In the last 48 hours I’ve found myself in real conversations, in real life, with real people, about the impacts of omnipresent digital on our lives. Steve Austin and I got philosophical in an interview earlier this week about why I still use cash at the markets. In essence, because of tangibility matters. I want to see and consciously process the money leaving my wallet; I want my kids to learn the same; and to be frank, I don’t want every. single. transaction recorded and used by the algorithms to make assumptions about what kind of advertising might work best on me, be it consumer-orientated or more insidious, like political or societal issues. And I’ve been talking to parents, who, in the early days of school holidays, are wondering about the impact of hours, upon hours of Fortnite and the like on their kids.
These ‘real’ conversations have sat in stark contrast to some of the professional conversations I’ve been having. In the last 24 hours I’ve found myself discussing ‘the digital disruption of government’ and ‘IoT and Smart Cities’. And, I’m in the middle of writing a ranty post about the ethics and responsibilities of data. These ‘industry’ conversations continue to peddle jargon, a bit of fear and a whole lot of fluff and bubble to justify investment in reports and infrastructure. I doubt very much that when electricity became available en masse, there were conversations about the ‘electrification of everything’ (maybe there was … I hope you get my drift). Just like when the wheel made it easier to move heavy things it was implemented and used, the internet and connected ‘things’, will be used where and when it is useful to do so (end rant).
One of the programs I’m proudest of is Brisbane Innovate, our open innovation platform, which harnesses just this shift – this increased desire AND ability of residents, businesses, entrepreneurs and academics to come together to solve the meaty challenges facing cities today. The 2018 program is stepping up to solve some of societies trickiest challenges right now – waste as a resource, social isolation and exclusion, and reinvigorating our sense of community in our neighbourhoods. All delightfully ‘non-digital’ problems (though, possibly problems that have been exacerbated by our digital age); all requiring real people to come together in a physical place to solve … within the context of a globally-connected, digitally-enabled world. You can read more about Brisbane Innovate here – and if any of those topics tickle your fancy, register to participate!
There’s no doubt though the constant stream of ‘innovation’ news warrants substantive conversation. Real conversations about the real impacts; positive, negative and unintended. I’d like more opportunities to move out of the jargon of ‘disruption’ and ‘IoT’ and into the human elements … What does this tech mean for me? My kids? The industry and arts and cities I love? And how can I more proactively participate in it. And boy, if they’re the conversations I’d like to have, I can only imagine you’d like to have them too. That’s why I’m jumping-out-of-my-skin excited about Something Digital. With four international keynotes and a bunch of local legends, Something Digital is striving to have the real conversations we need to be having – about tech for good, impact, ethics and what it means for ours and our children’s future. If you have a heartbeat and aren’t planning to live totally off the grid just yet, you really want to get along. Book your tickets now and get it into your diary.