I don’t like it. I don’t like writing about blogging, but sometimes it needs to be done to be cleared out of the way. If I write on paper about writing on paper that seems OK because it’s only here on my table and it might just go in the bin or in that file of many ideas not quite finished enough.
I’m angry about it. I’m angry about the way we, me too, I have let it slip away, have let others take the form and make it more like what they wanted to do in the first place. And then decided that I needed to fit in with that. We’ve made our newspapers into gigantic blog-like content machines, but none of them have much of the spirit of the people who write them, they’re just self-serving self-obsessed web-borgs.
A real person is in here, behind this screen, behind these words you’re reading. With all the ups and downs and back and forth and painfully, oh jesus, p-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y slow learning about life and how to do it and who I might be and how not to be who I’m not.
But even I’ve forgotten that and started to believe that what I write here needs to be a certain way, needs to deliver “my message” to “my audience”, get more hits, trigger more likes, avoid feelings, avoid criticism. It doesn’t. And it seems I need reminding of that every now and then. Maybe you do too.
All right, thanks for listening, go back to what you were doing.
I heard recently about a director having the nasty experience of inviting a journalist into rehearsals and then having an unhelpful (I haven’t read it, it’s paywalled) preview article published just before the show opens.
Reading about it sent me back to look at what I wrote nearly eleven years ago (!) about using blogging in theatre. I was surprised to see what emphasis I put on buzz and PR (that was how the original question had been framed). And it’s that angle that all the marketing people picked up. I went to see John Berry at ENO because (see the comments on the post) they were doing something like this a couple of years later. And a year after this first post, I did a little site about the opening of Avenue Q. It had to be done, and I’m glad I did it, but I don’t read any of the West End theatre blogs or the mainstream journalism that has taken on our blogging form but sticks to traditional writing styles of reporting and criticism.
But I was thinking about more than marketing.
What I was thinking was of a kind of collaborative production journal, where everyone contributes… think “The Making of…” fly-on-the-wall documentary style, only on the web, and released in chunks as they happen, day by day rather than being stitched together after the show has closed.
I think this points to something much more interesting to do – about using these tools as part of the production, as part of the artistic process, to log progress and reflect on thinking and how things are emerging, for the benefit of the team themselves much more than prospective audience members and to create something bigger and longer-lasting and more networked than traditional documentation or archiving. It’s “sources going direct”, cutting out the dependence on news organisations (and their sodding paywalls) and making our own media.
Damn, I thought I’d written about this already, but I can’t see it.
I’m really pleased and grateful to have been asked to be an official blogger again at Le Web this year. I’m very much looking forward to spending some time in Paris and to meeting up with the unique mix of European and US people who gather there.
If you’re thinking about coming and haven’t made up your mind yet, you can book here.
This year, I’m more explicitly interested in Creative Collaboration and Social Art. I’m going to be looking at what kinds of collaboration this sort of mega conference actually encourages and I’ll be talking to as many people as possible about what they think of the concept of social art.
I doubt that I’ll be live-blogging sessions, but I’ll be at least doing a round up of interesting things I’ve seen. Of course, twitter will be buzzing and I’ll be taking as many pics as I can. Last year I had a Canon 7d on loan – it was lovely. Anyone want to supply me with something this year in return for much shameless pimping?
I’ll also be trying to understand from my fellow official bloggers how their online lives are maturing. There are a few of us who’ve been playing and working in this space for a long time now. What’s changed? What’s still fundamentally the same? Is there anything new happening or are we all getting a bit stale?
Oh and I might get to a party or two
I 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.
I caught up with Steve Bowbrick at the BBC a few weeks ago to have a chat about something I’d seen him doing on a site called Common Platform – describing himself as “blogger in residence” at the BBC looking at the theme of openness in that august institution.
It’s over now, and Steve’s moved on to run the BBC Radio 4 blog but it’s fascinating for to hear the who, the how, the why and the what the jiminy he was up to.
Needless to say, if you work for the type of institution we were chatting about here and you fancy a blogger in residence to explore a theme for your organisation, we can discuss terms. You know where I am
Podcast: Steve Bowbrick on Openness at the BBC
Download MP3 (25MB)
Todd was one of my fellow bloggers with G20 Voice. He’s a passionate Canadian nominated to be in London for climatecafe.org and he explains here just why it was so important that a bunch of bloggers were given accreditation to come along to the summit.
I only found out during the day that Todd is also a fellow seesmic-er. If I’d known and thought about it beforehand perhaps we could have done something together to get people talking on seesmic. I’m writing a post about the lessons we learned – one of them is how to get the bloggers to know each other better and ready to work together better before going into the event. It’s hard.
The video may need some fiddling with – I’ve not been used to using such a flash camera of late and the HD from the Canon HG10 I was loaned might still need compressing down a bit.
I’m very grateful to be asked to report from the London Summit on Thursday as part of the G20Voice team. I’m one of 50 international bloggers invited to take part. As usual with events involving high profile government figures, the details of what will happen, when and where are still sketchy but basically we have the same accreditation as mainstream journalists.
So what will we be doing? Well there’s a briefing day on Wednesday when we’ll be getting to know each other better. I think the main value we can add as bloggers is that we can work together, riff off each other, help each other to fact-check and amplify each other’s posts.
There’s a limit to how much value there is in live blogging & tweeting everything that happens. You can only get so immediate. Beating everyone else by a matter of seconds isn’t going to be much use. We’re also not clear the level of internet access we’ll have either through the mobile networks or wifi so although I should be able in theory to qik and audioboo (thanks to bestbeforetv who are loaning me an iphone for the summit) I won’t know until the day the extent to which I’ll be able to do that in real-time and interact with people on the outside quickly and easily.
I’ll have my laptop, N95, iPhone, Edirol for audio, Flip for video.
But there will likely also be lots of people writing about the same stuff. Any press, TV and radio people are likely to be going for the same stories, although perhaps with slightly different angles. So the challenge is to find the stories that are interesting but not likely to be reported elsewhere. I shall also be looking at the events from the perspective of “leadership 2.0” – are there any signs that the attitudes of these leaders has changed, to what extent are they really talking about issues from the viewpoint of ordinary people?
Anything else you’d like to see me doing? (oi! keep it clean.)