I was much struck by the high powered and well orchestrated launch of the Pro- Europe lobby today – the IN campaign.
Stuart Rose, the ex- boss of M&S will chair the group and a starry array of people have got behind its mission and desire to see the UK stay in Europe. And I agree, the UK would be greatly diminished if we vote no.
But what really hit me as I saw the media coverage unfold was how, in my opinion, the UK would have so much to gain by jumping into its digital future with as much force and vigour as this campaign is worrying about our international relations.
Clearly there is not the burning platform of a referendum from which we can approach leaping into the networked age but an ability to do so, could have as profound results as voting yes.
The UK is a small country. Not only are we geographically small, but we are located in a brilliant position and, as someone said at a conference recently, we have a total population only marginally over one of the very largest cities in the world. I think that this gives us the opportunity to become a beacon globally in how we embed technology at all levels and the economic and social impact that this has. We could be an exemplar in how we join up our digital skills, digital infrastructure, digital public services, start ups as well as ensuring gender balance in the digital workforce. I believe if we do this, we would give the country a headstart at a time when we are still seeing a very patchy recovery and one that is not yet for everyone.
With focus the UK could ensure all citizens have access to the best digital infrastructure available, that all citizens are highly skilled and that those two building blocks enable us to develop the most effective and transformative civic and commercial products and services.
I’m not a techno – utopian. I’m not suggesting that the internet can cure all our deep rooted societal ills but what I absolutely believe is that the country which is imaginative in how it approaches the future will have more chance of success – the internet’s influence is growing not waning and we could grab a huge prize.
This logic is partly why I am starting doteveryone.org.uk. I think to grab this future we probably need some public organisations to help us – and the good news for the project is that other people seem to think so too. I have raised around five hundred thousand pounds in start up funding, have a small team working on three areas and am finding allies in all kinds of places and across sectors.
Initially we are going to make some interventions around digital leadership, gender balance in the sector and we will be prototyping new public services.
You can see all the plans on our site. Get involved.
So, the question for me is – are we in or out of our digital future?