Our highlights of Thinking Digital 2015

For the last eight years, Thinking Digital has established itself as the North East’s leading science and technology conference. You don’t need to be techy or have any sort of background in digital. It’s a conference for the curious about how technology is shaping our future. And each year, an exciting selection of game changers from across the globe are invited to share their thoughts and experiences.

As I’m sure you guessed from our live tweeting, we were lucky enough to be invited along to this year’s Thinking Digital conference. Joining the Sage One street team, I spent two days being inspired by a host of creative and innovative thinkers.

With talks from Pixar, BBC and IBM employees to entrepreneurs, musicians, developers and inventors, each speaker shared their own perspective on how technology shapes and influences their lives.

If you weren’t able to attend, or you missed the live streaming, you can view the talks from all seven sessions online. While every speaker was informing and enlightening in their own way, we’ve picked out some of our favourite snippets of each of the sessions.

Session One: Tales from the Near Future


Skip to 00:45:33 to hear inventor Andy Stanford Clark talk about monitoring his household energy consumption and how he used social media to share real time updates for the Isle of Wight's ferries. Or go to 01:47:42 to listen to Russell Davies talk about his work for the Government, and his aim to make gov.uk accessible and easy to use for everyone. We were pleasantly surprised to hear more about how the UK Government's design principles are focused on improving user experience and user centric design.

Session Two: Pattern Recognition


Listen to the BBC's Holly Goodier at 00:08:06 to learn more about how audience behaviour differs between age groups, and mapping out content that matches behavioural patterns. Or skip to 01:09:59 to hear Sam Aaron discuss how we should be changing our attitudes towards programming and coding and it's becoming more important for people to have an understanding of code, even at a basic level.

Session Three: Soul of a New Machine


Hear Ken Banks talk about social innovation and how technology (particularly social media) has changed how we can share news and send messages. Particularly in areas devastated by war or natural disaster. Or go to 00:47:00 to listen to Seb Lee Delisle talk about creating art with code, and inspire you to keep on learning new things... even when it's hard!

Session Four: Creative Destruction


From 00:35:04 hear a very inspiring Alex Depledge talk about the trials and tribulations of running a fast growing startup in a very relatable way. Her company Hassle is Europe's largest domestic cleaning marketplace, letting customers book cleaners for their homes in 60 seconds. While not the most glamorous of business ventures, Alex talks about getting Hassle off the ground and the drive you need to launch a company. Listen on until 01:00:19 for Max Lines' talk about the future of Uber's UK expansion and what the brand is trying to achieve.

Session Five: Present at the Creation


Session five opens with the charismatic Ian Wharton who discusses Youthful Thinking and how youthful characteristics can remove the barriers to creativity. He encourages us to abandon rationality and try to push boundaries. Ian argues that creativity is transferable, and that we shouldn't be focused on trying to just do one thing well because it limits our ability.

Session Six: Organic Technology


Stefanie Posavec starts Session 6 chatting about how she interprets data into graphics and why she's bored with infographics. When all infographics start to look the same, Stefanie talks about how to visualise data and design information in a more desirable way.

Session Seven: Experiments in Experience


Sadly you can't see the recording from Holly Lloyd's talk on her experiences at Pixar and the impact of colour and lighting as storytelling techniques. But if you skip to 00:42:17 listen to Tim Leberecht talk about why we need more romance in our professional career to help us fall in love with our jobs and really engage with what we do. LJ Rich offers an insightful and engaging look at innovation and invention, with a bit of a musical accompaniment at 01:08:45. And at 01:43:04 Tom Scott talks about how nothing seems to have changed in the last five years. He shares his frustrations that we're still using the same (if slightly improved) social media platforms, smartphones and why technology doesn't seem to be moving fast enough.

Whether you walk the talks in full, or just check out our favourite bits, there's a lot you can take from them. As Thinking Digital has evolved over the years, Herb Kim has become an expert at curating a line-up of thought-provoking topics. Each speaker had their own way of storytelling and it just adds to the uniquely immersive experience of the conference. Big thanks to the Sage One team for inviting me along as part of their Street Team. We can't wait to see what's in store for next year!

Inspired by these entrepreneurs and innovators? If you want to discuss the future of digital and how your business can be making the most of new technologies, email me or call 0191 603 0033.

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