Posts Tagged Brixton

A street. Celebrating a multitude of stories

Last Sunday, we held our third annual Sudbourne Road Street Party. As ever it was a personal, neighbourly and community affirmation of the simple power of human connection (http://www.shanepcarmichael.com/2010/07/the-big-lunch-2010-and-the-importance-of-social-capital).

Place and our association with it is a funny thing. The two places I tend to speak of most often are Belfast and Brixton. I’m always interested in how others respond to my stories of these two extraordinary places and how they (among others) shaped and continue to shape me.  The stereotype is of course of two troubled places; gritty, associated far too often (and always sadly) in the minds of others with division and decay (social, economic, political, economic). And yet, for those of us lucky enough to call either of these places home, that is just one story from among a multitude. And one which denies both them and us the glory of their true, complex, gritty, divided and yes, in parts decaying, selves. And in doing so the stereotype prevails, grows stronger, pushes out the possibility of another reality, an alternative narrative.

The danger, the limitations, the challenge of these “single stories” is articulated in this wonderful talk by Chimamanda Adichie: http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html 

And last Sunday as I watched neighbours and friends come together in a simple celebration of shared place I was struck by the limitations and distorted reality of Brixton’s oft told “single story” and the possibility in the alternative story we – in a simple act of gathering to celebrate our physical communion in SW2 – were (and are) writing. As I watched friends and neighbours come and go I wondered at the multitude of stories that made last Sunday what it was and our street what it is and Brixton what it really is more often than it is not……and in doing so we too regain(ed) a kind of paradise.

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Life through a lens – a strange social media strategy in Brixton

Sony DV Handycam
Image via Wikipedia

I was in my local coffee shop the other day and inadvertently found myself in the middle of an image rights issue.

A gentleman who is filming life/operations in a range of local businesses in Brixton wanted to know if he could have my written permission to use footage he had taken in the coffee shop for a posting about the business on Yell.com.

Having gained the necessary assurance that he captured my best side, I acquiesced.

Yet while he was worrying about me agreeing to Yell using his footage, I was more worried about why Yell had him there at all.

I’m assuming that Yell have employed people like this all over the country to film video snippets of businesses listed so that people can view the footage while browsing. While its great to add some richness to Yell’s typically static directory listings that cannot be an inexpensive exercise. It must also take some time to manage the logistics associated with such a national effort.

It seemed to me a much more cost effective and efficient – as well as engaging way to do this would be for Yell to invite Business owners listed with them to film some footage (guidance could be provided I’m sure on do’s and don’ts) of their business using anything from their own camcorders to a very simple – yet effective – phone app like Qik. These could then be submitted to Yell to edit and post.

Sure, they might lose a little in quality but they will probably make up for it in authenticity and insight…if I’m a business owner going to post some video about my business on Yell I’m going to make it personal, engaging and stylish. I’m vested in that. And as a user of Yell that’s also what I’d rather see – something informative sure but something from the heart. In few instances would I chose something cool and polished over something engaging/personal with a few rough edges.

And the cost saving are significant for Yell.

Maybe I’m missing something but it just seems like a better way…did Yell try this and it didn’t work? Are there unforeseen legal or technical issues? I’d love to know…it just didn’t seem to stack up.

Still, the coffee was good and he did get me on my best side.

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