Dave's blog. Updates from Dave Carter, Head of MDDA.

Celebrating 20 years: from Telematics to Future Internet

At the end of another busy week it’s good to reflect on the little celebration we had on Tuesday to mark 20 years since we launched our first large scale digital project, although we called it ‘Telematics’ then, on March 1st 1991. This was the Manchester Host, the UK’s first public access computer communications and information network, which the technology team (2 of us) in the Economic Development team at Manchester City Council worked on with a UK workers coop called Poptel and a small innovative German telecoms company called GeoNet – for more info see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchester_Host

Having nearly decided to close down the ‘Dave’s Blog’ part of our site, because it’s been so long since I made the time to post anything, this week changed my mind, as nearly everyone who came to the event commented on how easy it is to forget what’s gone on before and not learn, and share, some lessons from that. So here we go with another attempt to make sure there’s a regular flow of copy going out through here. Lots to report on certainly, from remembering what we were doing in those ‘formative years’ from 1989 to 1991 to Gigabit fibre being rolled out in South Korea to debates on Future Internet and ‘Smart Cities’.

Starting with the 20 years event, it was great to see such a cross-section of founder ‘members’ and new faces who came along to find out what this is all about. Plus Skype connections to three corners of the globe: Australia with Alan Taylor, Africa with Peter Benjamin (working in South Africa but Skyping from a conference in Ethiopia) and Yorkshire (Steve Walker and Alison Martin). Lots of discussion about what’s different and what’s not: like no one’s still come up with a way of putting a value on content that is both accessible and affordable and supports people who want to try to make a living out of generating content, or, the way that policy makers didn’t really ‘get it’ back then but liked the idea of innovation to today when most policy makers still don’t ‘get it’ but like the idea of innovation and allow many of us to ‘get away’ with doing innovative things.

So, we agreed we’d try to create a digital archive of some of materials from back then, lots of stuff is only currently available in printed form, and also do a series of interviews with as many of the founders as we could round up and link this to more recent stuff, like all the work we did around the Digital Challenge initiative in 2006-7. More on that story later…..

Posted on: March 4, 2011.