Something very significant happened to the digital industry this week. Not just the controversial passing of a new Investigatory Powers Bill, nor the fact that Channel 4 almost lost the right to screen Black Mirror, nor even The Pope deciding to reach millennials on Instagram.

No. This was the week Thinking Digital – the North East’s phenomenally well-loved art-meets-geekery conference – finally came to London. And it was quite an entrance.

A fabulous venue (the very chic Ham Yard Hotel in Soho), sublime organisation and – as ever – an exceptionally brilliant line-up of speakers (including Twitter’s Bruce Daisely, above).

Here are some things I learnt…

1. As we get ever more connected we don’t get ever more transparent or more open – we get ever more entangled. VUCA is the new military acronym for this ever more connected world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. (David Siegel)

2. The management consultancy approach to business (theory, research, insights and planning) is redundant. We’re in a new era of hunches, probabilities, experiments and weak signals. Turn your factory into a laboratory. The last thing you should do is optimise. (David Siegel)

3. We’re moving to a life beyond the screen. The screen is just a temporary interface. (Joanna Montgomery)

4. The language we use, the way we speak is changing as live video and live content become increasingly important: Vines, Periscopes and gifs continue to rise at Twitter. (Bruce Daisley)

5. Modern ‘work’ is a Victorian construct. We’ve got a real problem with productivity: in our obsession with efficiency we forget to ask are we being effective? (David Coplin)

6. We don’t make decisions through rational optimisation but through exclusion of the worst: we choose the least bad. Our brains are calibrated to avoid catastrophe rather than optimise (see cats with cucumbers). When faced with options, we choose the ‘avoid catastrophe’ strategy: we follow the path (because it’s unlikely to go off a cliff). (Rory Sutherland)

7. That’s why nudge marketing works: Wagamama warning us our food orders will arrive at different times, Five Guys giving us an ‘extra’ scoop of fries rather than make the cup bigger and San Pellegrino adding a little foil hat to soda. (Rory Sutherland)

8. It’s no surprise meditation and mindfulness have roared through the business world: that’s the delicious paradox of slow: slow down and you can deal with fast. (Carl Honore)

And on that note…

After my third Thinking Digital in a year I’m beginning to think so digitally that I really could do with a little analogue lie-down!

Thanks Herb Kim and crew for another outstanding event. Look forward to doing it all again in May.


Jemima Gibbons
Jemima Gibbons

Social media consultant and author of Monkeys with Typewriters (featured by BBC Radio 5 and the London Evening Standard). Get your social marketing up and running with my Social Media Launch Pack!

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