Monday, December 31, 2007

New year again

Another busy year awaits me. Already stacks of deadlines loom for various papers and conferences. Part of research being dissemination I can't shy away from these but there never seems to be quite enough time especially as I am about to start teaching significantly more than before. This is all good though - as a researcher I always wanted to feel like my research in some small way might eventually make its way into curriculum and perhaps this year there will be scope for this.

Looking back at my previous two years resolutions some things remain the same:

New Year 05/06

New Year 06/07

1. My PhD is well underway. It is a huge undertaking and is always with me unfortunately I never feel I have enough time to devote to it. My new years resolution in relation to this one is to either get some funding to buy out some of my time and get on with it (I need to think outside the proverbial box on this one) alternatively I need to get into the habit of getting up at 5 a.m (2 hrs before my daughter) and do that everyday. I find the evenings after 9p.m I am just too tired - still enough of this bleating.

2. Networking has gone pretty well this year. My field is expanding. I now keep coming across more and more people who are researching or at least interested in my areas:

a. Gender and entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries
b. Enterprise and entrepreneurship curriculum in/for creative disciplines

Next year (2008) sees the 2nd of the Creative Enterprise conferences here in Birmingham (I'll blog about this in more detail shortly).

3. Blogging - I've done much better in 2007 than 2006 in terms of quantity of postings although had a few wobbles over quality and relevance. For 2008 I guess this blog will continue to evolve. Recently it seems to have turned more into a listings of various conferences and speaking opportunities - I need to have a think about this - interesting or not. To accompany the blog is a Facebook group (which is also under review - (in the way that these things are in a permanent state of review) and earlier this year I began a personal blog where I felt the need to rant about something off topic - here I will shortly be describing my New years plans to reduce my CO2 emissions (ignoring slightly my February trip to NZ).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Challenging gender stereo- types in the work place

Tomorrow I am presenting at the 'Social footprints' symposium at the ICC in Birmingham - this is a free event for Businesses, academics and policy makers to gather and report on various research relating to corporate social responsibility, work/life balance and various other related topics. I am doing a turn:

Challenging Gender Stereotypes in the Workplace; what the soft indicators tell us?

This will be reporting on some research I have carried out over the last couple of years on behalf of the Agender project. Here I have been immersed in the project, from chairing an EU working group looking at 'Women into non-traditional employment' to being part of the UK, specifically Birmingham based, working groups looking at: how we might better support women into some of these roles and as a researcher interviewing the participants throughout the lifetime of the project to capture the: 'soft indicators of distance travelled'. Some of this work has involved a film school, some has looked at construction and sports coaching. Each have their individual characteristics in terms of barriers and opportunities. Interestingly, for me, is that the creative sectors are not so different in terms of their limitations in terms of accessibility and inclusivity.

If I get a chance I'll expand on this in a future post, with a possible glossary of terms for those not fluent is EU speak.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"We're all going to hell in a hand cart"

Today I attended the 'Cultural industries and Climate Change in the West Midlands' event organised by Culture WM.

The scene: 2p.m, The Electric Cinema. Nothing happening, sitting in darkened cinema, other people milling around but no obvious start. 2.30p.m People arrive, sit down at panel arrangement on the stage. So far so strange. But then it started ( I didn't ever manage to get a programme - figured printing it off would just not be right).

Firstly the guy from the Stirrer (again no program no name - I mean he said it once but I didn't hear - so apologies) who introduced the thing and set the tone with: "Not about how climate change will effect cultural sector, more how can the cultural sector effect climate change".

Next he introduced the panel (of four) who each gave a brief talk, the fourth Professor John Thorne from University of Birmingham (I'll look for the URL ) gave a presentation based on his discussion paper. This was followed by questions and some discussion and it was all done by ten to four.

So the headlines for me:

Richard Davis, Director of Marches energy agency started off by suggesting:
"We're on our way to hell in a hand cart". But considered that there were reasons to be hopeful and went on to describe various positive aspects of how companies and countries are responding to Climate change. He suggested that the cultural sector needs to help wean the public off of their addiction and national past time of consumption and shopping.

A lady from the DCMS called Patricia (again issue with programme) spoke about how their main activity now had sustainable development at its heart. She also spoke about some research they had commissioned into what existing research had been carried out. Looking at the effect of climate change on the cultural industries. She also said they'd have some practical case studies of how other cultural orgs had adapted to climate change. She also spoke about how the West Midlands were doing okay and that it was coming from grass roots rather than government.

Next a lady from the National Trust spoke of how buildings were being wrecked by flooding. She suggested that the heritage sector were 'the canaries in the coal mine' as they are having to deal with the effects of climate change everyday. She was the first to mention the idea of a 'Green audit' something it became clear that we should all do.

After a short and funny little film about climate change, Prof Thorne (from the Climate and Atmospheric Research group UOB) gave his key note.

We are in, what he described as, enhanced global warming, experiencing changes at a decadal pace (as opposed to thousands of years previously). Encouragingly countries have been pulling together in the last 12 months. Scientists are now looking to other sectors to get people to change habits. Currently we each generate 10-11 tonnes of CO2 we need to reduce this to 3 tonnes, as our climate gets hotter we'll need to use less water, ultimately we all need to change our behaviour.

Bearing in mind some stuff around Birmingham's master plans I thought this was particularly poignant:

'We need innovation, we need to use our intellect "the green revolution to start here as did the industrial revolution, we need to put the WM at the forefront of this revolution'.

He spoke about how the Cultural industries can help:

-They can help with communicating the issues (e.g. Al Gore film)
-They can pledge to make changes
-They can innovate and be enterprising
-he also spoke about cultural climatology but I didn't quite get that
- He suggested a season of events - cultural events highlighting issues of climate change
- Practical education and training
- Websites
- Price reductions on tickets to theatre, cinema etc for those who cycle, walk or use public transport
-Climate change heritage walks

Following this questions from the audience and some examples of folks building carbon neutral art galleries etc. there were also questions around who funds the innovation?

Anyway this is a very brief round up of some of the points addressed at this event - I have yet to absorb or consider what all this means. Certainly climate change is a huge anxiety, however I felt that the speakers set out some inspirational means that we might all engage in doing something about mitigation and/or adaption.

There are mighty challenges ahead of us all (most of which are only touched upon here) but by the same token there are opportunities to reinvent how we live, do business, curate our exhibitions, play the music we play, light and heat the venues and theatres we use and ultimately lead the way through out practice. There were discussions around green procurement strategies and other funding ideas, but I guess for me I was thinking about how to we teach our students to have this embedded in their thinking? How do SME's and creative entrepreneurs respond and lead on this? How will they need to adapt their practice? and how as a community can we all get each other moving on this stuff?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Creative industries - theory and practice

Today I have been at the University of Birmingham's Business School. I was attending a seminar Creativity and the Creative Value Chain. Anyway turns out it was an extremely interesting day with lots of food for thought with speakers from across the UK. Some highlights for me:

Defining the creative industries - this is a troublesome area - and some in-depth critique on the issues of, for example, lumping a bunch of 'sub-secotors together were discussed. This is something I've written about previously. There was some quite serious suggestions that the reasons for the particular UK definitions and inclusion of some sub-secotors, over others, might be a little more cynical than one might hope.

Some interesting work testing out Richard Florida's theories of what makes a creative city - an interesting UK map with creativity levels illustrated in increasingly darker shades of blue: Birmingham quite dark blue, Solihull quite dark, Sandwell positively anaemic.

I was joined by several colleagues from my university, some of whom were speaking in the second half of the day (I was not on this occasion). I was struck , pleasantly, by what I realise is a bit of a characteristic of my own place of work. You see what was evident is that we are pretty industry facing - the three presentations by colleagues were all about how they and the respective projects they represent engage with, support and work in collaboration with the local and regional creative industries sector. It was great to hear this practical stuff to put all the earlier theoretical stuff into context. Very interesting.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Female entrepreneurship conference tomorrow

Tomorrow I will be heading over to Birmingham Chamber of Commerce to present. I am one of several speakers and the main thrust of the event is to celebrate the work carried out on and ESF EQUAL project. This is the info I have on it:

Making Women's Enterprise More Equal

An event to celebrate the success of

EQUAL Women into Business work in the Midlands

A mainstreaming and networking opportunity

designed to share and connect best practice

Dear Colleague,

I would like to invite you to the Making Women's Enterprise More Equal event.

When : Monday 19th November 2007 12 noon – 3 pm

Where : `The Hospitality Suite, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

75 Harborne Road, Birmingham, B15 3DH

What :

- Key Note Speakers, including Lorely Burt, MP and Jill Parker, Enterprise Brokerage Director, Business Link West Midlands

- Presentations of products and outcomes generated by EQUAL projects in the region

- Showcases

- Demonstrations and Stalls

- Networking Buffet Lunch

I believe this is a free event - any interested parties can email me and I'll forward to the organiser. I'll be presenting the stuff have done recently around ' Gender and entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries'.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A little feedback

Back from Glasgow, having had a full-on time. Both my presentations went pretty well, it was standing room only in the women's track on Wednesday afternoon - but I guess it helps presenting in the first session. I got some interesting questions and feedback and met a couple of interesting others working in similar areas. Following the welcoming reception, much wine and not quite enough sleep, I got up on Thursday morning to deliver my second paper. Another good audience of some 60-odd people - this was in the enterprise education track and an increasingly intimidating audience (the more often I go to this conference the more I realise how high ranking and influential some of the other delegates are - in the world of enterprise, small business policy and academia that is). Still it was a good opportunity for me to talk about some of my ideas, thoughts and research around contextual enterprise education - more on this soon as a paper which relates this to the Creative inds should emerge in the public-ish domain in the not too distant future (fingers crossed).

I guess I should also take this opportunity to thank my co-authors who are all helping me to become a better and more thoughtful writer and whose ideas help make these papers, I think, pretty interesting reading. When I get the chance I'll try to feedback some more around what the great and the good feel we should be doing for entrepreneurs and small businesses here in the UK and what the threats and challenges etc might be. Incidentally do email if I can furnish you with any of my stuff.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Off to Glasgow

I am currently putting together a bunch of slides for a conference I am attending over the next few days in Glasgow. The ISBE (Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship)conference is annual and in its 30th year. It attracts approx 600 delegates to come and listen to what's happening in terms of research, education and policy relating to entrepreneurship, enterprise and small business stuff. I am again presneting two papers this year - click the titles to go to the abstract and see what I've been up to:

Supporting enterprise educators; how to promote enterprise in new areas ®

Gender and entrepreneurship in the creative industries; what the literature tells us ®

This conference is extremely full-on with 9 thematic tracks running concurrently. Over the past four years, since I have been attending I have noticed the increase of attention to the creative industries at this conference - I'll report back on how it went and what sort of feedback I recieved - for now I'm back to the powerpoint - so annoying that I can't use Keynote for it!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blog doubt and lack of focus

I've been reading a lot of other peoples blogs lately and becoming more inclined to comment on what they've got to say. This has led me to reflect on this blog which has been ticking a long for the last couple of years with occasional spurts of activity and then longer periods of inactivity. I've been beginning to think what's it all for? Who exactly am I writing this for? who benefits and is any of it of any interest or value to me or to anyone else? Perhaps the fact that I am questioning this in the first place is a sign.

So this posting is based on that reflection and for me to consider and re-state (for my own benefit) the purpose and scope of this blog. I think originally it was to accompany my research, get some comments and feedback from other folks working in the field. I guess also to help me reflect on all the stuff I 'take in' through reading, interviewing people and generally absorbing through my work and life. The benefit to me is that it is a non-academic environment to write freely.

Perhaps I am in a state of flux? I am a little unfocussed, I work on a number of research projects, usually related to gender or enterprise or the creative industries and if I am lucky they collide and in so doing have relevance to my PhD stuff. When reflecting with colleagues about another project (wellbeing and work/life balance stuff) I realised that my own work/life balance is shot. Ah you see - I am way off topic! Or perhaps there is a link here. The point really is that I am currently so overwhelmed with all the various projects I am working on that I am struggling to focus on the big one. This blog was intended to help me focus on my personal research and right now it is not working. So what to do? Give up? (Anyone who knows me knows I am pretty crummy at giving things up - although a blog is hardly a vice - unless I suppose if it is coming from some sort of narcissistic position - will have to ask psychologist friends).

One of the benefits of this blog is that it has introduced me to a bunch of people and opportunities I wouldn’t have had previously, and which relate to my research. On that basis it would be worth continuing. It has also offered me the opportunity to try out some ideas or describe them at least. However whether I have anything interesting/of value to say right now is an issue. I am interested - why do other people blog? What do they get out of it? How often do you doubt your blogs purpose? And why do we need to share? i.e. why am I going to click the publish button right about now?!?

For now I am done.

Incidentally I lasted three days when I gave up coffee last week - so expect a posting by the end of the week.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Might be of interest

There is some stuff about La traviata and other shows I've been to in the last week on my personal blog it is a little off topic for here but might be of interest.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Last Friday= Michael Wolf talk + Plus party

Friday night I went along to the very chilly Wild Building in Digbeth (Birmingham UK). Here a large and drafty warehouse with all original fixtures and fittings housed the Plus design festival. I was heading along to the Michael Wolf talk and energy permitting (and I knew it would) the end of show party and launch of Blink magazine.

The contrast between the large drafty environment and the slick (and by this mean tight, professional often beautiful) design stands was powerful. It was one of those moments when you feel like you could really be in any uber cool, urban, down-town art/design thing, anywhere in the world. Although I did have a few encounters with some Nathan Barley types.

Michael Wolf was also pretty cool - I'm not sure what I was expecting - but as I perched, rather recklessly on a bean bag with my legs buckled under a tiny coffee table in - did I mention it was drafty - in a cold spot, I didn't even notice the hour or so of the talk pass. For me it was reminiscent (the talk not the environment) of sitting at my uncle Charlie's (an artist) kitchen table listening to him and my dad (a graphic designer) disseminate pearls of wisdom about art and design and what's good, bad, the history and future of and all sorts of anecdotes.

However enough of that the format took the form of local designer Stef Lewandowski chairing a panel who directed questions to Michael (apparently he prefers this format as it requires less preparation).

Here are some points and thoughts that struck me:

- He spoke about the need for designers to be taught (I guess as students - so listen out HE ) about how to articulate the value of their contribution. 'What is your contribution worth to the client?' This is something I recall from my own distant freelancing days. Getting your head round the idea that a piece of design might be the making of a product success - so what is its value in that context?

- Recognising that new designers struggle sometimes to have the confidence to say how much they 'cost', he suggested role-play and the sort of experiential learning that I have advocated many times. He was suggested young designers (or old for that matter) role play amongst their colleagues and rehearse.

- He also spoke of being 'real' - this was a bit spooky for me after various 'authenticity' rants I've had in the last few weeks.

- Interestingly when I asked about how the UK were fairing in the context of increased competition from 'emerging economies' he spoke of the only real competition being with oneself - you're only as good as your last piece of work etc.

- When I pursued this with questioning this further and in the context of 10 years of governmental policy aiming to support and grow our creative industries he suggested that things were a little bleak. But that ultimately the issue was that companies (and by this I understood clients) were 'rather boring now' and the 'need for creativity to throughout a company'. This was an interesting perspective in the work that I am involved in as it sort of suggests a much more holistic approach is needed.

There was much much more however..

After the talk I loitered for the party. It was like being at an animated version of Facebook - I am always struck by how generally, people are much more attractive in the flesh - not just to look at but much more friendly somehow. The atmosphere was upbeat with free beers and cocktails and some delicious food from the patisserie in Kings heath (Chorizo sausage roll! I know I never even thought of it before but it really works). There was also a band of very cute/cool teenage girls who looked vaguely familiar I think they may live round my way. I really liked them and felt like there was something very cool and sort of constructive/creative and professional about their whole vibe - especially as they were pretty young and the place was packed full of the great and good of Birmingham's arts mafia. I missed the last few hours as sought refuge in the pub.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Authenticity and influence

I have been struggling recently to write this blog, sort of have half arsed ideas that I write about but lack cohesion. So I have a bunch of postings in draft of the rambling variety. But there are some observations and things I have been thinking about related to my research (I can almost hear the yawns -I know I find myself tedious don't worry about it) that I'd like to share.

Here's the thing: there is a word I have heard used in a couple of different scenarios. I have subsequently used it in order to influence an individuals perception of the validity of a piece of work I have been involved in. The word is authenticity. I will no doubt find myself writing about this more formally as my methodology chapter takes shape. As someone who is heavily immersed in the world of storytelling and capturing stories I am always aware of the power of the authenticity of a story told, I perhaps have just not articulated this much yet. As I say this is pretty early days thinking and I have recently discovered colleagues in my own institution who know a great deal more about this stuff. I guess it is similar to what the press experience in terms of 'human interest' type stories.

The second time this word was used was yesterday when attending a 'Influencing and negotiating' training day - it was okay as these things go, 8 hours of pop psychology in 8 easy to do group work activities. It was fun, no it was funny, belly laughs, mirroring each others body language etc etc learning the tools of influence and possible manipulation. But again what came up was this: if you pretend to be someone other than yourself you will probably not be trusted - this was not, incidentally, what the facilitator told us to be true, more our collective realisation of the value of authenticity. Strange it is pretty hard to figure out your authentic self - but that is a whole other topic.

Okay. As is often the case in this blog I am not exactly sure where I am going with this stream of consciousness. But what I find is often the case is when you start to see patterns in what people are saying around you then you are on the verge of discovering or at least making sense of or understanding something, However as a researcher of the qualitative variety recognising the value of the real-lived and authentic experience in terms of research data is important.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Private views

I took my daughter (who at 6 was not the youngest!) to a private view this evening. It was at VIVID and called Binary Oppositions. It was an interesting-ish exhibition, a mix of music and images.

Here I want to briefly highlight a conversation I had with an artist (not the show's artist) we were discussing thoughts around employability within the creative industries. Something I have been aware of and have previously referred to as 'tacit knowledge' came up. This is the idea of some people knowing what the sector is like prior to graduating for example both my parents went to art school, my dad a graphic designer, my mum an artist and illustrator. When I did a degree in Fine Art I had a pretty good idea of what was in store for me when I graduated. I knew on graduating I might have to a. work for free b. be self-employed, c. be un-employed for a while d. all 3 (answer for me 'd' + some waitressing).

A lot of my work has been about social inclusion in the creative industries within this work I've come across a lot of individuals who are the first person in their family to go to university, they get a degree in a creative discipline, they graduate, have a degree but here's the thing there are no jobs!! In this sector a degree really doesn't equal a job but it might equal a bunch of opportunities.

Anyhow obviously universities, people like me and many others are increasingly trying to figure this all out and how better to equip students and graduates for a career in the sector.

Incidentally while out bumped into a number of Birmingham bloggers it was a veritable convention will try to remember to post pics to flickr or facebook.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Coming up

A couple of regularish events are coming up. In November I am due to present a couple of papers at this years ISBE conference in Glasgow. These papers are based on two areas I have been working on over the last year.

The first is a literature review relating to my own area of research around gender and entrepreneurship within the creative industries. This will be in the women's track. The other is around how to deliver enterprise education outside of business schools and reflects on the evaluation of the TE3 (Technoogy Enhanced Enterprise Education)project. These papers are both co-authored with my some of my esteemed colleagues and as it gets nearer the time I'll see about making them available.

Another event coming up is the 'Social Footprints' symposium at Birmingham's ICC on the 11th Dec. Here colleagues and I from four HE providers from the West Midlands will be running a workshop on capturing and developing 'Soft indicators'. This is how within a piece of evaluation you capture the harder to quantify outcomes of an intervention (apologies for Euro speak).

I'll find more details out on both of these and keep you posted.


Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a meeting at the LCC (London College of Communication). Things in this part of South London have changed a lot since I was there.

I stayed overnight with a friend in East Dulwich and this morning took the number 12 bus through my old stomping ground, Peckham past my uncle Charlie’s place, on past Camberwell art school where I took life drawing classes on a Saturday mornings (after I grew out of Ballet I guess), down the Wolworth Road, past what was and maybe still is Southwark college where instead of staying at school and doing A level’s I did my first diploma in general art and design and practised being a real mini art student and upto Elephant and Castle where the talented ended up at what was LCP (London college of printing). Following this burst of nostalgia I went into the meeting at what is now LCC.

I was invited me to attend a meeting that was a tentative look at developing a research group looking at teaching enterprise across creative disciplines. For those familiar with this blog this is an area I’ve been researching in one form or another for the last four years. The meeting turned out to be bigger than I’d expected (approx 15) from various research, teaching and other backgrounds and some really interesting issues and opportunities were uncovered.

This will be, no doubt, something that those chairing the session will disseminate and report on fully but I thought I would, without going into too much detailpick out some of the highlights from the meeting for me:

The need to integrate theory and practice – as a researcher, especially one of the ostensibly applied variety, this is something I would always advocate and within my own institution I am always hoping to achieve.

The need to unpick a little of what already happens within an art and design education that might already be contributing to entrepreneurial intent of students – I have been bleeting about this for a while and currently have a paper out for review which fingers crossed will be published in the not too distant future (I’ll keep you posted as and when).

There was a bunch more stuff around international context, developing pedagogies, training needs of staff and a variety of conferences and publishing opportunities that will help this fledgling group have a voice.

When I’ve heard back from the organisers I’ll let you know who to contact if you’re interested. In the meantime feel free to email and I can pass on your contact details.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Creative Entrerprise Facebook Group!

Since Monday I have become the proud administrator/creator of Creative Enterprise Facebook group!

The idea is to have a more interactive environment for me to disseminate some of my ideas and research, connect with other folks working in this area and hopefully help facilitate the general community of practice which is developing around enterprise and entrepreneurship in the creative industries.

I am always keen to here from others working around some of these ideas and it's always good to see what others have written etc. So please go along, join, contribute your ideas and thoughts while hooking up with others from around the UK and beyond working in this field.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Procrastination, distraction or creativity fuel

Sometimes when I get stuck, usually about a month before a deadline (I find I get really unstuck a week before and can write literally thousands of words a day). When that happens I find myself not doing the task in hand and filling my time (which is very easy to do) with all the other bits and bobs I kind of should do but are not exactly high priority (like say writing my blog).

Actually thinking about it it could be that these phases follow the meeting of a deadline.

As I guess most folks in the world of work have, and certainly in my line of work there seem to be, a constant stream of deadlines. For me these are conference papers, final reports and if lucky a journal article - they (the deadlines) seem to come thick and fast and sometimes it can feel a little relentless - (oh did I mention the self-inflicted personal research targets). More on this in a bit.

Anyway as you might have guessed I'm going through one of these phases right now and I have spent the last two days at an altogether relevant conference. The conference was the final showcase of projects funded through EQUAL (I am carrying out a piece of research looking at 'Soft indicators of distance travelled' on one of these projects which has been aiming to 'Challenge gender stereotypes in the workplace’). Anyway this proved to be a fascinating look into how a whole bunch of projects sort to do this. One of particular interest to me was a project that was looking at women returners (i.e. women who return to work having taken a career break following maternity leave/or extended childcare giving).

It specifically looked at women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) and there were some terrifying statistics. Something like (and please don't quote me) only 20% of female SET graduates return to a career in these sectors following childbirth! I know this is an issue within the creative industries also where the fast change of pace in certain sub-sectors can have a damaging effect on an individual’s confidence in their ability to perform or keep up with the changes in technology if they've had a significant break. I missed the URL so will have a look and see if I can find a link to the project in question. Again I don’t as yet have the evidence for this being entirely the case in the creative industries or know what impact there might be on a woman who is self-employed in one of these sectors. But my personal experience and my own research into this is beginning to suggest a link.

As for me was I procrastinating by going to the conference? after all I could have been sitting typing away, was I deliberately distracting myself from the task in hand or (and I like this one more) was I feeding my brain, listening, making new connections and hey fueling my own creativity?

Damn that's another 448 words that could have been in my report/chapter/paper agghh!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Reflections on online presence

I've been thinking about a bunch of stuff. Although I have been pretty busy here (universities are lovely and quiet over the summer months although full of builders instead of students) I have been reflecting a lot and also observing those around me (albeit from a virtual position i.e. their online activity and presence).

With Facebook having seemingly swept the 30 something generation (UK west midlands at least) this summer into an online frenzy of virtual activity I am reminded of some of the stuff I/We used to say.

(NB: for those who don't know in a previous life I was heavily immersed in the online and Internet industry/sector/fledgling local scene as was)

Anyway what we said was something like this: your online presence goes beyond just your website (of course a no-brainer right we all know that now) it is every email you send, every posting you make to newsgroup (those were the days)etc etc.. Of course fast forward a few years and this is your Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Youtube what ever other social networking, photo/music or other repository you happen to use.

What is interesting to me is how we present and manage ourselves in this heavily published environment and how do we advise our students to make absolute best use of the opportunities that these networks offer.

So here I'll briefly give a couple of examples of what I am on about (and I am sure this is something written about/studied in much more detail etc.. I am just thinking aloud/atype? but I'll get to my point in a bit).

Example one: Me
I am reasonably internet savvy have been using it for a long long time. I feel comfortable and confident with most of the stuff I come across, I feel aware of the public nature and the 'wild fire' that can sometimes be initiated when one says something kind of provocative. By the same token when I use Facebook I like to have some fun with it, be myself, be open etc.. but I also find it a fantastically good tool for meeting folks working in the same area as me. This blog has also proved a really good mechanism for making contacts with people working in my area. But I am kind of careful too (a whole bunch of my 'friends' are colleagues or potential colleagues) so I try not to get too drawn into all the other stuff on say facebook (pirates, vampires etc).

Example two: my friend (there is nothing scientific here)
A recently qualified psychologist using Facebook and just realising how little information about her self she really wants out there. Does she really want clients to know she is say single? does she really want employers to know whether or not she recovered from her hangover (thanks to concerned friends wall postings)? probably not.

What is my point here with all of this? Well once again and as ever I'm thinking about the creative industries. Last year I presented a paper about the characteristics of the creative industries. As anyone who has ever worked in this sector will I'm sure testify there is a pretty heavy duty night time element to it - private views, launches, after show parties etc etc.. The boundaries between friendship and work and social life and work are often blurred (and quite different from some other sectors) but ultimately need to be managed or at least considered (whether you know you're doing it or not) because professionalism and presentation are also a major characteristics.

I sense here that I am waffling and not reaching any sort of conclusion. I guess there are a few things here - do the creative industries lend themselves well to these types of online networks and social groups? (of course yes) How careful does one need to be about what one publishes? (and opinions one gives) and as educators how can we encourage students to make the best use of these environments (actually the better question might be what can we learn from students about managing ones online presence?) and with so much scope for things being archived (see this posting) how much of what we say now will come back to haunt us? On that note I’ll stop.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tony Wilson

A little bit belatedly I wanted to mention Tony Wilson and how shocked I was when I heard of his death. While driving back to Birmingham from the country on Monday morning (where I had had a bit of a news fast) Jo Wiley gave a moving tribute and played some classic tracks from the 80's. I didn't know Tony Wilson but saw him speak a couple of times below is an extract from a posting I made late 2005 responding to a talk he gave in Manchester:

It was great to hear Anthony H Wilson tell the story of the Manchester music scene. As someone who did their growing up, teen age and student years through this time, I loved hearing his story and felt aware of the strangeness of part of my own experience and a time I felt I really lived through being consigned to history. Not to mention being a Londoner and the whole Manchester music thing being a rather bitter pill to swallow. I remember going to clubs in London who were trying to introduce house music and everyone desperate to have their rare groove and funky beats back on ... we just didn't get it like Manchester did.

I should also say that throughout that time I and many of my friends made regular trips to Manchester just to go to the Hacienda - so Tony thanks for the memories.

(Wednesday, October 26, 2005)

easy to digest

Dave Harte of Digital Central has been doing a sterling job of putting together some rather irreverent digests of the gigantic strategic type reports that come his way and although it's kind of funny he does manage to pull out some of the salient points as well as highlighting some useful documents. As some one who generates some pretty hefty reports myself I am wondering what scope there is for a 'digesting service' or perhaps that is the challenge for the author - try to do a txt message version maybe! Certainly that might increase the audience size.

It was reminding me of a service that I would like or something I would like to encourage and that is a sort of literature alert service. Wishful thinking on behalf of the researcher I know. But trying to stay on top of all that is published both academic and other is a permanent job. So here is a request readers these are my key words phrases:

- Gender and entrepreneurship in the creative industries
- Widening participation in the creative industries
- Entrepreneurship in the creative industries
- Enterprise and entrepreneurship curriculum for creative industries

If you come across anything that you feel relates to these topics then please let me know - send me the link or title or synopsis - I'd like to think I was kind of on top of things having just completed a literature review for a paper to be delivered at this years ISBE - but low and behold within a week of submitting I come across more!! Now not everything is relevant I need to be selective but some key works just can't be missed out.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Me me me

I have a new blog - not sure if another one is really necessary but feel like I need to go off topic and this new one is for more general ranting and not so related to work or my research.

Feel free to take a look

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Birmingham power 50?

The Birmingham Posts Top 50 most powerful people list was published today, I've had a quick look through and some interesting statistics:

45 of Birmingham's top 50 are male
4 are female

Encouragingly 14 of the list are involved in the Creative Industries from the following sectors/roles (by my reckoning).
- Arts council Chair and Arts centre Director *
- Marketing         
- Dance
- Music
- Software designer
- Architect
- Music maker
- Publishing
- Radio presenter
- TV maker
- Artist
- Curator Gallery Director
- Music administrator *
- Journalism

(*2 of the 4 women listed are involved in the Creative Industries (neither are on the list as practitioners)

I do not wish to belittle any of the contributions those on the list have made to the city, region and beyond, but the list as it stands begs some quite obvious questions namely: where are the women on the list? Does this mean there are only 4 influential women in Birmingham? this is not my experience? where are the creative women in Birmingham, why aren't they listed here? and finally what can one do to redress the balance, to highlight and similarly celebrate their contribution?

It would be good to have a look at the criteria and try to develop an alternative listing and I do not mean a women only list. Any suggestions for whom should be considered?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Busy busy busy

What a week? I have done a whirl wind tour of the Midlands (exciting honest).

First my week started with a bunch of interviews with students on our school of art and designs MA in Media Enterprise - it is fascinating seeing how these students are responding to the curricula, their own perceptions of enterprise and how enterprising they feel they are. More on this later an interim report is due (from me) sometime over the Summer. So will try to make something available online.

Tuesday saw me over at Staffs university for the TE3 open day - TE3 being the Technology Enhanced Enterprise Education project which held I believe their third 'open day' and this time supported by UKSEC. Here I was presenting the findings of the evaluation which I have been carrying out recently - it was a pretty intimidating experience Staffs have a state of the art fully functional TV studio so the 80+ audience (of quite serious and senior looking academics) sat behind the much scarier cameras and the whole thing was filmed and web streamed. Anyway having said that it was a great opportunity to see what some of the partners have produced in terms of pod-casts and electronic portfolios and I didn't get camera shy after all.

For me one of the interesting aspects of this project has been the lessons learnt from the efforts to develop teaching materials across disciplines i.e. teaching enterprise outside of a business school. These have been lessons from sports management to the creative industries and it's interesting to see how issues vary across these different disciplines and how each benefit from their own 'flavour' of enterprise ed. Kelly Smith and I will be presenting a paper on this at this years ISBE conference - more on that another time.

The week continued a pace with various trips around a day in beautiful Warwickshire countryside - being trained at Wroxall manor I am amongst other things and 'innovation mentor' and will shortly be providing service design consultancy on behalf of my institution. Thursday some different training at Harbourne Hall (which has the most ornate Victorian interior) here I am learning how to be a teacher - strange really I did 4 or 5 years of lecturing prior to my current role with no training now I do very little lecturing but at least have a better idea how to .

Finally today more interviews for the MA.

Friday, June 22, 2007

What's in a name?

Where was I? Oh yes

The Scene: Private view, surrounded by the great and good, I bump into an old friend, an artist and design lecturer who is chatting to a senior colleague.

Friend: Charlotte and I went to college together
Me: Hi, yes we did time-based media, through Fine Art
Friends colleague: Oh really what are you up to now?
Me: I work in a Business School
Friends colleague: Oh dear
Me: but I do work around the creative industries (apologetically and slight pleading in voice)
Friends colleague: oh dear
Me: It's all about gender and entrepreneurship in the creative industries
Friends colleague: what? oh dear entrepreneurship? oh dear what's that!
Me: well....
Friends colleague: Right I must go and find.. (Read: I'm off to do much more important things, heard it all before, I'm an artist)

Anyway this exchange took place recently and left me in a rather confused state. Apart from the fact that the said Friends colleague had been utterly dismissive and rude I kind of got it - his attitude - I understood, I have been in that mindset and now I am in another. But it is very hard to articulate what had happened.

A couple of days later I was regaling this story to another friend, who also is a an artist who had this take on the exchange: 'It's just sort of defensive arrogance, the creative sector is just so competitive and that attitude stems from that. The idea that somehow a creative individual is different you know - creative not entrepreneurial - that's almost like a dirty word'.

Anyway I know from an academic perspective that the literature picks up on this, that creatives don't identify with being called entrepreneurs etc. But to be frank most of my dealings with educators from creative disciplines is generally much more down to earth and frankly realistic.Recognising what life is like for graduates and the need to prepare them as best possible for careers that are very likely to involve some level of enterprising behaviour - if not entrepreneurship..

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Enterprise education: and another thing...

Previously I have identified two areas where enterprise is inadvertanly (or not) taught within creative disciplines (at least art and design). These briefly were:

- Lecturer as practitioner
- Experiential learning - project based real-life briefs being responded to

Today I am going to cover a third and perhaps the most obvious - I am surprised I haven't made mention of it before - the Degree Shows!

Yesterday, speaking to a very senior colleague here at the university I was reminded of the time and investment spent on putting together ones final show. The degree show, for the uninitiated, is an exhibition of all final year students work that takes place right about now in all art and design institutions in the UK (and possibly beyond). The exhibition generally lasts for four or five days and is kicked off with a Private view.

My ISBE conference paper last year discussed the characteristics of the creative industries. In it I make mention of the night-time social element of the creative industries. I guess for some of these students the degree show private view gives an opportunity to experience some of this night-time activity, the start of things to come maybe, the boozing, schmoozing and apparent (fingers crossed) constructive networking that might take place. Maybe:

- meet potential employers/clients, future collaborators.
- present and talk about work
- have a professional experience
- showcase work

Anyway I'd be interested to know how useful these events actually prove to be to students, as my own is all a bit of a blur and a rather long time ago now. Interestingly this showcasing concept has been expanded upon at UCE, where I work, with the New Generation Arts festival. This festival includes current, recent and past graduates and is a much wider celebration of creative talent originating from the university. I like the fact that it recognises the need to continue to highlight and showcase ones work beyond the degree show.

Also other thoughts I would like to share are some observations around the whole concept of entrepreneurship and how in some quarters it is still very much not recognised as relevant to the art and design community. But I'll save this for when I am a little more awake.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Coming up

I am busy completing a report for some evaluation I have been involved in. This has been of the TE3 (technology enhanced enterprise education) project, a generally successful collaboration between 12 regional (West Midlands, UK) universities who have been developing electronic teaching materials for teaching enterprise.

I presented a paper in Lancaster based on this research a couple of weeks ago and am now writing, as I say, the final report which will be available at the TE3 open day in July - this is a free event and I will be doing a brief turn in the afternoon reporting back on this evaluation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nesta, Ugly Betty and other TV moments

Disclaimer: one or two popular culture type references which will be meaningless to some are included.

Last Monday I took the slow train down to London - I was heading for the launch of the HEA, NESTA and NCGE funded ‘Creating Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship education for the Creative Industries' research. En route I bumped into someone else who was also attending. As we headed over to Nesta together they asked if I'd ever seen 'Ugly Betty?' (U.S TV show for the uninitiated) "Yes, why?" I said. "You'll see" they said. Low and behold the NESTA HQ could have been a set; from the all white, glass covered surfaces right down to the 'blue tooth head-setted' receptionist. I did chuckle.

Here the similarities ended as proceeding and eye ware took on a more serious nature (sorry so many funky/fashionable glasses in one room was heady). Anyway enough of this trivia. The presentation of the authors offered a little insight into what had been found, and from early indicators it would seem that little in terms of 'know-how' and 'evidence of what works?' has changed in the last year (since our Creative Enterprise conference findings were published)- although the extensive evidence base is very welcome and I shall certainly make use if it in my own work(they interviewed and consulted widely across creative inds HE).

Sir Christopher Frayling, the Rector of the Royal College of Art and Chair of the Arts council made a point about the ‘importance of the practitioner teacher with in art and design’ and that ‘there seemed to be little research out there that had picked up on this’. I was struggling to keep quiet at this point as in January I presented a paper at the MeCCSA-AMPE 2007conference making this very point having analysed various strands of data that highlighted the teacher as practitioner influence and potential entrepreneurial role-model.. aaggh. As a good colleague of mine says: 'if it isn't published, it didn't happen', or something like that. That said a version of this paper should be published in the next 12 months.

Later that day I had another TV moment as I checked myself into the Travelodge in Lancaster, having disembarked my London to Lancaster train sometime shortly after midnight all suddenly felt very Alan Partridge. The Travel lodge in Lancaster doesn’t boast proximity to the lake district as other Lancastrian hotels do. No it boasts access to a Burger King as it is situated in a motorway services. Nothing ‘Mode magazine’ about that I can promise you!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Travels and thoughts

I have been extremely busy in the last couple of months. To give a flavour of life as a researcher, at least where I work, here is a snap shot of my working life. I am in the process of completing the evaluation of the TE3 project, this has been a fascinating insight into what appears to have been a really successful multi-university collaboration looking at technology enhanced enterprise education (hence the three Es). Well on Monday evening, following a flying visit to London to hear the HEA and nesta research findings of creative entrepreneurship I am off to Lancaster to the Symposium: Engaging HEIs in business and the community: A learning perspective where I will be presenting a paper co-authored with Dr Kelly Smith from Birmingham University. I am back in Birmingham from Thursday and hoping to get back on track with some of my other projects specifically the MA in Media Enterprise course which I am involved in some research work - you may recall the Creative Enterprise conference last year, we are now in the process of putting together a follow up conference for next year (please do email for any info) as well as this I am going back to the students to interview them as part of my tracking their progress.

Last week I was in Sardinia on a study visit for the Agender project (Challenging gender stereotypes in the work place). Apart from 30 degree blue sky conditions we got taken on a tour of various incubator projects and university spin-offs, a trip to Tiscalli's head quarters and all the projects we were taken around had a focus on supporting women and in most instances in new technologies or entrepreneurship. Sardinia have similar issues to the West Midlands in terms of graduate retention but very high unemployment, currently 10%. It's interesting some of the schemes they have for attracting ex-Sardinians back. While away I got an email through from EQUAL works an organisation that flag up good practice that the funding has generated (the ESF EQUAL funding that funded the Agender project). I was a little surprised to see this little gem (apparently I don't look like this in real-life... I do hope not).

Other things that are bubbling under and which I will no doubt mention in more depth soon are the 'post graduate researcher teaching course' I am doing, a possible cross-faculty project I have some involvement in and service design - a new project for the university which I am learning more about.

And breath....oh yes my PhD 14 x hours per week. I think my daughter thinks my laptop is attached to me!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Apologies for previous post it probably made little sense to anyone other than those involved a sort of 'had to be there' type thing. Anyway I have subsequently had some thoughts on how my blog can help facilitate and maybe be a kind of layman's version of my PhD. I have had over the last couple of years some extremely useful feedback from folks on the general stream of consciousness that seems to make its way onto these 'pages' I have also found it a useful place to direct people when my university webpage is really rather static and gives only a snapshot of what I am working on (although a much more recent pic). Still I thought to get my head into gear and think through how I might use this blog for the purpose of my PhD I would start by cataloguing where I am now and where I am struggling and what will happen next. Although I didn't think this was going to be a 'diary' type thing I think it may turn into one.

Incidentally is it just me or does Safari not like the spell check in blogger?

It is public!

Some time ago I pondered on the pros and cons of blogging from a researchers, even academics, perspective and on the reluctance of some colleagues to engage in the blogging world. Today I have been reminded of something key to this argument that is your blog is public. Now I try to be reasonably careful with what I write (grammar and punctuation I know are problematic) and I am aware of anyone (or please someone) being my audience. So far so good.

However this morning I was reminded of how what one writes can be construed or misconstrued by the reader reading. Apparently according to one such reader I'd previously referred to it as an 'impromptu PhD'. I couldn't recall writing this or for one moment considering it even vaguely impromptu on the basis that it took a good couple of years to settle on a subject which I felt sufficiently interested in to spend (fingers-crossed) 3 years working on.

Anyway looking back over my previous postings I noticed this:

'An example of this impromptu PhD chat came yesterday'
Women and Men again, Wednesday, August 23, 2006

So I did say it. However for clarification I was referring to the 'impromptu' conversations I was having all over the place at any given tome with anyone who happened to look even vaguely interested about my PhD. So there we have it - vindicated. I do see my PhD as 2nd only to parenthood or there abouts after all.

Now what about this blog? I need to figure out if I am going to continue with it and what role it plays in my PhD.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Creative industries - belch

Blah blah blah Is it possible to have audio indigestion? The Creative Industries! Possibly the most over used term, one I myself use way too often and one I can't help feeling is kind of like the emperors new clothes. But then this has been said all before. Researchers who were once wax lyrical about the possibilities (and I am not denying they exist) of this growing sector now pour scorn as yet another 'creative quarter' emerges or portal purports to be a 'one-stop-shop' for some aspect or other of the sector.

Rant over

I will move onto something far more constructive shortly.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year, fresh start

So another year begins and as usual the new year provides an opportunity for reflection and future speculation. Looking back over the last year I started by reading my last new years blog and noticed I'd made some resolutions which I imagined were quickly forgotten, but here they are and here's what happened:

1. PhD - get started
Yeah!! I got started finally - settled on 'Does gender have an influence in entrepreneurship in the creative industries?' or something like that struggling somewhat with my questions - but more about this soon, much background and literature review stuff underway/done but relevant articles, academic or otherwise would be gratefully received.

Down side: have acquired reading glasses too much squinting at screen and arms not long enough

2. keep on blogging
Well I did some....Admittedly not as much as I'd have liked as the feedback and contacts made are really useful as is the committing thoughts to writing.

3. Network - make connections get the whole 'linked in' thing working for me properly
Well this is an interesting one, I seriously had my head down last year, have probably never worked so hard in some aspects this hermit like activity doesn't lend itself so well to networking but in a job where you are constantly coming into contact with people I'd like to think some areas have strengthened and some have inevitably been let go.

This time last year I was heavily involved in the organisation of the first ' Creative Enterprise conference' by UCE Birmingham (my work place), this went well and lead to a number of national connections being made, especially with in the research community interested in this area. Later in the year I had similar involvement in a smaller conference specifically targeting researchers and those interested in 'Female entrepreneurship'.

Other interesting connections have been through my Agender work where I chair a transnational working group looking at:
Women in non-traditional employment' this has offered some fantastic opportunities to network with European partners from: Catalonia, Germany's Rhur region, Sardinia and Milan.

So apart from keeping up my blogging I did okay with my resolutions so will think of some more for 2007.

For now Happy New Year and here's hoping 2007 proves peaceful, prosperous, exciting and satisfying for us all.