There has been some great progress over the past month on our AHRC Creative Informatics project Platform to Platform (P2P), particularly in respect of gathering content for the main output of the project: the non-fiction narrative podcast series based on the World War II diary of Malvern resident Lorna Lloyd, previously published online as the Blipfoto journal ‘LornaL’.
Last month, under the guidance of Dr Iain McGregor, our student team members welcomed actor (and Lloyd’s great-great niece) Bethany Ray to Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus for a week of recording in the University’s Auralisation Suite. As well as capturing the entire content of Lloyd’s war diary, they also recorded Bethany reciting some of Lloyd’s powerful poetry. The poems will form the basis of some ‘bonus’ podcast material.
The student team members are currently working on all the recordings in preparation for the addition of extra content, notably contemporaneous news coverage of the events chronicled in the war diary, including broadcasts from the BBC Archives. They will also return to the Auralisation Suite later this month to complete some newspaper ‘clipping’ recordings with Richard Godden. Later in the project they will record two further voices: (1) David Monteath, who will play Lorna’s brother Theo; and (2) our colleague Katherine Stephen, who has kindly agreed to be the announcer for the podcast episodes.
Meanwhile Dr Bruce Ryan and I have been busy working together (mainly) on two other aspects of the project. The first is public engagement. We’re pleased to share the good news that the date and venue for the podcast launch event have been confirmed as Tuesday 24th May at Great Malvern Priory, with a series of exciting activities scheduled from the afternoon until early evening on that day. This will be a free ticketed event, with sign-up on EventBrite. I have also been posting to the Blipfoto journal for the project at http://blipfoto.com/LornaLPodcast, while Bruce has been working on the project web pages with student team member Michael Suttie and our contacts at the Malvern Museum of Local History (where the original war diary is held).
Our second main priority of the past month has been to get started on the ‘academic’ element of the project, as related to the funder‘s theme of unlocking value from digitised heritage content. For this we are exploring to explore two key research questions:
- What are audience modes of engagement with digitised archive data sets that have been transformed into a podcast series?
- How can creative industries (notably heritage and cultural education) use this knowledge of modes of engagement, and its impact and value, to attract new audiences in meaningful ways, and to generate data-driven innovation?
While our main focus for the first question is the audience that is already familiar with Lloyd’s work through prior engagement with the textual format of the war diary in LornaL Blipforo journal, we are also interested in the impact that working with Lloyd’s output has on the student team members, for example in terms of their relationship with this period of history. We have already held ‘before’ interviews with the students, and will hold ‘after’ interviews with them once their part in the project is complete.
Our main data collection exercise, however, will focus on members of the Blipfoto community (also known as ‘blippers’). We will be conducting this in three phases. In the first instance we will hold some scoping interviews with some key informants who followed the creation of the LornaL journal between 2019 and 2021. The data collected in this exercise will help inform the design of data collection schedules for semi-structured interviews with a wider set of blippers so that we can gather data before and after they have listened to the podcast series. In terms of timings, we hope to undertake the scoping interviews by the end of this month, then schedule the ‘before’ and ‘after’ interviews in early May and mid-June respectively.
Although the official project team only comprises Bruce, Iain, myself and the student team members, we are fortunate to have the support of many others who are passionate about the work of Lorna Lloyd, and this exciting way of converting archive material into a ‘performance’. These include our external project board members Dr Sarah Ames (Digital Scholarship Librarian, National Library of Scotland), David Darlington (sound engineer), Sue Dumbleton (Blipfoto member), David Monteath (sound/voiceover actor), and Dr Guy Puzey (Lloyd family member and amateur genealogist/historian). Marianne Wilson, who is one of our PhD students, is currently working on a P2P-related project called Heritage organisations and podcasts: scoping study (HOPSS), and also serves as a valuable additional internal member of the P2P project board.
We are particularly indebted to two other people. The first is Faith Renger, Curator of the Malvern Museum of Local History. Faith is an enthusiastic champion of Lloyd’s work, who (amongst other things) has helped greatly with plans for the launch event in May. The second is Stella Wisdom, Digital Curator at the British Library. Without Stella we would have not been able to negotiate our route to the people who have granted us access to additional print and broadcast news content for the podcast series, nor found the music that we intend to use for the podcast theme tune.