A Social Media network for West Midlands Digerati

One of the things to emerge from last Friday’s launch of 4IP here in the West Midlands is that Channel 4 & Screen West Midlands intend to launch a social media network for those interested in applying to the fund. During the announcement of this I put out a tweet asking why we needed one imposed; shouldn’t the existing community build its own? The response was very much why do we need one at all?  

However, we do need something to improve connectivity in the digital sector as many of the companies in the room that day that I knew are simply not part of the existing network of bloggers and tweeters that has been building up over the last 12-18 months.

38 minutes

My guess at the thinking in C4’s head is that they would build something similar to www.38minutes.co.uk, a site for Scottish/Northern Irish digital creatives to come together and discuss 4IP. Go take a look – it already has 300+ individual members and 45 groups/companies. It looks superb to me at first glance and the discussions have high level input from C4. In fact it’s further proof that although the West Mids were announced as the first 4IP region the Scots/Irish seem ahead of the game. That’s due in no small part to the energy and talents of their new 4IP commissioner Ewan McIntosh (go read his thinking behind 38 minutes). We do have more cash to spend apparently in the West Midlands (£10m) so perhaps there’s some consolation there but we really need to get going with connecting and collaborating.

Which brings me back to: should the digital sector just go ahead and build its own digital social media network? Is that a difficult thing to do? Would A DIY solution better demonstrate to C4 that we’re well up for 4IP and raring to go?

7 thoughts on “A Social Media network for West Midlands Digerati

  1. I guess we need both/and – a DIY network would have an enthusiastic start and the free hosts can do all we need to connect and collaborate (and @bounder’s point that existing networks could be better places to do it is a good one), but the West Midlands still has large pockets of disconnection which some well-resourced community-building, real-life events and capacity-building (and other hyphens) can help bridge. This will help to ensure that everyone has their chance to fit in with the ideas, rather than those in the know getting all the projects.

    I confess that despite having looked in on a few of the launch presentations and reporting, I’m still not absolutely sure what 4iP is going to mean and how the creative sector networks I’m involved in can fit in, which is something I’m sure a nice buffet at a venue somewhere in North Staffs can fix :)

  2. Any time someone wants to build a community, and then invite some people to it, I’m always a little skeptical. In order for it to ever work at all, it needs some sort of compelling proposition.

    High level input from C4 might just be that compelling proposition for a bunch of people wanting to apply for funding from 4IP…

  3. Having had a look at 38minutes, I can’t believe that we don’t have the ability to create something similar ourselves. It may require a little funding, but isn’t that waht 4IP is offering?

  4. Hey, if you all wanted to start one yourselves we’d be delighted, and only too happy to help.

    What matters most to 4iP is that there’s a place where a wide range of people from wildly divergent digital sectors can meet and share ideas with each other and with 4iP – that’s why 38minutes works.

  5. It’s worth remembering that 38minutes has no funding and cost nothing to do. It’s very much sustained by the community that’s in it, with Stuart and I putting in a regular but fairly minimal effort to keep things fresh (the wonder of some great feeds coming inbound).

    The thing about 38minutes that’s important to understand is that it filled a gap in the Scottish/NI market – a digital economy that was very talented but very disaggregated. We perhaps spotted that gap and have something to gain from people beginning to collaborate across it, but until the companies got on board in it I wonder if they saw something in it for themselves. If they had, would they not have created something already?

    So, the big question: is the West Midlands disaggregated in its digital scene? Certainly. Is there hidden talent that everyone needs to know about? Definitely. Has anyone created a place for all that to mix? Yes. And we think you’ll find it if it works for you… (note: we also did no marketing for 38minutes 😉 Just waiting for the domain name to kick in and it’s all yours…

  6. One of the most important functions of these type of networks is and should be ‘market testing’.
    It is a real easy way for people to see ‘the/a level’.
    basically what others are doing, and thus see how high to pitch their own ideas.

    The amount of fantasy football online games, ugc films, or rss mashups (my favorite is dopplr + jaime oliver’s recipe rss – puckr.com) that are always pitched to digital funds is astounding – it’s not that it is a bad idea, it is just that the originators haven’t had the opportunity to get out there, see what is there, or see what they can add to the market.

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