Culture & New Media (with a side point on books)

Eoin Purcell

A fine conference (after a fine meal)
There was something great about The New Media. New Audience? Conference run by the Arts Council last week. For one thing it was great to see Charles Leadbeater and Andrew Keen spar (no matter how mildly they did so). We rarely see clashes on such opposed viewpoints and when it refers directly to your own industry it is particularly interesting.

Leadbeater is the optimist and Keen, the somewhat posed pessimist. I say posed because you get the sense that he is in fact a personally shy man who would rather not be gunning up opposition the way he is, except that it sells books & gets him speaking gigs.

Its all about marketing
Which brings me to the over riding message I got from this fine conference. The strongest sense was that most Irish Arts organizations see the best way forward with the web in using it as a marketing tool with an allied with an almost overwhelming lack of clarity on how to do that.

There was an avoidance, especially in my panel session, of any discussion of the web and new media as a way to collaborate or to generate new and different arts. I found this odd until I realised that the vast bulk of the attendees had little exposure to the web as anything more than the home of Google and free content.

And why should they have. The tools of interaction are hardly the most widely advertised. Blogs have a bad pr problem that is only slowly being addressed. People at the panel feared the loss of control when their content went online. They wondered how best to reach audiences across all platforms.

Where does this point us?
There is a real need not for high talk of collaboration and new media, but for solid and basic ways to interact with audiences and potential customers online. It seems after the conference that there is much work to be done and embedding the arts world in the online world in a real and meaningful way.

That is not to say that there are not individuals and organizations with an excellent grasp of how the web can be used and who are working on exciting projects that deliver real and interesting results, just that for the vast majority, the web is not a friendly place!

A very worthwhile conference nonetheless getting people, at the very least, focused on these issues. That can never hurt!
Eoin

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8 comments

  1. Morning Eoin.

    It’s great to hear what people are thinking about new media at home in Ireland. I’m studying in Scotland and attended the Society of Young Publishers conference last month. I found that every speaker was incredibly forward-looking and accepting of all the technology that is available to them and, as such, they really encouraged an attitude that all this blogging, RSS feeds, social networking etc. is not so much revolutionary as necessary. I’ve yet to put any order on my notes, but you’re welcome to read them once I do!

    In the meantime, there’s a good article here: http://www.bookbrunch.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=576:syp-conference-embraces-digital-age-&catid=903:publishing&Itemid=79

    -Elaina

  2. Eoin,
    Thanks for such a grounded piece. You strike a measured and encouraging tone, one that I suspect will meet the needs of people whatever their starting point with ‘new media’. It’s also encouraging to have Elaina’s informed comment reporting how different things seem to be among the Society of Young Publishers. I’ve had such a burning desire that all the ‘new media’ be put to good use that I’ve struck a completely different tone from you. I’ll be interested to see what sort of comments you attract to your post.
    Of course there are many more readers than commenters, and the substantial debate & consideration is going on elsewhere.
    Perhaps you and I could meet up for a face to face about all this? And we could tap into Eliana material. If so, I could do before or after xmas, whichever would suit you best.

  3. I wonder i you got that impression because most o the people on the panels weren’t so internet literate and there was not (in my opinion) enough interaction between the panels and the loor (where perhaps there was more use o new media)
    (sorry, one o my keys is not working. Guess which)

  4. Haha! Emerging

    There definitely was not enough interaction. It was tough to achieve on some levels.

    I was keen to get some going on my panel but felt that it was only warming up nicely when we had to call it a day!

    PS: Is it F?

    Paul,

    I’m with you on the need to use these new forms of communication to push content, art and connections out into the wider world!

    I’m much more of a skeptic on whether we can do it and still make money! I’ve spent two years puttering towards the conclusion that you just need to believe in your content and ask for money! I’m eager to meet up though the New Year would make more sense from my pov! Holidays next week and an all too rapid wind down towards the break when I return!

    Elaina,
    Thanks for the comment! I’m glad the SYP has a positive outlook on digital media, I’m much more positive on it myself!

    The future is bright! The future is digital?
    Does that make sense?
    Eoin

  5. Eoin, New Year will do fine to meet up. I’ll call you. I’m very keen to make money and to have consumers pay for it. I’d convinced the ‘new media’ is essential for long term demand generation, and I look forward to the challenge of finding a way forward when we meet.
    On the question of interaction, I don’t think enough thought was given to it beforehand. It’s the sort of thing that has to be designed in, I think. It’s best if it’s at the core of the culture of the event, rather then left to chairs to think on their feet. I thought I could see you grappling with this on the day.
    Have a great Xmas. I’ll have a book for Mercier to consider in 2009.

  6. The future being digital makes sense Eoin, but I think Orange might be suing for unauthorised use of their old slogan!
    On that note, have you been to speak to the NUIG class yet this year? It would be interesting to see how much you incorporate digital development into your talk.

    -Elaina

  7. Elania,

    Legitimate paraphrasing!

    I was due to speak to them in October but had a 7 hour traffic hell! Eventually at 5 we decided to call it a day but it looks like I will be going to speak in January! Which is great as I really enjoyed the experience last year!

    Eoin

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