Tag Archives: collaboration

Innovating our Education Process


Brilliant for its time !  – 1803

Innovating our Education Process to best exploit our indigenous creativity 

Interview with Finbarr Bradley of Intinn

©Frank Hughes -originally posted on pivotdublin website 2011

Finbarr Bradley teaches part-time at the UCD Smurfit Business School while he also runs innovation programmes at a number of Irish and international companies. He co-authored with James Kennelly a 2008 book, Capitalising on Culture, Competing on Difference [Blackhall Publishing]

Who or what has inspired your thinking on Education in Ireland over the years and why?

My intellectual breakthrough was a realisation that education is not so much learning-about as learning-to-be. People educate themselves, they are not educated by others! Non-Irish inspiration has come from people like John Dewey, Elliot Eisner, Nikolaj Grundtvig, Howard Gardner, Paulo Freire, Jacques Maritain, Robert Chia, Henry Minzberg and Michael Porter.  Irish inspiration has come from the likes of Thomas Davis ,Douglas Hyde, Pádraig Pearse, W.B. Yeats, George Russell (Æ), Horace Plunkett, Seán Ó Tuama, Seán de Fréine, Breandán Ó Doibhlin, E.Estyn Evans ,Patrick Lynch, Joe Lee and Michael Cronin. I was also inspired by great teachers, Christian Brother and lay, at the North Monastery , Cork. All opened my eyes, in one way or another, to the perspective that education transforms individuals, sustaining individual difference while enhancing a sense of belonging. Education is best generated within dynamic and vibrant learning environments which emphasize  identity, experience and meaning, all driven by self-discovery and exploration. A person I mentioned earlier, philosopher John Dewey, classified education as a process of living and not as a preparation for future living. I understand the term ‘education’ in French means a lot more than academic learning and encompasses how individuals feel, what they eat,how they comport themselves, relate to others, and so forth. I agree. 

How has the move from a more Agrarian Society to an Urban and Technology focused Society affected educational policy making  in Ireland?

I feel we have moved too far away from where the country’s true potential lies.  The current policy, which focuses too much on science and technology, does not place enough emphasis on tradition, culture and the arts. In my view social and cultural capital are key. We need to genuinely embrace our unique imaginative tradition which is fostered by belonging, purpose and idealism. While there is much debate on the need to restore the Irish economy, most of the commentary appears blind to the important role that culture might play in this endeavour. Yet as best-selling US author on globalisation Thomas Friedman put it, countries like Ireland ‘need to develop sufficiently strong cultural and environmental filters’ to operate successfully in today’s world.

The idea that a strong cultural identity is opposed to materialism, the profit motive, technological innovation and modernism, reflects an unfortunate legacy of the elites who governed this country over its first decades. In the space of eighty odd years, Ireland has moved from one extreme to another: from a place where culture featured prominently in the national vision to its opposite, where science, rationality and markets dominate. Educational policy should instead harness the positive elements of both, taking advantage of the country’s distinct characteristics. 

I feel much can be learned from the resurgent cultural self-confidence of the late 1950s to mid 1960s. Outstanding figures of that era such as Seán Lemass and Seán Ó Riada possessed a sophisticated regard for tradition. While T.K. Whitaker was responsible for transforming the Irish economy and embracing the world, a strong cultural perspective was at the core of his economic vision. This year’s St. Patrick’s Day editorial in the Irish Times put it so well: ‘There will be no recovery worth its name without the spiritual, moral and cultural dimensions which renew Ireland’s self-understanding and confidence.’ Like physical infrastructure, cultural infrastructure needs investment too!

In light of the current emphasis on Innovation and Technology  internationally and the presence of many of the world’s top technology companies in Ireland, how do you rate the Irish Education system’s ability to  best exploit our creativity in these fields ?

I think education policy-makers have failed to draw proper lessons on where our future lies. The world is undergoing a fundamental shift from the industrial or manufacturing age of physical goods to a network age dominated by intangible services and experiences. The industrial enterprise is wedded to rationality and control rather than emotions, empathy and relationships, characteristics of today’s network organisation. As the significance of the material diminishes and capacities of the mind become more and more crucial, human attitudes and meaning become key resources. We are entering an era where patterns, context and the symbolic are crucial. Strong personal feelings and the ability to foster relationships are therefore critical.

Storytelling, metaphor, conversation, reflection, development of character and an ethic of quality are essential.  Stories create a rich visual imagery through conversation, reflection and shared meaning. This is why Ireland’s cultural traditions are so valuable. Far from being dead artefacts that are anti-modern and non-economic, our heritage represents a significant asset that fosters innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and meaning. Innovation is really about stories and the Irish are the world’s great story-tellers. In social networks, the Irish have natural advantages but these will only be fully realised if the artistic is combined with the scientific, interpreted through the prism of Irish culture and tradition.

This country’s tradition of metaphors, narrative and mythology, if integrated properly with science and technology, offers a huge competitive advantage. However, our current policy focuses largely on scientific research based on objectivity, denying the legitimacy of the subjective world of feeling, ignoring our distinct and valuable resource, a sense of connection and the imagination.The scientific mind simplifies and narrows experiences into manageable principles whereas literature and the arts emphasize complexity, crucial if entrepreneurial imagination and innovation is to flourish. While scientific research is certainly important, breakthrough ideas require intelligence of the heart and hand, not just intelligence of the head. Combining the scientific mind of separability and rationality with say Irish mythology, which is not linear but has  a meandering interconnectedness, is ideal for the emerging sustainable age where conversation, empathy, meaning and relationships are critical.

What is your understanding of Integration in an Educational context and what benefits can it bring to our economic and cultural wellbeing?

While there are many ways of looking at integration in education, I see the pursuit of interdisciplinarity and wholeness at the heart of this concept. With regard to the former, both the arts and sciences involve instinct, intuition and imagination. For wholeness, it is crucial that cultural diversity and sustainability become central elements in learning. There is a direct link between the words integration and integrity. A key challenge is to help young people change their thinking from individual rights to collective responsibilities, independence to interdependence, luxuries to necessities, short-term to long-term thinking, and growth that benefits a few to development and vitality that benefits all. This implies a culture founded on the realisation of human potential and the interdependence of social, economic, and ecological well-being.

Young people should be helped to think globally but feel rooted in Ireland, so learning must emphasise a sense of place and shared meaning nurtured by experience. This is why here again the arts, in particular, grounded in the imagination and emotions, are so valuable. The arts engage the young person in transformative learning which includes the heart as well as the mind, balances intuition with analysis, focuses on character and community, and cultivates wisdom rather than mere accumulation of facts. The more practice and experience students have of contacting and exploring their inner emotional world the more confidently they can creatively deal with change and be open to new possibilities. The arts helps them to think holistically and work in multidisciplinary groups. At present, they often fail to see connections and patterns whereas in a sustainable or ecological view of the world, the emphasis is on relationships. Thinking is systemic rather than linear, integrative rather than fragmentary, concerned with process, emphasising dynamics rather than cause-effect and pattern rather than detail. So this is fundamentally about recognising wholeness or as put earlier, integrity.

Why do you think that a radical redesign of our educational system is necessary now ? What in your opinion are the specific blockers to an enlightened education system here and how might these be simply overcome?

A radical redesign is needed to nurture imagination, personal development, creativity and civic responsibility. At third level, interdisciplinary studies are crucial to innovation but because of the academic structuring of knowledge into the separate disciplines, integrated programmes that draw on the arts, humanities, science and technology are especially difficult to develop in Irish universities. Breaking down these barriers between specialisations can foster academic diversity and thereby individual creativity.The barriers are a major obstacle to nurturing an innovative culture within institutions that do not often satisfy real local needs.

In effect , faculty members see the esteem of international colleagues at other institutions at the core of their mission. Publishing research in peer-reviewed journals and presenting at international conferences are the most prestigious activities, not engaging with the (research) needs of the local community or local enterprises. The physical layout of the typical campus clearly demonstrates this:generally designed to ignore local engagement with local knowledge,heritage and traditions seen of little value or relevance to the mission of the institution.

Another specific blocker to an enlightened education comes from business and academic interests who have convinced policy-makers that culture has little to do with stimulating innovation.  Yet culture is a core pillar of France, a country whose humanist ideals independent Ireland was based on. Italy also illustrates the importance of culture and meaning as a competitive strength. Italian design is impossible to imitate, a heritage of arts and crafts resources developed over generations, a critical innovative resource. Nordic countries have long recognised cultural rejuvenation as essential for national self-reliance with rootedness providing a quality aspirational work ethic and empowered innovative community. In Finland, a country Ireland is often urged to emulate, dynamic  integration in the global economy, strong national sentiment, a unique language and closeness to nature, represent important sources of meaning. Irish commentators focus on that country’s huge R&D spend but do not appreciate that strong affirmation of its culture is the key and might similarly be a driver of innovation at home.

To overcome blockers, which I regard as essentially due to a failure of the spirit, we need to engage in the type of cultural rejuvenation that places like Denmark and Finland realised a long time ago. Contemporary Ireland is badly in need of the driving vision that characterised the Irish Cultural Revival, that period some thirty years before the foundation of the State. The Revival was an exhilarating mix of cultural cohesion, idealism, self-reliance and creativity, encompassing a range of innovative initiatives in commerce, agriculture, theatre, literature, sport and language all relating to a common theme: an awakening interest in Irish identity, broadly defined. But its exhilarating message seems lost nowadays on most politicians and those leading our education institutions.

What shape might a better adapted education system in Ireland take and why might it lead to more breakthrough innovations?

Education should mean more than simply preparing students for a job or cultivating the intellect.  Educators should be concerned with students’ personal values and welfare, as well as their interpersonal and intercultural skills. These are at least as important as skills in science or mathematics in developing an innovative ethic. Too much emphasis on technical skills rather than fostering self-esteem, healthy relationships, and socially responsible behaviour is flawed. Educators should imbue ethical behaviour, or to use that old-fashioned word, character, within the education experience. Students must learn to think holistically, work in multidisciplinary groups, cope with change and develop systems and products that are sustainable and caring of nature and humanity.

It is difficult to identify a consistent theme flowing through Irish education, especially at third level. Many programmes, even ones within the same institution, appear to share no common mission or unifying narrative that can inspire or give meaning to the educational experience. Even though access to information is now widespread on the Internet, traditional lecturing, sometimes to classes of hundreds of students, is still the norm.  What is learned can often not be carried beyond the classroom, so even students with highly developed knowledge of a subject find it difficult to put that to use except in the artificial world of university examinations. Students often lack a coherent body of knowledge, fail to see connections, and possess no clear sense of how one course is related to another. Learning should be based on cultivating the natural curiosity and impulse to learn of individuals rather than rewarding them for performing for the sake of others. This means learning in order to attain one’s own goals, guided by one’s own values, not the approval of an outsider such as a lecturer or teacher. All students should clearly understand from the time they arrive on campus the reason they are at university: it is to become a discoverer.

If students are confident at creatively dealing with change and open to new possibilities, they are better prepared for innovation. Perhaps the best way to nurture creativity and innovation would be for each Irish third level institution to pursue a clearly defined interdisciplinary purpose, in effect a roadmap to guide all its research and learning activities. The key challenge for educators is to structure programmes that would connect to this shared institutional mission through a seamless web or network of exploration. Across the university, whether in the arts, humanities, social or physical sciences, this is a challenge if higher education is to respond appropriately to the education needs of a learning society.

 What do you mean by the Emotional Economy and how does this convert into hard currency?

The emerging Emotional Economy is one where experiences, meaning, patterns, context and the symbolic are crucial. Strong personal feelings and the ability to foster relationships become critical. Experiences are inherently personal, and exist only in the mind of an individual engaged on an emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual level. Nurturing meaning by delivering experiences replicate the role that selling goods or delivering services played in the past.

Corporate value is increasingly tied up not in tangibles like buildings and production facilities but in intangibles such as customer relationships and brands. The Internet has amplified this trend, ensuring intangibles are more mobile and tradeable. For many companies, since these are their great untapped source of competitive advantage, a different mindset is needed to create value. Progressive businesses understand that the only way to differentiate their goods and services is to infuse them with emotion and artistry, the key to success in the emotional economy.

You have spoken and written much about the importance of Place and Rootedness as a prerequisite for a Creative Ecosystem to develop. Please elaborate.

The quality of knowledge depends on a point-of-view or cultural perspective, and is now more valuable than ever. Imagination, the most valuable knowledge resource of all, is driven primarily by emotions and feelings, the heart rather than rational mind, and nurtured through drama, poetry, literature, music and art.  Imagination is founded on inspiration, identity, empathy, memory, tradition, belonging and trust.  Pride in place, cultural traditions such as language and music along with a new emphasis on sustainability and biodiversity, should form the bedrock for an Irish Creative Ecosystem. In an innovation age, a sense of place is central to the learning and development process, contributing to wholeness, integrity, civic responsibility, aesthetic sensibility and ecological concern. Policies that recognise the specific nature and feelings of the population, even if latent or unexpressed, achieve an inimitable competitive advantage. This is why distinct cultural resources rooted in place are potentially an enormous competitive advantage for Ireland.

Capitalising on Culture - Front Cover (4)


 Capitalising on Culture , Competing on Difference 2008 

Special places possess distinctive, inimitable, rare, not easily substitutable and valuable resources. Ireland possesses such resources in abundance providing conditions for creativity and innovation but these are not often appreciated fully nor harnessed properly. Creative places provide an integrated eco-system where all forms of creativity – artistic and cultural, technological and economic – take root and flourish. Its ‘qualities’, namely its special cultural, social and natural environment, are now crucial to its economic base. The implication is clear: places that emphasise community will attract and keep the most creative people and organisations, be the most innovative and have the highest quality of life. Creative people are clustering in places which offer ‘authenticity’, ‘uniqueness’ and lifestyles and diversity they crave. They are attracted by the qualities of a community, while this in turn attracts enterprise, reversing the traditional direction of development. Unlike the past where reducing the cost of business or clustering companies in industrial estates was central to development, attracting creative individuals to a place can now ensure its long-term competitiveness.

I cannot see Ireland building a vibrant creative society without a stronger sense of its place in the world. Our future lies in generating a self-help ethos in diverse creative, transformative, multicultural communities committed to place. Just as the Revival emphasised the authenticity of place in defining Irishness, a sense of shared place holds the key to creating a common identity and innovative mind frame. Prospering in a multicultural world requires individuals that possess a deep understanding of their own culture. With greater self-confidence there is usually more curiosity and openness to the outsider. It is essential to locate oneself in context, since grounded this way, people appreciate the cultural values of others with whom they must co-operate. While remaining open to outside influences, they learn to identify difference and appreciate distinctiveness. They are able to absorb many different ideas, yet are not dominated by globalised cultural influences. But many immigrants today say the Irish appear to lack a clear sense of themselves and their own culture.

Digital Natives is a term used to describe people who have grown up with digital technology and is second nature to them. How do you see cultural, economic  and digital maturity evolving in this country?

I can only see these evolving in tandem if a radical attitude is fostered, creativity developed and idealism generated. It will happen if young people obtain, along with exposure to practical problems-solving skills in digital technology, obtain a thorough understanding of the important role that tradition, place and culture play in sustainable innovation. Educators must nurture communities where students learn for themselves rather than merely receive information and knowledge from teachers or lecturers. Digital natives will emerge from an education environment in which students do practical work, make decisions, work as members of teams and both compete and cooperate. It will be stimulated by giving them a strong international identity alongside a strong local identity, developing an independent attitude and fostering self-confidence, a strong moral ethos and a spiritual dimension.

A radical change would clearly be necessary to assess student performance for transformative learning. Traditional testing by means of examinations should be the exception rather than rule. Innovative assessment methods based on subjective or qualitative criteria rather than traditional testing by means of examinations should be central. For instance, in the case of a collaborative project involving the local community, this should be assessed not just by using quantitative criteria such as economic return but also the social and environmental contribution the project is likely to make to the long-term sustainability of the community. Since tacit knowledge should be emphasised more than codified knowledge, assessment should be based not on an exam but rather on implementation of imaginative and innovative projects.

What should educators do to develop an ethic of citizenship among students?

I believe the absence of an ethic of civic responsibility is one of our largest social problems. Citizenship cannot be taught but may be learned if educators create an environment where tradition, identity and community are respected and valued. If the social or cultural context is ignored, investment in science and technology is not money well spent. For a culture of innovation to take root, it must nurture relationships of community and trust. An engaged school or university, those that actively encourages a culture of mutual respect and purposeful activities involving teachers, students and members of the community, is ideal for fostering the creative spirit. This would help if students had opportunities, as a central feature in their education, to engage with and learn from the local community. Education for creativity must foster idealism and identity to invigorate civil society. For as long as young people believe their vision can change the world, they are motivated, willing to lead change and be creative.

In a global economy, where change is the only certainty, identity formation is the crucial attribute. Students at all levels should be helped define a life purpose and the opportunity to undergo a transformative experience. They must be equipped to live as responsible citizens in complex multicultural societies while still upholding the richness and uniqueness of their own culture. Fostering self-esteem, a culture of pride, a climate of success, healthy relationships and socially responsible behaviour is the priority. Educators should imbue ethical behaviour or character within the education experience so students learn to think holistically, cope with change and appreciate a sustainable ethic. Citizenship implies sharing resources, not maximising one’s own interest. This depends on young people having an enduring sense of self-worth. Practical patriotism must be fostered and promoted so students emerge with a clear recognition of what it means to be Irish, a sense of ownership of the country and responsibility to use their knowledge, skills, and energy on its behalf.


Website and Biography






Dublinked – Prototyped in Dublin

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Prototyped in Dublin – Open data project Dublinked 

Interview with Deirdre Ni Rathallaigh The Studio Dublin City Council and Director of Dublinked  ©Frank Hughes  posted originally on  Digitigm.com February 2012

The Capital as Prototyping Test Bed for scalable products and services

Dublinked.ie is the first regional open data platform in Ireland, recently launched by partners in the four Dublin Local Authorities and NUI Maynooth with technology provided by IBM.

Open access to government owned data is set to revolutionise how entrepreneurs convert raw data into valuable digital products and services.

Dublin’s unique physical, social and economic infrastructure and geography is a very attractive test bed for new products and services. It’s big enough to develop scalable products and services but small enough to get efficient feedback and meet with all relevant stakeholders.

Deirdre Ni Raghallaigh from Dublin City Council and Dublinked was interviewed about opportunities for Ireland to use its unique global network to develop scalable digital products and services tested in its capital.

 pin map dubln





2. Dublin as City region

Dublinked is a collaborative project which was initiated by the four Dublin local authorities and National University of Ireland Maynooth. IBM is providing the technical portal.  Dublinked is about sharing data to encouraged economic development in the Dublin region.  Dublinked was launched in October 2011 during Innovation month.  Deirdre Ni Raghallaigh of the Studio, Dublin City Council answers our questions on Dublinked and the potential of Open Data for the Dublin region

What is Open Data and why should it be treated like a National Raw Material Asset as valuable as gold or diamonds?

Put simply Open Data is data that is published in open formats and can be easily reused by others.  Open Data was originally used to describe government information that is collected at public expense and is made available to further transparency and open government. More recently data has been made available as raw material for research and commercial development in order to drive economic development and innovation.  In essence it can be a form of recycling where information gathered to one purpose can be used in conjunction with data from other sources to provide new products and services.  Open Data has been used to develop a number of mobile apps for example journey planner or to map usage of resources like water.    Some private bodies have also released their data openly and recently there has been a movement towards shared private sector data among certain sectors for example in the pharmaceutical and cotton production industries. 

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3. Potential of Open Data

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 4. Use of layered data to map water consumption (IBM Research)

 What are the key objectives of Dublinked and deadlines? 

We have launched the site with the initial release of over one hundred and forty datasets.  We are now working with members and other interested parties to see how we can better meet their needs.  Initial feedback includes demand for additional data, different formats or access to internal mapping. .  There is a demand for live and streamed data but there are complexities in this area which we will need to resolve.   Dublinked is about more than data provision.  We intend to create networks of people interested in the same topics to facilitate the sharing of ideas and research.  Other public bodies have recently approached us about using Dublinked to share their data.  We have uploaded information provided by the National Transportation Authority Our objective is that  Dublinked would become the repository for all data on Dublin. This would facilitate all users using one location.   

How will it achieve these objectives?  

Creating communities of interested people who will give us honest feedback is our priority at present.  We are running two thematic workshops before Christmas,  one on planning data and the other one looking at the technical issues we need to resolve to make the data we provide more useful. We are also receiving a number of enquiries and suggestions for improvements online.  In 2012 we will be concentrating on broadening the topics covered by Dublinked and growing the number of organisations willing to share their data.  Keep an eye on Dublinked.ie for further information

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5. Dublinked Planning Workshop Dec 8th 2012 (mypp.ie presentation)

Where does Dublinked and Open Data sit within the National Digital Strategy? Who in government is championing the Digital Agenda to leverage this National Asset?

Ireland does not yet have a national digital strategy. However   there are agencies such as Enterprise Ireland who are working towards developing the first Irish Government policy on Open Data.  The Department for Public Sector Reform has also outlined a commitment to publish open data.  These are very positive signs.   New initiatives like Decisionmap.ie are also providing new mapping and visualisation services for demographic and spatial data.     Dublin’s local authorities are actively pursuing the Open Data agenda in Ireland.  Fingal County Council led the way with the Fingal Open Data Hub and now Dublinked is providing the first regional platform.

 twelve horses

6. Decisionmap.ie and showing locational and quantum data from Census on 3rd level  doctorate students

How does your own background, interests and training affect your approach to data in general and the new opportunities presented by Open Data for the country?

My previous roles as a business librarian, press officer and communication manager were all about connecting people to the information they needed.  While the technologies and the focus on open data are new the basic goal is the same.  Currently I work in the Studio which is an innovation unit operating in Dublin City Council.  Our role is to look at how Dublin City Council can facilitate innovation within the organisation and across the city.  The Dublinked project offers the opportunity to do both.  It allows the local authorities to engage with app developers, designers, IT professionals and researchers to investigate new possibilities for the region. 



7. Layering of datasets to develop valuable linked information  (Feedback board from Dublinked workshop)

 How is Dublinked differed from other Open Data Models you mentioned earlier? 

Dublinked is a mixed model in that 80% of the information is open and available to all but it also has a research zone that contains information that is restricted to members because of licensing, format or other issues. Some data providers want to test the waters with some of their more problematic data.     This research zone and the regular member activities of Dublinked members will we hope creates a community where people from different perspective are encouraged to come together and collaborate as part of a regional innovation network.  


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8. Diagram showing the relationships between the stakeholders to Open Data in Dublinked Model

The value of the exploitation of Public Service data within the EU has been estimated at €40 billion per annum . How big is the market Share Ireland can reasonably expect of this and who is best placed to exploit the data here?

 It is true that Ireland’s market share in the open data market is small by international standards, neither are we first movers in Open Data  like the US or UK.  There are a number of conditions that could place Ireland well to tap into this wider market, if we can leverage them. One of the main objectives of Dublinked is to promote the Dublin region as a place to test and prototype products and services that are developed using open data and which can then be scaled up to other cities and brought the international market.  We are fortunate in having world class researchers in our universities and in our multinational and proven innovation ability in our design and SME sectors. The challenge is to bring these assets together.

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9. Crowd sourced real time data – derelict buildings over shops  ( scenario)

Dublin is big enough to have sufficient complexity to provide a good testbed environment but also has an advantage in being small enough to collaborate regionally.  So we want to get all the relevant players on board to build this “Prototype in Dublin” capability.

Other countries and cities have Open Data policies in place and projects up and running. Which are the ones we in Ireland can learn most from to get up to speed quickly?

We can obviously learn a lot from the success of London data store; a regional open data portal, which is run by an Irishwoman, Eimear Coleman.    I think Amsterdam has also been very successful in promoting itself consistently as an open innovation city through the Am’smart’erdam branding, which is followed through in their open data.

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10. Mapped Cycling Accidents within a City zone ( scenario)

In each country where Public Sector Open Data has been successfully exploited, similar excuses have delayed  exploitation  initially  – loss of licensing revenue, Privacy, loss of control, national security, different formats, to name but a few. Given that the Dublinked is designed to exploit a recently discovered National Asset in our hourof greatest need, how will these obstacles be overcome quickly?

We have encountered many of those reasons for data ‘hugging’ when we were identifying datasets for Dublinked.  In many cases people just didn’t understand why any one else would be interested in their data or fear that it will be misinterpreted.    Hopefully now that the site is launched it will help us build an understanding as to what open data is and open eyes to the different ways that people can use this data in new and interesting ways.  Also important is the use social media in building awareness among, people who ‘get it’ and can leverage political support and lobby other data providers.  We are working organisations such as the National Digital Research Centre and Science Gallery Ireland to build awareness of possibilities.


11. Integrated transportation scenarios (scenario)

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12. Wifi modelling of coverage within City Block for certain applications (scenario)

Given the strong national presence of multinational companies such as IBM, Intel, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and DERI and Ireland’s particular ecosystem and diaspora, what will it take for Dublin and Ireland to lead the world in Open Data?

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13. Internet usage globally

Dublin is developing a cluster of research expertise across sector, so we are well positioned to capitalise on the drive towards more applied research, provided we all walk the talk.  We also need to identify funding streams including European Framework funds and to set up a framework for regional collaboration so we can benefit from the international experience  and networks available to us.  We are too small to be all working independently reinventing the wheel.

 How would you sell the open and shared data concept to other public bodies?

 Open Data is an opportunity for those of us in public bodies to view our data in a new light.  It also allows us to share our data within organisations and with other public bodies.  It is an opportunity to share and source information in new ways. Also it allows us to work with those who are genuinely  fascinated by the information, data and mapping that we possess and have multiple suggestions on how we could improve the way we do it.  There is effort involved but we as public bodies have a lot to gain by becoming involved. The EU Commission are currently preparing an Open Data Strategy for Europe which will further open up the market for services based on public-sector information.

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14. Entrance to Library Pentagram







 Datastore London


Open gov London ideas


Silicon republic




Twelve Horses







San Francisco and US


Road map to the digital city


Crowdsourced open data – Ushahidi










Brand Proposal and composite images

//prototypedindublin     www.FRANKArchitecture.ie

 Composite images 1/ 9/10/11/12     www.FRANKArchitecture.ie


Individual images

1. Matrix backdrop- www.videohive.net

1. Dublin Map – ESRI 

2. Dublin pin map – www.visualphotos.com

3.Layering of open data – www.cemast.illinoisstate.edu

4. Layered data research on water consumption – www.ibm.com

5. Dublinked Planning Workshop – www.dublinked.ie

6. Extract from decisionmap.ie- www.decisionmap.ie

7. Dublinked workshop www.dublinked.ie

8.Stakeholder relationship diagram – www.dublinked.ie

9.Wifidata and Dublin Map scenario – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ushahidi and ESRI Ireland , New Delhi project http://www.holcimfoundation.org/Portals/1/docs/A11/APAC/posters/A11APacINdelhi.pdf

10.Bicyclist – www.gudphoto.com – Map http://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/beyond-freedom-of-information-lies-open-data/

11. Real time trains www.traintimes.org.uk – Integrated Dublin transport – NRA – Metro North

12. Wifi Coverage – www.torrens@geosimulation.com logo

13. Internet usage  www.culturalknowledge.org

14.Pentagram – Entrance to Library-  Paula Scher http://pentagram.com/en/new/paula-scher/index.php?page=3






The Circus as Innovator

© Frank Hughes Originally posted on Pivot Dublin Blog as part of the World Design Capital Bid 2011

Cirque2 Cirque3 Cirque4


A small circus troupe from France CIRQUE TROTTOLA ( Spinning Top ) performed to packed tents  at the Westport Arts Festival this month  . The performance was  breathtaking , intimate , theatrical  and treads the fine line between dangerous  , poetic and  funny – all hallmarks of great circus, but also with a twist.

This reinvented New Circus model demonstrates fundamental innovations that Big Business Corporations strive to emulate.


The performance of Volchok is a simple story of 3 characters whose physiques and gestures , props , balancing  and choreography keep the intimate audience of about 300 in rapture for about 80 minutes. Two musicians play found object multi instruments to heighten drama and provide mini act solos. . More theatrical and Waiting for Godot than traditional circus the multi-talented speech free performers are pushed to their limits. Photos by Phillippe Laurencon 

Critical Acclaim

‘The artists of Cirque Trottola put the emphasis on emotion rather than on the spectacular, on astonishing with simplicity, rather than with effect. Volchok is a virtuoso balancing act, a falling act, a flying act, suspended in its own colour “ Letni Letna website

‘A hymn to the fragility of dreams in a poetic world.’ Pariscope
‘The three protagonists of this fairytale circus sow magic and dreams wherever they
passepass.’Campus mag Campus Mag

‘A curious atmosphere seizes us when entering the small tent: warmth, mystery, proximity and seduction. They tell us their stories by means of acrobatics, balance and swinging trapeze, in a both simple and sophisticated way’. www.catastrophe.be

Business Model Innovation

In response to the needs of an international  travelling circus to develop a form which is both ground breaking and affordable, Cirque Trottola demonstrates its commercial acumen.

In contrast to traditional forms of circus , using many acts and performers, clowns , animals, orchestras, interval snack sellers etc Cirque Trottola is refined to a multi tasking powerhouse. Much debate currently  in the business press revolves around business model innovation and many good lessons can be learned from this small circus.


1.       MULTI-ROLE PERFORMERS  (Swiss Army Knife )

The core Performers play multiple roles and Musicians play multiple instruments. Strength of characters and prodigious talents appear larger than life. 3 performers , 2 musicians , 1 Master and 3 ticket attendants / bar staff visible. Total 10- 12 inclusive .

Reduced operational and capital costs.

2.       MORE WITH LESS ( Apple iPhone )

More theatrical than traditional circus , costumes are simple and used as props themselves. No animals , no special catering, no trainers, no special additional transport or quarantine. Props are minimal , a brush, chair, a dress, a coat, a hat ,sacking and trapeze which is part of tent used to great effect.  Local assistants help erect the tents as part of contract.

There is a reduced footprint of parking for the tents and trucks meaning that ground rent is low and access to inner city sites and parks easier.

Reduced operational, transport and capital costs, more flexibility  for different environments.  

  1. 3.       KEY COLLABORATIONS ( NASA International Space Station )

As part of performance , the two musicians use marbles, bowls, brooms,and bric a brac with one organ , cymbals and an electric guitar to great effect .They  create wildly  evocative sounds to complement the performance . Simple changes of location and sound focus raise or lower the tempo. Experimental  music  theatrically performed adds another layer to the experience.

Cirque Trottola has proud tradition of pushing out the boundaries of music performance and have previously collaborated with  the renowned French Composer Pierre Bastien who has been pioneering experimental  music using Meccano

International Profile building Collaborations  and additional sales channels.

4.       UNIVERSAL APPEAL and Branding (Music , Play , Theatre and Choreography )

No words are spoken during performance , only dramatic facial and body gestures, archetypal physiques ,balancing and trapeze movements along with mesmeric and primal music. The Story is kept simple in order to communicate clearly. Simplicity and effectiveness of communication medium works  internationally. No translation necessary. The brand speaks for itself and needs no elaborate explanations.

Cost efficient global communications medium.


The public are led via a small tent housing a  ticketing area and small bar through to the main tent. Another small bar lies under the seating of the Big Tent. There is no interval for refreshments , the performance is continuous.

Once complete the public are encouraged to move to the smaller tent and have some refreshments in the smaller tent. This frees up the main tent quickly for the next performance, eliminates need to clean up between shows  and creates atmosphere and anticipation for the next circus goers.

Speed of turnaround and additional performances and revenue possible.

6.       TEAMWORK (Google )

Given the small numbers of people involved in the circus , great teamwork is essential to pull off great performances. Clear goals and ambitious artistic objectives are balanced with practical / safety and human concerns. No-one can afford to play prima donna as many skills are required to be mastered by all. Each year a particular country destination is chosen by the team to perform in and explore as a working exploration of that particular country.

High degree of trust built up between all  members of team . All suggestions considered and one agreed for annual working exploration.  


The ability of a small troupe to experiment with new routines on different trips and adopt or amend them depending how they are received is hugely advantageous and efficient. In this case the managers ( also the performers) are in intimate contact with their audience both during the performance and after. Feedback can be quickly processed and decisions made which will help determine successful adoption of new experimental artistic direction.

Many large organisations use Ethnography ( embedding researchers in specific communities over long periods ) to learn about their core needs and wants . Cirque Trottola can get relatively  instant feedback and make decisions accordingly.

Efficient and low risk prototyping of new approaches and performances.

In bringing this circus to Wesport , the Festival Committee has brought more than just an exhilarating circus act!




Philippe Laurencon Photographer