I’m starting a new digital literacy service. This isn’t the typical ‘tech-support’ or ‘computer training’ you may be familiar with (although elements of both are likely to be included). It’s more the thing I’ve been doing on an ad-hoc and professional basis for almost twenty years. Put simply: I help people to discover their inner geek :)
In the past that’s been largely ‘helping artists and arts organisations understand the range of tools available for them to have a solid, accessible and efficient online presence’ or ‘advising artists/orgs on which technologies might help them develop their creative practice or solve a creative problem’.
These days I’m interested in grassroots activism as well as creative practice, and I’m also quite concerned about the way the internet and digital culture is going, socially and politically as well as creatively. I’ve always recommended people use the tools that are relevant to themselves and their practice rather than jump on the latest bandwagons, and things are no different now.
I’ve never liked the term ‘guru’ because IMHO no one person can ever be an ‘expert’ at #allthingsdigital but if I can’t answer your initial questions or solve your specific problem myself I can promise you I’ll know someone who can (even if they happen to be in another country). You won’t receive any hard-sell from me, ever, about a specific product or system and where possible I will always propose open source/free/low budget solutions as a priority.
For the record this is not a service oriented to commercial enterprise, at least not of the ‘old white men in suits keeping their mates in profit’ variety. I care nothing for profit-driven society so please don’t ask if that’s all you’re interested in (I hear refusal often offends…). However I have no problem helping artists find a better way to sell their creations, be that within e-markets like Etsy or building your own online store.
You might want a one-off session or a series of ongoing ones, or perhaps an initial chat with a few follow-up notes, or even some research which wouldn’t need to be delivered in a realtime session – I’m open to anything, so try me.
Every session will be bespoke to you and your practice/needs, so each new client relationship starts with a conversation about:
- who you are;
- what you’re trying to do;
- why you’re trying to do it;
- who with/for;
- what you feel your problems/barriers are;
- what knowledge or resources you feel you lack.
The more you can tell me about those needs in your initial contact the better, in fact I’ve made a handy form for you to fill out as a starter. Having said that I’ll likely still spend a reasonable amount of time asking questions just to be sure I’m going to be providing the right path for each step.
I charge a flat $30ph rate for one-to-one sessions which can be done face-to-face or online (although I would always suggest at least one session happen face to face, most likely the first one). I can also work with groups but the rates would likely change accordingly (contact me to discuss).
Having set a rate card it’s worth mentioning that I’m super-keen on LETS-style exchange options and changing the world for the better. If you can’t afford the $30ph it’s worth still dropping me a line as we might be able to negotiate an exchange which suits us both. In some cases – especially if your cause is social change focused – I might be able to offer a discount or do some pro bono work (something I already do a little too frequently for my own economic good, but hey!).
Example session ideas
- Not knowing what you don’t know
A somewhat unruly title, but I’ve found that many people just don’t know where to start with digital culture. I’ve been around the block long enough to know what’s available now, how long it’s been around and where it came from, what it’s good for, what it’s not so good for, what similar alternatives might suit you better, and where some of the new trends might be heading.
This can be a useful opening session for anyone who is just curious whether digital culture in general might be worth them exploring. It could also help anyone who has been using a specific tool or platform for a while and feels ready to step out a little further.
- General cleanups and updates
We often click ‘Accept’ on the Terms and Conditions of an application on our desktops, laptops or mobile devices without reading them or fully understanding the consequences. We often install applications without noticing that a sneaky ‘trojan’ has snuck in while we weren’t paying attention. Over time small changes can start becoming more noticeable, or worse, annoying and disruptive. It might be time for a cleanup.
This kind of session is also a chance to look at what software/hardware/online platforms you have been using to see if there might be newer options available which could do a more efficient or cost-effective job. These conversations can be useful for a general ‘tech support’ computer overhaul (updating Permissions on a Mac, checking the regularity of a system/virus scan on a PC or solving mobile device issues) or to just discuss better ways of working (and living) in a digital world.
- Privacy and peace of mind
How much do you know about internet filtering, online surveillance and the data traces you leave behind you with every web search? Do you know if your computer uses a firewall or virus checker, or if those tools are really doing the job they should be? How often do you check your privacy settings on social media? With all those Facebook platform updates it’s possible something has been switched back on, sharing your private data without your knowledge.
As well as working through the technical side (the way we use technology) I’m also interested in the psychological side (the way technology uses us). Are you concerned about how much time you spend online? Do you read on a blue-lit screen in bed and then wonder why you’re always tired? I’m not a therapist but I can happily walk you through some of the psychological effects of technological addiction and some of the steps I’ve found useful myself in managing such things.
NB: I’m not going to teach you how to use the DarkNet or make you an expert in illegal online activities here, so please don’t ask! Although I am more than happy to rant about the law as it relates to digital culture participation (the good, the bad and the in-betweens).
- Social Media
Social media is probably the area I’m best known for in technoevangelist terms, and yet it’s the main area I have become most cynical about. Personally I have spent the last few years challenging myself to be less always-on, less reactive with my posts and more strategic about my messages (and even then I still make mistakes!). Don’t get me wrong, social media definitely has its uses and can be an extremely powerful set of tools when used well. Sadly it can also – sometimes – have a very debilitating effect on our physical lives, especially when used as a replacement for face-to-face human connection (see ‘Privacy and peace of mind’, above).
In these sessions I’ll be asking what, if any, social media platforms you may be using or may want to use, why you feel you want to use them, and offering some context on what other options might be around. I’ll also discuss some of the positives and negatives of each tool and some sneaky workarounds to avoid some of the worst. Social media platforms can include the obvious, Facebook and Twitter, but also include blogs, forums, email lists and all the gubbins that work between them (like monitoring and evaluation, archiving, databases, managing your own server, etc).
I can also spend time with you to set up new accounts where required, making sure to explain all the settings so you know what your setup is precisely. Where relevant I can install extra plug-ins or enable serverside connections to ensure the best possible privacy, rights management and cross-platform fertilisation for your digital world.
What I won’t do is run them for you; I’m more of a ‘teach a girl to fish’ than a ‘give a girl a fish’ kinda person. I am happy to advise on content strategies, but your online presence is exactly that: yours. If it’s not your voice then it’s so much less genuine for your audiences, and they will know.
- Creative technology solutions and networks
Doing a creative project and need a technical solution or advice on sources for cost effective hardware/software/platforms? Want to know the media arts histories of some of the tools and systems you see being used today? Need to find a trustworthy technical operator or developer? Just want to brainstorm geek ideas with someone who gets it? Ping me :)
- Grassroots and creative social change activism
I’m somewhat obsessed by the very many broken parts of our global society at the moment. I run a gathering called the Sunday Afternoon Activists Club [SAAC] (aka ‘book club meets high tea for creative activism chats and actions’) and am part of the Adelaide organising team for protests against the closures of Indigenous Australian communities in WA.
Through this work I’m discovering various tools and resources which enable and connect a growing global social change movement. I am always happy to share lessons so far – and of course learn from others about areas I may not be aware of.
There are so many facets to contemporary digital culture it’s impossible to run through them all here. You will know what you need to know more about or what you’re trying to do which isn’t working, so just contact me and we’ll start from there.
Here’s to sharing some constructive creative digital culture journeys together x