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Footloose and Fancy Free

Where it all began. My home audience. The reason I do what I do.

I recently write this article for the SMA - The Stagemanagement Association. It should have been a blog article but I never posted it. Here it is.

Article written by Caron Lyon. Published in Feb 2009 issue of Cueline.

Social Media Mainstream

Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Ebay, Wikipedia, all words that have crashed in to our vocabulary in the last year or so. All these services are advances in the way we interact with the Internet. Social Media, another new word, is an Internet phenomenon it is hard to escape, a phenomenon firmly embedded in the computer culture. Great if you have a home computer or a computer on your desk at work and of course an Internet connection but for Stage Managers who spend most of their working time off line this online culture is a world many of us have little time for. For many of us the Internet is a research tool that means we aren't confined to one edition of the Yellow Pages when propping or dependent on the local library for research now Wikipedia is here. Ebay is another service that has made propping a little easier for those in the know. Electronic mail, Email, another tool we either love or loathe, when we have access to it. Word processor applications mean we can type up rehearsal notes and create call sheets, save them, distribute them by email or print them. BUT...You have to be at a computer and connected to the Internet to do most of that and the departments we send our emails to have to check their email. In the end it is easier to post notices on a notice board in the Green Room or at Stage Door, get books from the library and source props locally. Another problem is that actors don't have desks and don't have desktop computers, so the good old notice board is the most effective and efficient method of communication Stage Managers have. But think of a world with out mobile phones. Now that is a piece of technology love it or loath it is inconceivable to think about how we got by without. OK, So... this Social Media stuff. What exactly is it, and why do I care? Social media is defined by Websters online dictionary as “the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. Social media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. Popular social mediums include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs.” Will it become a thing that in years to come we look back on and wonder how we got by without. As a whole NO but it's a massive arena and there are parts of the phenomenon that will give back aspects of our life we currently sacrifice. It will offer us resources and services we never imagined. It will add aspects to out jobs in the near future we would rather do without. So being aware of this technological advance is important. For example. How many times have we finished contracts and said “Let’s stay in touch”. I remember a time when most of my friends were mobile phone numbers I scrolled through thinking, “I wonder what they are doing now”. The advent of social media and social networking sites like Facebook means we can create Facebook groups, add friends to our profiles, log in to Facebook and declare the same... “I wonder what they are doing now” but now we can see and comment and wonder no more but in all not very useful to our working lives as Stage Managers. There is more, so much more. In August 2008 I was invited by Equity to deliver a presentation about this phenomenon for the Edinburgh Fringe. It was called “How to use Social Media to Get Connected, Get Noticed and Get Work.” The slideshow is online to view. In November I delivered a presentation to MDDA (Manchester Digital Development Agency) called “Mobile Marvels” looking specifically at how Arts Practitioners can use mobile phones to do the same. In future editions of Cueline I'll be looking at some of these Social Media platforms and hopefully giving SMA members some new tools and useful services to add to their repertoire, help improve the work life balance to communicate with loved ones, new friends and old, to use the Internet as a resource while out on tour, how to document and archive productions, answer questions like what is blogging, micro-blogging, podcasting. This Social Media stuff falls in to 3 categories:

  • Ways to Publish Information
  • Ways to Share Information
  • Ways to Network and Connect with others

Next Cueline will look at Facebook and social networks, followed by Twitter and micro-blogging, LinkedIn and business networking, Flickr and photo sharing, YouTube and video, Qik and mobile live streaming, Ning and online communities, Delicious and social bookmarking in future issues. There is a great glossary in Equity's New Media Deals booklet on page 24 giving definitions of all these new words and digital concepts in the context of the Entertainment Industry. Social Media is a voyage of discovery. A favourite quote of mine “Don't add technology to the way you do things, change the way you do things when you see what the technology can do.” Marcus Romer, Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre Company. In future issues of Cueline I'll also be looking at ways theatre companies are embracing Social Media starting with Pilot. After all I am their virtual Stage Manager but that's another article! (Future article mentioned will also appear in the ACE & Amb:IT:ion digital opportunities networks and here too)

Why blog?

I Twitter a lot. @pcmcreative The easy 140 characters where I can find out what my friends are up to. 140 characters where links can be posted to articles to inform and educate whether its for business insight or artistic engagement. 140 characters for quick updates and information from conferences I could never afford to attend or have the time to go to. 140 characters to pass on these things I discover to my network.

Twitter is the lazy man's blogging? Twitter is effortless engagement, instant gratification. But for something more than a fleeting connection? Something which defines my business and demonstrates my passion and understanding it has to be a blog.

Exploring the web for resources in order to share the benefits is my mission. Doing this without being stuck behind a desk. Especially useful if your work does not revolve around an office environment.

I have discovered so much. I have shared my findings at workshops and delivered presentations to ignite curiosity for the web adventure. Now is the time to unlock my toy box and share it with you.

So why blog? To publish findings, share resources and network knowledge.

Must try harder to blog!