Future Everything: If you don’t design the future someone else will…

The Future Everything conference was great this year… The line up was a mixed bag of speakers, which kept me guessing…

As mentioned in the post before, I took notes on my kindle. Here are the ones I highly recommend

Our global urban future

No picture but a great talk about.

The ‘internet of things’, refers to the technical and cultural shift as society moves to a 24/7 form of computing in which every device is ‘always on’, and every device is connected in some way to the internet. However, many versions of this notion rely upon one significant premise: that the thing remains in existence.

Future Everything

Our global urban future

Cities are often said to be humanity’s greatest creation.  It is in cities that most wealth is created and destroyed and it is from cities that most human creations and social innovations flow.

This presentation was a excellent look at our future in a world of cities. Its weird that even with all the disadvantages of living close together, nature tends to prefer cooperative emergent properties. Two examples which were given was the Ant hill and the Beehive. Interestingly productivity decreases with colony size but somehow it works, in actual fact as a city doubles its economic productivity per capita increases by 15%. Jane Jacobs was bounded about quite a bit, with the notion that cities simply amplify interaction including the 16% increase in violent crime.

But Revolutions always happen in cities because groups of people expect better. Finally there was lots to think about in regards to the general speed of cities. Its almost like the gravitational effect of larger objects on smaller objects. There’s more to do and see, so it feels like things are much quicker.

Really got me thinking how I can’t really imagine living anywhere else.

Robots, Editors, Strangers & Friends

Robots, Editors, Strangers & Friends

Meg Pickard and Dan Catt explore some of the ways that attention and social patterns influence the way we discover, consume and curate content online.

Its so strange, I’ve never formally met Meg Pickard but have occupied the same space virtually and physically many times. Her and Dan ran through a bunch of thoughts which although not new to me, kind of crystallised a lot of them.

Generally…

  • Editors bring the authority
  • Friends bring the relevance
  • Robots bring the interestingness
  • Strangers bring the serendipity

However there was lots of discussion about gaming these patterns. All very interesting, specially with the context that Dan Catt use to work on Flickr.

New Games For New Cities

New Games For New Cities

Against the background hum of continuous technological change, contemporary urban life has undergone lasting and undeniable changes. Our views on public space, civic engagement and what it means to live well in a city have changed accordingly. Various types of organizations seek to influence urban life for the good of society, for their own interest or a combination of both. At the same time, games and play have started to break out of the traditional frame of the video screen. On the one hand, this has given us all kinds of interesting experiments in pervasive, urban and alternate reality gaming. On the other hand, more recently, it has given rise to a program of playful persuasive technology now commonly know as gamification.

Kars started his presentation with the simple question. Should kids grow up with Lego or Starwars figures? The point was about constructive vs surface play. The point was about open ended play, and was played out through out his talk. He felt unplanned playtime for us all was becoming less and less, it was time to return to the Adventure playground.

And I got to agree… Actually my question was about the bunch of skateboarders who use the steps near my flat as a place to challenge each other. Some people really hate them being there although they never actually interfere with people walking by. ISIS also stuck up signs saying no skateboarding which of course hasn’t stopped them. There simply taking advantage of the constructs of our cities, just like the rise of free running. Unscripted play makes our cities fun and a joy to be in, maybe our cities and lives are too structured right now? Serendipity is fun.

Kars called Gamification motivated play and he’s not actually wrong. Its certainly a canny observation which I hadn’t actually thought about before. There’s certainly a rush to inject gamification into almost anything recently. The warning was against shallow play like coke points. Ending with the point I’ve heard many times…

You do not play a gamificated system it plays you…

Where The Robots Work

Where the robots work

For centuries we’ve built our cities around ourselves, and our needs. As our prosthetics have advanced, they’ve shifted according to the needs of automobiles and electricity, but we have remained at the centre. Now, the city is reconfiguring itself around the network in subtle and intriguing ways.

James did a great job explaining how we’ve build places where the robots work. He started off with a picture of a robot jockey and how it was used to replace small children riding on camel’s backs. And somewhere got on how Amazon’s warehouses are optimised for robots over people and how the roumba and neato cleaning robots are like inviting a alien into your living room.

BillT

Leave no-one behind

Bill will provide a unique coda to the 2011 edition of FutureEverything, reflecting on the themes explored throughout the conference as well as his own perspectives on areas of the future that hold promise. 

We are increasingly establishing a culture where information has become the modern era’s defining quality. As humanity’s transactions are increasingly articulated and mediated in digital forms, what becomes of those that lack the access or literacy to participate in those transactions? Indeed, is such a civilisation a better civilisation?

Bill Thompson’s "keynote like" presentation was fantastic. He talked about the revolution of tools. Tools that fundamentally change us, change the way we perceive our reality. There was a revolution through literacy century’s ago and it fundamentally changed the way our brains work.

Its hard to do it much justice in written form but I was literally punching the sky inside my mind while he spoke out to the slightly skeptical crowd. I kind of wished it was recorded…

He ended the presentation with a slide saying "if you don’t design the future someone else will…"

The point was Digital Culture is now the dominate culture now. "We won! Digital Culture won…" Thinking digitally is fundamental and analogue thinking is on its way out, like it or not.

A strangely inspiring and excellent talk…

Future Everything 2011 was excellent and I’m glad I could attend this year. Not only the conference but the musical events. I didn’t get a chance to attend the hackdays on Saturday but I heard good things. I did duck into the music workshops in the middle of the day and have a look around and I was impressed. I really want to get hacking with the pacemaker and reinvent djing… But I’ll save that for another blog post…

Great work Future Everything, can’t wait to see next year. Also great to see LSX and Future Everything working together.