I’ve been at Thinking Digital today. It started yesterday afternoon with some workshops but the main event takes place today and tomorrow. If you have never been you should. Once you have been you’ll want to come back again and again. It is the must attend event of the year.
So why is it such a great event?
Is it the cool people that stand up and present? It could be. They are definitely cool people who are doing cool stuff primarily because it interests them. Everyone is so passionate about what they are up to and the part they are playing in changing the world. They tell their stories in ways that seem so natural and engaging.
Perhaps it’s the fascinating range of topics. They certainly help. The number of subjects covered is huge and they are all linked in some way to technology. This morning we looked at artificial intelligence (if there is such a thing) and how it’s not something we need worry about. We heard how you can get your house to tweet you when something interesting happens and how life sometimes imitates social media. We learnt about the fantastic work that the Government Digital Services has been delivering by fixing basic problems that can only be done using digital technologies.
We were shown that the world is changing and that people are using media in different ways yet the dominant driving force is for entertainment. Bob told us how the North East is the place to be to be working in technology and we were enthused about programming through a live demonstration (including de-bugging) of how to make music on a Raspberry Pi.
And that was just the morning session.
Surely though it’s the great people who attend? It has to be doesn’t it? There are so many people that I recognise from across the industry but I never get time to say hello to them all. The breaks are not that long and I don’t go to the evening events so time is limited. I speak to as many as they can. They’re all great.
Actually, there is a clue to what makes Thinking Digtial such a great event in the name. What makes it great is that it gives us the opportunity to think. The presenters, the topics and the audience challenge your thinking about what you are up to, how you have got here and where you might be going. All of them bring a different perspective to the way the world is or may be. All of it makes me question my own perceptions.
During the event I make so many notes and tweet so many tweets that it gives me enough ammunition to last at least until next year. The ideas I’ve jotted down so far include; using our data to monitor and improve services; fix basic problems that non-digital organisations assume are unfixable; make digital services so good people prefer to use them; the concept of peak time; heat maps; the future is more participation and dialogue; you don’t need to know, you just need to play with it; there’s a big difference between practice and performance and; to get things done you don’t need money, a plan or permission.
Thinking Digital makes your head hurt.