Remote Audiences

At last year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) we were lucky enough to have Kirsty McGill along as our live blogger. Since then Kirsty has blogged at many other events and become increasingly involved in event amplification.

Kirsty is the Creative Director of communications and training firm TConsult Ltd. As part of this diverse role, Kirsty delivers professional blogging and event amplification services for conferences, creative uses of social media for business firms and specialist English tuition. A graduate of the MA in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, Kirsty has a keen focus on translating the narratives of the physical world into the digital, where they are sometimes lost. Kirsty also contributes to the Transliteracy Research Group blog and explores a range of new media related issues on her own blog: Custard in the Ether.

Kirsty has written a guest blog post on a recent presentation she gave on Remote Audiences. She can be contacted on custard@custardether.co.uk and followed on Twitter.

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At this year’s Transliteracy Conference held at Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre, Leicester on Tuesday 9 February I gave a talk entitled Remote Audiences. My talk was based on my experiences as various events including a stint as the Institutional Web Management Workshop blogger for 2009.

Just to explain, transliteracy is currently defined as: the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks. However, this is very much a working definition, and part of the purpose of the Transliteracy conference was to discuss transliteracy, as we currently understand it and potentially re-evaluate or even change our definition as our understanding evolves. The talks were quite varied and looked at both theory and practice to see how we can understand and make use of the concept of transliteracy. The event was chaired by Sue Thomas and Kate Pullinger, who have gathered together both researchers and practitioners from a variety of fields to form the Transliteracy Research Group. I became involved with this after studying with Kate and Sue on DMU’s MA in Creative Writing and New Media. I contribute to the TRG blog and was asked to speak at this inaugural event within a panel which examined Action in Transliteracy.

As travelling and expenses budgets are being slashed in many sectors, attendance at national and international conferences is dropping. Environmental pressures are also leading many firms to look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint – including minimising air travel. These factors, together with the rise of social media tools such as Twitter, have led to the emergence of remote audiences, who attempt to follow the events of a conference via the internet, often relying on a mixture of unofficial sources to piece together an understanding of the issues covered. However, conference organisers are now beginning to recognise the need to produce official resources to cater for and encourage this remote audience in order to harness their contributions.

My presentation provided a brief introduction to creating a complete online experience of a conference for a remote audience by creating tools and providing content so they can actively engage and interact with the live event.

Providing effective combinations of resources and integrating them with a live event raises a number of challenges related to transliteracy: the remote audience may wish to access the event content from a variety of different platforms; representing the event appropriately within the literacies of each platform may require some adaptation of the content; and members of the remote audience may have different levels of ability to navigate and use the resources to full effect.

To explore these issues, I presented a short a stylistic analysis of an Online Conference Space which attempted to achieve all this, specifically examining how an understanding of transliteracy is helping to inform its design. The Online Conference Space took the principles that we established/experimented with at IWMW and adapted them to a more commercial setting – as the commercial sector is not currently exploiting the technologies available in this way.

During my talk I used an image I had taken at IWMW and posted on the IWMW blog (which has a CC licence) to illustrate my discussion about the event. Brian Kelly, the subject of the image, has since written an interesting blog post on the amplification and reuse of images – OMG! Is That Me On The Screen?