Last night in the hot, hot city, a happening happened. A taster event for the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton to open up a discussion on digital technology, innovation, art, culture, design and #placemaking.
Here’s a copy of the programme:
- 18:30 – Welcome from Phil Jones, MD Wired Sussex & Coast 2 Capital LEP Board Member: Brief overview of the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton
- 18:35 – Jenni Lloyd, Founder, Purpose Lab: Event overview and introduction to speakers
- 18:45 – Peter Passaro, Managing Director/Data Scientist, Datai.st (Nous Ex Ltd) & Research Fellow, Social and Civic Data Science, University of Brighton
- 18:55 – Liz Whitehead, Co-Director, Fabrica: The opportunity of the creative arts to explore and develop a sense of place using technology
- 19:05 – Ava Fatah gen. Schieck, Lecturer in Digital Interaction, The Bartlett School of Architecture: Screens in the Wild, Connected architectural interfaces
- 19:15 – Audience Q&A – Chaired by Jenni Lloyd
- 19:45 – Event roundup & What’s next for the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton
- 19:50 – Informal networking
I found it really thought provoking. Especially the stuff from Peter Passaro on data and how it could be used to support social change; creating a better city, a better place for everyone to live in. And there was something visionary about a city data centre which everyone (yes everyone!) put their data into that was ‘owned’ by the people of Brighton and Hove.
It made me reflect on what I was doing at this event. I’m no tech expert. I don’t work in the sector. I am an unlikely candidate for catapulting!
But there is something in all of this that fascinates me. A belief that technology can support the building of communities and the ‘rehumanisation’ of work and play.
In some circles there’s a pervasive feeling that technology is going to ‘dehumanise’ work, eventually taking over people’s jobs – and that in a dark future, the robots will assume control and humans will become ‘redundant’.
I don’t think this way. I believe if we ethically harness the power of digital technology we can do some amazing things to support communities to be healthier, happier and more resilient and self sustaining. I want to support the tech sector to help the public and voluntary sectors make that social change happen and the presentations we saw inspired me to continue on that journey.
What I heard from Liz was that digital technology not only has value as a medium for creating art but also that there is art to be found in the collection of ‘people and place data’ – beauty in a 3G signal!
I also loved Ava’s answer to the audience question about the Screens In The Wild project: “Do we really need more screens?”, which was simply “No!” – a Zen Slap moment of realisation that what we were learning about here, was research and development in action; a design process – not a market product…
And so this event came with a warning, which was nicely picked up by Jenny Lloyd in her opening presentation: all design should be informed by and start with User Experience (UX). People first, right? Without user experience informing the show, the tail of technology wags the dog of design… and we end up with a dog’s dinner of a development.