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SpokenHerd: Crowdsourcing and Scottish Poetry

Talking about crowdfunding we often emphasised the influence of the new mindset that underpins the use of Social Media, and which exploit its reach, empowerment and engagement. The rapid evolution of social media gave free rein to the creation of ‘crowds’, which have been forming affinities around interests and feeding innovation, ‘using the Internet to exploit the spare processing power of millions of human brains’ [Jeff Howe in Wired]. One of the results has been a new mindset capable of reinventing itself, and empowering us to do things we would have never thought we’d had the chance to do in our lives. Social Media has lowered the barriers to entry, we can now be journalists, photographers, investors, writers, and we can show our talent to the world.

Crowdsourcing is mainly founded in the idea that there is a wealth of untapped talent available out there that thanks to social media and web 2.0 technologies is finally being unveiled and exploited. Spokenherd, the first crowdsourced audiobook of Scottish poetry, is an excellent demonstration of that. Some really talented narrators came forward and their talent has been recognised at a global level.

With a new edition of Social Media Week knocking the doors, last Wednesday we unveiled this other great spin-off project of Social Media Week Glasgow. On a very special day for Scotland – Burns Day, the SpokenHerd crowdsourced audiobook was released, yet another expression of the power and creativity of the crowd.

All started 5 months ago when twintangibles teamed up with Cargo Publishing and InnerEar, thanks to the support of Creative Scotland, to produce a most unique audiobook of some of the best poems and essays from Classic and Contemporary Scottish Literature. What’s unique in this audiobook? Well, a recurring theme of Social Media Week Glasgow, it’s been created by you, the crowd out there, who are now given the opportunity to show their hidden talent and make something out of it. It’s a crowdsourced audiobook, as the short story that follows will demonstrate.

In August, we launched the auditions: to be part of this project people could audition to be narrators by reading A Red, Red Rose by Scotland’s bard Robert Burns. We had auditions coming through from all over the world, as well as from all parts of Scotland. We also held an open audition day at SocietyM in November. Those who were successful in the audition process – judged by a panel made of twintangibles, Cargo Publishing, and Inner Ear team, were contacted and – when possible – they recorded their piece at Inner Ear studios here in Glasgow. Those who where too far away (we even had a Scottish narrator from Australia) exploited the power of technology and internet and recorded their pieces remotely.

The result is a most unique audiobook, made up of lots of different accents and voices. There is also a version of a Man’s a man by Robert Burns read line by line by different readers, a chorus of assorted voices that demonstrate the universality of Burns and the rich sounds of Glasgow. It’s a triumph of creativity, diversity and talent.

We hope you enjoy the audiobook as we did, and we’re looking forward to hearing comments, suggestions, and ideas on how to develop this further. It’s – once again – your call.

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twintangibles Ltd is a company registered in Scotland with company number SC397987. Registered office is Blue Square House, 272 Bath Street, Glasgow, Scotland, G2 4JR

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twintangibles, Blue Square House, 272 Bath Street, Glasgow, Scotland, G2 4JR