I’m just back from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I was speaking on two panels. The first was at the World Electronic Media Forum WEMF and the second at GK3. It’s a long story but when I worked for a while earlier this year at the World Service Trust, a GKP partner organisation, I was asked to organise and produce a panel to look at how participatory media and citizens’ journalism could and did impact Development issues. The original line up featured Dan Gillmor, Ory Okolloh, Sina Motalebi and Ethan Zuckerman with yours truly as moderator.
In the end the conference asked us to merge our panel with another panel being organised by YATV so Ethan and I volunteered to step down. In a strange turn of events I was later (months later) invited to speak myself on another panel that coincided with the my original offering – and happily Nancy White liveblogged it!
My own panel on the future of innovation took place in a ball room . The speakers were high up on a podium and the audience down below in the hall – it’s been a while since I have been that removed from the audience but happily everyone muddled around each other at the end.
My fellow panelists were all fascinating and we only had a few minutes each to talk about the future of innovation in our field. The organisers wanted to draw lessons from science futures, media futures, Asian futures and grassroots network futures – a tall order in one panel session. Ged Davies,Co-President of Global Energy Assessment, Futurist, and Former Managing Director, World Economic Forum, Kamal Jeet, representing Prof Anil K. Gupta, Co-ordinator, SRISTI and Honey Bee Network, and Executive Vice Chair, National Innovation Foundation, Markus Mettler, Chair Brainstore IdeaFactory, Sohail Inayatullah, Visiting Professor at Tamkang University, Taipei and Adjunct Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Q&A from the audience focussed on how to match innovation and futures thinking with the development agenda and particularly a grassroots approach. Kristine Pearson, Chief Executive of Freeplay Foundation (fellow panelist on my WEMF panel) pointed out that I was the only woman on this panel and made a wider point about women or lack of them in key Innovation roles which sparked some interest. It does seem to be true as I begin to go to more conferences in this role and I am struck, for the second time in my career by this phenomenon. but as I said from the panel creativity is not dependent on wealth or lack of it or gender come to that. It’s simply human. It’s how we organise it, rate it and value it that becomes divisive in this respect. What I liked about this conference was the global mix – everyone was from somewhere else.
But the question from the audience that took the biscuit on this issue came at DiploFoundation’s session on Diplomacy in Second Life when it was claimed that Second Life is 50/50 men and women. “So, you’re saying that’s real gender or virtual gender?”