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Archive for the ‘digital’ tag

There’s something digital stirring on Teesside #teesconvo

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Just some of the 40 people who made it along to the Cultural Conversation

The first in a new series of Cultural Conversations for what some call the Tees Valley (more on that in a moment) got underway last night.

I think it’s safe to say it was a success considering the organisers had problems persuading people to leave when it was time to close the host venue – mima.

The idea for these mini unconference  sessions for artists and people interested in the arts came from three similar sessions started by Emma Bearman of the Culturevulture blog as a way to connect people and provoke more online activity to support cultural practice/interest in the region.

The format means people self-select the topics or conversations they want to have – the short sessions included a proposed Monkey Festival for Hartlepool and issues such as promotion and how to co-ordinate a bigger presence .

I went along to a conversation hosted by one of the mima curators around how artists can find new funding opportunities or activities in times of reducing budgets. I took some notes from the session here. (The format means I didn’t hear from other sessions so, if you took part in one, please feel free to share what was discussed in the comments area at the bottom of this blog post).

Last night was also a chance to continue some earlier conversations Emma and I have been having with people about blogging, social media and  digital storytelling to reveal the creativity and passion of the area.

We are now drawing up plans for some free bespoke digital skills workshops which we’d like to run in the autumn and would love to hear from anyone interested in coming along to those. Please feel free to email or tweet either of us (@foodiesarah @culturevultures)- or leave a comment on this blog post at the bottom of the page.

A few other topics which deserve a wider airing:

* Publicity: Promotion for exhibitions, festivals and other arts events is a reoccurring issue and I wanted to draw people’s attention to the interactive events map on The Guardian’s Northerner blog which is free and open to all.

* Online presence: The question of what this emerging network should be called and the domain name for its online presence has arisen many times. Issues include whether something with Teesside in the name speaks to Darlington people? Is Tees Valley understood by people outside of administrative organisations? A small group of people started this conversation last week and I’ve created this poll of all the ideas submitted so far – feel free to vote or pass the link onto any interested parties, it could help inform the decision at some point.Click here to take The Cultural Conversation survey

* Online noticeboards: A few people in the group last night expressed interest in having an online noticeboard to be able to share details of projects and to help co-ordinate logistics for things such as haulage and equipment. I can help people get that set up – there’s a whole heap of Howto guides and more information at the n0tice blog here. In addition, if someone’s willing to provide a venue with wi-fi, I’d be more than happy to run a free two hour workshop on setting up and running a noticeboard for projects if there’s demand (it doesn’t have to be arts based).

* Finally, a little inspiration…..We’ve talked a lot in these sessions about the power of blogging and of finding that online voice. I thought people might find it interesting to hear about some of the remarkable sites and blogs we’ve worked with at Talk About Local and if that tempts anyone to get started……there’s online guides and resources here.

See you all at the next one…..Hartlepool here we come!

Written by sarahhartley

July 27th, 2012 at 7:33 am

BBC’s move to Salford: ‘Limitless and long term opportunity’

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The impact the BBC’s move north will have on the region’s existing digital industry is something that hasn’t received much attention to date but an interview with Photolink‘s Craig Johnson giving a refreshingly upbeat view of what’s in store at the MediaCityUk development and calls on the naysayers to think again.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the region, and I’m disappointed in the doom mongers that say our digital talent will all migrate across to the BBC, leaving a staff and skills shortage so significant it’ll keep the region’s creative business owners awake at night.”

He continues: “Ok, so it may throw up some teething problems in the immediate term, but these are far outweighed by the limitless, long term opportunity that the BBC’s move up north presents. Yes, the talent could be able to command more money, and staff retention has the potential become a fierce competition, but business owners can address this now by putting longer-term incentives in place that are linked to the success of the business.”

Read the full interview here.

(Disclosure: Johnson is a former colleague when we worked at ManchesterOnline back in the day).

Written by sarahhartley

April 18th, 2011 at 8:48 am

Northern Quarter to become home of Hyper Island school

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Readers of this blog could well be interested in this move by digital training giants Hyper Island. As I blogged here earlier today, the Swedish organisation is setting up in Lever Street in the new year and offering heavily subsidised places for students of digital media.

Written by sarahhartley

December 6th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Playspace: A day of art and technology, gadgets and gaming

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The Playspace event at The Contact Theatre on Saturday seemed to span everything from dance to data.

Impossible to cover everything that happened there so this is a few notes and thoughts from the part of the day I was involved in – the unconference sessions where I joined a strand about digital storytelling.

I spoke briefly about the challenges for professional story tellers such as journalists in a landscape where everyone can, and does, tell stories using social media. I was followed by the Collette Curry from Manchester Metropolitan University who gave a fascinating talk about her work with artificial intelligence.

AI for storytelling?
Collette has been working with chatbots which use AI to stimulate an intelligent conversation making it possible to explore stories in a new way. Take a look at Inanimate Alice for one example of what’s possible.

The unconference format meant the sessions ran simultaneously so I was unable to catch the others which included my husband Julian Hartley and his colleague Steve Devine who talked about mixing museum culture with networked culture; Prof Keith Brown on 3D printing; Mike Cook on changing everyday objects with electronics and Suhail Khan on whether Seseme Street provided a new model for making and creating work for the arts.

I did catch the end of the talk by Dr Erica Wright from MIRIAD about curating art galleries in Second Life. As someone who gave up on SL a few years ago, it was interesting to see how things have been developing and to hear about plans to make SL available on the web. No more clunky downloads or avatar manipulation could well give the early virtual world a new lease of life…..

The rest of the day involved lots of geekery and amazing gadgets courtesy of MadLab, tons of energy and a heap of ideas. As people post their own summaries of the day, I’ll attempt to round up the links here for a fuller view of the event so please do let me know if you blog about it.

More images from the day at my Flickr stream here.

Update: Inside the M60 blog has written about the event here.

Written by sarahhartley

December 5th, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Media Festival underway with old and new media ‘rubbing up’

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Adrian Slatcher mingles down at the Media Festival

Hipster goaties. Black rimmed spectacles. iPads. The usual signifiers of new media are dotted around the room, but outnumbered by suits and men of a certain age. This year’s Media Festival at the Palace theatre sees an old media model – lots of BBC, lots of corporate sponsors and venture capitalists – but a very new media programme. If in the past “convergence” was a theme it seems that there’s no question about it now. The key themes of today and tomorrow are all about the new media environment. This morning’s main session has the provocative title “The Gameification of Everything” and the main BBC contributions to the next two days are about new models of commissioning and the development of their new iPTV platform “Youview.”

Many of the breakout sessions are focussed on different digital business models. Yet, there’s not obviously a big presence from Manchester new media companies here, as the linkages between the big broadcasters and the more grass roots content companies are still not as strong as they ought to be.

Obviously the driver for this convergence is the BBC’s forthcoming move to Salford – and the almost glacial speed at which the commissioners and the large broadcasters start thinking out of the box. Watching the recent BBC4 drama about the birth of Coronation Street, one was struck by how broadcast TV in the early 60s, particularly the great ITV franchises such as Granada, were creative entrepreneurs. It’s been a long time since TV and radio were innovators in that way – however innovative their TV models were – so its fascinating at a conference such as this to see how new and old media will rub up against each other.

I’m looking forward to a couple of days of exciting conversations – and the programme is certainly a challenging one. Julie Meyer, Chief Executive of Ariadne Capital, has begun the plenary by talking through the changes over the last few years – less money is around, but funders are looking at doing much more with less, with the new business models allow companies to do so. Like all conferences there are some familiar tropes, and I felt nicely reassured that we’ve already had the Clay Shirky reference. New media has its cliches just as much as old media.

Follow on Twitter at #theMF10.

Written by sarahhartley

November 18th, 2010 at 10:14 am

The Day the Arts Gets Digital

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Adrian Slatcher invites you to come and play

Manchester has been a great place to be this year if you’ve an interest in digital arts. We’ve had two brilliant festivals, in FutureEverything and Abandon Normal Devices, and in the traditional surroundings of Manchester Art Gallery Rafael Lozeno Hemmer’s “Recorders” exhibition has wowed audiences.

However, if digital daunts you, or if you’re just looking to learn, experience and participate in using digital technology then Play Space at the Contact Theatre on 4th December is a golden opportunity to get your digits dirty.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been working with Contact Theatre, in my capacity as a Digital Development Officer at MDDA, to help put together a whole day of performances, installations, workshops and experiences – including an unconference strand where anyone can pitch in their own ideas, find out where art and digital collide, and meet new friends and collaborators.

It follows on from the PlayEverything event that took place in May, as part of FutureEverything – and we’re expanding on the programme from that day, and making sure there’s plenty of time during the day for participants to help explore their own interests and ideas.

It’s going to be a fantastic day, and the highlights are too many to mention. But whether you are a dancer, performer, writer, musician, technologist, or just someone who likes to experience new and interesting opportunities, Play Space is going to be much more than a day for “playing”. What we hope is that the day will help people develop their own ideas and start picking up on digital technologies to use in their own work.

I’m organising the Unconference and we’re kicking off with a number of conversations about curation, storytelling, creative technologies and open data – and how they can help the arts get digital.

The day is free, with funding from Manchester City Council and the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement, and offers a unique to chance to end the year with an indoor festival of digital dynamism. Come along with an open mind and you’ll hopefully have a great time.

Registration is online now.

I’m particularly looking forward to the one-to-one of a wearable film, and the opportunity to be part of Albino Mosquito‘s virtual identity installation in Space 2.

Written by sarahhartley

November 12th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

The Future starts at 4.30.

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Adrian Slatcher reports from the future.

Yesterday was the first time I’ve been to Vision and Media’s offices in Salford Quays. Given the often soulless buildings in that part of the city, I was pleasantly surprised how their branding made it unmissable from the tram stop.

Working with FutureEverything yesterday’s Digital and Creative Futures event was another opportunity for a bit of Future-gazing, a “booster shot” for the discussions that took place at the City Debate earlier in the year. Pitched half way between an unconference and a university seminar, the format squeezed a lot into a short space of time. Presentations on the trajectory of computing from the University of Manchester’s Professor Steve Furber, and on public narratives of the future from Scottish writer Gerry Hassan, were suitably broad “think pieces”. Furber reminded us not only of the way processing power has multiplied, but that we are now coming close to physical limits – that require new ways of thinking to overcome. Hassan was responsible for a project called Scotland 2020, and a similar project in Glasgow which offered an opportunity for residents to talk about their future. Women were more optimistic and pro-active, whilst men (particularly in middle age) were nostalgic for a more industrial past. What mostly struck me about Hassan’s piece was the sense that our future narratives are built on continuations of the present – rather than a more fundamental reinvention that our recent economic turmoil might require.

I’m not sure what a mixed audience – mainly, I think, freelancers and small companies – made of a presentation that was essentially challenging a public sector “narrative”. Following an entertaining if odd musical interlude from Bristol lo-fi art-popper Kid Carpet - which livened us up at the end of our working day – we split into a quickfire unconference format. I attended interesting discussions on iPTV, the lack of emotion in video games and the problems of digital archiving; all of which were a little rushed, as we tried to fit in food, drink and networking, and yet still find 15 minutes to chat about the particular subjects. Other sessions on 3D-film making and the Manchester Aggregator, I had to miss on this occasion.

It was a worthwhile event – yet at the end I was left wondering why it had started so late in the afternoon (it began after 4pm) as there was a little too much on the programme to comfortably fit into the late afternoon slot it had been given. As ever, there were interesting conversations happening round the edges, and there seemed to be an interesting mix of people – Manchester’s social media cafe community cheek and jowl with those from the film and broadcast sector. Happening at the same time as the ever popular Northern Digitals event, it’s probably not a surprise that I didn’t see many people from Manchester’s web companies.

Vision and Media, with FutureEverything, put on a worthwhile show, that could perhaps have benefitted from a little more focus, and a slightly longer time slot. After all, it takes a lot for us city types to schlep all the way out to Salford Quays, nice buffet or not.

Written by sarahhartley

July 2nd, 2010 at 11:19 am

How Do Awards 2010 – the winners

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Unfortunate timings might have put the annual north west awards ceremony up against the Leaders’ Debate but, thanks to the wonders of twitter, the ‘ow dos became a second must-have back channel event last night.

Several hundred of the region’s most influential media and creative industries folk attended the awards dinner with around 75 companies shortlisted for the 14 awards.

Congratulations to all those who walked away with awards – the Best Media Website ( and Best Newspaper (Crains Manchester Business and the Westmorland Gazette) particularly caught my eye but the full list of winners can be found here.

Written by sarahhartley

April 30th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Big Chip Awards 2010 shortlist released

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The Big Chip Awards has this morning announced its shortlisted entries – see the full list here.

Some great projects named in there and selected from a record number of entries according to orgnaisers with 257 entriesreceived from 138 companies, freelancers and organisations.

The 2010 awards will take place again at the Palace Hotel Manchester on 10 June.

A couple of other snippets of Manchester digital news from this week in case you’ve missed;

  • Hyperlocal news service for Greater Manchester, InsidetheM60 launched this week. Looks like Nigel and Louise have their hands full of elections at the moment!
  • I was very happy to announce that East Salford Direct have been awarded for their use of video. They were honoured at an award ceremony following the Talk About Local and Guardian Local unconference held in Leeds at the weekend – my full report here.

Written by sarahhartley

April 22nd, 2010 at 11:16 am

Invitations to debate journalism and hyperlocal

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A couple of events coming up which I’m involved in over the next couple of weeks and which I’d like to share with you, and pass on invitations.

* First up, as part of this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival I’ll be joining the Daily Record’s Iain Hepburn (@iainmhepburn), The Guardian’s Martin Belam (@currybet), along side Dundee based gaming expert Brian Baglow (@flackboy) to discuss the varied challenges and opportunities facing journalists in this modern media landscape.In a panel debate (chaired by The Guardian’s Scotland correspondent Severin Carrell ), we’ll discuss some of the trends, tools and technologies which are shaping journalism in the digital age. I believe it’s the first time the festival has incorporated journalism into the programme and it promises to be a lively debate from 4-5pm on Sunday, April 11.
Tickets, £7 / £5 student, are available at, from the booking hotline on 0131 553 0322 or at the box office at the Edinburgh Fringe Shop on the Royal Mile.

* The following weekend, it’s time for the Talk About Local and Guardian Local Unconference. In it’s second year, this day of talking hyperlocal booked out within hours of the tickets being made available. (However, I snuck a few back so if you’re really desperate to get in to the Leeds event, let me know why and I’ll see what I can do on a first come, first served basis). As last year, the agenda for the day will be decided by those attending. I’m looking forward to seeing what issues and concerns are raised at the event….as well as blogging, of course!
Follow the day’s proceedings on Saturday, April 17 using the Twitter hashtag #TAL10

Written by sarahhartley

April 6th, 2010 at 11:24 am