Trying to focus on digital projects while trying not to get angry about politics


…and trying to stave off the symptoms of mental exhaustion at the same time. On preparing for summer concerts, ‘Change Cambridge’ and me & Ceri preparing to deliver our first term of ‘social media for social action’ evening classes this autumn

Some of you will have seen my first forays into digital video (see here) as I try and go far beyond text-based social media. At the same time, I’m also experimenting with digital audio too – and not just with Soundcloud (see here).

G-flat major in 7/4 timing

If you want to hear me and the chaps singing a track in this key with that time signature (amongst others) you’ll have to come to Dowsing Sound Collective‘s gig on the day of the World Cup Final – Sunday 13 July (there are two showings) in Bury St Edmunds, up the road from Cambridge. See here for details. It’s not just any old concert hall. It’s a very modern concert hall with a very ‘sharp’ sound. This was my reaction to my first group rehearsal in there. There’s also another track where I’ll be doing an ickle solo excerpt – my first since…1996. Actually, in the grand scheme of things, I’m a tiny cog in a massive musical machine, the brainchild of our musical genius director Andrea Cockerton. When I saw them at the Cambridge Corn Exchange just before Christmas, I thought: “Yeah…I wanna be part of that lot”

Also, Dowsing performed for Illuminate Cambridge earlier this year. We’ve had confirmation that it’ll be up again in 2015. Here’s what Dowsing did for 2014.

A fair amount of my time has been taken by working on what are new pieces for me – ones that are really testing my vocal cords. One positive (for me) is that I’m learning a lot more about audio (& digital audio), as well as being kept away from Twitter and blogging. This is not a bad thing – I’ve been trying to reduce (slightly) the amount of time I spend staring at a Twitter feed retweeting stuff. (Not easy given that it feels like an addiction).

Hearing your voice played back

It’s one thing hearing your voice played back on audio. Hearing your own voice singing and then played back…yeah. That takes getting used to! Yet there’s something about doing things repeatedly and improving one step at a time that takes the awkwardness out of it. That said, hearing my own singing voice played back feels at times like an ‘out of body experience’. Sometimes I struggle to make the emotional connection between my voice played back and myself as the listener.

“Change Cambridge” – Saturday 13 September 2014 at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

“Cambridge: A global city with the infrastructure of a large market town”

We have a date and a venue for a day-long open-space event that I hope will bring together a critical mass of people (anywhere between 100 to 250) who are passionate about improving Cambridge for the benefit of all of us. Open by design, digital by default and with young people conspicuous not just by their presence but by their input too. (Especially if they can do things like this).

I’ve mentioned this to several of you, and represents something of a huge risk on my part. I wouldn’t have got this far without the support and constructive cajoling from David Cleevely and Anne Bailey.

I’ve produced a ****very rough first draft*** of what the event might look like at  140622_Brochure_For_Blogpost_ACv1. As you can see, I’m not the world’s greatest graphic designer, but at this stage it’s content that matters. I want to give people a sense of what I’m trying to put together. Please send me feedback – esp if you’ve been to UKGovCamp or have organised similar events. I’m in the process of asking people with a far better artistic/design sense who’d like to play with this to get in touch for a formal final version too. If that’s you, please let me know!

Learning from the early spring SkillsFest (see here) and from Puffles’ election campaign, as well as what I’m doing with digital film school and even all things audio-tech with Dowsing Sound Collective are all feeding into this event. Publicity-blitz begins in early-mid July. Between now and the end of June I’ll be contacting several of you to see what part you/your organisations would like to play in this event.

Ideally I’d like to be further ahead with the organising than I currently am, but this is going to be my focus for the next few months – in particular post-Dowsing Sound Collective performances. That’s not at the expense of other things – rather I’m linking up what were a series of disparate threads.

Introducing social media for social action – a 10 week evening class in Cambridge

See the top of Page 4 in “Computing and Photography“. Ceri Jones and I will be delivering this course for the Parkside Federation at their Coleridge Campus in Cambridge on Tuesday evenings from 23 September 2014!

This stems from ideas Ceri and I have been discussing for quite some time. As the institutions didn’t seem to be driving the idea of joined-up community digital learning in Cambridge (which we blogged about here), we decided to be the change we wanted to see. Ceri’s been the driving force behind this – turning our ideas into a formal pitch to Parkside Coleridge – so a ***Big Thank You*** to them for taking a risk with us. Neither of us have done an evening class course before (although I have a few years experience of being a corporate and social media trainer). Also no on in Cambridge (as far as we know) has designed or delivered an extended tailored course that links social media to community action that is geographically specific to a small area.

Again, this links back to the ‘Change Cambridge’ event as the course begins less than two weeks after the event. It says to people attending that want to take forward their existing community action & branch out online that there’s something ready for them.

“What’s this all got to do with politics?”

It’s been depressing me, so I’m trying to refrain from extended blogposts about it for now, although there have been a couple of interesting talks I’ve been to of late. The most interesting one by former Chesterton Community College student Nick Pearce, now of the IPPR who was back in Cambridge earlier. See tweets from @CSciPol on what Nick said. The big thing I took away was how Nick linked ‘the elite’ and how they behaved with the institutional failings and collapse of public trust within them due to the elite’s behaviour. In particular elites demonstrating in their behaviour that ‘public norms’ don’t apply to them. MPs’ expenses, phone hacking, police coverups, bankers bonuses, FIFA, executive pay…the list goes on.

Far better I’ve found to focus on things where I’m learning and get a better feeling of making a difference rather than becoming (as I have sometimes done – in 2014 in particular) of being a social media retweet machine who does little more than rant and moan online.

Hence trying to be the change I want to see.



One thought on “Trying to focus on digital projects while trying not to get angry about politics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s