Shoreditch: the greatest show on earth!

I missed last year’s inaugural Digital Shoreditch, so tried to make up for this time by attending the festival three days in a row. It was a fab deal, because if you signed up early enough, you got a whole day for £90, refundable if you actually turned up (although when you went to claim it, they would gently try and persuade you to join their business network for half price instead – luckily done with enough charm to make it completely okay).

This year’s Digital Shoreditch was spread out over two weeks, each day with a different theme. So while the first week covered recession-ready topics like “Career” and “Jobs”, week two aimed to look on the brighter, five-years hence side with days like “Next”, “Brands” and “Play” (these were the three I attended).

Highlights? First off, the venue, Hackney House (see pic), was pretty damn amazing: a tent in the middle of a disused car park with lighting and bowls of sweets more akin to an illegal rave venue circa 1989 than your average work conference.

Second, learning new stuff. The two case studies I bookmarked were Bear71 and Decode JayZ – both inspiring examples of digital storytelling. And I’m still doing my ‘build an online community from scratch’ homework (thanks to BrightLemon). Admittedly, there were a few duff sessions: next year I would love to see the whole thing compacted into a week, and more strenuous curation. Having said that, you can’t beat the dedication and enthusiasm of the organisers. Credit to Endaf (with whom I once had a lovely conversation about typography and time capsules on the Central line) and Kam.

Finally, just the whole damn amazing buzz that is Shoreditch. It’s gone from run-down, to trendy, to overblown, to zeitgeist. And I know the hipsters have moved on, but in their place is a new maturity: TechCity, The Olympics and sheer blatant creativity are going to make this place rock.

Digital Shoreditch is perfectly placed to capitalize on this. Ten years ago there was something called the Shoreditch Business Network, which was fun for a while. But it was run by people who didn’t have their hearts and souls in the area – they wanted to create a scaleable business with identical networks all over the country. Digital shoreditch is run by the community for the community. We like that.

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