In the next few months we will be speaking at many events in the UK and beyond, as well as taking part in broadcasts. With a number of partners we are also programming events around the themes of the Manifesto, including a launch event. Notices will be posted here. You can also subscribe to a listing of these events in the BIG POTATOES group on Upcoming.

Talk: James Woudhuysen in Future of Innovation Debate, 17/11/2015

James Woudhuysen is speaking in the ‘Future of Innovation’ event organised by KTN Ltd as part of The Disruptive Innovation Festival. James will be debating circular business models with Mat Hunter of the Central Research Laboratory (formerly Chief Design Officer at the Design Council). Other debates are on manufacturing and social and environmental challenges, and whether people need to take responsibility for their own health. The Disruptive Innovation Festival is curated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and brings together thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, businesses, makers, learners and doers around broad themes, ‘to catalyse system-level change for a future economy’. It takes place over three weeks from 2–20 November; many events are Webcast and also available to view post hoc.

Event: Discussion with Alison Hulme about ‘On the Commodity Trail’, Friday 13 March (London)

Nico Macdonald will be hosting a discussion with academic Alison Hulme about her new book ‘On the Commodity Trail’. 

The event takes place on Friday 13 March at 18:30 in central London, at new UK-based crowdfunding platform and hub CrowdShed: 

The Shed, 18 Hanway Street
London W1T 1UF 
How to find The Shed

Hulme is a Teaching Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies and an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics from Goldsmiths, and a BA in Media Studies from Sussex University. Her other publications include the edited volume ‘China’s Changing Landscape of Consumerism’. Prior to academia she worked as a radio and TV presenter. 

There is no cost to attend. You can book via Eventbrite, from where you also add the event to your calendar. 

On the Commodity Trail book cover

On the Commodity Trail: The Journey of a Bargain Store Product from East to West by Alison Hulme
London: Bloomsbury Academic, 26-02-2015

Following the journey of eight bargain store objects, Alison Hulme reveals the complex story behind society’s simplest and cheapest commodities. Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, On the Commodity Trail explores the colourful and fascinating histories of everyday objects.

See excerpts of reviews of the book on the publisher’s book page, and reader reviews the book page.

Event: Droning on: life in the Internet of Things, 30 September 2014

The debate on automation and robotics has come to the fore again – after first being aired in the 1970s – this time based on the developments in digital and network technologies, and pioneering work at institutions such as Imperial College London. Agile robots were one of the 10 New Breakthrough Technologies of 2014 according to MIT Technology Review, and are being used not only to make cars by Tesla, but drive them as well – with all the worries associated with that, according to Wired. Home automation is also becoming a reality, lead by Apple and some of it alumni, closely followed by established electronics players and feisty startups. And academics such as Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have provoked with The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, which has been problematised further by Martin Wolf in the Financial Times and excoriated by James Woudhuysen in spiked.

In the run-up to the Institute of Ideas’ Battle of Ideas 2014 conference Norman Lewis is taking part in a UK Satellite Event in London, to discuss the impact of the connected world on how we behave; whether machines are our liberators; if the Internet of Things mark a radical change in the relationship between humans and technology; and whether the concept of fully networked living will remain unfulfilled.

Droning on: life in the Internet of Things

Tuesday 30 September, 18:30–20:00, Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DT [Map]

Tickets £7.50 / £5.00 Concessions

Further information on the Battle of Ideas event page

We are also hosting debates at the Battle of Ideas which are convened by Martyn Perks, and Paul Reeves, principal software designer at Dassault Systèmes-SolidWorks R&D, at the Battle of Ideas, which takes place 18-19 October at the Barbican Arts Centre in London, and offers two days of high-level, thought-provoking, public debate organised by the Institute of Ideas. The sessions are:

Another session which may be of interest is From bullet trains to driverless cars: where is transport going? on Saturday 18 October, 16.00 until 17.15, convened by Austin Williams of the Future Cities Project.

Event: Making it in the 21st-century

Big Potatoes co-author Martyn Perks is convening a series of debates at the Battle of Ideas 2012 in the Making it in the 21st-century strand which is exploring the future of manufacturing. And we are sponsoring the Engineering design or design engineering? session, in which our Manufacturing Workgroup convenor, Paul Reeves, is also speaking.

The Battle of Ideas takes place 20-21 October at the Barbican Arts Centre in London, and offers two days of high-level, thought-provoking, public debate organised by the Institute of Ideas. The debates are convened by Martyn Perks, and Paul Reeves, principal software designer at Dassault Systèmes-SolidWorks R&D.

Session titles and speakers follow. Tickets for the Battle of Ideas can be booked online:

Manufacturing: the great comeback?

Speakers: Andrew Bergbaum, director, AlixPartners; manufacturing industry consultant; Peter Marsh, manufacturing editor, Financial Times; author, The New Industrial Revolution: consumers, globalization and the end of mass production; James Matthews, management consultant; founding member, NY Salon; writer on economics and business; Mike Wright, executive director, Jaguar Land Rover

Read on

Gas galore? Fracking and the future of energy

Speakers: Stephen Bull, vice president, Statoil (US onshore operations); Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, Guardian; Professor Hywel Thomas, pro vice-chancellor, International and Engagement, Cardiff University; fellow, Royal Academy of Engineering

Read on

Engineering design or design engineering?

Speakers: Kerry Kirwan, deputy head of materials and manufacturing and strategic director of the International Doctorate Centre at WMG, University of Warwick; Dr Natasha McCarthy, head of policy, Royal Academy of Engineering; author, Engineering: a beginner’s guide; member, Forum for Philosophy, Engineering and Technology steering committee; Kevin McCullagh, founder, Plan; visiting fellow, Northumbria University; Dr Paul Reeves, principal software developer, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks R&D; former senior researcher, International Automotive Research Centre, University of Warwick

Read on

Water, water, everywhere: not allowed to use it

Speakers: Chris Binnie, independent water consultant; member, ICE Water Expert Panel; fellow, Royal Academy of Engineers; Dr Caspar Hewett, water resources environmental consultant; director, The Great Debate; David Lloyd Owen, managing director, Envisager; author, The Sound of Thirst; Andy Wales, senior vice president, sustainable development, SABMiller

Read on

Commons people: music in a digital age

Speakers: Helienne Lindvall, award-winning professional songwriter; musician; music and media columnist, Guardian; Alan Miller, co-director, NY Salon; co-founder, Londons’ Truman Brewery cultural center; Andrew Orlowski, executive editor, The Register; assistant producer, All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace; John Waters, columnist, Irish Times, Irish Mail on Sunday, The Irish Catholic and Tracce/Traces; author, Feckers and Was It For This? – Why Ireland Lost the Plot

Read on

Event: Symposium on the Big Potatoes Manifesto for Design

Saturday 16 June, 2–5 pm, Made in Brunel, OXO Tower Wharf, London SE1 9GY

Following the 2010 publication of BIG POTATOES we have focused our analysis and thinking on particular areas, creating workgroups, including on design, with the aim of drafting manifestos in each area. This symposium is the first time the Design Manifesto will have had a public airing. Feedback and contribution from participants will be invaluable, helping shape its arguments in time for its launch on an unsuspecting world! Read on on the Symposium page

Talk: Nico Macdonald at Intelligent London, 15 May (London)

Nico Macdonald will be speaking at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Conference Intelligent London on 15 May, at the Bloomberg Auditorium in central London, presenting a Bright Ideas talk promoting the role of creative technologists.

Intelligent London aims to present snapshot views of London, ‘looking in a non-Olympic, non-Jubilee way at this magnificent city’, with sessions on ‘Creative Juices: Why London Inspires From Business To Culture’ and ‘London Abroad: What Makes London A ‘Melting Pot’?’, interspersed with Bright Ideas talks and music from James McMillan and Liane Carroll.

Speakers include Southbank Centre Artistic Director Jude Kelly; Businessweek‘s Stryker McGuire; Harvey Goldsmith; Sir Nicholas Kenyon; Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic; Clare Clark, author of The Great Stink and Beautiful Lies; political commentators Matthew d’Ancona, Suzanne Moore and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; and Ben Rogers of the Centre for London. See the full programme.

If BIG POTATOES supporters are interested in this event please get in touch and we can connect you with Editorial Intelligence to request a place.

Event: Idea factories? Manufacturing and making in the 21st century

Friday 30 September, Battle of Ideas Festival, Victoria & Albert Museum

Idea factories imageJames Woudhuysen will be speaking at the V&A Friday Late debate Idea factories? Manufacturing and making in the 21st century (one of the Battle of Ideas Festival Satellite Events) on Friday 30 September. There is no cost to attend the event. James notes:

In Britain, illusions about the creative economy die hard. Artistic creativity does not require the investments or the long-run budgets demanded by R&D in manufacturing, and especially in services. Britain’s designers and artists love to flatter themselves about their importance, and politicians are far too ready to reciprocate. The result is that the ‘creative’ potential of China is underestimated; the technological possibilities with Britain’s not-dead-yet manufacturing sector are forgotten, or exaggerated; and changes to behaviour rather than in technology are seen as the solution to backwardness in infrastructure, private services and public services. What creatives need to rally round is the cultural struggle for innovation that leads to more and better ‘stuff’, more and better intangibles, and more and better science. These signs of progress are indivisible, whether they come from Shoreditch or Shanghai.

The chair and speakers are:

David Bowden, coordinator, UK Battle Satellites;
poetry editor, Culture Wars;
TV columnist, spiked
Sandy Black, professor of fashion & textile design & technology,
Centre for Sustainable Fashion, University of the Arts London;
author, Eco Chic: the fashion paradox

Daniel Charny, senior tutor, Royal College of Art;
director, From Now On;
curator, ‘Power of Making’, V&A

Dr Paul Reeves, principal software developer,
Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks R&D; former senior researcher,
International Automotive Research Centre, University of Warwick

Angela Saini, freelance science
journalist; author,
Geek Nation

James Woudhuysen, professor of forecasting and
innovation, De Montfort University; co-author,
Energise! A future for energy innovation

Matt Warman, new technology journalist,
Daily Telegraph

If you Tweet about the event please use the hashtag #battleofideas. You can also add the event to your calendar from the shared event page.

Event: Designed in Britain, Made in Britain

Friday 16 September, London Design Festival, Imperial College London

Made in Britain map“We want the words: ‘Made in Britain, Created in Britain, Designed in Britain, Invented in Britain’ to drive our nation forward. A Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers” said Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his 2011 Budget speech.

In his prime time BBC documentary Made in Britain Evan Davis argued that creativity and innovation is the life blood of the British economy and mapped future scenarios. We have created a globalised economy in which new materials and processes proliferate, products and services have merged, digital and analogue are a continuum, and R&D funding models are being fundamentally challenged. Yet, substantial and high quality manufacturing is still core to London and its hinterland – from Coca Cola to Ford Motors, tractor makers to manufacturers of electrical products – and many global companies choose London as their creative hub.

On Friday 16 September, as part of the London Design Festival, we have co-programmed and Nico Macdonald is chairing the debate Designed in Britain, Made in Britain with the Imperial College-RCA Design London programme. This debate takes place at Imperial College London.

Taking part are Bonnie Dean, Chief Executive of the Bristol & Bath Science Park and Chair of Economic Policy Committee, Engineers Employers Federation; Gus Desbarats, Chairman of TheAlloy: experience led design, National Chairman of British Design Innovation; Nick Leon, Director of Design London; Miles Parker, Managing Director of Linx Associates Ltd and co-founder of the Thames Gateway Manufacturing Alliance; and Kwickscreen founders Michael Korn and Denis Anscomb, a company incubated by Design London and recent winner of the UK leg of the James Dyson Award.

We will be asking whether the city is again becoming a viable site for manufacturing. Can we can re-design design to help London, and the UK, build on its manufacturing strengths? How can we better integrate design and manufacturing? Where can education and national and local government help? And we will be debating the credible design-manufacturing visions for London’s economic future which could influence strategy over the next 50 years.

Please see the event page for more information and to reserve your seat. [Shared event listing] Attendees will be Tweeting about the event using the Festival hashtag #ldf11.

More generally, people involved in the Big Potatoes Design workgroup will be taking part in London Design Festival events and debates and we will be flagging them on the event sharing service Lanyrd with the tag ‘ldf11’.

Potatoes speaking at Future City debates, 7 and 8 October (London)

Story of London Festival logoTwo of the BIG POTATOES authors, Norman Lewis and James Woudhuysen, are taking part in the forthcoming Future City keynote debates, which are the core of the Mayor’s Story of London Festival and take place at the British Library Conference Centre 4–8 October. The Story of London Festival takes place 1–10 October and is on the theme ‘London, Innovation and the Future’, focusing on London as a site of innovation and the value of innovation to the future of the city.

Norman Lewis is taking part in the Future City debate Is London missing out on the potential of new technologies? on the evening of Thursday 7 October. The other speakers are Iain Gray, chief executive, Technology Strategy Board; Adam Hart-Davis, writer and broadcaster; Dr Hermann Hauser, co-founder, Amadeus Capital Partners; and Oliver Morton, Energy and Environment Editor, The Economist and author of Eating the Sun. The debate will be chaired by David Rowan, editor, Wired UK. (See event details below.)

James Woudhuysen is taking part in the Future City debate London and the future: Will we still be a major player in the world in 2050? on the evening of Friday 8 October. The other speakers are Professor Lisa Jardine, Centenary Professor of Renaissance Studies, Queen Mary, University of London; Jude Kelly, artistic director, Southbank Centre; Julie Meyer, founder and chief executive, Ariadne Capital; and Peter York, social commentator, writer and broadcaster. The debate will be chaired by Simon Fanshawe, broadcaster and writer. (See event details below.)

Full information these debates follows. Other debates in the series are Bankers and Bonuses: What has the City ever done for London? on 4 October; Is London growing too big too fast?, 5 October; and London and the Olympics: Predicting the legacy of the twenty-first century on  6 October. Speakers and chairs include Billy BraggLuke JohnsonFT columnist and chairman of Risk Capital Partners; Economist editor-in-chief John Micklethwait; BBC Newsnight economics editor Paul MasonSir Terry FarrellChris Luebkeman, head of Foresight, Incubation and Innovation at Arup; James HeartfieldThe Times design and architecture writer Stephen Bayley; and Ricky Burdett, head of the LSE Cities Programme.

We hope BIG POTATOES supporters will be able to take part in the Future City debates and discussions, which should be very engaging and offer a chance to develop many of the themes of the Manifesto in the context of the city and urbanism. Please also help us promote the debates in which we are taking part by sharing this post or re-Tweeting the announcement on our Twitter feed.

Future City: Is London missing out on the potential of new technologies? Thursday 7 October 2010 from 18:30 to 20:00 (British Library Conference Centre)

London has historically been the home of great innovations, and now the potential is even greater than ever with the development of digital technology. But can we recognise the real innovations hidden around us or are we distracted and dazzled by the short-term allure of shiny new technologies? Does London have the ambition and vision to use innovation to transform the city or will we stick with the status quo?

Event page and booking at the British Library Story of London page Future City: London and the future: Will we still be a major player in the world in 2050? Friday 8 October 2010 from 18:30 to 20:00 (British Library Conference Centre)

At the turn of the twentieth century, London was the largest and most influential city in the world. Now there are many other big players: Shanghai, Tokyo, New York to name a few. Are other cities doing better in developing education, arts and science? How will London’s ability to innovate fare in a time of spending cuts and increasing regulation? Will London get left behind or is there something special about it that will keep it racing ahead?

Event page and booking at the British Library Story of London page

Event: Blue-skies thinking is dead: long live blue-skies thinking?

Sunday 31 October, Battle of Ideas festival, Royal College of Art, London

‘Blue-skies thinking’ has long been lampooned as management cliché, but in today’s climate of austerity, such fanciful talk can even be deemed downright irresponsible. In government, business, even in science, everyone seems obsessed with tangible outcomes, practical solutions and ideas grounded in reality. Despite universities minister David Willetts’ talk of ‘curiosity-driven research’, academics are constantly under pressure to leave their ivory towers and prove the ‘impact’ of their research. R&D has become short-termist and risk averse. Economic planning is confined to getting through the worst. Few seem interested in re-writing the future. Being too imaginative, ambitious or creative can lead to accusations of wasting precious time and resources, of being unrealistic and self-indulgent.

But might society in fact need more rather than less blue-skies thinking? As Buckminster Fuller, the twentieth century American architect and futurist who popularised the construction of Space Age geodisc domes, once said ‘You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete’. People like Fuller knew blue-skies thinking played an important role in inspiring future generations: it helped turn young dreamers into tomorrow’s scientists, designers, entrepreneurs and writers, and inspired many others who wanted to change the world.

If no-one is prepared to conjure up our own versions of yesterday’s flying cars, teleportation and space travel, how can we ever expect to achieve the unthinkable if we can’t even imagine it? Sceptics argue ideas are cheap and what matters is how you turn them into reality. But if we cannot let our imaginations run riot, then what we develop in the future will probably be no better than what we already know. Is the problem perhaps that too much innovation is focused on practical problem-solvers and instead we should look to the natural dreamers in the arts, to the imaginative skills of creatives? Where will our big ideas come from? Or should we postpone flights of fancy about tomorrow until we have solved today’s pressing challenges?

James Woudhuysen professor of forecasting and innovation, De Montfort University; co-author, Big Potatoes, Energise! A future for energy innovation and Why is Construction So Backward?

Professor Anthony Dunne head, Design Interactions Department, Royal College of Art

Simon Warr communications consultant; vice-president, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

Chair: Martyn Perks director, Thinking Apart; speaker and writer on design, technology and innovation; co-author Big Potatoes: the London manifesto for innovation

In association with Jaguar Land Rover and the Royal College of Art Student Union.

Big Potatoes are the session partner.