Bran Ferren, co-founder of Applied Minds, provided an entertaining and engaging final keynote at the GeoDesign Summit. He congratulated the attendees for starting a new thing, even though it may just be a new branding of GIS with a term that rolls more nicely off the tongue than the acronym that can easily be mispronounced. He chastised the audience for not even having a Wikipedia entry that describes the term, because without that the idea doesn’t even exist.
Ferren spoke a good deal about innovation and different inventions that changed the world. Beginning with language, the written word, the telephone, and radio. The recurring theme of all these world-changing innovations is that all inventors didn’t understand the purpose of what they invented, and that all the inventions weren’t appreciated for their value at the time they were conceived. Storytelling is also an important element in each of these investments.
GeoDesign has the ability to be the next storytelling medium. Colliding the computer revolution and putting it into a form that has the effect of changing the evolution of our planet. We’ve been designing how we house society for thousands of years the same way, and GeoDesign has the ability to change how we design.
Ferren worked at Walt Disney and has experience with the value of GeoDesign. They created virtual environments for the $4Billion cost of building a new theme park, and saved 4% of the costs by viewing contingencies and avoiding conflicts. The money savings aspect makes the idea worthwhile, but GeoDesign also changes how you think about things, how you work, and your dynamics with large groups of people.
Big Six Things to Get Right
- Talent – need to bring the best and brightest into this new area rather than seeing them go into gaming and entertainment.
- Trust – need to build success stories to show how it works and how big an impact it has on how we live.
- Storytelling – identify this as a career track to tell stories in meaningful ways to show how we can transform our cities and our world. Getting the story right means the ability to communicate.
- The human interface becomes of critical importance in order to share and show how the tools work. The hand of the artist is important to the evolution of GeoDesign
- The biggest challenge is education. The state of education decline is a national and international disgrace. The evolution won’t happen with a bunch of dummies. It becomes our business to change how we educate and apply technology to improving the education process.
Ferren suggests that we’re still at the infancy of the computer age. Reading and writing will go away in 250 years, the more immersive and intuitive types of storytelling such as GeoDesign are the future.