Thursday, 30 September 2010

Digital Exploration In My Local Park

As an ideas junkie I'm used to traveling some distance for my stimulation fix. For the past two years that's seen an annual pilgrimage to South By South West Interactive in Austin Texas which, for that one week in March, is *the* place on Planet Earth for soaking up cutting edge ideas on technology and business. So this week it was great to travel just minutes from my own house to my neighbourhood park for the launch of The Digital Exploration Centre.

When I was growing up Chalkwell Park was somewhere you'd go on the weekend to kick around a football. But when I moved back to the town four years ago, something was happening. An arts organisation called Metal were moving into the park's dilapidated Chalkwell Hall, keen to have a presence in the Thames Gateway regeneration area. Their arrival acted as a cultural catalyst, creating the energy for some world-class events happening right here on my doorstep. On Saturday, Metal hosted their third Village Green, a free annual arts and music festival that featured four stages of music plus workshops and art installations, attended by 26,000 people: think of it as a compact version of The Latitude Festival

And then on Wednesday I was back at the park for the launch of the Digital Exploration Centre, 'a network of innovators using digital technology, formed to be a catalyst for cross-disciplinary work, the sharing of ideas and a public programme of exhibitions, events and debate'. The evening featured a keynote from Gerfried Stocker, artistic director of Ars Electronica - below is a 90 second clip on the theme of ‘digital exploration’.

So okay, Southend-on-Sea is not quite Texas but it's great to have this kind of cultural and intellectual stimulation on your doorstep.

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