Digital Britannica

Today at 4pm would be a good time to bury bad news in the media sector, says this tweet. ITV isn’t recomissioning Primeval, that weird ‘lads and dads’ show featuring rather dangerous looking overgrown turkey chicks. ITN is doomed. Channel 4 will merge with ‘a bit’ of the BBC. 3000 BBC staff to go. Channel 5 will er, be replaced by 1Extra.

That’s because today’s the day that Lord Carter releases an eagerly anticipated (in the media at least) report on Digital Britain. There were many action point included in the interim report, including UK content for UK users, next generation infrastructure, access for all, copyright and so on, each of which exercises the various affected industries with a red hot poker. Back on January, there was a little bit of ’19th century protectionism for 20th century businesses that have no intrinsic right to success int he 21st century’ going on. <cue endless discussion about the future of journalism>

One industry which deserves a little airtime is the ‘creative sector’. Another is the software sector. Now the financial services business in the UK is in meltdown, UK government needs to find economic prods that can create economic wealth. The creative and software industries are inextricably linked in a digital economy.  Where’s the UK software industry in all of this? Where’s the next Google, Microsoft or Twitter application being developed? I’d like to see more support for British businesses that are building future businesses. The fact that I’m posting this on software developed in the US, on a computer designed in the US, built in the far east, talking about a microblogging habit orginating in the US, must tell us something.

Digital Britain Unconference now online

digital britain unconference report

digital britain unconference report

Over the past couple of weeks the Digital Britain Unconference has been gaining momentum with report from across the country being edited and compiled into a single document submitted to BERR this week. Here’s my comment as signatory (and erstwhile London Unconference editor) of this superb example of people coming together through a combination of interactive technologies and meetups for the greater good of the nation.

This report is not an example of ‘citizen journalism’. Nor is it just ‘user generated content’. It is a solid and co-ordinated effort by a considerable number of smart and committed people, living by the keystroke, connecting as individuals, with concrete belief that Britain has to be a successful and leading country in all aspects of the digital world.

To package such a wide variety of knowledgeable opinion and recommendation in a short space of time is a terrific example of how Digital Britain can be far more than the sum of its parts. I am delighted put my name to the report.

Alastair Duncan
London N16

The full report can be read here Digital Britain Unconference Report

Congratulations are due to Kathryn Corrick, Bill Thompson and Tom de Grunwald who pulled this whole thing together along with all the Unconference organisers around the country. BERR are now reading the report ‘with interest’. Likewise.

Digital Britain conference most important this year according to Gordon Brown

digital britain conference

digital britain conference

I’ve written a longer piece for Brand Republic about the Digital Britain Conference which you can see here. I went to the actual event for the last panel, not wishing to miss the debate about Digital Skills as I had something better to do at lunchtime. Like most of the digerati, I was able to follow the earlier part of the event with live tweets from a variety of sources [search #digitalbritain on twitter to see what I mean].

In short, there’s plenty still to do to achieve the vision set out in the original discussions six months ago. As I commented at the time, without creative vision, a Digital Britain will be a rather gloomy place. Einstein’s quote “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” springs to mind. The various panellists talked about plumbing an poetry, but it seems to me to be a little to much plumbing and not enough poetry right now. I’ve hear Lord Carter and now Lord Mandelson talk about how our creative industries are ‘world leading’ and vital to sustaining the British economy. Great, but without investment and involvement in the sector at the pointy end of creativity, we can’t expect our pioneer status as a creative nation to survive.

I’m a firm believer in universal access to technology – I’m delighted that my mum in remote Scotland is able to keep in touch with wireless connection and laptop – and this is a critical part of defining a plumbing service level for the broadband providers, who are basically utilities. But without the magical spark of creativity in content, it won’t be much fun in the digital world, will it?