My digital journey is a meandering one, the result of a natural fusion which formed through my curiosity and love of all things creatively digital, musical, literary and visual.
I play with technology. I am always looking for the transformative potential in each type of tech. As a Jamaican-Canadian child of the 1960s, growing up in Goderich, Ontario, I was a voracious reader of everything from Shakespeare to books on medical history.
I loved reading fairy tales, myth and legend, and would spend hours in the library consuming books beneath the stacks. As a young adult, I was further inspired by shortwave radio and developed a passion for radio plays and late night alternative music shows. I transformed into a dedicated fan girl of all things sci-fi and rock and roll. Fast forward a few years to DJing tech, black culture and indie music, all of which have led me to where I am now.
My journey as a writer and creative director online began in earnest during the 1980s and 1990s as a self taught offline community radio show host and producer at CKLN-FM in Toronto. There I learnt to use computers as a resource for building links with community networks locally and around the world. I was also a club DJ and independent music programmer for private events.
I began writing for magazines and journals about some of the Canadian, UK and international musicians, singers, rappers, writers, filmmakers and visual artists I would interview for my radio shows. I also began writing press releases and providing customer service for community-based promoters who were bringing in artists like Gil Scott-Heron, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Judy Mowatt, Burning Spear and Gilberto Gil, among others.
As one of Canada’s first black guerrilla marketers, I promoted to the community and mainstream media using phone, fax and computer. Some of the people who listened to my show were among the first black website developers, such as nuNet, which has gone on to greater things.
The company invited me to become part of its project. My role was to write press releases and help with generating creative ideas. They built my first website to help me make the transition to web writing. They ignited my new media evangelism. They also encouraged other black people and indie artists to use the internet, learn about the importance of being present in the digital space and to own their intellectual property in these spaces.
Some years later I married a Welsh-Englishman, who is also a software creative, and moved to the UK where I produced the first Black History Month festive event in Powys, with help of local enthusiasts. This was made possible by the fact that we could use the internet to promote and organise on a limited budget.
Fittingly, we live atop a mountain with one foot in Wales and the other in England. As a writer who sees the internet as an empowering and affordable way for artists to reach wider audiences, I taught myself to build websites, became an avid gamer and karaoke addict, and had some idea that I could raise a family and start a business using digital media to support artists. Not an easy task.
The process has been a stop/start experience. I am still developing and hope to work with more creative industry professionals. I work with my husband’s company as an online customer service provider to help people understand how to use software and computers, mostly by email. At the same time, I have my own business working with artists in the UK and Canada, helping to develop their web presence, putting together websites, or contributing to social media and crowdfunding campaigns.
Constantly expanding my horizons, I draw inspiration from the physical and digital world. Living on the Welsh-English border, writing and creating digital products, my social media presence remains a mixture of work and the personal.
I plan to continue working with all things digital, hopefully as part of a worldwide network of like-minded creatives.
About the author
Marva Jackson Lord is a Jamaican-Canadian writer based in Wales. She is the founder of Griots Productions and Griots Arts, a creative media consulting and arts admin digital service. When social media was in its infancy, and traditional media outlets derided the birth of what was then called new media, Marva was one of Canada’s first guerrilla marketers working with digital media pioneers, nuNet. She hosts and produces Griots Poetry, a monthly poetry reading and performance evening in Hay-on-Wye.