Posted by: clare on: November 16, 2011
The Tiree Tech Wave was planned as an unstructured event. There were a few pre-arranged components (for example, a chap from the local ISP dropped in to discuss broadband provision in remote communities), but in general the event depended very much on we the participants. 11 of us made the pilgrimage to the island, and the Tech Wave didn’t feel quite like anything I’ve attended before. A few of the artists likened it to a retreat.
On the first day Alan (who has also written about TTW2) explained that he had a few reasons for organising the event, including locally-oriented goals such as helping the local economy and bringing some of the excitement of technology to Tiree. He rightly noted that when you travel to a new place, the differences strike you and prompt reflection about your own cultural background and assumptions: this was useful on Tiree.
As with all events where you’re spending a lot of time with a group of people, the Tech Wave was fairly intense: we talked and worked and built together in the day, and dined and talked on into the evenings. We gelled quickly as a group, conducting diverse activities from concocting neat hardware mash-ups, to running improvisation workshops, to making the most of being in the same place as one’s co-author and finishing a stubborn book chapter.
As for me, I (not entirely surprisingly!) used TAPT to get a bunch of data on reflection and mindful experiences: indeed, I was moved by the depth and richness of the experiences people chose to share with me. I sought the data as I’m intrigued by the concept of technology for solitude: I hope to write more on that separately.
Tiree itself is beautiful: I’ve definitely fallen in love. (I travelled from Manhattan, and can assure you that the two islands present an enormous contrast!) It homes a tight-knit community where people rarely bother to lock their doors, and offer lifts to strangers (who gladly accept). Our venue was the Rural Centre, which includes a room that functions as the island’s cinema and cattle market all in one: this was novel to me! And as Alan pointed out, the fragility of life is a little clearer in Tiree: the constant high winds, the odd power cut, the fact that sometimes the ferry can’t come and then there’s no milk. It’s easier there to remember that we are small cogs, part of a wider system and entirely dependent on other people.
I had a few work-related outcomes — gathering data on meaningful experiences, Layda’s reappropriation of TAPT for improv feedback, a cool design idea with Helen — but for me the event was about more than that. There was something special about coming together with that group of like-minded yet diverse people. We’d all travelled a long way to work together on neat technological and artistic artefacts and experiences, and we were all inspired by the themes Tiree embodies: community, digital inclusion, and remote environments.