I’ve been sitting on this for a week or so (well, that’s a slight exaggeration – it’s become something of a worst kept secret, though I did try) but with the publication of the shortlist for the Media Guardian Innovation Awards it can be spoken of loudly and proudly.
Created in Birmingham has been shortlisted in the category of Independent Blog along with We Make Money Not Art and From The Frontline. Normally the winner would be announced on March 6th at the awards ceremony but, I’ve been told, we’ve all won. From the email:
This was the most controversial category which the judges looked at, for a number of reasons. Some judges felt it was impossible to judge a variety of diverse blogs against each other, while the nature of innovation in blogging was also a topic of much debate. For this reason, the judges have decided not to award a winner this year. Instead, they have chosen three short listed entrants to represent the breadth of talent and diversity of subjects within the UK blogosphere. These will each receive special commendations.
Which suits me fine!
Normally one would greet such news with a smile and move on with the business of the day, but a little expansion on why this is a good thing is needed. Created in Birmingham, like many blogs of its ilk, was set up to fill a perceived gap. One of its many aims was to show that the blogging platform could be used to link Birmingham’s creative community together and, by example, encourage the other communities in Birmingham to do the same. Through my years in blogging and, before that, fanzines I knew the theory was sound but alongside this was the matter of cost. While City website initiatives were costing tens of thousands of pounds and barely delivering we wanted to show what you could do with a basic WordPress installation (free), an off-the-shelf template (free), some hosting (about £5 a month) and my time (£500 a month). Above all we wanted Created in Birmingham to be completely independent, which could have been tricky with the funding issue but thanks to Stef and the Creative Republic board acting as a firewall we were able to achieve this. I answer to no-one other than my conscience and any prejudices and biases (and they are there) are my own.
Created in Birmingham has been a success in that people in the city know about it, but there’s been a nagging sense in my gut that a lot of this is down to novelty with people not really getting it or thinking it’ll die off when the next fad comes along. I, on the other hand, think we’ve only just begun, and by “we” I don’t mean Stef and myself – I mean Birmingham as a whole. The big central aim of this blog is to get everyone else blogging at some level, whether it’s doing the same amount of coverage as Created in Birmingham or just throwing odd bits of news out every few days or something completely different. I want to see the city talking with itself in a non-hierarchical, distributed, linked up way. Currently there are a few dozen, maybe a couple of hundred, people doing this. I want to see thousands, if not millions. I want it to be impossible to get a handle on the Birmingham internet scene. I want it to be as alive as the streets themselves, if not more so, using free software, cheap hosting and heaps of enthusiasm.
So yeah, joint-winning this award is nice because it gives us a big stick to beat this message home with. So thanks to those who nominated the blog, and thanks to the MEGAS judges for giving it to us.
Why the hell not? Keep Thursday 21st Feb free. Details to follow.
Created in Birmingham came about at a Flickrmeet when Pete Ashton and Stef Lewandowski got talking about blogging about Birmingham. It launched properly in January 2007 with Pete blogging and Stef handling the technical and financial sides. The invoices go to Creative Republic who are 100% hands off.
Pete Ashton has been blogging at peteashton.com since 2000 and was one of the first wave of bloggers in the UK. He is currently setting himself up as a blogging consultant, something that still makes him question the sanity of the world.