Life as a Youtuber

A year ago, I created a series of Youtube short films each with a different future visioning session on topics ranging from The Future of..Celebrity, to Storytelling, to the Weather.  These films were made daily over several weeks following the pattern established by teenage Youtubers and in the run up to ESRC Festival of Social Science. I had promised to run a live online visioning session as part of this festival and each short film was a trial / build-up to the main event.

In the making of each film, I would start with breakfast while thinking about a new theme for the day – looking out the window or considering current issues in my life (hence, the Future of petsdeath, money, marriage). I would edit my narration script so that visioners (people who do a visioning session) would experience something that hinted at the future of these but without assuming anything.  The narratives are deliberately stripped back, intentionally bare of suggestion or assumption to allow people to experience their imagined future. People go to such different places in their minds that the narrative needs to work for each of them, wherever they might be.  For example, when I want people to travel in their imagined world, I do not say ‘you walk’ because they may be floating in a spacesuit. I say ‘you move’ or ‘you explore’.

I’m not the most natural of presenters, so the films are a bit awkward. My cat miaows in several of them, someone knocks on the door. But once in the flow of the narration, I ignored it all, hoping that the person doing the visioning session would be so immersed in their imagined world, that they would not notice. I posted a new film up each day and then waited to see what happened to them.

12 months later and the short films reside still on the VisioningLab Youtube channel. I have watched with interest to see how they do.  Each film has a small number of views (lowest is the Future of the Weather (I suppose this is something we cannot change), the highest is the Future of Post-PhD life – this was commissioned by the North West Doctoral Training Programme for their PhD students). Accumulatively, they have about 1500 views. I have suggested to friends and colleagues that they do a session – some have and said that they did stimulate a future vision that ‘very powerful’. So they do ‘work’. Very few people leave comments on the Youtube pages. I wonder why.

The exploration into future visioning continues…

If you are intrigued and would like to do a visioning session, you can find them all here

VR Jamming

Great jamming session these past 2 days with Sumit Sarkar and Jacki Clark – both artists who like to work with VR tools

We were exploring how to make an ident for an Immersive Experience.  Idents are those tiny clips that you see at the beginning of films or in between radio shows that advertise the company involved in their making.

We were wondering what an immersive experience ident for University of Manchester supported work might look like.

Here is a Powerpoint of our activities (big file, may take some time to download!)

Draw your non-human self

As part of the Manchester Science Festival 2017 Game Lab event at University of Salford Mediacity campus, I gave visitors a challenge. I said

Draw your non-human self

This is my favourite interpretation of the challenge:


It was created by an older woman who was there with her husband and children. We were using Google Tiltbrush which is very easy to use.  She absolutely embraced the challenge – put on the headset, picked up the controller, worked out how to use the palette and brushes and went for it. Love it.

Reality through the ages

This image makes for an amusing modern tableau to compare with pre-industrial paintings. The first – taken by a mobile phone, shows how integral technology is in our lives today and the emerging potential (and problems) of virtual reality. The following images – paintings of workers, shows how differently tools were used 100s of years ago.

VR Playday at University of Manchester By Anita Greenhill

Image result for famous oil painting people working in field

The Gleaners
By Jean-François Millet

Irish painting

  Stonecutter by Martin Driscoll
 Image result for famous oil painting people working in field
La faneuse By Julien Dupre

The Creative Economy in Rural Cheshire

We are just starting a very exciting new project working with Marieke Navin at Cheshire East Council to explore how to connect rural areas to the creative economy. Two exploratory trips have already produced insights by talking to representatives from the WEAVE network and the SHIFT initiative, visiting Forest Gin in Macclesfield Forest, talking to the organisers of Barnaby Festival and attending a rural growth event at Reaseheath College. So much going on in nooks and crannies all around the area.

Everywhere we go, we chat to local people in shops, churches and organisations asking them about their area and what they think about the key issues. Lack of public transport and Broadband are the big ones. it seems. It would have taken me 2.5 hours to get from Manchester to Reaseheath College by public transport so I see what they mean! For people on limited incomes and/or no car, how does this affect their work prospects?

Visioning Lab Update

Visioning Lab is almost a year old now and its focus is starting to firm up.  It is now a well-established strategy in agile organisations to just start and see how the creative energy of the initiative unfolds.

This is the developing narrative that summarises my research activities and how they connect to Visioning Lab:

My primary research focus orients around how organisational structures affect people’s ability to realise their ideas. My PhD was on a civic parade in Manchester and afterwards I was a Research Fellow at Salford University exploring cultural activities in a low income area. While I was doing research in Salford, I developed an interest in how people imagine the future and how this affects their daily activities. I created an initiative ( to think through some of these ideas. A key methodological approach is to use a narrative technique to project people into the future. I’m also looking at virtual reality and immersive experiences to see how these emerging technologies intervene in people’s imaginative processes. I was an digital consultant for 20 years so keen to incorporate my experience in that sector in my research.

I am now working up a new project to explore these ideas further and it would be really brilliant to discuss your activities and how we could possibly work together.

If this sounds like fun, get in touch.

Then watch Annoying Orange’s take on Shia Lebeouf’s Just Do It riff. Hilarious