Published on: 20 March 2015 in Longform

FutureEverything Festival report

Reading time: 3 minutes and 19 seconds

Recently Ash Mann, Directors UK's Website and Social Media Manager, and Marc Abbs, Website and Social Media Co-Ordinator, attended the 20th FutureEverything conference in Manchester. Here they report back on the some of the sessions they attended and explain how creators will be effected by the changing digital trends that were highlighted there.

"In its 20th year, FutureEverything asks 'what now?' for our digital culture? Do we need a bigger vision than open, local, bottom-up is best? What are the values and narratives that will define the twenty years to come?"

The themes of the festival's first day were "What now for memory and identity" and "What now for ownership". In exploring these themes they also touched on many issues around narratives, technological developments and content that may be of particular interest to members.

The first half of the morning session focused on data; looking at the numerous issues around privacy and consent as well as the stories that can be told with data in ways that have, until recently, simply been impossible to achieve.

Data artist Jer Thorp had a lot of interesting examples of using data to tell the stories of our lives, emphasising that data is just a numerical record of the moments that make up a person. For instance, he showed us this brilliant theatre piece visualising the gender disparity in the artists featured at the New York Museum of Modern Art. He also talked about an interesting photo project that looked at the shared experience of watching the World Cup Final.

The second half of the morning session focused on how technological developments are changing the way we can, and should, tell stories. The speakers were from the New York Times and a consultant (Matt Locke) who has worked with Channel 4 on developing new programme formats - a particularly interesting insight was the feeling that much as technological changes ushered in the rig shows in the late 90s, the new methods of "binge" consumption (Netflix et al) are likely to impact the way that particularly drama and comedy are commissioned in the future.

The NYT speakers had a few interesting things to say about seeding content on 3rd party platforms and engaging with users and there was a feeling that as the web continues to fragment your "website" is going to become increasingly less important - the content is the thing people want, they don't particularly care where they find it, they just want to be able to find it easily.

There was also a session run by the BBC on a new service called BBC Taster. The idea is that this is a new area of the BBC that allows people to try things out and innovate, allowing others to make alterations to an idea and audiences to have a say in what the next big iPlayer-like BBC service will be. The ideas that are being looked at here are the future of content creation and members may be interested in exploring new methods and avenues of content creation. For instance, there’s a Jennifer Saunders-Lena Dunham interview here that makes intriguing use of unused Newsnight footage. They were very keen to stress that the things that come out of this will help the BBC better serve underrepresented and under-catered-for audiences, particularly women and young people.

You can read about the full FutureEverything festival programme here.

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