BBC Coverage of Breakout! Festival: Sentient cities may answer back

The BBC sent a reporter, Laura Sheeter, to join Anthony and me as we hosted a Breakout! Festival work session on the bus from NYC to Philadelphia. It was a great experience to actually do some collaborative Breakout! work on a bus while travelling (for those that don’t know, BoltBus has free Wi-Fi on trips between Washington, D.C, New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston), and it was particularly fun having Laura join us. We also spent the day at the great coworking space IndyHall in Philadelphia, right near the Liberty Bell. And we even were able to get some cheesesteaks (what’s a trip to Philly without a cheesesteak?)!

Sentient cities may answer back

Anthony Townsend and Dana Spiegel have spent years installing free wifi in New York’s parks, enabling people to get online almost wherever they want.
Now they are trying to encourage people to use that freedom to escape their offices, even holding meetings outdoors.

They are leading by example, working on the street almost every day while the exhibition is running, to show people that it’s easier than they think. On the day I meet them they’re in Philadelphia looking for a suitable spot, but icy winds are making things rather difficult.

Internet access, comfortable seats and tables and nearby toilets are the essentials you need to find, they tell me.

Finding shelter is high on my list, but Dana and Anthony say that’s not a problem, as there are plenty of public atria which you can work in without returning to the confines of the office.

They’ve brought with them a rucksack filled with supplies – a laptop, a wireless router and a battery-powered printer are the most hi-tech, the rest of the bag contains post-it notes, chalk, paper weights and a mini white board, not at all futuristic.

But why bother leaving the office, where you have everything you need already? “It’s about reclaiming public space and working better”, says Anthony. “Offices are good for clerical work, and that’s about it.

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