No ukgc13 tomorrow? Let’s still do something #altUKGC13

So UK GovCamp 13 isn’t going to happen tomorrow.  It’s definitely a *postponement* rather than a cancellation: as well as people finding it difficult to travel from outside London and risking getting stranded till the weather subsides, it seems our venue hosts understandably didn’t want to take that risk for their staff either.

I spoke to Steph from behind his stacks of sponsored t-shirt boxes today and he’s basically just having to rearrange with IBM when we can use the space for sometime in February.

But I was looking forward to it.  And I know a lot of you were too.

James Cattell is doing great stuff trying to get online interaction going and he’s going to focus on that.  But the thing I was most looking forward to was not so much the content as the catching up with people in the gov/web world.  And as my hosting duties for the day were already sponsored, I’m up for helping make something happen in addition to the online shenanigans.

So I suggest the following for anyone who’s in or around London and can get into town easily enough:

James and I will be on Level 5 of the Royal Festival Hall (next door-ish) to the original venue from 10am (that’s when they open) tomorrow, Saturday 19th January.

You can let us know if you’re coming by signing up on this wewillgather page

Whoever turns up will be able to get involved in organising the rest of the day, we can have as many sessions as we can make happen, we might all sit behind laptops communing online, or we might have a day-long tuttle-like conversation that people drop in and out of. Whatever!

Keep an eye on the hashtag #altUKGC13 to see how it’s going, whether we’re still there.

There is delicious coffee and sugar-infused dough things available for purchase on Level 2 of RFH and there is free wifi available throughout (although finding power sockets can be trickier)

Naturally, please don’t make a special journey to see us if the powers that be have told you not to go out unless your journey is essential.

I invariably over simplify everything so do ask questions either in the comments here or of me directly on twitter @lloyddavis

See ya!

 

 

[bds] It’s about us not about them

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.”

Go on, chuck something in the pot.

[bds] It’s a long-tail thing

The reason for stuff staying in the shoebox is often “Who would want to see this?”  This is partly because we’re used to the idea that in order for something to be made publicly available, a lot of people need to want to see it.  The reason that used to be the case is that it cost something to reproduce and distribute media.  That cost has now fallen to practically zero, but our thinking hasn’t quite caught up with that fact.

The work I want to do on this project is not about finding a small number of images or films that will engage thousands of people.  It’s about finding thousands of images, each of which might engage a small number of people.

I spoke to Bill Thompson about this, he’s a big cheese in the working out of what to do with the BBC’s huge amount of archive material. He pointed out that most items are going to have little or no value to the majority of people, but for the *right* people, they will be priceless.

Suppose I show you a picture of a party twenty-odd years ago, you vaguely recognise some of the people in the foreground  but slowly you realise that the slightly blurred couple on the left are you and the love of your life and what’s captured there is the first few moments you ever saw each other.   Now to anyone else, it’s just a picture of some slightly drunk people with a rather strange taste in fashion, but to you and your beloved? It’s *that* moment!

Of course, not every photograph holds images of people who’ve since spent their lives together, but I believe that that sort of value is more common than we usually think.  And it’s the kind of effect I hope to find in this work, the  sort of value I hope to create for people who see the archive.

Help me make this

[bds] People, places and things. Oh and time.

[This post is about the Bromsgrove Digital Shoebox project – bds]

I’m thinking about the scope of media/content/stuff.  It’s a balancing act, working out where to draw the lines – what should be included, what should be outside the remit of the project.

It doesn’t actually matter that these lines are arbitrary and flexible, but at this stage, when the main focus is on explaining what I’m doing, in order to help people decide whether to fund more work, it helps if it’s clear enough for them to quickly understand the basics.  On the other hand, I don’t want to dictate this too tightly, too early, I want your input.

So what’s in?

  • I’ve talked about photos, film and audio; scans of documents might be interesting if they’re not available elsewhere.
  • I’ve set the timeframe to be the 1970s and by that I suppose I meant 1970-1979 inclusive.  I’m not deeply attached to this, and I wouldn’t want to exclude interesting material from say 1981.  I think it’s something that can become firmer when we really know what is out there.
  • The media should have been produced in Bromsgrove or include people who lived in Bromsgrove at the time (let’s not exclude those pics of school trips to France!).  If it’s in Bromsgrove, then the media might not include people, it might just be places, buildings, roads, railways etc. I think using the boundary of Bromsgrove District Council is appropriate.
  • I’m also most interested in media made by “ordinary people” rather than press or TV coverage (if only to avoid rights conversations with a bureaucracy) but I wouldn’t want to exclude them altogether.

Any thoughts on other dimensions to the scope?

You can contribute to keep this project moving. Every donation helps, thanks :)

New Year, New #Tuttle

tuttle club at the coach and horses, sohoIt’s back, even though it never really went away! Five years ago, a few of us were pushing around the idea of y’know getting people together on a regular basis who otherwise were hanging out in cyber-social-media-space. There were some experiments in late 2007 & early 2008 but The first regular prototype of the London Social Media Cafe at the Coach & Horses was on February 15th 2008 and before long it was known as the Tuttle Club (#tuttle on teh twitter) and it’s happened every Friday apart from Christmastime shenanigans ever since.

Going to #tuttle has been blamed for anything from hair loss, hair gain, meeting future work colleagues, meeting future partners, meeting future ex-partners, meeting users of your software, meeting heroic developers of software you love, but mostly having an excitable natter about internet’n’media’n’learning’n’stuff during work hours, drinking far too much coffee and tweeting about what a fab time you’re having.

#Tuttle has had many homes in the last five years and now it’s moving again. I’m going to pitch up on the 5th Floor at the Royal Festival Hall, from 10am to midday, this Friday, January 4th 2013 and drink coffee and chat with whomever turns up. As always the rule is that if two or more (yes, including me!) are there, then the event is a success, if any more of you come along, it’ll be just dandy! Just remember that you can get coffee on Level 2 (riverside) before you make the long slog up the stairs or in the lift.

Assuming that it works out (what could possibly go wrong?) we’ll carry on doing it here until we get bored again.

OK? See you Friday.

(photo credit: Josh Russell CC BY-NC-SA)