I was catching up with some of the Futurelab researchers (Dan, Rich and Ben) so was a bit late to the Connecting Bristol event. Fortunately Clare was live blogging everything.

Just after I arrived, Stephen Hilton was talking about a new proposal to the DC10 group for a digital environment project, specifically looking at the impact of digital technologies on environmental issues. This was one of the trickiest parts of writing the original challenge proposal. Now it looks like Bristol, Birmingham, manchester and the others are putting together ‘Green Shift’ to look at smart digital media and smart energy technology (living lab as test bed).

Matthew Taylor (RSA) was mentioned in the context of coffee house challenges and community based environmental solutions, but I’m not sure quite how that fits just yet (Stephen is hopefully going to send a draft of the Green Shift proposal over so I can read it). That’s scheduled for an Oct/Nov submission.

Stephen Dodson (Director of the Digital Challenge Programme), mentioned that recent findings from target=”_blank”Ability Net suggested that Microsoft’s new Vista has better accessibility features to the ‘alternatives’ I.e. Open source? That was in response to quite a forceful proposition that any solution would be open source (Linux) based.

One of the closing ‘announcements’ that caught my ear was Thomas Rawlings from Fluffy Logic (and lots of partners) trailing the launch of a p2p open source, media content sharing platform, nearly similar to LionShare from Penn State University. Definitely one to watch out for in the future.

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Digital Challenge

13 March 2007

Not on the Connecting Bristol site yet, but we weren’t successful in the bid. Sunderland was announced as the winner, with Manchester getting an honourable mention.

Consolation prize was the announcement of additional funding for the other 9 bids to develop some ideas, I didn’t quite catch the details but I think it was £2m + £500k plus possibly some additional money. All of which is good news, and interestingly the announcement is for the Digital Challenge 2007: so will there be a Digital Challenge 2008, Digital Challenge 2009…

Of course Bristol will be doing a lot of what is in our bid, just a bit slower and smaller.

Update – several posts announcing the announcement, the post-announcement meeting, and the emerging discussion on what to do next.

Top opening quote from Eddison – Hell there are no rules, we’re trying to accomplish something!
Very funky box and presentation, all important first impressions being important. But an overarching comment that balancing a city wide transformation with a very formal project method (PRINCE II if you’re interested, probably not) is very difficult.
Computers for Pupils as part of the infrastructure Work Package. Lots of wireless meshing and coverage, especially with the non-city centre areas.
Work Stream2 – the Human Hub? – mentors, skils swaps, events etc. Tomorrow’s People – not sure what that is (interesting since I was until the nearly last minute coordinating this strand). Check Hardware Hub (WP2.3) for extended reuse technology solutions? Focus on Open Source and community rather than home access.
Disabled people as peer-led mentors and experts in technology? Inspired concept turning pre-conceptions in their head! I really like this comparatively late formal addition to the bid (there was always a relatively large inclusion agenda but this is fantastic).
Set up Community Interest Company to deliver and carry risk. In-sight panel of +50 Action Research; not sure that’s actually what’s being proposed but very cool if we can pull it off. Ongoing bid blog, hopefully individuals will take over with their own digital media.
Now we wait and see what Government thinks (due 7 or 14 March or perhaps 13 March)!

It’s never easy converting a City wide vision into 10,000 words. Given over 12 months of activity there was an incredible breadth of ideas and coherent vision. This was perhaps best demonstrated on the blog site. And when was the boldness of vision coming from the rural link when there was tons of innovation within the city? *sigh*
Personally I feel much of this has been lost in the translation to a bid document. Perhaps the heavy hand of local government is making it’s presence felt, if only through limited scope of ambition rather than overt constraining. Since I’m not actually writing the proposal (I’ve contributed one of the larger Workpackages but am not involved in the final writing; I’ve got enough on my plate) perhaps I shouldn’t be too harsh; but this is a £3m bid, not sure where the £4m match is coming from.
The open approach of the early days has given way (quite understandably since its a competition) to a closed document being developed by a small team. Unfortunately I don’t think the richness and city-voice has survived; notwithstanding it’s still a comprehensive and impressive document given the time scale. Ultimately it will depend on the outcome – if the bid is successful and delivers, who cares?
Interesting link to Singapore where the approach is much more ‘how do we do…’ rather than ‘why?’ the assumption being that its happening so better to be at the front than spending lots of time thinking about it.

Clive Carter – OFCOM
Availability & demand
Seems to be peaking @ 6MB access – no need for more?
Demand uncertainty – people don’t know what to do with the extra bandwidth.
Market led outcome better than policy led? OFCOM thinks so.
Policy can be used to ‘correct’ digital divide where it exists (does the service exist elsewhere, does it matter?)
Danger of public policy led development, at least in UK, seems to work in Far East (Japan, South Korea, etc)

Lizzie Beesley – BT
2MB sufficient for digital TV so everything OK.
Problem is with demand side.
All down to society & connecting pieces – likes ACTNOW.

Julian Wright – Exeter Uni – straight forward sales pitch
X-AT – online collaborative working – share desktop & documents?
x-fora proprietary and closed ? SMEs not ready, Digital Challenge as evangelical sales?
Virtual laboratory – possible link to FL international projects?

Thomas Rawlings & Ana Kronschnabl – Fluffy Logic
TR – good speaker
Use the young to educate parents & families – Open Source education project – UWE, UoB, KnowledgeWest, Fluffy Logic, others )