“Driving social change”: The #ict2010eu TV show.

I’m sitting in the ICT 2010 plenary session on “Driving Societal Change, Opportunities for All.” One of the themes in the discussion is how many of the best people want to go to Silicon Valley, and why Europe perhaps isn’t as competitive in ICT as…

I’m sitting in the ICT 2010 plenary session on “Driving Societal Change, Opportunities for All.” One of the themes in the discussion is how many of the best people want to go to Silicon Valley, and why Europe perhaps isn’t as competitive in ICT as we’d like it to be.

After a great start, some of the panelists were slowly running out of steam and trying to console themselves by talking about Europe’s quality of life and better social equilibrium (and some of them were ratholing about the fashion industry). But kudos to Hermann Hauser (of ARM fame) and Stefanie Hoffmann (the young woman entrepreneur on the panel, from AKA-AKI in Berlin) for trying to drive the discussion toward some of the inconvenient truths: Entrepreneurial culture, intellectual culture, the ability to take entrepreneurial risks without betting one’s life on them. This panel could have used much more of that discussion.

But the session format itself shows off one of the problems that the panel belabors: Researchers, developers, innovators, policy-makers, entrepreneurs (current and future) have come to Brussels to attend this conference. Presumably, we’re hoping that many of the smartest minds in Europe’s ICT industry are sitting in the room now. But there are no microphones to permit an interaction between audience and panel, and within the audience. There is no wi-fi that would at least let people interact online, in the background.

Instead of giving the participants in this conference the space and the means to participate and interact, this part of the conference format makes us watch TV.

ICT 2010: A great opening, and an opportunity lost. #ict2010eu

I’m in Brussels for the ICT 2010 conference. The day kicked off with a number of great keynotes and a panel discussing how to turn the potential that European research and developing has into products and start-ups. Some themes: We need a culture …

I’m in Brussels for the ICT 2010 conference. The day kicked off with a number of great keynotes and a panel discussing how to turn the potential that European research and developing has into products and start-ups. Some themes: We need a culture that pampers entrepreneurs; ICTs and electronic communication are essential for sustained global growth at a time of constrained resources; enterprises need to embrace the Web as consumers have. The two stars of the morning were the European Parliament’s Silvana Koch-Mehrin, calling for the use of the Internet for better and more immediate citizen participation in the political process, and Neelie Kroes, commissioner for the Digital Agenda.

Alas, that opening session was also an opportunity lost: While Kroes was (as always) embracing the Internet’s participatory culture and tweeting full steam ahead, the conference organizers were concerned with keeping the audience focused on the speakers, and therefore didn’t provide Internet access to the audience. What could have started a conversation on Twitter and other social networks about the future of European ICT research and development ended up being a conversation in front of an audience, leaving the twitter walls right in front of the great auditorium strangely misplaced.