on DOers and DOing at the Do Lectures
posted by leebaz
Friday, September 24th, 2010
Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Do Lecures at Fforest in Cardigan. The web is currently a flutter with Tweets and blogs about the experience from those who attended, who now seem like old friends, joined as we are by this shared experience. By next week the videos will (hopefully) be posted so you can go and watch for yourself. But maybe it’s the feeling of the event I should try and capture. Or the quality of the conversations. To be honest I’m not really sure how to do either. If you simply want to find out what it’s is all about, then the best place is the website or the blog.
I think one thing that struck me as the talks continued was that the scale of ‘DOing’ can vary enormously, but what matters is the DOing itself. There were talks about the World Wide Web, Social networks, harnessing people to make change happen…. but there were also talks about the importance of planting and growing food, of books and reading, of failure, chance, luck and simply timing.
Another theme that seemed to be emerging was the boundary between digital and physical, and where the bluring and crossing of this is producing interesting physical and digital artifacts. The twelve volume histroy of the Iraq war being one example that struck me – taken entirely from Wikipedia. Similarly the amazing video produced using an iPad, stop motion photography and animation… physical-digital-physical-digital and so on.
In and around the talks and talking there were opportunities to take part in activities such as a Biomimicry walk, tree climbing and a sun-rise canoe down the Tiefi, which I enthusiastically but maybe foolishly signed up for. As it turned out I was already awake at 5am due to the pretty amazing snoring of my tent mate, too much beer and the insufficient warmth of my sleeping bag. Once out on the river though the grogginess soon slipped away as I found myself in a boat with two of the speakers lazily drifting downstream and enjoying the peace and beauty of the countryside around us. My partners were Alasdair Harris and Jay Rogers, who had formed a pretty unlikely friendship seeing as one of them strives to preserve the natural habitat of sea creatures, and the other builds open-source rally cars. Alasdairs’ most shocking statistic during his talk is that unless rapid action is taken all Blue Fin tuna stocks will be gone by 2012, and all commercial fishing stocks by 2048. Stop eating fish were his parting words – that’s a serious position for us to be in surely? Jay’s talk raised many eyebrows since the outcome of the Local Motors open source car community is a (fairly) gas guzzling rally car. What was the brief I wondered later, and kicked myself for not thinking to ask during the talk. However, the car itself wasn’t really the point, it was the process, the reduced costs, the faster output time and other benefits of the locally built, globally designed car.
The pairing up of the speakers was subtle but clever; often they seemed from completely different worlds (the example above is one), but on reflection there were deep connections that bought them together. For example Ed Stafford, the only person to walk the entire length of the Amazon river, was paired with Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web, not an obvious paring! But, as Ed mentioned on his blog, they both had “perseverance, drive, communication in the remotest parts of the world, and being slightly nuts.”
The overall emotion coming away from the weekend (aside from mental and physical weariness! ) was one of an almost helpless ‘what should I DO?‘! But I think that is mellowing into a recognition that there is lots that I’m already doing, and of course lots more to be done. I often find with seminars on a particular subject, such as sustainable design for example, that the people attending are already on the same page (or a chapter ahead) and it’s those who don’t go who need to be engaged to encouraged to join the party! DOers of the world unite and spread the WOrd!