Meet the team: Spotlight on Alistair Riddell

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If you tuned in to our last blog post, you will know that we are putting each of our team members under the Spotlight and giving our readers a bit more insight into the vast and impressive experience and backgrounds our colleagues have.

This week, we have asked Alistair Riddell, of Collective Social Intelligence (CSI) to give us a brief overview of his career and how he fits into the Foy’s Arcade collaboration. Alistair is a Research and Development Manager for CSI, which means he is constantly experimenting and testing new technologies and gadgets.

Please continuing reading to find out more from Alistair himself…


As you start to read this you might be wondering how I got here and what I do.  Well, let’s start with a little on my career background which should go some way to explaining these questions. 

As someone whose life has paralleled the remarkable evolution in digital technology, I’ve been fortunate to have spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to be creative with technology. This has largely taken place in academia as both as a student and teacher. Exploration, experimentation and discussion were routine across a wide range of technologies over the past few decades not just for me but for the students I taught and supervised. It was an exhilarating experience to engage with generational changes in the expectations of technology. Now in a different world, it is compelling to experience how technology drives business aspirations at a time of rampant technological production and the momentum of commercial opportunities.

In addition to teaching and general academic matters, I got out there through presenting at conferences both nationally and internationally, organising and participating in other conferences around Australia more or less from around 1994. I’ve published in various forms for many years, talked on the radio and even been interviewed on television, produce creative installations and performed in public. So being able to converse about technical innovation and its expectations has been central to my career right from the start. Today, this interest is largely focus on the “Internet of Things” and microcontrollers. Effective small, distributed computing solutions with direct human applications.

Melbourne’s my home town but like many Melbournians I’ve spent years away either overseas or interstate and now that I’m back (again) I’m enjoying its remarkably dynamic cultural environment, embracing new ideas and technical innovation across many different contexts. And Foy’s Arcade is one of the most impressive.

So I found myself at Foy’s after a close friend Andrew Sorensen asked me to help out on the development of a project and since then I’ve been involved in other diverse activities and events as well as the ongoing evolution of the original project. However, there is more to the Foy’s context. The events that take place every week, contribute to defining the role of technology in the facilitation of its business discourse and the insight into contemporary issues of the commercial world. Foy’s is an idea space, a free form space for exploring the human dimension of business transactions.

So in addition to working on specific projects at Foy’s, I’m also experiencing the operation of Foy’s on a weekly basis as a “collaboratorium” and customer experience centre. Seeing how it works for groups of attendees with diverse objectives and issues to discuss and how technology is rolling out to facilitate everyone’s engagement with the space. As part of the diverse team that make Foy’s work, I enjoy contributing new ideas and technical solutions as part of the ambience of innovation and forward thinking.



Details of Alistair’s full career background, independent projects and thoughts can be found at and videos of his work on Vimeo.

Now for a casual wrap up… 5 quick facts with Alistair Riddell:

On the weekend you’ll find me…

First thing on Saturday morning it might be the local farmers markets or pondering what needs to be done around the place. Again, I like spontaneity and it might also depend on the weather or what I did the night before. The thing is probably to go with the flow and enjoy the freedom of the moment.

My unusual talent is…

I don’t think I have any. I guess I just have the usual talents 😉

My coffee order is…

First thing in the morning a strong flat white with 1 sugar. Subsequent coffees, I drop the “strong” and the sugar.

Quote to live by…

Attributed to Steve Jobs, I think the quote “The Journey is the Reward” as clichéd as it sounds, has been exactly how I have lived my life and what’s more I can prove it!

Favourite lunchtime spot in the Melbourne CBD…

Anywhere new that I haven’t been to before, there’s a real buzz of anticipation in that. That’s what’s great about lunch in the Melbourne CBD. The fall back places might be Manchester Press, Corner and Bench or Queen Vic Centre for choice.

Any questions for Alistair? You can email him at For more info on our Partners CSI you can visit their website here.

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