Dave Coplin is the founder of The Envisioners, a company that helps clients ‘envision their future’. He was keynote speaker at the Children’s Global Media Summit in Manchester and wrote this diary from the event for us:
I have to admit I was pretty nervous about my opening keynote. When I arrived, I walked through the conference centre and was really amazed by the diversity of the industries and countries that were represented by the delegates.
I’d spent a lot of time with the organisers and had a great sense of the purpose of the event and what they were looking for from me, but I think the size of the opportunity (and challenge) only really sunk in when I saw the breadth and depth of the people there.
I needn’t have worried though because through the course of the first day, what I discovered is that without exception, every single one of the delegates (and speakers and sponsors) were united by a common purpose – to build a media environment that would be fit for purpose for “Generation U” – those that are yet to come.
After my keynote my head was sent spinning by a myriad of amazing conversations with people all wanting to embrace, but more importantly, extend my story and the challenge I’d set out to the audience. Generation U may not yet be formed, but my god the aspiration was to be ready for them.
I’ve been talking to audiences around the world about the future potential of technology for almost a decade now, and one thing I’ve learnt is that all too often, people really underestimate what new technology could do, if only we humans could change our behaviour and approach to accommodate the value it offers.
Quite often, and especially when the discussion concerns children, I find the context of every conversation one of how we “minimise the risk” rather than “maximise the opportunity”. Specifically, the conversation starts with how can we keep our children safe rather than help me understand the amazing things our children might be able to do as a result of this new capability.
As a parent, I completely understand why “risk management” is always front of mind but equally over the years, as a technologist, I’ve begun to really worry that we are in danger of missing the point, especially as the easiest way to minimise the risk to children is simply to switch the technology off.
I usually have to adopt a position of overt (and mildly annoying) optimism to get audiences to even consider the opportunity but this was completely unnecessary with this amazing collection of stakeholders. With almost no exception, every single conversation, even that of Prince William himself, started out by outlining the potential of the new media (and technology) landscape to fundamentally improve the life outcomes for every single child on the planet.
I was thrilled by this – it changed the conversation to discuss the future in terms of what could be achieved rather than what could be prevented.
The final day of a conference like this is usually pretty brutal. Faced with fatigue from two full days of discussion and deep engagement, compounded by the inevitable over-indulgence at the gala dinner and further dampened by the growing sense of dread of the journey home (wherever that may be), the final day is usually something of a damp squib.
I’m very pleased to report that it was not the case with this event, such is the strength of commitment to the building a future that Generation U deserve. During those three intense days, the more I spoke with the delegates, the more I realised that for them, the time for discussion was drawing to a close. Now was a time for action.
With Tony Walsh’s visceral refrain still echoing in our ears I watched as each member of the audience slowly dissipated back to their home country and their day jobs.
I didn’t get the sense that this had been a summit of platitudes, to be forgotten as soon as the wheels touched down on home soil. Instead, I sensed the birth of a new family, coming together not just to reframe and rethink what the future might hold, but instead to become the architects of making Generation U’s amazing potential reality.