Monday, January 27, 2003

Comment Excellent TV

Although already part way through the series, anyone in Britain should stay in on Friday nights and watch the excellent new series of Bill Oddie goes wild. His relaxed manner, the beautiful scenery and wildlife and his knowledge of plants, birds and other beasties make it a very pleasurable half hour.

I was particularly interested in the way the show is all presented in the first person with him arriving, researching, observing and commenting on what he sees and finds. This is how Dave Snowden and Steve Denning recommend storytelling on their excellent masterclass and gave me a greater insight into how to make a story or in this case a programme more involving and how you relate more to the teller.

The proudest thing about the show is the credits, which in this episode at least, thanked English Nature amongst the other Wildlife organisations involved. I will have to find out who was involved and get the full story of 'Bill Oddie going wild'.

Comment - External presentations

One of the things I decided I would like to do when I got into this 'storytelling' was to break into the Conference presentation curcuit. By word of mouth I was recommended and asked onto a UNICOM conference and have now done at least 5 presentations mostly as case studies about our work in English Nature. The most recent was back in November as part of the KEPS (Knowledge Enabled Public Services) 2002 series which by the positive feedback I was sent seems to have been well received. If you look closely at the last photograph that is me in the centre with my back to the camera in the blue shirt and with the seventies haircut.

The most valuable thing for me about presenting at these conferences is the chance to meet other fellow enthusiasts and for each session you present you are re-paid with a free attendance of your choice. So it really is getting paid in knowledge for your knowledge.

During Coffee a fellow north-easterner (If only I had written down his name!) came up and we discussed our limited success with inviting people to come and tell their stories about a Nature Reserve. He said that in Northumberland they had tried to collect old photographs of an old mine and its workings. They took over a shop in the village and offered a free 'scan and enlarge' service to anyone with old photographs, thereby getting a scan copy for thyemselves.

What was fascinating was that small groups of locals began collecting round the photo's talking about their memories and anecdotes. I discussed this with Karen and we came up with the idea of a 'Time Team' approach. (for those that don't know Time Team is a televised three day team based rush to discover all there is to know about the history, archeology, people of various sites across Britain).

We are seriously considering trialling a three day event whereby we take a landscape ecologist, Botanist, Geologist, Aerial Photographs, site files etc and invite and encourage local interest whereby we capture the photographs and more important for me the anecdotes and oral history about the photographs, people, local landscape and wildlife for possible publication or part of our web-site. This for me is a good example of how two or more pieces of knowledge can be combined to create an exciting new innovative approach.

My next presentation for UNICOM is part of the Managing Knowledge 5 Day Conference in LOndon in March, my session is on the final Friday as part of Building Dynamic Communities of Practice. As usual I only have a few ideas at the moment so I will be trying to createe a completely new presentation for the event detailing the many types of communities we have (especially the smokers at the back door), the many stories about and within them and a particular emphasis on our experience at a number of National Nature Reserves where we have tried to pull together communities who have a common interest in the reserve.

I am also particularly looking forward to meeting David Gurteen of the Gurteen Knowledge Website who is chairing the day.

First apologies to my reader. It has been almost 4 months since I updated my blog but an enquiry from a fellow story enthusiast in the Ministry of the Environment in Ontario, Canada has made me realise just how powerful blogging can be.

I am now 5 months into my project and have spent most of the time building relationships, collecting source material and ideas and steeping myself in the wealth of material on the Internet and in our Library relating to knowledge, communities and stories.

The project staff resources has been doubled to two with the arrival of Karen who with her useful interests in Archeology, myths and solid Conservation experience in a local Team will I hope get us up into second gear. I hope shortly to add Karen to this Blog so that we can make it more lively, interesting and varied so watch this space.

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