Digital + Culture = Creative Economy

Archive for the category “South Africa”

Culture Shift Johannesburg – Result!

Over the past 2 ½ days, 50 developers, designers, and cultural & creative people came together at the Hub Johannesburg to build digital tools to challenges presented by cultural and creative professionals. There were highs, lows, and challenges for all six teams who were trying to do the nigh-impossible in just 48 hours.

Here’s what they built.

The Winners: QRiocity

The QRiocity team wanted to understand, explore, and share all the fascinating stories of South Africa. They hit on gathering data about areas in Johannesburg and putting that factual information curated into QR codes & SMS short codes on buildings, statues, and locations – a bit like English Heritage’s Blue Plaques. They then wanted to crowdsource personal stories around those stories – so if you read the QR code you are taken to a place where you can share an individual experience of that place.

The runners-up: Indabo

Indabo is a combination of the Zulu for “event” and “venue”. The Indabo team is building a platform to allow church halls, community centres, and sport fields to manage their venue spaces online, as well as to make that space available, with a revenue share between venues and the Indabo team.

Culture Club

Culture Club brings points-based real-time gaming to finding cultural events; they seek to curate unusual, underground, and interesting events around Johannesburg, and then get individuals to use their mobile app (Blackberry, the major platform in South Africa) to check in at events – further points come from rating, blogging, or reviewing events.


Prescholar builds a range of “preschool in a box” tools – noting that individuals who attend preschool do much better throughout their life, Pre-ScholaR tries to bring an inventive, creative toolkit to mothers and primary caretakers of children aged 3-6 to prepare Early Years children for literacy and creative expression.


Arts-In uses a digital platform to find business mentors and match them up with young, up-and-coming, and emerging artists. Through an online skills-sharing platform and regular networking and mentorship events, the Arts-IN team hopes to bring opportunities and business savvy to emerging artists.

Family Match

Family Match matches families from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to promote cultural understanding. Modeled on a programme put in place in reunified Germany, Family Match attempts to bridge the cultural divide within one of the most diverse countries in the world.

Congratulations to all six teams – a lot of hard work went into this weekend (not to mention a fair amount of wine, beer, cider, and food) and the teams did some stellar work. We’re off to sleep now.


Work continues in Johannesburg

It’s been a hectic two days here in Johannesburg, and as the participants sit down for some talks about the balance between legal protection and the good of society and pitching to investors, I finally can find some time to write.

As always, I am struck by how when you get people from different backgrounds together to discuss ideas freely people get really energised and enthusiastic. Any profession or group of people has their own world view, and it’s easy to get stuck in that after a bit. Being open minded and discussing issues with the participants here is fascinating.

While the teams work on the 6 chosen ideas, there were also other great ideas that I hope will be taken forwards. Ideas about making government more transparent, the jobs market, buying local and growing your own food were all discussed this weekend.

One of the particular aspects of this weekend has been a lack of developers to help turn the solutions into working prototypes. But I’m pleased to say the teams haven’t let them hold that back, and they shouldn’t – this weekend is all about developing ideas, and as long as a team can clearly explain what they want to do and can demonstrate they have considered the issues it’s fine.

Tools that have been used to do that include user stories, where people think up a list of imaginary characters with names and details. The characters should want to use the the service for different reasons, and come from different backgrounds. This ensures you consider your idea from many different viewpoints.

For instance, if your working on a service to encourage people to buy local goods you have to think about the shoppers and how and why they will use your service. But you also have to think about the local producers and shop keepers; why or how would they use it?

Other tools used have been wireframing, where people sketch out how a website will look in a very simple style. Keeping the style simple helps people concentrate on the functionality and not the design. Doing this properly helps you discover problems and solve them.

For instance, if your working on what a search page for your users will look like you may say “we want users to be able to search by this variable” and so you draw a box on your wireframe plan. But then your suddenly think “wait; is that possible – do we have that data?” and you realise that you need a bit more information for your idea to work.

Finally, it’s important to really focus on a core set of features. It’s easy to come up with a long list of features doing this, but you have to be ruthless and really cut back to the one simple thing that your service does and start with that.

Especially remember that with any idea and especially a idea that involves building a community, your users will probably have different ideas. You always have to be open and listen to feedback from your users, and change your plans if necessary.

The final pitching and judging starts in several hours and the teams are busy; stay tuned!

Culture Shift Johannesburg – Day 1 and a half

We’ve just finished an excellent lunch by Soup Salad Sandwich, our excellent local, simple food caterer this weekend.

Culture Shift Johannesburg is deep into work. Yesterday, the teams did some ideas generation to generate 8 new ideas, and presented ideas they’d brought along. We used some Open Space to get teams a sense of the ideas and the potential of the people.

Walter Pike gave a talk on marketing for start-ups and new projects – including his experience bringing the Slutwalk to South Africa, and a talk about diving in and trying new things by Stafford Masie, including agreeing to invest R50,000 in projects as well. Exciting stuff.

An early morning start on day 2 ended up with choosing these 6 ideas to work on at the weekend:

–          Creative Culture Intervention – a platform to help people find cultural events

–          Wasuke Sukele – a framework to use QR codes to tell the rich stories of Johannesburg

–          Community Event Engine – helping connect events with venues

–          School in a Box – focuses on pre-school creative learning & preparation for reading

–          Business & the Arts Connect – helps artists find mentors in the community

–          Match SA – matches families from oppositely privileged backgrounds

We’ve had a round of board meetings with all teams, and are preparing for a second, shortly. Excited buzz is going on all round, teams have settled down, and everything’s cracking along, fuelled by tea, coffee, cooldrinks, and snacks.

Culture Shift Johannesburg about to kick off


It is a gorgeous morning here in Johannesburg; we’re in the midst of the final preparations for the second Culture Shift event in Johannesburg, put together by the Creative and Cultural Economy group of the British Council and facilitated by Social Innovation Camp and The Hub Johannesburg.

In just a few hours, 48 people from the creatuve and cultural sector, along with business brains and digital developers, will come together to try out new things. The Hub have also brought on an additional dozen or so mentors from a range of disciplines. The British Council have brought in a couple of experts as well.

We’re organising tables, chairs, food, and dealing with the thousand last minute crises. We’ve picked up some learning not only fromthe experience of the ccHub, but from last week’s Culture Shift event in Nigeria as well.

We’ll be blogging here, on Twitter, with the hashtag #CultureShift, and posting photos on Facebook. Do keep in touch.

Culture Shift – What we expect

We’re here on the ground in Lagos, where the Culture Shift programme will be focussed on festivals: developing digital tools for managers, audiences, and festival artists. We’re fortunate that we can tag on to the back of a master class by the excellent Paul Gudgin, who has done lots of work with festivals all round the world after getting his start in Edinburgh.

Most of the master class attendees (about 12 festival organisers) join 48 other digital, arts, and business professionals in just 48 hours’ time.

What’s going to happen?

The question is: what will they build? This is the question that I’ve been getting all day. The honest answer is: we don’t know. That’s what makes it exciting and innovative. We’ve done some similar things before, though, and we’ve got some ideas or inspiration.

A few examples of things that fit the Cultural and Creative Economy that fit the bill of what we’re looking for are:

Edinburgh Book Festival microsite

This is probably the classic design of what we’d imagine: This is a site that you can visit on a smartphone or web browser, and it lists events & venues for the festival – they Festival were told they’d need an app, but in the end, they built a mobile site that works with everything in 24 hours and is easier to maintain, to boot.

Enabled by Design

Enabled by Design takes the dis- out of disabled, by linking designers up with those who have physical disabilities to find & improve attractive, functional devices to help the disabled.


FestaFriend was started by Social Innovation Camp alumni James Baster with help from Sarah Drummond out of Culture Hack Scotland. FestaFriend answers the question “How do I find an interesting person to go to a festival show with?”


We’ll be trying out Cowbird during this event – and we’ll link to it on this blog. Cowbird asks what kinds of stories we can tell using images – and how we can link them together. It was a project put together by one person, and they’re featuring a story a day.

It all starts tomorrow evening

In Nigeria, we’re focusing on support for festivals – the dozen festival organisers are going to go through one of our itch workshops tomorrow afternoon to jump-start the weekend, and then we’re off. We’re excited to see what they come up with – they’ve shown great creativity today already!

Culture Shift applications going strong

Final days of preparation

There are just a few days left ‘til our first Culture Shift kicks off in Lagos, and we are deep in the throes of reading all the applications for the Nigeria event and the event in Johannesburg the following week.

We’re completely blown away by the quality, number, and variety of people who want to come together and work, very hard (often after a full week’s work, or taking days off) to participate in this event. The people who attend make these events successful, so thank you all in advance for being so generous with your time and skills.

What we’re looking for

Remember, we’re getting high-potential creative types (museum managers, festival organisers, artists, filmmakers, writers) together with people they might not otherwise meet – top quality business brains, software developers, and designers—to explore how blending these two groups of people might spark new, interesting, and innovative projects & ventures.

It’s not too late – sign up!

There’s still time to sign up for the Johannesburg event as well as the Nairobi event.

Announcing Culture Shift

We are proud to announce Culture Shift, an experiment with the British Council’s Creative and Cultural Economy programme and Social Innovation Camp. It will pilot in four markets, with the intention of creating new digital tools for the creative economy, new cross-sector conversations, and to bringing innovative ideas back to the UK from four exciting cities.

Between now and mid-April, we’ll be traveling to visit the ccHub in Lagos, Nigeria, The Hub in Johannesburg, South Africa, the iHub in Nairobi, Kenya, and the TEDx Egypt in Cairo, Egypt getting creative pioneers – including artists, designers, festival organisers, museum managers, and other creative workers –  together with designers, businesspeople, and developers, and digging into the needs of the Creative economies in those countries. The events will culminate with a pitching session where the teams will pitch the projects they’ve developed in 48 hours to a panel of UK and local investors, and they’ll receive some support from the local partners in the process.

We reckon we’ll learn a thing or two that we can bring back to the UK in the process.

Not only that, but we’re bringing along a brilliant selection of people to each event – both UK investors and some experts in digital and creative sectors. These include Kelly Clark from Marmanie, Tim Kindberg of Matter2Media, Ryan Bowman of Circle Digital, Siân Prime, of Goldsmiths University & East African Entrepreneurship Diploma Stephen Rockman from Merism Capital, and James Baster from Here’s a Hand.

We’ll be blogging and taking photos to let you out there know what’s going on. Stay in touch with the project on, and we’re looking forward to seeing the outputs!

Post Navigation