I attended the Arts Council's New Media, New Audience? conference in Dublin Castle yesterday. Going there and particularly having been invited to be on a panel, I felt a bit of a charlatan since my engagement with online media is this blog, some facebook advertising and youtube - hardly cutting edge. However, in comparison to the majority of arts organisations in Ireland, it appears that this approach is relatively novel.
It was instructive that of the two keynote speakers it wasn't the utopian Charles Leadbeater whose argument received the most vocal support from the delegates. Instead it was Andrew Keen with his focus on what is lost (mostly traditional authority structures and traditional business models) that drew audience sympathy. Is that because there were more people representing arts organisations there than there were artists? Do organisations have more investment in maintaining control over the traditional means of distribution and traditional relationships with a traditional idea of audiences? In my experience, artists just get on with using whatever resources are available to them and web technology is another set of resources.
I moderated a panel with Peter Fitzpatrick, Trevor Curran, and Conor McGarrigle who were all positive about the opportunities that do exist. Trevor is already involved with producing the online teen drama Aisling's Diary, Conor has created a body of work online, using GPS technology in particular, and Peter, who works with Microsoft (but confessed to being a Mac user too!) talked about the software and applications that are being developed that the arts sector can start to use.
Even so, I realised that many people in the room weren't aware of the concept of something like Cloud computing and I wondered how that kind of awareness (which is part of newspaper general culture now rather than specialist knowledge) might be raised. Someone said to me that he was shocked by the level of resistance to 'new media' (not new NOW) and thought the sector would be severely hampered by such resistance.
So why do I blog? Because I want to share what I'm thinking about, what influences me, what I've learned; by sharing that, I want to help people have a way in to my work, to not just encounter it as a closed product but to see it as something in process, something porous.
However I wonder if my invitation to participate is clear enough. Do I really make it possible or worthwhile for people to engage in dialogue? Or am I more driven by the narcissism that Keen thinks is endemic in this everyone-has-a-voice culture?