Event notes: an Interconnected Society

Last week I was asked by Jamie Young at the RSA to chair the Interconnected Society session of the Technology in a Cold Climate summit. (See this previous post for the overall outline and the day’s schedule).

Refreshingly, the point of the day was for everyone in attendance to work hard, roll our sleeves up and get involved. Fuller accounts of the day can be found at the RSA blog specifically set up for the research.

The day started with an opening keynote (see video below) from Stephen Timms, Minister for Digital Britain, who reminded us that this was the third time he’d held such a role but also outlined the current digital landscape in the UK and how it affects society and the economy.

Professor John Farrington presents his research. Photo by Paul Henderson
Each proceeding session was then a workshop, with the aim of all the participants contributing to the final report after hearing the research papers given by the academics.

The Interconnected Society session started with Professor John Farrington presenting his research outlining the potential to be gained through having interconnected society. As well as looking at the benefits that such a society could bring he also examined the existing multiple digital divides (technical, geographical, social, economic, cultural, not-connection, connection but disconnection from other social spheres) and issues in rural areas.

This presentation was formally responded to by Julian David of IBM and Graham Walker of the government’s Digital Inclusion task force. Paul Henderson recorded the whole session’s activity, which can be viewed and read here.

We then split into found groups to discuss the presentations and to try to make some recommendations for the final RSA report.

What follows are two of the group’s responses and an interview that David Wilcox made with Professor John Farrington and I.

Wither the Silver Surfer? Part II

Suw Charman-Anderson and I have been continuing our conversation over email on age related matters and the internet. The consequence being that I’ve typed enough words to consider putting them together into a blog post. Hope the following makes sense. It’s an adendum on this set of slides and reseach I did last year.

Suw is currently thinking about how things might be way in the future (circa 2025), and my part of the conversation has been about thinking around the current situation. The thoughts below are very much work in progress.


It goes without saying, that the general gist of the aging population and looking forward is that there will be an increase in both actual numbers of the 50+ age group will be a higher percentage of the population than currently. Indeed by 2020 it is expected that 50 percent of the population will be aged 50 and over. To extrapolate from the current circumstances and time it is important to clearly identify which age group we are discussing, how they are currently defined, and may be defined in the future.

Continue reading → Wither the Silver Surfer? Part II