Compelling Content workshop

Written by Roz on 23 Nov, 06
Responsible innovation World-class connectivity

Compelling Content:
A workshop facilitated during the ‘Harnessing Digital Disruption’ event Watershed Media Centre: 1 November 2006
Carolyn Hassan and Roz Hall

Delegates at the Harnessing Digital Disruption event attended one of four workshops. Our workshop, ‘Compelling Content’ began by outlining the purpose of the session to the group. The question we had been asked to consider was:

“How can we work together with communities to develop content and services that are relevant and of high value?”

We had been asked to facilitate a discussion about this question and then to agree the four most significant factors effecting this question.

The discussion was very lively and delegates were keen to consider the nature of the question as well as responding to it. Several issues appeared to create challenges for the diverse group participating in the discussion, and highlighted the difficulties in taking the debate around Compelling Content further (and by extension, pulling concrete ideas for the Connecting Bristol bid together).

Definitions of Community differ and we need to have clarity in our bid what we mean. Connecting Bristol has begun to do this, by selecting the five very different communities. In terms of Filwood, we are defining the community as a neighbourhood of 5,500 households, many of whom (according to recent research from IRIS (Involving Residents in Solutions)) have strong sense of identity as being Knowle Westers. This is one community, and this context will define how we talk about Compelling Content. In another community, say of older people or a community of interest the discussion would probably be different.

The following points, some of which reflect the observations above, were generated from the discussion and written up on the flip chart:

“How can we work together with communities to develop content and services that are relevant and of high value?”

  • By identifying what people need
  • By working with people to identify what they want, which can be difficult, especially regarding digital technology, as people might not always be aware of all the options or possibilities there are
  • By identifying what people value
  • By identifying practical mechanisms through which to identify what people need, want and value
  • Through asking people and stimulating dialogue with them
  • By involving other potential collaborators, such as media professionals and people from industry or business
  • Through establishing a sense of ownership amongst the community in question
  • Which or whose community does the question refer to?
  • Too vague a question to consider in a meaningful way; it depends of the community
  • By identifying common needs of specific communities
  • By creating structures to allow things to happen in ways that are directed by communities
  • By developing a long term strategy that will ensure sustainability beyond the bid or regardless of the bid
  • By introducing people to the different platforms that digital technology can enable
  • By facilitating people to develop content
  • By supporting the development of community led polls
  • By considering culturally specific needs of different communities
  • By gaining people’s trust
  • By facilitating training or other support for people to develop content
  • By considering the relevance or irrelevance of using a global network for localised work
  • By managing expectations carefully and by not promising things that we cannot deliver

We then tried to identify the four most significant factors effecting this question. We identified five such factors:

1. Motivation (community needs to be motivated to make the exchange and consequent work meaningful)
2. Ownership (to ensure inclusion and sustainability)
3. Accessibility (to ensure inclusive way of identifying priorities)
4. Flexible and localised solutions (to allow for differences in approach depending on the specific community and to allow for change to take place over time as priorities shift)
5. Nature of facilitation (to ensure that facilitation is community focussed and open rather than being prescriptive, in order that communities can take ownership of work)

It was clear from the discussion that people are at very different points in their understanding of how communities could be involved in creating content. Some are new to the idea of consulting communities and seek to understand how others do this and are therefore keen to hear what it is we’ve been doing. Others have been ‘doing’ it for years and are keen to explore new ideas/sharing what works and what doesn’t. There are lots of ways of that communities have been consulted and many do not work, however everyone seemed to agree that compelling content had to come from the communities themselves, rather than be done to or for communities.

There appears to be emerging, clear but sometimes difficult to define, differences between how people are understanding digital content produced in or by communities, and this means there is sometimes confusing debate. There seem to be differences that broadly fall in to the two following categories: ‘Creative Content’ and ‘Decision Making, Governance and Local Service content’. We’ve tried to identify some of the characteristics of each. We think there is a great deal of overlap and that creating compelling content for each is equally important and the key word here is compelling (referring back to Jonathan Drori’s definitions).

Creative Content

  • Authored by individuals or groups
  • Often a film, photograph, website, audio piece.
  • Issue based
  • Not necessarily issue based
  • For an audience
  • To entertain
  • To educate
  • To express views
  • Range of broadcast platforms
  • Challenges conventional means of production for broadcast
  • Made possible because of increased access to high quality production tools – democratisation of media production.
  • Diverse voices
  • Business opportunities
  • Community Activism

Decision Making, Governance and Local Service content

  • Information gathering and dissemination of information
  • Greater democratic participation
  • Often website based – issues forums, campaigns, polls etc.
  • Partnership between Local government and communities
  • Partnership between business/vol/statutory sectors.
  • Tools to enable involvement in debate and decision-making
  • Service delivery
  • New ways of delivering new services
  • Two way dialogue
  • Quality control and evaluation of services
  • Data collection
  • Surveillance
  • Business opportunities
  • Quality of Life
  • Community Activism

Connecting Bristol is the city’s response to the Digital Challenge.

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