KILTR is a social network for anyone with a Scottish connection. Head of offKILTR, Paul Crawford talks about how the social platform has engaged with the Indy Ref…

The Referendum has seen social media used in an unparalleled way in UK politics. KILTR engaged with the Referendum very early on. As soon as the date was announced, we decided to have a dedicated Referendum channel for our users to post and share content on the Referendum. We were very aware that there was a strong feeling amongst YES voters that the media in Scotland was very biased against them so we wanted the platform to remain completely impartial and welcome discussion and content from both sides.

KILTR also wanted to give a voice to an alternative view on the Referendum and steer clear of the “usual suspects” i.e. the politicians. We did this through a series of Referendum debates. We wanted to first engage with creatives. The first debate back in October, focused on the Creative Industries and had a panel made up of Stuart Braithwaite of band Mogwai and author and artist Alistair Gray on the Yes side. On the No side were Mark Hogarth Creative Director of Harris Tweed Hebrides and Pauline McNeil former Labour MSP. Our chair was Ken McCluskey from the Bluebells who’s indeed still young at heart. Interestingly the BBC had Stuart and Pauline doing a Q&A the following week on the BBC News website. What is it they say about imitation?

KILTR Referendum Debate NYC

Our second debate, we staged a world first in taking KILTR to New York during Scotland Week, putting an international perspective on the big question. We held our debate at The Lower East Side Girls Club, a fantastic building and enterprise set up on the Lower East Side to give young girls in that area a safe place to go and learn life skills and generally hang out. Our debate featured on the YES side renowned Scottish photographer Albert Watson who now resides in New York and actress Pollyanna McIntosh. On the NO side we had Brian Wilson former Labour Minister for Energy and now Chair of Harris Tweed Hebrides and director of Celtic Football Club and actress Louise Linton who now resides in Hollywood. Live-streamed through KILTR, the traffic temporarily brought the site down, but we managed to get in live it again after 10 minutes or so. The debate was a huge success although in bringing the debate to the expat community and allowing them to have a voice, we also had our CEO Brian telling the audience that ‘Tartan Week has had it’s day’. These sentiments are at the very core of our cultural platform as we wanted to show a more contemporary vision and voice of modern Scotland.

KILTR Referendum Debate #3

The third of our debates took place in May returning to the CCA in Glasgow. Again, we brought together an excellent panel we thought would raise some really interesting issues. The panel consisted of on the YES side actor Brian Cox and YouTube sensation The Artist Taxi Driver Mark McGowan. On the NO side, we had heavy weight political advisor John McTernan and journalist Susan Dalgety. The future of the media was discussed and some sparks certainly flew between Mark and John. It was a great way to end our CCA debates as we’ve built a new media platform right here in Glasgow, Scotland driven by subculture.

KILTR Referendum Debate #4

Last but not least, we had our final debate centring the discussion around ‘Youth and Young People’ and taking the debate to Platform in Easterhouse. Once again we had a fantastic panel, Liam McLaughlin from Radical Independence and Katie Gallogly Swan from Common Weal represented the YES side and Heather Whiteside and Alan Grant represented Better Together. It was pretty lively, as expected!

We then installed an impartial real-time poll on our platform which so far has had nearly 3000 people vote on it. Pure democracy in action! Though not particularly approved by traditional media, as expected.

The pinnacle of our Referendum activity thus far has to be our exclusive live broadcast for The Yes Campaign of ‘A Night for Scotland’ featuring bands Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai, Frightened Rabbit, Stanley Odd and Amy McDonald. Over 7000 people logged in to watch a historic night of Scottish Music in support of the YES campaign.

The media attention has also been quite incredible. We had a Japanese film crew at Easterhouse, I was on Ch4 News and ABC Australia have been in the office filming. BBC News have requested to film us as well. We’ll see if it goes ahead. I was also speaking on BBC Radio Wales the other day. The democratic process is spreading and we feel we’ve played a sizeable part. I personally feel very proud.

What we are trying to do at KILTR is disrupt the traditional media landscape and show people that there is a new media emerging. Integrating shared content with exclusive original content is the future of media and this is what we are pioneering at KILTR.

In terms of content, rich visual content has to take centre stage in intelligent social media. The YES side have most definitely won the battle in supplying well designed original and creative content. Organisations, such as National Collective and The Common Weal through their designers at Tangent, have produced some outstanding pieces of design as well as our own team at KILTR.

It’s been a steep learning curve for us at KILTR and CollectivWorks (the underlying tech). We’ve been up against it at times but no-one can disagree that it’s not been worth it because what we’re witnessing is change.

If you’re interested in reading more about the Referendum on KILTR, head over to the KILTR Referendum Channel.

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