December 29, 2011

The Future of Liverpool?

For a long time now I've been bouncing round ideas about "visions of the future". Not because I've any grand aims to become a futurologist but because I think it's important to ruminate on how things might, or could, turn out.

Initially I thought it would be good to hold a one-day conference on the future - call it "20:20 on 2020" and invite people to present short, Pecha Kucha- or (slightly longer than) Ignite-style presentations where they'd give a 20 slide, 20 seconds-per-slide glimpse of a possible future life in (roughly) the year 2020.

However, compelling presentations of the future require a visual artistic ability that I, and I suspect many others, are sorely lacking - and what's more important is the narrative about how the future would work rather than a few pictures. Plus a conference would take an awful lot of organising and fund-raising that I don't have the time for at the moment.

So, a couple of months back, I found myself revisiting the idea, but this time as a writing exercise. That seems more universally accessible, and allows it to run over a longer period of time - hopefully garnering more interaction and involvement from people, whilst also using the existing infrastructure of blogs, twitter, etc. to minimise the overhead of running the project.

I still didn't have the time to take it further, but a recent conversation on twitter with Maria Barrett and Esther Dix has at least tipped me over the edge into making the idea public. I haven't got the bandwidth to drive it forwards, but if I can find four or five volunteers who want to help make it happen then I think it could be game on. If that sounds like you, then drop me line...

Anyway, onto the idea...

The It's Liverpool campaign, particularly for a council marketing project, is a really good idea - let the people lead the marketing and show why the city is great. It's a great way to promote the city to outsiders. What it doesn't do though, is help the people in the city to work out how they want the city to evolve.

That's where It's Liverpool 2020 comes in :-)

2020 might not be the right date, and it won't be a hard requirement to target it, but basically it's a blog post exercise to encourage people to write an article on their blog about a possible vision of Liverpool in 2020. The guidelines would be deliberately vague - it could be a short story as easily as it could be a list of projects and initiatives. Though it was set in 2015, the second-half of my Barcamp talk will give you an example.

There'll be a website, but it'll just point to posts on other people's blogs, and maybe show tweets tagged with #il2020.

Then there'll be a handful of volunteer curators who'll pick out their favourite pieces, which will be featured on the il2020 website, or in an ideal world we'll pique the interest of the Echo or Seven Streets and they'll be reprinted in a series there.

The idea is to keep the tech minimal and out of the way, as it's the writing that's important. The volunteer organisers will basically be doing bits of promotion; checking submissions and adding them to the website; and curating the submissions (and obviously, not everyone will have to do all of those roles).

I think that would be a really useful project to run, but there's plenty of scope to scale things up if it seems worth our time/effort... It would be nice at the end to compile a Newspaper Club newspaper containing the posts and distribute it round the city... We could find out who's in charge of the Council's ten year plan and present the ideas to them... It could spark some Social Media Surgeries to show people how to start a blog, so they can participate... maybe we could even hold some outside the city centre (at Toxteth TV or KVFM or wherever) to find some new voices...

Worst-case scenario: a few people write some blog posts about the future of the city.
Best-case scenario: some of the actual inhabitants influence some of the direction of the city; the group of volunteers go on to run more stuff, including more regular Social Media Surgeries; we introduce a load of new voices into the online debate about life, society and whatever in Liverpool.

What do you think?


Posted by Adrian at December 29, 2011 02:38 PM | TrackBack

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Sounds like a great idea. Let us know if the it's liverpool team can get involved.

Posted by: Roz at January 5, 2012 12:12 PM

Hi Roz,

Thanks for the offer. We'll definitely let you know how things progress, and if there's anything you can do to help.

It might well be towards the end of the project though, I think it's important that we have (and maybe more important that we're also seen to have :-) independent editorial control (which sounds far too grand when I put it like that...)

Posted by: Adrian at January 5, 2012 09:55 PM

I like. Time we had that beer?

Posted by: Dave at January 11, 2012 12:05 AM

Yes. An excellent idea. I have some time and some material. Get in touch.

Posted by: Peter McGurk at January 12, 2012 01:29 PM
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