‘Feeling the heat of the audience’ – a conversation with Matt Locke

Matt Locke is the founder of The Story conference. He has been commissioning work at the technological cutting edge of mass media and participation since the 1990s, initially for arts organisations like Huddersfield Media Centre, then as Head of Innovation for BBC New Media and for Channel 4, where after an influential spell as Commissioning Editor for Channel 4 Education he was until recently Acting Head of Cross-Platform for the station. Now he runs a new company called Storythings, and yesterday the first batch of early bird tickets for the third conference in the series, The Story 2012, sold out within minutes of going on sale.

I interviewed Matt for Arts Council England back in the spring, and I’m pleased to say that my article based on that conversation has now been published on the Arts Council website where you can access it as a downloadable PDF or Word Document.

Matt brings some fascinating and provocative insights to what turned out to be a very wide-ranging discussion. At one point he talks about how games are now often released as

a minimum viable product, so when you launch a new game it has about 20% of the total feature set of the game, just enough to get people interested, and then they’ll continually iterate features for the rest of that game’s life. And that’s a really fascinating way of looking at culture – you know rather than think about the finished product. What would the minimum viable product for a novel be? In some genres you can do that more obviously: look at feedback, see how a game is working on line, look at the stats and the tweets and change it. If you’re doing drama or film it’s really difficult, but it’s not about having the shortest possible iterative cycle, it’s understanding what that cycle is and how you can be creative with the results that you’re hearing from the audience.’ He turns the question back on me, ‘Do you think you’ll ever get to the point where you’d release a 2nd or 3rd version of a novel?’

You can download the article here (opens as PDF).

See also: a related interview with novelist and future publishing researcher Kate Pullinger.