At the Nominet Trust/Founders Forum for Good event on Big Data last week, Sir Tim Berners-Lee's closing line was 'to pick your data battles' to move the data agenda forward (the agenda of openness, data informed practices etc). It's something that I thought we were doing well at Nominet Trust - we have a number of open/big data activities which are trying to help move this agenda forward with an understanding of how it best supports social organisations. I suppose that as it was at a Nominet Trust event that Sir Tim set out that point is an example of that. But in addition to that event we have been picking our data battles for the past 20 months.
When we conceived of the NT100 our starting point was the simple recognition that around the world digital technologies are being deployed in amazing ways to solve intractable social problems: social exclusion, lack of access to healthcare, education, culture, community; disenfranchisement; abuses of human rights.
We were already aware of a pretty sizeable number of inspiring projects but also conscious that for every innovation we had come across, there were probably many more that were unknown to us. We felt that little had been done to build a truly global picture.
Our efforts to support more people to become digital makers focusses on an interest in their understanding how digital technologies work. But even with all the great resources available to support young digital makers, what is it that sparks an interest in digital making, and where do you go after that point?
I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the 2013 OxIS report 'Culture of the Internet: The Internet in Britain' on Tuesday evening - the findings of a robust study by OII into perceptions and uses of the Internet in the UK. After a presentation of the main findings and a fascinating panel, I was asked to give a brief response, which I've summed up below.
How does a love of football extend into a digital making activity (sensor football boots anyone?); what digital making activities are borne from a passion for fashion and where does a fascination with Harry Potter, Wallace and Gromit or Moshi Monsters enter into digital making?
This post has been written by Julian Sefton-Green as a review of the Make Bridge seminar series which aimed to share digital making practices between UK and US organisations. The post evaluates the nature of the process (delivery, feedback and technical issues); the quality and nature of the content and key themes emerging from the discussions; and further thoughts for future kinds of professional development and support.
At this point of the year, we expected to launch a new funding programme looking at how we can enable older people to benefit from using digital technology. We ran an open exploration of the key themes (led by the inimitable David Wilcox); pulling together existing research, practice and funding activity and aimed, through that process, to understand where digital technology could be most useful and, as such, where we should target our social investment fund.
Whether it be global tech businesses being grilled by the Public Accounts Committee; the launch of 4G networks or the adverts vying for pre-Christmas attention, digital technologies: computers, mobile phones, the internet, have been in the public eye quite a lot recently.
Bran Ferren (somewhat) famously said that technology is ‘stuff that doesn’t work yet’ – we don’t think of biros or belts as ‘technologies’ (that is purposefully designed and made tools), because they’re woven into everyday life and work as we’d expect. But how about ‘digital technologies’ – when will they stop being ‘technologies’ and start, simply, being the internet, apps or micro-processors? The answer, is when they become more trivial, when we recognise the implicit value in them and understand how they are constructed and work.