Simon Popple is Senior Lecturer in Cinema and Director of Impact and Innovation in the Institute of
Communications Studies at the University of Leeds. He has published widely on various aspects of
cinema and is now working on the role of archives in relation to public memory and the democratic
exchange of ideas. From a mining and a police family he has a continued interest in representations
of the strike and in the presentation of historical events. He is editor of the journal Early Popular
Visual Culture.

I am very excited to be working with technology partners to develop a digital storytelling application
that will allow public audiences to engage with online archives/collections to develop their own
interactive and memory based content.

The idea comes from two AHRC/BBC funded KEPs centred on the role of User Generated Content
(UGC) and the development of genuine democratic engagements between the public and a range
of cultural institutions. My work looked at opening up the BBC’s moving image archives and
in exploring what types of interaction and joint endeavour could be possible and in looking at
expectations and aspirations from a public and institutional perspective. As a consequence I am
now ready to develop the next phase of this ongoing research and develop an application that can
facilitate these exchanges and allow public audiences to become creative curators and to engage
beyond the normative expectations of the ‘invited space’ offered by institutions. As we increasingly
talk about the opportunities for self-expression and self-writing within expanding digital frames, this
application could have the potential for genuine creative engagement. Organisations like the BBC,
the British Library and the British Film Institute have just launched the Digital Public Space (DPS)
which is a collaborative archive- of-archives built on the notion of free ‘democratic’ exchanges and
in which acts of self-writing and the ‘national conversation’ can take place. This clearly signals a huge
shift in the idea of ownership and the insularity of major institutions and offers the potential for
exciting application development that would allow the public to take full advantage of increasingly
available cultural resources and would be something that is not collection/institution specific.

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