The MadLab Network Survey!

It’s summer, and the time of year that MadLab turns it’s eyes to self-reflection. This time, we’re developing a network diagram of the users, communities, organisations, companies and agencies that frequent our doors – not just of direct visitors, but the whole range of beneficiaries around MadLab. We’re planning to make this resource available on our website, but for now – we have to collect this information!

If you have a few minutes – please fill in our survey!

A first pass at a MadLab network map

BCS’s first-pass network map

Why are we doing this? Well, we know that MadLab is a critical crunch-point for Manchester’s digital and creative communities. We also know that lots of informal – and not-so-informal – relationships form here, which we’re curious about. It’s important for us in terms of us being able to assess our impact and reach, which is what we’re trying to paint a picture of. This isn’t the first time this has been tried – Chris at the BCS tried to map out the networks at MadLab, but it developed into too large a project to handle! We’re hoping to build on Chris’ work, not just at the relationships between group level, but also looking at key people and other agencies – in short…

  • You may go to several groups – we’d like to know how you connect them. Do you just go to a couple of groups (maybe even just socially?) or just one? Maybe you’re not interested in anything outside your group – we’re equally interested (and not offended!)
  • Has your group tried to make formal or informal links with other agencies? We know we’ve done projects with places like the Contact Theatre and the Cornerhouse, and we’ve worked alongside groups that meet at MadLab – maybe you can tell us about similar connections you or your group have made? Other times, groups we know have turned up to events organised by other agencies (such as the MDDA or MMU) – we’d count these as parts of the network we’re trying to capture. Let us know!
  • Maybe you found work or a new project through a group – someone there was looking for help, and you were in the right place at the right time. Not only have you made a link through your group with someone, but you both now also have a link with the organisation you’re connecting with.

Before we go any further – we take your privacy seriously. The survey is anonymous, and the data and network diagram we produce will be made available publicly on our website. We’re not using it for marketing or sales – we’re not for profit, and this is an exercise that involves the community as much as reflects it. You may even find that the more information you provide, the more useful the diagram becomes for everyone.

We’ve been asking people on twitter if they can take a few minutes out to fill in our survey – we’re still collecting answers, but our first few responses are giving us valuable information. We’ve realised people dramatically underestimate how many things they’re connected to at MadLab. For example, we talked to one person who told us they weren’t involved in other things here – but then went on to tell us that their husband had made them aware of MadLab through a group they were involved in (one link!), and that as a result they’d developed skills through another group (two links!) that both helped their partner – but also were valuable at work, a large public-sector facing company.

Anna Frew and Kathleen Menzies from MIRIAD and MMU are leading this project – give them a shout if you see them around!