Shift Happened

mediasnackers.jpg The second day started with a motivational presentation by DK of MediaSnackers which he entitled Making the Net Work. “To go forward you have to look sideways at what’s happening in other sectors” and then, in his warm Welsh accent, DK uttered the names of huge commercial organisations that are often despised by artists and enthusiasts for their blatant marketing on social networking sites. But he persuaded us that some of them had useful strategies that we could deploy to open the dialogue with our users and contacts. “Learn, don’t throw stones”

For example, once a month senior staff at Ford Motors are online answering questions from customers in the belief that interacting is more than advertising. Brands are trying to be human.


DK went on to say that we should be ourselves on social networking sites, displaying a photo of ourselves, and using real names where practical. This forced me to reveiw my digistories profile on Twitter. I have now added my name to the profile – not just in the biog, and my face to the plain text digistories logo.

He also impressed me with his section about playing. Play is the best method of learning, but the older we get the less we play. You won’t find many games on my iPhone or my MacBook Pro. Do I need to play more? Well it started me thinking about introducing play into some of the contexts in which I’m expected to teach and to engage in a lunchtime conversation about writing non linear narrative suitable for games. A small spark can ignite a whole new way of working. If you want to see more of DK’s presentation it’s here

DK was followed in sharp contrast by Lynn Gardner, Theatre critic of The Guardian. While DK urged us to play, experiment and see what’s possible, Lynn was far more conservative in her adoption of the latest technology. Listening to her reminded me of sitting under the gaze of a head mistress as she gently told us what was best for us all. She conceded that while the web had been bad for newspapers it had been good for journalism. She is now able to sit at her desk and glean live updates from around the globe. She felt that innovation was more likely to make people go to the theatre and not replace it. She also welcomed the way the internet community had matured over time – in particular the communities clustered around The Guardian’s Comment is Free blogs.

Since digital downloads have upset the money making models of the music publishing industry, have you noticed how much more important live music has become? Rohan Gunatillake brought it to our attention in his session at Shift Happens as he introduced Why the Edinburgh Festivals are like the Web. He suggested that in times of adversity festivals are very important because they are endued with spiritual and cultural values. What makes an event a festival? 1. Content – themes – programmes. 2. Boundary – place or time. 3. Social Spaces – eg meal times and coffee breaks. 4. Market Place for vendors. Perhaps the festival would like to install Rohan as as Geek in Residence.

Jocelyn Upendram followed with a useful tutorial on Creative Commons licensing in the UK. It made more sense that I had previously understood. Watch the YouTube version here:

Tim Wheeler and Alison Short introduced Mind the Gap theatre which specialises in providing a theatre experience for people with disabilities amused us all with their mission statement “To boldly go where everyone else has gone before” – although I suspect their VR Studio Tours, complete with actors, are way out in front of most of us.

After lunch, when I was recorded in a short interview with Colm O’Rourke of Khaoz Media, Abhay Ahikhari held us all spell bound. I didn’t make many notes – it probably wasn’t that kind of talk – but I do remember him blaming his esoteric approach on his multi-faith upbringing and drifting into Japanese as he recalled a visit to Tokyo and Osaka – and he encouraged us to listen to his soundscapes.


Which leads neatly on to an iPhone game in sound only introduced by Adam Stanning of Punk Pie. The best way to experience Aurifi, it is to part with all of £1.19 at the iPhone App Store.

As the temperature rose in the Theatre Royal my eye lids sank and I confess to some black holes in my note taking for the afternoon. Ian Aspin of Really Good Thinking did keep me awake with his motivational presentation about using new technology to make the world a better place. He challenged us to answer the question, “What is the point of what we’re doing?” and then went on to ask even bigger questions about the meaning of life and the purpose on being here. You’d be better looking at his Really Good Thinking website if you want to start finding the answers.

A transatlantic link to New York brought Alice Grunwald via Skype to the audience in a tricky two screen presentation involving slides and live streaming. It worked and she told us about the Memorial Museum being built at the site of the Twin Towers designed to help people make sense of the events of 9/11.  She introduced the memorial website featuring a mashup of still images from the site and Google Streetview – then and now so to speak. The museum will gather the most extensive archive linked to one historical event. The story about people – loss and hope.

An environmental duet followed. Hannah Rudman – envirodigital – get digital – be greener. She had worked for Amb:IT:ion in Scotland. Sian Alexander of Julie’s Bicycle is campaigning to reduce the carbon footprint of the music industry. They both posed questions about the need to travel when we could link. Almost as if it was planned to illustrate the point of the previous campaigners, David Sable introduced NT Live and how some productions at the National Theatre had been beamed live, in HD, to up to 320 cinemas across the world. I was impressed that in one night they put as many bums on seats as they had in the entire run of the same production at the 800 seater theatre.

feelfine.jpgFinally to the Keynote from Jonathan Harris who delighted us with his artistic approach to data sets, starting with words and progressing through various life experiences to his current project of a photo a day. It’s all about exploring inner landscapes –  secrets. He showed us intriguing graphical web sites that beautifully displayed the results of data he’d gathered.  One particularly fascinating collection garners sentences from blogs that contain the word “feeling” which became a book We Feel Fine. Later, through a series of spectacular and at times disturbing images, he told us about his journey to solitude and how the the owl was significant to him. He talked about the importance of signs in our lives and said  “We live so much in our rational minds that we have lost touch with our intuitions …. we need to get out of heads and into our hearts a little more”. Experience some of his work on his site

This has been a long post but I hope it has served to convey something of the stimulating event which was ShiftHappens, it’s helped me to make sense of some of my notes and made me realise how much there is to digest and act upon to make shift happen.








  1. Appreciate the kind words about my little spot – thank you sir and glad it made a positive impact.

    PS the link goes to the notes from my talk not the talk itself 🙂