Holistic Engagment: Lightning talk from Unsheffield 09

July 7th, 2009

We were invited to present one of the opening talks at Unconference Sheffield 09, a 20/20 Ignite-style talk as part of the “Stimulus” strand. 20 seconds per slide limits the depth it’s possible to go in to, but this is a brief (some would say, hectic) to how we see the world and the basis of our practice.

In broad terms, we look at how the old top-down message culture (particularly in terms of organisations reliant on PR and marketing) is breaking down, and even being actively undermined, by the shift that online communication has ushered in. A look at Ryanair Vs. Jason Roe reminds us that this democratic environment is also two-way, and as such large organisations do not nescessarily benefit from their scale.

We move on to look at how the architectures of the web are causing a cultural shift towards opennness and more egalitarian communication. We look at the ideas of discoverability, wayfinding and how organisations can create paths and signposts to work with their visitor base, and reinforce those paths for the future.

Finally we remind ourselves that conversation and language are themselves technologies; basic frameworks that underpin the most advanced systems that define our cultural identity and mediate our lives. Jürgen Habermas’ theory of communicative action is built on the ideal of a free public sphere, without external pressures influencing discourse, which empowers participants and leads to an freeer, more informed and consensual society.


We’d like to thank Jag Gill, the team, and sponsors for organising such an excellent event –  always a thankless task. If you were there, we hope you got something from our presentation and the other delegates.

Contact Dave regarding this article.