Inside the head of a designer

Digital Britain Unconference – Scotland Leg
May 8, 2009, 9:55 pm
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Thanks to Craig Mgill for organising the Digital Britain ‘unconference’ today.  In the cosy setting in The Living Rooms 23 people met up over a few drinks to discuss the future of the internet in Scotland.

There was a lot said today, and for the most part, an agreement about many things.  Discussions began with the question of should every home in Britain be given broadband.  I’m just going to summarise the main points that stood out for me;

Rural communities don’t need internet right to their door, lets do it in hubs

Use these hubs to harness the connected aspect of the internet to provide public services

We need to show people the value of the internet before people accept it as being a good tool, perhaps what can be done with it

Internet should be used for ‘the common good’

Do we need to create new platforms for each small rural community who receives internet? (my answer to this and as discussions continued is no, there are too many platforms out there)

Public services and hubs like schools and libraries should provide access as opposed to internet being treated as an essential commodity alike water, food and shelter

Internet must be accessible for the non-technical

Digital Britain is about people

Bring measurement camp idea to Scotland, and further to this, lets make Scotland an exciting hub

This is a rather brief summary of the unconference but I’m sure Craig will follow with some more concise notes on what was discussed.  For me what is interesting about the internet is connectivity and how we can use it to provide public services in hard to reach areas.

It was nice to meet everyone today and I’m sure we will see each other in the future

Here’s a link to the business cards left courtesy of Craig

9 Comments so far
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Great overview of the Unconference. Hopefully some good work will come out of all the discussions which took place.

Comment by Ross McCulloch

Internet should be used for ‘the common good’ yep, too right! well said.

Digital Britain is about people
again, spot on!

Strongly disagree that connectivity should only be available to hubs in rural areas, it should be available to all. Fibre is cheap, ducts are already in the ground, and many tradesmen unemployed drawing dole for doing nothing. Let us take this opportunity to deliver next generation access to everyone, even remote areas in Scotland. The internet is a utility, and access to a decent broadband connection is becoming as vital as electric and water. Health care and government are already seeing the convenience, cost savings and reduction of carbon footprint due to its usage. You can’t hold back time. The people deserve good connections even if they choose to live in the sticks. May I ask if you live in an area that has good broadband?

Well done for posting your report on the unconference, even if I don’t agree with ALL you comments. I do agree with most of them, The internet is for the people YAY
keep rockin

Comment by cyberdoyle

Hi Chris,
thanks for your comments, its a rather brief write up but I did my best.

Yes I do live in an area with good broadband connection.

I still don’t think I agree that it is becoming as vital a commodity as electricity or water. One thing we discussed yesterday was that many people still don’t see the use of the internet.

I’m not saying don’t connect everyone straight to their door, my opinion is that we begin connecting rural communities in the physical hubs that exist to maintain the community spirit and see what comes of people working together in one space, face to face, in a physical environment. Furthermore that we use these hubs to provide public services. I’m thinking in terms of projects, like NHS clinics using the internet to provide short consultations when they can’t make it out. As you mentioned, the government do see this as a convenience and I also think it is great that we can use the internet in this positive way but other than that, does every home really need internet, what if people don’t want it?

I’m not a technical whizz, but I got the impression yesterday, correct me if I’m wrong, that it is rather expensive to connect houses up in rural communities, also to a reasonably speedy connection…if this is true shouldn’t we wait a while.

I will come back on what I said though, I do believe that everyone has the right to internet access, and also I wish everyone could see the benefit it has but I’m afraid to say not everyone does, and until people ‘get’ it and see what the use or value of it, is there a real need for it to be in every home?

I’m basing my opinion on a project I did last year designing a new post office service for rural communities where internet would be installed to village halls to run the post office but also provide a free access point for residents. Feedback was great, but most residents didn’t see a need for the internet access and enjoyed the journey of visiting the local ‘hub’/post office. They liked the idea of internet being provided in a public space so some of the more elderly/less tech savvy residents could receive help from younger users. One teenager even went as far to say that her gran and friends could knit together whilst she sold it on ebay. So I guess I’m trying to say that by putting the connection in one place, one ‘hub’ brings people together, and face to face is far more valuable than individuals behind screens.

I hope I have made some sense here.


Comment by sarahdrummond

Hi Sarah, you do talk a lot of sense, and you tell it from your own perspective which is also refreshing to read.
I think if you lived in a rural area with no connection you would turn into me. I work with people in an area very poorly served. We built our own hub working with wifi and the local university. We got pcs out of skips and set up our own online centre. We now have 90% of our village online, youngsters help oldies and vice versa. Just like you say.
But, but but, we still have many who have no access at home due to market failure, and they cannot have the benefits the others have, and many are too busy or too frail to travel to the village, so they are disenfranchised. Also one point which I haven’t seen mentioned on any of the blogs/tweets etc coming out of the unconference last night is the fact that 2 meg USO cannot deliver the services people are beginning to need. One home these days can have up to 10 gadgets using the broadband connection. Kids have playstations, phones, laptops and desktops etc. Parents have their gear, grandparents have theirs too. One adsl connection in a rural area running at half a meg can’t cope, and t’internet gets a bad name, because these people falsly assume that because they are paying for ‘up to 8 meg’ that is what they get. A 2meg feed will also struggle to supply most online families, and so the only way to rectify this is to light fibre. Fibre is very cheap. A lot cheaper than copper. It can deliver a couple of meg if that is all you want, or a couple of gig. It is the most cost effective way of delivering a reliable connection to anyone. It will cost less to deploy than ID cards. It is the eNdGAme. The future for Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. The Next gen network for UKplc. If the govt accept the carter report as it was in the interim version then they will spend a fortune patching up an obsolete copper network to deliver 2 meg instead of investing in the real thing.

I totally agree hubs are wonderful, we think ours is anyway, but people these days haven’t always the opportunity to leave their homes, they work from home or care for children/elderly, and internet access is a utility for them to keep in touch with information.
Regarding the health angle, yes it would be good to do video conf with the nurse, but without a good connection it won’t work.
keep thinking keep rockin,

Comment by cyberdoyle

[…] to the proliferation of social media. Sarah Drummond gives a great summary of the main points on her blog. This conveniently allows me to be rather lazy and not write too much on a Sunday afternoon. I also […]

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I’ve just added a quick post on the Unconference to my blog. I’ve also nabbed one of your photos for it too! Hope you don’t mind.

Comment by Ross McCulloch

no problem ross!

Comment by sarahdrummond

[…] Sarah and Andy have shared their views on the event. It was an interesting discussion and I met interesting people. At times, the conversation focused a little too much on creatives talking about social media but I am very excited to have met like minded individuals who are passionate about using digital to better Scotland. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Digital Britaine-PETITION ON DIGITAL INCLUSION (SCOTLAND)Digital Scrapbooking SoftwarePicture This 0 Comments No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Click here to cancel reply. Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <pre> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> […]

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