Crowd Talks: Design & Technology Review by Sophie Greenstreet

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 18:30-20:00
Old Post Room £6

On arrival the event’s atmosphere was warm and inviting. After being registered I was led to the space by two volunteers and picked up a welcoming drink. The circular layout of the room and scattered seating made it easy to slip in. Even though I had only just arrived in the nick of time for the start, I still had a very clear view of the panel and an understanding of each person's role due to initial intros/slides. Throughout the talk the mix of audience became apparent, young students and graduates, suited and booted counter-arguments and the older and wisercourse leaders and experienced professionals. The mix certainly made the debate. With such an all round contribution off points there was no feeling of hesitation in adding ideas to the discussion, more of a battle to squeeze everything in in fact. The concept of the talk proved to be quite pleasing, being so heavily reliant on the mood of it’s crowd sounds like a risk but was defnitely a reward!

In terms of the talk’s content, I had expected there to be more of a focus on art and design being rivalled by coding and programming, rather than so highly tech related. Having said this I was pleasantly surprised by the extent of the panel’s approach to using technology creatively and also educationally. And I did indeed learn a thing or two about what coding and programming actually count as in technical terms and the need for them to be taught as skills as well as in context. My mind is now far more open to not just teaching such topics but to how they ought to be taught. It was certainly reassuring to see this particular panel pioneering the idea of off-screen experimentation in the teaching of this subject and some sort of a relief to my own concerns which lie in the potential loss of DIY craft and craft culture amongst the onslaught of technology/computer contact. (I could rant here about the future of young people only a decade my junior/ the importance of gallery learning flling the widening gaps in the curriculum…alas)

As for having an enjoyable and worthwhile experience, the participational element of the talk was the most important for me. Having to speak up certainly had my brain ticking, not just at the time, but all the way home and even in conversations afterwards. I viewed the event in comparison to a talk I attended two days later on a not too distant topic; again with a panel, but in a dark and silent setting and without the participation element, the casual drink and with a ticket three times the price. Overall it was far more formal and I must admit I barely thought twice about the content after I had walked out of the door. I have seen the name Crowd Talks crop up a few times and have always meant to go but not quite got in gear. Now I am sure I would want to see and hear more. My only question being, why go in circles discussing such issues – what can your contacts and panels do collaboratively to begin to resolve these issues?!

Sophie Greenstreet