My speech from the ASCA Smart Communities Summit

2014-concept-1-gif_0Last week I gave the opening ‘catalyst’ address for the Australian Smart Communities Association’s inaugural Smart Communities Summit in Caloundra. A Few people have since asked for the speech and the notes it includes on what defines a smart community, so I am Catalyst speech.

The event itself was both well attended and well constructed, with presentations from leading thinkers and practitioners involved in creating smart communities in Australia and around the world.

We have already begun planning for the follow-up event in 2017 – hope to see you there!

Australian Smart Communities Summit starts next week

2014-concept-1-gif_0On Wednesday next week I’ll be taking the reigns as MC of the inaugural Australian Smart Communities Summit, happening in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.

While it might be too late to get yourself along, if you have an interest in smart communities/smart cities activity then please take a moment to fill out this survey, created by the ASCA and Tech Research Asia.

We are hoping this will be the start of an ongoing research program into the development of smart cities and communities in Australia.

Do we need a new approach to the social sector?

Tania with the With One Voice choirs, ANZ Diversity Week, March 2012I first met social entrepreneur Tania de Jong a few years ago through her work in bringing together the Creative Innovation festival.

Now she has set a goal of reshaping Australia’s social sector by taking a leaf out of the books of Uber and Airbnb.

De Jong is chief executive officer of Creativity Australia and founder of With One Voice, a charitable organisation that brings together disadvantaged people from across a spectrum of circumstances to sing together in weekly choir communities with people from more fortunate backgrounds.

People within the program nominate a wish they hope to see fulfilled, which can range from helping with a resume to purchasing a new appliance, with more than 500 wishes granted through 2014.

“They request from one another what they need in life, and miraculously enough people put up their hand and say they can help,” de Jong says. “Over the past five years, hundreds of people have got new skills and jobs. It is about creating meaningful outcomes so people can be contributing participants to society.”

Speaking ahead of her keynote presentation at the Ci2015 conference happening in Melbourne from March 23, de Jong says the With One Voice program represents a new model for the Australian social sector, which she says isolates problems into siloes and funds them in a very top-down manner.

She says this approach is at odds with the sharing economy now being defined by companies such as Uber and Airbnb, which excel at connecting individuals with needs to those who can service them.

“It is a model that needs to be adopted across the community sector, because there are all of these 20th century top-down institutional models, and the world is no longer in that mode,” de Jong says. “We are now in a mode where it is all about the individual, not about organisations.

“We are moving from a top-down centralised model to distributed connected communities, we are moving from consumption to collaboration, and from assets to access. But how do we achieve this for all communities?”

Executive and former Coles Myer executive Paul Kronborg admits he was sceptical when he turned up to his first choir six years ago, but now attends as many as he can.

“I now have some very deep understandings of actually what it is like to be a refugee, and what it is like to be strapped in a wheelchair, or be unemployed,” Kronborg says. “Spending time with the disabled or people who are gravely ill or bound in their beds brings a different level of understanding to the experience and the connection.”

With One Voice now convenes choirs in 11 locations around Australia, and is actively recruiting more.

De Jong says the group receives support from numerous commercial organisations, including law firms and health providers.

The deputy chief executive officer of Geelong healthcare provider Barwon Health Paul Cohen says a number of his staff attend choirs regularly,

“You see the benefit that they get out of it both from singing and the joyousness that comes from that,” Cohen says. “And there is also a benefit in working with others from different backgrounds and disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Organisations that participate in community programs through volunteerism get back a disproportionate value and benefit into their own organisations – all the research says there is absolutely a commercial benefit.”

De Jong says With One Voice has proven popular because it gives individuals a real chance to connect with the people they are helping.

“A lot of corporates donate to charity in quite a tokenistic way,” de Jong says. “If we really want to solve some of our entrenched social problems, then it is about much more than just a charity day – it is about people giving of their time and their business skills to help solve some of these problems in their community.

“So this is about enabling and empowering individuals and building communities and social cohesion. Everything is moving to the individuals and the power of collaborative communities.”

ENDS

Notes from the Broadband for the Bush Forum 2014 #bushbroadband

Track_to_Bellrock_Range1-980x360A couple of weeks ago I had the honour of being asked to speak at the third Broadband for the Bush forum, organised by the Broadband for the Bush Alliance, Desert Knowledge Australia and associated groups, and held in Alice Springs. For me it was an opportunity to immerse myself in topics that are of great personal interest to me – namely digital capability building and social inclusion in the digital age. It’s rare that I get a chance to spend two days with so many smart, passionate and motivated people, all coming together to solve problems for the common good.

I saw my job as being two-fold. In an after-dinner speech on the first night I spoke of the need to widen the discussion beyond telecommunications service providers, governments and the community to also include over-the-top service providers – commercial as well as government services – as they are a vital part of the overall digital service community. Hence I was happy to be able to welcome Freelancer.com’s general manager Nikki Parker to the event – services such as Freelancer are what help drive access to income and productivity growth once the digital pipes are laid.

In my speech the following morning I tried to instil a sense of urgency into the discussion by talking about the dangers of letting the digital divide widen, while highlighting the great strides that other nations are taking in terms of accelerating their uptake of digital tools as a means of raising overall standards of living. I also talked about the need to raise the digital skills of all parts of Australian society in order to raise our overall competitiveness.

I’ve been meaning to write up a summary from the event since returning, but a recent bout of the common cold has battered my productivity. Hence I was happy to see Grant Young from the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence do an excellent job already – you can read his notes by clicking here.

You can also read the official communique from the event by clicking here.

I’d urge anyone who’s interested in the topics of social inclusion and capability building to consider coming to next year’s event.

 

 

Live from X Media Lab KR8V Sydney 2013 Session 2 #KR8Vsydney @Agraylin Wayne Borg @galvinsd & @adamgood

KR8VThe first speaker for the session session at #KR8Vsydney was Alvin Wang Graylin (@Agraylin), the co-founder of China’s Number 1 mobile search and advertising company myinfo. He started by playing a video for his company which actually used the tune from the Dumb Ways to Die campaign, which was interesting to show how that one piece of creative content has worked its way around the world in many different forms. Alvin talked about his career as an entrepreneur, from starting his first computer service business in college with his roommates in 1990 to working at IBM in various roles. Much of his talk focused on the issues that entrepreneurs face in building belief and raising capital, and the struggles they will experience along the way.

Alvin was followed by the chief operating officer of Abu Dhabi-based twofour54, Wayne Borg, who talked about the creative revolution that is sweeping the Arab world as a result of digital technology. He talked about how Saudi Arabia is now the number one market for mobile YouTube downloads, as young people use it as a means to create and express themselves, and how citizen journalism is now a phenomenon in Egypt. 360 million people now live in the Middle East and North Africa, and 55 percent are under the age of 25, while smartphone and mobile penetration is now at 230 percent across the region, creating huge opportunities to develop content.  Borg spoke of how creative and media industries are now one of the key investment areas for the Abu Dhabi government, and his own organisations has been put in place to help develop a talent pool in that sector.

The third speaker was Protein One founder, Galvin Scott Davis (@galvinsd), creator of the Number 1 lifestyle app, business app and kids game on the iPhone in Australia, who talked about the value of asking the question ‘why not?’. His latest app is Dandelion, which grew out of a children’s story that he created and evolved into a digital app.

The final speaker for the session was Adam Good, director of digital media and content at Telstra Media, who talked about creative leadership. He talked about how many companies are simply not planning for changes to come, and hence may not exist by the time 2020 rolls around. He encouraged the audience to listen more to find new opportunities that will work.

Live from X Media Lab KR8V Sydney 2013 #KR8Vsydney @kthread @doktorZ @dirtgirlworld @domknight

KR8VI’m currently sitting in the audience of X Media Lab’s KR8V Creative Leadership Edition at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Sydney, and will be taking notes throughout the day, some of which I hope to post here.

The first speaker for the day was former BBC and Al Jazeera digital producer Kristen Taylor (@kthread). Her presentation on storytelling and community management talked about the nature of knowledge, and posited that the Internet runs on kindness, which is what gives the network the ability to heal itself.

The second presentation was delivered by Professor Martin Zimper (@doktorZ) , director of Cast/Audiovisual Media at the Zurich University of Art, who demonstrated that the rules of storytelling set out by Aristotle thousands of years ago still hold true today.

“We need old craft for new media,” he said. “Writing is a technique, writing is a craft … and even if we look to Hollywood it is old European knowledge that they use.”

His thesis – that a lot of successful online videos show people exceeding thresholds.

The third presentation of the first session was from dirtgirlworld creator and Interactive Emmy Award winner Cate McQuillen (@dirtgirlworld). McQuillen talked about the creation of relevant and creative children’s entertainment, and her mission to influence a generation to understand the need to love and look after the world.

“We believe that little things and little people can make a big difference,” she said, adding her team has had great success in encouraging kids to learn about recycling and composting. Dirtgirl often makes live appearances now, and a dirtgirl album was nominated for an ARIA Award.

The final speaker for the session was Dom Knight, radio broadcaster and writer for The Chaser, who talked about storytelling models, and specifically the Hero’s Journey and its various elements. While ideas are constantly rehashed due to their tendency to work, and the elements can be modified through changing settings and situations, creating interesting characters and dialogue, and through observation. And of course the newest variation is media. He also talked about how truly great storytellers can break the rules entirely, as George RR Martin has done with Game of Thrones, or Quentin Tarantino with Pulp Fiction.

 

Live from X Media Lab KR8V Sydney 2013 Session 4 #KR8Vsydney @naimark, Ross Harley, @hoho101

KR8V

I decided to sit back and enjoy the arts-related presentations that followed on from lunch, so sorry for not posting any thoughts on those four presentations.

The first presentation after the afternoon tea break was from Michael Naimark (@naimark), whose presentation on The Google Glass Controversy took the audience on a rapid ride through the history of interactive technology. He focused specifically on how wearable technology will further accelerate the growth in creation of online data, as the barriers to its creation will fall dramatically.

He also talked about how a failure in communication led to the world believing that Google’s StreetView cars killed a donkey in Botswana. Failure to learn lessons in communication may lead to similar controversies at the company rolls out Google Glass.

The next presentation was from College of Fine Arts dean Prof Ross Harley whose discussion of how the STEM concept needs to be augmented with an ‘A’ and turned into STEAM again raised the question of what can artists do – his answer being ‘anything’.

Ars Electronica Future Lab director Horst Hortner (@hoho101) who told the story of the Future Lab as well as showing  a project which will use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to create illuminated images in the sky, including a Starfleet logo in the night skies over London.

 

A big week – SEGRA, The Australian and a front page spot in the SMH

It has been a very long time since I updated this blog, and a lot of happened in the last six months – which is probably the main reason why I’ve not been putting time into updating this blog.

I’ll add more details later, but recent highlights have included being invited as one of the 40 or so attendees of the Prime Minister’s Forum on the Digital Economy, delivering  keynote addresses for Symantec and Hewlett-Packard and a host of others, and writing a string of articles for publications including The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, CIO Australia and many more.

In the past six months I’ve also been traveling extensively, hitting locations including Longreach, Bundaberg, Mandurah, Mt Gambier, Ballarat, Bendigo, Shepparton, and even Maffra in Eastern Victoria, as well as most of the capital cities, to deliver presentation on digital transformation.

This week was a particularly big week however. On Tuesday I delivered a keynote address at the Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) 2012 conference in Terrigal, where I stressed the importance for regional communities to move more quickly in developing their digital strategies. That same day the latest special report on Cloud Computing appeared in The Australian, which included close to two broadsheet pages of content from me. Then on Wednesday the SMH IT Pro site carried my story on the emerging technology of adaptive web content.

That caught the interest of the editors at the SMH newspaper, and led to me writing this story which appeared on the front page of the weekend edition – the first time I can recall cracking the front page.

Like I said, it’s been a big week.

Live from X|Media|Lab Sydney – Michael Naimark @Naimark, Helen Chen @cmodabeijing, Rajiv Prakash @rajivprakash & Bonnie Shaw @bon_zai #XMediaLab

The second session at X|Media|Lab Sydney kicked off with a presentation from digital researcher and artist Michael Naimark (@naimark), who took the audience through three projects that he is working on. The first relates to live web streaming, and the idea of instantly matching content to viewers. Hence liiive.tv, takes the idea of live mediated simultaneity where operators can communicate and coordinate streams, allowing potentially hundreds of streams to be aggregated. His second project, Viewfinder, looks at spatial seamlessness, starting with a project that emulated Google Maps with Street View but 30 years earlier. His idea is that aligning content within context is critical to the appreciation of that image, such as how images can be fed into Google Earth. His third project examines the statistical similarity between different regions of the world, such as that between Africa and Georgia, as well as other bizarre cultural correlations, and the work of Alan Lomax and his Global Jukebox.

The second speaker of the session was Helen Chen, founder and CEO of China’s Museum of Digital Arts (@cmodabeijing). which is China’s first museum for digital art, which opened in December 2011. She discussed how digital consumption in China is booming, and asked the question of whether China can make the transition from its manufacturing economy to one more focus on digital content. She detailed a number of projects, including a 3D printing project. The museum’s aim is to become an exchange platform between digital creative artists.

The third speaker of the session was entrepreneur Rajiv Prakash (@rajivprakash) who discussed the start-up scene in India. He talked about aspiration, and the belief that Indians have that what they are born with is not what they must live with. The entrepreneur is India’s new role model, which has been reflected in successful Bollywood movies, and start-ups are emerging across a diverse set of sectors – and now contribute US$140 billion, or 15 percent, of total marketing capitalisation in India. Domestic consumption in India will grow by US$1 trillion over the next 10 years, which will double India’s current GDP. A lot of this growth is likely to be digitally mediated. He also talked about the model of frugal innovation, known as Jugaad innovation, where the entrepreneur starts with extreme constraints such as limited inputs and the need to work with a low-wealth customer base. It was this thinking that led to the creation of the Tata Nano car, which costs less than US$2000. Start-ups to emerge from India include Slideshare, inMobi and Zoho. Rajiv also talked about how many of the start-ups in India are social in nature, and designed to tackle India’s 40 per cent poverty rate. Developing markets can become laboratories for product innovation and export.

The final speaker before lunch was Bonnie Shaw, serial social innovator from iStrategyLabs in Washington DC. Shaw talked about collaborative applications such as Feastly, and also about the impact of putting computing power into our hands through smartphones. She discussed some of her company’s projects, including the Honest Cities campaign which melded online and offline interactions. Its Grandstand platform transforms online activities into offline interactions.

Live from X|Media|Lab Sydney – Warren Coleman @warrencoleman, Arvind Ethan David @arvd & Shinta Dhanuwardoyo @shintabubu

The first speaker after lunch was actor, writing and director Warren Coleman (@warrencoleman), who’s presentation discussed the need for play in storytelling. He discussed the process of co-writing Happy Feet and its sequel, and how playful activity often generates some of the best outcomes.

Warren was followed by Malaysian-born London-based filmmaker Arvind Ethan David (@arvd) from Slingshot Studios, who confessed to starting a film company to find out why film companies always lost money. His talk focused on the impact of digital on film making, such as the unexpected rise of user-generated content, and the emergence of programs such as The Guild or Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. His advice is to bake globalism into every project.

The final presenter for the session was Indonesian digital entrepreneur and partner at Nusantara Ventures Shinta Dhanuwardoyo (@shintabubu). She talked about Indonesia’s mobile subscriber penetration as now reaching 200 million out of the 240 million population, with 60 million mobile Internet users – and that is set to triple by 2015. Everything is done using the mobile phone, and it is the number one market in Asia for Foursquare, Twitter (19 million accounts) and Facebook (fourth globally). Interestingly, in Indonesia local phone makers are beating Apple, with user-tailored feature phones dominating. Blackberry is also a big success in Indonesia. She also talked about a campaign that her agency ran for Unilever brand Axe featuring a phone number squirted into a hotdog, which received more than 76 million calls.