Communication: Past, Present and Future - Rumble Conference, 8th March

On Wednesday 8th March, the Rumble Museum at Cheney School in Oxford held an all day event exploring communication in the past, present and future. Asking 200 15-17 year olds, what different 100 years makes, two keynote speakers, and twelve different organisations delivered talks and workshops exploring this question.

The day kicked off with a gripping talk by futurist Sophie Hackford which explored the role of space in our lives already, and in the future. It looked at a range of emerging technology, and gave students a window into space technology from what can be viewed on earth to looking at increasing the number of people living on space stations, and manufacturing in space.

Looking to the past, Rosie Sharkey from The Bodleian Library explored Victorian newspapers to see what people imagined about the future. Printing expert Richard Lawrence introduced the history of printing to students before everyone being able to do their own printed poster on the Rumble Museum's Victorian printing press. Chris Parkin from the History of Science Museum brought machinery from the well-known Marconi Collection to demonstrate the origins of radio, and students were able to make their own circuit radios which worked! Finally, John Conyard from Historical Interpretations brought replicas of the Enigma Machine and other World War Two artefacts to explore communication at the time.

In the here and now, workshops by Alex McGivern from Oxford Net Zero and Dr Catriona Mellor, NHS psychiatrist, will explore climate anxiety, and how helpful social media is in terms of mental health. Unfortunately snow prevented Jimmy Noak from Broadmoor Hospital for delivering workshops on communicating with patients, but we hope to rebook those for a later date.

Looking to the future, Stephanie Hare explored what A.I. such as ChatGPT can't do, and Gabriel Samuel looked at digital technologies in the future. Workshops by the Professor Michael Wooldridge from University of Oxford and Dr Ross Wignall from Oxford Brookes University explored virtual reality and A.I.

Finally, Professor Bill McGuire looked to the future of the planet  and gave us a very sobering overview of the current state of climate change, the projected effects in the near future,  what we can do to mitigate the damaging effects of climate change. 

As part of our preparation for the day, students imagined what museums in the future might display to communicate life in 2023, and we will create a virtual gallery of their ideas soon.
You can read the full brochure for the event here. We are enormously grateful to everyone who gave their time and energy to running such a stimulating and engaging set of workshops on the day, and to our speakers for powerful and informative talks.