Archive for May, 2011

Yesterday I fell in love

Not once but over and over again.

I’m at Thinking Digital in Newcastle, a 2 day conference of ideas, culture and technology; yesterday was day one and by the end of it, I’d given away my heart.  Before I explain who was the object of my affections, I know that hearing about someone else’s experience of a conference can be similar to listening to them re-tell a dream; to them it blew their mind, to you it’s fairly inconsequential but this was a dream of passion and love so bear with me.

I don’t go to many conferences or events, a lot of them seem to regurgitate the same content, trotting out the same speakers.  But year after year I kept hearing fantastic things about Thinking Digital from people I respect and admire.

Which is why, yesterday, I found myself in the Sage being carried away on a tide of incredible people and falling head over heels. Scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, writers, all with stories or projects that left you longing for more. Steven BathicheErin McKean, Conrad Wolfram, Nancy Duarte, Dan Lyons, Maryanne Hobbs, Heather Knight… I won’t even attempt to explain what they each talked about, I couldn’t possibly do them justice.

Herb Kim has managed a rare feat with Thinking Digital, the word ‘inspired’ is used to death these days but there is no other word that adequately describes the way Thinking Digital makes you feel.  The speakers are people who draw you completely into their particular passion; you want to hear more, learn more, absorb yourself into their world.

Hence the falling in love thing…

*photo: trustypics

The God of storytelling….Ira Glass

Occasionally you unearth something on web and you can’t believe that you had lived in ignorance of the fact of its existence.  This is how I felt when I came across a series of videos by Ira Glass, the godfather of storytelling and presenter of This American Life.  If you have never listened to one of their shows, GO AND DO IT NOW.  It’s the most addictive, fascinating radio programme you will ever listen to (they also have a great app).  Anyway, Ira is a huge hero of mine, his ability to draw you into his world within 2 seconds of listening to him, is unparalleled.

What’s the relevance of all this to me/my work?  It’s simple: if you want to connect with anyone about anything, the easiest way to do it is to tell a story.  I think we’ll see more and more brands and businesses seeking to create resonance with customers by incorporating their ‘stories’ into the online/social media world.

I also love this quote of his about the reality of improving the quality of your creative output:

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

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