Two heads are better than one: Steph Gray and Dave Briggs

This isn’t a ‘how-to’ blog post at all. I just wanted to use the title.

UKGovCamp13: A Fab event

Steph and Dave did their usual marvellous job, making UKGovCamp appear effortless, with it passing off without a hitch (well, second time round).

Lloyd Davis kept everyone in order and provided entertainment; ‘Fingers’ Cattell typed like the wind; IBM Southbank was the perfect venue; the sausage and mash was sublime; and the bar tab* was never ending…

It was an oportunity to:

  • Recharge batteries
  • Develop cunning plans with like-minded people
  • Challenge and be challenged
  • Discover the latest disruptive ideas and technologies
  • Catch-up with friends
  • Make new friends
  • etc etc

Which one?

At the session pitches, I struggled deciding which ones to attend – I wanted to go to all of them.

#UKGC13 – the Pitches from Beatrice Bray on Vimeo.

There’s not a single session I’ve been to at any unconference where I haven’t taken away something worth having. Fortunately, at UKGovCamp the sessions I wasn’t at were all captured one way or another, whether on Twitter, video, photos, or in blog posts.

All write now

Steph Grey has created a Pinboard of #ukgc13 blog posts, but I’ll list them here as well in case you haven’t spotted them.

Another dimension

Some day your prints will come: as imagined in Thingiverse
Some day your prints will come: as imagined in Thingiverse

I pitched a session about 3D printing, asking who is doing what already, and wondering just how disruptive is 3D printing going to be? A few takeaways from that:

  • 3D printing (and scanning) is in its infancy; costs are high but falling fast
  • In a localgov context:
    • libraries and museums could reproduce artefacts for visitors to handle
    • braille descriptions could be printed on objects for the visually impaired
    • Localgov should catalogue objects and release them with an open licence allowing others can reproduce them (a bit like the Open Government Licence for open data, but for physical objects)
    • Personalisation – objects could be tailored to meet individual needs e.g. for those receiving care in the home
    • Sue Lawson (@shedsue) and other Library Campers have loads more ideas
    • There are resources available at Maker Librarian
  • Companies are creating new markets for themselves e.g. Crayon Creatures which turn children’s drawings in to 3D objects and Replicator Warehouse which prints 3D objects on demand.
  • Power to the people: one individual with a good idea can turn it into something tangible
  • Thingiverse is brimming with examples of ideas and designs
  • Products like Cubify and Makerbot are helping 3D printing at home become a reality
  • Already, there are ways to recycle material with neat products like Filabot which lets you recycle household plastic for 3D printing and the Lyman Filament Extruder which lets you recycle old filament
  • Printing human embryonic stem cells? Yes, really
  • Printing skull implants ready for surgery? Of course
  • There’s even a pen that lets you create stuff in 3D
  • How long before the first spam arrives on a 3D printer?

Somewhere I read that – in the longer term – household rubbish could be broken down in to its constituent parts and then reassembled for printing. We could witness a fundamental shift in transport, supply and distribution. I could go on – indeed, I already have. Suffice to say I think it’s quite exciting.

Oh yes, and it could change house building for ever

Looking Ahead

The next unconference I’m attending is BlueLightCamp, in Manchester at the end of April. It’s aimed at emergency services and those who work with them. If you’re interested, registration is now open, both for the Unconference (Sat 27th April) and the Hackathon (Sunday 28th April). There’s more info on the web site, and I’ll be blogging more about that shortly.


* Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of the wonderful sponsors. Without you, such a brilliant event wouldn’t have been possible

By Mark Braggins

Walking, usually with my two ex-racing greyhounds. Interested in lots of stuff. Work: Business Development and Research at Drawnalism