Arts 2.0: a catchup and an appeal

Since I last linked to my Arts 2.0 column for The Stage, I’ve written three new pieces. First off, the launch of the BBC iPlayer Radio app just three days after the combined BBC/commercial radio RadioPlayer app led me to look at both, as well as some of the other options for audio listening. I have to say that while I’ve used both those apps since, it’s the iPlayer app that I enjoy using the most. Once you’ve started listening, of course, you tend to leave the app – but the act of selecting which audio stream to listen to should be quick, and not feel like a chore. I think the Radioplayer has some way to go on that side of things, while iPlayer Radio is closer to nailing it.

Then last week, I looked at three magic trick apps for the iPhone. I remain to be convinced that custom apps can be effective sources of conjuring – close-up magic with real life objects is far more effective than working with pixels on a screen. John Archer’s Streets app works along the right lines because it uses the maps feature within the phone itself – or at least it did, until Apple dropped Google Maps for its own service with iOS 6.

Finally, this week the news about Radio 4 releasing the Letter From America archives got me thinking about all those dramas the station has commissioned over the years, but remain locked away due to contractual or other reasons. Recent radio productions of West End hits then led me to talk about archiving contemporary performances.

An appeal for help

I’ve got a few ideas for future columns, but if you have an arts-working-with-technology story you’ld like to pitch, please email me at scott [at] thestage.co.uk.

One thing I’d like to do for next week, to tie in with the start of NaNoWriMo, is look at digital tools that writers – of books, plays, or scripts for TV, film and radio – use. An initial appeal on Twitter brought up several references to Scrivener, which combines templates for several writing projects with the ability to store research notes. I’m not just looking for scriptwriting software, though – do you use anything to incentivise you to write a certain amount each day? Other applications (from Evernote to Pocket) to collate research materials? Anything digital to remove distractions and allow you to focus?

Whether it’s PC, Mac, iOS or based on another platform – or a piece of hardware gadgetry you can’t do without – I’d like to know about it. Use the comments box below or email me at the address above!

Arts 2.0: my new column for The Stage

Visitors to The Stage’s website, thestage.co.uk, since Thursday will have noticed a new look to our home page, news, features and columns.

We’re moving from a combination of ancient custom CMS (which was built to accommodate a subset of our print-based content) and MovableType, which housed a limited number of blogs, to a WordPress-based platform which will help us expand the amount of content we can carry online. Over the next week, we’ll be reviving the advice section and migrating our static corporate pages into the site. After that, our recruitment, theatre listings and reviews sections will start to get the lion’s share of our development time.

As part of the new content structure on the site, I’ll no longer be regularly writing about TV and radio. Instead, in Arts 2.0, I’ll be writing about technology issues.

In my first column, Signposting from the virtual world to the real one, I talk about UX design, and how theatres’ websites could often do a little bit better in thinking about how their prospective visitors experience their websites.

I’m currently planning to write next Friday’s column on using social media for marketing, although plenty can change between now and then. (Update: I’m going to highlight a selection of iOS apps on a specific theme in my second post.) Beyond that, I want to talk about stuff other than websites. If you or your organisation has a great arts & technology story they want to tell me, please use the contact form on this blog, or email me at scott@thestage.co.uk.

Good arts coverage? Not Today, thank you

If you were listening to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday morning, you might have heard a segment talking about a forthcoming stage production of The Ladykillers, which was originally an Ealing comedy starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.

What was significant about the short item was the fractious nature of the piece, a three-way discussion between Today presenter Justin Webb, Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington and writer Graham Linehan, who has taken on the task of adapting the film so that it works for a live theatre audience.

The segment started out easily enough, with Linehan talking about how he has changed the story slightly so that all the action takes place within the one set, and how that frees up time that would otherwise be taken up with scene changes to explore characters in more depth.

But that changed under Webb’s stewardship, as he brought in Billington to dispute the merits of adapting any film for the stage.

Continue reading “Good arts coverage? Not Today, thank you”