Another thought provoking Thinking Digital

Thinking Digital 2018

Thinking Digital is always a great conference and I try to make sure I get to Newcastle for each one. Now in its 11th year, its clear there is no sign of it slowing down.

This year I booked quite late and missed a number of excellent workshops, so ended up doing the startup thing. It was the first time I had been involved in it but it was really interesting. Thinking digital switched to a one and half format a long while ago and I got to say its working well. After the mass dinner on the workshop day it was a early start for the conference.

Herb always does such a great job that I rarely even look at the schedule in advance, and I wasn’t wrong.

In the usual manor here is my highlights from Thinking Digital 2018.

Thinking Digital 2018

Graham Richter

Surprisingly gave a talk about blockchain and communicated it extremely well. I have heard many people try and explain blockchain to regular people and either confuse the audience or do a dis-justice to blockchain technology. Maybe this is partly why blockchain gets such a bad rep by so many people. At Fuel 2018, a speaker who I gather explained blockchain in 2017 had to come back to explain again in 2018, acknowledging how much he confused people the first time around.

I also never heard of tip your farmer but I love the idea and it perfectly illustrates the kind of applications blockchain could empower and drive.

Thinking Digital 2018

Paul Irwin

I already wrote about  which happened at Thinking Digital during Pauls talk earlier which  I needed to address sooner complete with an update.

If I could ignore the tshirt I would be clapping along with everyone else. But Paul’s choice of tshirt made it very difficult to take what he was telling the audience in. As he said before it was removed? (my non-official twitter client still has it)

Think your blog says more about you as a person that me as a speaker. Interesting read though. Keep up the good work.

He might be right and thats on me but its the truth. I wasn’t going to clap along with everyone else if I wasn’t feeling it. I was being true to myself and you can’t take that away from me.  But I did want to say Herb and the Thinking Digital production did a amazing job against the difficult odds. No matter what they did it was going to be criticised by someone, and they did the best in a very difficult place. I seen/heard too many other conferences completely wrong foot themselves into oblivion when faced with such a incident. For example CHI 2018 with OKCupid’s founder, which had a session afterwards to discuss the outrage after the keynote.

Thinking digital 2018

Ravinder Dahiya

Although quite a dry academic talk, the content was quite amazing. The whole idea of e-skin just conjures up so many thoughts and ideas. The videos spoke for themself pretty much and gave me much greater appreciation of skin generally.

Thinking Digital 2018

Yang Dan

On a similar vein, Yang presentated her research on sleep. The power of sleep is getting very well known in the circles of health and wellbeing. So it was quite a surprise to hear Yang’s research as she was able to suggest to mice to sleep with direct amounts of light on identified parts of the brain. If that wasn’t crazy enough, she could reverse the process in a similar way. It was incredible to see and the research felt like something out of inception.

It was a suggestion not a go to sleep now, meaning the mice would find somewhere they felt comfortable like their nests and go to sleep there. Instead of falling to sleep straight away. Like in inception…

Cobb: How complex is the idea?
Saito: Simple enough.
Cobb: No idea is simple when you need to plant it in somebody else’s mind.

This level of suggestion is quite something…

An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.

Talking to Yang afterwards, she was clear its only under lab conditions with mice. Shes a long way from humans but identifying the part of the brain has many promising outcomes for those who suffer with sleep problems.

Thinking Digital 2018

Dave Evans

I first saw Dave Evans at FutureFest 2 years ago and was impressed enough to buy the book designing your life. Designing your life is all about applying the discipline and practice of design to your life. For a designer like me this makes a hell of a lot of sense; especially when you start to question those dysfunctional believes.

Generally I would lean on get curious, talk to people, try stuff, tell the story then repeat.

Dave was gracious enough to run a session over lunch time on a aspect of designing your life. To be honest I really enjoyed the workshop and learned something about myself which I hadn’t really considered before. Most of designing your life is online but the book is once again great to lend to  friends and family.

Thinking Digital 2018

Tatiana Simonian

Tatiana approached the subject of wellness and mindlessness in our digital lives. Although not ground breaking, it was a welcomed talk and likely quite new for lots of people. It certainly felt like there was a whole load more to be said, as she touched on the area of diversity, diverse thinking and inclusion. Certainly would have liked to hear much more about her thoughts in that area.

Thinking Digital 2018

Sarah Wiseman

Sarah had the audience in giggles as she talked about the new language of emojis. From their incredible popularity to groups & communities repurposing emojis for different purposes. There was a very serious point made about trying and failing to interpreting language, emojis  and emotion. Something I picked up in Rana June’s talk from Fuel too.

Thinking Digital 2018

Julie Freeman

Its great to see data being used beyond the screen and Julie’s project exploring data as art material and objects enriched with data; gave me new insight for the objects of immersion work I’ve been working on for a while.

You know when you should work with someone, Julie is that person and luckily I got to spend another day with her during University of York’s data stories hackday.

Thinking Digital 2018

Mr Bingo

Now to be fair Mr Bingo always steals the show and this thinking digital he did it again in Newcastle. I never question Herb’s excellent curation skills but Mr Bingo as the last speaker would have been great as a nice light end to a already excellent conference.

If you haven’t been to thinking digital before, next year get your butt in gear and save a date in your calendar for 15-16th May 2019.

Highlights of Thinking Digital Manchester

Thinking Digital Manchester

Thinking Digital is a breath taking conference which always wows and has become a stable part of the conference scene in the UK.  It was great to hear that Manchester would play host to the conference, but there was a worry that it wouldn’t live up to the dizzy highs of Newcastle?

Herb and the team set about taking the core elements of Thinking Digital and mixing it with Manchester. The results were great… It made perfect sense, rather than roll into Manchester with a exact formula, they will let it grow and mature like how Newcastle did. The conference took place in the darken space of the largest cinema at HOME, so my pictures didn’t come out too well. It certainly wasn’t the intimate feeling you get in Newcastle but I’m sure that will change and mature over time.

So enough blabbering, lets talk about the highlights…

Thinking Digital Manchester
Eddie Obeng

I missed Eddie when he talked in Newcastle, mainly as he was the first on, the 2nd day but I like his presentation style and what he had to say about counter intuitive thinking. Social media is broken, video conferencing is broken and we are digitally obese from the sugar, salt and fat of the digital era. Aka easy to use, convenience, and free. Very interesting metaphor

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Conrad Wolfram

When ever I hear Wolfram talking about what they have done recently, I always think darn they are really doing stuff I could use within BBC R&D. It certainly was big data to better intelligence. The notion of insight is always a tricky but wolfram certainly seem to be leading this emerging field. Great to see a British innovator leading the field.

Thinking Digital Manchester
Julian Treasure

Julian I wrote about before at another Thinking Digital and his TED talk is something quite special with 4+ million views and very positive comments. Excellent talk and lots to think about when talking with purpose, which to be fair should be a lot of the time really.

Thinking Digital Manchester
LJ Rich

Herb must say to LJ, you have this much time and yes to anything you want. Shes an amazing woman with some seriously amazing ideas. Her thoughts about looking at the other senses, is exactly what I’ve been thinking for a long while. Why does Media have to be visual and audible? What about media which you feel and or smell?

LJ crafted a performance which was amazing to hear and see but also tightly focused around what you feel too. This was done with popping candy. At the right moment we all put the popping candy on our tongues and were treated to a wonderful symphony of interactive glitching with audio and video, representing a meteor storm.

I can only start to express how this all connected together to create a immerse experience like nothing else I can really explain while sitting in your seat.

I had the joy of talking to LJ about maybe doing something together in the future, so watch this space… Its one of those great things about Thinking Digital

Thinking Digital Manchester

Stephen Waddington

Stephen pretty much said most of the things me and Marie talked about in our workshop the day before on increasing your personal impact. There were things which we had to cut short including lots about the Cluetrain Manifesto. I think I was nodding my head through most of his talk, amazing a lot of this hasn’t just made its way into the conciousness of most people by now.

Thinking Digital Manchester
Pam Warhurst

Pam is a force of nature and I have written about her and her incredible (pun intended) work. I also got the chance to point out her wikipedia page is using the photo I shot at a previous thinking digital. I even told her I visited Todmordern purely because of her great work.

This time she talked about her aspirations to build a network joining all the other communities working on similar projects together. She is seeking people to get involved and help with the technical side of it all. I already said I was interested and just waiting for her to get in touch.

The idea of more civic/community driven startups (if thats the right classification) is something I’ve thought about a lot. It also reminds me that I must start that Civic startup manifesto following a conversation I had in BarCampManchester6 and attributing the excellent/crowd storming work the geeks of london did with the hackday manifesto.

Maybe I could link them in some way for the benefit of everybody?

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Tom Chatfield

Tom’s talk was like a episode of Freakonomics live. He covered so much in his talk that I struggled to keep up.

Really interesting to hear about limited mental resources we all have, or as I prefer attention. He went off into a blog post I pretty much wrote a few days ago around swipe left or right culture. Which was a result of the substitution of difficult questions with easy ones (swipe left or right). Then talked about how difficult questions make us feel stupid and somehow ended up with what are we and physical stuff is a feature not a bug.

Good talk, wish I spent some more time at the social chatting to him. I was sandwiched between Wolfram and Tom, and to be fair I thought it would be better if they were sitting next to each other.

Thinking Digital Manchester
Lemn Sissay

Another new person I have never seen or heard of, till about half way through his talk. Reminded me of Jason Silva in his poetic wording and unique style.

Like Tom, so much was said and indicated, it was hard to tie the talk down to one singular thing. But the diversity aspect was well said and had me silently clapping and grinning.

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I wrote down uniqueness and quality on my mindmap for Lemn’s talk, very fitting. Interesting the effect of uniqueness. I recently had a lot of comments about my latest trainers (Adidas Spring blades).

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Thinking Digital Manchester was a very good conference with lots to take away, it doesn’t quite yet touch the legendary Newcastle events but I remember the original Thinking Digital in 2008, I can imagine in a few years time, it will be another jewel in the Thinking Digital crown. Home is a excellent venue with the bar, food and plenty of social space. But the cinema layout doesn’t have a patch on the sage two’s theatre. Imagine Thinking Digital Manchester in the royal exchange…now that would be something!

Regardless, the whole event was run very well and you felt like there was just not enough time in the day. It was seamless even with the new rash of technical faults (never happens at TDC usually). The format also worked well, but I did feel the social did need more emphases, as a lot of people didn’t realise the main social was on the night before the conference. Which makes for some fuzzy mornings I can imagine.

Excellent work Herb Kim and team… Me and Marie are looking forward to coming back with a even better workshop next year

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!

I’m dying to experience Tokyo by 2016?

Tokyo - 東京

Forever I have wanted to experience Tokyo. For me its always been a place of technological progress. I know its not for everyone, but the culture is so wildly different and technology is at the core.

So why have I not already been?

Well its bloody expensive and to be honest I have this vision of going bankrupt just searching through the market bins of Shibuya

I lived with a Japanese lady for a while and we would talk about me going to Tokyo. She always pleaded with me, please go with someone who can speak Japanese because my allergies will kill me.

I almost went once for work but my wedding clashed (Sarah would have killed me dead if i changed it for Tokyo) with the trip so instead Lisa went to keep an eye on Dave.

I’ll be honest although I have always wanted to go, I have a hard time justifying paying for holidays. New TV, better phone no problem. But 1 week away in Denmark? It feels like a world apart in my mind.

Watching Graham Hughes again (first time at Thinking Digital) at TedXSakford. Made me think what is stopping me? This was further realised after watching Steve Mazan in his inspirational and funny video (must watch!). It also answers the question I had about death and if the only way to make people wake up is with death.

Anyhow, I’ve decided by 2016 I will go to Tokyo and experience Japanese culture. Its got to be done! And I’m going to do it. Its now been added to my Schemier along with visiting South Korea.

People of the internet you can help me by recommending cheap places to stay, food which won’t kill me, best time to go and cheapest way to get there (within reason).

If you want to help Graham Hughes out. Vote for him on sos-island.com. He gets my vote for the inspired challenge he set himself and ultimately for prompting me to go…

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…

User experience design with Aral

Safety dip

Before I start on this little rant, its worth pointing out this is following a talk from Aral Balkan’s talk at Thinking Digital 2013. I have still yet to write my review of the best talks and my own experience with Perceptive Radio but I had to stop and moan about Aral’s talk.

Aral is a friend and I like him a lot but even in the early days I disagreed with him on so many things.

Aral showed many examples of really bad user experience design, many where they got the focus wrong.

User experience bugs me, I agree with a lot but then there are many examples where it seems like a simple no brainier. I would generalise what Aral was showing but I lost my notes by accident in the wifi handover (hoping there still on my tablet and just need to load up evernote and sync the notes. So as I was saying user experience is important but they sometimes go too far…

Here’s something I tweeted last year…

“Frankly this is the worst keypad layout I’ve seen in the wild. #Metrolink should be a shamed of this! http://yfrog.com/odgevclj”

Aral spoke about washing machines and how complex they are. He suggested all you need is a some places to put the washing powder and fabric conditioner. A button or two to maybe start a programme and thats it. Well no I disagree. My mum is a genius with the washing machine and she knows exactly what to put in for the weight and volume of clothes. To be such a expert required time and effort, shes proud than shes mastered the washing machine.

Having a single button machine would rob my mother of her mastery of that machine.

Now I imagine Aral would say, for the bulk of people, all they want to do is get there clothes clean and they don’t really care. And he would be right. I generally don’t care but robbing people of the ability to master a system or device seems a real shame and I’d say is criminal.

After Arals talk and a slight break for audience clapping. He launched into how he’s been involved in helping the next generation to learn how to get their digital skills. How ironic that most of us got our start by mastering the computer by ultimately being geeky.

If you subscribe to the idea that we are almost all geeky about something (coding, design, cars, cooking, paintings, trains, stamps, celebrities, tv shows, beer, phones, films, cocktails, gardening, farming, sports, etc). Most of these require experience, understanding and mastery. Robbing someone of this seems at least to me anti-human.

Not that I’m saying you should have to go through an ordeal to get a ticket for the train/metro/tram. The example of the CTA machine is a total joke, I remember looking at it when I last was last in Chicago and thought what level of hell does this machine come from?

Heat control

I would say the showers in most modern hotels is up as a example of a great user experience because they have that recommended option but if you know better you can press the button and get even more heat. Yes the button protects you from burning but it can also be easily bypassed. Now thats my kind of user experience.

Aral mentioned a few other things which had my fingers tapping.

“Design can not be democratic, design is opinionated and full of assumptions.”

Design can not be democratic? I say rubbish, designers work in small groups and collaborate on problems all the time. I would go as far as to say design in isolation is art. Design doesn’t have to be opinionated, in actual fact user experience design is about designing around the accordances of the user. This means working around them and not making assumptions…

Anyway everything I’ve said is just my view and I’m sure I would say the same to Aral’s face. Looking forward to next time we meet and of course 🙂 Which will be soon… Good talk even though I was screaming inside 🙂

Talking at Thinking Digital 2013

Ian Forrester, Show and Tell

3 years ago I was meant to stand up at Thinking Digital and call an end to BBC Backstage, although I bet my reasoning wouldn’t be so well reasoned back then due to the obvious. A year before that I had the honour of speaking at Thinking Digital the next generation (a one day event aimed at young people of school age to twenties) and just after that hosting the makers workshop/panel. But having been at Thinking Digital right from the start, I had made talking on stage at Thinking Digital one of my aspiration in life.

Now I’m sooooo excited to announce I will be talking at Thinking Digital about one of my favourite subjects right now – Perceptive Media.

I will be sharing the slot with Adrian who will talk about BBC Connected Studio, like a phoenix rising from the end of BBC Backstage and BBC Innovation Labs.

I have been planning a different type of presentation from my usual one I did everywhere last year.

Expect short sharp and pretty intense… On top of that I’ll be showing something which we believe is a worlds first.

Yes your not going to want to miss this years, Thinking Digital conference

Goodbye IT Conversations…

IT Conversations has ceased producing podcats

Since it’s inception, IT Conversations has published over 3300 audio programs. After ten years of operation and six years with me at the helm, all that is coming to an end. Those of us involved in the day-to-day operation and management of the site have decided that IT Conversations has run its course. We will continue to publish shows until around December 1, 2012. We’re going to get the very best of what’s left in the queue out the door before we turn out the lights. You can read Doug Kaye’s announcement and more of my thoughts.

Our goal has always been to publish good, quality shows that will stand the test of time and we’ve always envisioned them being around for a long time. I’m happy to report that the shows we’ve published will continue to be available through an agreement with the Internet Archive. We appreciate your support over the years.

Its a sad day and its fitting for IT conversations to go out with a podcast.

When Doug Kaye created IT Conversations in 2003, most people didn’t know what a podcast was and why they should care. Yet the idea spread and today, all kinds of people and organizations regularly release content to people throughout the world. Doug joins Phil Windley to bid farewell to the Conversations Network. They discuss the background of why Doug chose to be a podcast pioneer and how the network helped revolutionize a new way to distribute interesting content.

ITC and the conversation network was simply amazing and I even got a interview from Jon Udell in the past on to the network along with a early Thinking Digital session.

It will be a shame to see it go and passing all the media on to archive.org makes so much sense, you couldn’t have wished for a better solution. If only all sites would consider something like this when shutting down… I even considered joining Team ITC at one point way back when I was working for the BBC WorldService in 2004. Not for the money, but just because I wanted to help as I was getting so much out of each and every podcast. On top of that, ITC model was what I recommended the BBC should do way back in the early days of BBC podcasts.

Recently I have to say I’ve not listened to a ITC podcast for a while and when I did I tended to skip through it as it was usually not so interesting. I use to spend Sunday evenings listening to them in one go while reading and blogging that got replaced with TED talks. But its worth mentioning ITC bringing PopTech to my brain for the first time. Way before TED had even consider videos, PopTech was making there recordings available via ITC and frankly I was blown away. It might be why I still have a love for PopTech deep down.

IT Conversations brought all these great things to me and anyone who wanted to subscribe or listen.

DougKaye I have nothing but joy and respect for what you created and your decision to stop it and transfer the media. Total respect for everything you’ve done over years… And thanks for feeding my mind with the best of the best. Don’t know how you did it but so glad you did! I know you inspired many of us including the likes of Leo Laporte of the Twit network. You were an inspiration to many… You can hold your head up high forever more…

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

Did Google just kill Prezi without breaking a sweat?

google plus

So everyone’s going crazy about Google Plus right now but am I the only one to notice, Google just rolled over and crushed Prezi. And to be honest, I’m glad they did or might do because that Prezi technology (if you can call it that) needed a good solid kick off the web. Like I said before, the concept is not bad but the actual process is a joke and not realistic for giving presentations. I’ll refer you to the conversation me and Nancy Duarte had at Thinking Digital.

The interesting part is, I don’t think Google is even thinking about it in that way. So Prezi lives on for now. But if Google was to license there technology or make it easy for people to build there own google maps like layers, it would be all over for Prezi… And once again, good riddens.

Thinking Digital 2011: Touching the emotions

May is a strange time… It seems to be the start of a series of conferences in the North of England including Future Everything. In this case it was time to head up to Newcastle/Gateshead for the inspiring and always fantastic Thinking Digital conference.

Herb Kim

Like Future Everything, I missed last year due to the bleed on the brain. Herb Kim last year gave me a shout out, live on stage (of course I wasn’t there) but this year he did the same in between a couple of speakers. It was very touching and later on Adrian pointed out that there was something in the conference booklet too. So thank you again to Thinking Digital and Herb Kim.

Generally the conference was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, lots of people I kind of remember and lots of people who remember me from previous years. It was very noticeable to me, how badly I forgot peoples names but hey I have a great excuse… 🙂 It was also great seeing Marissa Mulvena, Kate Norman and Emilia Flockhart along side all the other lovely people.

The Workshop – The Practice of Happiness – Bobby Paterson

Happiest

I attended and enjoyed the practice of happiness with Bobby. I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. Bobby ran through a whole lot of inspirational books that he had read and would recommend.

Its fair to say it was a decent summary without touching any of the religious or overall self help stuff. Bobby quoted Jim Rohn saying Happiness is not a accident nor is it something you aspire to, its actually something you design or even architect. Quite fitting with the talk from Bill Thompson at Future Everything about designing your future.

Some interesting facts. We have roughly 60,000 thoughts a day and 95% of them are the same as yesterday and 80% of those are negative in nature.

Then following that Bobby directed the questioning to work. Does your companies attitudes and values align with your own personal values? Luckily I would say indeed it does. He then went on to talk about Tony Heish from Zappos as a great example of what can be done in work. Bobby also hit the point about being more transparent and what that could mean for happiness.

He then talked about the social network (aptly named happie.st) he was setting up off the back of his research into happiness. There’s 7 happy habits as Bobby called them running through the network. Those habits are…

  • Wisdom
  • Gratitude
  • Getting Active
  • Journaling
  • Eating Healthy
  • Mantra
  • Meditation

To be honest and I did say this to Bobby, its a nice idea but I’m concerned about the social networking aspect of it. I think for it to be truly useful it needs to be more fluid than yet another social network. I understand there’s the ability to send stuff into other social networks but honestly its needs to be something more transparent. I was thinking about a microformat for wellbeing and good habits could be interesting. Of course Bobby could keep the social network too, but aggregate stuff outside of it.

Highly valued characters

End of the day, it was a good talk and I am intrigued specially with my own shift (still not sure how I feel about this movie) or lifestyle change.

And that was just the workshop…

The conference was even more fantastic. Like Future Everything I’ll just run through the highlights of the conference but I wanted to also wanted to discuss a few of the conference things. You can think of it as feedback to the Thinking Digital committee.

  • I loved the idea of having a smoke machine go off when the speaker went well over the time. It was used a bit at the start but I didn’t see it again. What happened there?
  • I really wanted to ask questions, but there was never a chance. According to Jas, something changed in 2010 and so there was no more questions. Anyway, no worries, I got to speak to everyone afterwards.
  • It wasn’t just me who had a quite sore behind from the seats in the conference venue. Could really have done with a pillow or something. Not a big problem because there were the right amount of breaks and even better they were just about the right length.
  • The meals were pretty good, very healthy but I wouldn’t have minded a little more variety. Good idea having bags which you can shift around with and having the sweets upstairs.
  • The Wifi was a problem but got better, I do wish there wasn’t the webpage authentication because its a real pain on a non-laptop device like my kindle.
  • Power wasn’t a problem for me because I was on the Kindle, but I heard a few people say they wished there was a secure place to charge laptops between sessions.
  • The dinners are still excellent in Thinking Digital. The combination of food and drink means everyone stays till the very end and goes no where. Don’t ever loose that part of thinking digital.

Right time for the best talks of the conference

Erin McKean from Wordnik

Erin McKean

Erin McKean likes to call herself a Dictionary Evangelist. She is the CEO of the new online dictionary Wordnik and prior to that she was the Editor in Chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary. She is the author of ‘Weird and Wonderful Words’, ‘More Weird and Wonderful Words’, ‘Totally Weird and Wonderful Words’, and ‘That’s Amore’ (also about words).

Erin from Wordnik gave a great presentation about building the largest Dictionary. The presentation was pretty straight forward but fascinating. The new developer API sounds like tons of fun.

Wordnik fits really well with my thoughts around the way language evolves at a fascinating pace. Hopefully we can help Wordnik in some way in the near future.

Conrad Wolfram, Wolfram Research

Conrad Wolfram

Conrad Wolfram is European founder and CEO of Wolfram Research and its worldwide strategic director. Since 1988, the Wolfram group has built the Mathematica computational software and since 2009, the spin-off Wolfram|Alpha knowledge engine.

Another great talk with some useful examples on demonstration.wolfram.com. Interestingly Wolfram have launched a computational document format (CDF)

CDF—the computable document format—is a way that we’ll be releasing soon of very easily creating dynamic, interactive, documents that immediately build on all the algorithms and automation that we’ve been setting up in Mathematica for the past 24 years.

I assumed it would be XML based but its unfortunately not. Anyhow, the reason seems to be sound due in part to the Mathematica engine being embedded in part in the document.

Sam Martin, Manspaces

Thinking Digital - Sam Martin

Author Sam Martin shares photos of a quirky world hobby that’s trending with the XY set: the “manspace.” (They’re custom-built hangouts where a man can claim a bit of his own territory to work, relax, be himself.) Grab a cold one and enjoy.

Just as Herb Kim said in his intro, you kind of don’t really want to like the talk but honestly it was an insight into how people get away and use there own spaces. Some would have liked to ask questions about the notion that its man spaces instead of just work spaces? Oh well I guess they could twitter him, if they were that upset. Good talk and plenty to think about

Nancy Duarte, Duarte Design

Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte is one of the world’s foremost authorities on presentation development and design. She is the founder of Duarte Design, who specialise in presentation mastery and visual communications. Duarte design is also one of Silicon Valley’s most successful and largest woman-owned businesses.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Nancy at the speakers Dinner before the conference and I was already a fan when we talked about Prezi (which Matthew Postgate used in his presentation and I’ve written about before) and she said it can be useful in a very small number of cases but generally it distracts from the core messages and the flow of the presentation. And after listening to her talk, shes totally right, can you ever imagine Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King, using Prezi? Not a chance in hell…

The analysis of the flow of the best presentations is killer information. Once you know and understand it, its really obvious but very powerful. Thank you Nancy… I’ll hopefully improve my presentations forever more.

Dr Vincent W. Li, Angiogenesis Foundation

Thinking Digital - Vincent Li

Li tackles a common denominator of disease called angiogenesis, or new blood vessel growth. He created the Foundation in 1994 and currently oversees the Eat to Defeat initiative and ENABLE project, a global system that integrates patients, medical experts and healthcare professionals and democratises the spread and implementation of knowledge about angiogenesis-based medicines, diet and lifestyle.

Vincent gave an emotional but very smart talk about the research he and his brother have been working on. Angiogenesis is the process of growing new blood vessels from pre-existing blood vessels. This process is also how tumors go from dormant to a state of malignant. Some foods can give the effect of a Angiogenesis inhibitor or Anti-Angiogenesis.

Yes if you understood correctly (videos should helps), we might be able to prevent Cancer by eating more of certain types of food. Which types of food, I bet your wondering? Which ones? Well here’s the full list and I’ve picked out the surprising ones…

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Green Tea
  • Maple Syrup

But its not just cancer… Angiogenesis is a major factor in other medical conditions such as Obesity and Stress.

Its a lot to take in at first and to be fair I really need to do some more research into these claims but honestly if eating more fruit and vegetables helps to defeat cancer and other problems, then I’m there. I’ve already made huge changes in my lifestyle, if this works or even if it doesn’t I’ll certainly be stacking up my shopping trolley with more things from the list.

I did get a chance to talk to Vincent about the whole thing and he was very open to hearing the good and negative comments. The problem seems to be the lack of a clinical/scientific trial over a wide group of people. He said they have trials over 100,000 people but they were not clinical due to the nature of the subject. It was expressed that trying to do a mass clinical/scientific trial would never really be achievable because there’s far too many factors to consider.

Its important to remember this is all preventive not a cure.

Anyway… Something to check out for sure.

Mary Anne Hobbs, XFM

Thinking Digital - Mary Ann Hobbs

I have to admit I had not heard any of the back story of why she had left the BBC, and she wasn’t actually on the schedule but with all the craziness of the ash cloud and speakers stranded in different locations. Herb convinced her to stand in for someone else and tell her side of the story.

The interview was done by herb and felt like he had planned it from the very start. Very professional but with hints of friendliness. It was a excellent interview and one of those pinnacle moments in Thinking Digital which defines the 2011 conference…

The Others

Thinking Digital - Tom Scott

Its also worth mentioning Steven Bathiche, Walter de Brouwer, Paul Smith, Matthew Postgate, Carlos Ulloa, Casper Berry, Tan Lee, Gred Leonhard, Jer Thorp, Atau Tanaka, Heather Knight, Ewan McIntosh and finally Tom Scott. All added equally good talks and worth mentioning. Musical interludes by Badaia was certainly interesting but after the 3rd time got a little tiresome.

Would I say Thinking Digital 2011 was better that 2009? Well I would say they were about the same, both had tiny things you could groan about but on the whole they were amazing and a truly inspiring.

Excellent work again, Herb and the Thinking Digital team, can’t wait for 2012…

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.

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 blip.tv 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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The second day at the Thinking Digital conference

Aubrey de Grey

Session 5: Mobile 2.0 panel debate

— Gerard Grech
— Vikesh Patel
— Mark Selby
— Bradley de Souza

Greg Dyke interviewed by Andy Allan

Session 6: Unconventional Wisdom
Aubrey de Grey

Carl Honore
Dan Lyons (a.k.a. Fake Steve Jobs)

Session 7: Globalisation – Opportunity or Threat?
Jessica Flannery
Claire Nouvian

Session 8: Management & Leadership
Richard St John
Dan Pink
Doug Richard

Conference close – reflections

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