#cong16 Submissions Review

The theme for 2015 was ‘The Future’ with over 80 submissions published.  The wide range of submissions is difficult to group together reflecting the diverse background of all who attended #cong16.

However some common grouping do emerge but some cross and cover multiple areas.

Common Themes

  • Business
  • Community
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Farming
  • Politics
  • Society
  • Technology


Simon Cocking #1 The future is working (remotely)

The first submission by Simon Cocking looked at technologies, trends and the social impacts of remote working in ‘The Future is Working (remotely)’. Along a similar vein Adrian Corcoran detailed specific tools and the benefits of remote working and virtual collaboration in ‘Where’s the boss? The future of managing your business…”

Louis Grenier advised marketers to focus on trust and not money and to be yourself in ‘Trust is the Future of Marketing’. Fergal O’Connor warned that as humans become seem as data points and measurability has become the ultimate mantra that creativity is being sacrificed for mass appeal in ‘Creative Armageddon - The race to be average’.

Outside of sharing 10 business life experience tips on maintaining innovation Cronan McNamara also advised taking a longer term perspective in ‘Your Overnight Success will be 10 Years in the Making + 10 Innovation Tips for the Long Term’. Ger Tannan reminded us that great relationships between buyers and sellers continue to underpin all progress despite the rapid pace of technology in ‘All Has Changed (But Not Utterly): How The Future Of Marketing Looks Just Like The Past’. Alan O’Rourke gave a real world example of a new colleagues rise in his company to explain how internal communications and keeping teams informed could be the future of success in ‘The Future of Work is Marketing’. Sean Fay shared some lessons from China on attracting back talent and diaspora back to Ireland in ‘Our near future West, via the far East’. Keith Morrison went back to basics on what matters in PR and the importance of the human dimension in a digital world in ‘Communicating Tomorrow’

Lisa White discussed how the networked, adaptable, collaborative model for organisations is set to reinvent our world in ‘Want to be in Business Forever?: A Spin through our Organisational Future’. Joy Redmond discussed how many of us as “Multipotentialites” don’t have one calling in life but there are big benefits of multiple role experiences in ‘Don’t Mind the Gap: Career Pivots are the Future’. Jane Leonard highlighted the dangers of Irish business not going online in ‘In the future, your customers won’t want to talk to you.’ Sean Brady made the environment and business case for using technology in favour of unneeded face to face meetings in ‘The Future of Meeting is Not Traveling’. Myles McHugh revealed that in a world where the power has shifted to the consumer, we need to utilise technology, act fast and continue to make the experience personal and pleasant in ‘The Future of Service’.

 As technology and new platforms make it easier to reach large numbers and fame lasts for a short period, Gus Ryan points out that to be truly famous with lasting effect you still need to be remarkable or to have done remarkable things in ‘In the Future everyone will be famous for 15 seconds’. Fiona Curran Lonergan looked at some current and emerging trends used to consult and engage with the public on a variety of topics in ‘Role of Technology in’ Inclusive Public Engagement – The Future’. Experienced retailer John Horkan shared research and his own thoughts on how the retail experience needs to evolve to survive in ‘What’s happening to retail?’. Echoing a world in flux Jenny Sharif explored what a future marriage between tech and reading could look like in ‘The Future of Books in a Digital World’. Susan Crowe revealed current and future home automation in ‘A Smarter Home is Here and Now’. John Wright and Mark Leyden both looked at the Future of Finance with John articulating the challenges that disruption, mainly in the form of technology, will be problematic for the regulatory environment and business environment. Mark discussed the arrival of ‘Utility Banks’ and an inevitable delivery of financial services by trusted brands like Facebook and Google, away from traditional banking brands. Maire Garvey shared insights into being authentic, energized, adaptive and connected in public speaking and that despite the rapid evolution of technology, the art of verbal communication remains the same in ‘It Was Always Thus. The Art of Communication Has Come Full Circle Since Aristotle’. Calvin Jones advocated not trying to predict the future but rather focusing on being nimble, embracing change, learning from the past, excelling in the present, and adapting to the future in ‘How to future proof your business’. Greg Fry shared how shared how live video is moving from live to interactive and the emergency of mainstream virtual reality video in “Live and Targeted” - The Future of Digital Video’


John Magee argued for the need to embrace rural living and nurture it as an asset, in addition to laying out a policy driven template in ‘Mayo 2040: Wasteland or an attractive & vibrant place?’. Bernard Joyce also advocated for the survival of local communities from use of technology, keeping resources local to creating new spaces in ‘If Things Don’t Change, They’ll Stay The Way They Are’. Pat Kennedy discussed some of the technologies that could enhance local community development from data, online meetings and task management arguing that local communities had not yet reaped the same transformation in services as the business and government communities in ‘The Future is in “Smart Local Communities”’


Future of Education in a world of white collar automation by Victor del Resol

Victor del Rosal submission ‘The Future of Education in a World of White-Collar Automation’ was a fascinating journey looking at the future workforce while examining how we are equipping our children to be able to adapt to a world where many current jobs will not exist. Ailish Irvine explored where we should put our focus in education and engender creativity and original thinking in ‘That Internet thing will never catch on.’ Janine McGinn questioned the head long rush to designing education solely around the needs of the labour market rather than moulding more rounded individuals in ‘Focus on Labour Market Demands will Hinder Students’ Future Potential’. Hassan Dabbagh pragmatically asked if we should fully utilise what we already have rather than always looking for the next best thing in education in the ‘Past Lessons for Education’. Frank Walsh queried how our formalised system of education can allow for new forms of diverse learning outcomes and their assessment in ‘The Future of Learning and Assessment’. Padraig McKeon looked at the options for learning online and how self directed learning takes a fundamentally different approach to traditional education in ‘Digitally mediated learning - starting with the end, What Does it Mean Over Time’. Mags Amond shared how the different dynamic and flow of TeachMeet events enhances professional development and where its future might lie in ‘If TeachMeet is the answer, what is the question?’ Gar MacCríosta unveiled a new approach to creating a system to get the best of digital and physical worlds in ‘FreeRange Learning and the Digital Hedge Schools’


Barbara Heneghan shared some interesting projects that use technology in helping to protect our world and the increasing ways we rely on scientist to stop plants from disappearing with seed banks and other initiatives in ‘The Future of Technology Helps us to Better Understand our Planet’. Sean Conway showed how the use of social media and the internet can bring about behavioural change and how the use of digital technology also brings us much hope in the area of solution engineering and in measuring the effects of a warming planet in ‘Climate Change, Technology and the Internet’


Declan Molloy looked how big data and Agtech can modernize farming practices and increase output in ‘Cloudy with a chance of data’ while Margaret Griffin explored the fundamentals in ‘What is a Farm?’. Danny Noone challenged convention and introduced holistic new thinking in ‘Next Generation Profitable Dry Stock Farming’ while Tomas Tierney explored what the options are in ‘Farming post EU Structural Funds and Subsidies.


Politics crept into a lot of submission in the guise of Brexit and the US Election and how it will shape a more uncertain future but there were some submissions that focused solely on politics. Jenny O’Reilly gave an inside track on the use of social media by political parties, questioning if it has resulted in informed debate or an echo chamber of like minded views in ‘The Future of Political Engagement in a Social Media Driven World’. Max Hastings gave a research and data driven insights into the use of automated bots that have the potential to skew election results in ‘2016 Elections and Twitter: Rise of the Political bot’


Although not a homogenous group many submissions predictably had a strong sociological focus. Tom Murphy in his piece ‘Dept of Near Future’ highlights the difficulty of thinking about the future and the need to pay attention and look for clues so we can adjust our behaviour. Chris Collins documented how women’s different use and engagement with social media could result in ‘The emergence of the online female entrepreneur.’ Leon Tunney Ware contested that we need to understand what makes us truly human, before plunging into the possibilities that the digital age offers and that Forethought and Foresight are necessary for our digital future in ‘The Human Experience of the Internet’. Theresa Rock outlined what it takes to be a visionary and its importance for a positive future in ‘The Future Needs Visionaries’. Andrew Lovatt questioned how the early promise of the internet has become driven by shareholder value and we need to rethink what the future could be ‘Is the future what we make it?’.

Damien Costello articulated a new construct for society based on social capital in line with evolving generational shifts in ‘Towards a more Sympathetic Future - Thoughts on the Humanisation of Society through Digital Technology’. Rapidly following on the generational focus on the individual Ginger Aarons uses the example of preservation of our heritage that depends on a more communal approach in ‘I Becomes We .... Our future depends on it!’. John Tierney explored how Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and contextual data sets can help in replaying the past but also has a role in finding the truth in ‘The Future of Experiencing the Past’.

Sean McGrath also questioned the truth in a world of algorithims where machines decide what we read and possibly what we think in ‘A Pokemon Ate My Hamster’. Continuing this theme Alan Tyrrell gave guidance on our relationship with information and ensuring it is an enabler rather than enslaver in ‘The Lost Generation: Questions and Rambles on the Way to Discovery.’

Julian Ellison articulated the fundamental basis of religion, why it is valuable to our belief and being in ‘Does God have a future? Or to be more specific, does belief in God have a future?’ Denis O’Hora gave a psychologist view on how we should handle/ deal with thinking about the future as it poses uncertainty, distractions and excessive worry in ‘The Future Deserves Our Consideration.’ Joan Mulvihill continued the theme of uncertainty and posed a series of question about the future in ‘Address Unknown’. Paul O’Mahony through a Periscope session and follow up audio posts gathered together views on the movement to virtual communication and debated the merits and discomfort it poses for some in ‘The Future Is Not Virtual - or is it?’. Andrew O’Brien brings us back to earth in his evolution inspired piece on ‘The Future of Health is Running and the Future of Running is Health’.

Ruairi Kavanagh dug deep into intergeneration traits, aspiration and difference in ‘Generation Y and why we need them more than ever.’ Paul Killoran’s ‘A Faster Horse’ questioned why we accept that transatlantic transport has taken a step back and is more constrained by our imagination than technological capabilities. Belinda Brummer took the evolution of robots and AI and argued that we need to think beyond human rights as machines become more advanced in ‘The Future of the Rights Movement’. Billy Kennedy pointed out the weakness in our reliance on electronic data, suggested some future proofing strategies and also pointed out that techniques, thinking that took millennia to evolve have a role in our future in ‘The Future Depends on Harnessing the Tools of the Past.’ On a similar theme Robert Malseed demonstrated how a very simple game from Roman times can help us improve our thinking and strategy formation (without the reliance on power) in Gaming the Past for the Future. Gavin Duffy argued that we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if we fail to examine and learn from them, as reflected in past rises/falls of civilization in ‘Examine the Past to Determine the Future’. Sabina Bonnici presented a view of how adults and children will entertain themselves in a technology driven future in the ‘Future of Play’. Syed Ghazi argues that the rising belief that AI and data will solve all our problems is ill conceived in ‘Big Data is not the Answer’. Noreen Henry presented a series of possible technologies that will drive the future in “Tomorrow belongs to those that hear it coming”. Dermot Casey in ‘Airbags for the Algorithmic Age’ paints a cautionary picture of how computational errors can have profound impacts on lives and argues for a charter of algorithmic rights. Barry Adams outlined how machine learning and the Internet of Things is transforming the internet and beyond in ‘The World Wide Web in the Age of the Industrial Internet’. Tom Murphy presented an alternative decentralized social networking architecture that empowers people rather than enriches corporations in ‘Let’s Kill Facebook’. Sabine Mckenna argued the case for basic coding in ‘Digital Natives not Created Equal’ while Kathryn Parkes outlined the need for diverse forces in design technology in ‘The Future of Human-Centred Design in a World of Machine Intelligence’.  Camile Donegan discussed the role of myth and story telling as the future or VR in ‘Virtual Reality - Theatre of the Future’.

Alastair McDermot narrated the past story of website design and articulated how automation, artificial intelligence and the proliferation of devices will change ‘The Future of Web Design’. Darragh Rea used the backdrop of the US election to explore how we access information and what is shaping our experiences in ‘Google and Facebook, Democracy’s Greatest Challenge?’. Will Knott showed how Maker Spaces can transform how we collaborate and how/what we can create and build in ‘Making your inter-network, of things – MakerSpaces and the future of innovation’. Niall McCormack proposed that the secret to the future could lie in past fiction in ‘Science Fiction to Science Fact: How the Past is Predicting the Future’. Bernie Goldbach collated a series of thinking about how we transport ourselves in the ‘Future of Mobility’. In the controversial world of artificial intelligence Ciaran Cannon put the debate into context in ‘Artificial Intelligence - The robots are coming to get us and other such stories’

#cong 16 unconference day report

“The Future”. UnConference. Cong Village

While the childrens workshop was in full swing in the Crossroad Centre,  the series of talks and conversations kicked off at 10.30 until 4.30 in 8 different venues in Cong Village.

Themed around ‘The Future’, each attendee had produced a 600 word article of their vision, thoughts or perspective on what lies ahead for whatever area they wished to focus on. This was the basis of talks on the day and are all available to see in the submissions page.

During the day each of submissions which were presented in coffee shops, book stores, bars, restaurants and craft stores were guided by a chair person who ensured three presentations at each huddle and moderated the following discussion.

Photo 2 Puddleducks

The mixed background of attendees and the range of topic areas reflected the challenge of looking into the future. Far reaching presentations into Artificial Intelligence, rise of automation, future transport were combined with individual thoughts on how we will work and play in the future. Although the depth and quality of information sharing on the day was extremely stimulating the real magic happened in the Q&A and subsequent conversations. 

Photo 4 Pat Cohans

Capped at 10 minutes the presentations acted as a catalyst for conversation and gave people a better understanding of the presenter. As the day evolved and barriers were slowing broken down, perspectives on the future moved from disparate opinions to more personal and universal themes. Although there was plenty of conversation about flying cars to embedded chips the final exercise of distilling thoughts, perspectives and concepts to create a better future proved difficult. The final session revealed peoples fear about the future, the uncertainty about the here and now and thinking started to focus on what type world do we want and what actually matters.

Congregation Quiet Cailin Huddle

One group debated at length about what a better future means and what actually makes people happy, rationalizing that a sense of community was what made people happiest. The truth is that the future not alone fundamentally questions what is possible but also what we want and need as a race. It also has deep psychological repercussions as many of us grasp with dealing with the next step and unable, fear of cannot see the point in looking beyond.

Finishing up at 4.30pm the group were treated to a one for everyone in the audience with a free copy of Chris Brogans book ‘The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth’ supplied by Eoin Kennedy and Paul O’Mahony.

Following the annual photo at Cong Cross the conversations continued on at a conference dinner in Pat Cohan’s and Ryan’s Hotel. The group finally convened at Danaghers Hotel where one of the attendees, Sean McGrath, guided everyone through a bodhrán workshop. Sean patiently explained the difference between ‘rashers and sausages’ and ‘black and decker’ as 50 people finally started to build rhythm together.

Bodhran workshop

Children’s Congregation

As the 90 attendees gathered in Ryans Hotel for their briefng, a group of 31 children were being treated to workshops in the Crossroads Centre. Ranging from 4-15 years old, they were expertly guided through building lego robots from scratch by Niall McCormack of Colmac Robotics before eventually pitching them against each other in Robot Wars.

Childrens workshop

After lunch Hassan Dabbagh from Castlebar and Pamela O’Brien from LIT in Tipperary introduced the children to a selection of MaKey MaKey workshop activities from code breaking, making simple electrical circuits with diodes and batteries before creating start/stop animation and making electric pianos from fruit.

IMG 9415Childrens workshop 2

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie