Inventive Podcast: Evaluation of Project Participants

Harris, LA and Cox, TJ ORCID: 2022, Inventive Podcast: Evaluation of Project Participants , Other, University of Salford, Salford.

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The Inventive podcast project was devised as a novel format for 'mixing engineering fact & fiction': Each episode features both an engineer being interviewed, and a fictional piece created by a writer in response to that interview. The project aims to increase understanding and engagement with technical topics through using storytelling and creativity to bring those subjects to life and make them more relatable for general audiences. The Inventive project released 11 podcast episodes from June 2021 to January 2022, featuring 11 writers and 12 engineers. One aim of this project was to understand whether taking part had driven a change in the attitude or approach of contributors - for authors, had their perception of engineering or how they approach their writing changed? For engineers, had taking part made them think differently about their work and how they describe it to other people? To address these questions, the writers and engineers were invited to give feedback on their experience of being featured in the Inventive project. This was gathered through short semi-structured interviews. Findings from qualitative analysis of the feedback are summarised in this report, along with practical details on how collecting the feedback was organised and conducted. All writers responded and gave feedback on their experience. Of the 12 engineers contacted, 7 responded and 5 of those gave feedback. The comments from both writers and engineers were perceived as very positive overall. Contributors were impressed with the quality of production, and skills of the podcast team in creative decision-making. Many people said they were happy, proud, or thankful to have participated. Writers felt creatively challenged in a variety of ways by the format, and engineers gained ideas for presenting their work to non-expert audiences. Writers appreciated being able to develop their piece according to their individual artistic vision, and found the production team accommodating when they had individual requests, such as being given their brief very early in the project. Writers clearly valued the flexibility and open-minded approach of the team, enjoying the creative freedom and lack of 'editorial pushback'. The importance of good communication, organisation and preparation were important aspects highlighted in the responses, especially as pieces in this project were developed slowly, over a period of many months. Writers had many ideas for how engineers might improve their storytelling, such as using language and examples that a general audience can understand. They also suggested introducing human elements to make a topic more relatable. Both engineers and writers welcomed the podcast as an unusual opportunity to portray engineers holistically, enabling their interests and 'backstory' to be featured alongside the technical details of their work. It was suggested that the interview questions and tone were important factors for success, creating an environment and framework that supported engineers in telling their own story in an engaging and coherent way. This support may be especially helpful for interviewees who are less confident or experienced in public engagement. Collaboration was a theme throughout the feedback, especially from writers. The nature and extent of the collaboration varied across each pairing, and it was clear that there was no one-size-fits-all formula. Authors were highly individualistic in their approach to creating a piece, varying in how much contact they wanted with an engineer, how they approached their research and writing, and how much input they wanted with the production team around editing and sound design. The podcast’s premise of pairing creative and technical partners was viewed very positively, and many people said that they hoped there would be more opportunity for this sort of direct collaboration in future, or in the words of one writer, for ‘building bridges between the arts and science and people’.

Item Type: Monograph (Other)
Schools: Schools > School of Computing, Science and Engineering > Salford Innovation Research Centre
Publisher: University of Salford
Funders: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Depositing User: TJ Cox
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2023 12:59
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2023 13:00

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