Just back from Thinking Digital Manchester. And the over-riding message was for us to all turn off our devices and go and do something more interesting instead.
Yes! From a digital conference!! You don’t go to digital events expecting to be told to go off-grid and head for the hills, but the most awe inspiring speakers in Manchester seemed to do just that.
Whether it was “digital obesity” from Eddie Obeng, Stephen Waddington talking about the Internet being full of sh*t or Tom Chatfield warning that all our time risks becoming the “same”, the loud and clear message throughout was that the digital (marketing) industry needs to take a proper look at itself in the mirror – because it’s getting kind of ugly.
Dare Conference has been going for three years but this is the first year I’ve been able to attend. It seems unique among conferences in that it focuses on collaborative business culture from a digital/ geek standpoint. Founder Jonathan Kahn used to be a web designer, but he grew frustrated at the disconnect between espoused workplace values and the reality – and set up DareConf to bridge that gap.
The first thing about DareConf is that it’s great for networking (in the best sense of the word): getting the chance to connect with like-minded people on a deeper level than you might do at a purely speaker-focused event.
There was a hint of rebellion bubbling under at last week’s Social Media Week London. But despite Will Hayward of Dazed (above) kicking off the conference with a fabulous call to arms – wanting all of us to turn off our ‘content pipelines’ and start doing something more interesting instead, most sessions reverted to business as usual, focusing on brand-building tips and tactics.
Here are my top three takeaways from the week:
1. Short-form visual content is overtaking the written word: the most popular ‘word’ online in 2014 was the heart emoji (Twitter’s Tariq Slim). Twitter reported a massive rise in short-form content (Periscope, stop motion Vines and gifs). Jonathan Davies from Buzzfeed noted the same, citing animated Vines and gifs. Ed Couchman from Facebook has seen a huge rise in emoji, stickers and photos. By 2018, he says, 9/10 pieces of Facebook content will be video. Continue reading →
I’m reporting live from Social Media Week London again this year – covering the official event stream from the conference HQ in Holborn. So don’t worry if you don’t have a conference pass, just follow the #SMWLDN hashtag (or @JemimaG) on Twitter. There are also loads of unofficial (and free) events happening round town.
This year’s theme is Upwardly Mobile: The Rise of The Connected Class. The key question is how can all humans achieve more in a connected world? Fabulous question, but you might be disappointed looking down the schedule trying to find sessions that attempt to answer it. These ten get my vote:
1. Definitely Not Content Tues 15 Sept, 9am: Will Hayward spoke last year. He’s really good. This time he’s talking about the cultural significance of the social web and why why we should all aim higher than “content” marketing. Continue reading →
Back in the mid 1990s I used to go to an all night (weekend?) party called Coalesce. There were lots of nice people and loads of deeply meaningful conversations. And ridiculous ones. About life, the universe and everything. There was probably a bit of chemical enhancement going on. Twenty years on, tech entrepreneur turned curator Herb Kim has done something quite amazing. He’s channelled that essence of nineties rave into a conference.
Thinking Digital is a heady mix of music, lights, optimism, existential conversations and meaningful coincidences. A homespun feast of analogue humanity meets digital possibility. The conference is now in its eighth year and it’s a celebration of the polymath. The speakers are all great connectors – communicators who can explain quantum physics or data visualisation with ease. They entertain with complexity.
You don’t have to be clever, you just have to be up for it.
Game-changing companies Airbnb and Uber don’t own anything other than their online communities – and the data those communities generate. But Airbnb and Uber are worth billions. And they’ve blown traditional business models out of the water in the sectors in which they operate.
This was the key point made by digital expert Dion Hinchcliffe at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in London recently: “I hear people say ‘Oh, we’re not a technology company, so we’re not riding the technology wave’,” said Hinchcliffe. “But that’s no longer an excuse!”
“Whatever your sector, your business model is under threat from digital,” said David Terrar, the summit producer. “We’re seeing three massive trends happening at once: cloud, social and mobile. The unprecedented access to data, connectivity and the speed at which new products and services can be delivered mean goal posts are shifting fast.” Continue reading →
Next week is London Social Media Week. The fifth sixth time the event has taken place in London, and the first time founder Toby Daniels’ company, Crowdcentric, has been running the show directly. For previous events, Sam Michel’s Chinwag was in charge. I’ve live-blogged pretty much every time, and it’s been interesting to see the event grown in size and stature year on year.
Inevitably, the event has become more focused and commercial over the years. Like social media itself, it’s growing up. There are good and bad sides to that. People may gripe about inflated ticket prices and a monochrome agenda – but it’s more just the sheer size of the event that’s off-putting. If you look through this year’s agenda, there are plenty of gems to be found.
I’m live blogging Thinking Digital’s early morning coffee with Chi Onwurah (left) – the Labour MP for Newcastle currently leading the Digital Government Review. The session is chaired by Dr Joanna Berry (right), Director of Engagement at Newcastle University Business School. We’re about to start – please keep refreshing the page for updates. [And please also note: the conversation is paraphrased not direct verbatim].
7.50am: Thinking Digital founder Herb Kim kicks off: thank you everyone for coming despite the rain and early start, and possibly a few beverages after lunch yesterday […] Let me start by introducing Dr Joanna Berry, director of Engagement at Newcastle business school. Great to welcome her on stage for the first time. Continue reading →
As you may well know, I’m not a developer. I don’t even come near being one. But Mint CEO Cameron Price told me about Github a few years ago, and I’m interested in the way it works as a remote platform for its community: it’s a flexible working thing, and that all feeds into my interest in how technology enables us to work differently, the way we want to (see the Beach with Wifi blog for some examples). Continue reading →
I’ve got a soft spot for Spain. I lived there for two years. The language is easy, the food’s great, the sun (nearly) always shines and the people are friendly. They’ve also got a healthy attitude to work, with the siesta (aka three hour lunch break) still common in the middle of the day.
So maybe it’s no surprise that call centres in Spain have a better reputation than ours when it comes to customer service. Cheer and good humour? The Spanish do it naturally (unlike in the UK where training seems to be needed). Local cultural nuances are important in customer services – especially now that social tools are increasingly being employed. Continue reading →