Thinking Digital Conference

The thinking digital conference was great. At one point I twittered that I felt like I was at TED. And seriously I wasn't joking. some of the speakers like Aubrey de Grey, Ray Kurtzwell, Helen Fisher, Jonathan Harris, Tara Hunt, etc, were top notch speakers and worthy of the ticket price alone. But rather that go completely out there, the conference was unpinned by a lot of business type talks like for example Greg Dyke, Doug Richard and Casper Berry. There was also the usual what is the future of mobile, green technologies, the future of media and social networking. All the panels were interesting and included a bit of time for some good crowd questions.

So a quick time out for some of my favorate talks. Helen Fisher's talk was simply amazing. She deconstructed why woman are in the position there in now and what the future spells for woman. As Helen calls it woman are shedding 1000's years of a farming lifestyle in favor of something much natrual like in the stone age. Helen asked the question What is love? and pointed at 3 parts of the brain. 1st one being sex (drive, lust,etc), 2nd being romantic love (passion, obsession, etc) and 3rd being deep feelings of attachment (calm, monogahmy, security). Helen sees the first part as a way of getting out there looking for a partner, the 2nd part to keep you faithful and the 3rd part to able you and your partner sane enough to raise children. Pushing things along Helen asks the question if we know about these chemical reactions in the brain, can we have casual sex? Yes we can but the brain systems are stimulated and there is a 1/3 chance you will fall in love with your casual sex partner. Its also possible to have the brain parts act upon different people. Aka you have the drive to have sex with one person, feel loving to another person and feel safe and calm with another person. There not connected.

Female sexuality is growing – Woman are as sexual as men! Always have been. But on the other hand Men are as romantic as woman, Men always have been. Some world wide trends, Fact! When woman are better educated, or higher income theres more sexuality. People who divorce have more sexuality, people with access to conception are more likely to express there sexuality,

21st centery marriage, a marriage between equals is now commons. Divorce isn't a fail, its a positive things.

A few other things, picked up from Helens talk
1. Bad – Use of Anti-Depressions, the drugs kill the sex drive, performance and Fantasies. Helen believes it also effects your romantic love and attachment brain areas. Helen calls it the numbing of the world
2. We working harder on our relationships that ever before.
3. Divorice rate is flatting out, maybe because we're marrying later
4. Peer marriages / marriages of equals are here to stay, Marriages are also happier maybe for the same reason.
5. Middle age isn't the end, there are drugs which can help you keep the drive. While the romantic love and attachement comes natrually.

I had heard some people moan about the conference being not like your traditional Technology/New Media conference. Well maybe if you had only hear the title you might be mistaken for what the conference was about. But one look at the list of presenters and there would be no doubt what kind of conference this was going to be. I mean can you imagine Ray Kurtzwell at Future of Webapps? Xtech (maybe), Web 2.0 expo, etc. Nope theres always been a need for a high end conference in the UK for a while, yes it will be expensive but you don't get this kind of quality for cheap. It was a risk which did pay off, the codeworks team are already talking about thinking digital 2009 which I'm sure will be even better and even better attended.

The Venue for Thinking Digital was the Sage2 in Gateshead. I've never been inside of it before but it was a excellent venue for such a event except one thing. Power for the audience. I know there were quite a few people blogging and once they had run out of battery power they looked for anywhere to plug in and charge up. If the team had just spread some 6ways across the bottom and top of the seating, then chained them along a few meters then used black tape to keep them stuck down, it would have covered the problem. It was sad to hear too, because the speed of the network was blazing. I was uploading videos of about 100meg to in less that 5mins flat. Flickr photos were painless too, I sometimes reduce the resolution on photos to flickr, so uploading is quicker. But there was no need. During uploading to Blip, I saw a peak of 891kbps. So total kudos to the best internet conference experience I've ever had next to Over the Air.

All the videos I shot are online already, but the quality is low, if I had knew what uploading would be like, I might have opted for VGA quality. There were other cameras shooting the whole thing, so I assume, one was for archiving and the other for the live screens inside the venue. I asked permission before and I think you'll agree, although the records are complete the quality of the sound and vision wasn't the best. Fear not there is a set of audio only podcasts which need to be edited by myself and uploaded to Blip.TV and IT Conversations.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and