Posts Tagged ‘event’

The DO Lectures

There are so many conferences and events these days you could make a full time job out of doing the rounds.  Whether industry specific or themed on a topic, each one claims to be able to offer you insight, information and leading speakers…

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t go to many events, probably 3 or 4 during a year.  I also very rarely go to anything relating to the sector in which I work; PR, social media, digital comms.  Why? Because I can get all the latest industry news from my favourite blogs, because they are, more often than not, merely an echo chamber of the same conversations on loop and, most importantly, because when I give up time to listen to people speak, I want to learn something completely new or be given a different perspective on the world. And sometimes I want to hear about stuff that really matters.

Which brings me to the Do Lectures. I’d been watching this event from afar for years; I was fascinated by the range and quality of the speakers and intrigued by the setting (I’ve stayed at fforest a few times on holiday, it is a one of my favourite places in the world but I couldn’t see how it would work as a venue for an event).

And so, after years with my nose pressed up against the window, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend this year’s Spring event.  I recorded my initial thoughts on Audioboo immediately after the event but I’ve subsequently been asked the same questions about Do several times and  as DO put on different events: one day workshops and the 36 hour start-up programme, now seems as good a time as any to set down my answers:

“Tickets are expensive, is it really worth the cost?”

As mentioned I was fortunate to be invited as a guest BUT my in answer to the question,  I would not hesitate in saying that the ticket price is absolutely commensurate with the value of the event.  It’s three full days of astoundingly good speakers and workshops, topped and tailed with half days either side of a welcome and good-bye, plus night time entertainment that is equally mind blowing.  And I can’t think of any other event where the food is so incredible (cooked on site at fforest).

“Isn’t it weird sharing a tent with someone that you don’t know?”

There are no soulless corporate hotels at Do. Yes you’re camping and yes you will probably be sharing with a person you’ve never met. It may sound daunting to some but honestly, it’s another part of what makes Do special. It isn’t very often that you’re chatting to someone you’ve just met and then you both realise that they’re the person you slept next to the previous night. Yep, that happened to me.  The unique environment of Do is an essential part of why it gets underneath your skin so comprehensively.  You’re immersed in every aspect of it.

“What do the speakers talk about?”

This is more difficult to answer because the specific topics are so broad and wide ranging.  Whether it’s the challenge of creating the Eden Project, hours spent hand crafting incredible kitchen knives in Brooklyn, escaping the world of advertising to write fantasy novels or bringing together a local community to take on the might of big industry, the speakers all have one thing in common: they get on and make stuff happen.  It’s exciting and inspiring and it takes your breath away.

An unoriginal but good comparison, is to say it’s like TED but in a field.

So is Do for you? That depends on your motivation for attending events. Do you love PowerPoint, bullet points and case studies? Then the answer is no.  Do you want to be challenged, feel exhilarated and leave with a head stuffed with questions and ideas? Then the answer is yes.

It will be interesting to see what else will come out of Do and whether they will stick with the existing format of a four day conference, David has said in a recent post that:

“The long-term plan for The Do Lectures is to start a school for entrepreneurs. A school where you go to start your start-up. On a farm that grows companies instead of food. An ideas farm. An accelerator of great business ideas.”

Whatever happens, you can be sure it’ll be interesting.  In the meantime I’d highly recommend you take some time to watch some of the videoed talks.

You may also want to listen this interview with David Hieatt on the Guardian or this comprehensive round-up of the 2011 Do from @Documentally.

A big thanks to @davidhieatt, @175viatribunali, @greenape, @richard_king

Thinking Digital 2012

This year’s Thinking Digital was much anticipated (particularly after my love fest last year…) and it didn’t disappoint.  Once again, an eclectic mix of speakers enthralled, entertained and amazed the audience.  I always think that reading about live events is similar to listen to someone talking about their dreams; to them it was staggering, to you it seems less incredible.

But once again I would urge you to put Thinking Digital on your list for next year.  It’s not just the speakers that makes it great, it’s the intimacy of the event that is perfectly placed to encourage conversations between like-minded souls.

It’s incredibly difficult to single out highlights but if forced…

Our social media panel at TDC University: it’s probably cheating to choose something I was involved with (as panel chair) but with such knowledgeable set of panelists, there were some great debates around the future of established and newer platforms and emerging trends, such as social discovery, niche networks, privacy issues and social businesses

Mikko Hypponen : an eye-opening and somewhat alarming talk about the dangers of internet virus.  Clearly we saw a tip of an (albeit frightening) iceberg.  I dread to think of the things this guy has seen but it’s good to know that people like him are on the case.

Pam Warhurst from Incredible Edible: nothing to do with digital or technology but everything to do with the power of working collaboratively and just getting on with getting stuff done.  There were quite a few damp eyes in the audience by the end.

Sugata Mitra: Having seen Sugata before at Guardian Active8, I was aware of the incredible work done by this charming, humble man. Genuinely revolutionising the way we think about education and the way in which its delivered.  Go read about his work.

Richard Banks: an interaction designer at Microsoft who made us all consider our digital legacies and how future generations will deal with the mountains of content we are all creating.

Jennifer Gardy: Every audience member fell for this intelligent, engaging and funny scientist, who spoke about her work researching contagious diseases.  The little book she ‘just wrote’ showed that she’s also an amazing cartoonist and writer.  Is it fair for one person to have so much talent?

I conducted a few audio interviews.  A cracking one with Tom Scott, which sadly crashed half way through and I didn’t find out until much later (gutted as he’s such interesting character with an usual skill set – how many programmers do you know that can do stand up comedy?).

Sarah Hartley about notice and the future of hyperlocal journalism

Will McInnes about running a business that has an open and transparent business model

Adrian Hon from Six to Start (creators of the hugely popular Zombies! Run) about how he turned his agency into a product company and  funding projects through crowd sourcing sites like Kickstarter.

Thanks Herb.  Until next year.