This year I attended the FutureEverything conference for the second time. The last time was two or three years ago. A small conference, but with high quality content. And a good atmosphere too. This time it was scaled up a bit with big support of the city municipality, what makes it into a conference with a few side tracks and bit more local focus. Still the quality of speakers was far above average again.
It is some weeks ago now but I will give some reflections (instead of reporting in detail).
The kick-off by Mike Bracken and Russell Davies talking on GDS was nice. The first time I saw Russell in such formal talk, but still very smart and the achievements of GDS are of course impressive. Putting the delivery before the talking is very productive. The use some straight forward principles like: Work on stuff that matters. Do the hard stuff first. Make it open. Show the thing. Also show the analytics. Fixing the basics
They believe that the future of government is not a policy paper. It will emerge from the places where government is made. GAAN Government as a network. Not centralised, Not localised, But networked.
The rest of the day a lot of talks refer to different kind of utopias in the main room. The minimal viable utopia as Greenfield it puts.
The best talks I followed in the fireside chat room. James Bridle is still one of my favourite thinkers and artists. Always shifting our thinking with pieces of real working art. He talked on his drone shadows of course and on the project that was in town (but I missed); the Spaulder. Looking for the physical embodiments of the internet makes it interesting to look reversed too: digital embodiment of the real. The next day he talked a bit more on the surveillance topic in the main room. This was a very good panel of speakers, with next to James a talk by Eleanor Saitta, and Adam Harvey. James started with questions on the data ownership of driving plate data captured by British government.
It addresses how the current developments in surveillance shifts from an understanding of the world to an understanding of the person. Adam Harvey is the artist who made the camouflage like face paintings to counter face recognition. “We can interfere with observation by modifying our simulation. We exist in many environments and may moments in the future”. In that sense is the work of Tom Armitage creating a ghost presence of himself in another city a very practical implementation of the concept. Combining these would be very interesting.
Also the chat with Adam Greenfield was good. Long time I saw him present. His new piece as anti-smart city thinking was the main topic. From smart to networked city as an approach. The example to go out through the city in a ‘Walkshop’ and be aware of all the connected artefacts.
The second day was talking on the box as one speaker quoted.
A nice metaphor to take responsibility again instead of making just new new stuff. On of the boxes is our relation to tech and the evolution in that. Koert van Mensvoort introduced a model that behaves like the Maslow pyramid, upper levels are the next stages in evolution. For tech he found the steps: envisioned > operational > applied > accepted > vital > invisible > naturalised
Especially in the afternoon some great speakers told about projects. Like Tom Armitage on Hello Lamppost, and Dan Williams on several robotic encounters.
The talk of Alexandra Deschamp-Desino on gonzo products is definitely something to watch if you are active in the field of creating connected products, lets call them new products, like we call media new media in the era of change. Gonzo products are a need breed: a product designed for the crowdfunding reality. Low goal, lean, 6 months pivots.
Tom Armitage talked on Hello Lamppost and showed us how you make a city really playable. It is not a playable city if not everyone is allowed to play. Therefor they used low entry technology (SMS). Networks go beyond network cables. We should create service avatars. Objects as manifests of services. Made personal. Products can break from the services. Wellknown example is the Nabaztag connected rabbit.
Looking back on the conference it is hard to pinpoint one overall story. I like the box as a metaphor. Also I got the feeling that there is a kind of gap emerging between a non-developing practice of open data in cities and new realities of automated contexts we need to master.