Simon Popple

Simon Popple is Senior Lecturer in Cinema and Director of Impact and Innovation in the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds. He has published widely on various aspects of cinema and is now working on the role of archives in relation to public memory and the democratic exchange of ideas. From a mining and a police family he has a continued interest in representations of the strike and in the presentation of historical events. He is editor of the journal Early Popular Visual Culture.

I am very excited to be working with technology partners to develop a digital storytelling application that will allow public audiences to engage with online archives/collections to develop their own interactive and memory based content.

The idea comes from two AHRC/BBC funded KEPs centred on the role of User Generated Content (UGC) and the development of genuine democratic engagements between the public and a range of cultural institutions. My work looked at opening up the BBC’s moving image archives and in exploring what types of interaction and joint endeavour could be possible and in looking at expectations and aspirations from a public and institutional perspective. As a consequence I am now ready to develop the next phase of this ongoing research and develop an application that can facilitate these exchanges and allow public audiences to become creative curators and to engage beyond the normative expectations of the ‘invited space’ offered by institutions. As we increasingly talk about the opportunities for self-expression and self-writing within expanding digital frames, this application could have the potential for genuine creative engagement. Organisations like the BBC, the British Library and the British Film Institute have just launched the Digital Public Space (DPS) which is a collaborative archive- of-archives built on the notion of free ‘democratic’ exchanges and in which acts of self-writing and the ‘national conversation’ can take place. This clearly signals a huge shift in the idea of ownership and the insularity of major institutions and offers the potential for exciting application development that would allow the public to take full advantage of increasingly available cultural resources and would be something that is not collection/institution specific.

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