Mix Digital 0.3 Conference

Date: 4th July 2015

Event: Mix Digital 0.3 – Conference

Written By: Josie Barnard and Lucia Vodanovic

We are on the train coming back from the Mix Digital 0.3 Conference where we led a workshop on using social media in the classroom as part of our research project within the Middlesex Social Media Research cluster.

It was a packed, inspiring three day conference (2nd-4th July 2015) with some wonderful contrasts. We arrived in light summer rain to see, in the Capability Brown landscaped grounds, sheep sheltering under a wind-swept tree. Then, when we stepped into the foyer, we found we were looking up at James Coupes’s towering two story shimmering, shifting Media Wall.

Bath Spa’s Mix Conference is a space in which creative writing meets technology. Themes addressed include the future of the book and new possibilities for storytelling. The conference – which took place in the Bath Spa Commons building – featured back-to-back diverse and stimulating discussions around alternative publishing platforms, co-creation of stories and participatory reading experiences. Keynote speakers included novelist and games writer, Professor Naomi Alderman, who mapped the ‘canon of interactive storytelling,’ inviting the audience to take a tour through some of her favorite game experiences. The partners behind the publishing venture Visual Editions talked us through how they reimagined the appeals of a traditional book in a digital landscape to make, in their own words, ‘great looking stories’.

On the morning of the second day, Josie gave a paper on my PhD by Public Work, ‘The Multimodal Writer,’ discussing from a personal perspective how to move between different types of writing for different modes of dissemination, exploring the pleasures of experimenting with intent. Then in the afternoon, we led ‘Social media in the classroom: a live demo and interactive workshop,’ in which we outlined the Twitter pilots Josie has been conducting with creative writing students since 2012 and ways in which Lucia uses social media in her journalism modules to reflect the fundamental changes social media is forcing in the world of journalism before doing a sample live Twitter exercise. We had great participants, who all tweeted about the joys (and frustrations) of reading using the hashtag #luvreadingmix to create a Storify. It was a really feisty session, with detailed assessment of the benefits of ‘should’ over ‘might’ for one of the links, all in the context of reminding ourselves that social media doesn’t necessarily have to be polished – it’s about finding a way to translate the live into a shared digital experience. We considered how barriers to using social media as a teaching tool include instability of some of the platforms. Participants said they came away with new ideas about how to use social media in their teaching. We came away stimulated and invigorated. A fantastic session all round, a great conference