Sunday, July 24, 2016

The multimedia production pathway

When I stared at my pc to build my first site in 96, the debate raging then amongst a burgeoning community of onliners was what constituted interactity.

It hasn't gone away. Twenty years ago at my organic lecture class, my lecturer had excited me with boolean algebra to build a flux condensor to purify some organic compound. Computer science circa 1987 was akin to Dr Doolitle on acid. What the heck is going on? But there for me were the early signs of building loop functions ie interact-cause and effect - ivity.

Interactity is part logic part dysfunctionality. That's because we're taught over the years through language and comprehension to become so logical as to leave no room for expression, deliberately making things wrong. It's what acturists might refrer to conflct management accountacy. What happens when this goes wrong. Our answer is it won't or shouldn't but that misses the point. We're so hung up trying to resolve questions or issues, even before we've tested those limits, while making assumptions of a baseline of our audience's knowledge.

The refinement of this behaviour is what makes a good TV reporter. Seek clarity, keep it simple and tell the story. If you're a regional journalist opinon is eschewed, if you're a correspondent intergrated thinking as described in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review as seeing many sides and charting a new course, then differences of opinion is to be encouraged. BUT still your editor will expect a close of business in your reportage.

"Hey David can you give us a 3 min feature using the following interviews, perhaps, one of the editors I worked to would tell me".

The best interactive producers are 4-7 year old who ask why at every level and break conversations into constituents. Beyond that I'll profer to maths and trignometry majors, where Sin, Cos and Tan offer myriad ways of approaching a problem.

Clicking on a link is not interactive just as clicking a red button isn't, compounded further by the insult from broadcasters that you're tunning into video on demand. (VOD) 12 channel pipes continously broadcasting can only be afforded by a few, which is why cable/broadband will rule eventually.

Active interactivity is an egagement giving you and your audience a wide girth of independence to fill in blanks. Take Brendan Dawes Saul Bass "Psycho" or even the simplistic now, but elegantly sophsticated "9 months" - both favourites from the turn of the millennium. 9 months wowed you with nodel points along the cycle of a woman's pregnancy. It was point and click, but its imagination was your intrinsic desire to unravel the 9 months - via stunning photography and music. It could have been infinity show and still we'd watch.

Saul bass let you reconstruct the psycho shower scene. I think that's what clinched our BBC consultancy when a colleague and I sold an idea of a virtual newsroom to the BBC's Vin Ray heading up the the corporation's journalism college.

And while pondering the founders around 2000: True is True, Precinct, Submethod, Design is Kinky all added in their own way, devising rules born of superior technical and creative knowledge to the graphic and hence also multimedia well.

Interactivty is more than divying up a linear feature bereft of crucial nodes to ellicit further reaction. It works at an intuitive level if you're one of those people who thinks interstially, otherwise elements of game theory or even predictive human behaviour is required.

what happens when I press A. Will I be rewarded. And will that in turn make me want to press B. And how immersive can I be before I realise I'm drilling deeper and deeper.

The real landgrab at the moment is the sophisticant of multimedia- the aesthetics and language of video tossed with the architecture of interacticity. It begs new a structural form in its conceptualisation.

Whilst its as old as ARPRANET, it's vocalisation has been as an antecedent to the hegemony of unitary media and voices. It might just as well have been sir xxxx answer to democracy in the net age.

Those questions at the 10.00 morning meeting become the basis of a platform to engage further dialogue. It's a pain, because you'd rather seek closure but more is better.

In 2001 a colleague and I had a eureka moment. Rosalind Miller, a brilliant designer who now teachers at St Martin sought a new aesthetic style to engage viewers, which in itself was a derivative of early russian film makers such as Vertov
and the loop. Oh yes everything we want to know has its groove from some broken record years old.

The loop however wasn't enough. We needed a strong story; adversity verus the odds, good from bad, triumph in the face of disaster emodied of course in the art of puglism e.g. young boxer looking for an out. Channel 4's Late commissioning producer had expressed an interest in the documentary I was making with the help of a couple of friends, Jon Mac the photographers photographer and Claudio Von Planta - who is the director-cameraman of directors, presently on a motorbike travelling the world filming.

The deal fell through, so in a rare moment of clarity we thought of turning it into an interactive documentary. There were huge limitations. The first being the story. It might have worked linearly but needed more work. We spent four different shoots with the boxing outfit in Islington before the Mime (mind map) structure revealed itself worthy of more questions than answers. Then there was bandwith. How do you fit all this into a 28 , max 56k modem?

The real breakthrough which you can see at work any day; we worked on ours further, was the revelation of how the inverted pyramid structure of news writing feeds into modularity coding. Simply pick up the next paper by your side. After the first paragraph notice how any jump to subsequent paras of the story retains the integrity of the story when we web back and forth through the paras.

Importantly also the dynamic of video compostion meant you could be certain where people's eye would travel. This was something we discovered after. In documentary form by itself, the film maker has a strong often subliminal hold on you by employing a number of techniques, principally movement. Note Polanski's China Town and the bedroom phone scene where almost all the audience sways to attempt to capture the full frame of the subject.

After much work. In 2000 you try working a film doc into a 28k modem, our efforts were rewarded. Channel 4's digital departments gave it the thumbs up at their digital awards final. It was a finalist. Blue Print magazine, the blue chip magazine of design covered it over four pages, and Lennox Lewis would request I join his team.

By now post-dot come blues had set in and our interactive agency had gone the way of many soho outfits. But a fire had been lit. Multimedia is the rebellion sibling of broadcasting, a disruption to linear conversations. On a political level it's not so much about a multitude of media, but voices and opinions seamlessly transcribed into an entity.

Its strength, should be its purpose to provide schisms for new debates and particularly in a western media where the oppposing view is suffocated, diversity of voices, ethnic and minoritiy views are placed outside the sphere of influence, give succour to new discourse.

That will eventually entail multimedia engines with xml/asp/htm imput-output. We're nearing there.

But our concers in these very early tentative steps of multi faceted media conversations should be relying on cues from traditionalist communicators. When ITV new says it wants your news because it is engaging this new church of online democracy, it has little idea that it should be having a broader conversation, not just in context but control - JUST LET GO ( Fightclub) if its can afford it.

When Christian Metz asks what is cinema evocatively deconstructing semiotics and its linguistics; we might ask what is multimedia in its capacity to cull the power of illusion, to integrate or not art and narrative, to experiment with grammar by itself and incorporate where necessary the viscerality of video.

Geographers refer to it as the equilibrium profile which results in the riverbed and water yielding new patterns and complex behaviour. We're there and then not quite yet

This week. If you can't experiment or innovate is there any point in media courses or joining Brit TV, who's last creative 160 IQ rests in the 90s.

Monday, May 30, 2016

I’ve just read Jeff Jarvis (pictured) Mass Media’s Death… and felt inspired to write this.

I have just finished reading “Death to the Mass. Media must rebuild its business around relevance and value, not volume”, by the indefatigable Jeff Jarvis — a modern eclectic media philosopher.
Jarvis straddles the analogue and digital world of journalism with a firm prognosis of its woes. I first came across him at Dale Peskin @dalepeskin and Andrew Nachison @anachison WeMedia conference at the BBC and Reuters in London, in 2006.
Those were effervescent days, as trad. media experts tried to hold onto their halcyon memories. The bruising between journalists and bloggers was gargantuan. ‘You’re not a real journalist’ were the experts’ riposte. Jarvis in his trademark wit was carving up naysayers.
I had been invited by Wemedia to share a podium on the future of news. I was rubbish! I behaved too meekly; the usual hyper me had deserted, stuck in the bathroom. Afterwards I made a line for Jarvis for a swift interview.
Here’s the exchange below. Years later, in fact 2014, Jarvis invited me to CUNY as part of a group of people talking about the future of news. I continued to talk ‘rubbish’ with the following.
If video was going to be the next big thing on the web before YouTube struck, I said, which got me my Knight Batten award in 2006, cinema journalism — self expression and some — will in the future separate the wheat from the chaff.
Jarvis might not remember this, but his words afterwards were something to the effect I liked your idea cuz it’s mad.
I was reminded in his article about an interview I did with my MA students in 2006 called ‘If’. If you could change one thing, I asked, what would that be? Fears of Islamophobia crop up and listen to what Daniel Kofi (pictured) says at 1.13".
Daniel chides the media for reporting events with no recourse to wanting to getting involved in the issues for social public good. It’s an absurd idea by any standards. Journalists report, and like wildlife photographers don’t get involved in nature’s fights.
Jarvis writes in his article.
Rather than continuing to try to maintain our content factory, whose real business is selling eyeballs by the ton, imagine instead if news were a service whose aim is to help people improve their lives and communities by connecting them not only to information, but also to each other, with a commercial model built on value over volume
Daniel’s feeling this. I’m a Brit-Ghanaian. I get this too. I went to school in the former British colony and remember its television output. But at some point, the relentless mass export of the Western TV model hit Ghana too. That style of news’ attrition, ‘ he said, she said’ popularised by Jay Rosen, and ‘if it bleeds it leads’ carpeted any semblance of what TV as a social glue could achieve. In this post looking back on the BBC I explain why.
The history of innovation has often been the transmogrification of ideas, or a tool, modified, sometimes lifted wholesale from one culture or discipline to another.
Kofi’s idea of media that existed in Ghana not so long ago could have currency in today’s journalism, but the experts no doubt would mock its approach. Further back, take the impressionism movement in France in the mid 1800s. They owe a debt of gratitude to Commodore Matthew Perry who would bring back from Japan wood block prints that the French would covet.
Facebook’s notion of connecting people as content, amplified from Locke, Searls, Weinberger and Levine’s The Cluetrain Manifesto is predicated on the ideas of what communities were once, neighbourly, homely places where every one shared, spoke over the garden wall, mimicking civic journalism (circa 1990).

Outside journalism’s big tent, technology has become its defibrillator. InWhen Old Technologies Where New, author Carolyn Marvin brings some cautious thinking to this perennial tech-fest in news. One by the way which has been created in no small measure by businesses and marketeers seeking to create new revenue streams, but it’s also served a purpose breaking up TV and traditional journalism’s monopoly.
Take mobile journalism, a word coined in the 1960s by the late Robert Drew, but found new marketing fame as a paradigm shift in the swift flow of information in this millennium . So far so good. But in its dominant incarnate its architects seek to homogenise its form and style towards traditional broadcasting’s achilles. And the idea that it’s the cure all also repeats analogue journalism’s mistake. Source and pick the best tool for the job and let no one tell you differently.
Marvin’s book shows that the frenzy surrounding present tech isn’t new. We’re wowed by technology. It can often break leaving editorial thinking in its wake. We’re left to suss it out through what Professor Brian Winston calls a supervening necessity. That is, once we find a social purpose for the tech it kicks into action. But who prescribes that social framing? The victors write history. Have you ever thought why, say, given all the art-painting movements in the world, you’d struggle to come up with a handful from Africa. Meanwhile, more tech doesn’t necessarily alter the way the tone and message travels within reportage.
We gather around technology and create deterministic and causal meaning based on a hegemonic modes of thinking, but societies aren’t static. Their tastes and needs change, notwithstanding their irrational concerns too.
Once again, these instincts are more redolent in different cultures, or eras, than the ones we might recognise in our own. Today, journalism often resembles what a senior BBC exec calls ‘air conditioned’ journalism as brilliantly illustrated in this piece by a BBC journalist.

Professor Michael Schudson, author several books, such as The Power of News describes journalism as a cultural product shaped by literary and social conventions. It’s something we’ve tended to forget, because of this dominant thesis that surrounds the form, which jettisons cultural and social references.
Which brings me neatly to my conclusion. If you could tell stories, aided by technology to be nuanced with story form’s language, providing insights into primary and sub conscious meaning ( heaven’s knows we need it), where you could break the rules because PR and marketeers have you over a barrel (churnalism), what form of journalism would that be?
Working with Jarvis is another person, I’m a fan of. Travis Fox, now a lecturer at CUNY has a way of storytelling that plays on cultural nuances. There’s no cacophony of tech, but someone behind the lens who is a humanist wanting to tell stories that, as the video below illustrates, resembles, cinema.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Cinema is a future of journalism, but in 2025 of course you knew that already.

Journalism using video is in a crisis. Cinema — that’s the future. You see an alternative: Snapchat, Vine, Instagram etc.

I’m not disagreeing with you for now, but they are smaller elements towards a human need for deeper expressive narratives. I did say future.

 You’re dismissive, I know. You wanted to read about the next iteration of tech enveloping 3D, even 4D virtual environments, or even presence reality — holo deck images created in your home. You can find these in several of my previous posts.
No, at this very moment, perhaps you’ve decided you need not read any further because you’ve never heard anything so absurd. Bear with me, as it’s possible you’re exhibiting what psychologists refer to as an illusion of explanatory depth.
It is so obvious to you that cinema has nothing to do with journalism, because you implicitly know this, because aside from everything else, you know cinema is the stuff of fiction and Captain America Civil War.
Here’s a conundrum. Is it so obvious that everything you know is down to experience or constructed from experience? Course it is! Yet this wasn’t the case before the 1700s, when philosopher John Locke proposed this.
Perhaps that’s too far back. Is it really obvious that you could be made to electrocute someone to death on the say so of a man in a white coat? That was the Milligram experiment in the 1960s.
And how about this for only just over a decade ago, was it really obvious that video embedded in web sites, surrounded by audio and text was the future. N00o it wasn’t. But your hindsight bias is working overdrive now to, perhaps, suggest it was.
On a personal note, I wouldn’t consider it obvious that if you create work that attracts the attention of your peers, alongside a group of people you’re invited to meet the future King of Britain, Prince Charles.
I digress. Yes that’s a surreal one. Where was I?

Here’s a citation from one of the US most coveted innovation labs,
the Knight Batten Awards and what they said about a prototype video site I built before the days of YouTube.
Entrants to the awards included: Newsweek, Time, MSNBC, and BBC.Viewmagazine.TV was a site I built from scratch. Ninety percent of the articles, the videos, the podcasts, the interactive media, the photography was created by me.
Then I set about designing and creating the pages - some of which are below. They included a range of story forms, such as these from the future of mobile, new photos of Bob Marley, a tie-up between Brixton and the Bronx, Jay-Z at my university. 
The judges pooled from some of the US’ finest media organisations said:
This interactive magazine foreshadows the future with its use of hip new story forms and hight video-centric web tools.
So how do I justify Cinema? And how do you use tech to support this, and what do I mean by cinema, and what kind? It’s based on worldwide research and a doctorate programme, please Click here for part 2

Saturday, May 07, 2016

How using new tech e.g. VR can recreate memories that correct a flawed past.

 It’s an idea so powerful, like a virus it keeps growing. Its currency is its ability to recreate our mental landscape, impregnate us with concepts that affect our senses in ways that it becomes knowledge.
Furthermore, this industry at work builds our internal world into a fortress of new ideologies — a place within us where personalities are shaped and our reality is framed. Our memories.
This sounds like a sequence from Nolan’s blockbuster movie Inception. The farther we burrow into the subconscious, we bypass ideas, complex ideas and then the basement level where memories reside ready to be retrieved.
But instead of a movie, albeit created from a philosophical theme, could the reality of building fresh repurposed memories reside in our growing penchant for the come-back media phenomenon, Virtual Reality.
In our present state of collective reality promulgated by traditional Real-flawed Reality media, ideas like the following  have transcending into a cultural norm: wealth is necessary towards happiness; unlimited capitalism a sign of virtuousness and virility; love thy neighbour, so long as they look and sound like you; and fear mongering is the much needed condition to sow a better future. It’s dystopia, yet it’s become acceptable.
John Locke saw the importance of memories. An English philosopher whose vision was how to break from the abstraction and dogma of religion and defy following authorities for the sake of it, he cast his thoughts to what our senses and experience could deliver. Memories shape us. They are our link to perceptions.
Ask any ten year old in the US whether an African American can become President of the USA, and you’ll be ridiculed. A decade ago and other ten year olds without any concomitant memories and narrative from their parents would be equally forthright, with a different message. Today, a London politician who is a Moslem just laid down a new tarmac for deep-core perceptions. Yes, any faith can become a London mayor.
Three hundred years on, Locke, also a founding father of democracy might be taken aback to find how our collective memories in the Western world have been harvested and water-boarded by a virulent elite media. If you keep on doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep on getting what you got. Austerity is good, or is it?
Virtual reality, as a newish mass media, could facilitate new realities, yield hyper realities even, to address what’s before us. The New York Times, reports the Niemann Lab, sees VR films as regular content for the future. Several mass media organisations are due to follow as VR finally cashes in on its contemporary fame. But that’s the problem. There’s little evidence, the content required to mediate current memories, to build new knowledge will be any different from the status quo.
Today, our recalibrated memories of wars leaves us ignorant to its legacies. Former US President Ronald Reagan in Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the US, asks the nation to forget about Vietnam.
In the late 1950s, following a combination of mass movements of African Americans into urban spaces and the ‘Kennedy Administration [had given] giving voice to the poor, among which blacks were disproportionately represented’, poor African American’s became the media symbol of poverty. Unknowingly or otherwise, new memories were laid down to cohere food stamp recipients as overwhelmingly black, when US stats have shown otherwise.
DC Marvel promulgated a persuasive virtual reality back in the days when tens of thousands of boys and girls growing up were drawn into its make-believe enterprise of super heroes.
In this virtual escapist world, bullying was answered with a thwack and a Spiderman one-liner, racial injustices were dealt a triumphant blow from the Black Panther a revered figure who by coincidence reflected the name of a real-life political movement. Storm caused a hurricane to restore humanity, and a disabled man using echo sound location cleared the streets of maladroit citizens.
It took me to my late early teens to know it was impossible to scale buildings, yet the narratives and their allegories, those memories, are still with me. If the mass media, guilty of performing its own collective inception is to be corrected by new millennial media how might VR help? First to take advantage of its newness, then as Michael Bodekaer points out in his TED talk on VR to educate the future. To recreate worlds.
Ironically, in choosing a slide to highlight the scientists of the future, Bodekaer’s fumbles presenting a smiling cluster of graduates, where diversity does not figure in the photo.  But then that's his reality. A later slide on teachers corrects this.
Then it requires films and personal with subject matter that goes beyond the boundaries of naturalised memes we see drudgingly across screens.
If the memories of your past appear contentious, or even distorted, throwing more personnel at the problem, won’t necessarily tip the scales back. The BBC is hurriedly trying to address a diversity imbalance. It could do well to review its content as well.
Does Africa deserve generally to be presented as a unitary mass and mooching on the West for integrity, as seen in international news? Africa IS a country someone wrote tongue-in-cheek. Several years ago, a magazine inverted the relationship between the developing world and developed to dramatic effects.
Then VRs distinctive quality requires consideration to an essence of a new cinema. How so? The art of the moving image uncontroversially resides in cinema — an eclectic assortment of styles and forms designed for audiences to be informed, affected, and often moved to react.
In his groundbreaking book The Language of New Media, author Lev Manovich presciently references an emergent new form as a return to spatial cinema. Similarly in a tome being considered by publishers I detail how millennial factual image makers and journalists are re-learning the lost art of non-fictional cinema. In effect we’re coming full circle, the birth of a new media and realignment of a populist one. This time, the hope should be of creating  truer memories.
follow @viewmagazine
If you liked this article, please share so as others may participate, feedback or critique its premise. This is part of a wider paper I'm developing to present at a symposium with a film. Dr David Dunkley Gyimah writes about digital and media. The image in the headline is of his actual DNA. Gyimah holds a distinct feature in science. He and his family were the first in the world to have DNA genetic sequencing performed on their DNA in 1985.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Death Marches and Rabbit holes - inside the multi planar world leading new media design

It’s that tingling, numbing sensation in the fingers, closely followed by the perennial fight to keep your eyes open. Focus, focus! There’s a flaw in the code. What’s more there’s another three days ahead of this. The room, intermittently, visited by others, displays cans of strewn cola and pizzas — the diet of start-upers.
Memories like this don't leave you; all part of the lifestyle - death marches and rabbit holes. That  scene in the matrix where Seraph has to fight Neo and declares you don't know what someone  is like unti you fight them. Well, in the dotcom boom you didn't know what a person was really like until they're really tired and find that little extra mile of problem-solving neurons.

Soho 2001 seems a long time ago, but in 2016 a new generation is at it. In 10 contact days spread over 10 weeks in between a raft of other modules a group of students with no prior knowledge of the web and comms will have the opportunity to go from zero to heros pitching their sites at a google exec at google headquarters in London, but first there is the little matter of understanding what it takes to create a site.

There was a time when when there was a clear division of labour: Front end folks e.g. designers and project managers were the presentables, a mix of casual and denims. Back enders, usually coders and system engineers looked like they worked the vice squad undercover, and then there are the intermediaries such as SEO marketeers and data analysts.

In the visceral multiskilled world of millennia with zero hour contracts,  'bait and switch' policies and heightened risk taking, you'd be a fool if you didn't try and understand the mechanics of the whole work flow. This is the era of the jack of all trades and master of all. Paradoxically, that doesn't mean becoming a loner on the basis you can do it all.

In 1998 I learned to code, but was so hung up on the narcism of showing my stuff that I struggled at what to show and how. Agency do it with aplomb attributing success to the team. On your own, beating your chest can come across as self-aggrandisement syndrome.

I took the plunge anyway with this I found on wayback, the Internet archive being one of the first scrawled (2003) designs, using HTML and Flash. It looks awful by today’s standards, but back in the days, it held its own. You can see also my influences from this comparative screen grab of Channel 4 about the same time.

I took the plung anyway with this I found on wayback, the Internet archive being one of the first scrawled (2003) designs, using HTML and Flash. It looks awful by today's standards, but back in the days, it held its own. You can see also my influences from this comparative screen grab of Channel 4 about the same time.

But guess what, whilst Channel 4 had a team of web coders and designers, I was just me.

Amongst some of my top stories at the time, my film work with heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis fighting Tyson, an interview with a former head of the CIA about their new recruiting policy, a diving expedition to the cold waters of Gallipoli and my international work in South Africa and its townships freelancing for the BBC World Service.

In 2003, the traditional route, still employed by broadcasters to get noticed was a showreel on VHS. The VHS has since been dropped, but broadcasters are still fixated on the opening 15 seconds of what you look like and how you sound. I would later find out it was one of the biggest barriers to hiring minorities, on the basis you just didn't look and sound right.

Now, today our media has a place to breath, but what's the skinny on tooling up yourself?

Our students in ten weeks do the following

  1. Coding HTML 5 and CSS3 and Java
  2. Coding for mobile first and responsive designs
  3. Creating the brief that underpins research into the name, and purpose of the site. This tends to be a rigorous exercise employing both working in a team, turn taking, and understanding one's limits.  Members gather data on the exemplars that may influence them, performing their own internal analysis. Referred to as white paper syndrome, more often than not students will struggle on how to get started and will require a series of nudges.
  4. Their efforts are evaluated through a systematic approach to critiquing.  Students then must present their work. Self-organise into a division of labour with an overview of collective responsibility. We encourage students to take on roles they would not mormally assume, so they're outside their comfort zone.
  5. More often than not here too, by critiquing students come to learn of their own flaws. The knowledge exchange approach is not to indicate what anyone might percieve as wrong, for there are rarely straight cut flaws in this process. After all it's their design. My role is to question why they're doing something and the reasons they got to where they are
  6. Back to design, coding to build on their briefs. This becomes a collective process, something akin to a thesis. Their proposition must lead to questions about their aim of their thesis and they'll be picking any number of methodologies towards that process. It is however an artistic approach, so there is flexibility and creativity in building the process.
  7. Design principles are re-emphasised, with hierachies and different cognitve design and compositional process. Often I'll use my knowledge of the Romantics, impressionists and classical painters. How did the great masters teach us how to see the world and what conventions do we possess to decode websites. A good point here is that different countries have  different conventions at looking at style. This too is dependent on the audience and the era. Note how my 2003 Mrdot design ( above) wasgood for its time, but is deflating now.
  8. Videojournalism and photoshop compositional workflows are introduced, alongside other rich media, but the prompt is partially the student. By now they're taking on so much knowledge that any new knowledge will only be of use, if they have a direct need, so we set up scenarios for that need.
  9. Further critiques and presentations. The web presentation must complement a booklet handout they must put together for VCs to read. This critique often yields more testing, particularly with the audience and different operating systems.
  10. By the fifth week we hold surgeries to find out from students their concerns. These often yield a range of issues from wanting more coding time, to the use of rich media.
  11. The week after is soft launch. This is death march teritory. It's often one of the biggest snags. Design, code and content flaws arise. Here too the content, style and tone can be assessed with their market and students are encouraged to poll, test, conduct qualitative analysis with their target audience.
  12. Hard lauch follows with tweets to industry, friends etc about the launch. Another death march ensues. SEO strategies on the page and strategies of writing for SEOs are debated at length.
  13. The site is up. Back to the brief. Does the site match the brief, if not it needs to. Students present a pecha kucha - ten minutes or less to sell their site to a VC or expert. Here business plans for expansion and social media methodologies are finessed.
  14. Presentation to Industry. In the following years we've presented to Channel 4 News, ITV, senior exec at the BBC WS. This year we're at google.
  15.  The next three weeks involves building their own sites, based on the workflow above. This involves identifying who the students would like to work for and how we approach the employer.

 Presenting at the BBC World Service and Channel 4 News

This year's Onliners presenting at Google.

A couple of take aways here. Whilst the emphasis appears to be laid on skills, which is necessary, the main investigations involve cognitive skills at understanding the psychology of websites. For instance, why would anyone come to your site? What's their motive? What do you want from them? How do they navigate your site? How do colours affect them? How is your writing style tempered to the audience?

The issues coupled with the whole concept of web design become the rabbit hole. It becomes addictive. On several occasions students will express at the end of the course that they never want to go near a site again. Many email me to say they are now working in online.

There is one abiding memory that I have which keeps me focused and spurs me on. That if you have the potential, if you believe in what you can achieve, if your dreams keep you excited, then online is not a job, it’s a window into your world that showcases whet you want and others may take some joy from too.

In 2005, I won ( a dream) one of the US' most coveted international digital awards, the Knight Batten for a website that has changed since but was built on these principles. Since then many of the students I have been fortunate to interact with have come close to their dreams.

And all because of Death Marches and Rabbit Holes.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Poetic Logic : Creativity beyond the rational

Scary story! You’ve been working for an outfit for some 15 years — even as a regular freelancer, you had some inkling of the next pay cheque.
I did stints at the BBC, WTN, Channel One and the rest and then one day at Channel 4 News the dreaded knife struck. A dozen of us were let go.
If it has happened to you yet it’ll come in some guise. For new grads coming onto the market, it’s equally scary as they send off cv after cv — been there too.
For mid-careerists, at some point you’re either elect to go alone having built up a cadre of contacts or take that leap into the unknown.
Army personnel speak about their life inside the forces, compared to outside, civvy street where a simple trip of going to the grocery is alien. Even Presidents talk about the loss of trappings and attention. I’ve been neither, but I can’t think the feeling is any different.
So what do you do?
I read endless self-help books — course you do. Anything that works and audited my own experiences and then fundamentally made the web and new associates my friend; networks became my partners, and my transferable skills an unlikely hidden gem.
Today, as a university lecturer, who still practices his craft, my passion has been to pass it on. Invariably this pathway can be traditional, but there exists a poetic logic — an unwritten manner at creativity beyond the rational in pursuing a goal, which can make your work stand out.
The term derives from the work of the great Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky. Poetic logic from a poetic conscious attempts to create a unique and aesthetic course to complement your identity. You are the artist — and the job can be anything.
I have learned over the years there is no one size-fits all, because cultures, societies, different races create different meanings. My job, I have come to learn is to inspire; to open up new learning practices; to pass on cognitive skills e.g.reading human behaviour consuming media; to acknowledge fears and concerns as necessary, and understand why and what’s happening.
My deepest desires is to channel what I have learned, to utilise my experience as a professional, an artist in residence at the South Bank Centre, a researcher imbuing my complex identity like most of us ( I’m a Black Briton, with a German grandmother) to forge a path that rewards emotionally (emotional intelligence) and financially.

If that sounds reasonable, I’d love to be involved in what you’re doing, to cross paths, to as, Jude Kelly the Artistic Director of the South Bank says: “to collide”.
What’s the point, after all of acquiring all of this if you don’t intend to engage.
Please contact me here and here @viewmagazine

Dr. David Dunkley Gyimah
University of Westminster