The Story 2012

The Story 2012 happend on Friday, February 17th, and was held, as usual, at The Conway Hall, London.

There was a custom-made chocolate bar by the excellent Paul A Young with the speakers’ running order printed on it. If you ever need chocolate, custom-made or not, Paul is your man.

Here’s the list of speakers on the day:

Matthew Sheret  and Simon Thornton are coming along to talk about music, the lost art of telling a story through sequencing album tracks, and the new patterns of attention around online music. Matthew is’s Data Griot (which basically means storyteller). As a writer and editor Matthew has worked for Newspaper Club, 4iP, Thomson Reuters and Dentsu London, and has contributed to Plan B, Solipsistic Pop and Electric Sheep among others. In 2008 Matthew co-founded We Are Words + Pictures, a team who work to promote the work of comics book writers and illustrators in the UK. He also edits and publishes the comics anthology Paper Science. Simon started  working in recording studios in the late 80s where he met a young Norman Cook and has had strong working relationship with him ever since; through chart-topping projects such as Beats International, Freak Power, and the multi-plantinum album selling Fatboy Slim. An obsessive about the process of recording and its technology, he continues to work with Cook as well as many varied side projects, including music for Award winning computer games. I’ve wanted to run a session about storytelling and music at the last two Story conferences, so I’m really pleased we’ve got Matthew and Simon talking this year.

Jeremy Deller is one of the UK’s most fascinating and provocative artists. His work explores issues of collaboration, folk culture and politics through installations, video pieces and performances. In Acid Brass, he connected the brass band tradition of northern collieries to contemporary Acid House music, linking them through their shared background in working class culture. In 2009 he created Procession for the Manchester International Festival, a celebration of folk culture and urban tribes, and has worked with Alan Kane to create the Folk Archive project. Jeremy will be talking about The Battle Of Orgreave, a remarkable reconstruction of the battle between miners and police in Sheffield in 1984. Considered a turning point in Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to undermine union power in the 1980s, The Battle of Orgreave was renacted in 2001 with the collaboration of local communities affected by the miners’ strike, local policeman, and battle re-enactment societies who usually spend their weekends performing civil war battles. The Battle of Orgreave is one of my favourite works of art from the last few decades, and I’m really glad that Jeremy will be coming to The Story to talk about the work and the visceral emotions it generated.

Liz Henry is a writer, blogger, poet and polymath who is a developer at BlogHer and one of the most respected speakers and writers about technology and culture. In 2011, Liz (along with Andy Carvin from NPR and others) started questioning the identity of a prominent Lesbian blogger in Syria called Amina Abdallan Arraf al Omari. Liz’s forensic search for clues about the truth of Amina’s blogging uncovered a remarkable story that led to the revelation that Amina was actually Thomas McMasters, an American student living in Edinburgh. Liz will be at The Story this year to tell the remarkable story of the Amina affair, and what it can teach us about truth, social networks, and how literary fictions can affect real world politics.

Fiona Raby is a partner in the design partnership Dunne & Raby, established in 1994. She is professor of Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, and a Reader in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art in London. Dunne & Raby use design as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies. Their work has been exhibited at MOMA, the Pompidou Centre, and the Science Museum in London and is in the permanent collections of MOMA, V&A, FRAC and FNAC. They have published two books: Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects and Hertzian Tales.

Matthew Herbert is a musician and composer who works principally turning everyday sounds in to music. He has produced an astonishing volume of work for a variety of media.  Herbert has released some 20 of his own albums under various monikers, including Herbert, Matthew Herbert, Doctor Rockit, Wishmountain and Radio Boy. In 2010 Herbert was commissioned by The London Sinfonietta to create a programme of music from a single edition of The Guardian newspaper. He  incorporated numerous sounds – including recordings of the printing presses creating that day’s edition, the original recording of the paper’s interview with Jonathan Frantzen, an auction of Lehman Brother’s art collection and the polluted rivers of the Niger Delta – into the writing and performance process.  In 2011 Herbert scored the soundtrack for Life In A Day, directed by Kevin McDonald and produced by Ridley Scott, weaving thousands of audio submissions from contributors around the globe into the film. This year he released One Pig, the third in a series of three albums about one thing. In the first, One One, Herbert makes all sounds (including singing) himself. The second is One Club, made from recordings of the audience and building-fabric at a German nightclub on a single night. One Pig is derived from recordings made during the life, death and consumption of a single English farm animal.

Ellie Harrison makes work which moves constantly between the roles of ‘artist’, ‘activist’ and ‘administrator’. She uses skills drawn from each of these perspectives to create playful and engaging work, in-and-out of art world contexts, which expose and challenge the systems which control and rule over our lives, be they political, ethical, social or economic. Her work takes a variety of forms including performance spectacles, interactive installations, collaborative projects, political campaigns, media interventions, lectures, websites and coach trips. In 2009 she founded the Bring Back British Rail campaign and in February 2010 she became the first individual artist to openly publicise an Environmental Policy on her website. She lives and works in Glasgow where she is secretary of the Artists’ Lottery Syndicate and member of the Scottish Artists Union.

Anthony Owen is widely acknowledged as one of the UK’s most prolific and influential magical creators, writers and producers. His original magical effects, routines and ideas have been featured by performers around the world and he has acted as a consultant for numerous performers and theatre, film and television productions. He is the author of over twenty books on magic, including Some Tricks, Some More Tricks and The Sticky Blue Book. He is also the BAFTA and Rose D’or award winning producer of over one hundred hours of television magic shows including all of Derren Brown‘s series and specials, and The Real Hustle for BBC3. I’m a huge fan of magic, and how magicians use various techniques in their storytelling, so I’m really looking for ward to hearing from Anthony.

Tom Chatfield and Phil Stuart will be talking about The End, a game produced for Channel 4 Education about philosophy, belief and death. Phil is the Creative Director of Preloaded, one of the UK’s most innovative game design companies, who have produced award-winning games for clients including the BBC, Channel 4 and The Wellcome Trust. Tom  is a freelance writer and the author of three books about digital culture. He has a doctorate from St John’s College, Oxford, and is an associate editor at Prospect magazine, a guest fellow at the Said Business School, Oxford, and a faculty member at the School of Life in London. He writes, speaks and broadcasts internationally on media, arts and technology, appearing at forums including TED Global, the Cannes Lions and authors@Google.

Danny O’Brien is one of the most influential writers, journalists and activists of the last 20yrs. He spent the 90s documenting the fledgling UK new media scene, working on the first iteration of Wired UK, and later starting the very influential Need To Know webzine with Dave Green. In 2005 he left the UK to join the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, and in 2010 moved to take on the role of Internet Advocacy Co-ordinator for the Committee To Protect Journalists. Danny was also one of the founders of the Open Rights Group, an activist group working to protect users’ rights on the internet in the UK. Danny is a fantastic writer and storyteller, and is working on some of the most pressing political and ethical issues we face as we become ever more dependent on digital networks and the stories they tell about us. I’m really looking forward to hearing about his work next February.

Tom Watson and Emily Bell will be at The Story talking about the Hackgate scandal, giving us an insiders’ perspective on how the story unfolded, what it feels like to be part of a breaking news story, and what the scandal means for journalists and newsgathering. Tom Watson is the MP for West Bromwich East, and in 2011 was made Deputy Chair of the Labour Party. He has led many campaigns within parliament, including opposition to the Digital Economy Act in 2010. Emily Bell is Professor of Journalism and Director of the Tow Center at Columbia University. Before that, Emily was Director of Digital Content at The Guardian, where she pioneered many of their digital initiatives, positioning The Guardian as one of the world’s leading online newspapers.

Karen Lubbock is the creator of Karen Magazine, a ‘magazine made out of the ordinary’. An antidote to celebrity lifestyle journalism, Karen Magazine is a fascinating and often moving journal of ordinary lives, things and people. Jeremy Leslie runs MagCulture, a blog celebrating editorial design in magazines and print culture. He has over 20 years’ experience in the magazine and print industry, and has published two books on the subject – Issues and MagCulture. Jeremy first introduced me to Karen Magazine after The Story last year, and I was immediately hooked. I’m really glad that Karen is coming to talk about the magazine in Feb, and am really looking forward to listening to her and Jeremy in conversation.

Scott Burnham is a social entrepreneur, creative strategist, creative director and writer dedicated to reprogramming our relationships with design and the city, working with a number of cities, institutions and publications worldwide. He created and directed Urban Play for Droog Design and the city of Amsterdam to launch a new generation of objects and areas for the city. Working with Stefan Sagmeister, Marti Guixe, NL Architects and others a series of objects and areas were created as public catalysts for further design interventions. Recently he created the Bairro Criativo project for Porto, Portugal to open idea generation, grass-roots innovation and creative processes to wider audiences in the city and create direct design responses to the city’s needs. Scott spoke at the excellent Narrative In Practise event last year, which I couldn’t attend, but so many people who did attend raved about Scott’s talk, so I had to invite him to The Story!

And finally – the host for 2012 is Meg PickardMeg is the Head of Digital Engagement for Guardian News & Media, responsible for developing and supporting social web strategies and participatory experiences. At the time of The Story, however, she will have just started her maternity leave, so will be focusing on delivering a different sort of experience for a while. Meg’s particular areas of interest are social engagement and the emergence of new forms of collaborative and participatory media, which are inspired by an enduring curiosity about the cultural/social/psychological aspects of digital life plus ongoing personal passion for publishing, participating and performing online. She has been blogging since it started with a W and lives in London and online.