Playful: Hannah Donovan and Digital Craft

Hannah Donovan ‘This is not my Jam’ Digital Craft.

Has always liked rabbits. Many, many family photos of her dressed as a rabbit when growing up. Did not play computer games. Family had a ‘no-violence’ policy. Which of course meant little TV, or comics. Also no ‘formulaic’ stuff. So no colouring books, or teen novels. But when she was told she could not have something, then she wanted it more. Also, she had to amuse herself more, so did a lot of ‘arts and crafts’.Making things, painting etc. Put on shows. Also making videos, editing etc. The crafting slowly moved into design areas.

All play means something, so the play you have as a child impacts the rest of your lives. Talking about craft, it’s old, traditional. A craft often declares your participation in a tribe or group; or about expressing yourself. A craft is often defined as handmade, and even more so after the industrial revolution. Crafting reflects the culture of people and place. But how does craft and music fit in. At last.fm and This Is My Jame, think a lot about music. Music and visuals go hand and hand. Music is as visual as you make it and it would be a lot less fun without imagery. Without the costume and images, how can you tell who you are. There is a lot of crafting around music. It is a dialogue, it gets to the fans and is reflected back at the band. You can’t buy it, it is handmade by you.

Thinks music and craft online started getting interesting in 2006. With MySpace. When craft moved from bedroom walls to the profile page. You could craft within a design. But it also allowed you to design, making something unique, very different. It was not just a place where people came famous for music, but where new aesthetics arose, new stuff started to exist. The framework of MySpace was loose enough that could be played with, craft it. Most services now only really let you customise – upload stuff into their planned design. MySpace may not the best model for a service, but it did teach us stuff, there is a space in between fixed layouts and blank space. You can play in the middle, craft things.

To define digital craft a bit more. It is still handmade, but not necessarily one of a kind. As soon as you have made something, then easy for someone to make something similar. The scale online is bigger and the trends happen faster. The call and response is quick. There is collaboration and reworking. Adding something to existing images is more fun then just using the original. You are crafting around it. Look at Tumblr. There is space for Craft on here, but a little too instantaneous about the reblog button. Who did it? Same with about.me/flavours.me. Focuses on customisation, about how easy it is. Not too much scope for craft, for originality. Canvas encourages play and changing things. The New Hive allows everything on it. Is it too retro? Instagram is where she sees most of the digital craft happens. You can just use the filters, but if you want to do a little more,if you use other apps to add more to photos. You can play from easy to more effort.

So what does craft and music look like? It mainly looks like Facebook Cover images are used to show what people like. THere is an appetite for people to express themselves in that area. Her research shows people want to do more with that space. Animation and video. With THis is My Jam, wanted to provide more of an experience. Want to ensure people can change their musical identity as often as they want, change the pages easily. Not fully found the answer, but getting there.

Physical and digital craft are colliding. Soon there will not be digital craft…the scope is bigger, they are bringing together. Crafting has to be part of our culture, stuff that we do. We know there is opportunity that lurks in the craft cupboard. Some people don’t even know that is there, they have not had an opportunity to play in the space, it can be a gateway to a new life. You need to let serendipity into what you make, make space for craft – so give a little more space in the services you are building and designing.

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