people who’ve come through the doors of the centre have done so because of my efforts), which is great, particularly given that this is a startup environment which doesn’t officially launch until later this month. We haven’t talked yet about what happens to my place here after the initial six month agreement, though I’m hoping to stay involved in some capacity.

I’m now looking for another residency to complement it. I’m interested this time in finding something that’s different. I’d like to try what I’m doing in a differently challenging environment, one where there’s an established status quo – somewhere regimented, hierarchical and silo-bound. An organisation that’s struggling to make sense of or come to terms with a shift in their market or operational environment. In short somewhere where I have something to push against.

Any ideas?

Most Interesting…

120920091927I set this up this morning – Most Interesting

It’s a group posterous blog collecting the “most interesting” pictures that people have posted to Flickr. For those not in the know, Flickr has a measure of interestingness and I’ve been fascinated to watch how “interesting” some of my pictures are measured to be by this algorithm.

I was wondering how you might collate the most interesting pix from a group of people and get them to reflect on what comes up. Thankfully posterous.com has been developing faster and faster of late and I was able to set up a site in a few minutes to capture this. Now that it allows posting by anyone (with pre-publication moderation) and has static pages, it’s really easy to set something up for whatever it is that we now call user-generated content.

There are instructions here for how to submit something. Basically you just send a specially formatted e-mail. Kyle McRae (who knows a thing or two himself about curating UGC!) was the first to contribute, even before I thought I’d publicised it at all. But have a go. Of course you may not have a flickr account or you might not have very many pictures there – a very good reason to get one and start adding to it!

I’ve also added a Facebook page that it will be autoposted to for those of you who like to see stuff within that particular walled garden.

Let’s see how it goes.

[UPDATE] Anjali points out that it’s a similar idea to pixtories Yes – I think it’s nice though to have people’s thoughts on things that they own, but which have been picked out for them, rather than things that they think are interesting themselves.

Transmedia storytelling, new journalism & digital curation

tuttle2texasI’ve become more aware of a few things recently while thinking about getting these “social art” projects off the ground.

Firstly I’ve started to track the term “transmedia” on twitter and seen an awful lot of related and interesting stuff. There’s lots of excitement in the film, TV & videogame worlds about this. Advertising too. Exploring the value in the creation of fictional universes that can be expressed or explored in a variety of media, moving beyond the idea of this stuff as merchandise or spin-off material and seeing it as a part of the creative process. At least that’s my reading of where things are going. So instead of making the “game of the movie of the book” etc. ie taking an existing property and extending into another medium, they are planning stories that are told in a variety of ways for a variety of audiences, including those created by fans, the people formerly known as the audience.

Secondly, I’ve seen that Dave Winer is getting into his stride at NYU and “organising” a hypercamp this week on “Sources Go Direct” sadly it’s not on at a good time for me to watch & participate live, but it’s being ustreamed and presumably that will be archived along with everything else. The bit of Dave’s thinking that I’m most drawn to here is what he’s been saying for a while about opening up journalists’ processes and notebooks – “open sourcing” their stories and articles so that others might see what stories they might make out of the same material.

Then over the weekend, JP has written two important posts about digital curation. The second of which in particular deals with curation in the age of unbundling. What I’m talking about is unbundling in the sense that a book, film, photo exhibition, whatever is a bundle (with all sorts of preconceptions about how they are produced and distributed) and we’re not predefining which bundle we might choose to create when setting out to explore an idea.

My interest is more in the “real” world than in fictional universes. They’re amazing and fascinating and are giving us endearing and engagingly fresh cultural artefacts that help us understand ourselves better and yet, I’m left thinking “why not explore our own universe?” I’m also drawn more to the more reflective forms that we used to call features, factual and documentaries rather than the current affairs end of journalism.

That, I think is what #tuttle2texas was a prototype for – a series of explorations of spaces or ideas, a series of true (whatever that means) stories that help us understand ourselves better, expressed in a variety of media, open-sourced and unbundled for curation, remix, re-use whatever you want.

Designing a better field trip

So the Social Art Field Trip idea has been very well received. Everybody I’ve spoken to thinks it’s a great idea: “love the concept”, “sounds really cool” etc. Thank you!

However, despite the outpouring of encouragement and support, nobody’s actually booked a place yet. So the first one, planned for tomorrow, isn’t going ahead. I’d like to work out what I need to do differently to get the “cool concept” really working – the positive side of this is that I get to ask and find out what works rather than it just “working” and me not learning anything about why :)

So here are the variables I can think of that we can tweak to make it more appealing or practical:

Timing: They are 10-4 on Thursdays. Is there a better time of day? Is there a better day? This is always the obvious thing with events “Oh I’d have loved to have come but Xday is my day for doing Y, sorry” “If you did it on Zday I could come” but it can send you round in circles trying to please everyone. I still have people telling me that Tuttle would be “much more successful” if we didn’t do it on Friday mornings when they can’t come. So think about this as “If I were to be doing it every day, which day would you like to come” and “Should it start earlier or later?”

Length: is 6 hours too long? or not long enough?

Content: Do I need to specify more clearly what we’re going to do or was it too vague? I’m assuming from the positive feedback that the content is OK but thought I’d check. Is there anything I can do to make it more appealing?

Sales & Marketing: I blogged about it 3 weeks before the first one, tweeted several times (I have about 3k followers) and sent out invitations by e-mail and twitter DM to around 200 people (mostly asking that they pass it on or suggest it to other people). I also posted it on chinwag.com, done my usual thing of talking about it wherever I go and announcing it at Tuttle. Is this just way too little? Do I need to allow myself to be more spammy?

I made the assumption that most people in my immediate network, those who already understand something of my work would not be the market for this. Is that right? My approach then was to ask those people to put it in front of people that they thought would be interested or find it useful. Is there an obvious flaw in this? How could I have done it more effectively?

Price: is £75+VAT for a day too much… or too little?

Something else: Umm… I dunno, is there something in my blind spot? Something obvious to everyone else but not visible to me because of where I’m sitting?

All thoughts very welcome (preferably publicly here in the comments so we can all learn, but by e-mail if you want to be private)

What do we need managers to do better?

IMG_9266I spoke at Social Media for Business ’10 the other week and in the panel session afterwards we were asked what we thought social media in the enterprise meant for leadership and management. Big question. I flannelled off some stuff about leadership through service, that the leader needs to encourage and facilitate what’s already going on rather than decide what needs to happen and then make others do it.

(Oh man, I wish I could take my own advice sometimes…)

It ties in with some of the work that’s been stuck up on the wall at #c4cc for a while – a bunch of statements of value that Frankie noted down when I was speaking about Tuttle2Texas at TEDxTuttle. They summarise the value an organisation might get from interacting with “us” whoever we are – tuttle, tuttle consulting, me & Brian & Heather, just me? That’s all for another post.

But when I’d finished writing them out it seemed to me that there was something else to it. These things are only valuable if you have a particular mindset about the people you work with. So I wrote the following things on the end, intended to summarise our assumptions about the sorts of organisations we can deliver value to. If someone is going to buy from “us” they probably will share these assumptions – that managers or leaders need to:

  • be more comfortable with their own creativity;
  • let go of the myth of control;
  • work more effectively in groups;
  • report on what they’re doing in an engaging way;
  • be more responsive to changes in a market or organisational environment;
  • lead people in audacious acts of innovation;
  • better understand the cultural implications of what they do.

so, each of those probably needs a blog post of their own but I think that if you’re looking for ways to get the people around you to do some of the things on this list and you’re struggling then you should come and have a chat about how we can help.