I spent yesterday at the launch of the Sandbox, the upside there were lots of people in Waterside 3, possibly drawn by the £9k commissioning offer (but then only 24 admitted to having an idea to pitch and only 14 actually did). Ed Mitchell facilitated and did an excellent, if noisy job with various horns, cymbals and German songs about fish.
Th first activity was about networking and knowledge sharing. We’d each filled out a mini-profile on what we had to offer and what we were looking for. Copies of everyone’s profile were posted on the walls of Waterside 2 and you had to swap your profile with someone you didn’t know, and then take their profile and find them two people from those on the wall to network with. Quite sensibly no-one admitted to having or knowing anything about funding (over 50% on a rough eyeball count listed that as a ‘need’). Profiles returned to their rightful owners we set off to find those identified targets!
In the end I only found one person on the list of likely candidates, but in wandering around I got chatting to several folks that were either very close or had interesting ideas of their own.
We were then invited to come forward if we wanted to pitch, or adjourn for coffee otherwise. I decided to take the plunge. 20min later I had an A2 sheet with a (very) badly draw storyboard (sorry Rich).
We had 90sec to describe the concept and Ed was being ruthless with the clock. There were a few game-type proposals (including the one I presented), a couple of location / mapping type ideas, a couple of event ideas and a couple that didn’t seem to be that related to media or pervasiveness at all.
Then followed a brutal ranking process where everyone in the room got to allocate votes to the ideas (each person had 4 blocks of 4, 3, 2 and 1 vote – they could be allocated in a whole block of ten or split between up to four ideas). My idea didn’t make it through the vote but since this wasn’t the commissioning process (yet) I wasn’t too disheartened. There followed a period where each idea was worked on to ‘improve’ it, before a final pitch to a volunteer panel. Watching the panel process I was doubly glad not have made it through as they were pretty brutal but it still wasn’t part of the commissioning.
The actual commissioning criteria were then worked on another group activity. This worked less well because each of the four groups had to come up with 5 criteria. These were keywords on post-it notes. Without a very clear understanding of the purpose of the Pervasive Media Sandbox, it was impossible to come up with a coherent set of criteria. There wasn’t unanimity over any of the criteria. These have now been consolidated into the ‘official’ criteria so we’ll have to see if the idea I was proposing still fits.