Yesterday I set off to do some interviewing for the SIRA project. I had two people to interview – a guy who does freelance sound and light engineering and a radio presenter for a well-known radio station (you may know him or his programme, but I’m protecting anonymity). Both interviews were great and I learnt a lot about the issues facing creative rural businesses who can’t access broadband. The radio presenter is concerned with rural affairs and records (sometimes even presents the live show) on location in rural areas. When out and about he can usually find a spot to get a decent wifi connection with his dongle (I’m afraid I always feel silly typing/saying that). But at home, where he does a good deal of his producing and editing, broadband is minimal – resulting in problems around transferring large high-quality audio files to his colleagues.
Our sound and light engineer lives in a rural and quite isolated location, 8 miles from a small rural community (see image above). He lives in a cottage surrounded by gorse hills and purple heather. He feels totally immersed in the nature there (“co-existence”) and finds this a good way to work creatively with peace and quiet and few distractions.
Despite the dwellings being spread out, there is a strong sense of community here, which he contributes to enthusiastically. Here, professional and social self crossover – he contributes his professional skills to the community in the preparation of local events e.g. he helped secure and plan out the equipment needed for the local film club and arts shows etc. He can only access Internet by either walking up the mountain with his iPhone, or driving some distance by car. When he is snowed in he can’t access the Internet at all. This limited access means he sometimes misses out entirely on work. There is much that he would like to do online for his business e.g. he would like to design a website with an image gallery (increasingly expected in his industry), engage in Skype conversations, online research and networking with industry peers (which can lead to work and other opportunities). Without broadband he is also excluded from many of the social events and interactions of his local community, such as Film Club schedules (which he can access by email), much of which is organised and promoted online.
One of the best things about the interview, aside from the interview itself of course, was the amazing shortbread sprinkled with French violet sugar which he had baked before I arrived 🙂 Being a researcher isn’t always so bad (and the kids loved the big box of biscuits he sent me away with).