Birmingham is currently bidding for the UK’s first City of Culture title (this is a dreadful out-of-date link, but DCMS don’t seem to be hot on explanation), we’re down to the final four and the bid has to be in very soon. I’ve done some consultancy on the bid’s web and digital presence, more of which perhaps when the results are in early in July, but one quite public and interesting piece of work was the ‘Big Culture Blog‘.

Birmingham Big Culture Blog - Birmingham City of Culture 2013
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It came about as an idea to make sure that culture from around the city, and from the grassroots, was showcased — we worked on the idea of helping people in the city create a cultural snapshot of whatever they were doing. Put simply, the idea was to allow people to blog about their activity within one 24-hour period (12noon 23rd April to 12noon 24th April).

I chose Posterous for the platform of the blog – it’s ability to  automatically convert images, video, audio and documents made it simple to offer one easy point of entry for the public. They were asked to email whatever they liked, and it was a technically easy job to moderate and publish – although it meant me being available for 24 hours straight to do that.

To make sure we had a good spread of content there were a team of social reporters engaged, with whom I did a short training session (as well as being in contact over the blogging period) — but in the end there was a huge wealth of content created from all sides of the city. Over 5,000 visitors to the site and around 350 different cultural experiences blogged and mapped made it a really successful exercise, showing — I think — that online engagement doesn’t have to be anything too complicated.

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