As a business specialising in Magento eCommerce and web design, here at Media Lounge we love to keep up with what’s going on in the digital world. I’ve been to lots of conferences across lots of different industries, in lots of different cities but I’ve never been to Silicon Beach and I was keen to see what the fastest growing digital economy in the UK had to offer, and even more so, what the organiser, Matt Desmier had up his sleeve for us. So I went along to both days of Silicon Beach in a fantastic location just a minute’s walk from the beautiful sandy beaches of Bournemouth and here is my whistle-stop summary and thoughts on day one.
Once I’d arrived, received my Silicon Beach goodie bag and some refreshments and seen the brilliant paper sculpture of Bournemouth, the event started in earnest with a warm welcome from Matt who introduced the first speaker of the first day…
Evan Grant (Seeper) www.seeper.com
Evan started by explaining the ethos of his work and of his company, Seeper in a simple statement: passion not profit. He then talked us through 23 projects in 23 minutes, well roughly 23 minutes! The projects Evan has worked on, the brands he’s worked with and the technology he has pioneered was inspiring to hear about. From touch technology before the iPad, to see-move projects bringing James Bond and Minority Report to life, projection mapping on the Frank Gehry designed IAC building for the Vimeo awards to visualising emotions in what Even calls brain-control. Watch out for project number 24, Straws, that’s really exciting and coming soon!
Chris Thorpe (I Can Make) www.icanmake.co
Chris is the man behind the technology that brought the world Moshi Monsters so he started by apologising to all the parents in the room before telling us about the mass market applications of 3D printing. He began by explaining that the mass market (or ‘Normals’ as he affectionately put it) want the comfort of something they recognise when adopting something new and this is how he has approached bringing 3D printing to Museums, Schools and eventually into our households. He left us with an interesting thought that is currently being worked on; BMW using 3D metal printing for on-demand automotive spares!
Ian Fordham (EdTech UK) www.edtechuk.com
The work that Ian and his business partner do for young people and the education sector is fantastic. Ian explained some of the work he’s done with the teaching community including setting up digital and social media training for teachers with Facebook, and the work he’s done with the startup community including incubator/accelerator facilities with TechCity UK. Ian left us with a great piece of advice; “Avoid energy burglars”, and a new term for regularly texting your business partner with ideas on strategy; “Stexting”!
Tracey Follows (Any Day Now) www.anydaynow.co
It turned out that Tracey was the first of three futurists speaking at Silicon Beach and she started by dispelling the myth that ‘the future is now’ and went on to explain how we should consider the future which was really interesting. Tracey showed us how considering probable and possible futures we could plan and organise for preferable futures. Key takeaways for me included ‘the future is plural’, ‘the future is not just tech’ and that our industry needs more cathedral thinking (helping to build something that we’ll never see completed).
Mark Adams (Vice) www.vice.com/en_uk
Next up was a charismatic and energetic talk from Mark on content. He started by explaining where Vice fits into the content landscape and the challenges facing branded content, chief of which being achieving cut through. He gave us some examples of terrible (and hilarious) content cut through and ended by explaining that the key is human stories, that we have come full circle and a human story if told in a good way, will always cut through. He also warned of ‘monsters created in boardrooms’ or content without a human story!
Nadya Powell (Sunshine) www.thesunshinecompany.com
It was a fantastic (if a little naughty) talk from the MD of Sunshine. Nadya explained that she was going to tell us three disorderly things; ‘Being a f**k up is good for business’, ‘clients are crap’ and ‘competition is for c***s’. The biggest messages that I took from Nadya’s talk were that working alongside a client as a partner is much better than working in the traditional way and that competitive collaboration instead of the usual competition is much better for everyone. These points were made emphatically and with great humour!
Dan Machen (Hey Human) www.heyhuman.com
In an enlightening talk from Dan, we heard about the human brain and how it consumes content today. Dan gave us three key things to consider when producing content for the 2015 audience; multi-sensory marketing and the importance of using impactful sound, simplicity over storytelling and how a clear, simple message can work and finally, conquering context to reach audiences at the right time. The work Dan has done in tracking our attention spans when using multiple screens as we all do is really interesting and worth considering when trying to reach an audience.
Felix Morgan (Brave) www.brave.co.uk
Felix talked to Silicon Beach about how his agency is de-risking creative bravery using various techniques when planning creative campaigns to focus on the viewer’s system one response (instinctual/irrational). Felix termed this eloquently as externalising the body’s internal data and showed us an interesting example of their brand new ‘Braver Index’ in action measuring the emotional responses of someone watching two similar adverts. Felix ended his fascinating talk by stressing the importance of considering (and testing) an audiences emotional response to creative campaigns as 89% of ads go completely unnoticed.
Maya Bogle (Talenthouse) www.talenthouse.com
Next up was Maya Bogle of Talenthouse who started with a recurring message about content creation and cutting through the clutter but with a very different and interesting point to make. Maya explained the concept of Talenthouse as a kind of open source creative studio where brands can submit detailed briefs in creative disciplines like photography or artwork to the massive Talanthouse community who then respond to those ‘creative invites’. I found the idea of crowdsourcing creative work fascinating and the comparison with hugely successful brands in other spaces such as Airbnb and Uber were hard to miss.
Louisa Heinrich (Superhuman) www.weareallsuperhuman.com
So the last talk of day one was from Louisa Heinrich and she announced that she wanted to talk to us about religion. Well, the similarities between religion and technology at least. Louisa started by warning us of the dangers of blindly following tech advances in the same way that some people follow religion without question. After a thought-provoking talk, she left us considering the merits of injectable tech that can report back to us on our health and the responsibility we all have to question new tech, rather than just adopt it.
As day two of Silicon Beach ended, we were treated to a drinks reception, which felt like being spoiled after the fantastic food we’d enjoyed all day but it was a great opportunity to talk in more detail about some of the interesting topics of the day with some of the brilliant speakers we’d seen.