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This is an expanded version  of  a talk I gave  at  a Glasgow University Theatre Film and TV  Student Employment Forum At Gilmorehill Church On Monday 21st March 2011

“Delicious Complications” : Employment And The Creative Industries Graduate Today
By Stuart Hepburn
Here are 10 tips for Creative Graduates, in no particular order.
Tip 1. Carry out a Google search of your name.
Tip 2. Change yourself from a consumer to a creator.
Tip 3. Investigate the blogosphere.
Tip 4. Think Small.
Tip 5. Think Big.
Tip 6. Be Passionate.
Tip 7. Network.
Tip 8. Hang out with creatives.
Tip 9. Be Flexible,
Tip 10.Have a backup plan.
We are all witnessing today a world changing more rapidly politically, economically and socially than at any other time since man came down from the trees and started hitting bones with rocks.
A combination of Technological Change, Ecological Shock and the seemingly  irrevocable forces of Globalisation mean that all over the world, in all sorts of ways, people are having to cope with adopting a post-industrial lifestyle and economy.  The three hundred year “honeymoon” which Northern Europe enjoyed by leading the Industrial Revolution is apparently  over, and it would appear that  the post-colonolialist storm is about to break. It could get very uncomfortable for us cossetted Westerners, in  all sorts of ways.
The irony is that you,  as Creative Industries students from  the West of Scotland, stand at the very centre of that process, and are in a healthy  position to  take advantage of this state of flux. I’m reminded of  the Neil Simon scripted  “Barefoot In The Park” (Sachs 1967) , where the Charles Boyer’s character  states of the uncertain future ‘ I foresee delicious complications ‘. The entire developed world is at the centre of those complications, but it is my contention today that  If you are able to take advantage of them, then  the sky could be the limit for you all.
As the  rise of the Digital Economy goes on apace,  it  means that Cultural Trade of all sorts, all over the world,  is growing exponentially. As the   the old ways are breaking down, new forms are emerging to fill  up the vacuum. For example, Hollywood makes about 500 movies a year; Bollywood about twice that. But did you know that “Nollywood” AKA Nigerian Cinema makes over 2,000 films a year?  Albeit they are low budget, locally produced and distributed and have an average budget of £10K. Across the continent,the notorious Kibera Shanty town in Kenya, 10 digital flipcams have been supplied by TED to local residents who use them   to gather, edit and then broadcast worldwide on the spot stories of their lives .  The “Woman Are Heroes” project in the same are has allowed local creative artists to have their work spread  through the use of public art, digitation of imagery and blogging.
Will Nigeria ever overtake Hollywood as a world leader in film production? Will Kibera News Network ever eclipse CNN? Probably not, but there is something very alluring in low budget hi-fidelity digitised creative output, and  like it or not,  these localised  processes  are  forcing  the old order to face  stark choices for the future. As with with every choice in life, this  is a challenge which  has  tremendous opportunities,  as well as real  dangers. It is my contention that you as Creative Industries graduates must seize that opportunity.
As graduates of the class of 2011, you  are the the first Web 3.0 Higher Education generation, and you hold the future of the world in your hands. Literally in your hands with your pdas and smart phones and  flipcams. Five years ago, I didn’t even possess a mobile phone. Now, my iPhone is an integral part of how I interphase with the world, through my website, my blogs, Twitter, Facebook, videos, photographs, a web browser and any number of other apps and creative communication tools.
I use microblogging and digital output at the core of my own pedagogy as a  key to enhancement of  the student learning experience, and I want to share with you today, the possibilities of extending those undergraduate techniques into post graduate modes of employment and sharing and even monetising your creativity. It seems to me that the key to the  whole process which we are all  going through  is the notion  of  User Generated Content,  and as graduating Theatre Students, you are uniquely well suited to taking advantage of this innovative  collaborative process.
UGC is all about creating, and developing  your own narrative through your experience and those around you, and then   sharing and disseminating it all round the world. Our world is now a 360 degree multiplatform environment, with motivated individuals and groups operating on a 24 hours a day digitised interactive basis. Open source software and UGC is the future. The post-Wiki leaks  Firewall is now  little more than the  redundant dream of overworked ICT practitioners continually attempting to put another finger in the dyke to  protect the integrity of self serving institutions.
Don’t get me wrong, I want my bank account to be as secure as can be , but I want my CREATIVITY to be as open as possible.
Universities and large institutions are as fettered as Government Departments and the Ministries of Truth all round the world, all desperately (and vainly)  attempting to hang on to their own exclusive cultural knowledge. The truth is that the genie is out of the bottle, and it is reluctant to  go back, and it seems to me that it is the task of us  creatives to ensure that it never does.
The upheavals in the Middle East, the demise of the old ways of creating and consuming news and culture, the rise of Youtube and Twitter are all manifestations of this process,  and you can be at the centre of it if you choose.
And as we stand in the West End of Glasgow and look down on to silent shipyards , empty factories and a diminishing industrial base, the Creative Economy and those who operate within it have become more and more important economically, politically and socially. Scotland has changed forever, and we will either buy into that change or be left behind for ever.
As  Jamaican Senator Donna Scott-Mottley put it in 2006….
“Sugar days are done, banana days are done, but in this globalised world, our culture is what sells us and we have to begin to look at it as a business”
For Sugar and Bananas in Jamaica, read Shipbuilding and Sewing Machines in Scotland.
But lets not get too negative here. We can pine and moan and say “Ochone” about the glorious sepia-tinted past, but there is also  good story to tell about contemporary Scotland today.  The  newly constituted Creative Scotland’s website informs us that
”  more than 60,000 people are currently employed in the Creative Industries, generating £5 billion for the economy.
It’s clear from figures such as these that  iconic structures and the digital hub around Pacific Quay, Film City and the SECC are no mere empty symbols, and that  Glasgow has a large share of that economic output. Of course, there is no guarantee that these new industries will have any more or even the same degree of longevity as the heavy engineering before it, but at the moment, they are a vital component for the success of the beleaguered Scottish economy.
So as  as the old industrial order   breaks down, and the old certainties fade away, your creativity, and your ability to articulate your own narratives become absolutely key to the way in which you interact in the brave new  world of the modern globak economy. You can be the equivalent of Kibera’s  KNN . You can tell your story to the world.
Human beings have ever hungered for stories. It’s what being human is all about ,  and theatre students have an almost unique opportunity to supply those narratives on a scale of which generations before can only have dreamed. I know, because I am one of the old gaurd who has witnessed the change.
In  January 1990  I performed in the celebrated  Communicado Theatre Company production “Jock Tamson’s Bairns” as the opening theatrical event of “Glasgow, City Of Culture”. Moving into the draughty dirty Tramway in late November ’89,   It felt as if the Trams had just  been moved out as the actors , dancers and musicians moved in. The piece, a natural development from “Mary Queen Of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off” (Lochhead 1988)  turned out to be one of the most seminal pieces of Scottish Theatre it has ever been my privelege to appear. It  was a qualified triumph, received good reviews, and Melvyn Bragg even filmed  a South Bank Show special  on it’s writer, our newly appointed Scottish  Makar, Liz Lochhead.
But that was it. The show opened on 25th of January, ran for about four weeks as I recall, and then finished, never to be seen again. The one lasting creative entity coming from the show was the continued creativity of our house band, The Cauld Blast Orchestra, which has recorded and toured sporadically ever since.
How a modern theatre piece would have a very different life story. Through the collaborative digital media there would have been a pre-production Twitter and Facebook Campaign; it might have benefitted from a #JTB Twitter hashtag and a Facebook Page. Rehearsals and workshops would have been blogged, fiimed, recorded on high quality smart phones, shared on Youtube, discussed in chat rooms, and the ripples and eddies from it would have travelled the world. A child in Kibera could have googled “Glasgow Theatre” and been able to share in all this, and indeed, reflect and add to the online narrative discussion. The digital revolution cant turn bad art into good, but it can spread the story of small, site specific art far far afield from it’s place of origin.
The future and potential for creating and sharing narratives is only limited by your imagination and ambition. The New Theatre is going to be collaborative, site-specific, multi platform and end user generated, and all those soft skills which you have learned in your time at University should leave you in an excellent position to take advantage of these developments.
But what does this stuff all actually mean? User Generated Content means that the entire creative process becomes part of an online communicated network of reflective and reflecting processes.
For example, before this talk today,  I tweeted my modest list of Twitter Followers and told them what I was going to be doing today, and wondered if they had any projects which I should be sharing with the Final Year Theatre Students.
Rosie Kane told me about the inspirational work of the Women’s Creative Company which meets at the CCA every Monday, where women who seven weeks previously wouldn’t have had the confidence to speak to a meeting of three,  are now up on their feet and telling their stories to an appreciative audience.
Linda Campbell of Write Camera Action told me about the exciting short film project she is curating.
Step2Collabo TV asked me to mention the £10K budget they had managed to create as the prize for a new pilot for a long running Screen Web Series. These creatives , through the new media, took part with me in a two way conversation which was then disseminated and refracted through this meeting with you  today and its subsequent blog. The (modest)  whole will thus be greater than the sum of the parts, and this is the most exciting thing of all about UGC.
It makes us bigger than we are alone.
It involves us.
It grows.
It turns the ephemeral nature of the theatrical act into something which can be shared.
That said, it is not an easy road to take. It involves risks, it involves exposing ones own ignorance, it involves laying out ones own creativity at the mercy of anyone out there who wants to give it a kicking. Technically also, it’s not an easy nettle to grasp. I still have only a passing understanding of Facebook. Where’s my wall? Who gave me a poke? Why do these people I have never met want to be my friends? I valiantly keep up my Facebook site as a feeder for my blogs and Tweets, but in truth I don’t really ” get it” . However, in a sense, this doesn’t really matter. Nobody “gets” it all. There is a myth, promulgated by lazy thinking,  which talks about the younger generation being the first truly “digital natives.”
I reject this notion. Many of my students at the Skillset Media Academy  University Of The West Of Scotland find themselves seriously challenged by the problems associated with the new media. They may be able to text and log on to Facebook, but as for building their own  digital footprint or monetising their creativity, they are as much at sea as an old age pensioner looking aghast at a Computer Mouse for the first time. Or a lecturer trying to understand a “poke”.
The truth is that there are no experts in this field. Things are moving so quickly, and old technologies being superceded, so that we are all simply catching up in one way or another. Every teacher has something to learn from his or her students. Every student can share  something no one else in the class has found, and there is a refreshing democracy to the whole process. It’s a heady brew indeed.
So finally what can graduating Theatre Students do on a practical level ?
So to repeat, and in more detail, here are my ten tips action checklist.  It’s not definitive, and I am sure you could add or contradict much of it. That said, it has worked for me and my students, and there’s no reason to believe even following just  some of them will make a real difference to your creativity.  (I wrote these for Theatre Makers, but it could be just as easily applied to Writers, Poets, Engineers  or Wheeltappers.)  There is creativity within us all, and WEB 3.0 and UGC gives us the chance to explore it with the biggest group of collaborators  that has ever existed. The rest of the world.
Tip 1. Carry out a Google search of your name. If you discover that the only thing online about you is a photo of the tattoo on your bum and the fact that you were hungover on Sunday, then you need a digital makeover. Get a new Facebook or Twitter account, and start posting professionally  and creatively.
Tip 2. Change yourself from a consumer to a creator. Go on to and create your own blog site. You might discover that you can buy the rights to .net or whatever for about £25.00 for three years. It’s inexpensive, and looks very professional.
Tip 3. Investigate the blogosphere and  find out who’s interested in the same things as you. Comment on their blogs, and start to write your own modest input. You know that voluntary workshop you do every Thursday night in Garthamlock? Blog about it. Tell people what you are up to, ask for advice, start a conversation.
Tip 4. Think Small. Be specific. Write this in big letters above your computer screen. No one knows your narrative but you. Your story is unique, and may well be interesting to others. NEVER underestimate how exotic you may come across as to someone on the other side of the world who has never missed the last bus home from Yoker and had to walk all the way up Great Western Road.
J.R Prufrock’s life could be measured in coffee spoons. Choose your metaphor and tell the world.
Tip 5. Think Big. Be Universal. Write this in big letters at the bottom of your computer screen. Spread your ideas on your new professional site  via Twitter, Facebook and the myriad of other platforms that exist. Between the “thinking small” of your initial idea, and the “thinking big” of disseminating your story, lies the true WEB 3.0  crucible of creativity.
Tip 6. Be passionate in everything you do. Again and again, employers tell educators that they are looking for graduates who are bright and passionate, not quiet and introspective. Get out there, develop the glint in your eyes, and ally it to  a degree of sensible arrogance. If you don’t blow your own trumpet, no one else is going to do it for you. Get rid of the Scottish Cringe which we seem to imbibe with our mother’s milk.The Creative Industries is no place for shrinking violets.
Tip 7. Network. This DOESNT mean going up to strangers at the Citz bar  and handing them your card. It does mean going to meetings and workshops, asking questions, getting noticed, and most crucially,  forefronting YOUR WORK, however modest.  Remember that the work HAS to be at the centre of  the networking process.  All it needs for you to be a  successful networker  is for one  threshold guardian to say to  another ” I’ve heard that X’s show is quite good”  and you are away. Don”t worry about being put down, you’ll find that most doors are open for you. Any older and well established creative who is NOT interested in engaging with emerging talent is an irrelevance anyway,  and should be ignored.
Tip 8. If you want to be creative, hang out with creatives. There is no shortcut to this. In every village, in every town , in every city, there are groups of makers, doers, creators. Become one of them, and you will find that one of the most wonderful things about creativity is that it is contagious.
Tip 9. Be flexible, and don’t specialise too soon. Be aware of the need to take advantage of serendipity. If you get the chance to do something but fear you don’t have the technical skills, ask someone who does. There is a strange breed of creature out there who understand things like  Final Cut Pro and can turn your shaky DV  footage of your theatre workshop into a wonderful piece of archive or reportage. Cultivate these people, and ask for their help when you need it.
Tip 10. Finally, always have a backup plan. If things don’t work out for you, after a while , take the hint. We can’t all be Gregory Burkes  or Emily Watsons, but at least you will have tried.
Stuart Hepburn. March 2011

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