Terra Future or even terrible future – you could get depressed or ….


I’ve been at Terra Future for the last two days. Ordnance Survey organised the event at the RGS with a theme of “Tackling grand challenges through mass collaboration” the challenges being:

  • Sustainable living
  • Climate change
  • Sustainable transport

Pretty worthy stuff though I went in not sure that these problems could actually be solved by more use of Mastermap. Fortunately this was a much broader event than just GI with a wide range of thought provoking speakers talking about the challenges, the potential of current and future technologies to address or ease the problems and some good discussion of the need foir behavioural change from all of us and “collective responsibility” for the planet.

Rather than write up the whole event I tweeted a lot of instantaneous impressions (not all favourable) and some paraphrased quotes that caught my attention. You can read through my thoughts at #terfut (abbreviated Terra Future) – start at the bottom and read upwards to get the flow of the event over the 2 days.
I was not sure of the value of the industry speakers explaining how they were cutting their carbon footprints (or should that be feetprint?) worthy as that was it might have gone down better at a CBI conference than for this academic and GI audience. The rest of the content was good to excellent – of special note for me was Robin Mannings starring as the nutty professor and being thought provoking on ubiquitous location and a sensored world and David Putnam finishing with some inspirational stuff including the idea that mass collaboration and the social web could help to change attitudes and behaviours. He also ranted a bit against the corrosive effect of the media in stifling informed and sensible discussion in the political sphere, he certainly doesn’t like the Daily Mail (neither do I).
There was a great bit to the event each day entitled Pecha Kucha where a series of speakers  stand for 6min 40 secs and talk on their topic to 20 slides which auto advance after exactly 20 seconds each. Very intense and no one overran! Could be something we try at GeoCommunity this year.
All in all a very good event with the highs massively outweighing the lows. Shame there weren’t more people attending. A follow up is planned so look out for it.
And my take away from the event is that as Putnam said we have been living connsequenceless lives for most of the last century, time is running out and we have to start changing our behaviours in some quite radical ways and not wait for someone else to go first or come up with a golden technical bullet. I’m off to make sure that we have turned off the lights in all the unoccupied rooms in casa Feldman – at least that’s a start.