A small patch of pale blue had appeared in the grey mist as I arrived at King’s Cross on that Friday morning. By the time I emerged from the Tube, there was hazily bright sunlight at CoventGarden.
There was the usual mixture of tourist meandering slowly and local workers dashing hither and thither. The continental food market was something I had not seen there before. The boulangerie and patisserie items looked good.I left the sunlit square and Mediterranean-flavoured food and architecture for a more prosaic American-style coffee bar. I really struggled to carry holdall, backpack, walking stick and tray with large mug of coffee and a sandwich, but had to go downstairs with great difficulty and much spillage. I was relieved to find I had not spilt coffee all over myself.
I thought about what the CityCamp London weekend might bring. It seems that some think that these sponsored events that are free to attend are not worth attending. I am not sure that they go as far as to attack the idea of unconferences and hackdays. The lack of senior government people at these events thus far, even when organisers have invited them personally, had suggested that they might not consider them important enough to fit into their diary. CityCamp London promised to be different, with some decidedly senior people attending including Leo Boland, Chief Executive of the GLA (Greater London Authority).
This CityCamp London was the first such event in the UK. The first CityCamp was held earlier this year. These, and the unconferences such as LocalGov and Gov ones, are a new way of discussing issues relating to public services. They provide a space where the employed, unemployed, public servants and SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) people can come together.
I am a little concerned that the lack of voices attacking such events indicates senior and influential do not consider them as a serious forum. On the other hand, I have seen much rapid change in attitudes to use of technology in the past 10 years, and a world of difference in society’s attitudes generally within the past 25 years. We are moving forwards to towards a better future. Sometimes it feels like driving at 30 mph after driving at 70 mph on the dual carriageway or motorway. It seems so slow, it feels almost like travelling backwards.
Personally, I was a little anxious about going to somewhere I had never been before, and meeting new people. People could dislike me. I might say the wrong thing and offend them. They might despise me for not being employed at present. Whilst I was travelling down on the train, I had developed a cold and was finding it difficult to breathe. I worried a bit that people might shun me because I had a cold, or that I might pass it to them.
I thought about the people I would be seeing and felt sure that at least a few in the crowd would greet me with smiles. It occurred to me that I had met a lot more people during the past year through engaging in discussions using social media than in the entire previous decade. I do think that we are changing things through using such communication tools. Social media and the Web are to the early 21st century what coffee houses and newspapers were to the 18th century.
I focused on the architecture on the last part of my walk to the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, manufactures and commerce) main building in John Adam Street. One of the things I most enjoy about London is its architecture. There is nowhere else with such a gloriously stimulating eclectic mix of styles.
As I approached John Adam Street, despite the warmth of the afternoon sun, I felt a shiver of excited anticipation…