Working with dummies

Some time ago, Ivo Gormley, a young and gifted filmmaker, came to see me about a project he was working on, on participative citizenship, mass collaboration and the internet, and their implications on government as we know it.

That project became Us Now, a one-hour documentary produced by Banyak Films. It had its premiere at the RSA yesterday, a wonderful location for events of this type. Ivo asked me if I would introduce the film and frame and moderate the discussion to follow, an honour and privilege I was delighted to accept.

If you live near London, do try and watch the film for yourself as soon as you get the chance. There’s a screening due next week, details here. I believe there are a number of other previews planned before general release, and will post the details once I have them. In the meantime, particularly if you don’t live in the UK, there are clips and transcripts available here, with contributions from Clay Shirky (pictured above), Don Tapscott, Paul Miller and Lee Bryant amongst others.

Using examples ranging from Couch Surfers and Ebbsfleet United through to Zopa, Ivo weaves a convincing picture of the potential of collaborative software in a participative society, a narrative that flows effortlessly while punctuated by relevant yet succinct interviews and observations.

The questions that followed appeared to have three themes:

  • Can we do this? Can we bridge the generation gaps between the adopters of these technologies and the general population?
  • How can we do this? How do we actually begin to realise the potential of these tools in government, both local and national?
  • What can go wrong? What about the potential for such tools to do harm? How do we protect against misuse?

Ivo’s film has started the debate, it makes sense to continue it at the Us Now blog, so please direct your comments and questions here.

So what does all this have to do with the title of this post? Simple. I wanted a reason to point people towards this wonderful blog, Quite Human: Meeting people who work with dummies. How did I get to that blog in the first place? Well, yesterday, before the screening, Ivo introduced me to his father. A gentleman called Antony Gormley. I wondered why his name seemed familiar, why his face seemed familiar. But then I forgot all about it and went out for dinner with friends. Today, while having a cup of green tea with Malc, the subject came up and he reminded me. Which led me to some lazy surfing this evening, perusing Antony Gormley’s works. Which in turn led me to this entry:

11 thoughts on “Working with dummies”

  1. I look forward to seeing Us Now. In the meantime, thanks for linking through to our website that shows real people who work with real dummies – or life size human effigies in one form or another. The photographer Martin Burton has captured some fascinating portraits. We’d be happy to pick up on Us Now’s concept and record dummies that web visitors may care to suggest.

  2. thanks for your comments, everyone, the feedback loops are very important to me. Max, your site deserves more “airplay”, it has some fascinating stories. Keep it up.

  3. I attended the Us Now film screening in London on 10 Dec. The film is brilliant – thought provoking and inspiring. I produced a report about the screening. You can view it on YouTube, iReport, or my Blog. Search: Us Now Film Screening.

  4. Christopher, I passed your message on to Ivo, I believe he has gotten hold of you.

    Jon, I believe more screenings will be announced soon. I will let you know as soon as I do.

    Eric, glad you enjoyed it.

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