Framework Five: Thing 5

Creation and communication in 50 words

The process of creation and communication marks the point where information users become information creators. Creators will undergo a process of trial and error, generating, curating, analysing and revising content, ethically reusing and repurposing discovered content. They will also consider the product’s impact upon their discipline-specific community before and, even, after dissemination.

Creation and communication: case studies

Case study 1: Professional context – creating and promoting ‘Soundtracks for Students

When considering the ways in which I could support our student and academic community, I stumbled upon the concept of designing a series of themed music playlists that might provide an element of stress-relieving or motivational support. Consideration was given to how they might also be used as a background study aid to improve the student / researcher experience.

After obtaining team approval, following a thorough social media review, I began researching the practicalities of putting the concept into practice. Once a suitable music streaming provider and method of communication had been found, a procedure for production was tried, tested and, eventually, established.

I next proposed a series of themes and a title for the playlists. This proved to be an important part of the creative process. Considering how the academic community might utilise each playlist, shaped what it should be called, the tone of the playlist, which musical genre would suit and what songs might be included.

The process of trial and error, analysis and revision was essential. It proved that to achieve the best results, each playlist would need to flow from song to song. The aim became to eliminate as many sudden tonal changes as possible.

This fact provided proof that the more research into how other fans of the desired musical genre had selected and ordered their playlists, the more effective the end result would be. Reuse and repurpose would be essential for success!

Communication of the products, although adhering to branding and other guidelines, turned out to be a process of trial and error itself, but as each new playlist is created, our team has taken the opportunity to promote the others in new and interesting ways.

Case study 2: Personal context – Freelance music reviewing

One of my hobbies is reviewing underground music content for the purposes of enabling the growth of non-commercial music cultures. By writing about these liminal music genres I’m hoping to inform potential buyers and build relationships between bands and fans.

Although I was, at one time, a co-founder of an online music review website, I now write for a couple of well-established websites, composing and editing articles for publication by others.

My process begins when I select which band’s music (from a list of forthcoming releases) I would like to write about. Decisions are based on my prior experience of the band, their style of music, the record label they are publishing with, the band construct, interviews the band may have conducted leading up to the release, any press release statements from either the band or their public relations (PR) representatives and the impact upon the community that will interact with any review I write. This involves research into published content and from this point I am already beginning to construct a blueprint for any potential article.

Once I have chosen, received and listened to the music I will begin to write. I will always be playing the music whilst writing as it informs the article in real-time, but I will pause the music often to conduct (and critically appraise) deeper research into the music. This can be research into a number of things. For instance, research into other music that bears a similarity of style to that which I am listening to, a band’s discography, a band member’s other projects or into the music’s perceived sub-genre.

I will always have a thesaurus on hand and I will change words, rewrite sentences and, even, paragraphs in my attempt to turn what I hear into words. The aim is to recreate the experience of hearing the music to the reader. Additionally, I’m aiming to critically evaluate the music so that the reader can make a decision on whether to engage or not with the music when it is released (to the public).

Although, I shy away from digesting other’s opinions before writing, I am aware that when I do read them I may be sub-consciously influenced by them, but on a conscious level, I make an ethical and moral decision not to be.

It’s this level of engagement with the source material that enables me to create valuable new information for others to engage with.

Case study conclusions

Comparing the two case studies, it’s apparent that I love music! I see similarities in the ethical dilemmas I’m facing when creating and communicating content. I see that the first draft is rarely the same as the final published version and that full engagement with the process outlined above produces the best results. I’m also aware that whilst I am restricted by industry standards, I am experiencing a freedom to create. This isn’t always the case in the world of academia and I appreciate any funder provisos imposed must feel restrictive and non-conducive to the experience of creating and communicating.

Of course, I have experienced restrictions upon my creative experience, but these are usually internal and are resolved through a jointly-agreed policy of conduct.

Interestingly, our current experiences of life in lockdown are, in themselves, restrictions upon this process and require us to apply an extra degree of ethical practice and professionalism to discover, innovate and apply acceptable methodologies.

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