Thinking (Digital) Day 1 – #TDC14

May 29, 2014

Thinking Digital is now in it’s 7th year, but this was my first. I went along with no idea how much my brain would hurt by the end of it.  I’d read the line up of speakers and watched previous years videos but they didn’t really prepare me for the information overload that is Thinking Digital.


My expectation of the event was that I’d come away with knowledge of how all things digital are shaping the future. Knowledge I could use in my role as Account Manager here at Robson Brown. What I got was far above that expectation. I got something that is actually quite difficult to explain unless you were there. I found the event inspiring, empowering and the sense of community was evident all around the building and via Twitter.

Opening up the conference, Event Founder and Director Herb Kim said:“The first event was hugely optimistic. The Apple iPhone had just launched and there was a nascent wave of social media. Now we’re more cautious. This year is likely to be a reflection on some of the profound implications of technology on the economy and society,”

Not surprisingly data was a running theme throughout, kicking off with Jenni Tennison, UK Open Data Institute, making the case that open data improves cooperation, transparency and understanding.

Maik Maurer demonstrated a revolutionary piece of software called Spritz which enables words to be displayed and read on the smallest of devices. I think this one is worthy of it’s own blog post so expect one soon.

We were also introduced to the Watson Project by Dale Lane of IBM. Using the example of a patient’s medical record review Dale showed how we can now give context to search queries, instead of focussing merely on content.

Perhaps the most energetic, engaging speaker of the whole conference (in my view) was Aral Balkan with his Free is a Lie presentation. He used bogus company Schnail Mail to hammer home his point that the price we pay for use of “free” products such as Gmail and Facebook is access to our personal data.

Other topics included Stealing Management Lessons from Artificial Intelligence, The Entrepreneurial State and developments in machine intelligence. There’ll be more blog posts to come over the next week or so as there’s too much to cover in just one. Hopefully this gives you a flavour of the scope of topics covered and information disseminated.

I won’t lie, some of the speakers subject topics weren’t directly relevant to my day job. They had a far wider reach. And some of the speakers used words I couldn’t understand, even after I’d looked up their meaning. I’m still processing it all, a week on, but what I do know is I’m better for the experience.