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  1. hilarysutcliffe permalink
    February 28, 2013 10:58 am

    Great idea – I agree.

    Lesson 1 – One in the eye for co-creation!
    We did our website with a grant from Sciencewise to feedback to the public who had been involved in the ‘nanodialogue’ type consultations about the future of nanotechnology in the UK. They had said they wanted more impartial, easy to understand information on nano. Our site was in progress and we wanted to ask them what they thought about it. We then found that due to data protection legislation the government had had to throw away all the names and addresses of the people who had participated in the dialogues, so we couldn’t do our clever co-creation project or give them feedback at any stage that their views had been responded to!

    Lesson 2 – Get enough money for the PR
    Another one from Nano&me. The project was up and ready, but I hadn’t put any money in the budget for a promotion campaign. As media activity on nanotech was not something to be undertaken lightly, and without professional help, we had to launch it as a pilot and not promote it at all. As it happens, 5 years later it is still in pilot form, but we do get 3000 hits a month from over 130 countries.

    Lesson 3 – People have to give a damn for co-creation to work
    I am very keen on this idea of thinking through stuff with people and was very keen on as a thoughtful web-based approach to co-creation. It allows for nuanced debate, posting up of supporting docs, supporting and opposing arguments and lots of other excellent subtle tools to ensure debates aren’t hijacked by big mouths etc.

    I have done three so far, promoted, I thought, quite well with people who are interested in the subject (eg Emerging tech governance – so we are talking specialist!) to co-create thinking on definitions, or input to potential programme ideas etc.

    No-one – not one – person has given any input whatever to my lovely projects. Ever! A few may log on to debategraph for a look, but no-one comments. They all said they would, they thought it was a great idea, I get all excited and check it day after day and nothing! I might, if I am lucky, get an email from someone with an idea, but basically not. Obviously this is a bit about debategraph not being as user friendly as it might (which I hear is going to change any day now), partly my ideas might not be as interesting as I think, I have overestimated people’s interest in the subject. However I’m doing another one soon, so hope to learn some lessons and have it work this time round!

    Lesson 4 – Social science language is as good as Chinese to the rest of us. Stop it.
    This is actually just a plain dig to academic social scientists – particularly those involved in European Framework projects. They seem to think that just because the words they use are known in the English language that they can be understood when put together in incredibly long sentences, with all the words in a weird order. Then there are the semi new words, which sound like real words but aren’t. My pet hate at the moment is ‘normative anchor points’. If I hear those bloody words one more time I may have to …show some physical restraint!

  2. March 6, 2013 11:39 pm

    Hi Matthew. Great idea! I’ve written my take on ‘Let’s Talk About Failure’ and it was very therapeutic! Thanks for suggesting it. Check it out at Cheers, Becky

  3. March 23, 2013 4:42 pm

    On failure

    Failure. Ho hum. That’s quite negative, isn’t it? Asking a bunch of archaeologists to think about failure is like asking a raggedy-haired child to make friends with a brush. It’s a challenge, at best. The concept of failure taps into our fear of publishing a site or an assemblage, our reluctance to consider something ‘written up’. We archaeologists are, historically at least, a bit too neurotic, a bit too possessive, a bit too precious.

    Intentionally or otherwise, we get good at talking about success, because that is how we judge ourselves, and how we imagine that others might judge us. We have a collective need – borne from our vulnerability as individuals and as a profession – to justify our existence. This in itself might be seen as a failure, to add to the many within our profession (and many successes too). The more reflective among us might take a private lesson or two from failures, use them as a silent spur onto the next thing, and then quickly sweep them under the carpet of perceived success. Perhaps Matt’s right, and we’re missing a trick here? Perhaps we should learn to more actively embrace failure as much as success; as a learning experience, a useful step in our thinking journey? If absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, could we equally apply this to ourselves? Absence of failure is not presence of success?

    The measurement of success is subjective and variable. A failure to one of us is a success to another; the only difference is perspective. One (site occupant’s) trash is literally another (archaeologists’s) treasure.

    My own failure has not been one of circumstance, but one of confidence. This is a challenge because it comes from within; a feeling of insecurity of knowledge and of experience. At times in my career – particularly in the early years within a large heritage organisation – it has been almost overwhelming. At other times I’ve been able to reach out to others for discussion or advice. These days it’s easier to have faith in my judgement, but it’s taken a good few years. The jumps in my thinking have come from encouragement from strong colleagues and from the gaining of experience. For more than a decade I’ve published assemblages, managed people, managed sites, provided advice, survived reviews. Ironically now my confidence is higher, but my circumstance more constraining.

    Latterly I seem to be finding my voice within an unexpected but welcome community of archaeotweeps. This has had an impact on my willingness to submit to a failure of confidence. It’s also given me cause to wonder whether this in fact was (and is) not just a private failure, but part of a wider, collective failure: what we’re doing by naming it is highlighting a way away from it. I wonder whether social media – along with a greater, wider willingness to share knowledge and engage with each other – has heralded a change for quite a few of us; to feel less isolated, and more empowered.

    Last week I chanced across something I wrote thirteen years ago. It was pretty good. I wouldn’t write it very differently now. Obviously I’m much more successful now than I was then. Obviously! Crikey. It takes some confidence to think about failure.

  4. Shawn permalink
    March 23, 2013 5:32 pm

    Hi Matthew – I’ve written on my failures a couple of times. Here’s a link to an epic fail of mine, utter loss of a born-digital project on local heritage …

  5. March 28, 2013 6:52 pm

    I would put forward my entire existance for the last 5 years . . . .

  6. July 4, 2013 10:11 am

    I would put forward my entire existance for the last 5 years . . . .

    Why? You had some good ideas. Some of them maybe took the thesis too far out on a limb, but they were interesting.

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