Marty on the NoMoreArt blog writes about CreativeCamp and the Digital Circle.:
For those of us a little bit older, it’s easy to get jaded. Especially when you’ve taken a few right hooks over the years that instilled the deja-vu-ometer that goes off in your brain when someone mentions something like ‘Digital Circle’ or Invest NI’s Digital Content Strategy (on a side note, I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually contributed to that. Answers on a postcard please…)
It’s about time that the credit went where it is due and Digital Circle can perhaps help in bridging the gap between great underground events in Blick Studios on a Saturday afternoon and the level of support the sector has earned and deserves from government and beyond. It’s there, let’s get on board and use it.
I wasn’t around in the NIMA days and the only thing I want to know about it are the lessons we can learn. The Digital Circle is, first and foremost, an opportunity for everyone in the digital content industry. Who’s that, you may ask? It’s likely to be 90% of people who read this blog. You might make software, make music, make web sites, make films, make animations, make games – these days only a small section of it is not captured digitally in some form or fashion. That makes it digital content.
Digital Circle is a trade body. You choose whether to join and participate. You choose whether to be counted. You choose whether to attempt to make a difference. The Digital Circle has a steering committee, people who have benefitted from networking or done well in the industry and who wish to see something happen for the wider community. They commit their time to this in order to make things work. I think that if everyone donated a fraction of their time, Digital Circle could do two things.
- Educate everyone in our industry of the support frameworks that are available. This might mean getting a full understanding of everything that InvestNI, NI Screen, NIMIC, Momentum and other similar groups can offer. Hint: it’s not all about money. InvestNI took a battering at CreativeCamp but really how many people have stopped to think about the value they offer beyond money (which, at the end of the day is taxpayer money!) I wrote about this in relation to Venture Capitalists back in 2006:
VCs can still get a slice of the action – but itâ€™s a smaller slice and it involves them opening up their address book and their existing portfolio rather than opening up the cheque book. To create value in this new world, the VCs need to make themselves into the glue that binds starting businesses together.
- Educate the various support organisations on the level and type of support needed. The guys working in these organisations are sometimes from the industry and sometimes not – they might just be passionate about it and for many of them it’s not just a job. But they can only devise support schemes they think are needed and it requires everyone in the industry working as one voice in order to tell them what we all need. And no, it’s not just money.
I approached InvestNI a few years ago with an idea and got knocked back. I now understand why they didn’t (and couldn’t) support my idea but it took me to actually examine my own ideas with a really critical eye. And in the end, if the idea is actually good and you’re the person to implement it, then money doesn’t matter. David Perry, ex-Shiny Entertainment and local lad said:
So my suggestion is that they work out where their passion could be focused, and expect to spend the rest of their career trying to be the best in the world at that one area of expertise.
The test is actually very simple, just two questions:
- If you could afford to, would you do this work for free?
- Are you willing to sleep under your desk to be the best at this topic in the world? (Because your competitors are.)
If nothing else, join and attend the meetings and get to know the people who have, thus far, put in their own time to start this up. Exercise your vote, get in people who you trust to do a good job and who you know would put the needs of the industry ahead of their own needs for a few hours every month.
Look at the ‘underground’ events like BarCamp and CreativeCamp. Both of them sponsored by local companies and with some input from the meagre Digital Circle marketing budget. Believe me when I tell you I want to encourage this sort of grassroots approach because, end of the day, I’m grassroots myself. Get involved. You may not like the name, you may be bitter from previous experiences but you should treat this with the right philosophy – it will only succeed if the people reading this, the people who actually care about the industry, do something about it. I’ll be knocking on doors in the near future and asking you to join if I know about you. And yes, it’s been decided that there’s a membership fee. And every penny from that membership fee will be used to sponsor more events like CreativeCamp. You want more value? It’s coming.
What are the choices left to our industry? We can do nothing or we can do something. You can be separate from Digital Circle but what end does that serve?