Digital Innovation, a talk at FACT

Last Wednesday I was one of four people asked to give a talk at FACT (the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) about Digital Innovation. Once the talks were over we then had an interesting discussion between the speakers and the audience about some of the issues raised (and more). I was too busy involved in the debate to take notes I’m afraid (and I can’t find any other reports on it online), but I can share my slides. The notes here won’t be exactly what I said, but were my thoughts when preparing the talk and so shouldn’t be too far from the mark…

[audio:https://doesliverpool.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/amcewen_intro.mp3|titles=Adrian McEwen intro music]

(and if you want to hear more, try the original tune it’s sampled from)

Imagivisionating the Future(tm)

Hello, I’ve blatantly stolen the idea of having intro music from a friend of mine, Russell Davies, but I think it’s good to start things with a bit of a flourish. I’ll come back to what the music was a bit later.

Who Am I?

I’m Adrian McEwen, I build interesting things with electronics and software and I co-founded something called DoES Liverpool. More on that later too.

Thanks to FACT for asking me along tonight…

Digital Innovation

I wasn’t sure what to talk about at first, but given the overall theme is “Digital Innovation” I figured I’d have a stab at defining what that might be.

Let’s break it down first…

Digital

That’s easy, it’s about computers and stuff. Pretty much everything I do involves computers or electronics or the Internet in some way or other…

Innovation

That’s the tricky one. Everyone seems to want more of it, as it’s some sort of magical elixir that will save money, make us more competitive, create new businesses and make us “think out of the box”. Which is strange, because people “doing innovation” look like this…

Innovation?

Which looks rather like they’re inside a big box, whereas these guys…

Innovation?

…are definitely outside of their box, and have re-imagined it as a shop. And tomorrow they’ll maybe rebuild it into a spaceship, and then incorporate a bedsheet to make it a lunar base…

I think “innovation” is one of those grown-up business words, that’s used by people because they don’t think they can get away with saying…

Playing

…or…

Experimenting

…or…

Trying Loads of Different Stuff

The problem is that in pretending we’re not doing any of those things, we suck all the permission to do any of those things out of ourselves, and end up trapped in a meeting room with a stack of post-it notes until we’ve “imagineered” our way out.

Another Way?

We’re tying to do things a bit differently at DoES Liverpool

First off, we’re a bit hard to explain…

We hold lots of events there but we’re not really a venue.
We have all sorts of people, with all sorts of skillsets, but we’re not an agency or an artists collective. You can’t “hire” DoES to make or do things for you.

I guess you can say we’re a community of diverse and interesting people (which we’d love you to join) who have a space where most (but not all) of the related activities take place.

We’re…

A Space to Play

DoES is full of people who are interested in trying out new things, and seeing where that takes them. We saw some laser-sintering of titanium at Liverpool University’s Engineering Department, and so John McKerrell thought he’d try it out with our laser-cutter and some sugar…

A Space for Experimenting

And some of the playing leads into experimenting. We were trying out some RFID technology, and installed it into the door at DoES so you get a welcome tune played when you arrive, and another when you leave. The music at the start of my talk is what gets played when I check into DoES. We’ve now extended the system so that it automatically logs the days that hot-deskers are here, so it makes running the space easier and lets us track stats of how it’s being used.

Somewhere to Cross-Pollinate Ideas

All sorts of people use DoES – artists, web developers, software engineers, designers… We’ve even got a translator and surveyor and someone who runs a modelling agency. Who knows what conversations and ideas will come about with those sorts of connections…

And there are plenty of groups that call DoES home – GeekUp, Liverpool Sewing Club, Breakerfaire (a computer security meeting), SpecFicLiv (a sci-fi/fantasy writing group), and one of the more regular events is…

A Space for Making

Maker Night (and Maker Day). Three times a month anyone can come along and learn more about 3D printing (that’s our 3D printer in the slide), laser-cutting, or electronics (things like Arduino). If you need a making fix more often than that, the workshop is available for anyone working from the space for the rest of the time

A Space for Prototyping

We have a number of people using the space to prototype their projects or ideas. I use it for some electronics/Arduino kits I’m developing, John McKerrell has been iterating through versions of his WhereDial location clock with the laser-cutter, and just today artist John O’Shea has been 3D printing scaffold for tissue culture as part of a bio-hacking project.

A Space for Business

Lots of members of the space run their own business, so there’s expertise to tap into, and someone to sympathise when you’re having a moan about clients not paying on time… Plus there’s Lean Liverpool, a monthly meeting to learn more about the Lean Startup methodology to running your business, and the Liverpool DoES Startups startup weekends (next one coming up in November)

A Space for Working

We’re happy to help you get some work done, whether it’s just hanging out at a desk with your laptop getting wifi and a cup of coffee, or using the workshop to laser-cut your latest project design.

You can get a desk to call your own and use of all the facilities; or have access to come in and use the workshop whenever you like; or just come and hot-desk (or hot-workshop) for a day. If any of that sounds tempting, bring some cake along and you can try us out for your first day for free.

Get Rich or Have Fun Trying

Is any of this going to increase the amount of Digital Innovation in Liverpool? I don’t know, it’s hard to scale or force – all you can do is try to engineer more serendipity into the environment.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter, it’s more about encouraging more people to chase exciting and different projects, and to make a living in a more enjoyable way.

The challenge we’re setting is…

Can You Do Epic S**t, Liverpool?

[audio:https://doesliverpool.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/amcewen_goodbye.mp3|titles=Adrian McEwen goodbye music]

Press Release: Community Co-Working Space, DoES Liverpool, Opens New Dedicated Workshop Area

DoES Liverpool, community workshop and co-working space in central Liverpool, has celebrated its first year of operation by expanding its space and creating a dedicated workshop area. With a 61% increase in floor space DoES has been able to create five specialised areas meaning that users can get the best out of each part of the space and avoid causing disruption for other visitors. DoES Liverpool is giving the public a great opportunity to visit and try out the space during the Grand Opening on Maker Day 11th August 2012.

The workshop now boasts some more traditional woodworking equipment such as a band saw and bench grinder to complement the existing digital fabrication facilities of the MakerBot CupCake 3D printer and LS3040 laser cutter and engraver. Stations for soldering or just general making are available for use during the regular Maker Night and Maker Day events or throughout the week by signing up for a workshop membership or paying for a single day’s use. Storage is included in workshop membership and available for purchase by other visitors. As ever, the first day’s use of the equipment and space is free if you bring along cake to share!

Removing the workshop equipment and much of the storage space from the main room also freed up more space for co-working. A cool new hot-desk hub has been created using an original Gostins dining table, and an existing pod of desks available for permanent members has been expanded. The meeting room now doubles as a comfortable break-out area with a large screen display available for viewing presentations and videos.

Richard Foulkes, Director, propertytranslator recently returned to DoES Liverpool after trying out other serviced offices in Liverpool, he said:

I’ve rented serviced offices from corporate landlords in the past and DoES has always offered a friendlier atmosphere in comparison. The recent improvements in layout and planned new facilities should make the office space an even better working environment going forward and I’m sure I’ll be using it more often.

As a regular visitor to the space, freelancer Joanna Leng offered her thoughts:

I enjoy working out of the DoES Liverpool office one day a week. I get a desk, electricity, wireless network, hot drinks, friendly intelligent conversation and networking all for £8 per day. DoesLiverpool also run lots of clubs and user groups – there is plenty going on. It is very creative.

This week they opened up a new work shop next to the office area. It is light and spacious and now if someone is using the laser cutter or 3D printer I can chat to them but I do not have to hear the machinery. I can also use the laser cutter to make some Xmas presents while I am there. The meeting room allows me to organise meetings here rather than at my home.

 

Further changes are planned including a newly fitted kitchen and electronic locks which will allow DoES Liverpool to expand its hours of operation beyond the standard work day.

For more information about Maker Day see makernight.co.uk, for more on DoES Liverpool – its services, facilities and prices – visit doesliverpool.com

DoES is now 50% More Awesome with a dedicated workshop space

Setting up the Laser cutter in its new home
Setting up the Laser cutter in its new home

At the weekend a dozen People Who DoES came to help move our temporary workshop into our Exciting New Dedicated Workshop space in the room next door.

Using an impressive array of technological (3D printed models on laser-cut floorplan, contributed CAD drawings) and organizational (anarchy/democracy) methods, our volunteers worked tirelessly for several hours, pausing only for cake and sandwiches.

This big
This big

Our co-working space is now larger and tidier, while the workshop is looking great. We’ll be celebrating the move on Saturday 11th August, for the inaugural Makerday (10:00-17:00). Hope you can join us!

See all of our photos from the move here!