Some of the #digidisciple(s) were present at the Thinking Digital 2012 Conference in Gateshead last week -a conference “for people who believe in the power of innovation and creativity to help change their world.”
I was not able to travel to Gateshead, but was fortunate enough to win a free web pass that enabled me to watch the live webcast and be amazed at some of the work being done in the digital economy.
One of the most exciting projects to be featured was SiDE – Social inclusion through the Digital Economy.
Paul Watson is the Director of this multi-million pound project (funded by Research Councils UK), and his presentation at TDC gave us a brief snapshot of the work being done.
Paul told us that an estimated 17 million people are socially excluded in the UK today. There are many reasons why people might become marginalized from society – poverty and unemployment, poor health or disability, family breakdown and so on. This inter-disciplinary research project is aimed at realising the potential for digital technologies to transform the lives of people who are socially excluded. It is also apparent that digital technologies can’t help those groups of people who are unable to access them – instead, people may be left further and further behind, as technology advances are made.
Research is focusing on four activities where digital technologies can deliver major social benefits: Connected Community & Community, Accessibility, Inclusive Transport, and the Creative Industries. The website says “these activities are being investigated from the research perspectives of technology, society, business and the user.” The user perspective is very important here – users need a voice in the development of technology. When designing new products, there has to be an awareness in the mind of the designer of the huge range of end users – there can be a tendency for designers to focus on developing products for people ‘just like them’!
There are some impressive people and companies collaborating with the project – including Philips, IBM, the BBC and others.
You can find out more about the project from the featured video:
and access some inspirational Case Studies from the SiDE website – my favourites are the Reminiscence Room and Music in the Household. All in all, a fantastic project, fostering inclusivity, participation and collaboration – helping people to live life “in all its fullness”