• 09.05.12

PICNIC Festival To Explore The Shift From Top-Down To Bottom-Up

Amsterdam festival addresses the cultural and business impact of a networked world.

PICNIC Festival To Explore The Shift From Top-Down To Bottom-Up
© Keefe Cordeiro

We are officially in the age of democratized everything. Entrenched systems have been buckling under the disruptive pressure of participation and instant feedback for years. Business, education, politics, consumerism, philanthropy and media have all been affected by the ability to gather, create and share information in different ways, and the public’s increasing interest in having a say in processes that were once beyond reach. These days, when the people speak, they expect someone to be listening.


In an effort to better understand the impact and the power of this mega shift, Amsterdam-based innovation and creativity event PICNIC has structured its upcoming conference around the concept of “The New Ownership: The Shift From Top-Down to Bottom-Up,” focusing on how technology is empowering people to drive change on a personal, business and global scale.

“The principles that were designed in the Industrial Age are based on scarcity, hierarchy, exclusion and centralization. This is increasingly incompatible with our current reality, which is based on principles such as sharing, inclusion, decentralization and participation,” says Kitty Leering, PICNIC’s Director of Programming of the festival’s theme. “We are becoming more aware of the inefficiencies of the old organizing systems and feel the need to make a change and take back (more) control, assume responsibility. In short, take (new) ownership.”

To answer questions around how to adapt to this ownership shift, how to stay relevant and meaningful, and who will succeed and fail at the hand of disruption, the event is organized around seven themes–fundamentals, sustainability, business, media, education, health and governance–that take into account the role of technology, consumer participation, generational factors and government activity.

“Technology provides us with the tools to actually [take ownership], resulting in sometimes iconic examples of self-organization and governance, the emerging DIY/Maker culture and other models of self sufficiency and the growing demand for transparency,” says Leering. “We firmly believe that global challenges like these need a broad audience with all stakeholders involved: business, government, the creative industries, education, non-profits and cultural institutions, knowledge networks, entrepreneurs and young talent.”

Image: Alrik Koudenberg

An indication of what the New Ownership might look like can be gleaned from the talks and content on offer at PICNIC. Topics range from big picture, such as The Great Disconnect that explores the untethering impact of technology on established institutions and The Social Capital of Collaborative Platforms, to specific talks about the shift of power to the consumer and the touchy subject of ownership in culture. Interesting brand-specific topics include a pair from agency AKQA: The Unselfish Gene, which will look at why agencies and brands must breed out self-interest to survive the digital future; and Rethinking Capabilities in a World Gone Digital, which looks product invention in a digital world. PICNIC also takes a look into the future with a session on the Internet of Things and a workshop to envisage the next wave of digital disruptions.

In addition to session content, PICNIC is unveiling several partnership initiatives. The Rijksmuseum will soft-launch their new Rijks Studio, which makes high-resolution images available for people to create beautiful products based on its collection; the winners of Vodafone’s Mobiles for Good Challenge, which honors the three best ideas for using mobile technology to improve healthcare and welfare will be announced; and the winners of the Green Challenge, which in partnership Dutch National Postcode Lottery awards the best green business plans, will be announced.

PICNIC takes place in Amsterdam at the newly opened EYE Film Institute on Sept. 17-18. Readers interested in attending the event can receive 30% off registration by entering the promo code PICN!cc30.

About the author

Rae Ann Fera is a writer with Co.Create whose specialty is covering the media, marketing, creative advertising, digital technology and design fields. She was formerly the editor of ad industry publication Boards and has written for Huffington Post and Marketing Magazine.