Tech entrepreneurs have already changed the world, transforming how we work, how we communicate, how we shop. Imagine if these entrepreneurs focused their talents on big social challenges, using tech to devise radically new solutions to social care, child welfare, poverty, education and climate change.
Imagine the power of technology applied for social good.
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.
As part of its ongoing open consultation, Nominet Trust brought together a group of experts this past week to think about how technology might be used to realise new opportunities - and address the persistent challenges such as social isolation, access to adequate care and pensioner poverty – facing people in later life. We weren’t looking at how adding digital might make existing services more cost-effective or efficient; nor were we seeking specific solutions. Instead we were hoping to define some areas that would benefit from social innovation with technology.
The Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology recently released a fantastic report – “Innovating Pedagogy 2012” (pdf) (Creative Commons licenced too). The report offers 10 innovations with the potential to change education in the short to medium term. It starts with a two page executive summary – so if you don’t read anything else, take a look at that!