Posts Tagged ‘conference’

Thinking Digital – The Aftermath

Despite having been in Newcastle the the past two years during Thinking Digital, I’ve never actually had a chance to attend. My time in newcastle has instead been spent partying hard at the mal, running up Tara Hunt’s champagne bill (love ya!), and nursing mammoth hangovers on the train up to edinburgh. This year, however, I was fortunate enough to attend this conference I have head so many good things about, and I have to say, it lived up to expectations. And not just because Herb Kim knows how to throw a party…

This year the conference was split in two – The Main Hall, and the Livecast Lounge. Now, I loved the theory of the Livecast Lounge – a more relaxed space to listen to watch the talks from, on a giant screen, somewhere you could, eat and drink, talk to fellow attendees, blog, and so on. This appealed to me specifically because I often find it hard to sit in a seat and just listen, I need to do 100 things at once (I’m watching Being Erica whilst writing this, oh, and shopping for wedding presents).

Unfortunately, the Livecast Lounge didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, it was great being there, I was just hoping for something a little different. The somewhat stoical atmosphere was, at times, excruciating, and if I wasn’t as bold and crazy as I am, I would have felt quite uncomfortable clapping at the end of talks – almost everyone in the lounge just sat there. I think it went wrong on two counts: first that people bought Livecast Lounge tickets as overflow when the Main Hall was sold out, when from my perspective it wasn’t overflow, but a different way to experience a conference. And secondly that the physical layout of the room reinforced the overflow mentality. Instead of seats in rows I would have thrown in beanbags and couches around the outside, put screens on all the walls (so that you can sit facing people whilst still watching), and found a way to engage with the lounge participants more, perhaps a two-way video link during questions.

I think this was a great attempt at doing something new and innovative with conferences, and despite my thoughts, I had a great few days. Planning for Thinking Digital is already underway for next year, and I certainly plan to go back to the Livecast Lounge.

LiveCast Lounge at Thinking Digital Conference

Despite my love for conversational, interactive conferences, there are some that simply don’t fit that bill and Thinking Digital is one of them. It’s tag line “Technology, Ideas and Our Future” hints at a breath of fresh air from the traditional web/tech conference circuit, and with speakers with quirky background such as Robert Lang, a world origami expert, it promises to be very interesting this year. I have to confess that whilst I have never been to Newcastle specifically for Thinking Digital before I have been in ‘toon in and around it’s dates for various reasons. Last year I had the privilege to spend the day with some of the speakers on a jaunt to Edinburgh for the day, and through the haze of a truly epic champagne hangover was unbelievably inspired by people like Caleb Chung (creator of the Furby and Pleo) and Chandler Burr (The New York Times’ perfume critic).

Thinking Digital are clearly doing something right because this year they have already sold out, and the demand has been so high that they have created what they are calling the “Live Lounge“, a space where attendees will be able to watch live streams of the talks, relax, eat, drink, tweet and so on. For people like myself who are addicted to being connected it’s difficult to spend all day sitting in a traditional conference venue even with fantastic speakers, so I am very excited by the prospects of this space and the conversations it will inspire.

So, if you find yourself at Thinking Digital 2010 please do swing by the LiveCast Lounge and say hello to the girl with the red hair furiously tapping away on the iPad in her hand.