Day 2 – Digital Engagement 2011 #de2011

Thursday 17th November 2011, St. James’ Park, Newcastle

By Claire Thorne

Just in case you were exhausted from Day 1, or you weren’t quite paying attention at 9 am, Prof Don Marinelli was on hand. Delivering his keynote, entitled ‘A Curriculum for the 21st Century: Storytelling, Architecture, Technology & Experience , with all the gusto and drama of (a State-side) Brian Blessed, Don spoke and we all listened. He presented the innovative and multidisciplinary Master of Entertainment Technology – focusing on Storytelling, Architecture, Technology and Experience – at Carnegie Mellon University which he co-founded (watch co-founder Randy Pausch’s ‘last lecture’). The course abandons all traditional, formal teaching methods, valuing ‘edu-tainment’ and choosing to view “education as business”, boasting Star War’s C-3PO amongst its Faculty. In practice, this means a questionable non-curriculum of zeppelin rides and white-water rafting, students owning all IP and Don enforcing a somewhat brutal ‘no scholarship rule’.

Don’s examples of MET outputs included MyStoryMaker (software designed to encourage children into Carnegie Library to write, rather than borrow, books) and synthetic interviews for bringing late, scientific legends ‘back to life’. Don’s vision of the future, “making Computer Science a performing art”, includes progress in the areas of augmented reality, 4D immersive experiences and casual gaming.

[Dates for your diary: The 2012 Digital Economy All Hands, hosted by dot.rural, the Aberdeen research Hub, will take place at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on October 23-25 2012.]

Dr Dominic Price’s (Horizon Digital Economy research Hub) contribution to the Crowd-sourcing session, entitled ‘A Framework for Crowd-Sourcing Personal Data’, introduced the Datasphere application as a ‘personal container . The Datasphere offers a way for individuals to track and manage access to their personal information, maintaining privacy levels by granting selective access in response to third party ‘queries’.

In the Open Data and Security session, Dr Andrew Garbett presented Lincoln University’s work on ‘Using social media to drive public engagement with open data . Referring to the ‘HM Government 2011 Making Open Government Data Real: a public consultation publication and the importance Government places on engagement with data for new revenue streams, Andrew emphasised “the need for public services to interface with this [crime, NHS, travel and transport] raw data”. The London Live Tube Map, the London Bike Share Map and Mash My Gov were just a few example applications Andrew mentioned where the service is good but not quite tailored to the user. Andrew’s work on FearSquare – where UK crime statistics (based on location habits) and social media are combined for a user-personalised local crime app – echoed many of the applications showcased at DE All Hands 2010 (e.g. VoiceYourView ) and at the recent Silicon Valley Comes to the UK appathon . FearSquare raised some concerns from the audience; namely the developer’s responsibility to stop perpetuating negative connotations of Open Data, reinforced by nomenclature like FearSquare.

The afternoon session on ‘Support Services for Assurance and Reassurance’ spanned the topics of privacy, energy and access. When presenting on ‘Privacy Preserving Personalisation via Dataware, Dr James Goulding declared “in the Digital Economy, data is currency” before featuring… quilting! James then went on to categorise the current market place as an Oligopoly with just two to three major players dominating each service sector, leaving little/no motivation for innovation. James’ future work will be based on combining Dataware (a Chrome application which builds a model of you, based on your interest areas) with Horizon’s Geostore. In the same session, Ian Dent presented Horizon’s work on ‘Creating Personalised Energy Plans’ and the DESIMAX project, demonstrating strong links with Low Carbon London. As Ian and his colleagues jostle with 20-year old data sets, he appealed for access to data and suggested opportunities for collaboration.

Unfortunately the quick-fire session, like the workshops, offered few exciting updates on (repackaged) work featured at last year’s DE All Hands meeting . Meanwhile, there were just a couple, rare glimpses of Social Science research and any realised/projected Impact(s) in the DE space, i.e. the work and context that promise to put the ‘society’ in the Digital Economy.

So, what’s the verdict? Two (and a half) days later and I’m left wondering: Where’s the ‘global’ in all of this? Where’s the ‘economy’? Cue Digital City Exchange (paper [pdf], poster (low resolution) [jpg]).

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