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Creative Industries (KKB018)

Goodbye, Creative Industries

No, I'm not leaving QUT - but today is the first day of the new semester, and it's the first time in five years that I'm not acting as unit coordinator for KKB018 Creative Industries, one of the Creative Industries Faculty's undergraduate core units. KKB018 was the unit that I was originally employed to develop - and as far as I know, it was the first mainstream undergraduate unit (course, subject - choose whatever terminology applies in your neck of the woods) world-wide to introduce students to the creative industries. I've now finally passed on responsibility for the unit to my esteemed colleague John Banks - with my role as conference chair for AoIR 2006 and my involvement in various major research projects it simply was no longer feasible to coordinate such a large unit as well. So, today I say goodbye, with a quiet sigh of relief after what's been a long and occasionally rocky road.

New Creative Industries Projects for Ipskay
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Throughout this week, my students in the KKB018 Creative Industries unit are exhibiting their project proposal posters. KKB018 is a core unit in the Creative Industries Faculty, and for many of them is the first unit which introduces them to the core concepts in creative industries theory and practice, which is always something of a challenge - especially considering that students in the unit come from all disciplines across the Faculty: there are dancers and journalists, writers and communication designers, actors and musicians, fashion designers and filmmakers. So, one key aspect of the unit is also to encourage interdisciplinary approaches, of course.

I developed the unit in 2001, as the first of its kind in the world, and I've run it ever since (and for the last time this semester). Developing the content structure itself was relatively straightforward: there's a good deal of core theory which quite clearly needs to be covered. What was more difficult was to come up with an effective, authentic, and interesting assessment structure that went beyond the standard (and boring) 'regurgitate theory by writing an academic essay' model. Last year, I think I finally cracked that challenge: I worked out that beyond all disciplinary knowledge, amongst the core skills our students will need to acquire is the ability to develop, propose, and critically assess project ideas. Whether pitching a story idea to an editor or producer, proposing a creative project to a funding agency, applying for funding for a research project, or presenting a new product to the company board, what they will have to do in their future careers as creative practitioners is to come up with that great idea, present it effectively, and demonstrate that it would be appropriate both for the organisation they're proposing it to, and for the local, national, and global environment within which they're operating. And if they're not developing new projects themselves, then chances are they're probably working for the organisation, assessing projects which other creative practitioners have proposed.

Proposals In - Now to Find Time for Research...

We went on a nice but all-too-short post-V-day getaway to North Stradbroke Island last weekend, but I'm afraid any sense of relaxation went out the window quickly when I saw on Monday that numbers in my Creative Industries unit had risen to nearly 370 students by Monday morning. This meant quickly adding a couple more tutors and giving them an induction to the material, and elsewhere too I've been playing catchup all week already - not because I've been slack in the lead-up to the semester, but because there's just so much to do at the moment.

Presenting Ipskay at the Creativity Marketplace

My afternoon was spent presenting the Creative Industries Faculty and especially my work in KKB018 Creative Industries with the Ipskay Creative Town scenario at the CP+S Creativity Marketplace. Unfortunately DHL messed up, so my QUT brochures never arrived at the hotel, but with the materials and student posters I brought along I think I had enough information to go on. I ended up running out of business cards (and out of voice), so that' s a great indication of strong interest in what we're doing. Also, good to meet a few fellow travellers - some of the folks from the Danish Kaospilots group, as well as some lecturers from the University of Breda in the Netherlands who have also developed a creative industries programme. I'll have to follow up to see if a student exchange between them and us is feasible.

Approaching Creative Places and Spaces

(Toronto) Well, we're here for the Creative Places + Spaces conference in Toronto now. Early this morning I set up my stall in the Creativity Marketplace, presenting some of the work we're doing with the Ipskay fictional environment in KKB018 Creative Industries, and there were already a number of interesting conversations with visitors. Now, we're on to the start of the conference proper, with the opening speech by Artscape CEO Tim Jones. He begins by noting the rising interest in creativity and innovation from a large number of stakeholders, also including governments and policymakers. But how to create the conditions for that creativity and innovation to thrive? How can the best and brightest in diverse fields be attracted to this environment? How can creativity bubble up from the bottom and be connected to global networks? In many of these issues, aversion to risk is what's holding us back. A mindshift, a movement, isn't enough - a revolution is what's needed: hence the subtitle of this conference: risk revolution.


My postgraduate coursework student Qiongli Wu pointed me to the Trendwatching site the other day - very interesting stuff. This ties right in with much creative industries theory, and especially points to the rise in user-led content production which is also at the heart of the open news and blogging phenomena I write about in my Gatewatching book. Of course in watching for new trends in this field the Trendwatching team are involved in a form of gatewatching - and what's more, they've even set up a world-wide network of what they call 'springspotters' to help them carry out this task.

Wikinews Gives You Wiiings!

I've just had word that my paper for the Association of Internet Researchers Conference this year has been accepted - so I guess I'll be going to Chicago in October... The paper is titled "Wikinews: The Next Generation of Alternative Online News?" and deals with a form of open news which arrived too late to be fully considered in my book, so it's a kind of addendum to the book itself. As this is the peak association in my line of research, I'm also hoping to have a bit of a launch for the book at the conference.

Creative Places + Spaces

With my colleague Jane Turner, I've put in a paper proposal for the Creative Places + Spaces conference in Toronto in October. Let's hope they like it - for me it would also make a great combination with the AoIR conference in Chicago a few days later (maybe I could even swing by the Peter Lang offices in New York on the way?). Anyway, we'll see what they think.

Here's what we've proposed:

In 2002, Queensland University of Technology developed the world’s first Creative Industries Faculty and introduced the new Bachelor of Creative Industries degree, replacing its existing Bachelor of Arts offering. The degree is designed to be inherently interdisciplinary, and aims to provide students both with the creative skills to develop and realise innovative ideas for projects in the creative industries field, as well as with the theoretical and conceptual knowledge to understand and operate effectively within the emerging creative economy in Australia and other nations.

More Updates...

Phew. More Drupal updates today, and I think I have most of it under control now. In the process I've added a Creative Commons licencing scheme, a blogroll, direct access to the content categories, and a few other goodies. Still no news on the monitored sites list (using Drupal's Weblinks module); I've manually added a list of sites to the right sidebar for the time being.

Other updates also continue. Today was the start of week three of semester, but I'm already having to update unit outlines for next semester (when I'm again teaching the Creative Industries unit at QUT, as well as New Media Technologies). NMT (in which students produce the M/Cyclopedia of New Media) still requires more development; I'm exploring ways to translate the wiki knowledge structure of the M/Cyclopedia into the unit content structure and delivery. How do you teach new media without falling into the trap of providing a simplified linear history of new media - how do you show the complex interconnected nature of new media concepts and issues instead (and enable students to explore them for themselves)?

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