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I started writing something about what happens if I don’t hit the target or what happens if I exceed the target and it just felt all wrong.
The first one particularly felt like:
- introducing some sort of fake jeopardy to induce people to part with cash;
- writing a risk register (*shudder*);
- just a lie really because I know and you know (if you know me well enough) that I only ever do things that I’d do even if it didn’t raise any money at all and that half the fun is making do with what you’ve got instead of throwing money at problems to make them go away.
So it’s going to happen whatever, but I will be able to spend more time on this project if the pot is fatter and less time if it’s slimmer – simples.
So go ahead, make it fatter
The one thing I do want to avoid is having a conversation with someone that goes “Oh what a shame you didn’t come last month, I had a load of old film that I didn’t know what to do with, so I chucked it out.” So I’m going to get on with this thing as quickly as I can with whatever resources I have.
Today I’ve purchased digitalshoebox.org.uk it points to the campaign page for now, tomorrow it will become the real home of the project!
I’m working on a digitised archive for Bromsgrove (last 48 hrs of crowdfunding) first because it’s a space and time that I have some knowledge of, I know the geography, I know some of the people who were there, I have stories of my own to tell.
But as much value as I think is there (and I think there’s loads) I’m just as interested in this as a learning project that can be replicated in other places. One of the attractions of Bromsgrove is that there’s very little notable about it. Until you start to dig… It’s nowhere special (for that value of special that we’ve developed during the last 100 years) but everywhere is special, everywhere has interesting stories to tell, it’s just more obvious to me what they are for this case.
So what about applying it in more conventionally “interesting” places? One of the most idea-sparking conversations I’ve had about possible next steps (always remembering that we haven’t done the first one yet!) came up yesterday at #altukgc13. I was talking about the importance of standing up for our own home-made media to tell a fuller story than mass media can and Mary McKenna pointed out that while the BBC has loads of archive material about Northern Ireland in the 1970s it’s completely dominated by stuff about the Troubles. And this might be a really neat way of telling more rounded stories about life beyond the ethno-political struggles and violence.
Oh yes. I like that a lot. We’ll do that.
Another important idea in this project is looking at how popular culture really played out from the point of view of ordinary people, rather than from those making mass media. I’ve come to believe that we need to start telling our own stories in our own ways about our own lives, rather than relying on the established media to rehash itself.
I’m thinking mostly of television programmes that purport to tell us what life was like in the Seventies by stringing together clips of television programmes made in the Seventies.
There are two problems with this approach:
1. That by condensing material made for a mass medium all you’re doing is reinforcing an already partial view of society and what we were like.
2. That it is subject to censorship for reasons of political sensitivity (no more TOTP if it contains footage of Jimmy Savile) or the complexity of gaining licensing rights.
3. We all, legitimately, have our own view of what happened in the past and none of us know the whole truth.
My belief is that television was no more representative of what was really happening then than it is now. Except now we can make and share our own media cheaply and easily and then it was hard and expensive.
I’m not just interested in collecting and sharing this material because of the nostalgic fuzz, as delightful as that can be.
This project is also about allowing us to say: “This is how we were, we had a life and a point of view that was influenced by dominant pop cultures and media but was also something we made ourselves.”