Digital Futures – A TFT Think Tank
Imagine being able to influence very fundamentally how your community would be designed, built, populated (commercially at least), governed, used and enjoyed. A green field opportunity for a digitally-enabled, co-operative, connected society with great self awareness, empowerment and respect. A utopian dream perhaps?
Maybe a little, but it was the challenge put to the Fantastic Tavern by John Comber from Greenwich Council. To discuss what should be done and how, so that our ideas could be fed into the planning process for the continued development of the Greenwich Peninsula, home to the O2 dome and Ravernsbourne.
Accepting that my invite asked people to do some homework, the challenge still attracted over 50 of us to The Horniman at Hays, London Bridge on Thursday 14th May. Filled with mountains of onion rings, we split up into four working groups to explore the potential for digital with the realms of Education, Governance, Commerce and Community.
We created too much content for me to adequately cover in in a blog post. Despite the framing of both the TFT and the conversation having a digital focus, the conversation was far ranging and touched both digital and none digital challenges and the interfaces, interactions, content and data that may be used to resolve or capitalise on them. From new ideas for start up incubation, to crowd-sourcing for local commerce, to creating osmotic potential of skills for parent/educator/students to data publication for local people to present in salient ways, to gamification across multiple aspects of society to app storing services form the council – the cloud of ideas was bountiful.
Perhaps the most outstanding contribution of the evening was from Andy Cross. He’d threatened to build a tweet feed whiteboard prototype that could be installed in homes that would updates to Peninsula residents. It’s a simple idea and the third or forth screen concept – typically embedded in a fridge – has been a target destination for food retailers, energy retailers with smart metering, publishers, the list goes on. There is nothing wrong with a simple idea. Not everyone has twitter, tweet deck or other clients. But some of the content that could be microblogged through this channel could save you time in a queue, inspire you to go to an event, prompt you to give up some of your time for a community activity or “Just say hi, how are you?” Think zappos on twitter, real people having real conversations creating accessibility, personality and a sense of fun. What makes Andy contribution so delightful is that he went and built it. Quietly, he set up a prototype of the whiteboard feed while people brainstormed. Regrettably, Andy had to leave at short notice and so did the whiteboard. Had he have stayed, I’d have awarded him with a bottle of champagne, courtesy of our sponsors, EMC Consulting, for his ingenuity and industry. Pick it up next time Andy!
John summed up the success of the evening, “It’s been great to meet such enthusiastic and well informed people giving up their time to think about the potential of the Peninsula. What is clear to me is that we have come at this the wrong way – we’ve got it wrong – and you can help us make chances right now to get it right.” John and Trevor, thank you for coming and for being both active participants and so open-minded.
And sketchers, it’s a challenging job to captures the ideas and present them back – well done Dan, Ed, Dean and Byron.
We will now take the ideas, expand them. prioritise and timeline them before exploring the with the Planners and the community to see what can be done now, soon and in the future to create a great community.
I assure you, I’ll invite you to be involved. After all, as everyone who was there last night would agree I’m sure, it’s very gratifying to be able to make a difference.