Monday, December 08, 2008

thoughts about the keynote speech

Youth Support services Conference

The whole service conference was on last week, and I'm rounding up some of my thoughts from the speakers. On the whole, the conference wasn't very web relevant (apart from me -- I was looking at people's web needs during break time) but one of the key note speakers did exhort us briefly to use the web and not fear it (good man).

This was the other speaker, and he was a lot more traditional in his view of young people and youth work. However, some interesting insights:
  • Deprived of actual war or threat, young people recreate a war in their heads This is more of an interesting thought experiment than a statement of fact. One to turn around and ask the person with a problem; are you approaching this problem as if it were a war? Is that the right response?
  • Young people see themselves as threatened and expendable - "I might be wasted any minute." This is about the exaggerated sense of threat that many people feel, especially young people about violence other young people. We are widely told that violent crime, assault, etc. , all these are very rare but we all know victims -- how to square that experiential anomaly? The speaker tried statistics, but didn't convince.
  • Young people don't want to do the shitwork that their parents did I hear this one. That's why we went to school, that's why we put the hours in. "Improve work" is part of the solution, but there are also complicated issues of status, gendered behaviour, and social climbing tied in with this. It's a challenge.
Useful stuff for the website? perhaps. With Connexions coming in, we have much more careers stuff, and so unpacking the shitjobs concept might help that content; bullying and personal safety information could benefit from advice aimed at lowering young people's perception of threat rather than the actual threat, and from encouraging ideas that don't draw on the easy roles of war (innocent victim, savage agressor, traumatised bystander) but instead focus on rethinking schoolyard conflict.

Monday, August 11, 2008

virtual voices - a final thought

virtual voices - a final thought

This comes courtesy of Charlotte Black, with a timely reminder of why the most enthusiastic proponents of new media are (obviously) going to be the old media pofessionals.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

virtual voices - emerging platforms

Skipping over a workshop where I made a podcast from the future with two media studies lecturers (fun and useful!), onto the afternoon lecture at Virtual Voices!

virtual voices

Interesting stuff in this panel from Derren Lawford, who edits the Panorama Website, but Simon Hankin (from the company that does the Skins site) had less of interest to me to add, while Charlotte Black, a commissioning editor for Channel 4, seemed rather unable to tell us what she did at all. Slightly odd vibe in that although it was about emerging platforms, the people up in front were all the New Media facelifters of traditional media, and lots of the people in the audience seemed concerned about where the new generation of media studies pupils were going to get jobs in a media world seeing "the death of the expert". Personally, I'm not convinced by this "death of the expert" business -- truly knowing your topic inside out is always going to be both rare and valued -- but the warnings against parochialism and the reasons for reporting from unpopular/ist areas were considered and useful. But with no-one on the panels from large independent online-only providers it was hard to get the full picture, and the small businessmen in the audience, especially, got very aggravated -- one buttonholed me after the event and told me it was a disgrace that public money had been spent on my attending the event. Like most education professionals, I'm always ready to challenge people when they put forward unconsidered views, and I had plenty to say to that.

Mindful of getting my money's worth for the tax payer, I stuck around to see the short film programme. Good thing I did, because I suddenly found out what it was that Charlotte Black (who'd done the selection of the films) actually does. The films were, without exception, truly excellent. Original, controversial, gripping, honest and clearly produced with the full participation of the young people involved. You can see them all over at South West Screen's Youtube Channel, but this one on homelessness is particularly standout. I'm already recommending it to projects in Banbury aimed at persuading young people to stick it out and successfully negotiate with parents rather than leave home:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

virtual voices (3)

The News Panel was on next, which was a bit off topic for me, but I was interested to hear their take on user generated content. Perhaps predictably, it was depressing: Martin Fewell revealing that 90-95% of their public emails come from the same small set of people, and in the email equivalent of green ink; Vicky Frost hinting at the abyssal awfulness of many of the comments coming into comment is free. There was, among the media professionals, an (I felt not altogether misplaced) mistrust of the "popular" news story, admixed with a appalled fascination with the awfulness of their most voluble audience members. Tory blogger was also on this panel, and his relationship with the awful, cringeworthy commentators was quite different. They are not populist sirens to mollify, improve, or ignore but his validatory bread and butter, the underswell of common opinion setting the media deliverers to rights, righteously. Also, notably, compere Nick Roddick asked him to sum up something (I honestly forget what) in two words. We were there for a while.

virtual voicesvirtual voices panel 1

Oh, and Martin Fewell had a few words about the dangers of pandering to the Youtube generation (difficult, they agreed, to maintain integrity when their managers all want them to get onto the "most popular" and "most read" lists) and he used as his exemplar of popular non-news "videos of cats falling off pianos". I think he probably meant this one:

Cat's a genius.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

virtual voices conference (2)

I sketched this one during the keynote speech and housekeeping. The keynote was from a prominent Tory blogger who gave a Powerpoint presentation (in blue, with lots of swooshes) mostly about what his blogging circle ("the most influential political bloggers in the country") do. He also described anyone over 40 as "by definition, a technological luddite" --- hmm, how old is Tim Berners Lee now? ... and ... I'll stop there.

His "abuse magnets" list was quite interesting, though -- these being the comment-guarantor topics, if he posts them on his blog, he gets fights in the comments section. Put it into perspective: during a later panel, someone lets slip that 90% of their comments are identifiably coming from just a few people.

The owl is sad because internet owl was previously unaware of the thriving Tory blogger scene. IB's a typical blogger because he's assuming truth by saying things loudly and with conviction. I catch myself doing the same from time to time.

The woman saying "people in black are your friends" is telling us what to do in event of a fire. She's one of the organisers.

The internet is an angel in fishnets because it just is.

keynote address and housekeeping

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

virtual voices conference (1)

I attended an event called Virtual Voices which looked to be helpful to the need to produce short videos, podcasts, etc. Here's the headline:

How can we develop young people's voices so they become the media literate content creators and storytellers of the future?

Virtual Voices brings the media industry together with young media makers and their teachers or tutors to attempt to answer this question and many others...

I guess, in this, I count as a "many other", being neither school-based nor in the media industry! But the line-up and workshops looked very relevant to the things I'm being asked for at the moment -- video, audio, and the chance to produce as well as consume media

It included workshops from Futurescape, PR Bristol and Radiowaves. All sounded interesting and useful.

I took notes in sketch form, as I usually do at events and meetings. For the next couple of posts, I'll be putting up my pages of notes, with relevant links and explanations.

virtual voices conference notes 1

Nothing much to say about this one: I arrived in Bristol early and stopped off for a bacon butty at the lovely Ferry Station cafe. She was the one serving the coffee.