Another good week of speakers here at RSA. Clay Shirky spoke about organising without organisations to a packed Great Room yesterday. It was a brilliant talk – available now as a downloadable audio file, and in a few weeks as an edited video!
Clay’s view about on-line and off line networks were better thought through and more balanced than the utopianism heard from some quarters. But there was plenty here to encourage us in our vision for the RSA.
Equally encouraging, from another perspective, was reading Sir Ronald Cohen's The Second Bounce of the Ball, which he spoke to here last night. In the book Cohen tells the reader how his idea of venture capital was a decade ahead of its time in Europe. Indeed he launched his first fund in the unpropitious economic times of the 1970s. But eventually perseverance – which ranks pretty high up Cohen list of key requirements for an entrepreneur – won through.
We are learning a lot as we develop the ideas behind RSA Networks. Scaling up the numbers who can access the platform, dedicating more resources to moderation and developing a more user friendly and engaging platform are all parts of this learning process. We are also getting more interest from regional and local RSA chapters that want to use the platform as the basis for developing area based activities. We will need many virtues as we seek to enable the Fellowship to become a network for civic innovation – including perseverance.
We are saying ‘goodbye’ today to Liz Winder, head of our lectures team. Anyone working in an organisation, especially as old as RSA, knows they are part of a story that begins before them and carries on afterwards. Yesterday, we started filming lectures for our new website. An innovation like this is possible because we can build on the strong foundations built by Liz and her team in her nearly two decades at the RSA.
My first visit to JAS was for an event with Al Gore which was one of the many great events overseen by Liz. We will all miss her but, hopefully, as well as coming in to see us at John Adam Street she can visit our website and see some of the fruits of her years of brilliant service for the RSA.
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.