15 October 2010

citycamplondon day one - stimulate

citycamplondon was event with my name written all over it. In very large letters.

The purpose was to identify ways in which web2.0 technologies could be used to improve the lives of people in London. The buzzwords here are "web2.0", "improve" and "London" and they all resonate with me.

So much so that I took a half day holiday to attend the first session and then worked full time over the weekend.

The schedule for the three days was stimulate, participate, collaborate and each day had its own purpose, atmosphere and location.

Stimulate kicked things off at the Royal Society of Arts, the stimulation coming from a series of top-ranking speakers.

As we sat down ready for the talks the most noticeable thing was the technology on show, most of it from Apple with the big question being which model iPhone you had. This technology and the generally geek audience meant that the twitter stream was very active.

The speakers' pitches were (generally) short, sharp, to the point and actually stimulating. An early high-point was John Tolva's breakneck exploration of physical urban design and it's interaction with the digital world. Good to see one of my old companies, IBM, taking a lead on smart cities.

The low-point was the politicians' round-table, chaired by RSA CEO Matthew Taylor, none of whom seemed to have much idea of what technology could do. The only good point made here was the realisation that if citizens are flooding to a council's website to see what jobs are available this does not mean that the jobs section is good it actually means that the rest of it is rubbish.

The politicians' session was so poor that the twitter vote was to remove the twitterfall running behind them as the comments were so negative. Words like "clueless" were common.

Luckily the rest of the sessions, and there were around ten altogether, were good and were stimulating so we all ended the day with a bounce in our steps.

And those bounces took us quickly downstairs to the vaults for a drink and some serious networking.

There were a few familiar faces there but, stimulated by the talks, I deliberately chose to mix with new people; though I have to admit a few of these conversations started with the familiar "where do I know you from?" as most of us are regulars at several similar events.

Unexpectedly I had a long and useful conversation with John Tolva sometime during the evening.

And more unexpectedly, I got caught up with somebody's birthday party and a group of twenty of us headed off to the gay bar around the corner. These were mostly FutureGov people who seemed like a fun bunch who had the right ideas.

That made it an even longer day than expected but also added another twist, another glimpse of London and another opportunity to enrich existing relationships.

citycamplondon day one was meant to stimulate and that it most certainly did.

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