Now, as it enters its fourth year, much has changed. The KQ is increasingly being recognised for its role in London life, both physically as a neighbourhood, and intellectually as a force for good. But parallel to its successes, we have also witnessed the wider, unsettling rise of the post-truth era. All of which makes next week’s gathering of over 300 of the sharpest brains from across the KQ and beyond, feel timely and vital.
The Future of Knowledge is a one-day conference open to all, that will be examining exactly what it means in all its forms. Heavyweight speakers include Ronan Harris, managing director of Google UK and Ireland; Eleanor Mills, editorial director at The Sunday Times, Dr Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, and the author, historian and broadcaster, David Olusoga.
Across panels, workshops and keynotes, the event will ask some big questions about the rapidly shifting notions of truth, learning and the role of the organisations that we entrust to further our collective understanding.“One of the most important things any institution does is look to the future,” says KQ Chief Executive Jodie Eastwood. “While we learn from the past, and our work is concerned with the present, safeguarding the future is paramount – and in our case, we are concerned with the future of knowledge.”
At a time when the public have a growing mistrust in experts and politicians, the importance of bringing together historic institutions such as the British Museum (where the event is being held) with innovators from Google alongside local comprehensive school children, all under the same banner, has taken on a whole new dimension and urgency.
“Our first conference will play an important role in uniting Knowledge Quarter partners and other important stakeholders to explore the challenges that face the knowledge economy in the early twenty-first Century,” Jodie tells us. “The KQ has built a network of trust in London’s intellectual heart, energising an on-going process of community and collaboration. In 2018, we will be deepening and expanding our mission, and we’re really looking forward to the opportunity to foster more meaningful connections between our partners and local communities.”
As early members ourselves, we’re big fans of all this here at Gasholder. The gulf between the academic, scientific and cultural brilliance being undertaken daily in this neighbourhood, and the aggressive anti-knowledge that can rear its head from the playground right up to the Oval Office, is possibly the biggest challenge of our time.
The conference should showcase all the reasons we have to celebrate, and also identify all the work we now have to do.