Digital Transformations — an exploration of the meaning of life in a digital society

I’ve lived in Ireland for about half my life. Ireland has a lot of good qualities. Rightly associated with the arts, technology and with high, popular and traditional culture, you’d think it would be in the forefront of attempts to understand the impact of the emerging digital society. But I don’t think so. Not to the depth I think that an enquiry into the meaning of life in a digital society is required.

I could be wrong of course, and I’m sure you Medium readers will enlighten me if I am (please do), but I don’t think so. So I’ve decided to start the debate myself, by organising a gathering of artists, techs, educators, policy makers, and punters to consider a few very important questions.

  • What will it be like living in a digital society?
  • Will the human condition be much different?
  • Where and how will we find meaning?
  • Who or what will be writing the stories, painting the pictures, acting out the dramas that express and reveal the truths of our experience.

I work in tech, so I hear a lot of talk about “digital”. Conferences, sales, specs, buzz, etc. But the space in which I hear all this is business. The only reason these discussions are taking place is because there is the potential for commercial exchange. Which is fine. And I believe it. I believe it is radical, that digitisation of society is a crucible, that it will make everything unrecognisable to people who lived in the time before it. And this is why discussions that talk about threats and opportunities, progress, growth and other business-y things presume a certain stability and continuity in the way we relate to one another that is not only inhibiting our ability to confront the changes that are happening, but leave all of us ill-equipped to cope with their effects.

We need artists to help us find meaning in this brave new world.

My premise is that the emerging digital society is a place we will live in, not just work in, and all of us need our artists and creators to help us find meaning in it. So this conference will bring artists, creative professionals, educators, technologies, intellectuals, policy-makers to

  • hear what the digital transformation of society really means
  • confront what it is like to live in that society and
  • hear from artists who are already trying to communicate that experience in their work.

Artists, almost by definition, are credible. You may disagree, but with their expressions not their motives. Will there be such a thing as sincerity and authenticity in a digital society? I’m only asking the question…

There is another conference happening in Ireland shortly that is targeted, amongst other types, at “mobile content creators”. Like, I know what they mean and at the same time I ask myself — what is a “content creator”? Is that some class of an author, but without authority?

I’m only asking because it is an interesting question. I’m only organising a conference to bring people together in Ireland because I want to explore it with others in a place that prides itself on its creativity. It’s happening elsewhere I know. People like James Bridle, Jussi Parikka are talking about it. I want to create a space for that debate to happen here.

What do you think — comments please…