David Gauntlett

To bring focus to my work, and to suggest a set of ideas that perhaps others may wish to connect with and to collaborate on, I am using the phrase 'The Make and Connect Agenda' to highlight the key ideas and arguments which I want to develop.

(Rather than cover this whole piece with distracting links, a set of selected links to relevant supporting material appears below).

Update, 2009-10: The ideas on this page quickly turned into a book idea, Making is Connecting. You can visit the book's website now for extracts, videos, links and more.

The 'Web 2.0'-ish points here are not original to me, of course, but I am connecting them with broader themes about making and creativity, and linking those with ideas about community creative and environmental projects, which again draw upon various sources.

The key themes or ideas are:

MAKE AND CONNECT: Through making things, and sharing them with others, we increase our engagement with the world. This link highlights the political potential of making, and the fruitful role of creativity in addressing real-world environmental and social problems. This applies to making-and-sharing online – Web 2.0 – but also much more broadly, to any creative activities.
A CULTURAL SHIFT TO A 'MAKING-AND-DOING' CULTURE: We are (hopefully) moving from a 'sit-back-and-be-told culture' to more of a 'making-and-doing culture'. This can be seen in the shift from television-watching to the more creative uses of interactive media, and also more broadly in community-based creative initiatives, and in growing calls for change in the school education system (from a learning-for-tests culture to one which emphasises creativity, questioning and exploration).
ENVIRONMENT: To tackle climate change, and other environmental challenges such as peak oil, we will need creative solutions and new ways of thinking. We also need, of course, government action on a big scale. But governments need to be persuaded that we the public are willing to be flexible and make lifestyle changes in order to save the planet, which is also a challenge to be solved creatively.
TOOLS FOR THINKING: Creating and making with the hands and brain can open up new perspectives, and reflecting upon things we have made can suggest new ideas and ways of doing things. Some processes can be marshalled, as in Lego Serious Play, so that creativity is facilitated and new thoughts, relationships or strategies can be developed.
PRESENCE: Unlike machine-made products, things we make ourselves may not be 'perfect', but their imperfections reveal our individuality and our presence (as Richard Sennett has described in his book The Craftsman). Through making we can declare our identity and our stake in the world.
RESEARCH: If we accept the above points, it follows that in the sphere of research methods we can ask people to engage in creative visual activities – or other sensory processes – in order to access different kinds of personal reflection which might not be caught by traditional interviews or focus groups. (See Creative Explorations).

One corollary of all this is, therefore:

THE END OF AUDIENCE STUDIES: Media audience studies had value in the twentieth century, primarily as a riposte to 'high culture' critics who suggested that people were passive consumers of meaningless media. Having shown that this is not the case, the work of old-style 'audience studies' is largely done; and meanwhile, the notion of 'audience' is collapsing as people become producers as well as consumers of media. Precisely what 'audience studies' is replaced with remains an open question – the answer is perhaps simply a return to a broad sociology which considers people's lives and the place of media – giving and receiving – within that.

  Doesn't traditional media still matter? Traditional media still exists, and may be popular; and audiences may still use it in traditional ways. But audience studies does not generally have anything new and interesting to say about this, and is perhaps retreating into a rather servile and hopeless defence of the traditional media industries.

A summary of these arguments can be seen in these online videos:

Making is Connecting
David Gauntlett presents a talk, illustrated in Lego, around the theme 'Making is connecting', showing how Web 2.0 also works as a metaphor for everyday creative activities and their meanings in people's lives.
[9 min 11 sec]. March 2009.
Participation culture, creativity, and social change
(graphic presentation, 10 minutes)
David Gauntlett's inaugural lecture from November 2008, reduced to a 10-minute presentation of the key points.
[9 min 58 sec]. November 2008.
Participation culture, creativity, and social change (edited lecture)

David Gauntlett's inaugural lecture from November 2008, filmed, then edited down to 24 minutes... and then chopped into three handy chunks:

Part one – Introduction to the lecture, Web 2.0, and 'making and sharing' culture [7 min].

Part two – The problem with audience studies; schools; and the environmental crisis. Then some solutions – making meaning and connections with the world, through making things [10 min].

Part three – Lego activity, including building 'a better world' in Lego; and conclusions [7 min].

Alternatively you can view this in one complete version at Google Video.

[Total: 23 min 26 sec]. November 2008.
Update, 2009-10: As noted above, the ideas on this page quickly turned into a book idea, Making is Connecting. You can visit the book's website now for extracts, videos, links and more.

Other relevant links on this site include...

Video presentations — demonstrating Lego as a tool for thinking and self-expression, amongst other things
Creative Explorations — book about making things as part of a research process
Lego research — further information about using metaphors in Lego, with articles and explanations
Web 2.0 and everyday creativity — introductory explanations about Web 2.0 and Wikipedia
David Gauntlett — main page linking to various projects and books