The UK Digital Future papers – short summary and links

The last few months have seen some significant reports produced signposting the importance and significance of digital skills for all of us. See also Martha Lane Fox and her inspiring Richard Dimbleby Lecture


Make or Break: the UK’s Digital Future (House of Lords February 2015)

“This report is a call to action for the incoming Government in May 2015. The world is being transformed by a series of profound technological changes dominated by digital—a ‘second machine age’. This is already having a significant impact on the UK; over the next two decades some economists have estimated that 35% of current jobs in the UK could become automated. Digital technology is changing all our lives, work, society and politics. It brings with it huge opportunities for the UK, but also significant risks. This demands an ambitious approach which will secure the UK’s position as a digital leader. We recommend that the new Government establishes a single and cohesive Digital Agenda.

The new digital age offers huge opportunities as well as significant risks; it can make the UK, or break it’ (p8)

Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth / The 2015 Report by the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value (17.02.2015)


The final report of the Warwick Commission inquiry finds the future of cultural value as lying in a seamless relationship between the cultural sector and the creative industries, coupled with a focus on enterprise and creativity in schools.

Also highlighted is the need for the Department for Education and Ofsted to ensure all children up to the age of 16 receive a broad cultural education. The Commissioners warn that the English education system’s failure to focus on creativity and enterprise, and to identify, nurture and train tomorrow’s creative and cultural talent will “negatively impact not just on the future of the creative industries but on our capacity to produce creative, world-leading scientists, engineers and technologists”. It recommends cultural organisations be “incentivised to increase demand and take-up from children, young people and families previously less engaged”.

It recommends the development of a ‘Digital Public Space’ – a kind of digital library of the UK’s artistic and cultural assets that would provide secure and equitable access to digitised content and resources, with the aim of empowering everyone “to assume their full and fulfilling role as digital cultural consumers, regardless of skill level, ability, status or income”.

Growing a Digital Social Innovation Ecosystem for Europe (16.02.2015)

The challenges for EU (from report p 6)  The big challenges for the EU are how to make it easier for small-scale radical innovations involving digital technology to emerge and evolve, but perhaps more important how to create the conditions for the really powerful ones to get to scale. One of the key issues for the further growth of DSI in Europe is how to better connect the many very young and small-scale organisations and innovative projects in Europe to collaboratively develop projects, share learning and best practice, and seek funding and sustainable new business models. This research has identified the goals of policy, the policy tools and funding instruments available and the frameworks and open standards to make it much easier for digital social innovations to spread. The study also indicated some examples of how these actions could be implemented within the framework of the Digital Agenda for Europe and under the Horizons 2020 Work Programme. As shown in this research, Europe has pioneered a reasonably comprehensive set of tools (also through research programmes such as CAPS), and policy actions. But the scale of innovation is still far too modest relative to the scale of the challenges. And some of the biggest barriers to impact lie in the entrenched power of incumbents who, not surprisingly, would prefer digital social innovation to remain the domain of geeks, hackers and activists. The Commission must create the conditions where digital businesses, social entrepreneurs and DSI communities can thrive. This includes several actions: 1. Experiment with bold public and social innovations 2. Invest in the infrastructure of the 21st Century, in order to provide a privacy-aware decentralised environment for open data; 3. Educate a technology-savvy multidisciplinary workforce, and use all their powers to foster a culture of democratic and inclusive innovation. Only by improving its social innovation capacity can Europe remain productive and competitive, and create the digital innovations for the social good that its citizens need .

Key findings (reported at (accessed 12.04.2015)

The report identifies more than 1,000 rising examples of digital social innovation organisations across Europe, and the hidden links among them.

Social innovation in Europe is currently done by a few large organisations alongside a large mass of smaller organisations, but the majority of social innovators in Europe are disconnected from the bigger networks

The largest and more interconnected community is focused around open hardware and open networks, and there is a large focus on awareness networks and new ways of making.

The open knowledge cluster is the second largest, with a focus on collaborative economy.

The third largest network is grouped around Nesta and is focussed on funding, acceleration and open democracy. Other communities, such as those grouped around open data are developing connected communities. – See more at:  #sthash.SNipgDx7.dpuf

Young Digital Makers Surveying attitudes and opportunities for digital creativity across the UK (Oliver Quinlan March 2015)

“Digital technologies pervade every part of our lives. They offer us rapid social and economic change as well as complex ethical questions. We need to understand how they work in order to make the world work better. But as this report shows, we risk another generation growing up as passive digital consumers rather than confident digital makers.” From forward by Baroness Martha Lane Fox of Soho

Key Findings:

82 per cent of young people say they are interested in digital making. However, half of young people make things with digital technology less than once a week or never.

Parents are overwhelmingly supportive of digital making. 89 per cent think it is a worthwhile activity for their children. 73 per cent encourage their children to make things with technology.

We identified 130,800 opportunities to experience digital making provided by the organisations surveyed. This is a long way from providing for the interest shown by 82 per cent of our survey, which represents a possible 8.2 million school age children and young people in the UK.

Digital making is powered not just by money, but also by volunteers. Two thirds of the organisations identified said they relied on volunteers to do their work.

Only half of teachers who teach ICT or computing report being confident in teaching the curriculum.

See more at:

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