Category Archives: English

Aberystwyth University Multiplatform Production Projects 2014

tft40
Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University – Celebrating 40

I’ve been teaching alongside Greg Bevan this semester on the Multiplatform Production module at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University. 10 groups have been making projects which combine a variety of online media and offline activities in a wide range of genres.

There are promotional campaigns, i-docs, transmedia fiction, content communities and multiplatform factual productions. All projects are now in their final week before assessment and submission so I’d like to encourage you to take a look at their work, browse the material and interact with them. A little bit of support will make a big difference to them. So  please add a comment, like their stuff, and let them know that you’re interested!

The projects are listed below in alphabetical order. Many of the projects use more platforms than just a website, Twitter and Facebook of course, but you can find your way to those via their web and social platforms. Enjoy!

Branch 4

Website: http://www.ministryofposthumanaffairs-gov.net/ + http://henryatkinson76.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Minotaur/384904171648405

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frontpagevicky

Break a Leg Productions

Website: http://break-a-leg-productions.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/breakalegproductions

Twitter: https://twitter.com/breaka_leg

Cook, Eat, Clean, Repeat

Website: http://cook.avecsucre.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CookEatCleanRepeat

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CookEatCleanRep 

Edjisketch

Website: http://edjisketch.cf/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/edjisketch93

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Edjisketch

Funk’d

Website: http://www.funkdmedia.moonfruit.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Funkd/474802782617300

Love Your Selfie

Website: http://loveyourselfie.wix.com/lys1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/loveyourselfie1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LoveYourSelfie1

Round for £10

Website: http://roundfortenpound.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roundfortenpound

Sgwrs

Website: http://sgwrs.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sgwrs 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SgwrsGymraeg

Talk Aberystwyth

Website: http://talkaberystwyth.weebly.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/talkaberystwyth

Twitter: https://twitter.com/talkaber

We Love Afrika

Website: http://weloveafrika.wix.com/home

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/weloveafrika

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeLoveAfrika

Eos and the broader struggle over valuing Welsh language products

The Eos ruling by the Copyright Tribunal is a vicious blow to musicians who choose to sing in Welsh, but it is also a blow in the wider debate about the way we measure the value of Welsh cultural products – from daily news to television entertainment.

At the heart of the Eos vs BBC struggle lies the contrary viewpoints of the BBC, who argue that music should be valued according to its usual measures (including RAJAR and several other statistics which combine audience research and broadcast time); and Eos, who argue that it is not possible to measure the value of payments for Welsh language music on statistics alone (and dodgy statistics at that) and that their unique and intrinsic cultural value is a factor that must be considered.

Since the Earthquake, when S4C’s value was thrown into the lions den in front of emperor Hunt, S4C have also been in the process of putting the argument for measuring value. Many people supportive of the channel have noted that audience statistics aren’t the be all and end all of value measurement but that economic, social and cultural value all have to be considered in measuring the success of a minority language television channel. This was Ian Jones’s response to the drop in viewing figures reported in the S4C annual report in July 2013:

“It’s no longer appropriate in today’s multiplatform television environment to use one simple performance measure to assess success,”
“Success today is a combination of factors including audience reach, economic impact, audience appreciation, trust, a successful provision of content for learners, for children’s programmes, and contributing to a positive impact on the Welsh language and culture.”

In terms of the offline printed press, circulation remains an important measurement tool if not the most important; online the ‘daily unique users’ stats, or whichever Google Analytics metric gives the highest figure, dominates. There isn’t the same kind of discussion of engagement measurement, democratic or political impact, or broader cultural value.

However, there is one small difference: the Welsh language print press on the whole is funded and administered from within Wales, so it’s possible to say that cultural value is given more consideration than merely how many have read or purchased. The only part of the print sector that isn’t is BBC Cymru – which has been given a reach target of 50k “users” by 2015 which is very black and white compared to the way evaluation is going at S4C. Democratic value is at the top of the agenda for the Welsh Assembly, and it’s clear that reach is not the only metric used by them in looking at the possible future of subsidy for the English language press in Wales.

Also in July 2013, The Welsh Books Council published a report on English language magazines in Wales (link to PDF). Therein, on page 5, lies the following sentence which touches upon their core principles when assessing the “value” of these magazines:

Value-for-money judgements concerning any subsidised activity must balance the quality, reach and public benefit of that activity against its cost. There is no absolute formula for establishing whether that balance is struck in any given case: this calculation is best made on the basis of comparisons with like activity elsewhere, and the responses of intended beneficiaries.

Common sense, you would think, but no, the system of payments for music doesn’t operate under a subsidy, but within a framework which is commercial, industrial and British, even though the licensing fee is a kind of public subsidy.

The BBC doesn’t see protecting the Welsh language as its role, neither do they see their role as that of a body responsible for measuring cultural value. This is a perspective which claims some kind of cultural neutrality – our purpose is to provide a service to the audience and nothing else – but it’s an artifical neutrality. How is it that S4C and the Welsh Books Council (and the Arts Council of Wales if it comes to that) can talk about cultural obligations and serving the audience in the same breath, and clearly state that measuring the value of their output involves much more than just the size of the audience, and the BBC is unable to do the same?

Despite the best efforts of some to introduce nuance to these public debates, their efforts are drowned out by crude soundbites: news reports – both positive and negative – are based on statistics about levels of viewing/listening/reading collected by agencies outside of Wales in the case of radio, television and the print media, and internally but with no consistency of methodology in the case of online media. In the age of Twitter, these soundbites are what circulate and get swallowed without question.

The argument here is about how to measure value, and the Eos verdict clearly demonstrates that there are centralised institutions in the UK which are still not interested in considering anything outside of that which serves their own needs. And why would they? To do so would undermine a model which has existed for decades. It would be an attack on the centralised system and would weaken their grip on an element of the state apparatus.

There’s “no evidence to suggest that devolution of broadcasting policy or a different approach to funding the BBC would benefit licence fee payers” according to the UK Government’s response to the Silk Commission. Which license fee payers are these then? Those who listen to Radio Cymru? Those who believe in a Wales where the Welsh language receives reasonable conditions in which to exist and flourish? I doubt it. The leader of the Welsh Conservatives understands that there’s a real need to devolve broadcasting – he understands that there’s no way of forming policies on culture and the media which won’t lead to more clashes of this type.

Consider these sentences from page 11 of the tribunal’s report:

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 13.26.19

In winning this argument, according to the tribunal, the BBC in London have issued a dictat: it’s not possible for you to make decisions on your own, we will always have the final say, it’s us who decides how to measure the value of your culture, we don’t consider cultural value when measuring the success of our output, nor the value of those individuals responsible for creating that success (Welsh language musicians, in this case) .

In short: you don’t control your own culture and media, we do.

I’m grateful to Eos and all the Welsh musicians for making this stand, and for putting the case for fairness in measuring the value of their contribution. The verdict is a blow, but it’s also an illustration of the rifts that are appearing within the UK and that a persistant tug on this loose thread might be all it takes to unravel the fragile net holding this failing system together.

[Diolch yn fawr iawn i Nic Dafis yn arbennig, ac unrhyw gyfieithwyr anhysbys eraill a helpodd i gyfieithu’r gofnod. Vive la Google Docs!
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Many thanks to Nic Dafis and any other anonymous translators that have contributed to translating this post. Yay, for online collaboration!]

[hen ddolen alert!] Cyfraniad gen i llynedd at bodlediad Transmedia Talk yn SXSW

Newydd edrych drwy’r drafftiau yn y blog a chofio mod i am bostio dolen i hwn. Falle ei fod o ddiddordeb i rywrai sydd â diddordeb yn y maes digidol + ieithoedd. Sgwrs am ieithoedd a diwylliant mewn trawsgyfryngau/transmedia. Ges i alwad gan Rob Pratten, Llundeiniwr clên iawn nath ddangos y ropes i fi diolch i gyswllt drwy Rhys yn Cyfle, yn deud, “da ni’n recordio podcast mewn 10 munud. Ti awydd dod draw?” Felly nes i, ag oedd o’n hwyl.

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Just a quick post of something which I’d left in my drafts since last year. A link to a podcast of a chat I was part of at SXSW interactive 2012 where we talked about language, culture and transmedia (with people much more versed in transmedia than I). Thanks to Rob Pratten for pulling me into it though! It was fun.

http://workbookproject.com/culturehacker/2012/05/01/transmedia-talk-at-sxsw-2012-language-and-culture-in-transmedia/

Help us get minority languages on the agenda at SXSW Interactive 2013!

I, along with Kevin Scannell (founder of Indigenous Tweets) and Maite Goni (Basque expert on education, languages and web 2.0), have proposed a panel for South by Southwest Interactive 2013, one of the most exciting and most important stages for discussions about the web and digital media. The title of the panel is “Social Media: A New Hope for Minority Languages?”.
It would be a great thing indeed if we could give a voice to some of the smaller languages and the issues their speakers face online at this event. But in order to do that, we need to garner votes, and stimulate discussion to show them that our panel is worth picking.
You can help us do that by registering on the SXSW Panel Picker website and then give our panel a thumbs up vote. This is the URL you need to get clicking: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/3581
You’re welcome to put a comment on the page too, discuss/criticise the choice of questions/topic. It’s all good stuff. Or, if you don’t want to register then please share this email, or give us a mention on social networks so that we can increase the visibility of our campaign. Voting closes on August 31st. Every vote counts!
We hope you agree that it’s a panel worth voting for, and we’d welcome any comments. Thanks for your time! Much appreciated.
Here’s the pitch…

There are approximately 6,000 languages spoken in the world; of these UNESCO believes that over half will disappear by the end of this century. Two thirds of the world’s languages are spoken by less than 20,000 people. Minority Languages are spoken all over the world, and the internet is becoming increasingly multilingual.

But do speakers of such minority languages actually use them on social media? What are the ways in which social media can benefit these languages? Can memes indicate language health? How do minority languages compete when scale and global reach is so much of a factor in social media’s appeal? And why use a minority language online when it’s just easier to communicate in English, Spanish or Mandarin?

This panel will try to unpick the relationship between social media and languages, from the perspective of developers, content producers and language technologists, and question whether online technologies are a boon or a disaster for minority languages.

Vote now! http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/3581

Why haven’t Welsh speakers taken to Foursquare?

I had a bit of a ding-dong with @berrydm earlier on Twitter about Foursquare and Welsh language usage on the platform. See below for a rundown of the tweets.


David Berry couldn’t see why Welsh speakers don’t just go out there and use platforms like 4sq in Welsh and make the space their own. I agree wholeheartedly with the need for Welsh to” align itself with these digital technologies” – Welsh should be used in as many domains as possible, including social media – but I disagree with the need, or perhaps the wisdom, of forcing to do so with 4sq in particular.
Here’s why:

The issue of early adopters (or the Welsh Digital Illuminati!)

  • David Berry suggests that foursquare can be made a space where the Welsh language is used if the ‘Welsh Digital Illuminati’ rally round and start leaving Welsh tips. I agree in principle that this is how you make Welsh language use on a platform normalised. A stubborn few hardcore users making a language visible on a platform, and getting the ball rolling, reducing the sense of talking in a vacuum. With Twitter and Facebook this development happened organically. People loved to use those platforms and saw that their friends were using them and so on. What I saw with Foursquare initially was that those usual Welsh speaking early adopters were there, but were either using English or not leaving tips at all, and just checking in (using English by default).
  • Berry suggests that Welsh speakers should rush to try to colonise a platform before English, but this is just impossible. The amount of people that speak English compared to Welsh (as well as those bilinguals who defer to English as their default online) will always mean that Welsh language use of a platform will come much later and much slower.
  • There are only so many Welsh speaking people adopting new digital technologies early and who have the desire and will to use Welsh on those platforms. The number of new digital platforms is increasing all the time. It  becomes a resource management and prioritisation issue. If the platform does not seem to be getting traction, then concentrate energies on something else, where time and effort can yield greater value for both the person creating content on that platform and end-user. People haven’t put all their eggs (or any eggs!) in the 4sq basket.

English and the invisible mass audience

  • When confronted with the opportunity to leave a tip on Foursquare, the user would usually have some idea in their mind of an audience. This could be their followers, as well as other unknown 4sq users who may check-in in the future. Most Welsh speakers, I would hazard, would leave a tip in English in order for their message to be understood by the widest possible audience.
  • But why leave a tip in English on 4sq when the same person would happily tweet in Welsh/bilingually when using another platform? I think it has to do with message frequency, permanence and a known audience. A tweet is one message amidst a busy flow giving the tweet less weight perhaps than a tip on Foursquare. The linguistic choice is therefore not dwelled upon too much. A Welsh speaking Twitter user also has a much wider range of followers that it knows do speak Welsh  (as well as possibly knowing that tweets are aggregated on platforms like Umap), meaning that they can imagine their audience in a much more concrete way than 4sq.

Reviews vs Game Layer

  • I started dabbling with Foursquare when it first launched. At the time, the tips elements of 4sq were not really how it was being pushed. It was the game layer that was the talking point which is non-linguistic in essence (although having automatic tweets of location etc in English only is a turn off).  Even though Crowley has tried to shake this off, that is still how I perceive it.

Has anybody really taken to Foursquare in Wales in a widespread way?

  • I gave up on Foursquare for several reasons: I found the game layer to be a little pointless; I found the social/serendipity element to be non-existent in my area (Ceredigion); I didn’t want to share my location in public; I found the take up of it didn’t reach a point where I thought ” I want to be part of this”; I found that tips on sites such as Qype and Yelp already provided me with deeper and better reviews for places I wished to go; and lastly: I didn’t want one other reason to get my phone out wherever I went!
  • I haven’t seen a large amount of people whom I know beyond those who adpoted 4sq early that have started using 4sq. With 10m users worldwide (but no stats on actual usage by these accounts), and although much lauded as a competitor to Twitter, it is still hasn’t really managed to break out to mainstream use.  I believe that most people are just too wary of publicly visible geolocation, or can’t see the point. The online review market is already fragmented, and in my opinion we don’t have enough Welsh speaking online reviewers who wish to use these platforms.
  • One prime example of where 4sq should work in Welsh but didn’t is the Eisteddfod. But alas 5 checkins an no reviews.

Usefulness and population density

  • How useful is 4sq in areas where there aren’t many regular users? I have looked at the tips in Aberystwyth today and still find them a bit on the weak side . In my opinion Qype and others have cornered the market on comments and reviews for places and Aberystwyth has a much wider variety and depth of tips. So the local and social serendipity aspects are weakened in areas where there is not a particularly high population density, as are many Welsh speaking areas.
  • Instead of using 4sq Welsh language Twitter users have started their own simple Twitter based platform that shares reviews through the hashtag #adolygiad: Adolygiad.com. This to me would suggest that there are people who wish to write reviews online, but don’t want to use platforms such as 4sq and Yelp which make it difficult, if not impossible, to find all Welsh language reviews in one place, or have a Welsh interface (Qype at one point did allow you to tag Welsh language reviews).
  • I don’t think it’s a coincidence either that 3G is so non-existent in Wales outside areas of high population density. Granted, 4sq is not heavy on data, but it may be the case that smartphone uptake is lower in these areas due to mobile data issues.
  • On usefulness, I agree that if there was a lot of Welsh language information on 4sq that it could be used for other platforms to build upon, but the kind of density of activity for you to be able to build something viable upon it would be very difficult. I think that only Twitter and Wicipedia would have enough content to make any apps that use their APIs viable. 4sq would take a long time to do that, and would ultimately still be patchy in its coverage.

Interface and Descriptions

  • Most places are named and described in English, which is understandable as that is the language of the interface. However, when you know that the place is commonly referred to in Welsh, or there is a Welsh name, it grates. It grates doubly if you can’t edit it. You have to be ‘first in’ or a superuser to  amend the name of a place. Not  a dealbreaker but certainly not much of an incentive to continue with it. The platform disincentivises use in any language other than English. Some platforms (such as Quora) remove Welsh language content as inappropriate language. As you can guess, I’ll never use Quora again, though’m not sure what 4sq’s policy is on this to be honest.
Would a distinctly Welsh language version of 4sq make the right environment for review exchange? Would there be enough uptake? Many have said that they would like to see a Welsh language review site, or something along those lines, but nobody has built it yet. I’m sure it would be great, but whilst other platforms exist it makes it a very tricky commercial proposition.
I haven’t seen any Welsh language tips on 4sq that I can remember, but I might try to leave a few to see what kind of reaction they get.
So, there are some thoughts. It would be good to hear yours. Thanks to @berrydm for prodding me to write.

Some very interesting thoughts from Geert Lovink on online comment culture

A fantastic interview with Geert Lovink on anonymity, comments as public sphere (or otherwise) and the double edged sword of comments that are both repulsive and sought after.

http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/geert/2011/09/04/interview-with-me-on-comment-cultures-for-galileubr/

Comments are on the rise as never before but at the same time they are dispised, looked down upon, ignored, filtered and switched off.

It could very well be that the current era of mass commentary on the net will come to a close. […] It is a question whether comments in the near future will be a public as they are right now–if they exist at all.

A global renaissance of the forum software would be a great thing for internet culture.

Is online commentary and debate in such a bad place? How can online commentary be brought back to an even keel?

Mercator Workshop June 2011 – my phd work in progress presentation

Ddoe mi fues i’n cymryd rhan mewn gweithdy a drefnwyd gan Sefydliad Mercator oedd yn edrych ar yr ymchwil gyfredol ym maes cyfryngau ieithoedd lleiafrifol. Mi roddias gyflwyniad byr ar fy ngwaith i geisio rhoi golwg fras ar lle ydw i yn y broses. Roeddwn yn cyflwyno yn Gymraeg ond gyda gwybodaeth gefnogol ar y sgrin yn Saesneg (roedd y mynychwyr di-Gymraeg yn cael cyfieithiad ar y pryd hefyd). Dyma’r cyflwyniad gyda rhai nodiadau ychwanegol:

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Yesterday I took part in a workshop organised by the Mercator Institute which looked at the current research in the field of minority language media. I gave a short and rough presentation on where I am currently with my phd, 10 months in. I spoke in Welsh but with English supporting visual material, for the ease of those having simultaneous translation. Here’s the presentation with a few extra notes:

Theatr Felinfach Conference ‘Imaginging a New S4C’ (translated post)

A few people who don’t understand Welsh mentioned that they would like to read the take I had on a new S4C, so here’s a rough translation. A bit later than the original post sorry, but even with translation help, these things take time to do.

[Grammatical Health Warning: this blog post was translated from this original Welsh language post using Google Translate as a tool to speed up the process. Subsequently, some of the phrasing and expressions may be a bit wonky. I hope that the wonkiness doesn’t affect the communication of the ideas too much.]

Saturday before last I went to Theatr Felinfach after being invited to give some ideas about the future of S4C in the digital context. I did not want to be so bold as to offer a full manifesto but rather to raise questions that could feed into further discussion. The article written by Euros on Click on Wales notes that I focus on the idea that more young people use social networks than television, but I felt that my message was a little different. I thought it was best to publish what I said anyway, in case there was some wider value to it. I’d be delighted to hear any comments.

Set a few challenges, raise some questions

I’m not trying to offer solutions to the business of producing television programs. There are plenty of other people who have long experience of the industry that can do that so much better. But I want to set some challenges or raise some questions of the Welsh broadcast system from the perspective of the enormous changes to every aspect of our lives brought about by the advent of the internet , and especially the way it has disrupted media business models as they had been developed up until the turn of the last century.

Online media is an integral part of the media landscape today. This is not the for the Welsh and particularly Welsh language media. Yet. How can we change that?

  • Welsh developments in the field has been hampered until now
  • there is institutional inertia across all Welsh language media providers (and arguably English language media providers in Wales)
  • not enough is being done to streamline arrangements so that it can adapt to the needs of digital media and the audience that is ready for it

Do we need more TV companies or a stronger digital sector?

  • the digital media sector is very weak, and exists mainly as poorly funded wings of companies whose main focus is other media/creative industries
  • S4C has a role in growing the digital media sector
  • if we want a dynamic media we have to develop companies that can adapt to produce for online

Do we need a comprehensive S4C.com or S4C as a digital brand across the internet and an investor in others?

  • trying to create one Welsh-language portal is a folly. Trying to compete as a homepage with the force of the BBC is impossible.
  • Better to try to spread the S4C brand across the web and across where audiences gather. Working diagonally rather than vertically.
  • Can begin to do this by creating a steady stream of investment for content and services online

Can S4C take the role of enabling and investment rather than commissioning?

  • are commissioners the right people to make decisions about the value of certain types of media in the age of the internet?
  • Perhaps S4C can begin using new arm’s length models to invest in projects slowly
  • There is no need to fund long online series to fill a schedule. Series can be developed incrementally and at their own pace.
  • It’s one thing to say they will promote the dreaded UGC, or unpaid content, on their website, but there’s no mention of trying to invest in anyone or any structures to help create that UGC

How can an organization like S4C change from one of grand actions to being an organization of small actions as well?

  • Maybe only 200 pounds is needed to start a small project online. Is it possible to develop a model to germinate media. Investing small, and invest more when they see success?
  • Models like this are totally alien to S4C but many of the successes of the web have grown from small beginnings.
  • If a success is on the cards, then broadcast platforms can boost it through harnessing broadcasts ability to speed up attention

Are there are ways of freeing up online content?

  • There is an urgent need to begin negotiations to ensure that Welsh material can have the freedom and conditions favorable to be distributed on-line
  • There is a need to re-examine the terms of trade for online content in Welsh
  • TAC / Equity / MU etc agreements were designed for the end of the analogue age. They are long overdue a re-assessment.
  • Thinking about how it is possible free up certain types of products online so that it can be re-used. Creative Commons licenses is one possibility. A new balance between fair royalties and the freedom to create, remix and share is essential.

How Can S4C provide a space to experiment, fail, explore new methods of production?

  • no one has a map for making the most of opportunities and challenges of media as it stands. We must therefore create a space in which to feel our way and see what works in Welsh

If we want to create new forms of civic value, we need to improve the ability of small groups to try radical things…our best chance for finding good ideas is to have as many groups as possible try as many things as possible.

Clay Shirky

How can S4C think beyond mainstream television whilst continuing to produce mainstream television?

  • not the displacemen of one technology / medium with another, but adding media upon media that will work together in new and complex ways
  • linear TV is still vitally important, but we must make enough space for the rest to breathe and develop

Is there a prime means of creating a Welsh media on the internet?

  • we must try to find what works for us as Welsh speakers.
  • The possibilities are endless, but almost nothing had been examined. Too often we simulate the Anglo-American models.

How can digital S4C help build an audience?

  • in the same way that S4C had to build a Welsh language audience for its new channel in 1982, we must build an audience for online material in Welsh

Criticizing present realities is important but insufficient. It can be hard to picture what the future would look like, and so to be making things, as examples of future creative diversity, in the here and now, offers a powerful and tangible form of inspiration to others – and challenges the apparent inevitability of the present.

David Gauntlett

  • the number of examples of online services in Welsh is limited. Without good examples, how to create the necessary continuity, the positive feedback loop?
  • S4C has a big role to play in promoting others who do work that matches their brief of providing Welsh public service media
  • I’m not talking of media literacy lessons here but trying to develop people with enthusiasm and energy to try something and drive them forward through encouragement and perhaps developmental innovations such as intensive technology courses. eg http://www.apdyfrig.com/2011/02/17/awydd-gwneud-cwrs-dwys-24-awr-mewn-technoleg-newydd/

Are we doing enough to be part of IPTV?

  • develop apps with new IPTV commercial funding
  • secure the place of Welsh television and interactivity within  IPTV, specifically with YouView

S4C is a purposeful intervention in the television market in order to be a tool in the survival of the Welsh language. The media has changed so much, you need a new kind of interference?

  • it must be understood that although figures may be much lower than television users at present, that intervention in the online media market is crucial now
  • Welsh production companies and individuals within those companies already doing much more than S4C to try to push online services, but are held back.

How can S4C create a closer, more honest connection between itself and its audience/users?

  • A natural gap has existed between the television audience and producers in the one to many model. It will not be easy to change this type of organizational relationship.
  • So it may be better to leave it and focus entirely on trying to jump over television to the creation of other services that may overlap with TV, and that can reduce that gap
  • In order to do this, you might have to create these services outside of S4C as an institution / channel altogether.
  • S4C is in a comfort zone in terms of broadcasting. Intervention must be created that will force them to come out of this.

Is S4C as a broadcaster a suitable structure for online media and new methods of co-creation?

  • S4C has had almost 30 years to grow. It has perhaps over-grown as an institution (not in terms of content, I hasten to add).
  • It has not grown to do more than one thing. It has grown up around one thing: mass television broadcasting.
  • I would argue that S4C (and not the S4C Authority) does not have the ability within the organization to adapt.
  • So I would argue that there exists a need to create a small body / company, under the Authority who can be a means to implement policies and aspirations that are non-televisual in nature .
  • This sister body needs to be a way of educating S4C and work across all of the channel’s activities and other bodies in the same way.
  • I do not think either that there is sufficient expertise within the channel. Nobody is responsible for strategy or online content in particular. There are people who operate those elements, but they have no power, no cross-departmental brief, with a basis in content.
  • Take a look what  ​​the Basque broadcaster EITB did : re-assessing every post in the channel in order to incorporate online; appoint a head of dept.  for online

It must create partnerships – but what kind of partnerships and what will they cost?

  • S4C is and island. It has been an island for over a decade. We need to zoom out and see S4C as an archipelago of islands (as it was to start?).
  • in a digital age it does not make sense to have digital publishing funds issued by the Council books, funding for technology development by the Language Board and funding resources online education by the assembly government department. All apart, and none cooperating.
  • Is there a way to re-assess the gross funds available for digital material in Welsh and to co-manage it with a strategy between S4C and other Welsh commissioning / grant-giving / contracting institutions.
  • This is not easy – partnering on projects is sometimes  as difficult as pulling teeth to organizations that have rusted to the ground. It must find some sort of institutional WD40. I don’t know what (or maybe who) that is yet, but we need something to be a buffer when well-established institutions come head to head to cooperate.

So those were the points I made. Thanks to Eurosfor the impetus to put them together for an event. There was a good crowd, and I thought that the students there had  very interesting ideas.

I’m not absolutely certain about the validity of all of the above points, but I think they are worth discussing, and hope they can instigate discussion. It would be great to hear your comments, if you agree or disagree with anything.

 

Comparing minority languages and lesser used languages on the internet

I’m currently reading Minority Languages on the Internet: Promoting the regional languages of Spain by Peter Gerrand. It’s one of the only books that focuses primarily on the minority language on the internet from a language planning perspective rather than a more descriptive linguistic approach. His main focus is the policies implemented by the Basque, Catalan and Galician autonomous communities to promote and sustain their languages on the internet.

I just wanted to quote a thought provoking paragraph from the conclusion of  his chapter outlining the role of minority language in an Internet dominated by English:

On the internet, the challenges for minority languages are the same as for the lesser-used national languages such as Dutch, Czech and Norwegian: how to enhance their prestige, and avoid domain loss. Language prestige cannot be achieved without language visibility. And so it is in the interests of linguistic survival to ensure a growing amount of communication in that language on the Internet, and to ensure that the language’s online resources are not ignored by the Internet’s search tools and addressing scheme. (Gerrand, 2007:45)

What this suggests to me and my current work, and this is something that I’ve been thinking about already especially in relation to French and their relationship with English on the internet, is that comparisons of Welsh and Norwegian, Danish or Dutch could provide many interesting insights in terms of approaches to language issues and planning on the internet, particularly from the perspective of media and participation. After all, Norwegian and Dutch internauts have the same ‘internet diglossia’ problem as Welsh speakers have. You could argue that we are all diglossic with English on the internet, even though the internet now has become much more multilingual. Some would say that there are parallel internets and that the walls between the languages are too high to be  able to use the diglossia analogy. Whatever the description, the Norwegians and the Dutch alike are having to think about how their language can have an even playing field in a globalised media environment.