My highlights of TedxManchester 2017

TedXManchester 2017

I had the joy of being one of many in the main theatre in Home for TedXManchester 2017 (number 5 I believe?). Once again arranged and produced by the incredible serial successful event organiser Herb Kim and the thinking digital team, with a varied range of people plucked for their interesting stories, projects or surrounding concepts. I got my ticket late because the first lot sold out in under an hour! But I was very lucky and looked forward to the line up without really looking into each speaker.

Of course last year was special to me, as I took to the stage to tell the tales of dating in the new millenium with dating against humanity. But it’s always interesting to sit in the crowd and experience the whole thing as an audience member.

The whole event was good but here are the talks which really stood out for me.

Mr Bingo

TedXManchester 2017

I had no idea who Mr Bingo was or what he had done, till he took the stage. He is just a funny guy who does funny things with analogue media; like drawing extremely rude things on cards and posting it to people who request them. I mean he’s trolling them but only because they requested to be trolled. Sounds like self abuse almost?

Its weird but I thought the whole thing was hysterical. I took a shot of one of his cards and been getting a little attention for it, can’t think why? (pleads innocence but of course I know why!)

Sophie Scott

TedXManchester 2017

There was a host of things Sophie said which was fascinating, but the bit which stuck for me was the detail about our attention and our voice. She told us when we talk our brain turns off the listening part. I’m sure this isn’t strictly true but an interesting thought, specially when thinking about how we hate hearing our own voices and why certainly people tend not to realise others are making points too.

She then went on to suggest our voices are wired for much more than just communication, using beatboxing as the ideal example of our voices as instruments.

Lots to take away and well delivered…

Jennifer Arcuri

TedXManchester 2017

There is little I can say about Jennifer which I haven’t already said about her at the last Thinking Digital Manchester. She talked passionately about hacker culture and how important knowledge was in the internet connected world we inhabit. Always a pleasure and wish I could make it to the first HackerHouse/Madlab course in March.

Jonathan Kay

TedXManchester 2017

Jonathan was a weird one and divided people from what I heard in the break later. He started his talk/act at the back of the stalls by heckling Herb as he gave his introduction. Then moved forward to the stage followed by a remote camera person, so people in the upper levels could see what on earth was going on.

His aim of the act was to get the audience to speak to each other and heck even touch each other (I know shock horror!). Ok at one point he did suggest kissing the person next to us but that didn’t go down so well. It was entertaining and the bigger point of actually talking to the people around us, wasn’t lost on myself and others.

What really brough the whole thing home to me, was the fact a friend sat in the seat next to me was feeling extremely uncomfortable about the act and wondered if someone would be picked out of the audience; because that would be terrifying. Thinking back to Carrie Green in TedxManchester3 and I said would it be so bad?

I think the point was made…

Helen Czerski

TedXManchester 2017

I have heard Helen a few times at previous Thinking Digital’s and honestly every time I hear her talk, she just oozes wonder and excitement for science and the universe. You can’t help but feel excited when she talks. Always enlightening and always reignited my interest in sciences.

Michelle McGagh

TedXManchester 2017

I don’t know what to say about Michelle, except wow and wtf! basically Michelle decided not to buy anything for a year. She did point out buy nothing day which is the same day as black friday; but one day is easy right? Why not spend nothing year?

This really got me going because she made very good points about our quick fix consumer culture and the logical conclusion of this all. But unlike the a preachy lecture about how bad we all were, she put herself through a year of trying to live it.

The results were funny and sometimes tragic. I’m not very frugal at all but I typically don’t spend much money on buying stuff. Tend to spend more on experiences and doing things. But recently I made the decision that if was getting old or causing too much effort to keep it going, I should trade it in earlier than later. I’ve spent too much time, fighting to keep things going when I should have just got rid of it and moved on.

So to hear someone actively trying to not to spend anything, and not because she couldn’t afford it – was a little shocking. The full extend of her frugaleness was quite something and reminded me of when I left the hospital almost 7 years ago and seeing my bank balance, because I simply had not spent a single penny except paid my usual bills etc; It was amazing… Maybe there was something to it, I thought as she left the stage.

Andy Burnham

TedXManchester 2017

It was a surprise to see Andy Burnham on the TEDx line up, knowing how TED doesn’t like politic talks, but I have to say although he spoke with passion and made some good points. I couldn’t help but feel the us and them argument a little too simplistic. Centralised power does have a tendencancy to turn corrupt but there is also some good things about it too. If I was talking to Andy directly, I would point to examples like the states, where each state can pretty much set their own rules but the united states system can over rule them; and in some cases thank goodness otherwise slavery, marital rape, etc would still be enforced (although then you get crap like the bathroom nonsense, with the centralised power making backwards decisions).

I also think Andy a few times pointed the finger at the south vs the north, when what he really meant is the country vs westminster. Anyway it was interesting and good to hear, even if I’m not certain on everything said.

Dan Machen

TedXManchester 2017

I liked Dan’s talk, it was a number of things I’ve been thinking a lot about. Attention and Intimacy. I was surprised he never mentioned Sherry Turkle but the quote from William Bernbach was a good place to hand a lot of thoughts. I had never actually checked out Tristan harris, but after Dan’s talk I had a deeper look at him.

Very interesting stuff which I agree about quite a bit (expect a longer blog about him soon). I’ve also been thinking about people not platforms, putting more emphasis on human time and less on productivity. It’s all very interesting in the face of machine learning and AI; I can feel the quantified self/movement (they are quite different) right in the middle of all this, along with data ethics.

Back back to Dan’s talk, I did find the point about the smartphone being a hammer and would we take our hammer out in a meeting? Put it on the table? Interesting… To be fair when he talked about it, I did picture the business card scene from American Psycho, when he mentioned the hammer on the table.

Lots to take away and think about…

TedXManchester 2017

Of course there was plenty more good talks including Isaiah HullVolker HirschSquirrel NationTash Willcocks and Ukebox; which made the ukulele actually interesting. The only one I didn’t enjoy was Nic Cary from Blockchain, which actually has made me want to move my bitcoins from my blockchain wallet to somewhere else. I was actually thinking maybe its time to have my own personal offline wallet?

Another TEDxManchester with plenty to think about and another high bar for TEDx’s to try to achieve, well done to everyone involved.

T2 Trainspotting with Danny Boyle

T2 Trainspotting with Danny Boyle at HomeMCR

I had the absolute pleasure to gain an exclusive ticket thanks to Herb Kim, to see T2 Trainspotting with Danny Boyle (director) in Q&A afterwards.

We will be joined by director and HOME Patron Danny Boyle for a Q&A following the T2: Trainspotting screening at 20:00 on Sat 28 Jan.

Theres little I can say about T2 trainspotting without spoilers, it’s a very good film and I have given it 7/10. In the Q&A Danny said a few things which I found interesting, but no spoilers again except this was one was fascinating…

Highly recommended and what a great person Danny is; he seemed very happy with my brief thoughts about the parellels with Trance and T2 Trainspotting.

Best talks of Thinking Digital 2015

Thinking Digital 2015

Another year has flown by and I’m able to reflect on the Thinking Digital conference again in a blog post. Unfortunately this time I missed the workshops as I was giving a presentation at the BBC Connected Studio Drama lab in Shoreditch. But I jumped the last decent train to Newcastle and got there for 0045.

Because of the late arrival, this had a slight impact on my sleep and so I missed the very first talk of the day by Luciano Floridi. It was one which I had hoped to have seen, especially with my work around ethics in data. A lot of people talked about it, so I’ll have to check it out for sure.

Here’s my highlights of another great Thinking Digital conference. Can’t wait till see it in Manchester by the way!

Steve Mould
Steve Mould

Steve I heard talk last year at Thinking Digital a while back and he was excellent then and he didn’t drop in form this year. Touching on the Quantified Self, Data Portability and the consequences of our data collection. It was well meaning, funny and also full of things to think about. Already seeking out Festival of the spoken nerd

Seb Lee-Delisle
Seb Lee Delisle

Seb I’m sure I have met before but his talk was about the elegance and joy of coding. Of course this included coding live which was funny and painful all at the same time. Only the brave do live coding in front of a audience at a Ted like talk. Well done Seb for making it a joy.

Sam Aaron
Sam Aaron

Seb wasn’t the only one to do live coding from the Thinking Digital stage. Sam, took to the stage with Sonic-pi and belted out live music while explaining what he was doing and how. As always with live coding there were issue along the way but Sam kept his calm and humor. So fun, he was invited back to do an encore. Excellent stuff, may have to play myself, and I’d love to see a DJ version (maybe time to hack the code at DJ Hackday?)

Alexandra Depledge
Alexandra Depledge

I had never heard Alexandra’s story about hassle.com but I did try and use them to do my ironing a while back (which failed). Her story was pretty entertaining and gave a realistic view on startup culture. It was well told, passionate and emphasised the JFDI idea.

Jennifer Morone
Jennifer Morone

Jennifer was recommended by myself to Herb and although Jennifer was quite nervous, the points came across well. I think a lot of people who had never really heard of her or consider what extreme capitalism would be like. Some of the slides Jennifer put up were fascinating. There was a price on how much her natural waste costed if you were interested in purchasing some! We also had fun thinking about what happens if Jennifer was to have a relationship.

Partnership, merger, vicious takeover were all considered over drinks afterwards. Although funny for us, this is a reality for Jennifer.

Stefanie Posavec
Stefanie Posavec

Stefanie was fantastic and I kind of wish Jasmine was able to hear her talk (will have to wait for the video). Stefanie’s rebel against infographics was kind of fascinating. I disagreed with her on a lot of what she talked about but her focused seemed to be somewhere between Art and Design. For example the idea of data gathering by hand and the level of endurance needed is frankly insane, although I know people do it. Interesting point made about the behavior changing through the process of actual effort.

Catherine Mohr
Catherine Mohr

This one really got me, its spoke volumes. Catherine talked about surgery robots and the trend to towards smaller and better operations but her point is we need to turn our attention to diagnosis. Lots to think about and shes very right…

Thinking Digital 2015
Tim Leberecht

I loved this talk by Tim. Adding the romance to business. I took it as putting the human into business. If you take one of his slides you get the general picture. I felt this was a interesting talk when you consider the creative destruction talks by Max Lines of UberUK. Danger over data.

I especially like the un-quantified self over quantified self.

I don’t quite think romance is the right word, but I like it and it conjures up interesting visions in our super efficient and predictable business world. I like it all but I wonder if its all marketing or is there substance behind it?

#LJtunes
Lj Rich

LJ pretty much stole the show with her improvisational system. Basically #LJtunes is a idea which LJ thought to play tunes on a piano in the style of a different genre than originally produced. For example Lionel Richie in Dub Step, on a classic piano!

It was amazing, engaging and full of interesting tip bits, LJ was so great.

Herb Kim changes his shirt

I have to say almost every talk was great but these are the ones which stuck out for me. Other talks worth noting include Russell Davies, Ade Adewunmi, Tony Hey, Holly Goodier and Ken Banks.

I know some people didn’t like the dry ice machine but to be honest I quite liked it. It worked well with the music talks and added even more atmosphere. The idea of having one type of ticket was good but meant you had to be at the door pretty early to get a good seat.

Herb Kim is on fire with 8 years under his belt now. No wonder he’s so happy (with his new shirt style). Roll on Thinking Digital Manchester and the new format Thinking Digital next year with a starting price of only 99 pounds!

Amazing conference and amazing job done by everybody involved!

The Infamous Derren Brown

Charing Cross Road

Had the joy of going to Derren Brown’s last night at the Salford Lowry theatre with Herb Kim.

Derren asked that the details of the infamous show are kept secret, and I’m happy to keep those details quiet. However, I want to say theres a few other things we learned in the show, which intrigued me.

Its good to be geek
Although Derren didn’t go as far as to say this. He made it clear how much of a pain growing up was for him. He was bullied for being smart and clever. But it was great to hear him point out that his experience made him the person he is today and that all those popular kids end up having a boring adult life due to the lack of having to face adversity in their younger life. Of course Derren is also gay, and that caused a whole ton of additional issues in his teenage years.

Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence
One of the things I always loved about Derren Brown was his smart observations about science and psychology. He has always been interested in psychic readings, homoeopathy, etc and shown how much of a con they really are. This time, he took things further by showing a number of the audience more than usual, while talking about the need for extraordinary evidence. It reminded me of a great film I saw ages ago Red lights.

Psychologist Margaret Matheson and her assistant study paranormal activity, which leads them to investigate a world-renowned psychic who has resurfaced years after his toughest critic mysteriously passed away.

If you get a chance to go see Derren Brown live, GO! Its a great show and baffling how even when he reveals how its done, he can do it. Feel privileged going on stage and seeing somethings from a different perspective.

The best of the rest of Thinking Digital 2014

Thinking Digital 2014

As mentioned in the previous 2 blog posts. Thinking Digital 2014 was excellent and further proves this conference is getting better everytime.

I pulled out 2 great talks and already wrote about them previously…

But there were more great talks, worthy of talking about.

Thinking Digital 2014

Jeni Tennison
Got to love Jeni, shes wonderful, warm and so down to earth. I’ve known her from my XML/XSLT days. Her talk reminded me of the struggles and endless fight to liberate data when I was leading BBC Backstage. Those fights are almost never ending… Glad to hear some of the battles are finally being won.

Thinking Digital 2014

Meri Williams
I have known Meri for years and years and always associate her with Newcastle. But I knew she worked very internationally. Her talk was great and had me thinking alot about my own position. She said we should all be asking ourselves, “Can someone like me can be successful here?” I specially like pointers to Dan Pink’s Drive and the term seagulls management. Great talk Meri, lots to take away…

Thinking Digital 2014

Mariana Mazzucato
Never heard of Mariana but after an introduction from Chi Onwurah the local MP for Newcastle or Gateshead. Mariana launched into a massive talk, outlining how the public sector should/could act more like the private sector. Ultimately she started to debunk the myths of public vs private as she does in her book entrepreneurial state (must look into this). This renew my faith in the public sector again.

Thinking Digital 2014

Erin McKean
Returning to the Thinking Digital stage again, Erin this time turned her talk towards new types of discovery. She said discovery should be ambient and contextual. Almost feeling like serendipity. I would suggest perceptive as a way to think about this stuff?

Thinking Digital 2014

Jennifer Gardy and Peter Gregson
Another returning speakers and this time teaming up together to do something new. This time Jennifer and Peter decided to visualise DNA through the medium of music. Some artistic direction was applied but the result was beautiful.

Thinking Digital 2014

Hayley Parkes
Hayley provided more music and what stunning music. So stunning that I dare not take a picture while Hayley was playing because the sound of the prism spinning might distract from the music. I was amazed at the story of Hayley and further provides me with the joy to know that the debate over nature vs nurture is wide open.

Thinking Digital 2014

Suzy Muclahy
Following Jennifer and Peter, Suzy Muclahy explained a number of the processes in the brain and body. The most interesting one for me was the stroke, which is something like #mybrushwithdeath. I later spoke to Suzy about a number of things including #mybrushwithdeath. Such a shame we didn’t get to spend more time talking, because we were bouncing from subject to subject.

Thinking Digital 2014

Steve Mould
Wasn’t expecting much but Steve’s talk about science and ultimately self siphoning beads was funny, witty and entertaining. I especially love the dubstep remix.

Thinking Digital 2014

Jemima Kiss with Christian Payne and Meri Williams
In a nice turn around for Thinking Digital, Jemima chaired a panel discussion mainly about the post-snowden era and whereables. As you can imagine, it was all about post-snowden and Aral’s recent talk. The last 5mins was about whereables and to be fair it wasn’t anywhere as interesting as the rest of the debate. Great to hear Jemima go through the timeline of what changed since last year.

Thinking Digital 2014

Tom Scott
After Aral’s talk and the panel discussion with Jemima Kiss, the mode and tone was low. Not because of the great talks but because there was a feeling that things were not right in the digital world.

Tom Scott’s finishing talk was Tom in 2030 looking back and talking to us in 2014. The main message was don’t panic, humanity will live out and we will prevail. And he’s right, don’t get me wrong. Everything is worth fighting for, but in the end we will prevail. We owe a lot to each and everyone of the whistle-blowers, hackers, journalists, etc which help us make sense of whats happening out there. Privacy is a human right and there will be a massive backlash once people feel its gone too far. The question is when enough people think its gone far enough…?

Thinking Digital 2014

A very fitting and uplifting end to another fantastic Thinking Digital conference. I’ll be clear and say all the speakers were great and although they may not have gotten on to my highlights list, they were all great. Thanks Herb and his wonderful team for putting on yet another great show, I especially like the Q&A by the way (more questions from the crowd please!)

Tickets for 2015 are live now by the way. Looking forward to another exciting thinking digital…

My highlights of Thinking Digital 2013

Herb Kim gets TDC13 underway

Herb Kim the founder and creator of the Thinking Digital conference.

This is my usual best of Thinking Digital… Bear in mind I missed half the conference as noted here.

Julian Treasure got us thinking about our hearing and how important it is. I specially liked two statements he made. Sound has a impact on cognition and don’t architects have ears? He pointed to some very nice spaces with apple styled touches. The kind of place most people would agree is nice but once he mentioned the amount of sound bouncing around the surfaces and reflecting off the floor, it was a different matter.

Maggie Philbin is one of those people who you grew up with on screen and she had become a geek hero of many men in the UK. The Tomorrow’s world presenter talked about technology for a bit then got around to her main points about the lack of diversity. Something about hearing it from Maggie really laid it out for lots of people. I had the pleasure of seeing Maggie giving the Perceptive Radio a once over too. What a woman!

Maria Giudice

Maria Giudice was a interesting lady with an interesting story to tell but what I really took away was her DEO idea (Design Executive Officer). She correctly pointed out CEO’s mainly don’t have the background of designers and those who do, generally break through because they are natural disruptor, people centric, intuitive, imaginative, etc. She had a DEO toolkit which included…

  1. Change mindsets about design, Design = change and change leads to radical change
  2. Focus on people and relationships
  3. Think we not me, collaboration is the name of the game
  4. Champion creative culture, Write on the wall make it a creative space
  5. Iterate and change, be open to change
  6. Be true to yourself

I guess if I wanted to know more… I would have to buy the book which is coming out soon…

Aza Raskin
Aza Raskin I have had the pleasure of meeting before years ago when he was working with Mozilla. Then I also got to eat dinner with him during the first night with others. Aza is one of those people who you can’t help but like. It was a really interesting time chatting with him too because his company Jawbone had just bought Body Media for 100million. Aza had no problem with talking about such things and was happy to talk about the quantified self elements of Jawbone including the wrist band Jawbone up. It was even more interesting to me after just been at the Quantified Self europe conference a week before.

Aza’s main point was about Design being the art of turning constraints into solutions. But are we actually asking the right questions? Do we even really understand the problem were solving?

Lots of food for thought… And I’d love to know more about the Jawbone hack!

Sugata Mitra
Sugata Mitra is always impressive and was one of my highlights of last year but with New Zealand teachers Jo Fothergill & Tara Taylor-Jorgensen who had flown 1000’s of miles to come talk at Thinking Digital the talks were even more epic. You can’t help but feel the educational system will be fine when he talks. I also had the joy of hooking up Jo and Tara with mr whirl wind Alan O’Donohoe before they flew back to New Zealand. Chance and opportunity came together at just the right moment I think.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes on reflection was maybe the best talk of the conference.

On New Years Day 2009 Graham Hughes, set off on an epic journey from his hometown of Liverpool. He wanted to show that the world is ‘not some big, scary place, but in fact full of people who wanted to help you.’ He used buses, taxis, trains and his own two feet to travel 160,000 miles, 201 countries in exactly 1,426 days – all on a shoestring of just $100 a week.

I’m not usually the biggest fan of the talks about the amazing things people have done but there was something extra special about Graham. He was just a everyday  Jo. He made it into every single country on planet earth without flying not even once. Such a epic story and the story was told so well with some incredible sub-stories, when the videos come out for Thinking Digital 2013, you must see this video. Epic and so down to earth. I also like to think I helped him with an introduction to someone I know at YouTube. I believe his storys are good enough to make him a bit of internet superstar, hopefully the youtube connection will be the start of it. Actually I need to check in and see if anything happened?

Jack Andraka
Jack Andraka I didnt’ quite get at first but as he told his story how he applied his mindset to the problem of pancreatic cancer, after losing a family friend to it. Using just Google he researched a new pancreatic cancer test that is 168 times faster, 26,000 times less expensive and potentially almost 100% accurate. He’s only 17, openly gay and already been described as the Alan Turing of our age. His talk was exactly what you would imagine from a 17 year old guy. All over the place but understanding the gravitas of what he was explaining you couldn’t help but feel how epic his journey has been. I really wished I had stopped and chatted to him in the hotel the next day, could have called a taxi and still have made the train.

Tom Scott burns his top to make a serious point

Tom Scott… What can I say. A talk you can only really do once and once only. Fire and Tom’s hoody, heck what more can you ask for? No but seriously Tom delves into the idea of archiving our memories. This is something I tried to do a while with my old phone. Memories are funny things, and they certainly make you pause for thought. I for example have my yellow Brazil football top, I’m surpised it even fits from 1998! The same year I went to Ibiza and go that crazy Brazil haircut. Maybe I should set fire to it too?

Aral Balkan

I already talked about Aral Balkin in a previous blog but he was rather good even if I disagreed with a lot of what he was saying. Well rehearsed and cleverly put together for the maximum effect each time. I won’t take that away from Aral, well done.

Also worth mentioning…

Chris Thorpe

Rachel Armstrong

Chris Thorpe and Rachel Armstrong for expanding our minds further than I could maybe take at that moment. My notes are pretty flat but I remember being slightly moved by what they were saying.

Alexa Meade

And finally, Alexa Meade for simply stunning pieces of art which I had only seen once or twice. Important never to forget the impact art can have in a new medium. Painting directly on to people is something very special and the time and dedication really impressed me. She was such a lovely lady too. I don’t know if I would ever let anyone paint on top of me. The feeling of uncleanliness would maybe drive me slowly nutty.

Another great Thinking Digital conference, I just wish I had seen more of the first day…

Thinking Digital 2012 my highlights

Another year and another Thinking Digital. This year the programme looked very strong, and thankfully I can say one of my highlights was from the BBC.

5 Years now and thinking digital is winning more even more new fans, Martin Bryant from the next web wrote his thoughts about the conference comparing it with TED. It seems crazy than over 5 years ago I heard Herb Kim talk about a TED like conference in the North East and I pulled him aside and said “are you for real?” So determined Herb was, I couldn’t help but offer support where ever possible. In actual case I’ve wrote about Thinking Digital every single year except 2010 when I had my bleed on the brain, and thanks to Herb I was there in spirit as such. Theres no doubt in my mind Thinking Digital is the english TED and it will go on to be something even better.

Magnus Lindkvist

On the first day, it was the thinking digital university and there was some great courses to be involved in. In the end I went with the one which best fits my work. A Practical Guide to Predicting the Future by Magnus Lindkvist.

At one time or another, if not everyday, we are all called upon to try and spot trends and/or predict the future. It’s pretty tough to do well. Magnus Lindkvist is considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on trendspotting and is the author of Everything You Know is Wrong, The Attack of the Unexpected and When the Future Begins. In addition he is a wonderful speaker and workshop facilitator. As one person commented, “Listening to Magnus Lindkvist is like rejuvenating your brain.”

In this session, Magnus will share some of his insights on the pitfalls and practice of trendspotting and trying to predict what will happen next. It will be a fascinating and fun workshop that could change the arc of your organisation and maybe even your life.

In the area of trendspotting, theres a lot of different approaches and some are as good as throwing a ball into a pit. But Magnus did a good job breaking the task down. His spectrum of predictability gave some scale to the levels of predications and with Tennis Balls, Fingerprints and the Human Brain in mind off he went.

Pearls of wisdom? Well there was a lot of common sense including news is blinding and slow moving things no one notices because the human brain is crap at recognizing tiny changes. The human mind is crap at thinking about cultural changes, example? Why does the Jetsons still have woman as the housewifes? The best people who predict the future are generally loud and good at convincing people even when wrong.

His talk was equally good and different examples helped… Lets just say I’m now a follower on twitter.

So what was my highlights?

Pam Warhurst

Pam Warhurst

Pam was like a lightening bolt, her no nonsense style and talk totally blew away the audience, she almost received a standing applause for everything she had done in Todmorden. Really got me thinking about the community I live in and should I be pushing much harder to achieve the community spirit she’s achieved. Incredible and also one of the great treasures Thinking Digital uncovers.

Peter Gregson

Peter Gregson

You got to hand it to Peter, lovely guy and after the failed attempt to demonstrate his computer assisted music sequencing system working on the first day, he came back on the 2nd day to a massive round of applause. Excellent music and great idea. Look forward to hearing and seeing more on the Space soon.

Mikko Hypponen

Mikko Hypponen

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Mikko during the speakers and VIP dinner. It was great talking to him and I didn’t know he was going to take the more personal security and privacy approach. We had a good chat about world security and social engineering. Mikkos talk was really good and I felt like he had much more to say but there was plenty to make people think. It wasn’t as scary as Paul Rogers talk at TedXBradford who I recommended to Mikko at dinner but plenty to take away. Another great talk and great to see Thinking Digital trying different types of talks.

Ken Segall

Ken Segall

Didn’t really want to like Ken but I found his talk fascinating, maybe in the same way I would find Steve Jobs if I was to heard him live. Ken had some choice words including… Being simplicity isn’t simple, Why add complexity, think common sense. Simplicity isn’t a trend its forever, its burned into our wiring. However when Ken made the comment about Apple’s rivials creating 16+ types of machines to face up against Apple’s 4 types. I disagree with about choice being bad. The business models they are using is wrong in my view. Very good talk and great opener to the whole conference.

Adrian Hon

Adrian Hon

Adrian is a great guy and friend, always been loved what him and his brother have done from a early time. Great to hear what each of them are doing but Adrian really got me thinking about Kickstarter. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard so many stories about kickstarter but to hear about Zombies Run, well it got me really thinking about the possibility of using a store of ideas to see if any of them were worth pursuing or not. More details about that hopefully soon. But excellent talk and great to have Adrian’s deeper thoughs along side his current work. Credit to Adrian if things go the way of crowd funding.

Sugata Mitra

Sugata Mitra

I had no idea who he was till he started talking about his great hole in the wall project. Then I was transported back to 2000 in the doors of perception 6 conference in Amsterdam. I remember hearing about the project and thinking wow, how amazing one person can make such a difference. I was a budding interaction design student with no real idea of how much these things would shape my life in the future.

I remember there was some discourse about how much the children had learned years later but its great to hear Sugata is still trying out different methods to educate some of the poorest people in the world. Granny Cloud sounds crazy but who knows in 12 years time, I might be saying how much of a impact that had. Seriously Amazing talk… Ended the first and long day on a total high.

Ralph Rivera

Ralph Rivera

Now Ralph is my managers manager but since he joined the BBC replacing Erik Huggers I’ve had nothing but praise for him and his style of business. Seeing Ralph at Thinking Digital adlib with about 3 slides was captivating. He got the tone perfect and made it into one of the best talks of the second day. It was so good hearing what I thought of Ralph being said by others in the conference. There was even talk about Ralph for BBC Director General. I was so proud to be at the BBC after hearing ralph talk about his own background and why the BBC must pivot for the sake of the country and the industry.

Tom Scott

Tom Scott

You have got to hand it to Tom, he is one of the gems of Thinking Digital. He has spoken at every single one and each time his portfolio of work increases and gets better. To have Tom end the conference was a great honor and a great move by Herb bringing balance to Peter Fitzgerald‘s talk from Google. Don’t get me wrong Peter was good but even the Google in me was getting a little twitchy. Tom shattered the utopian dream but only by putting a few holes in the corners.

Great to see Tom has calmed down a little, he’s really carving out a niche besides the likes of ZeFrank. Great talk and great presentation, hopefully he won’t be too big for next years Thinking Digital…

Jennifer Gardy

Jennifer Gardy

Jennifer’s presentation was special for me because my ex (Sarah) was also into Epidemiology. Not only that Sarah was the person responsible for the TB register in London and we would regularly talk about how TB was a massive killer and unfortunately no was talking it very seriously. A lot of the terms and methods Jennifer described were strangely common to me and I can only guess it comes from Sarah.

Jennifer did also make reference to the fact that she started a A-Z book of diseases which Tom Scott and a few others put together in this great animation in a matter of days.

Sebastian Seung

Sebastian Seung

Every year theres one talk which gets me very excited about what were learning about ourselves. Last year it was eat to defeat, this year its the Connectome. Sebastian is uncovering how the brain is wired and with it how things like autism might be caused. The problem is the brain is just too dense and trying to track the connections is a very manual job. But if you can gamify and crowd source it, would it be a easier problem to crack? Well thats what Play.eyewire.org is all about. Sebastian is after better ways to make the game more fun and more interesting. I might be able to help.

Alan Moore

Alan Moore

Between Alan and Magnus I was really getting the feeling my thoughts around disruption and future thinking are maybe much more relevant than I had imagined. Letting the legacy die was a theme through out…

Where Alan got me was the “putting economic value on every aspects of human existence is a very bad idea, deconstructing the human is not a good idea.” This ties nicely with my thoughts about online dating and trying to understand what is chemistry? I think this is also when I wrote in my evernote notes, that I’m going to put forward to Herb a epic look at online dating and love as a presentation for maybe next years Thinking Digital.

My manager Adrian, says its clearly not BBC when I talk about love/sex/dating but if you dig a little deeper. What I’m actually doing is trying to deconstruct these notions. Maybe I am deconstructing what it means to be human in a clumsy way when I do events like Relationships 2.0 (Thur 7th at FYG Deli). I know for a fact I’ve had arrangements with people about the events and my dating experiences and actually what there getting at is the deconstruction of human emotions?

Plenty to think about but Alan did leave these points to think about…

  1. Change the pattern, the limits of our language is the limits of our world
  2. Adaptive go beyond the conventional
  3. The default setting is open, the world is open.
  4. Participatory culture, not social media.
  5. Craftsmanship. Is what we do good for us all?
  6. Seek epic wins, transformational wins

Other notable speakers…Tom Chatfield, Zach LiebermanRosanne BachmanSimona Francese, Peter Fitzgerald and Jessica Latshaw for some great music (love her deep smoky voice!)

Gateshead by night

Like the Future Everything conference, there is so much more I could write about and I have a lot of notes to follow up in my evernotes. It was an amazing conference and I’d say out of the 5 maybe one of the best by a little bit. Everything just gelled from the section tagslines to the application Gospalware created for the conference. Having the sponsors down in the tea and coffee area instead of the barber room.

My only gripe is not having the Dinner next door to each other like usual and not being able to ask questions. I also wished I could have gone to some more of the university events but had to choose one over the others.

If this event doesn’t put Thinking Digital on the map for conference goers in the UK, I don’t know what will!?!?

Here’s to Herb, Codeworks, the sponsors and everyone I met during the week… To the next 5 years!

Official photos and my own creative commons licenced photos

Thinking Digital conference Kindle test1

Thinking Digital Conference Schedule on a Kindle

For those who have been interested in my kindle hacking/project. I’m happy to say the Thinking Digital conference schedule is now up on the Amazon Kindle store.

I might need to do some tweaking and yes it doesn’t look the best but remember it is a hack test and we can clean up the schedule next time for sure.

The first thing you will notice is the schedule actually costs money to download. £0.70 in the UK. The reason for this was down to Amazon. They charge a minimum fee of £0.99 to store and share the book over Amazon’s Whispernet. Although I think this is a bit of a rip off, specially because thinking digital already have a PDF version which they host on there own site, its not bad if this experiment does actually work. And heck, conference organizers could use it to make a little extra too I guess.

The Tweet URLs now seem to resolve to the book ok, which is a promising sign that my conclusions are actually correct.

So next step is to tell Herb Kim about the ebook and add notes next week at Thinking Digital. Hopefully I can pursued a couple of people to add notes too, so we can test the collaborative feature out. If you want to be part of that test, give me a shout… It should work on any device which runs the Kindle software.

The Wired UK top 100 in 2011

Wired UK's Top 100

I had a slight heads up about the Wired top 100 for 2011 from people around the web. And to be fair there were some surprises… First surprise is the people who dropped off the list this year. People who I know like Erik Huggers, Peter Molyneux, JP Rangaswami, Tom Loosemore, Matt Locke and Anthony Rose. However I have to say there maybe right in this case… I’ve not really heard anything they’ve been up to for a while.

However some things I still don’t understand… How did Ashley Highfield dropped to 14 but Microsoft’s UK profile has really come on leaps and bounds from last year… Jonathan Ive at 7, well what can I say… except its maybe very debatable how much link he has to the UK? Except maybe a British accent. Rory Cellan-Jones number 40, really? Mike Butcher at 25, well I guess he’s been on the scene for long enough but I do fear once again the Wired London bias is at fault again here?

One great turn around is the introduction of Herb Kim at number 74. I’m still convinced that if he was doing the exact same thing in London, he would be up at least another 40 positions but don’t even get me started on how many people from the North, Midlands or even the West are on the chart. I understand there will be a bias because London attracts a lot of people into its region but obviously Wired isn’t really working on finding the people doing the creative work outside the South East. And I guess you could argue why should they? I would explain why they should but to be fair, popularity contests are so last year 🙂 And even David Rowan says…

This can never be a scientific exercise — but we are trying to be as open in our selection criteria as we can, and to consult widely among people who know the Wired world.

Wired UK, you are at risk of making yourself less relevant thats all I’m going to say…

At last the balance of woman in the top 100 have gotten much better. Joanna Shields tops the list at number 1. Also great to see Clare Reddington from Bristol’s iShed at 73 although shes down from 55.

One last surprise, Dan Heaf at 94 as director at BBC worldwide? When did this happen? I must have been away when that email went around, good to see him back at the BBC and in a great position.

Ok I was never going to be happy reading the Wired top 100

Top 100

The Wired 100: Positions 10 to 1

The Wired 100: Positions 11 to 50

The Wired 100: Positions 50 to 100

But I almost threw my ereader across the hotel restaurant table this morning when I read through the wired 100 list.

Who are the influential people in the digital economy who can make things happen? Who are the designers, innovators, investors and creatives with the power to touch the rest of us?

I later in the day showed Sheila and she counted how many woman had made the list. Not many as you can imagine but I noticed something even more alarming. There are no woman in the top 10 at all. Its not till you get to 11 which Martha Lane Fox occupies before you start to a lot more woman.

I was also trying to work out the bias toward the South East of the country (aka London). Don’t get me wrong a lot of the firms are based in London or the South East, so it makes sense but I’m having a really hard time working out any Northern entries which are not games related. This tells me that Wired magazine needs to spend more time looking at the rest of the country for those pockets of innovation.

One person who I was certainly would be in the list was Herb Kim.

Not only is this guy CEO of the hugely successful Codeworks, the mastermind behind the closest thing to TED and Pop!Tech we got in the UK, Thinking Digital but he was the driving force behind the collaboration of TEDxNorth. He also took up the challenge and did all this in the North east, which if you believe some people is only known for Games, coalmines and football. The guy from Brooklyn has done some amazing things and can usually be found either in the company of some of the greatest thinkers, in a TED conference or zipping back and forth between Liverpool and Newcastle.

The fact he’s not even on the list is shameful, he should be floating around the 25 marker for sure. Wired editors are certainly overpromote alot of no-hoper in this list. I won’t say there names but theres a lot of people who have gotten into positions which are high but not really done much. In my book thats no good. You can be the head of whatever but if your just riding out time, you shouldn’t be on this list. There’s plenty of people who deserve to be on the list and are not.