In commencing the Hepworth Wakefield edition last week, I wanted to frame the meaning, expectations and philosophy of the labs and prepared a short talk for the latest cohort.

Here’s what I said…

I think I pretty much know most of you already after flattering, seducing, threatening and manipulating you all into applying to be part of the labs.

Though we’ve recruited you all as technologists, in reality you’re all innovative minds and it’s that quality that we’ve always sought out, rather than fluency in a technical area.

My role in the labs has been to help the university design the tone and structure of the labs, as well as assist the Hepworth in defining a provocative challenge.

The labs are essentially a mechanism to help the university and its partners innovate their academic research; catalyse collaborations between academia and those pushing and playing with new technologies.

The outcomes don’t need to be digital or technological – I’ve always thought of the labs are a form of Deep Hanging Out – if all we have at the end of this is a series of interesting conversations, then we’ve succeeded.

Since the first labs in 2012, we’ve had nine collaborations ranging from apps exploring the history of Harold Pinter plays, videogames on the ethics of drone warfare, web exhibitions on Islamic pilgrimages, using smartphones to train for actors, data signification and community storytelling.

The collaborations aren’t about the technology though, but the human infrastructure you’ll all create – the alchemy, chemistry, curiosity and conversation are what we’re more excited to see. And we encourage you all to keep a regular project diary on our website to share your insights and discoveries with each other and also the previous cohorts.

I was actually in the first labs as a technologist like all of you and my our small collaboration led to a national research project on archives and storytelling that profoundly altered how I think about technology and humanities.

I’m a little envious not to be part of this new cohort, but I’m hoping you’ll have as much fun as I did.