Ambition – The arts council roadshow for getting us all up to speed digitally

Notes from the AMBITION roadshow:-(

Rather cheekily – and in order to do most of the workshops – I attended sessions in Nottingham and Cambridge. I’m pleased to report the catering was excellent in both locations!

Here are my video clips, highlights and lowlights:-

To start…some random quotes from the day (some are repeated in context)

• arts organisations used to do things for and to audiences… now its about doing things with audiences. Audiences want the live experience, but they want to be part of it, co producers even.
• Todays technologies are about enabling communities
• digital technologies can be very cost light – but they are very time consuming
• the time for creative thinking, playing, learning with digital technologies is difficult to find but vital.
• if politicians are recognising the value and impact of social networking then we’re no longer in early adopter territory. These are key influencing tools (check out the Obama campaign).
• the pace of change is slow – but dont fight it
Video clips:-
Key note: Alex Fleetwood.
(the festival is at the end of July)

This key note was worth listening too twice. Note that I committed (as I discovered later) the cardinal crime of using the digital zoom on the Flip Camera. The rule is – DONT ZOOM IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES – and guess what I did throughout.

At the time of writing this is being uploaded to my vimeo account so I’ll imbed later – but you can access it here

Ambition Keynote with Alex Fleetwood of Hide and Seek from matthewlinley on Vimeo.

The clips that Alex used in the presentation can be found at

Note all the clips used were filmed on my FLIP HD camera (apparently Flip own 95% of the market because they gave bloggers and active social networkers free cameras as a marketing initiative). However all the AMBITION speakers recommended the Kodak 21 6 – mainly because it has upgradable memory and uses replaceable batteries.


You can also catch 15 seconds of the opening session which I live streamed using Qik from my Google G1. Still finding my way with this piece of software – and I was at the back of the room!


Participation Masterclass with Our Man Inside… (Cambridge)
twitter @documentally and web site –

some good tips

– whichever social networking sites you use keep your avatar the same!
– Uses twitter as a backbone – the link to other media
– check out for twittering from a web enabled phone.
– Use to keep track of conversations – whose talking about you, about what your interested in etc
– 4pm is the key impact time – its when America wakes up.
– Up load, propergate, take part, get involved.
– Speed is of the essence

some useful opinions

– if politicians are recognising the value and impact of social networking then we’re no longer in early adopter territory. These are key influencing tools (check out the Obama campaign).
– It used to be about monologue. Now its about Dialogue. Web sites which don’t let you interact are old hat (the mantra from earlier – you cant control the content but you can control the contact with those that are talking about you). Listen as well as talk.

And some examples of how social networking works

– outside a venue in Birmingham (I think) does a live stream about a Boulez concert. Gets picked up by the Birmingham Evening Post who send it round their networks. Result a concert that was 50% full ends up virtually sold out.
– Overturns landrover in Iran (I think). Sends video – within minutes people contacting him with offers of help, cranes, replacement vehicles etc

Digital Video Beginners Masterclass ( I love the oxymoron in the title!) – Cambridge (cant read my handwriting here!)

Fun little session in which the group made a video in an hour using the Kodak camera’s which are very similar to the Flip cameras. The basic premisis is that anyone can be doing this. If your interested you can find them the videos online at

Some key learning points

• if your using them as hand held keep your hands by your side (to minimise camera movement)
• find tripods in £ shops – for as little as a £!
• Blip TV will allow you to upload your video, embed it (as vimeo does) and distribute it as a video podcast.
• The format for I player is MP4
• For organisations it may be worth investing in an Apple Mac for video work – the free bundled software is loads better, its easier and more user friendly (an opinion voiced byat least three different people independently).
• SONY VEGAS is a suite that may be worth investing in (beginners circa £40, intermediate £100 and full £800)

Intellectual Property Workshop (Nottingham)

Like most legal stuff – I came out of this as confused as when I went in. In essence the copyright laws are old and are struggling to cope with the digital revolution although this is changing as case law develops and new laws come onto the statute. Best advice – if in doubt find a friendly lawyer.


• I did come out with a useful set of notes &
• knowledge about

Case study – Kay Wells and Liz Wilson, Oldham Colliseum Theatre

You couldn’t help but be impressed by the journey that the Colliseum had obviously been on. With only three computers – and only one of those linked to the internet (bookable in advance mind!) to an organisation that was clearly embracing the digital age.

A few thoughts and notes
– The ‘no rocket science’ ambition process of risk assessment/audit/diagnostic/business case/managed implementation and continuous reflection’ had clearly worked for them.
– They started with a caution – ‘just because you can – doesn’t mean you should’
– I was impressed with their approach – which combined product (in their case getting things on stage), technology (the tools they needed) and communication (internal and external). Lots of organisations dont seem to be thinking (imho) about the creative element – web 2.0 is much more than a marketing tool.
– Some soundbites / random from the presentation which I scribbled down
– the pace of change is slow – but dont fight it (cor I can sympathise with that)
– working collaboratively with a local University to create professional looking content using students.
– In social networking – dont become corporate
– A challenge – the debate between immediacy (getting things up quickly and easily) and quality. CEO had to come to terms with ‘good enough for the medium’
– Using twitter to give the backstage experience – so followers feel like VIPs. However by encouraging staff to twitter , and not being corporate, means that you dont control the content – have to trust staff to twitter appropriately (its their independence which makes it interesting to the reader – but scary to the CEO)

The real lowlight was a presentation (in Nottingham) by some suit who had worked for Bluecoats and was now working for the Liverpool Culture Company. His basic thesis seemed to be – pay an agency to make an award winning web site with you – which seemed to be the antethisis of the Ambition DIY aesthetic. And irrelevant if you don’t have that kind of money…

…The social media in action workshop was a disaster in Nottingham as the room was not wi fi which rather made the session redundant. But it did turn me onto Qik ( ) – which at the time didnt support the Google G1 – but after posting a message on the G1 forum I got an e mail from the developers telling me a beta was available. That is social networking in action!

This session also recommended – for making slide show presentations – for transforming PDF’s into page turning books. I like this a lot – but I like it better when you can embed video – which I think costs!
– – fast and effortless photo galleries from Flickr – voice to text memo service – can convert your answer phone messages into texts – monthly subscription.

Things I still dont know


– there was talk of ‘its no good if you dont know who the people are who listen to your content’ but I don’t know how to find this out…. (should ask twitter?)
– software for creating page turning documents with embedded video as well as text and images.

Personal action points
(and by all means check back to see if I have done these!)

• Make full use of my flip camera and google g1 capabilities
• Upgrade my web site to a word press site
• I need to find out more about 4iP (anyone have any notes from that workshop they would be happy to share?)
• try out the project management tool that Alex Fleetwood refers to in his presentation (see the video!)
• read Charles Ledbetter’s ‘The Art of With’, Alan Brown’s ‘Wolf Brown’
• subscribe to Henry Jenkins blog
• as a facebooker suggested (thanks Teresa) – I should spend some time with the work Pilot Theatre have been doing. See
• Learn to drive…much as I like the train journey the route to Cambridge is so painfully slow….


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