Lessons from decaying production models elsewhere, for research utilisation & knowledge transfer

Some interesting conversations and related reading last week triggered a couple of thoughts, which I hoped might be worth sharing. Anyway here goes:

  • The train of thought started in a conversation which included a touch upon Social Services Research Registers, which seem hard to enthuse people about and keep up to date, and the reflection ‘why couldn’t the process be more social?’
  • Next I was luckily able to obtain a preview of the upcoming ‘My Community Space’ functionality to be launched within the NHS eLibrary this April.  
  • Then on the way home I read an interesting piece about the collapse of the traditional production and distribution models for music and film – but there is hope in a much more community-oriented one.

If you pop over to the ‘Hyperpeople’ blog (strapline: ‘what happens after we’re all connected?’) you’ll find a lengthy post, which is, it transpires, the script of a presentation to Irish filmmakers…Anyway, scroll down to part III ‘And the Penny Drops’, and skim-read from there to the end, particularly the last four paragraphs.

The trick is, while doing so, mentally to transpose the discussion of ‘media’ (film, music) into ‘research’. For example there’s a nice bit in the penultimate paragraph about roles – and the need for a new one (a sort of ‘community developer’). Might researchers “be practically autistic when it comes to working with communities”? (Not literally, one would prefer to think, but perhaps, because of the other pressures they are under, maybe there’s a tint of accuracy?).

The message is a clear one I think:

“…the key is to find the communities which will be most interested in the production; this is not always entirely obvious, but the filmmaker should have some idea of the target audience for their film. While in preproduction, these communities need to be wooed and seduced into believing that this film is meant just for them, that it is salient…

…Starting at the earliest stages of pre-production, someone has to sit down with the creatives and the producer and ask the hard questions: “Who is this film intended for?” “What audiences will want to see this film – or see it more than once?” “How do we reach these audiences?” From these first questions, it should be possible to construct a marketing campaign which leverages microaudiences and social networks into ticket receipts and DVD sales and online purchases….”

…Meanwhile, across at the eLibrary, My Community Space is coming*. This involves the opportunity for any Athens user registered with the eLibrary to create a personal profile, along the lines of the ones we are becoming familiar with in all the main Social Networking Systems like Facebook, Ning, Bebo etc. You can register your interest in topics (interest in, or experience of, or both? – anyway, you can register that you have a stake of some sort). You can also tag resources with your own labels (and pick up those used by others?) – resources that you find both within the eLibrary (and associated repositories) and beyond, anywhere on the web. This act also records your ‘stake’ in topic – the resource gained your attention sufficiently for you to tag it with a label. If you agree, these notes of interest are visible above the level of the existing communities (little silos – but in a good way) that the eLibrary supports.So, a researcher, could, within the new production model hinted at above, search for eLibrary users – right across the user population so long as they had created a visible profile – by labels relevant to her project, to seek and thereafter develop collaborative involvement right from the point of hypothesis formation, through project planning, funding proposals, survey construction, editing the products, and considering the findings.

With some imagination, perhaps the collaborative involvement of others could be framed as a learning activity too (here the Associate Schools Groups (ASGs) model might repay scrutiny) and as such, attract CPD points or whatever.

Could this be made to happen? Not overnight, to be sure, but might it not be worth tinkering with and planning for. What else might need to be developed?

  • The model is sort-of available;
  • The technology infrastructure is available though not seamlessly joined-up (does it need to be? – not sure that it does)
  • Organisational model (have a look at the ASG structure for a start?)
  • Learning infrastructure – CPD points etc.

What d’you think?

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