Delivered by Livity in partnership with Penguin, Spinebreakers is our nationwide online book community, where teens can share their passion for reading and get creative (www.spinebreakers.co.uk).
One of our Spinebreakers young people Alannah tells us why, in our forever-changing digital world, the humble story continues to captivate, and gives us a list of her top ten tales to last the test of time.
Who remembers the tamagotchi? I do. At the tender age of 7, I watched all my friends toddle around our school playground, their faces planted to the screens and their fingers craftily pressing each little button as they controlled the lives of their adopted alien children. It sounds rather bizarre when I put it like that, but at the time I wanted one beyond all comprehension. Parents everywhere loved it too, because it was the satisfyingly cheap alternative to the Nintendo DS and would keep their children happy until the battery wore out. One Christmas, at the foot of my stocking, I found the small egg-shaped parcel and tore it open. A lurid pink and yellow tamagotchi, complete with a miniature dog-tag and three tiny buttons was now mine!
3 years later, children all over the country had forgotten about it. So are we just all spoilt? Not necessarily. Do we end up throwing things away that we thought were The Next Big Thing only a few years before? Definitely. Technology simply moves on. I remember a time when I became inexplicably excited about my Mum’s new phone, the only redeeming feature of which was a sliding cover. And it’s practically impossible to buy a game for a GameBoy or the original Nintendo DS anymore, because apparently they’re obsolete; defunct; old. Yet somehow, the most simple and technologically basic of objects had stood the test of time longer than any other invention in the history of humanity: the humble story. Whether in the format of an eBook or a paperback, no one has ever grown out of the idea of a book. From Dante’s time, when 3 books would have cost the same price as a small cottage, to now, when we have the whole of the British Library to search for any book we wish, no one can ignore the power of a good story.
I’ve compiled a list of 10 books that have stood the test of time, and others that will be in our hearts for many years to come.
- “Romeo and Juliet”- by William Shakespeare. OK, so this is technically a play. But it is still extremely relevant- well, for me especially, seeing as my “Romeo and Juliet” Controlled Assessment makes up 25% of my English Literature grade! So many brilliant adaptations as well!
- “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”- by J.K. Rowling. Not my favourite book out of the set, but it’s one that children like myself across the world will remember for the rest of their lives. I have no doubt that these books will be used as bed-time stories for years to come.
- “War and Peace”- by Leo Tolstoy. This one should be kept as a summer read, because it will probably take you the whole 6 weeks to get through it! Translated from Russian to English, this book is like a Bible of human nature.
- “The Hunger Games”- by Suzanne Collins. This is a great dystopian read and I really enjoyed the books. This book has already made a clear legacy for itself, with the film and overwhelming fan-base.
- “Winnie the Pooh”- by A.A. Milne. One of my personal favourite reads when I was little. This is a really charming bedtime story, with illustrations that have been remembered by children for generations.
- “The Book Thief”- by Markus Zusak. I loved this book and I can’t wait for the film (which is coming out in 2014!). “The Book Thief” is sensitive and thought-provoking and may or may not leave you weeping on the floor when you finish it. I hope that it’s remembered, because it carries such an important message.
- “Anne of Green Gables”- by L.M. Montgomery. Funny and brilliant and extremely relatable. It’s been taking people all over the world back to the comfort and familiarity of Prince Edward Island, the place in which the book is set.
- “The Fault in Our Stars”- by John Green. No one has stopped talking about this book; literally. Which isn’t surprising, seeing as it’s so beautifully written and quite unlike any other book you will ever read. I didn’t want it to end but, much to my disappointment, it did. But it continued to be breathtaking until the last word.
- “The Catcher in The Rye”- by J.D. Salinger. The epitome of teenage angst. No one will be forgetting this book in a hurry. It sums up what it means to be a teenager, from the anxieties to the strange antics; to the depression and the “whatever-ness”.
- “Pride and Prejudice”- by Jane Austen. Not everyone would agree, but I thought that this book was very charming and funny and it’s celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Check out the zombie-fied version too, as well as the web diaries.
Alannah, Spinebreakers Editor, 23.05.13
After graduating in 2010, I was lucky enough to get a place on Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme (JET). One week after graduation ceremony (which involved getting a hug off University Chancellor Sanjeev Bhaskar – check please) I stepped onto a Tokyo bound plane and for two years, that was that.
I had a secure job, my own place, a car and was earning a decent living. For sure, it was an incredibly secure bubble. In the back of my head, I was always aware that the JET bubble would one day burst and that in many ways, a move back to the U.K would mean starting things from scratch.
Speaking to friends who had remained in the U.K over the two years I was away, I began to get a steady picture of the challenges they were experiencing whilst trying to find employment. Our conversations frequently revolved around one system in particular, a brick wall that young people have been banging their heads against with increased frustration over recent years; the now notorious unpaid internship.
Internships have become increasingly essential in order to gain access to a number of industries. As unemployment amongst young people in the UK soars past one million, the swelling demand for work experience together with a distinct lack of graduate jobs has led to a large proportion of employers utilizing young people as a source of free labour.
I’ve been able to support myself with savings whilst crashing with extended family here in London (at hard to beat, discount family-friendly rates). For so many of my friends however, fortune and circumstance simply don’t allow them to justify being able to work these unaffordable internships.
Consequently, they’re unable to gain the experience that they feel they deserve which seems to me the real tragedy of the unpaid internship system. It seems an extraordinary way to treat a generation of young people whose talents are being unfairly blocked and sidelined. We’re ready to work and desperate for experience, yet opportunities continue to get locked out for those that are unable to work for free for long periods of time.
There’s a clear need for awareness building surrounding the issue. Thankfully, campaign groups such as Intern Aware are providing a voice for the thousands affected. The group has garnered attention in their condemnation of the unpaid internship system, stating that a practice that asks young people to work for free is simply unacceptable. They recently produced a list of one hundred employers who advertise for unpaid interns, a list which is currently being investigated by HMRC.
Leading universities are also taking a stance, banning the advertising of unpaid internships for new graduates.
The Government is currently in the process of hearing the Internships Bill, which if passed, will give them the power to prosecute employers who advertise unpaid internships.
Whilst it’s reassuring to see that the steps are being made to eradicate this imbalanced system, I can’t help but think about those who have already been affected, resigning themselves to this “culture of acceptance” bred by the exploitative and exclusive nature of the unpaid internship system. It renders its victims feeling blocked out by the system, apathetic and anxious about not only their careers, but also themselves.
Worth a read:
- http://www.internaware.org/ – National campaign group calling for fairer, paid internships.
http://internsanonymous.co.uk/ – A forum for interns to share their experiences and shine a light on the problems facing the graduate job market.
http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-21750-f0.cfm – There’s now the TUC Rights For Interns App, which calculates what interns should have been paid. The app then directs users through to HMRC to help claim what they are are owed.
20.05.13, Will de Groot, Paid (!) Intern at Livity
You can’t move for people talking about content marketing at the moment. At Livity we’ve been banging the drum for quality original content ever since first persuading Lambeth Council (in South London) to bundle all its youth messages into a single, sustained youth co-created entertainment title nearly twelve years ago. LIVE is now an international, multi-platform youth content brand and we’ve since consulted on, devised or delivered digital content strategies for Penguin Books, Channel 4, Barclays, Fabric, BAFTA, Dept of Health, Network Rail and many more.
But we also know that a long-term content strategy requires substantial investment and commitment, and is not the right answer for everyone. So if you’re contemplating content and wondering whether to go for it or not, try asking yourself these five questions first…
1. Why are you interested in it?
Be honest. Did you feel a bit left out when everyone at that conference was talking about their exciting new content strategies? Has the PR team not had much joy getting people to talk about your brand so you might as well have a crack at doing it yourself? Hoping it will save you a fortune in ad spend this year? Got a bit of under spend to play with? Looking for a flashy way to launch something? Need to double sales by Q3?
If it’s any of the above then think of a better reason or walk away now.
But if you’ve got mid to long term objectives to grow market share, change attitudes and behaviour, sustain and deepen brand awareness and affinity, develop an engaged community or open up innovative new digital sales channels then the sooner you can start producing entertaining, relevant, regular original digital content the better.
2. Do your stakeholders have balls of steel?
Growing your own audience around content is a long game. Dipping your toes in to test the water is only going to return a false negative result. You’ve got to jump in with both feet and be prepared to wait a year or more before you start to feel the warm fuzzy return on your investment. Getting you board to greenlight your masterplan is just the first challenge. Keeping their faith in the strategy 3, 6, 9 months down the line will be even harder. Be sure they know what they’re in for and have the nerve to see it through.
3. Can you get the whole company on side?
You’re also going to need the confidence and support of as many other people as possible, both to help shape the strategy and implement it. To ‘Think Like A Publisher’ and start behaving like one too it won’t just be cash, crew and kit you need, but a company-wide culture change as well.
Departments that have previously had little to do with each other will have to start talking daily and everyone needs to take the editorial mindset into their role and start reporting back from the frontline. They don’t just need to know about it or support it, they need to really get it.
4. Are you really interesting?
If your instinctive answer is ‘Hell yeah!’, then put yourself in your target audience’s shoes for a moment, take a long hard look at yourself and ask the question again. If the answer is still the same, then congratulations you work in entertainment, fashion or sport. If your answer is a definite ‘no’ then chances are you’re being a bit hard on yourself, and maybe not looking in the right places.
Try drawing a Venn diagram with all the topics that your target audience might conceivably choose to read about, watch, listen to, talk about or share on one side, and all the topics that your brand could be qualified to talk about or associate itself with (allow yourself to be fairly creative and tangential here), on the other. If the area of overlap is less than 10% then it might be best to stick to buying your way in front of other content publishers’ audiences than killing yourself trying to earn your own.
5. Do you have hidden talents?
So you’ve made the decision, persuaded the board, secured the budget and are all set to push the start button. But before you post your Content Director job ad or start figuring out how to let go of all those media buyers, PRs and campaign managers that you’re not going to need any more, take a good look at what talent you’ve already got close to home.
You know that guy Tom in research? No? Well anyway, he’s been writing his hilarious gig review blog for years now. And Lucy in accounts’ baking tips have got thousands of subscribers on youtube. Between them they know as much as about optimum blog post lengths, keywords, subscription drivers and the best upload time to catch ABC1 mums as anyone.
An internal skills and interests audit will reveal these hidden gems, renew their enthusiasm for work and make every member of your organization feel like you are genuinely interested in them and make them interested in how they can evolve to support this new way of working.
Written for Contagious Magazine.
15.05.13, Callum McGeogh, Creative Director
It’s Livity’s 12th birthday, and being 12 is great! As part of our celebrations we thought we’d share with you some insights and stories on what being 12 is all about:
1.Outnumbered: There are approximately 690,000 12-year-olds in the UK. If they all decided to get together and form their own exclusive city, it would be the fourth largest in the country.
2.Well, it is my 13th year! Despite being officially restricted to over 13s, an estimated 65% (and rising) of 12-yearolds in the UK use Facebook; about average for Europe.
3.Video stars: However, they spend more time on YouTube (or watching YouTube videos on other sites) than any other platform. Games and gaming sites come a close second.
4.Fully mobile: 98% of UK 12-year-olds have their own mobile, approximately 45% of which are smartphones (and rising fast); much higher than the global average.
5.Who’s watching who? 87% of 12-yearolds in Europe claim to have unrestricted use of Social Networks, yet 48% of parents claim they put restrictions on their 12-year-olds. UK 12-year-olds have the tightest control on their privacy settings in Europe, with only 9% making their profiles public.
6. Pity her teacher: 12-year-old Neha Ramu from Surbiton South London has recently been told she has a higher IQ than Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and even Albert Einstein, and has already aced her SATs for entry to Harvard.
7.Up, up and away: In February, 12-yearold Californian Lauren Rojas managed to send her Hello Kitty doll into space for her school science project…
Here at somewhereto_ we’re all about collaboration! Funded by a £7m injection from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG), granted in December 2012, we work with Regional Delivery Partners across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and want you to know more about them!
Rebecca Thompson, Hot Tap Media, Glasgow / Edinburgh
Digital content production company focused on delivering innovative creative content with a social conscience to support young people to develop a range of skills both on and offline.
Sarah Frood, and Desmond Bernie, ice cream architecture, Glasgow
Focus on architectural community consultation and seek out social and accessible ways to engage with communities working across Scotland.
Neil, Regional Youth Work Unit (RYWU), Gateshead
Work across the region to improve the lives of young people, operating as a focal point for both statutory and voluntary youth sector services to share information, highlight best practice, and co-ordinate the development of youth services.
Holly Ball, Proper Job Theatre, Huddersfield
Create exciting projects using theatre to inspire change.
Terence Wallen, Birmingham
Years of experience working in the youth sector, specialising in working with hard to reach NEET young people, helping them obtain accreditation and training where possible.
Pete Compston, Culturapedia, Blackburn
Specialists in marketing and publishing in the arts and cultural sector, Culturapedia exists to give idea’s legs; engaging young people from diverse backgrounds and link them into positive activities.
Luisa Golob, Art in the Park, Sheffield
Environmental arts organisation delivering a range of projects that meet local needs. Offer a range of accredited training and volunteering opportunities that can help enhance the skills of young people.
Rebekah McCabe, PLACE, Belfast
PLACE is the built environment centre for Northern Ireland with a vision for a better place to live, work and play, inspired by communities.
Elly Wilson, Creative Arts East, Norfolk
An arts and community development charity that run a portfolio of creative learning and arts engagement projects, supporting young people into employment or education.
Simon Lovatt, Cwimni Theatr Arad Goch, Aberwystwyth
Create inspiring, motivating and memorable experience for young people through theatre, music, dance and other cultural activities.
Arielle Tye, ProMo-Cymru, Cardiff
Work in the cultural sectors, enterprise, communication, media and web production and manage CLIC online, the bilingual national news and information channel for young people in Wales.
Laura Phelps, RELAYS (Regional Educational Legacy in Arts and Youth Sport), Bournemouth
Aims to inspire young people and their communities to participate in, create and promote cultural and sporting activities, with extensive networks across universities, colleges and schools across the region.
Jason Page, London
Extensive career creating opportunities for young people to engage in politics and the arts, supporting them to take part in events and media opportunities that enhance their employability, and enable them to realise their potential.
Hatty Bell, A Very Good Company, London
Their mission is to leverage the resources available to businesses, community networks and individuals as a force for good.
James Turnbull, DV8 Training, Sussex
A training provider delivering work based learning courses and qualifications in the creative industries.
Contact details and spaces can be found on our website, if you have a space or need a space, if you have an idea or a project you want to develop get in touch!
26.04.13, Rosie McGloughlin, Account Executive