Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Online identity, new media marketing and entreprenruship and more all mixed up!

I have been feeling a long and rather rambling blog post coming on for a few days so here goes.

A lot has been happening in my working life and bits are beginning to join up where other bits are falling away. I'll talk about this a bit more in a bit. Firstly I feel obliged to clear one or two things up. Following the Created in Birminghamwin of the Guardian Media award for Best independent blog (congratulations again to Pete and Stef), Pete Ashton gave an overview of various blogs that he has come across and who make up part of the general blogging milieu within Birmingham. Now the only reason I mention this is he referred to my blog presence as a little schizophrenic and I wanted to explore this a bit.

In my teaching work (although I am called a lecturer in applied research) I teach a module called 'New Media Marketing'. This incidentally is based on a previous career where I had various job titles, which included: 'Online PR and Marketing coordinator, online marketing consultant/strategist, Internet consultant and the such (made up names, for at the time, made up roles - i.e. not that many people even used the internet let alone consulted or taught how to – mid 90’s on). Now I may talk about this work in more detail at some other point. But the point I wanted to make is that within my lecture today I was talking about the concept of online presence and Pete's comment struck me - that my own may be a little ambiguous. But then here's the thing? Does it matter? Should I explain? Is it not working if I have to?

Later on in the day I came across Stef Lewandowski, who I don't think will mind me mentioning a couple of brief points that came from our discussion. We were talking about the debris one leaves in 'cyber space' (sorry couldn't resist haven't heard it called that for a long time but I referred to it in my teaching today - when I cited this event: Virtually there; the future shape of cyber space'.).

Did I mention this was going to be long and rambling (possibly a good moment to hit the back button - except... there is some interesting stuff about why I do what I do?)?

So am I hopelessly off topic in my ponderings here?

Let me try and bring it back together, firstly, an explanation of my two blog thing, then secondly how all these strands, the teaching, the online presence etc fit with my research and the topic of the blog - Creative Enterprise.

1. Back in 2005 I started this blog to accompany an expanding area of research which I had been involved in for some two or three years. I had worked on a research programme looking at a bunch of projects which were exploring social inclusion in the creative industries including Strip search by Hi8us and , projects by the RBSA, Scriptand many others. Throughout this time I interviewed and captured the 'journeys' of the artists, writers and musicians involved. A key issue that kept arising was that ultimately folks needed skills in how to be self-employed, how to seek and exploit opportunities and how to build momentum and confidence around their talent and offering (and a bunch of other things - there are a number of papers published on this). Anyway this whole experience sparked my imagination and I became heavily immersed in the world of enterprise and entrepreneurship within the sector. I finally settled on a PhD topic (I'd say title but keep changing it) and that was ' Gender and Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries. In my day job i.e. the contract research I get paid to do my work I was beginning to focus on Enterprise curriculum in creative inds HE provision. So out of these two areas this blog was born. It was intended to be an informal space for me to explore issues, and hopefully get feedback, around enterprise within the creative industries sector.

Last year I found I was beginning to go off topic or at least wanting to. So I started a
personal blog. Here I rant on about other stuff (much less than I do here) it is an experiment I might dump it, I might grow it, I can't decide. But the point is that it is not related to this topic. However it probably has the same tone of voice, both are ultimately about me or my experience and a reflection of what is happening at a given time in my life - so in that regard it maybe a little schizophrenic.

2. How do all these things I am waffling on about fit together? And what on earth has any of this got to do with creative enterprise? Well a couple of things. I am aware of are how everything is coming together (in terms of thoughts etc). I am one of those people that really hope that their research feeds into their teaching and guess what mine is! Both in terms of pedagogical considerations and also in terms of content. I am transferring what I know about creative discipline styles of teaching (you may recall earlier postings which talk about characteristics of creative ind education which have implicit enterprise education) to how I deliver my lectures within the business school! The second thing is when teaching New Media Marketing I am aware that a great deal of theory dates as rapidly as the Internet evolves. So I am feeling really privileged to be amongst a bunch of people figuring out how the whole blogging thing works and drawing directly upon their experiences to add context to my lectures - in short you're all going to be case studies!!

And breathe! not sure if I'm done or if any of this makes sense but I have typed enough ... for now.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Today I went over to Wolverhampton School of Art an Design, the place where some 14 years ago I graduated with a degree in Fine Art, Time-based Media. It was more than a little weird to mooch about. I was over for a meeting and sort of insisted on heading for the 7th floor. The thing that was weird was that I ended up telling my story of my career to the lady I was meeting. As the career 'journeys' of creative graduates makes up a large proportion of my research, it was strange to hear myself regaling my own story.

I was so touched to back in the place, especially as the lady serving coffee recognised me! (obviously spent rather longer in the canteen than you're meant to) but I also remembered the fun we had, the weird and sometimes ridiculous, sometimes pretentious movies we made, the odd exhibitions we set up in strange locations, the opportunities to show our films shows at places like the London Film-makers coop and the general rehearsal (private views included) of a life in the arts that this gave.

Unfortunately there were no students about which added to the wierdness, but generally it was just totally ace to be back in the big old Brutalist building over looking the ring-road.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

push and pull in creative entrepreneurship:briefly

I saw my supervisors today, both of whom I like a lot and who seem to compliment each other in style and give me the right mix of kick up arse and support. Some interesting issues came up, well for me anyway. Apart from the usual things of me needing to pay attention to regular stuff like punctuation etc. there were some points around 'Push and Pull' factors to why folks become entrepreneurs.

I expect I might talk about this a bit more at some point and have a feeling I may have published something around this already, although perhaps not here. But the thing was around this 'if you go to art school are you then pushed into entrepreneurship (self-employment)?' or by going to art school are you responding to an 'entrepreneurial' pull or as I described a desire for independence?

Or am I just going entrepreneurship crazy?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Presentations from CURS

You may recall an earlier post relating to an event over at University of Birmingham - 'Creativity and the Creative Value chain', well they've published all the presentations here. Along with news of their next event. Thanks to Ian for the link.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Birmingham Bloggers

Birmingham Bloggers

I live and work in Birmingham UK.

Last night I went to the first meeting of 'Birmingham UK bloggers' (name under review). We met in the back of the Kitchen Garden cafe, in the Kings Heath neighbourhood of Birmingham. I was a lone, late 30's female, amongst a group of rather young men (not an altogether unpleasant experience) and I know those that turned up where not particularly reflective of the wider local blogging community - it did mean, however, that our table was a veritable smorgasbord of gadgets! Anyway enough of the observations.

The thing about a meeting like this is that it is hard to figure out why we're getting together. I guess to meet and share with a bunch of folks with a similar pursuit. What became clear was that the role of blogging is changing, with user generated content cited as more heavily read than the generic corporate type websites (I don't have ref for this but think it was the gist of what one of the other bloggers said) it would seem that all sorts of organisations are looking to the blogging community to either harvest or exploit this content.

Now in some respects this is a good thing. I mean we write this stuff, imagine someone, somewhere reads and cares and if someone links to you well then that's all good. But what came across strongly was the sense of what characterises a good blog. For me authenticity and independence stuck out. From my perspective I blog here about my research and my personal blog about my personal rantings and stuff. It is not specifically about where I live and not about where I work. But of course, these things are often interrelated, there are cross-overs and frequently there might be issues, which would be of interest or might feed well into some other organisations context/agenda.

I get the sense that the blogging community is at a strange point - a bunch of organisations were cited, who either: want a blog, content, or appear to have a bunch of ready made stuff. But how as a community do we organise ourselves? Should we organise ourselves? Should we be capitalising on our networks and content? Should we be promoting the city we live in? or be using our blogs to do so? Should we be happy to have our content re-purposed for some other organisations benefit/context/agenda? Now this is not to say that this blog is of any huge value to anyone other than me having a place to waffle on, but I got the sense last night that these are some issues we (the bloggers) need to be considering.

I should say that some of this discussion was in the context of this Guardian article which failed to give Birmingham a mention so for my part I will do my bit for my local blogging community because, well, I said I would. These will include having a specific Birmingham UK bloggers blogroll and tagging my postings with ‘Birmingham UK’ where appropriate (maybe always?) and by the same token I would encourage others to do the same.