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Hpl 2007-147 Laboratori HP


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Informe del Lab HP sobre projectes realitzats conjuntament amb artistes

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Hpl 2007-147 Laboratori HP

  1. 1. Unusual Common Ground: The Watershed/HP Labs PartnershipClare Reddington1, David Drake2, Erik GeelhoedMobile and Media Systems LaboratoryHP Laboratories BristolHPL-2007-147September 7, 2007*external The Watershed Media Centre in Bristol and Hewlett-Packard Researchcollaborations Laboratories Bristol have been involved in research collaborations since the mid 1990s. This report describes the benefits for The Watershed and for HP labs and lists a number of joint projects and programmes such as Mobile Bristol (the precursor of MediaScapes), SE3D, MeiGeist and CommunicationWear.* Internal Accession Date Only1 The Watershed Media Centre, Bristol, UK2 Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council England West Midlands, UK Approved for External Publication© Copyright 2007 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P.
  2. 2. Unusual Common Ground: The Watershed/HP Labs PartnershipClare Reddington1, David Drake2 & Erik Geelhoed3 (January 2007)1 The Watershed Media Centre2 Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council England West Midlands3 Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories, BristolAbstract:The Watershed Media Centre in Bristol and Hewlett-Packard Research LaboratoriesBristol have been involved in research collaborations since the mid 1990’s. Thisreport describes the benefits for The Watershed and for HP labs and lists a numberof joint projects and programmes such as Mobile Bristol (the precursor ofMediaScapes), SE3D, MeiGeist and CommunicationWear.
  3. 3. “As the pace of economic, cultural and social change speeds up, creating value isincreasingly dependent on fusing the knowledge capital of diverse partners.Successful collaborations need partners who make things happen rather than findreasons why they can’t. What drives us is a shared instinct for ‘can do’ participationand creative collaboration, allied to mutual trust and respect; a desire to connect andengage with ideas and talent that mirrors and reinforces the radical spirit of the digitalage.” Dick Penny, Managing Director, Watershed1. IntroductionIn the fast moving digital media world, finding new ways of doing things is essential tothe development of innovative products and services and maintaining a competitiveedge. In the purely commercial realm, strategic alliances between companies arecommonplace. The pooling of knowledge, expertise and resources frequentlyunderpins research and development initiatives. In industry terms, the partnershipbetween Hewlett Packard Labs and Watershed is an exceptional case - not simplybecause it is an imaginative public/private sector alliance that has been sustainedand developed over several years, but also for the open and flexible nature of therelationship.In this paper we tell the story of some of the projects that have taken place as part ofthe HP Labs/Watershed relationship; to give a flavour of how they were conceived,how they worked and how the nature of the partnership influenced both their designand outcome. The source material for this paper is background documentationexisting evaluation reports and interviews with key individuals involved in thepartnership, research that has been part-funded by Arts Council England i .Promoting a co-operative approach and creating common ground, either within orbetween particular industrial sectors is a complex business. There are several factorsthat can militate against collaboration, including issues around ensuring equitybetween partners in such relationships, protecting intellectual property and achievinga good return for time and money spent. For some, there is the fear that sharingideas and resources, and opening up one’s business affairs to another company,might jeopardise a competitive advantage.By examining in some detail how the relationship developed, the paper will provideinsight into the partnership of a major global corporate and a publicly funded culturalorganisation, contributing to the growing bank of knowledge around creatingsustainable partnerships between the public and private sector, that often inhabit anuncomfortable and uncommon ground.2. Watershed/HP Labs: The Story So FarAbout WatershedEstablished in 1982 as Britain’s first ‘media centre’, Watershed ii has always played akey role in the development of moving image culture in all its forms, with theorganisation acquiring and maintaining a high profile and good reputation at regional,national and international level.As emergent digital technologies rapidly transformed the world of moving image overa decade ago, Watershed began to shift the locus of its activities and embrace newmodels of collaborative research and development, enabling artists, designers and 2
  4. 4. programmers to devise new creative applications of available technologies andexplore new user interfaces.Over the last ten years Watershed has progressively developed an effectiveinfrastructure to support various forms of electronic design, production, publishingand presentation, and successfully brokered new working relationships, learning howto recognise talent and back new kinds of creative process, but also when to remainan enabler rather than the controlling partner in collaboration and partnership. Suchan approach has earned Watershed the respect and trust it needed to become aproactive networker within the ‘knowledge-based economy’.About HP LabsAs its corporate website states, Hewlett Packard is a technology company “fed andfuelled by progress and innovation”. HP Labs iii , as a major innovation driver, isindeed responsible for delivering breakthrough technologies and technologyadvancements that enable the parent company to gain a competitive advantage inthe marketplace. Since the inception of HP Labs in 1966, these innovations haveincluded thermal inkjet printing, the pocket calculator, light-emitting diodes and theAlta Vista search engine and more recently film-quality Photosmart digital camerasand the 64-bit architecture that is the basis for Intel’s Itanium microprocessors. HPLabs Bristol is Hewlett Packard’s second largest central research laboratory andamong the most significant corporate ICT research labs in Europe. Since HP LabsBristol opened in 1983, it has operated as an outward facing research centre,developing important local partnerships with organisations such as the BBC’s NaturalHistory Unit and a great many academic institutions worldwide. HP Labs Bristol alsohas excellent conference and seminar facilities, and has hosted a number oftechnical events including the Information Security Conference, the internationalEurowearables conference as well as the Appliance Design conferences iv .A quick overviewThe first explorative collaboration between Watershed and HP Labs took place in theperiod 1996 – 1999 as co-organisers of the first UK Digital Story Telling workshops,which also resulted in collaboration with the Ship of Fools consortium of digital artistsand a digital story telling project with a group of young mothers in one of Bristol’sdeprived areas. Taking advantage of the good relationship with Digital CityAmsterdam (DDS), the then just starting Society of Old and New media inAmsterdam (De Waag) as well as the School of Arts in Utrecht (HKU), the Universityof the West of England and Bristol City Council, Digital City Bristol v was initiated, awebsite for the people who work, live and play in Bristol.In 1999 Watershed joined a Bristol University Computer Science led R&Dconsortium, the Bristol Creative Technology Network. The object was to experimentwith high bandwidth connectivity for the media sector. Following the conclusion of athree year R&D project, Watershed and HP became founding partners in the BristolMedia Exchange vi (BMEx), which currently provides Watershed’s broadbandconnectivity.As well as the Mobile Bristol, SE3D and MeiGeist projects (described below), othercollaborations include the trial and evaluation of Active Print vii and Misto Table, atouch screen table developed by researchers in HP, which was trialled in Watershedcafé and an artist in residence working within the Bangalore research labs viii . 3
  5. 5. In the next sections we consider in some detail three specific projects from theHPLabs/Watershed collaboration.3. Mobile Bristol (2001 – 2005)The founders of Mobile Bristol ix were HP Labs, the University of Bristol and TheAppliance Studio. Mobile Bristol received substantial funding from the Department ofTrade and Industry to explore the uses of mobile technology in the city. MobileBristol’s remit was to investigate “how mobile devices and pervasive informationtechnology can be used to enhance the ways in which residents and visitorsexperience and interact with their physical environment and with each other in urbanand public spaces”.Through real life testing of portable media appliances and the development of newcontent and applications, Mobile Bristol created a ‘toolkit’, which provides a “digitalcanvas over the physical landscape onto which digital experiences can be paintedand new commercial opportunities can be explored”. Their approach addressed notonly technical issues around the use of mobile technology and wireless access, butalso the development of new content authoring tools and software that enables awide range of users to create and manage multimedia experiences.Mobile Bristol’s research and development work was led by an interest in consumerneeds and behaviour and how to respond to them through technology, rather than byenterprise concerns and the drive to create new products for the marketplace. AsProject Manager, Jo Reid, puts it:“For any technological focus, especially in a consumer space, you need to thinkabout content provision and the mechanisms by which content gets created and putinto that space”For Mobile Bristol, user experience is integral to the design of new products andapplications. Their research concentrated around two major questions: what makes atechnology experience compelling? How do you design situated technologyexperiences?Although some pilot work had been done at HP Labs Bristol, it became clear thatsimply undertaking studies in a traditional research lab environment wasinappropriate for this kind of investigation. Mobile Bristol therefore looked around thecity for partners that could provide both a public interface and an infrastructure tosupport the research programme. For Jo Reid, Watershed was an ideal choice:“Watershed is an obvious match for us – a partner who can collaborate at a researchlevel and is willing to turn their venue over to being a ‘living lab space’, somewherewhere we can conduct research studies in a real world setting”Moreover, Watershed and Mobile Bristol shared a mutual interest in how creativetechnology might be introduced into the highly popular, social space of theWatershed café/bar. From Watershed’s point of view, there was the desire to explorehow its digital media work could be extended beyond the confines of the cinemasand gallery/workshop spaces into the more informal public spaces within the building.For Mobile Bristol, Watershed’s café/bar provided a context in which researcherscould interact with consumers from a wide range of backgrounds who are receptiveto technology experiences and willing to try out innovative media appliances andcontent. 4
  6. 6. Schminky x [Reid et al. 2003] was the first major collaboration between Mobile Bristoland Watershed. Mobile Bristol had discussed with Watershed the possibility ofconducting research into sound art, gaming and the use of portable digitalappliances. Watershed identified the digital artist/composer Duncan Speakman,oversaw his commission and mediated the artist’s relationship with Mobile Bristol forthe duration of the project. As Schminky was conceived as a group design project,the artist did not operate in isolation and was fully integrated into the Mobile Bristolcreative team, having access to a range of design experience, technical expertiseand resources.The culmination of the project was a week long public trial where visitors to theWatershed could register and use an iPAQ handheld computer and play Schminky.Players worked to solve musical puzzles that involved identifying sounds that aremissing from an audio prompt. They could play individually or invite other Schminkyusers in the café/bar to join in a group game. The game was specifically designed topromote social interaction and test acceptability of new technologies in social spaces.The next collaborative project Jukola xi [O’Hara et al, 2004]- the interactive Jukebox –allowed people in the café/bar to use wireless iPAQ handheld to view music tracks,find out further information about the tracks and submit their votes. Votes werecollated across all the iPAQs to determine the next track, providing a democraticchoice over the music played. A touch screen display was used by people in thecafé/bar to nominate songs for public vote. Jukola was also networked to allowaccess over the web enabling people to submit MP3s remotely or review a history ofthe music played on a particular day.Schminky and Jukola demonstrated that it was possible to introduce technology-mediated experiences into the heart of a social space without destroying theambience. The project gave Watershed and Mobile Bristol an incentive to explorefurther the integration of interactive exhibition systems into the lifestyle experience ofa visit to Watershed. The 5th Clark Digital Bursary was deployed as an enabler toengage more artists in the exploration of this territory. The aims of the bursary were: • To enable artists and multi media producers to develop their creative practice in digital media and specifically to work with next generation mobile technologies • To explore the integration of interactive exhibition systems into the lifestyle experience of a visit to the Watershed. • To foster creative collaborations between artists, technologists and Watershed to explore new working practices • To develop the Mobile Bristol Infrastructure through practice based R&D • To make digital work and practice available to audiences in the South West through seminar, presentation, exhibition and/or publication • To support opportunities for exchange of ideas in the wider communityUnder the programme title The Interactive Building xii three artists - Stanza, squidsoupand Dane Watkins - were commissioned to develop projects using the latest wirelesstechnologies to engage audiences in public spaces within and outside of Watershed.Although the individual artists made very different creative responses to the brief, allthree projects addressed the interplay between appliances, services and 5
  7. 7. infrastructure when placing technology in a consumer space. By focusing on both theexperiential aspects of technology and developing audience engagement, theprojects provided important real life research data for Mobile Bristol about therelationship between user experience and design.Meanwhile, Watershed had been exploring new public interfaces in the café/bar areato allow people to browse online creative content. During capital refurbishment of thebuilding, the artist Simon Poulter was commissioned to design and produce two new‘slacker tables’ that were sited in a new area of the café. In Spring 2005, this newpublic area also provided an opportunity to trial one of the latest concepts beingdeveloped by Hewlett-Packard - Misto, the interactive coffee table. HP Labs’ aim is todevelop a touch screen table that can be used by people in homes and socialsettings to view content and communicate online. A pilot version of Misto wasshipped over to Bristol to be road-tested by the public using a selection of contentfrom - Watersheds online showcase of digital creativity.Established by Mobile Bristol, the Active Print project is exploring how printedmaterials and digital displays can be linked to online content, services andapplications in all kinds of urban/suburban/rural situations. In particular, the concernsof the project lie in how this can be done using a mobile phone – the device thatmany people carry with them everywhere. Current camera phones now have goodenough optics, resolution and processing power to be able to read special barcode-like symbols known as ‘QR codes’ on the printed materials. These symbols encodeinformation such as web addresses, phone numbers and various pieces of metainformation. When read and decoded by a camera phone, they can initiate severalways of linking the user to content and services, in particular: • By initiating a Web (WAP or HTTP) download • By automatically sending an SMS message to a serviceI Can Read You xiii is a game based around QR Codes and mobile phones that wasdeveloped in the summer of 2005 by Simon Poulter in conjunction with theWatershed and HP Labs. The game consists of a large puzzle board in the shape ofa QR code. At the beginning of the game, key segments of the board are removedwhich reveal additional QR codes underneath. These revealed codes when read bycamera phones provide clues to the location of codes hidden around theenvironment. The players need to find these hidden codes in order to discover whereon the board the removed code segments must be placed. When all the codesegments have been pieced together it forms a large QR code. This code can thenbe read by the camera phone to reveal a quote from a famous novel in Glass’s popup text box.4. SE3D – the HP Labs/Watershed Animation ShowcaseUtility and grid computing has been one of Hewlett Packard’s major success storieswithin the ICT industry. Animation and most recently 3D animation using computergenerated imagery (CGI) is a success story for Bristol’s film and media industry.HP Labs Bristol played a key role in creating the HP Utility Data Centre, whichprovides a simple, flexible and low-cost way to quickly mobilise powerful computingresources. In relation to that work, HP Labs Bristol researchers had been developinga rendering service for digital animators which speeds up the process of convertingwire-frame models into finished, fleshed-out frames. A key factor behind HP’sdecision to undertake research in this area was Bristol’s particular strengths in 3Danimation and in 2003, HP Labs commissioned Bristol-based production company 6
  8. 8. 422 to create short 3D animation to test the prototype version of the renderingservice in a real-life production situation. The Painter xiv was premiered at Watershedin September 2003, before being showcased at various international film and mediaevents to great industry acclaim.What The Painter subsequently achieved for Hewlett Packard far exceededeverybody’s expectations. As well as helping HP to test and refine their utilitycomputing systems, the quality of The Painter as a film made using this renderingprocess now gave the company serious credibility within the international CGIanimation industry. This short film made from Bristol proved to be HP’s calling cardfor a much larger engagement with one of the industry’s leading playersDreamWorks, for whom the team went on to create a 1,000-processor dedicatedutility data centre at HPs laboratories in Palo Alto to provide a flexible renderingservice for Shrek 2 with enhanced security features.Back in Bristol, HP Labs and Watershed were considering which direction to take theresearch and development programme. The Painter had admirably demonstrated theefficacy of a single-user application of the utility rendering service, but HP needed toresearch how the system would perform with several users accessing it remotely atthe same time. Watershed and Aardman Animations suggested offering therendering service to emergent filmmakers and small production companies whowould not otherwise have access to such expensive technology. A new animationprogramme was launched for which prospective participants were required to make areal-life ‘pitch’ to a panel of industry representatives.Under the name of SE3D xv and the management of Watershed, twelve animatorswere offered access to the HP Labs-Maya® Rendering Service and given creative,technical and administrative support throughout the whole filmmaking process.An advisory group was set up that included senior representatives from the BBC,Aardman Animations, DreamWorks and Alias®. This advisory group opened upaccess to a network of industry ‘mentors’ who were available to assist individualanimators during the script development and storyboarding stages through toproduction and final edit.The first of the SE3D films were presented in an HP Labs-Alias® showcase at theannual Animated Encounters film festival which took place at Watershed in April2005, and subsequently at Cannes Film Festival in May as part of HP’s presence andsponsorship at that major event. They continue to screen at Festivals and eventsaround the world.5. MeiGeistMore recently in 2006, HP Labs hosted Hazel Grian as artist in residence as part ofan industry pilot of Art Council England’s Artist Time Space and Money fundingstream. Initiated and managed by Watershed, Hazel was based in HP Labs’ MobileMedia Systems Lab in Bristol for three months, during which time she researched thedevelopment of MeiGeist xvi . An Alternate Reality Game, MeiGeist blended fiction withreality by telling its story across different media including websites, text message, liveevents and email.The placement’s emphasis was collaboration and Hazel had quite clear ideas at theoutset of how she would be developing her work around this new genre:“I really wanted a chance to work side by side with technologists. The outcome was 7
  9. 9. great; I was inspired by their application of forward-looking ideas into actualtechnology. They seemed to welcome my input of creative ideas from an outsidersviewpoint.”On completion of the placement, Hazel moved into Watershed for the live phase ofthe game. The value of the placement, aside from the production of a game that willtake Hazel’s work to a new kind of audience, is the relationships built:"Bringing together the arts, technology and social sciences has given us anopportunity to explore how emerging and online and mobile communicationtechnologies can be used to create engaging new experiences with the technologiesoutside their original purpose. The work has been inspirational and thoughtprovoking for us and its influence will extend further than the current project." Kenton OHara, HP Labs6. Communication-WearThe most recent (early 2007) experiment we conducted was around fashionablewearable technology. Communication-Wear is a clothing concept that has beendeveloped at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London, in collaborationwith HP labs Bristol, Vodafone and the University of Bristol. The idea is to augmentthe mobile phone by enabling expressive messages to be exchanged remotely, byconveying a sense of touch, and presence through wearable computing technologyembodied in fashionable clothing. Using garment prototypes as research probes aspart of an on-going iterative co-design process, we endeavoured to mobiliseparticipants’ tacit knowledge in order to gauge user perceptions on touchcommunication.After a first laboratory study, conducted at HP labs, incidentally also involving someWatershed volunteers, we wanted to take the prototype garments, in this casejackets, into a more realistic setting as a natural next design step. As with the otherprojects featured in this report the Watershed bar proved highly suitable a place fortrying out the prototypes; the participants, all regular visitors, felt at ease wearingthese rather strangely behaving jackets in public.7. People and Structures in the Watershed/HP Labs RelationshipAt the end of the day, the success or failure of any professional collaboration hingeson the caliber of the people involved and how they relate to each other. Pullingtogether effective teams for particular projects, and then carefully structuring therelationships, roles and responsibilities within them, has been crucial to the successof the Watershed/HP Labs partnership. Serendipity has also played its part, withseveral instances of the right people appearing on the scene at the right time andadding an extra dimension to the mix.One of the real strengths of the Watershed/HP Labs partnership has been the closepeer-to-peer working relationships developed not only at the top, but all the waydown the project management and delivery chain. Within the two partnerorganisations and their extended network of industry collaborators, there has beensufficient choice of personnel with the pre-requisite skills and availability to fill all thekey roles identified for effective delivery of particular projects. However, it is in thenature of this work that both process and outcomes can be unpredictable. Whereasspecific roles and responsibilities have been assigned to people, the individualsinvolved have understood the need to be flexible and adaptive to changingcircumstances and needs. 8
  10. 10. 8. Finance and ResourcesMaking money – and achieving an immediate return for the investment of time,finance and resources – has not been the underlying basis of the Watershed/HPLabs partnership. Both companies have certainly invested a great deal in thepartnership, and there have been significant commercial as well as cultural gainsderived from the programme. However, bottom line costs have never been theprimary concern for either party.HP Labs estimate that for SE3D alone they have already directly invested around $2million in staff time, lab facilities and technical support, without accounting for the thereal market cost of thousands of hours of rendering time, PR and marketing support.For Watershed too, staff time, use of workshop and technical facilities, server space,hosting events in the cinemas and conference spaces, administration, marketing andproject management has over five years run up a total investment by the company inthe order of several hundred thousand pounds.Watershed is a cultural organisation driven by public service values whereas HPLabs is accountable to its parent company, and ultimately the commercial value ofresearch and development programmes has to be demonstrated. Nevertheless, fordifferent reasons both Watershed and HP Labs see any commercial gain derivedfrom the partnership as part of a longer-term gameplan, in which neither partyexpects an early payback for their investment.9. Outcomes of the PartnershipCreativeAside from all the other benefits it brings to Watershed and HP Labs, the partnershiphas first and foremost been about achieving creative outcomes – whether that be inresearch terms or the production of exciting new work. The underlying approach andethos may have been open-ended and exploratory, but it has resulted some excellentfilms, new artworks and imaginative artist-devised products and applications of thetechnology. It has also produced new forms of audience engagement, and revealednew things about how people interact with technology-mediated creative content.For participating artists, a ‘real-life’ focus to projects has multiple benefits. Not onlyhave they had access to technologies and technical facilities well beyond theirnormal means, but also to the expertise and resources of the wide range of industryprofessionals within the Watershed/HP Labs orbit.Knowledge and capability transferKnowledge transfer has always been a core outcome of Watershed/HP Labs’collaborations - whether that be artists and producers learning how to apply theavailable technology in imaginative ways which could be incorporated into theirpractice; or Hewlett Packard understanding better how people in the real world willuse the products and technological solutions they are developing; or Mobile Bristolbuilding up knowledge of how end users experience technology-mediated content.For Watershed, the partnership has expanded its knowledge and capability in thedigital and pervasive media sphere and has significantly contributed to a newdirection for the organisation. Building on knowledge accrued from these 9
  11. 11. collaborations, in January 2006 iShed xvii was set up. A Community InterestCompany trading as part of the Watershed Group, iShed which will create newcapacity to proactively identify, incubate and promote interdisciplinary collaboration inthe field of digital media and technology, networking organisations and creativeindividuals to create a world-class connected creative ecology.Thus knowledge transfer and capability transfer have gone hand in hand. Thecollaboration has increased know-how and expertise at many levels, for all partiesinvolved, and it has also enabled the people involved to do things that they would nototherwise have been able to do. Julie Taylor, Creative Industries Manager at the Artsand Humanities Research Council, feels that the Watershed/HP Labs collaboration(particularly in relation to SE3D) is an important national and international model ofresearch-based knowledge transfer within the creative industries. She comments:“the project embeds many of our current concerns, including networking as abusiness model, access to new and expansive technologies, new distributionavenues, mobilisation of production funding, changes in core business practice andthe ownership of IP in the content that is created by the research process”Intellectual PropertyAs with all such projects in the creative industries, in addition to the immediateoutcomes of individuals’ creativity, skill and talents in research and developmentwork, there is the potential for further wealth creation through the exploitation ofintellectual property. For that reason, there is always a need to be clear about whereintellectual property lies and who owns it, about how best to protect it from theft, andin which context it is permissible to freely share original ideas, content andknowledge – some of which may have taken many years to develop.Finding new models for Intellectual Property (IP) protection, which are both equitableand workable, has been one of the positive outcomes of the Watershed/HP Labspartnership. Quite unusually, the artists and animators have been able to retain theintellectual property rights on all or most of their productions. The agreement,negotiated by Watershed on their behalf with in-kind legal support from TLT, is amuch better deal than most production funding arrangements allow. In typical cases,for example the UK Film Council’s production funding schemes, copyright on thefilms produced is assigned to the agency providing production finance to the maker,either on a fixed term basis or in perpetuity. The retention of IP strengthens theoriginator’s position in terms of using the content created by the research projects tosecure future commissions.Watershed has been in a good position to safeguard the interests of all partiesbecause it has acted as an intermediary agency that has not sought to own theintellectual property derived from the projects. Through developing an effectiveIntellectual Property Agreement and process over several projects, Watershed hasreduced the legal costs and time that might have been spent negotiating individualarrangements. If this responsibility had fallen on Hewlett Packard, as the commerciallead partner, the process could have become tied up in legal complexity over whatvalue is accrued at what point, and who benefits from future exploitation of films andartworks produced on collaborative research projects.10. Some Reflections and Lessons LearntIt is clear that there are many factors that have underpinned the success of theWatershed/HP Labs relationship – not least a mutual recognition of the two 10
  12. 12. organisations’ respective strengths and differences, as well as an ethos ofcollaboration and open-ended investigation of new possibilities. The difference inscale and turnover between the companies has never been a barrier to them workingeffectively together.Good ‘casting’ has been essential to the success of the partnership. This starts withensuring that there are strong project champions on both sides, who share a clearvision for the programme and are able to enthuse and motivate other team members.Getting roles and responsibilities right within each project team is critical, as isengendering a flexible ‘can-do’ culture at all levels. Throughout Watershed and HPLabs’ partnership working, good peer-to-peer relationships have been an importantfactor in effective delivery.Being adaptive to changing circumstances has also been vital, adhering to theresearch maxim that ‘even if you are looking for specific research data, it is theunexpected outcomes that you learn most from’.Watershed’s intermediary role – both as a networking hub and catalyst forcollaboration – has been crucial. At times, the organisation has also been veryhands-on in both co-ordination of and delivery of projects, as well as its importantrole as a mediator between artists, HP Labs’ personnel, funders and the otherindustry players involved. This intermediary function includes ensuring that all partiesagree terms of engagement in which there is equity and fair exchange.The local context – and Bristol’s strength and depth in terms of its creative andtechnological infrastructure the contribution it makes to the digital media industries –has certainly helped. Concentrating activities initially around Bristol, then building out,has made it easier to identify and enlist the support of the right people andcompanies at the right time, and to build and sustain close working relationships forthe lifespan of projects.Adopting a ‘blue sky’ approach to research and development, in which what is learntfrom the processes involved is as important as outcomes, has promoted greatercreativity and inventiveness in the way that people have approached collaborativeendeavor. It has also encouraged lateral approaches to problem solving and theapplication of learning outcomes to domains other than the one under investigation.In deliberately pushing the technology to its limits, and giving artists and animatorsthe freedom to experiment with, and perhaps subvert its use, a better understandingis gained of how different technologies work together in real life applications. This inturn enables the identification of technical and design solutions that are best suited toparticular user needs.The Watershed/HP Labs experience underlines the need for a new model for publicfunding that recognises ‘blue sky’ research as integral to creativity and innovation,and one which demands fewer ‘hard’ outputs in the early stages of a project’sdevelopment. This implies a move away from conventional notions of public subsidytowards a culture of investing in creativity, and backing innovation and new talentwherever it exists. In the mercurial and unpredictable world of digital creativity, suchan approach does not seem unduly radical, but it does demand of the public fundingsystem a greater willingness to take risks and support dynamic new partnerships withthe private sector outside its traditional frame of reference.11. Conclusions and the Way ForwardThe Watershed/HP Labs partnership works. It will continue to do so. 11
  13. 13. There is a good match between the organisations culturally and creatively, and theybring complementary skills and resources to the table that combine well in jointprojects and other collaborative ventures. Both organisations are ambitious andentrepreneurial, and operate in flexible environments that balance strategicallyplanned initiatives with the continuing energy of opportunistic intervention. Bothorganisations have achieved the high professional standing and profile needed todraw in other industry partners, and to extend the network of expertise and resourcesavailable for projects.There are aspects of the relationship that are locally specific, and key individuals whohave been important catalysts both in making the partnership happen and ensuringthat the projects undertaken realise their full creative potential. That said, the corecharacteristics of the Watershed/HP Labs’ relationship could be applied to otherpublic/private sector partnerships in the creative industries sector. The partnershipmay not provide a ready-made blueprint for success, but it does point the wayforward to similar forms of collaboration. It provides a good model for networkeddelivery of research and development projects.Hewlett Packard is keen to extend the work to another domain, as well asmaintaining its presence in the digital media industry. For Watershed, building on thesuccesses of the partnership furthers its ambition to be a 21st Century mediaorganisation responding to emerging creative opportunities and supporting digitalcreativity across and beyond Bristol.Source Documents and references:O’Hara, K, M. Lipson, M. Jansen, A. Unger, H. Jeffries, P. Macer. (2004) Jukola:Democratic Music Choice in a Public Space, proceedings of Symposium onDesigning Interactive Systems, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.J. Reid, R. Hull, T. Melamed and D. Speakman. (2003), Schminky: The design of acafé based digital experience. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Volume 7 ,Issue 3-4, Pages: 197 - 20221st Century Watershed: Building a Different Kind of Creative Organisation PeterBoyden Associates, July 2005Watershed: Partner Value Review Peter Boyden Associates, November 2004Under Blue Skies, The Watershed/HP Labs Partnership, David Drake, November2005In Search of Innovation: Business Models and Value Chains in the CreativeIndustries AHRC Research and Knowledge Transfer Task Group briefing May 2005-09-28Schminky: The Design of a Café Based Digital Experience Josephine Reid, RichardHull, Tom Melamed 2004dShed: Initial Feasibility Study David Drake, March 2003S. Baurley, E. Geelhoed, Communication-Wear: User Feedback as Part of a Do-Design Process, Proceedings from THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UNEXPECTEDInternational Conference: The user and the future of information and communication 12
  14. 14. technologies (COST Action 298), (2007)i http://www.hpl.hp.comiv http://www.bmex.netvii http://www.activeprint.orgviii http://www.mobilebristol.comx 13