Grove Street Media: New Media Production

Today we say farewell to the #DLL13 series at OICPS; Digital Lunchtime Lectures 2013, I bid you adieu.  In our final expert-led romp into the land of digital we were visited by Tom Scholes of Grove Street Media, a new media production company which  specialises in eLearning products.

From the start, the talk was informal; the opening line being ‘Well, I have a beard’ – excellent. As I have written before (in my entry about Osprey), I enjoy informal and personable presentations, they’re easy to listen to and often enjoyable. This was no exception.

Grove Street Media originated 10 years ago. This year it is about to earn its millionth pound and it is not difficult to see why. Their remit is to design for and communicate through screens, a task they appear to meet well if what we were shown today was anything to go by (take a look at e-Bug, a prime example). When talking us through how the company works with its clients he stressed the importance of simply talking to people, showing them what you can do and how you can help them. Communication is key in any business, not least when they’re paying you a considerable amount of money.

The changes in technology also effect the way that they work with clients, a lot of their work has been on CD-ROMs for publishers like OUP but as technology advances new problems arise when it comes to meeting the clients needs. He used the example of the icons they use in a lot of their work: on a computer you can hover over an icon and it will tell you what it does, this makes users more comfortable with clicking on something that looks unfamiliar but with the rise of the tablet the ability to show button functions by hovering is diminishing.

However, it is not all doom and gloom, Grove Street Media caters for most if not all platforms, as Tom said ‘if it has a screen we can develop for it’ (paraphrased but the meaning is the same). Their focus is on interactivity, their products are rarely flat designs and can be for anything from the web to kiosks in stores like Ikea. When asked, he describes them as a UI/UX company, user interface/user experience; they want to make user experience barrier-less.

Not only do they want the best for the user but they want the best for the client as well; if a client wants to make an app which would work just as well as a website, be much simpler to make/commission and cost a fraction of the price the urge to make money does not override the urge to create the best product they can. I find it incredibly warming that some companies are willing to do this despite the current financial climate – kudos, Grove Street Media.

After explaining the anatomy of a digital media offering (great content, attractive graphics, good layout) and the components involved in making them, we were given a live demo! Tom set to work creating a simple web-based chasing game. After some suggestions from the audience and a little bit of an argument with the coding we were met with a spaghetti western in which Kim Kardashian and a giraffe had a race. Kim won. The demonstration illustrated that something which looks complicated may not be that complicated at all.

The talk ended with a few lessons:

  1. Plagiarism happens. You have two things content and brand. Content can be copied, especially from the web and there’s nothing you can do about it, it is the brand that matters. 
  2. Copying isn’t always bad, there is nothing wrong with looking at the competition and using their ‘best bits’ to influence the betterment of your own design.
  3. Innovation or Usability? It is possible to do both! But when it isn’t always go for usability.
  4. Testing costs a similar amount to development in both money and time – always budget for testing.
  5. When requesting a quote precision is key, precision will enable you to get the best deal and save you from the wrath of the developer should they find out you forgot to tell them something. What takes a few moments to say can take weeks and large amounts of money to create.

So that was the last of the Digital Lunchtime Lectures, and perhaps the one I enjoyed most. I will miss my Wednesday leaps into the well of digital but this will not be the end of my digital blogging adventure – never fear. Keep an eye out on my twitter for a link to my official blogging treatment for the OICPS website!

Without Exception: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Children’s Books

The thing I love about OICPS is the variety of speakers that we have the pleasure of listening to, I may have said this before (probably on Twitter) but it holds true and today was no exception. Today’s session was on diversity and difficult topics in children’s publishing. Beth Cox, of Without Exception and Inclusive Minds, talked us through how publishers can be more inclusive, what is being done and how she, and we, can help.

The session started with a word association exercise, which really got us into the inclusive brainspace. We were given four words: traveller, girl, gay and disabled. I have to admit that the exercise did make me feel like a bad person, every word that popped up in my head affirmed a stereotype – I class myself as a pretty open person, I don’t like to rely on stereotypes and prefer to get to know a person before I make a judgement but this exercise didn’t show that. I think everyone felt the same. This led into Beth’s talk really well. Her first point: Authors and Illustrators have unconscious bias just like everyone else and this may be reflected in their work.

Children are open, children do not carry the biases that we gather as (young) adults via the media. As such, these stereotypes and unconscious biases should not feature in children’s literature and it is (or should be) the job of the publisher to ensure their books are bias-free. Having bias does not make you a bad person (we are not bad people because we engender stereotypes in a word association game, but if we try to spread that bias, well, that’s an entirely different board game). It is important to ensure that the work produced by authors and illustrators (illustrators especially in regards to younger children) does not promote stereotype. Visuals are incredibly important to young children, it is essential for a child to be able to see a character that they can relate to.

Beth commented that a lot of the publishers she talks to tell her that they do not publish issue books but diversity in publishing is not about issue books, it is about inclusion. It does not have to be a main feature it just has to be there. We were shown some brilliant examples from picture books, in one image there were at least two same-sex couples (one of which had a child), various different races, a wheelchair user and more. None of these characters were mentioned in the text but just by being there for a child to find, the book is showing children that they are normal.

The problem with inclusion comes when the ‘not average’ character is made too special, in Wonder, which is a book I love, Auggie is given an award not because he is exceptional but because he has a disability. There is a risk of going too far. Every main character is made special in some way (it is the nature of being a main character) but even in fantasy settings authors must be realistic. It is in writing that sentence that I have realised a sad fact: it might be realistic. A child in a ‘normal’ school when they, themselves, are not the average student may well be given such an award in real life. Not because they did anything worthy of recognition but because they are different, often all these children want is to be seen as normal (to themselves they are  normal). There are exceptions of course but the point is: characters, people, children should be the treated the same way regardless of whether they are disabled, ill or of a different race.

Another problem that arises is the tendency to ally disability with evil wherein all good characters are perfectly healthy; bad characters with deformities, unlike-able characters described as ‘crazy’, ‘mental’, ‘lunatics’.

She then went on to talk about young adult literature, wherein some issues are resolved too quickly and publishers/authors are sometimes unaware of restrictive judgements about gender. An example of a series which does not restrict gender is The Hunger Games with strong, female Katniss and sensitive, cake-decorating Peeta; it is not assumed that, because Peeta is interested in cake decoration, Peeta is gay. Quite the opposite, he is in love with Katniss. 

I hope that I can enter the industry and bring with me some of the messages we were given in today’s talk, I hope to be part of a future in which there are children’s books which deal with difficult subjects effectively and without bias (there are some that do this fantastically but, arguably, not enough), which present non-average characters as normal human beings, not something that should be tip-toed around and coated with bubblewrap.

It is with that thought that I leave you and offer you this link to a TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie, which we watched during the talk, it’s brilliant and I highly recommend watching it. Later, I will be blogging more on difficult subjects and how they are explored, watch this space.

Electronic Enlightenment

Old marketing material but I liked the design

This week the Digital Lunchtime Lectures resumed (though there is only one left now, boo!) and today’s lecture was delightfully technical; we were visited by Mark Rogerson, the technical editor of Electronic Enlightenment, the ‘most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century’ (in their own words). It is distributed by Oxford University Press and sounds fascinating.

The project not only has keyed versions of the letters but some of the manuscripts as well; I am a sucker for letters and handwriting so the idea, to me, sounds perfect. The project is available on subscription (due to the copyright on some of the letters) and Universities from around the globe are already utilising it.

Mark is the only technical staff at EE, it is a small operation with only the project management, himself and freelancers.

The project takes the form of a website which takes collections of letters from about 1610 to 1840 and brings them into a web system for access online. Along with the copyright, the subscription has another purpose, EE have an aim to make a sustainable model for this type of content as most distributors put it online for free and then fade into obscurity as they lack the funds to continue the work. However, the letters are not the only content this project provides, the whole project is made up of:

  • correspondence and related documents
  • images of manuscripts where possible
  • biographies of authors and recipients
  • critical apparatus
  • source information
  • annotations

The sources of the letters is often critical editions (printed books from over 30 publishers which are normally copyrighted), Mark explained the digitisation of these often hardback books and I have to admit, the first step made me wince. Books are taken apart, spine first to enable scanning, each letter/page is scanned to PDF and then sent to India for keying. He emphasised the importance of keying when it comes to old texts, OCR would not work in this context due to the difference in language between that period and this. All of this results in XML, which is the backbone of the process. The process being going from print to digital to the web for subscribers.

Along with those sourced from critical editions, there is also born digital content which is created for them in Word with their style guide, converted into XML. They are currently working on web-based tools, like zoomable images of the manuscripts so that subscribers can really inspect the texts (and perhaps so they can cut down on the amount of annotations on the typed versions).

We were given a behind-the-scenes look at the database used in the editorial process and, to be honest, it was a little terrifying; it’s all because of the dates. Due to the age of the correspondence they are dealing with some function on different calendars, not only this but some of the dates are un- or partially-known, as such there are over 70 fields involved just to input the date. Another issue meaning that they need such a complicated database is the names – the long names.

Another behind-the-scenes type insight we were given was an explanation of the make up of the website itself, which I found particularly interesting and particularly helpful for NPD. (Miracles do exist and they exist in the form of guest speakers.) Something they are looking into at the moment is responsive design and I will be interested to see where they go with it.

The Phoenix Comic: Marketing in Children’s Publishing

The Phoenix is a new weekly comic for children, it was launched in January 2012 and finds its home in Oxford. Its origins lie with The DFC, a comic from David Fickling which is no longer being published, but the creative team still exist (at the heart of The Phoenix).

We were joined by Ross Fraser, a fairly recent OICPS alumni, who is now Head Marketing Manager at The Phoenix Comic – a fact which, in itself, is comforting; he was in our figurative shoes about two years ago. Ross talked us through The Phoenix, what it is, the magazine and how they market the comic itself. Each issue contains serialised stories (like the popular The Pirates of Pangaea storyline); recurring stories, which do not necessarily follow a set storyline (like Bunny vs. Monkey); Phoenix features, stand-alone story specials (Ghost Ant, The Princess and the Peanut Butter Sandwich); puzzles; and non-fiction (like Corpse Talk, which Ross described as ‘in a nutshell Horrible Histories crossed with Parkinson’ much to the amusement of the class).

He split the current children’s magazine market into negatives, which included

  • cultural belief that comics are inherently worthless and carry with them stigma of geekery
  • lots of competition
  • effects of global recession still being felt
  • phenomenon of children getting older younger
  • high churn rates

and positives

  • the current trend for comic book related movies internationally
  • increase in the perception of literary value in comics
  • increase in sales via subscription models
  • 8-12 year-olds are on the whole too young to move to other forms of entertainment
  • increased recognition for ‘visual literacy’ in both schools and libraries nationally

Going on to talk about the challenge faced by The Phoenix to create a culture of comics in the UK, while countries like the US and France already have considerable weight placed on comic books the same cannot be said about the UK. To enable them to do this, he explained, they had to look at their existing platforms and how they could improve them – what else could they do. Brand loyalty is important for such an endeavour, especially when it comes to comics. We were led through the various things The Phoenix does to encourage brand loyalty in both its readers and their parents (including the successful Phoenix competitions which always receive many entries).

The comic is distributed through various channels; he mentioned an event at the Oxford branch of Waterstone’s back in November, I remember seeing the vibrant window displays and wishing I had time to go and have a look – I was either going to or coming from my internship at Berghahn. I was interested to learn that the digital version of the comic is created in Tokyo by a company that has not before dealt with fiction.  A lot of emphasis was placed on the nurturing of independent bookshops, their integration with the community is paramount to the success of The Phoenix.

Finally, before taking questions, he explained why The Phoenix do what they do: passion and a love of stories; he said something very poetic about story culture and how stories are inherent in everything, which I wish I had written down.

We have a lot of speakers at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies and they are all incredibly interesting, I was much impressed by the design of the slides in today’s talk, most speakers come with standard slides from their company (which is brilliant for the purpose) but the slides from The Phoenix were all uniquely designed and laid out much like their website (with little hints to what awaits in the comics). A thoroughly enjoyed and engaging talk.

Tomorrow in #DLL13 we are being joined by Mark Rogerson from Electronic Enlightenment. Keep an eye on the blog for a write-up.

Working in Publishing Day, 2013

Every year the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies hosts a Working in Publishing Day (#WiP13) for its postgraduate and third year undergraduate students. It is a day of networking, starting with seminars on prospecting employers, interview techniques and covering letters, then moving on to ‘speed-dating’* with various publishing professionals and finally cresting on a keynote speech. (And then, because it is publishing, wine and more networking.)

My day started with a mad dash to the bus, without my normal hat and instead with my hair up – if you know me, this is a big deal; my hats are my comfort blanket and putting my hair up is something that I find daunting. But this blog is not about me and my head-related anxiety. This is a digression.

After the mad dashing whilst thinking I’d missed the bus because I could hear bus sounds (it turns out the one before, which doesn’t go to Oxford Brookes, was late), I arrived two hours early. I did this on purpose so I could sit in the canteen and read and not think about what questions I might ask the professionals. If I thought about them any more I might have forgotten the ones I already had.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I was excited.

I opted to take the seminars on prospecting employers and covering letters, while I didn’t learn anything too new or ground-breaking it was reassuring to confirm what I already knew. I took that as a sign that I was doing things correctly, at least a little. Then came lunch, cake was had, cake was good.

We were all (read: I was) pretty nervous as we waited outside for the ‘speed-dating’ to start, what would we ask? What would they think? Would we be able to find the companies we signed up for? (Why you ask? Helena Markou summed it up brilliantly on Twitter: ‘Today we will be testing publishing students ability to alphabetise under heat and time pressure in our pm speed-dating #WiP13‘)

I filled all of my nine slots by visiting:

  1. Barefoot Books
  2. Felicity Bryan Literary Agency
  3. Oxford University Press (Digital/Web Marketing)
  4. Inspired Selection
  5. Bookcareers
  6. Redwood Publishing Recruitment
  7. Atwood Tate
  8. Garnet
  9. Osprey

I originally left my last two slots free so I could sneak around and see if there were any companies without booked appointments – I got lucky.

It was great being able to talk to professionals in an informal manner, get to know what they did and ask for much-needed tips and tricks for getting a foot in the door of the publishing business. Everyone was encouraging and offered brilliant advice (you may have seen an abundance of ‘thank you’ tweets to them all – to my followers: I am not sorry). I feel a lot more confident about venturing into the working world once my degree is over. The advice I was given mapped out exactly how to start climbing for my ideal-I-could-live-on-a-cloud-and-laugh-gleefully-for-the-rest-of-my-life dream job, something which I was struggling to work out before today. The niggling doubts have lessened and I am feeling that little bit more like an adult; an adult who can.

After the ‘speed-dating’ sessions we studenty-types carted a chair each across the hall ready for the keynote speech with Richard Charkin of Bloomsbury. I loved this talk. I was buzzing from the ‘speed-dating’ but by the end of the speech I couldn’t stop smiling. It was funny, there was a lot of laughter but it was also very real. He talked about some ‘mega trends’ including the flight from the high street worldwide; the dominance of companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Sony; globalisation; the idea that information should be given for free; and the fact that publishing isn’t solely limited to publishers any more.

My favourite quote from the talk was probably this one: “I stole a laptop once, from Google, to make a point.”

You can read about why here. Charkin was incredibly quotable and it was a pleasure to hear him speak. I might be wrong but I think the speech may have been recorded, if it was I will endeavour to find the link and post it here in a later entry.

So that was WiP13. It was brilliant. Many thanks to Sheila Lambie, the OICPS team and the publishing professionals for making this happen (and, for some of them, ducking out of IPG13 to see us!). I had a wonderful time.

—————————

* I am putting it in quotes because I was not actually trying to woo these people, but if I managed it and they love me and want to employ me, well, I’m here and waiting. (It is at this point that I feel I should parody A-ha’s ‘Take on me’ but I won’t.)

Transmedia: Harry Potter and Wonderbook

Children’s, how I love thee.

Oxford Brookes University was involved in the creation of the Wonderbook technology, specifically the skin recognition software or coding, I’m not quite sure, used in J.K. Rowling’s Book of Spells.

Today, we of Children’s Publishing hopped on a shiny, blue U1 bus and land-rocketed off through the winding countryside to Wheatley campus to view a demonstration and have a go on the game ourselves. (I say ourselves, I didn’t play but instead sat in the audience quietly squirming and working up the courage to inform the room that it was, in fact, the move button that has to be held down when casting a spell.) Hilarity ensued as the game was experienced for the first time and ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ was yelled enthusiastically at the screen.

This may not sound like much of an academic experience. Can it be that you can have fun while learning? Surely not, I hear you mutter. Welcome to the world of Children’s, where the lessons are fun and sometimes involve all-new technology! Once we were done with the demonstration we discussed Harry Potter and its vast storyscape. Before we began the discussion, I’m not sure any of us realised quite how big the franchise was and how much it relied on transmedia.

For those who may not be quite so publishing-savvy transmedia storytelling is a way of telling a story across multiple medias or platforms. A book may be coupled with video content, or expanded with a video game. Each different media is not retelling any part of the story but instead adding more depth and continuing the story. Book of Spells, for example, does not follow Harry and his companions but instead places the player in that world and expands on the overall mythology of the series.

I found this idea fascinating, the whole concept of transmedia demands to be explored and is something I would much like to look into (or even work with) further. I would like to know the limitations of this approach to storytelling, in theory there aren’t any but without researching this I can’t say for certain. That said, I am not sure how much I engage with transmedia on the user end of the spectrum. When I read, I do just that: read. If I am taken with the story, once I am finished, I will bound over to tumblr and search the tags for interesting tidbits like fan-made graphics but this isn’t transmedia. This is ‘fanmedia’ – a term which I may have made up.

When I read The Hunger Games and then watched the film, I flocked over to the website to find out which district I would belong to (I got my Panem ID) and I read all of the fictitious news bulletins – I did this because I knew they were there. I had seen it, again, on tumblr and decided to give it a go but I wouldn’t’ve gone looking for it otherwise.

I’m going to make an effort to seek out transmedia more, I might write more about my findings here. A project, perhaps.

Educake and JISC, Digital Lunchtime Lectures

I’m playing catch-up this week as I didn’t have time to write one last week. Today you get not one but two Digital Lunchtime Lectures in one blog post, a rogue blog post as it was dubbed by Helena Markou on Twitter (@helena_markou). I should probably explain, these lectures receive the official blog treatment from other MA students over at the Brookes Publishing website (though the posts themselves are proving to be elusive…), I, then, am a sneaky blogger. A rogue. A vigilante blogger, if you will.

I am getting carried away. I should get on with the blog entry now.

Educake

Educake is a new start-up aiding teachers with the teaching of GCSE Science, with the hopes of expanding across other courses. Last week we were joined by Charley Darbishire, the founder of the company, who took us through the process of creating the product (both the what and the why). We were given an inside look at how it worked as well as some of the costs involved.

Not only did he detail the start-up but his career before Educake and the transition between being employed and working for himself, he also gave us some juicy tidbits about getting into publishing. (Always a plus!)

See the official blog about this talk here.

JISC

Today we were visited by Paul Harwood from JISC and were brought up to speed on the ever-growing world of Open Access. As far as journals go, I know a little but not a lot, my knowledge of Open Access before this talk was essentially that it exists, as well as a few highlights I’d read from the Finch Report. (I am a terrible Publishing Enthusiast for this, I know, but I am learning!)

I was, however, familiar with JISC before this lecture (very much because Ruth is currently an intern with them) so I do not fail on all accounts.

The lecture detailed the problems facing publishers with the growth of OA, particularly with focus to the Finch Report and the move by the Government to ensure that all research which is publicly funded is available to be read by anyone without needing a subscription. This is creating all sorts of publishing models to ensure the best result for both the publisher and the author (and in part the institution the author belongs to).

He spoke at length about the Gold model (points which I will summarise in an edit of this post as I idiotically left my notes at home – I am not at home) but less about the Green model, which I gather is more of a move away from publishers. (Do not quote me on this.) I can only assume that this is because the Gold model is perhaps newer than the Green.

Harwood’s lecture focused mainly on the UK implications of OA with a small mention of Europe. It summarised the UK’s position in terms of research (how much of the global research pool was/is provided by Britons) and I was surprised to see how great it was (compared to our share of the world’s population).

Anyway, as I lack my notes I can’t say much more on this but I was much impressed by this lunchtime’s Digital Lunchtime Lecture. Look out on Twitter next Wednesday for the next in the series (follow #DLL13).

Open Book, when OICPS Children’s does Radio

Between giving my Dad a topical, appropriate and somewhat hilarious (if I do say so myself) birthday card and a very short story, and formulating an argument for my Children’s research article (which is harder than it might seem), I thought I would come here and update my blog, since I haven’t for a little while. This, however, will not be a long entry due to the aforementioned argument formulation.

Today was the day we ‘performed’ our first Children’s assignment; a radio show. While I am emphatically not a fan of public speaking and the thought of doing the assignment terrified me more than I would like to admit (but admit it, I shall), I did greatly enjoy listening to the radio shows of the other groups in the class. Topics included: the taboo of poo in children’s literature, homosexuality in children’s literature, the censorship of racism in re-releases of classic children’s books, the affect of library cutbacks on children’s publishing, the importance of reading at home, and the attempt to break away from stereotypes in children’s publishing.

The scripts were engaging and often brought out a giggle or two throughout the rest of the class, especially when amusing accents were involved. It was an interesting alternative to the usual presentation style of assignment (though no less nerve-racking).

Osprey Digital Publishing

Photo by @karlymshort

We’re back in Digital-land this Wednesday (and will be in Children’s-land tomorrow or Friday, as I got a bit too carried away with installing WordPress on my website to do it yesterday – more on that later…), for another lunchtime lecture.

The second of the term’s Digital Lunchtime Lectures (#DLL13 on Twitter) focused on the XML Work Process and Digital Production at Osprey.  Led by speakers Steve Meyer-Rassow and Ben Salvesen, we were taken first through the XML Workflow (courtesy of Ben). What I found really interesting about the way that Osprey work is that they begin the process in Microsoft Word, rather than going straight to InDesign like I assumed. The Editors apply styles to the text, which is then copied and pasted into their CMS and from that goes into InDesign. The whole process seems a little bit mind-boggling to me but it’s definitely something worth researching further. (There might be some tweeting going on later!)

Following this, Steve took the floor to explain Digital Production within Osprey, covering what they do with their backlist while Ben concentrated more on the frontlist. I was surprised to learn that PDF versions of their books have proven to be popular, I had been working on the assumption that people preferred e-readers on the whole. It’s comforting to learn that publishers are putting at least a little bit of emphasis on PDF ebooks – I currently have neither an e-reader or an iPad so being able to buy and download books to my computer would be and is really helpful (especially when I can’t get out and buy the print book). But I am digressing.

Steve took us through some of the issues relating to PDF ebooks, including how they deal with piracy; they often find discs of their PDF books being sold on ebay, for example, but this is soon curbed by the legal team.

Unlike most speakers we’ve had during our time at OICPS, Steve and Ben relied more on their own presentation (even giving us a sneaky peak at their CMS) than the use of slides. It really helped the seminar seem informal and conversational, which is something I appreciated.

Next week we have Charley Darbishire coming to talk to us about Educake, a new digital publishing start up – watch this space.

Round Up: Week One

So, as was made evident by the last entry, I am now back from the mammoth Christmas holidays, trying to get back into the real world and running head first into Semester 2. I have just completed my first week, filled with obligatory introductory lectures which, while informative, tend to be somewhat mind-numbing. There are only so many times you can take a guided look through module documentation without feeling a little bit queasy.

That said, it has been a good week. Let the round up commence:

Monday: New Product Development (NPD)

Starting at 12 was a novel idea or would have been if not for the bus timetable I am chained to. Naturally, I was in from 9am. The session began with an introduction to our teams and a few exercises, which included coming up with five ground rules for our teamwork (my favourite was #5 Have fun, be nice, bring snacks), describing yourself beginning only with J or H and coming up with ways you can fail.

There was a short break and then we found out what the module actually entailed, something we are still a little bit confused about.  NPD is like a giant roleplay, wherein each and every one of us is part of a broad publishing company which publishes everything from Children’s to STM to Trade Non-Fiction. The lecturers are the board of directors, each taking on a department. We are split into divisions and inside those divisions (made up of 7/8 people) we are split into departments too.

My team were given the Humanities and Social Sciences division, a division which, according to the scenario, has shown some complacency but did well with collections/journals/series on ethnology, particularly their Balkan and Native American series. From what I gather, we have to come up with a new list (both digital and print products) and win over the board with our proposal, convincing them that we deserve the money to see through our ideas.

I am not particularly well-versed in HumSoc but after spending 12 weeks at Berghahn, I do feel I have some idea of what we’re doing, which is comforting. I will be taking the role of head of Design in our division as well as assistant to the head of Production and we will be teaming up on top of that to focus on the Digital opportunities for our division. Both of us are taking the digital module, it seemed like a good fit.

After being talked through the different board members and the module handbook, we were given an informative slide show about the module and then sent off to our own little seminar rooms (one per group) to talk about said module and try to decide what we were doing. We had a lot of questions but our group seems pretty solid, so solid we will be having cupcakes and team bonding time over the weekend. As we know, cupcakes are very important.

Tuesday: Children’s

As introductory sessions go, Children’s was pretty good. We got to look at various books (and I got to geek out about one to my lecturer at the end of class, which was satisfying) and were given a run-through of what was happening in the world of Children’s, as well as a quick author quiz. Next week, we will be viewing a special collection of very old children’s books and in a few weeks we get to go and play with the Wonderbook in Wheatley. I can’t wait, even if getting there might be a bit of a hassle.

We will be having lots of visiting speakers, which promise to be interesting, and while others are off to Bologna Book Fair we who are left behind may be getting a copy writing master class (specifically for children’s books) with Sue Miller. There is definitely a silver lining to not being able to afford to travel to Italy on your birthday.

Wednesday: Digital Media Publishing

I won’t talk about the visiting speaker here, as I blogged extensively about that on Wednesday, check out my last entry. Instead, I will hop, jump and skip to the introductory session. If you follow me on twitter, you will have seen the live tweeting of intermingled sass and excitement (the former fills me with a small amount of guilt – sometimes you just need to sass). Despite what my twitter might suggest, it does sound like it will be a good module, it is just that most of the things we were told in the introduction we were told as part of two different modules last semester so it wasn’t anything new.

I did, however, get a bit of feedback on my first assignment. It’s not due in until week three but being the keen bean that I am, and already knowing the basics of HTML and CSS, I attempted it before the semester started. According to my lecturer, it is looking good. Excellent.

Major Project Meeting

Also taking place on Wednesday, I had a meeting about my major project. My idea has changed since I last blogged about it but I will still not be revealing what that idea is until the proposal has been handed in and approved. My idea was liked and I may possibly get an internship with a Children’s publisher – though, it’s a very small office and it may not happen but it’s nice that she’s trying to help me.

I now just need to work on the proposal of my major project, which is scary in itself and something I should be getting on with rather than writing this blog.

But instead we skip to Friday because my Thursday productivity plans went up the spout when I lost something important and then had to find it again. I did, however, do some work on my proposal and write some of this blog.

Friday: Market Research and Fun

It’s quite good that my Thursday plummeted, it meant I was able to do a little bit of work then have a long break of fun and play involving Doctor Who Monopoly (in which I got rich and then ended up in jail with very little to my name) and friends and French food followed by more work when I got home.

On the subject of work, I have recently accepted a work experience position with Dodona, a one-person publishing operation which produces local calendars, as well as diaries and coasters and the like. The position is mostly market research and looking for local photographers to take part in a possible local Oxford/Cotswold calendar and Friday, today, was the first time I’ve been able to go out and get things done. True, all I managed to get done was to glance at some shelves in a few book shops but it has given me some idea of what to ask when I talk to supervisors (hopefully on Sunday before team-building/getting-to-know-each-other shenanigans in Jericho). I still have to work out the best way to present my findings and I am currently thinking ‘report’.

Now that I’ve had all of my introductory sessions, it is time to get my head down and crank up the work hours and with that, despite the time, I go back to work on my proposal. Let the proposing commence.