There I was the other night stood in a swanky new building (or should that read digital campus) which was playing host to the 4IP Yorkshire initiative in Sheffield. An initiative designed to seek out the best and the brightest talents in the digital arts. an initiative that promised to be daring and confrontational and dare we (or they) say it a little bit dangerous.

Shindigs of this nature always draw a certain type of crowd. usually the types who fancy a bit of free food and drink (of which there was plenty). Yet the entire premise of the event had a certain vagueness to it. Somehow even the keynote speakers didn’t seem that convinced about what they were hyping, but if they kept slapping each other on the back for long enough and using appropriate media buzzwords in abundance…then maybe…just maybe they might start believing the hype themselves.

Digital media companies had been invited to pitch their ideas to 4IP in a bid to get their hands on some much needed development cash. The total amount per successful bid being five grand (which as many pointed out might just about cover your living costs if you were working on a project full time). It didn’t end there either, if 4IP fund you then you essentially sign away the rights to your idea. One could potentially see this as 4IP capitalising on your work, with the bare minimum of investment on their behalf. Hmmm…didn’t someone once say “ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated”.

Personally it all smacked to me of the Emperor’s new clothes. I came away from the night with no real idea what 4IP was trying to achieve. Of course some are going to come away from this entire endeavour with healthy salaries but for the creatives they were trying to woo (and I wasn’t alone in this viewpoint) there was something very patronising and condescending about the whole affair (“yes we’re here and you should be so grateful”).

Many years ago Channel 4 (who are 4IP’s parent) was without question a platform that did represent something new and perhaps a little dangerous. The only thing dangerous about 4IP in my view is a potential lack of integrity. Remember kids, not everything that glitters is gold…