Thursday, 15 April 2010

Amplified Leicester Showcase

To Phoenix Square this morning (I should live in this place!), for the Amplified Leicester Showcase event. Amplified Leicester is a city-wide experiment designed to boost the innovation capacity of Leicester and share new skills which are fast becoming essential in 21st century workplaces and communities. In 2009/10 Amplified Leicester offered a small group of participants from across the city the chance to:
  • benefit from Leicester's huge diversity of people and cultures;
  • generate new ideas quickly;
  • think like a futurist and see the bigger picture;
  • organise and collaborate better;
  • be persuasive in different social situations;
  • share and develop creative ideas;
  • manage the stream of information bombarding us every day;
  • choose the best people with whom to collaborate;
  • make the most of different kinds of resources – social, economic, creative.
Every fortnight participants attended lectures and workshops and in between meetings worked together via Twitter, Facebook and other social media applications. They filmed interviews in their communities and shared the videos online.

The project has been inspired by (and is based on) research done by The Institute for the Future at Palo Alto, California. The amplified individual is (consciously):
  • highly social;
  • highly collective;
  • highly improvisational;
  • highly augmented.
At the end of (this part of) the project the participants are showcasing their work and expanding the conversation to include more people from the city of Leicester and beyond. This one day event at Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre includes practical workshops run by the participants themselves, presentations of their experimental projects, and talks by the project team. Keynote speaker, Andrea Saveri, an independent foresight and strategy consultant based in Berkeley, California, was unable to travel here for the event for medical reasons. However, she still delivered her speech via skype. The theme of her talk was locating the Amplified Leicester experience within a global context. Leicester is ther first and only amplified city in the world!

I missed out on the chance to participate in Amplified Leicester. I believe I was the first person to apply to be considered for the project, but withdrew my name almost immediately when I realised that work commitments would have proevented me from attending the fortnightly sessions. but I've been a camp follower of the project all along and have lent whatever assistance I could to it, even just by "bigging it up" (especially in this blog).

This is undoubtedly an excellent project and I have many good things to say about it. If you can sense a "but" coming, it's not a new one or that different from one that I have to raise with many of the events and activities, groups and organisations with which I've been involved over the past few years. There tends to be something of a "disconnect" between Leicester's faith communities at large and what we might call the "mainstream" cultural life of the city. Now, no doubt that some of those involved with a project such as Amplified Leicester are people of faith or strong beliefs. And there are individuals who would appear to be easily identified as members of the faith communities themselves. I'm talking about something different and (I believe) deeper.

As part of my ongoing efforts to overcome that "disconnect", I invited Ramila and Ravi from the "Get Inspired 2010" team to come along today so that I could put them in touch with a few people who might be able to help them promote their event coing up in August. I'm pleased to see that they appear to benefit from this, as I had hoped.

Find out more about Amplified Leicester:

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