A Manifesto for the Curious and the Generous

Posted on May 27, 2016

By Julia Payne, director of the hub

I’m writing this from Liverpool, where I’ve been for the past 2 days for the inaugural Binary Festival, a brilliant get together of innovators, makers, creatives and inventors. Over the past two days, I’ve stared and listened in wonder as the brilliant Sam Aaron did the most awesome live coding, been inspired by the force of nature that is Pam Warhurst from Incredible Edible, made my own IOT/VR mashup (that allowed me to move at will around the VIP area of the music venue I’d designed!) courtesy of the brilliant Uniform team, played with All We Are in space (thanks to the VR world created by Draw & Code) and had to do that ‘no, I’m not really crying’ thing during Lemn Sissay’s provocation. What’s been absolutely brilliant about the festival is that even though the it's ostensibly about tech, the topics we’ve covered have ranged from everything to health and the future of schools, sustainable living and online retail. For someone like me, who’s innately curious about a LOT of things (probably my biggest strength, but also my biggest challenge!), it’s been GREAT!

And that curiosity, I think, coupled with a good dose of generosity, is why I absolutely love bringing together people from different worlds to explore possibilities and challenges that they (sort of) have in common. And it’s why I’m really excited about Make Do & Bend, and can’t wait to get started on Tuesday 7 June.

I’ve been talking a lot about curiosity and generosity while I’ve been here at Binary, and there’s also been a fair bit of discussion about ‘don’t wait to get permission, just do it’, which I guess sort of fits with the hacker sensibility that underpins what I’m hoping we get to do together at Make Do and Bend in a week or so’s time. It's not a conventional hackathon; it's small and hopefully perfectly formed; we’ve worked really hard to curate a group full of people we think will really create that ‘atomic collision’ thinking I mentioned in my first Make Do and Bend blog. I’m pretty sure we’ll quickly get down to doing some out-there thinking, before getting totally absorbed in some head spinning ‘couldn’t do it on our own’ co-design. How could we not, given that we’re kicking off the day with some ‘postcards from the future’ from musician/producer/DJ Matthew Herbert; founder of Liverpool’s DOeS maker space (and IOT whizz) Adrian McEwan, and NESTA's Director of Digital Arts & Media, Tim Plyming. Have I said I can’t wait?!

Anyhow, while I’ve been here in Liverpool, the teams at the hub and London Sinfonietta have put together a manifesto to capture the spirit in which we hope our day together will unfold. I wanted to share it with you, so here it is…

· We are curious. We are generous. We will share what we have with each other - our experience, our knowledge, our opinions, even ideas that we think might be mad or bad.

· Everyone here is different. That’s the whole point. We learn from each other’s ‘normals’, listen to different opinions and perspectives and give each other space to speak and think.

· We are co-creators, in it together. As team members, we jointly ‘own’ the idea(s) we develop over the day. We play fair, and decide together if/how we will take our ideas further.

· We trade our ideas, ask ‘what if’ and are curious about the answers we get back. We might reject some answers, go down some blind alleys, but that is part of arriving at a new idea.

· We try stuff. We take forward what’s working, but don’t forget what wasn’t. It might come in handy later or at another point in the future.

· We want others to learn from what we’re exploring, so as teams we’ll commit to capturing our questions, answers and ideas along the way, and to sharing those more widely during and after the day.

· We respect privacy, and use responsibly the data we’re given access to.

· We’re here to think, do, learn and share. And have fun.

Can’t wait to meet you all, or see once again those of you who I already know. I have a feeling it’s going to be a whole lot of fun.

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