Watching the 20th Century

Well, it’s been another very hectic few weeks, so another period of hiatus on the blog! Not to worry, I am taking myself in hand (as they say) and should be reverting to a more regular publishing schedule from now on. And, of course, the reasons for the hiatus have been rather exciting. First of all, I’ve started writing the next novel – details of that over at allumination – and secondly, I’ve been doing some really fascinating work with the Counterpoint team at the British Council, which is just starting to go live.

First of all, some introductions. Counterpoint is the British Council’s thinktank; their website here. To celebrate both their recent relaunch and – more broadly – the British Council’s 75th anniversary, they are developing four project streams – ‘Identities and the self’, ‘Cultures’, ‘Radicalisms’ and ‘Social Planet’. Taken together, all deal with the great modern question; how can we balance the individual with the social in a world that combines more-militant-than-ever senses of self with a historically unprecedented ability (and need) to come together in mass social groups?

I’ve become involved with this very fascinating debate through the Tuttle Club. In broad terms, we’re helping Counterpoint and the British Council explore the possibilities of social media. In specific terms, along with Lloyd Davis I’m rooting through the British Council’s media history, exploring its film holdings at the BFI and blogging about what I find. You can read what I’ve been up to so far here – over the next few weeks, this will be extended with more posts, videoblogs, interviews and so on, and should also be mirrored on the main Counterpoint website.

So far, it’s been a fascinating process, and I’ve barely begun. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the main body of the British Council / BFI film holdings, exploring the administrative history of the British Council film division, and so on, over the next few weeks. That’s all going to be on the project blog, so I won’t be talking about it in detail here. I’ve also ended up spending a lot of time engaging with the BFI – they’re a really interesting organisation, and in some ways ideally placed to take advantage of our modern digital media age. There will be an upcoming blog post on that, when I get a moment!

So, for now, that’s what’s lain behind the hiatus. I’m going to keep watching the 30s, 40s and 50s; if you’re as fascinated by it all as I am, then make sure you bookmark the ‘British Council at 75’ blog where that will be happening, and I’ll see you over there!

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