British Council Creative Economy

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26 July 2015

A Chat with Google's Dionisis Kolokotsas, Collaborator on Culture Shift Athens

As Public Policy Manager at Google, Dionisis pushes the positive role of digital technology in society, culture and the economy. We talked to him about the inspirational ideas generated when we recently partnered to deliver Culture Shift Athens.

What attracted you and Google to work with the British Council?

We have a lot of common ground. The British Council is active in promoting culture and art, developing new innovative programmes and fostering collaboration with creative and cultural industries. At Google, we aim to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful; and culture is a very important part of the world’s information. That’s why we created the Google Cultural Institute, to make cultural material available to everyone, to digitally preserve it as well as to educate and inspire future generations.

What value does “Culture Shift: Technology meets Art” bring to the creative economy of Greece?

"Culture Shift: Technology meets Art" brings together technologists, artists, cultural professionals and entrepreneurs to develop new solutions, through the use of technology, to some of the challenges faced within the cultural and creative sector in Greece. It provides a framework for technologists and cultural professionals to find new ways of working together, which in turn, become a digital and physical space for new collaborations, coalitions and collections to form.

What was your favourite part of the programme?

There were actually two parts. The first was during the hackathon last March in the Future Library of Ilioupolis, Athens: feeling the energy in the room, while the teams were working on their ideas, together with mentors with culture, technology and business backgrounds. The second one was in London, experiencing first-hand how the trip to London has inspired the two winning teams, by giving them the opportunity to learn from Google experts at the YouTube space and to network with other entrepreneurs at the Google campus.


What was your least favourite part of the programme?

That we had to limit ourselves to up to 80 participants in this first year of the programme, to make sure that we use it as a pilot to learn for the future. And we now feel we did the right thing. There is so much more to do and we need to go step by step to get it right.

What did you learn?

I learned that if you bring motivated people together, next to inspiring professionals and gave them a meaningful challenge you can get great ideas and lots of good energy to make ideas come true.

What can we do better?

Everything. There’s always room for improvement. We got feedback from the participants and will carefully take it into account going forward.

What’s been the relationship between Google and the teams since the end of programme?

The learning from this year’s programme give us enough confidence and inspiration to move on. We are working with the partners on next steps, aiming to engage with the culture and art ecosystem as well as the developers community in Greece - and why not, beyond.

Would you work with the British Council on similar initiatives, if so, any immediate ideas of interest?

We’ve been working hand-in-hand from the beginning. We’ve been listening to each other’s ideas and utilised the unique capabilities and perspective each one brings to the topic. And I feel the outcome has been rewarding, yet adds more pressure to us to make it even better next year.

The  British Council and Google are currently working on their next collaboration. Watch this space.

Meet Dionisis and fellow Google colleague, Simon Morrison, explaining their work at the intersection of information technology and culture and the ongoing Future Library project in Greece below.