QR Codes are back?

2017-01-04 14.06.47

Their inclusion is on the rise. Why?

Since discovering a QRcode reader on my Nokia N95 in 2007 and Googling QRcode reader, followed by the fact I could create them myself with ease to pursue the paperless dream as an event organiser I've been a QRcode advocate.

The humble QR code has had a bit of a rough ride over the last 10 years through misplaced inception and shirt tails gimmickry without audience consciousness, rather than the QR code being a mechanism devoid of use. Its inherent usefulness has kept its obsolescence at bay.

The success of the QRcode is in the hands of users. Is what is contained beneath it worth scanning? A few disappointing "I could have just typed that in" remarks and the fate of the QRcode was momentarily sealed.

The QRcode came back to my attention with my interest in the rise of Snapchat. The emergence to the mainstream of augmented reality (AR) after PokemonGO took the world by storm for a brief and bright time in 2016 started the trend along with the

The emergence to the mainstream of augmented reality (AR) after PokemonGO took the world by storm for a brief and bright time in 2016 started an acceptance of AR along with the adventures into AR from agencies using it to bring packaging and adverts to life to crayon makers Crayola adding animation to children's colouring books, I feel a comeback might be on the 2017 cards.

This proximity connection and entry to engagement demanded from Spapchat intrigued me. Snapchat not being immediately intuitive seemed to be a feature, users liked. Being in a club with a secret knock is a desirable hurdle, the learning curve to successfully engage seems accepted too. It's those on the outside who complain. A fascinating psychology in the age of usability.  I recently stumbled upon Twitter's QR code and scanner tucked away in the profile settings and in Facebook's Messenger.

 

A video posted by Caron Lyon (@pcmcreative) on

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Sharing Makes Me Happy

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You don't have to spend money to give a gift that has value to the recipient. More and more of those closest to me expressed an instruction of ' just no more stuff' or requested, 'gifts you can poo', sharing digital assets that have value to me seemed like a good gift.  There was also a proliferation of 'I'm not doing cards, I'm donating to charity', or simply 'I'm not doing cards'. Personally, I find cards necessary at Christmas because they help me actually evaluate who I know and who I want in my life. It also makes me reflect on those I've drifted from, and opportunity also for staying in touch with those in my life who are not digital.

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Stop Gap Solution - Livescribe Display.

Livescribe Controls - mute

Livescribe's dimming display.

I can't deny my Livescribe pen revolutionised how I deal with and cope with text. With Livescribe, I am able to take notes and notate the audio taking place around me. This took away a lot of anxiety I often experience where I need to note down relevant elements but equally, pay attention and be present in a room. Where there is a pressure to produce minutes or notes for circulation, striking a balance between documentation and participation came with a disorientation that prevented me doing either satisfactorily. Then....

I was introduced to Livescribe. I remember it well. The iPad had just launched and a colleague bought hers to a meeting where I bemoaned not being able to justify to myself a very expensive pdf reader! She did then show me her Livescribe pen. I immediately bought one! And now I have an iPad (still 2nd generation) I wouldn't be without either.

Recently however my Livescribe pen has faulted in securing its initial and valued purpose in providing confidence to enable me to 'keep up' with the world as I see it. It's a Dyslexic thing.

The Livescribe display screen is rapidly fading into blankness.

At first, I thought it was due to the brightness in the rooms my meetings were taking place in. After some research, I discover it's a 'known' issue
one which Livescribe seem to have addressed with new pens bought after January 2015 having an extended 3 yrs warranty but that doesn't help me. Anyone reading this far and experiencing this display failure I have a 'keep it going a while longer' fix/fudge. 

It takes a small leap of faith! It takes the settings you had when you last configured the pen with the screen visible.

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SMA's Elements of Company Management Workshop

EOCM May 2016

I attended the Stage Management Association's one-day workshop for stagemanagers looking to move up to Company Manager. This was no ordinary workshop. I got my place because an attendee living in Portugal and 9 months pregnant wanted to attend too and I provided digital facilitation via Skype making her attendance possible.

The photo above shows all attendees listening intently.

I'd wanted to try this for a while.

How I did it.

  • MacBook Pro with Skype installed EOCM May 2016 behind
  • Lansing Altec portable speaker
  • Slik Compact II Tripod
  • Logitec C920 HD webcam with built-in mic
  • Lavolta Ergonomic Laptop Table Desk
  • iPad2 with Skype installed
  • Bluetooth mobile keyboard

It's not the most elegant solution but with investment in equipment and the right platform, the sky's the limit. The experience was crucial. Can a workshop be attended remotely with maximum value being received by the remote participant? Good audio and video, check. However, Facilitation is the element that makes this work.

Unlike the equipment, participants are not plug-and-play. Those taking part need a little more direction and attention before the event to ensure the venue, event host, those participating and the online event host (me) establish a common understanding and expectations are managed. On this occasion, it was with the course materials, session speakers and provision to dialogue with the participant.

It's easy to forget that the pile of technology on the desk, wires, camera, speaker and screen are a person.

Patricia attended from Portugal via a Skype setup. Once she was 'dialled in' those attending at the venue could see and hear her and vis-a-vera things fell into place. was very happy. But as a Stagemanager by trade myself, I was very interested in the workshop on a personal level. I am currently considering returning to the theatre and the CM role interests me greatly especially with the social media insights I have gained over the last 10 years.

Overview of the day - in case you are thinking of taking the Elements of Company Management course when it runs next.

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#69unbox - tagging nostalgia

image from cdn.images.postach.io
 
This time last week (written 6th Aug 2016) Dan and I were building bookcases, the weekend prior constructing desks. As I write this, I have a bookcase filling with books and a small step closer to unpacking the many boxes not just those from the old house but boxes already filled and in some cases never unpacked when I moved into the last house. It's brought me to a place where I can tackle head on the sometimes crippling sentimental attachment to the palpable nostalgia and memories evoked when in the presence of the items. In a world where we define ourselves by experiences, keeping these things reminds me of who I am, where I have been, and the evidence is the contents of the boxes. In themselves, they were selectively retained well at least not thrown away at the time, and now my active cache is full! There has to be room for 'now' life.
 
In recent years the accumulation of physical items has been reduced by the collections of files, documents, photos, videos, spoken audio and music in digital form. Some sit on the Internet my AudioBoo, my Instagram accounts, my Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote and iCloud. Then there are the offline digital archives on external hard drives and old media storage, cassettes, floppy discs, CD-ROM (read only memory) and as the final bastion of the analogue legacy, paper.
 
I realised this wasn't about choosing what memories to keep it was about optimising the storage. What space can I afford this sentiment, this record? Can the resonant importance assigned to the physical stuff be digitised? It's only relevant to me. When I am gone, the objects will become just things. Without 'my context', they are inconsequential unless they have a cultural importance. That is a rare thing and not what any of my ephemera has. 
 
image from cdn.images.postach.io
 
(pic above) My ‘Small Things’ collection - TIMEHOP 6th May 2015
 
#69unbox is about reducing items to digital files and occupying less physical space. Initially taking photos and on occasion with a collection of related bits, recording video. I can not capture the sentiment, that is within me, the recollection of moments, the knowledge gained, the lesson learnt they are me. I guess I feel the experience in a fresher way returning to the objects and have greater clarity than relying on the continued perception that my memory is inadequate. It's my source material!
 
Using the hashtag started a dialogue between myself and the innate desire to keep everything for fear of it's not yet realised necessity. This is, I know is untrue of a lot of what I have.
 
The first task is to identify the genuinely intangible, ephemera (my small things collection) and photograph them (some I am keeping) and if not retained, disposed of, or prepared for digitisation.
 
Round One!
 
I think Round One will occupy me throughout August.
 
(first posted to Social Media Womble postach.io blog 6/8/16)

Food Crime... the musical to #StopFoodCrime

St_Martin_s_in_the_Bullring_Tea_Lounge_-_Google_Maps

Where academic reporting meets musical theatre

Yes, you are reading that correctly! From March to May 2016 I was commissioned as The New Optimists Social Media Producer. They wanted someone to 'DO' social media. With the budget I received this is what I did. I cam up with the title Social Media Producer.

That is producer, not maker. Whats the difference? In this blog I hope I can explain.

Firstly, what is a producer anyway? This definition illustrates my point

"Producers play an integral role in the television, film and video industries. A producer will oversee each project from conception to completion and may also be involved in the marketing and distribution processes. Producers work closely with the directors and other production staff on a shoot...the producer deals with all the practical and political aspects of keeping a project running smoothly, so that the director and the rest of the team can concentrate on the creative aspects."

Now, a producer in these terms is a scoped role far more extensive than I delivered to The New Optimists but the sentiment of how I approached the commission are reflected in the tasks producers carry out. To me a social media person is integral, sees a project through from concept to completion, may be involved with marketing and works closely with the direct and production staff. As a social media person the reputation and portrayal of the project online and understanding the multitude of social media accounts distributing context appropriately while nurturing an audience is an important part of what I do. Pre - Performance - and Post. Legacy is is important to me too.

Being new to the organisation my first task was to understand who they "The New Optimists" were, what resources thay had for me to work with and what their overriding expectation of social media output was going to be.

The expectations were to

  • provide contextual resources relating to each song in the musical to be tweeted in real-time during performance
  • raise the profile of the project to attract audience
  • build a simple web presence to begin separating The New Optimists main website from their Narrativium creative project based work.
  • support the creative and production team with social media output

As producer I was able to step back from the creation of the social media out of necessity, with the budget little time was available for editing or considered composition. For example, I requested company members write a short blog post each. I took the text, accented the posts with a photo before publishing the posts on the The Optimists website.

All the blog posts were tagged StopFoodCrime - Read them HERE - that tagged category produced a URL from the website containing only those posts tagged StopFoodCrime.

With a limited budget the effective use of folksomony is extremely valuable. Hashtags are folksonomic. User defined terms to provide quick access or knowledge retrieval.

My second task was to make it all happen with as little impact on the creative production process as possible. I want to iterate that this role was not about marketing or advertising, it was about defining an audience and a legacy. What happens next to this project is unknown to me but my objective was to deliver a collection of media to act as a beacon online for what ever comes next... at a guess the further work of raising a general awareness about Food Crime and the work that is on going to protect the integrity of out food supply, globally.

Wow, big stuff when you see it in writing like that.

So... understanding. For every project or client I build a digital scrapbook. This is a page hosted on my PCM website where feeds and content embed widgets can be collected.

The is The New Optimists Scrapbook Page.

Its a mish-mash, not particularly elegant but serves a purpose, to pull all the available media relating to the project together.

Now the project is over this is it's PCM legacy.

 


PCM EquityUK Network Update.

Greetings PCM Adventurers (I've just posted this update to the Equity (unofficial) Green Room, a social network hosted on Ning to provide the social networking opportunities not currently present as part of the EquityUK official members area)

I love green rooms like I enjoy railway stations. They are full of purpose and intent but provide stasis and space to prepare. Waiting for action is the purpose of the occupation. Do you feel similar about green room spaces? or train stations for that matter?

Unexpectedly however social media networks like Facebook and Twitter do not make me feel this way. In fact I experience alarming levels of anxiety on occasions but its not a reflection on digital engagement but the chaos those platforms contain.

The online spaces I work to create have the green rooms and railway stations sentiment in mind when in development.

Where do you spend time 'comfortably' online? (responses in the comments please)

Equity UPDATE

1. The Online Branch is up and running. It is open as a pilot welcoming all Equity members. We have until the end of August to let it run free! Its unique features are its human enacted moderation and the architecture developed to support the proposal and progression of motions. The first motion to pass through the Branch has been about the Housing Crisis.

Context Archive

  • Opening discussion in the Chat Room prior to the motion's proposal [LINK]
  • Formal Motion Debate (Comments tab)  [LINK]
  • Amendment propositions and discussion (Amendment tab) [LINK]

A second motion has been tabled today called The "Equity 'Special Attention' List - Can it be used to better effect?" This started off as a chat room thread back in February by Ian Seale, [LINK TO CHAT THREAD] and was transposed in to a motion during the Housing Crisis motion mentioned above.

Are you an Equity member?

If you haven't join the Branch yet please do.


 2. Equity's Annual Representative's Conference is this weekend. 

Here is the 2016 ARC Agenda

image from www.thestage.co.uk

What is ARC? Annual Representative Conference (ARC).

This takes place every year, usually in the Spring. It is normally held in London for two years running and then in a different part of the country (the members choose, this year it is being held in Bristol), and is the opportunity for the Council and Representatives from the committees and branches to come together to propose and debate union policy, as well as move forward the work of the union.

Decisions that are passed at the ARC with a two thirds majority are binding on the union and become policy. Representatives are elected and the conference usually lasts for 2 days with the agenda being broken down into debates on Recorded Media, Live Performance, Union Structure, Equality, Health and Safety, Communications and Membership Services.

Members who are not involved in a committee or branch but would like to attend the ARC can come as an Observer. Information about how to get a place is always published in the spring issue of the Equity Magazine.


 3... finally for this update The Stagemanagers' Guide to Buyouts Booklet

image from www.pcmcreative.com

On Friday 29th January 2016 Equity's Stagemanagement Committee hosted an open meeting to discuss the issue of buyout contracts discussing...

  • What’s good about them?
  • What’s bad about them?
  • What can Equity do about them?
  • What can you do about them?

I'd like to share this with you the resulting prepared for print booklet.

Its not just for Stagemanagers. Check it out.

Thank you for reading this update. 

If you haven't join the Branch yet please do.

Best Regards

Caron

Readers of the blog please let me know if you like these live performance industry updates in the comments.


Embed Responsively

image from alistapart.comIllustration by

Anybody associated with the arena of web design even on the periphery as I am has heard about responsive design. The concept of designing a single web site that adapts (responds) to the devise it is being displayed upon. A time was that it was by analysing the stats of your visitors you could predict the most likely size of monitor and resolution being required and provide a selection of sites sized accordingly along with a client side query to determine the size expected and deliver pages in response to the query. Then there came mobile! At least that's how I understood it in my limited experience. I was down the rabbit hole! It was at this time I became aware of reciprocity, propinquity and normalisation. Coding a design could be rigidly and inflexibly set in tables with sliced up graphic elements with hotspots and links. These would 'explode' and 'break' displaying in what seemed like an arbitrary manner depending on your favoured browser. The separation of code and style enabled consistency and including a set of instructions to overwrite different browser margin defaults helped. The Cascading Style Sheet (CSS). I was an advocate for responsive as soon as it became a thing. I expect these 'zero default' style sheet addenda still exist and form the basis of secret design formulae many pure coders still closely guard. Its tricky to achieve... or things might have changed.

Web presence and the ability to create one was the objective of my web building education and as each element of building web sites became specialisms in their own right html, xhtml, CSS, asp, php, xml, javascript - these became distinct from the visual front interface which in turn developed its own special branches UDI (User Designed Interface), UXI (User Experience Interface) until being a master of all was an impossibility and engaging a professional was beyond the cost effectiveness of my needs, I turned to the very thing I loathed when I first begun my education. BYO (Build Your Own), drop and drag applications evolved into a necessary evil.

I remember the first drop and drag experiences within browser environments afforded by javascript and flash. The move away from passive unmovable pages with form fields the only interaction was the introduction of user experience integration. Whether that equated to 'engagement' is contentious, still being discussed. I could indeed go on but this post is Embed Responsively.

Many blogging platforms and BYO are now to a greater or lesser extent 'responsive' to varying degrees of success. It is an art. The transition through absolute and relative positioning to fully responsive adaptive web pages has been aesthetically essential to the seamless, cross platform, multi device user experience.

Returning the premise of this post ...web presence and the ability to create one being the objective of my web building education... left me forever needing to learn something new to keep up to date! I just want to gather resources and information for inclusion in one space with a link to share. Simple as! But...

Although BYO and Blogging platforms (the ones I use currently) offer responsive templates and elements, the media I gather from around the web and the media I create and upload are embedded using html code snippets, podcasts from Audioboom, audio interviews stored on Soundcloud, videos and playlists on YouTube, PDF documents published on ISSUU, presentation slide decks on Slideshare or Photo galleries from Flickr or Instagram they are traditionally fixed in size (height and width). 

Yes I'm getting to the point!

The straight copy and paste of these html embed snippets don't adapt to a responsive environment. I was overjoyed when I was introduced to embedresponsively.com - "It helps build responsive embed codes for embedding rich third-party media into responsive web pages." It was created and is maintained by @jeffehobbs based on research and work by Theirry Koblentz, Anders Andersen and Niklaus Gerber.

I love it, I wanted to share it - here it is! embedresponsively.com

Embedresponsively01anotated


Standing Up and Moving On - Ignite Liverpool

In November 2015 I spoke at Ignite Liverpool with a short, PechaKucha style presentation entitled "My Analogue Life in a Digital World" It's preface being...

Everyone has a story. We are analogue beings adapting to a digitally enabled world. This is my story. It all starts with a square peg and a round hole. It’s about personal perspective, about understanding your own story and its place beside everyone else’s. When did you plug in?

I'd been capturing, live streaming and producing media for projects for the last few years and my presenting confidence had plummeted since I hadn't done any talks for a while. I also found myself out on my own after being in a collabortive partnership where I'd taken a different direction to my original career journey. As sad as the close of that era in my life was I had to accept and embrace change to move on.


Standing up where I knew it would be recorded and provide me with an asset of me presenting not created by me was my key motivator.


So thank you Ignite Liverpool for this opportunity.

I do hope I get to present again in 2016 but, and this is why Ignite Liverpool had been on my radar I will be attending via the livestream they run each time.



On the 26th Jan 2016 I watched the live stream.

Skitch

Adrian McEwen 

Skitch(1)

Louise Shannon

Skitch(2)

Tom Williamson


I love attending via travel but attending via the web can provide an alternative and equally as informative experience.


Extending The Audience - Mind The Gap

image from www.1hq.co.uk

Emerging out of the results and lessons learnt from the 2014 Arts and Audiences Conference in Rekjavik, where the Digital Audience Experience (DAEx) was conceived as a real time experiement to extend the reach of the physical event audience using digital tools. Extend The Audiences was commissioned by BAFA - British Arts Festivals Assocation's Mind The Gap conference in 2015.

Check out the legacy scrapbook webpage. It also hosts the audio of the talk I delivered to provide context to the initiative.

I wish to begin by talking about the finances. Essential expenses are non-negotiable, (travel, accomocation and the provision of a sensible meals allowence) a digital audience expeience can cost a little as you can afford. I remember well something I learn attending various business seminars, Marketing should be seen as an core investment not an extranious expense. The same is true of when considering an audience. What is the value of your online audience? Do you want them to pay for the online offering? Do you want them to subsidise the provision on the venue-to-web content? Is the content produced by a social media team as bragging-promotioanl-ambient-fodder or, Do you want to encourage the participation of those who wish to join an online audience 'experience'? Are you wanting an active or passive audience?

The pursose of both events (Arts and Audiences / BAFA's Mind The Gap) was to bring together like-minded professional working in the sectors of 'arts and culture audience development' in regards to the Nordic Councils' Arts and Audiences Conference and for organisers or arts, music, culture and science festivals in regards to UK based oganisation BAFA.

Ever since the conception of MediaCampNottingham which chose to run a business event on a saturday, my own audience demographic tartget has been those looking to continue their own personal and professional development, often refered to as CPD. Depending on where within an organisation you are employed opportunities to develop knowledge can be limited. Being a regular conference delegate on behalf of your employer is a privalege afforded to a few. That opportunity may require a report back to the wider employ in the department or it may be a peer privelige to provide opportunity to meet fellow professionals working within the sector in which you work. This tends to be primarily to share findings, research and resulting case studies. Influental people are invited to deliver talk, presentations and lead workshops.

A good conference can be inspiring, informative, enriching and instrumental to developing further from a knowledge and industry underderstanding and in networking with future project partners.

But not everyone gets to attend. Extending the Audience is about embodying that sentiment. With wifi and connected meeting rooms with projectors I've long been an advocate for streaming events into board rooms with refreshements, or groups meeting geographically to collectively watch a livestream of an event. Platforms like Appear and Google Hangout can take 8 connections. That can be single face to face conections or windows on entire satilite micro events or gatherings all connecting to the 'video room' for a untiting experience using the digital environment as the common space.

I'm always looking for organisation wanting to explore the digital potential of extending their traditional audience offering.

Using existing mainstream platforms and direct dialogue with the registered digital audience registrants I  create online audience experiences with real value to those individuals participating remotely. If you were wondering I am an independent social media practitioner and capable of operating independently of a venue's infrastructure. I require power and a good 4G mobile signal.
 
For BAFA's Mind The Gap - Extend the Audience the following apps formed a toolset shared with anyone wanting to take part.

  1. Appear.in a browser based online video meeting space for post session discussion after watching live streamed presentations or for digital audience lounge-chat breakouts
  2. Periscope/Bambuser to mobile livestream
  3. Blab.im to deliver panel discussions with digital audience opportunities to join the panel and enter the discussion.
  4. BEME to facilitate fly-on-the-wall, first person perspective video streams of the guided tour event elements independent of the fixed location conference venue.

All the apps in the toolkit for that event are details on the scrapbook page along with download links for iOS and Android versions of the apps where availible. Its also about enabling the audience you have geographically being able to share with ease with thier own networked audiences too.

Interested? Get in touch through the PCM contact web page or Tweet me @pcmcreative

I have so many plans for this initiative. So much potential for audience reach as well as legacy documentation.