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Amplified Publishing Category

Amplified Publishing Showcase Highlights

by Caroline Anstey

After a year of experimentation and development, the findings of Amplified Publishing programme highlighted in the showcase did not disappoint.

The cohort of creative tech businesses, academics and artists have worked together, cross-pollinating their expertise and sharing knowledge across the group to produce a fascinating range of publications and innovative prototypes. These projects and provocations both present answers for and challenges to the questions posed at the showcase panel discussions:

· How can new technologies help us reach new audiences?

· How can we generate income and value through publishing and content creation?

· What are the creative challenges of building communities for publishing?

One of the most striking elements of the cohort’s output was the range of content produced. When most people think of ‘publishing’ they think of books and magazines. Amplified Publishing moved beyond this concept, broadening out to include games, music, and other forms of content creation. The prototypes range from a new social media platform, an immersive horror experience, to a digital twin of a music venue. One of the unifying elements of these projects is a drive towards building communities and centring content around these communities wants and needs.

In the panel discussion examining ‘Building Communities’ Academic Fellow Vinay Namboodiri talked about working with the audience his work is built for:

‘…we are used to evaluation the academic way, plotting graphs and tables and so on but when we work with techniques which are meant for people and should be used by people, we get real feedback that is beautiful’

And following on from this was the consideration of the creation of content with the proposal that successful content mines the niche and is cultivated by the audiences themselves.

Louise Brailey, Editor of Crack Magazine, one of the business partners for the pathfinder, offered her perspective on creating value in publishing:

‘..maybe the day of the days of the gatekeepers are over, the arbiter of taste being one person sitting behind a laptop who is somehow entangled within all these prejudices and biases. Maybe it's good that we're shifting away from that towards a supporter model’

James Binns, prototype fellow, Executive Chairman of Bath-based games media businesses, Network N, and expert on online advertising, considers the commercial side of this concept:

‘Super niche audience is the way that it goes now with the web and it's better for discovery - it's better for the users and it has genuine expertise and the neat thing is it will monetize as well’

But where does money fit into the creative world? Panellist and No Bindings publisher, Lily Green, brought the discussion around to thinking of value beyond financial gain:

‘Publishing is like an ecosystem and my place in it is quite happy not being, not aiming to be Penguin or something so I feel like my what I do and the scale that I work at is actually just as important’

From all the work presented within the Amplified Publishing showcase, it’s evident that creative tech has opened the publishing door to a plethora of cultural experiences – allowing access to people who may not have or felt able to access them before.

It’s undeniable that Covid gave the world a push to fast-track the use of tech in more innovative and creative ways. As the industry grows out of the pandemic there are still people that sit on the margins with little or no access to this world. Accessibility has been at the forefront of all the work with the cohort. Working on the model of knowledge exchange and sharing, ideas discussed within the panels ranged from collective buying - sharing subscriptions, offering someone a connection to your broadband - to enabling your community to support one another.

Linus Harrison, Inclusion Fellow and podcaster specialising in content for neurodivergent communities, on thinking about the future and his learnings from the pathfinder:

‘if there's something that you want, something that you really feel needs to happen, shifts you need you really want to see - chances are you're not the only person and it's likely that a lot of other people will connect to it’

And returning to more traditional publishing methods, Academic Fellow Agnieszka Przybyszewska’s research has been centred around the skill-sharing of writers, readers and creators to produce forms of literature using new media. She has laid down a gauntlet for using creative technology to create new kinds of book experiences:

‘A book is a form of technology and it's a tool to give you a story so what about a digital twin space for literary festivals - bring back internet cafes!’

So, is it time for a new era in tech collective ‘buy in’s’ and what impact could the return of internet cafes have on levelling up?

Feels like there’s a research paper in there somewhere….!

Live illustrations created by: Jasmine Thompson 

Watch the Amplified Publishing Showcase video!