DLD Munich
17/01/2020

What are you adding, Clara Barnett?!

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Clara Barnett, Digital Inclusion Advisor to the Department for International Development at the UK Government, inspired the theme “What are you adding?” of DLD20, Burda’s innovation and tech conference which will be staged in Munich from January 18-20. Ahead of the conference, we asked her to share a few thoughts on why she came up with this theme and what it means to her.

You inspired the theme of DLD20 “What are you adding”. Can you tell us a bit more about how this came about?

The origin of the statement came from a conversation I had with Steffi (Czerny), after having recently moved back from DR Congo and into the digital and innovation space in the international development sector. I was brimming with optimism about the potential of tech. But on greater exposure to the wider tech sector – filled with creativity and intelligence and a very healthy cash flow – I found myself asking of those entrepreneurs, technologists and big company execs the question I’d been asking myself over and over again: “What are you adding?”

So what does “What are you adding” mean to you?

First off: it’s about exploring what are you adding in terms of the issues that you’re addressing. We are in the midst of a climate emergency; political rights and civil liberties are on a steady decline; and technologies are changing us and our societies in ways we don’t yet fully understand and haven’t yet got a handle on. Are we really doing enough to harness technology’s potential to tackle the issues that matter the most? I don’t think so.

Another aspect is inclusion and accessibility: technology has the potential to bring real progress to everybody on this planet – and yet, we see almost half the world’s population are offline; shockingly high digital gender and rural divides; and only a small geographic and socio-economic group receiving the bulk of the benefit. It doesn’t have to be this way, but if it stays like this, we risk leaving billions of people behind.

Finally, it’s about ‘how’ we are adding to shaping the tech sector and the future of our world for the common good. As we set mission statements, design platforms and develop products we need to make sure we’re consciously thinking of the world we want to create, the standards we wish to embed and the behaviors we want to encourage.

I’d like to use my talk to unpack this further and highlight some great examples of where we see this in practice. But most importantly, I want to spark a discussion.

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Clara Barnett inspired the theme “What are you adding?” of DLD20 © Clara Barnett

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