Can R&D be fun?

I went to an Open Data consultation workshop at Whitehall on Monday. It was great – I was impressed by how accommodating the Whitehall staff were.

During one discussion, I suggested that open data should be more engaging and “fun” for the public to care enough about it and gain full advantage of the information. “We don’t do fun, though,” said the Whitehall staff. She meant well, but I was surprised.

So I got thinking: why can’t data be fun?

In fact, why can’t R&D be fun? Can R&D do fun and substance? During my master programme in Digital Anthropology at UCL, I sifted through so many insipid, uninspiring bodies of data in journals and papers. Sure, the subject can be on the hottest digital application or activity – body kinetics, games, hacktivism, Second Life, chatrooms, cyberporn – but hell, you fell asleep after reading the abstracts. I understand the need for academic rigour, but can rigour also be engaging? Lively? But then, it’s quite one thing to do research, and another to be able to tell a good story on that research.

We just launched a new initiative at Sojournposse called Sojournposse Purpose, where I am the Head of R&D. Although in the CV I put that down as ‘Project Lead’. What’s my aim for this role? Make R&D fun. Hope you have fun reading this page.

Update: As of 2012, Sojournposse has become GLUE Studio. We are having fun being creative and making a business out of it.