According to the sub-header, the summit is on “Politics, economics, technology and society; building a better future through the internet”. Big themes, and big speakers too… Emily Bell, Ariana Huffington, Tom Watson, Charlie Leadbeater…
…click on the pic below and you can read all about it, see the full programme and so on. When I get set up in the venue I’ll be back…
A welcome from Emily Bell… and our first panel (who all will give keynotes) is:
Society, Humanity, Technology and the Web
Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon + Clare Lockhart, Institute for State effectiveness + Arianna Huffington + Nick Bostrom, Oxford Univ.
Werner Vogels – The democratisation of business creativity
Your worst nightmare – you throw a party, and no-one would come… on the web, your worst nightmare is you throw a party for everyone, and EVERYONE shows up. How do you manage that?
How do you prepare for how many will show up? A thousand? Ten Thousand? A million?
Example: online game company, Playfish – predicting how many people show up to play their games is difficult.
Example: The Indy 500 – millions of people show up online to follow the race… but only a few days a year.
To wit: forces like this are driving new resource models, especially with Growing abundance, intensifying competition, growing power of consumers, reducing price of products…
To address this uncertainty:
– Acquire resources ON DEMAND
– Release resources when you don’t need them
– Pay for what you use
– Leverage other’s core competencies
Like Amazon’s ‘cloud computing’ model. It’s ‘infrastructure services’, available as if it was electricity. At the beginning of the last century, companies had to have their own generators (like the big ol’ one in the basement of PHD). Just to get their business done.
Nowadays, that would seem mad. It’s how the computing model will move. It’ll shift from a capital cost to a variable cost.
Using cloud computing reduces the risk – you only pay for what you use. NASDAQ, Autodesk, Livestream, Animoto are all examples of people who’re being fleet of foot, and tapping into low costs,
Bilde tried to set up Citizen Journalist service, but their own IT told them it would take 18 months. They went with cloud computing, it took four weeks. More examples – Lilly, eHarmony…
Finally, an example of Medcommons, who supply a whole range of medical file services from the Amazon S3 platform… it’s obviously trusted and secure.
In Afghanistan the state needed complete rebuilding… so they asked the UN and the World Bank “can we have your manuals on how to go about rebuilding states/economies/governments?” But there weren’t any.
When you stand in the rubble and have to set up a government, where do you start?
You need an army. To have a army, you need money. To get money, you need taxes. To get taxes, you need trust and security. so you need a police force… and so on and so on.
They started with currency. There were three currencies. The IMF said ‘it’ll take 2 years”. The UN said “it’ll take 15000 bureaucrats”. The local marketplace people were asked – they did it in months by using local communities, as they had a network that reached throughout the country.
The telecomms structure, and the rural relief programme were done with equally ‘bottom up’ community approaches.
User Centred Design is central to rebuilding states… how do you factor in that ‘innovation happens at the edges?’ How do you work out what part of the ICT struture people will use first, and what part of the internet will they use first? And how do you hold new states to account? You put the entire budget online…
All in the book ‘Fixing Failed States‘.
The most important challenge – combating the entrenched part of every country that is fighting against the future of transparency, connectivity, creation…
Obama arrives in the US wanted to change Wall St, Energy, and healthcare… but is finding himself up against tremendous opposition. Instead of embracing technological change, they are lobbying for special privileges to be ‘exempt’… which is what the motor industry tried… then went bankrupt.
AH is therefore fascinated about how technology can actually change this process of resistance.
The greatest thing that new media can bring to the world is the obsessiveness… whereas old media has ADD, new media has OCD… stories KEEP GOING online, but die in days on the front of newspapers (surely with the exception of the Telegraph’s expenses coverage..?)
The internet is often accused of spreading rumour and lies, which it does… but it is incredibly self correcting too. For instance, in the ’08 election, it was incredibly difficult to spread malicious rumours about Obama because the ability to spread the truth was in fact as powerful, if not more powerful.
During the election, we saw the power of organising – “If it were not for the internet, Obama would not be President today”.
AllForGood – there are millions of people volunteering in America, so AllForGood is trying to make this informal practice of volunteering more organised, and match supply with demand (started by Craigslist, Google, Adobe, and handed over to the Government.
You consume old media sitting on the couch. You consume new media galloping on a horse – it makes you want to DO something (e.g. Iran Election).
With Huffington Post, the speed you can build a brand is much quicker, and the cost is no greater than that of a hobby.
The next big business opportunity according to AH is the one that can provide disconnection for people in a hyper-connected world.
Recommends Disrputive Innovation book.
The ‘walled garden’ approach by newspapers will not work again – “you cannot step into the same arena twice”
Nick Bostrom, Oxford U
What is the future of humanity?
Once, there was no humans. Now, they’ve been some humans for a while, so what happens next?
Well, there may a great catastrophe that means there are no humans. But even the biggest catastrophes (the results of ‘bad germs or bad men’) haven’t ever meant we’ve disappeared.
He’s saying we’re really resilient I think – it’s unlikely we’re going anywhere… it’s ‘existential risk’.
But 99.9% of all species that HAVE lived on the planet are NOW extinct.
75,000 years ago, we got close… the giant Toba eruption took the human population down to less than 500 reproducing females. And other human-like species have disappeared…
But let’s assume we’re OK.
Will growth ‘stagnate’ though? Plateau?
Doesn’t look like it… especially given the revolutionary technologies that are coming (genetics, connectivity etc)
Then what about a continual collapse/recover possibility..? Nope, not that either.
If earth had formed one year ago, humans would have appeared 12 minutes ago. The industrial revolution is 2 seconds ago. The internet appeared in the blink of an eye…
Are we moving towards the singularity… the point at which we make the first ultraintelligence machine, which is the last thing we ever need to invent… as then the machines will make everything after that…
…damn, it’s all getting a bit Skynet in here…
Nick’s final point – we’re very very small, and very very young.
Fella from Wolfram Alpha – To what extent should we be putting nicely formulated data out and computing with the results… at what point to you ‘edit’?
AH: Producing just raw data and putting it out there does not tell a story… take the best of the old (Storytelling) and the best of the new (technology) can lead to action…
WV: We’ve only produced summaries (in science) of the data we’ve collected… but never let the data get out. We (Amazon) have been putting very large data sets out there for others to aggregate. All sciences are now becoming data driven sciences, and it will take a while for us to be good at analysing it… it’s quicker to get everyone to analyse.
CL: It’s both… make the data available to all, and then everyone is enabled to create and build editorial insight.
Fella from Microsoft: what can we do to ensure that the internet in states like Iran doesn’t get ‘shut down’..?
AH: Anyone here who can invent more ways to ‘circumvent’ the totalitarian regimes attempts to shut down the internet in their states will be heroes.
CL: Citizens on the ground in those countries may be afraid to tell those stories for fear of physical harm, but journalists & citizens in the West can tell the stories which are then read and shared inside those states
Q: How to save newspapers?
AH: don’t save ‘newspapers, save journalism… this is the moment for experimentation, there are many models being tried out, the only thing for sure is that the old model doesn’t work any more.
Ed Parsons, Google ‘in-house geographer’…
“Ambient location finding’ – wherever we are, we have the choice to know exactly where we are… the little blue dot.
For many years, people got very excited about this…
We weren’t quite right. We’re here, today, and we can put the dot in the map. But it’s much more than that when you use it behind the scenes. My daughter will never know what it’s like to be lost… we as parents will always be able to find out where she is. The generation growing up with it will take it for granted.
Hugely impressive world map with millions of red dots of people using google to find out ‘where they are’… awe inspiring.
Where this gets exciting… it becomes just a part of the applications… like a driver for computer services.
New services… you can use the new iPhone app to send a beep to find it if you’ve lost it… or to wipe it if you’ve REALLY lost it… because the phone knows where it is.
Other context is important… history of use, social framework, time of day… all these additional things add better usability for applications.
Skymap on the Android phone – hold it up to the nightsky, it uses location and angle to identify constellations…
However, there’s some very British problems…
National mapping agency charges for use of maps, rail enquiries charge for use of train timetable… so apps based on that becomes very expensive… so FREE THE DATA!!!
John Udell, Microsoft
Walked down his street in town, took a picture of all the event posters he could find… so has been thinking about how he marries those up with the internet…
He has built a service in Azure (the Microsoft Cloud platform), a service to enable people to curate a variety of sources for local event services. His example is based on Keene, where he lives. But other people are using the same system to manage events for their locations…
So he’s making ‘Calendar Feeds’ – like RSS feeds, but things that you can send from Google Calendar, Outlook etc… so if YOU put an event in a specific calendar, it actually turns that event into a feed. Then the feeds can be used by anyone to whatever end they wish…
He has a raft of different example of events and changes that need to happen to make the syndication of events a lot easier… he wants to talk to newspapers, libraries and schools about the project to further it’s development…
Tom Steinberg, mySociety
“Before Henry Ford, what people wanted from transport was a faster horse. My argument is that political blogs and the like are the modern day equivalent of a ‘faster horse’ – what is ‘the car’?”
The pattern of political scandal and events has remained the same – politicians are found out, challenged, groundswell of anger, the resign/leave govt. etc.
What technologies have REALLY changed how governments worked?
i) ships – before ships, there was no citizenship, because the people in your country were just stuck there. ships meant they could leave, or arrive
ii) penicillin – before this, drugs didn’t really DO anything… after penicillin, regulation had to take place
iii) the car changed how the police operated within the population
…so, what has the internet & technology changed?
i) the next generation of civil servants might start ignoring the politicians, especially given the things they are asked to do will stick with them through their digital footprint and life
ii) there might be a radical transformation of transparency – systems based on secrecy become a LOT harder to run
William Perrin, Talk About Local
Has lived in King’s Cross for the last ten years… talking about the regeneration of the area.
Started to get involved in community projects, because of the things he saw in the area (like someone setting fire to a car in front of his house). He started www.kingscrossenvironment.com. Costs £8 a monthy, has four authors, and gets 300 unique users a day (which pro-rate is about the same as Newsnight would get in the size of that ward). Has used the site to take on large mulitnationals doing things in the area, and sharing information about the area.
Shows a lot of other people who’ve being doing this across the country (Formby, Digbeth etc)
Perfectly normal people are now able use very powerful tools themselves to reach out to other people… Pits N Pots in Stoke obsessively follows the council, to an extent the local paper could never afford.
Working with Channel 4, started ‘Talk About Local’, which is creating community sites in 150 places in England… empowering people to become a part of the democratic process.
12pm – Second Keynote – Politics, Democracy and Public Life
Thomas Gensemer, Blue State Digital + Adam Afriyie, Shadow Minister for science and innovation + Tom Watson, Former Minister for Transformation
Thomas G… lead in from Emily Bell, reminding us about the ‘without the internet, Obama would not be President’… Blue State Digital were the team behind the Obama campaign.
So how did they know? Well, they raised 80% of the money through the internet, through making it incredibly simple to donate. They started in Indiana creating an almost customer service level of response to ANYONE who contacted the campaign – they received a callback from the campaign in 48 hours maximum.
TG: “If you have 100 supporters in the room, ready to go, what will you ask them to do? If you can’t answer that, then forget about the technology question for now”
TG: “For all the talk of the Obama campaign being bottom up, it was still a very well managed brand campaign from the top down. Give people the sandbox… appear more porous”.
TG: It’s about the authenticity of politicians – Ted Kennedy isn’t a blogger, and we’re not going to fake it… but we find a way he can engage with people who are (monthly blogger conference calls).
Adam Afriyie, Shadow Minister for science and innovation
AA: Very disappointed that Tom Watson has stepped down, as he was doing a great job changing government.
AA: Are UK politicians responding in the right way to the possibilities that technology offers? “It should be a party political issue, it’s a generational issue… for all politicians, the question is do they understand how technology is changing voters expectations of them and the services they provide?”
AA: positioning why the Conservatives want to create a ‘government of digital natives’…
…despite what he says about in not being ‘party political’, still manages to keep throwing in party political digs, and sounds like a politician, as opposed to someone normal…
AA: Conservatives will put online items of spending over £25k, require councils to publish performance stats in standard data formats, and will ‘locate the most useful data from 20 areas and make it available online and for reuse’ – “The taxpayers paid for this data to be collected… it’s not the politicians data”.
Tom Watson, Former Minister for Transformation
TW: We have to get a settled view that the internet is a force for good. Everyone in civil service, govt. etc SAYS the internet is a force for good, but behaviour doesn’t always back that up.
TW: The challenge is for the political parties to lead change… AA & TW have maybe ‘managed up’ in respective parties to get some small wins through…
TW: “I want to see a government as a curator of the country’s data assets…”
TW: “We can have a row about ideology… but this is just about doing good things that can make peoples’ lives better”.
1.10 – AND THAT’S LUNCH…
So, what are the key things I’ve taken from this morning? Well, as an interim synopsis, let’s try these three things…
i) Cloud Computing is not some far off, theoretical construct that people should get round to doing something about in 3 years time. It’s here now. Every IT decision a company makes now should be based around viewing computing like they do electricity… pull it from the wall whenever you need it, don’t build in-house generators… (from Werner’s keynote)
ii) Old media has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It can’t focus on anything for longer than a standard newscycle. Therefore most things fail to change. New media has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It gets hold of something, and just can’t let it go. This means that things are more likely to ACTUALLY change… (From Ariana Huffington’s keynote)
iii) The whole fascination with ‘technology first’ that some people fall into is dangerous… Thomas Gensemer puts it nicely when he said “If you have 100 supporters in the room, ready to go, what will you ask
them to do? If you can’t answer that, then forget about the technology
question for now”. Figure out what you want to achieve. Technology is a means, not an ends.
2.05pm – More Lightning Presentations – these are great…
Andy Baio, technologist and blogger, Waxy.org
Talking about Amazon Mechanical Turk… (artificial artificial intelligence)… why do people do it? Well, it’s kind of like a game – scoring, communicating, rankings & ratings…
…which we see in other sites; Tumblr, Twitter, Foursquare, Hunch…
…all based on the dynamics of gaming, encompassed by…
– Personal Progress
Nike+ has game like qualities, track progress, challenge friends etc.
Obama campaign – fundraisers had scorecards to show them where they were ranked in their state etc
Environmental Dashboard for driving in the US
Guardian MP expenses crowdsourcing…
…basically, it’s a powerful motivator – games can change the world!!!
Gerry Jackson, director, SWRadio Africa
Comes from Zimbabwe… “the conversations taking place here today are unthinkable in Zimbabwe today”
She shows the unthinkable atrocities going on in today’s Zimbabwe, against the epopel, the infrastructure, the environment, the press…
…they have set up SWRadio Africa has set up in the UK, broadcasting in short wave two hours a day (the countries around Zimbabwe wouldn’t allow them to set up there).
People in the country have been taking the content from their website, printing it out, and stapling it together as a ‘newspaper’ to put next to the official Government newspaper.
They do have simple, SMS capable mobile phones… 3 times a week, they text 30,000 people.
They do podcasts (60-70,000 downloads a month).
“Hold on to your freedoms… because they are so easily lost”
Matt Webb, CEO, Schulze & Webb
Talking about Human Data…
Shownar – mines about 100m blogs and Twitter, and finds out where people are having converstaions about them, and reflects it back onto a website that’s BBC affiliated.
DAB radio with friends lights… if your friends are listining, it shows you what to…
“Design is about working out how to make invisible things human”
Chernoff Faces representing baseball stats… it takes all the stats from baseball, and turns them into a ‘face’… the height of hair is win %, smile is number of homes runs, and so on… basically the bigger and happier the face, the bigger and smilier the faces of their fans as they are winning more… genius:
100 million man hours were needed to make two key things – putting man on the moon, and making Wikipedia.
Everyone can get Wikipedia. Only twelve people walked on the moon.
Jay Parkinson, MD, MPH, hellohealth.com
A doctor who started a website to reframe the doctor/patient relationship…
…you are the CEO of your body, the doctor is a consultant.
But the way that healthcare works in the US is that the only way doctors make money is through encouraging people to make unnecessary visits.
Then there are lot of tools online which we can generate lots of little bits of data that could be put together to make a doctor a better doctor, and a patient a better patient.
They have a site called HelloHealth… it may be weird for a UK audience, but I can totally see the appeal if you were a US citizen with their poor healthcare provision.
Stream session: Think Global – Act Local
James Alexander – Zopa / Green Thing
“Opportunity in an era of turbulence”
…six weeks before the launch of Zopa… didn’t have a name. Which was kind of a big problem. Locked in a room for a day, based on the ‘zone of possible agreement’… where the price at which I want to sell you something meets the price at which you’ll pay. Thy thought this was a wonderful name. However, after launch they started getting emails from Russia, where ‘zopa’ means ‘arsehole’…
Borrowers get low,low rates. There’s no banks. It’s fair.
Lenders get great returns. It’s human. It’s safe. You’re in control.
It’s a brilliant new model of banking, and it’s one that is suddenly looking very attractive for people.
James left Zopa in 2007, and started thinking about climate change. A 3 degree rise in the global temperature would cause 40% of all species to become extinct.
“Procrastination is still the thief of time”. We need to act now.
Life for our generation has been about abundance; work, resource, credit… but this is a world that has to come to an end.
What is the new ‘common sense’? IT, technology, sustainability etc will be at the centre of it.
It’s what The Green Thing are trying to be at the centre of… you should really read all about it here.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world… indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead
Liz Ratcliffe, head of product marketing and propositions, Ordnance Survey
How can people use the internet to make a difference, uses examples of Wispa, and of Freecycle (which now has 500 groups and two million members)…
…but “what does it have to do with geography”?
Mantra in OS – ‘”Everything Happens Somewhere”…
…so like fixmystreet.com, where you can post where something is wrong with you street… the site then takes the onformation, and pings it to the local authority… or liftshare, so you can see if there’s anyone ‘going your way’…
Where do OS? The perception is that they make the ‘paper maps’…
…but majority of income & effort is developing an ongoing picture of Britain. Entirely civilian since 1983, covers cost from licensing the data, and returns a dividend to the taxpayer.
Admits they’ve had a lot of criticism lately… have gone through painful self-examination over the role of the OS, and there’s a new business model up on the site.
The key question was “are we going to be a key catalyst to innovation or not?”
“We want to support people being innovative with our data”.
OS OpenSpace – API where anyone can come in and use the data for free… but it sounds like it’s a walled garden that you have to stay inside. They are also launching a ‘Geovation’ project.
“The digital fortress you see OS as is changing…”
Stu Ratcliffe, Mojo, and a ‘Geovator’
“my mission in life is to solve the problem of the chairs…”
Started a company called Mojo. A story – Bob, like most people, has ideas. He writes an idea down, shows it to a friend. They plan to do something with it. But don’t know exactly what. Mojo comes in here… it helps bring the right people together to solve ideas.
Crowdsourced some great ideas for Cancer Research UK… and it’s delivered a net value of £3m over the next three years. Read about it here.
The chairs? The problem of the chairs on a stage is that there’s only seven onstage… the only way to make things happen is to involve all of the audience
…right then, coffee…
4.05pm – Panel Discussion – Community Tools
Jay Parkinson, Andy Baio, Jon Udell, William Perrin, Ryan Carson
RC: “What is working right now for people right now… Ning”?
WP: “I’m talking about communities in specific local communities… they either want to tell a community things, and they go to blogging & publishing sites, or they want to communicate amongst each other, and they go to something like Ning”
Look at the Harinngayonline site, run in Ning, set up by a management consultant taking some time off. The important thing about a community like this is they are NOT after millions of people… they just want enough to make their community work. Because it’s
JU: “Another great Ning is govloop.com… in a neutral space, lots of people feel they can come together to share things in that space”.
AB: [talking about Upcoming.org] – “Originally an event site based around social networking, launched in 2003, helped you discover events in you local area, curated by the community… now a part of every social network. You could follow people that you just thought were interesting, it wasn’t bi-directional (so like twitter now)…”
RC: Talking about very niche developer community, StackOverFlow – only nine months old, doing over 4 million uniques.
AB: It’s the game thing, it’s how you set up the points structure well… it can DAMAGE a community if it’s done just to get points.
RC: Again, there’s a badge element…
AB: …and you level up, get additional skills, earn things over time.
RC: You have to show commitment first, answer a couple of questions, be positive… you have to earn the right the criticise and so on.
RC: CoTweet – a tool to allow companies to use twitter in an effective way. A lot of people using twitter for customer service, and to talk to the people who are part of your community. Picks out any tweets that mention the tag you want, but saves the actions taken so that the ‘team’ can manage the responses.
AB – Yahoo answers is the perfect example of doing a points system based on MASS… score as many points as possible from signing in, from answering ANYTHING… so the scoring was skewed to making the community AWFUL.
JU: Raises the point that there is a lot of pain in the sheer number of things that you have to log in to various different platforms with various different names… the number is starting to get unwieldy.
…after a slight delay whilst I was chatting to Andy from Waxy.org…
Sugata Mitra, professor of educational technology, ECLS, Newcastle University
Two brilliant stories from the world of educational technology…
Firstly, a computer was given for the very first time to a village in India where the children sang all the time. They sang for recreation, instead of playing football or whatever, because ‘it didn’t cost anything to sing’. So they sang. Now, they were given a computer to play with for the VERY FIRST TIME. There was all sort of hubbub for an hour. Then they worked out how the mouse worked, and they started figuring out what else it did. The researchers left them too it.
The next day, they came back and discovered something wonderful. The children, in playing with the machine, had found out how to do lots of things… but the one thing they concentrated on was the microphone and sound controller. And they had been recording themselves singing. The researchers arrived to find the children listening back to the sound of themselves singing.
FIRST LESSON – people will use technology, no matter how obstructive, to do the things that interest them.
Secondly, a group of children in Newcastle was given a laptop each as part of a learning program. But it wasn’t getting them very far, they weren’t showing any sort of advancement in their learning, even though they had access to the entire internet.
So the children were told to form themselves into groups of four. Each group of four was then given one laptop between them. They were told that they could work together, and go to the other groups and come back with the things they had learned. Their scores shot up immeasurably, because they were working together with the technology as a resource; learning was through collaboration and sharing, not just having access to the technology.
SECOND LESSON – if you want people to achieve something new with technology, encourage them to work together to do it.
Richard Baraniuk, professor, electrical and computer engineering, Rice University
Brilliant presentation on how open education should be more like…
…LEGO!!!!!!! SCHWEEEEEEEEEEEEEET. Man, I love Lego analogies 🙂
He founded Connexions, currently houses about 500 free and reusable textbooks woven from 12,000 ‘Lego Blocks’… it’s free online, it’s very low-cost if you want a printed version, and if something changes in the field of science (eg. Pluto suddenly isn’t a planet anymore), the book can be very speedily ‘fixed’ for those next versions.
Is Open Education sustainable? The real question is ‘Is the status quo affordable?’ – textbook costs have accelerated at 400% more than rate of inflation over last ten years… the era of the $400 textbook isn’t far away…
Next for the net: How are technologies and humans guiding the evolution of the internet?
Dr Ian Lipkin, Columbia University, on ‘infectious diseases’
There’s lots of factors that are beginning to mean that there are infinitely more forms of viruses that are being discovered, and being spread… bigger cities, globalisation, food sharing and so on and so on…
Need a staged strategy for pathogen discovery to get things in place to combat viruses as quickly as possible. 1999 was the first attempt to try and get help with what the DNA sequences identified in one virus meant… very quickly, it was traced to a specific virus, and location of origin. Done through ProMed.
Open access sharing, Skype teleconferencing… instant access to information is going to be massively important in the future.
Preservation – John Van Oudenaren, Director, World Digital Library Initiative, The Library of Congress
Taking cultural artefacts, unique and rare items (the one-of-a-kind map etc) and putting them online for free access to schools and so on. It’s a fascinating resource, available to anyone in the world – go and have a play:
18.20pm… and now, unfortunately, I’m fading… I shall return to collate thoughts and reactions later this week.]]>