Event: Technology in a Cold Climate

The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) are holding a symposium tomorrow (26 October 2009) entitled Technology in a Cold Climate. It’s the culmination of a few months work of commissioned research examining the social applications of a selection of technologies and aims to answer the question:

“How can technology help meet some of the challenges that the UK is facing?”

The results are four papers which will be delivered at the event on the 26 October 2009:

  • technology’s application to delivering better and more cost-effective public services
  • the benefits of greater digital connectivity
  • the potential of technology to transform society towards a more sustainable form
  • the innovative behaviour that is essential to developing the kind of entrepreneurial action needed

Agenda
8:30-9:00, registration and breakfast
9:00-9:30, keynote speech from Stephen Timms MP, Minister for Digital Britain
9:30-11:00, seminars on “Sustainable Technology” and “Interconnected Society”
11:00-12:30, seminars on “Public Services” and “Supporting Innovation”
12:30-1:00, lunch
1:00-2:00, panel discussion with Ben Hammersley, William Heath, Luke Johnson, and Kevin Smith, chaired by Matthew Taylor

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The Interconnected Society
I’ve been asked by Jamie Young to chair the seminar that focuses on the Interconnected Society which will be based on a paper written by Professor John Farrington, with responses from Graham Walker, Director of Strategy at the Office of the Champion for Digital Inclusion and Julian David of IBM UK. The conversation will then be opened up to everyone in the room (and those online if possible), where we will aim together to try to come to a set of priorities/recommendations.

Following the conversation online
The day is going to be live blogged and the overall details for the day can be found here. Also see:
Liveblog for Interconnected Society session
Twitter hashtag – #techcold
The RSA on Twitter

The return of thrift?

Lovely review by Tom over at Infovore about the book Cradle to Cradle: remaking the way we make things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. As Tom explains:

It’s a book that invites the reader to envisage a world in which the concept of waste does not exist, and where re-use is preferred to recycling; in short, a world where products have a true life-cycle, rather than a passage from cradle-to-grave.

This way of thinking used to be summarised as ‘thrift’ (defn: careful and diligent in the use of resources) and reminded me of several articles I’ve read recently querying whether thrift was making a come back – as exemplified by this Telegraph article.

I decided to see if Google Trends data backed up this notion.

Although the data for the UK isn’t large enough to compare the terms ‘thrift’, ‘re-use’ and ‘recycle’ against one another, there are enough frequencies of these terms globally to get Google’s attention:

Google Trends data for re-cycle, thrift, re-use

As you can see the blue line graphing the word ‘thrift’, is fairly stable, the lines displaying the search frequencies for ‘recycling’ and, more interestingly, the word ‘re-use’ have increased, but not that dramatically.

But take a look at the lower graph. It displays the frequency of the topics appearing in news items, and there you’ll see a distinct upward trend for both the terms ‘thrift’ and ‘re-cycle’, although the term ‘re-cycle’ is increasing more rapidly.

Unfortunately, as the data set is not large enough to display regional differences we cannot come to any definite conclusions, but if the vision of Cradle to Cradle is to be realised it would appear that there is much work to be done.

And today’s topic was? : links for 2008-03-11