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Before talking about the various meetings I’ve had recently, I just want to say thanks to everyone who has been in touch about the job at Birmingham.  I’ve seen some very interesting CVs over the last couple of weeks and I’m really excited to start looking through the applications in detail.

But most of what I wanted to talk about today is a set of meetings.  First was the Multitouch Group, which is just a pretentious way of talking about the group of us who are involved in thinking through how the electronic outputs from this project are going to work.  After a set of really productive discussions with, among others, Russell Beale from the Human Computer Interaction group at University of Birmingham, we’ve got a plan for how we’re going to deal with the data we generate from the project.  Social scientists often use a computer program called NVivo.  This allows you to store all your interview transcripts, photos, videos etc., in one place and tag them under different themes (“thematic coding” to use the jargon).  The software is a really easy and efficient way of identifying the key issues coming out from all the data you’ve gathered on a project.  This software also has a ‘server’ edition which allows lots of people to collaborate on the same dataset.  But the really canny part is that the database on which all of this sits can be pulled fairly efficiently straight into the database on which all the web and touchtable outputs are going to be built.  This may not sound terribly interesting, but in effect it allows us to get some very nice synergies between the work we do on the ‘academic’ analysis of the data and the way we construct the public outputs.  Our IT guys here at University of Birmingham are working on putting this together for us even as we speak.

The second meeting was one of the Management Group for the project.  This group is the core academic team responsible for leading the different work packages on the project.  Again, this was a very productive set of discussions, even as we fought the fickle nature of Google+ for running video conferences.  I’m going to try to persuade Natasha, who is doing the data collection for the history work package, to write a post here about the progress she’s making with her part of the project.

Finally last Wednesday/Thursday I was in Manchester for the annual Connected Communities Summit run by the AHRC.  This differed to previous meetings in that ‘community partners’ were invited as well as people who are running funded projects.  This immediately set up a bit of a Berlin Wall between the two different groups of participants, particularly as a lot of speakers gave no quarter in terms of the language used.  Even the theme of the event ‘co-construction, co-creation’ went unexplained until someone from the ‘partners’ side directly asked.

I’d invited Chris Jam to come along to the event, knowing that he’d charm the pants off everyone there.  I was not wrong!  Chris performed some poems and had a queue of people lining up to work with him, which was really nice to see.  I also got a chance to meet up with a former student of mine, Hannah Gibbs, who now works for Glasshouse, a community design charity based down in London.  Nice to see that at least one of our graduates has gone on to great things.  There were lots of other people there and lots of other potentially interesting projects, including something with Andy Miles and Salford City Council looking at the nature of philanthropic giving in an age of cuts, which has real potential for synergies with what’s going on in the Manchester half of our project.

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