Why events like this are needed (if frustrating)
I live blogged the Digital Summit at the British Library – using twitter and a blogging tool called ScribbleLive. Independently, unofficially; because I wanted to. You can see the results here. Also, If you look at the #digitalbritain hashtag on twitter you will see a mass of tweets many insightful and thoughful; a few negative and destructive. I was watching Tweetdeck, trying to take my own notes and include tweets I thought were useful.
There’s been a bit of activity on blogs. Not much. Some of the ranting appears to be about the surprising fact that most of the people running our incumbent Big Media and Telco businesses are white, male and wear ties. Some of the people in the audience were like that too.
Yes, it was frustrating and yes it was quite a lot of the ‘same old same old’ – but saying ‘you don’t get it’ to people who don’t get it isn’t going to advance the debate. Shouting “You horrible green scaly monster” at one of the many Media Dinosaurs still roaming the planet may be true but it doesn’t help at all. In fact it polarises the debate and makes it less likely that we, who passionately believe that we need serious bandwidth, everywhere, for everyone will carry the argument.
Of course, the agenda for the meeting deliberately tried to polarise the audience. The idea that you can separate the Poetry from the Pipes for example – you need both and they have to work together to create Digital Britain. The idea that you need a ‘one size fits all’ solution or all else is chaos plays only into the hands of a small number of players with market power.
We need events like this one, where at least there was some cross-sector presence. Notable that many of the questions and points from the floor were raised by people from community-related organisations.
We need more events and dialogue – preferably designed to work out ‘how it can be done’ rather than finding all the reasons ‘why it can never happen’. We need the sorts of Unconference activity proposed by @dbuc09 and we need to do them on our territory and make the invitations as open as we all want the networks and services to be.
Ultimately, I think we will need a ‘Patchwork Quilt’ of solutions that meet local needs – not some top down model. Enterprise networks are patchworks, the internet itself is a patchwork where the pipes and poetry can coexist. Our job is to get out there and build the Patchwork.