I’ve been spending the day at the Thinking Digital conference. I normally don’t bother with that sort of thing, conferences that is but this one is local and in my field of work and I wanted to support it. In the past I’ve been to events like this and within the first few minutes of the first presentation I’m thinking about the journey home and when I could leave. A couple of friends had recommended it though and so here I am sitting in the square outside the Sage in Gateshead overlooking the river Tyne with Newcastle beyond and writing with a green pen in my notebook.
So how has I been so far? It’s only lunch on the first day but in short very well organised and interesting. The speakers have held my attention, covered a variety of topics all related to digital in some way and all technical talk, much to my relief, has been avoided. We’ve covered the ethos behind Apple, gaming, crowd sourcing, supportive technologies and predicting the future to name but a few. Nobody has tried to sell me anything other than a couple of books and there is a real spirit of camaraderie, sharing and enjoyment.
But have I learned anything? I guess yes but then again no. I’ve learned that I’ve overdressed for the occasion but that may be an age thing. I’ve learned that it takes me a fraction of a second to earn enough money to pay for an hour of light, I’ve learned that there are seventeen million people who are socially disenfranchised and I’ve learned that the murder rate is at an eight hundred year low.
Other than that I’m not sure that I’ve learned much but that is not the point. The real benefit of coming to conferences like this is that they remind yourself of your own issues and allow you to reflect on them from a different perspective. Each speaker has reminded me of the things that I set out to do but keep forgetting about. Each speaker has reminded me of my own values and the reasons why I come into work every day. Each speaker has reminded me that only through understanding an issue can we ever hope to resolve it, that management should drive out complexity and drive in simplicity (which doesn’t mean making things simplistic), that I don’t work with technology for it’s own sake but rather I deal with people and that humans do the funniest things. Each speaker has also reminded me that the best way to get your message across is to tell a story, humans have been doing it for thousands of years and it should be the most practiced tool in your communication toolbox.
These things are not new, I haven’t just learned them today. I knew them already and I’ve just remembered that I had forgotten to apply them. This is the real beauty in coming to a well organised, informative and enjoyable conference. Still, I must get back now as the afternoon session is about to start and I wouldn’t want to miss anything.
You can find more information here on Thinking Digital.