10 Must-See Presentations at the DiG Festival

Last year’s DiG Festival was one of the best conferences of the year. The DiG founders had worked hard to secure sponsors, speakers and workshop hosts – but in its first year there was a sense of uncertainty. In reality, the vibe, energy and focus proved well worth the 90 minute drive to Newcastle to attend. Not only were the speakers world class – the topics were compelling, the workshops oversubscribed and the venue was brilliant for networking, chatting, and exploring topics one-on-one.

If you have not yet secured your ticket, there is still time to do so. But if you have registered, you’ll know there is plenty to see and engage with – not just on digital topics, but a feast of health related topics too. But these 10 presentations are ones you’ll not want to miss. Look for me in the audience!

  1. Zac Zavos, Conversant Media – How to build and shape audiences to increase online traffic
  2. Ian Farmer, Zuni – Digital advertising trends
  3. Rob Innes, Xero – Platform innovation for the connected small business owner
  4. Panel: The Future of Retail
  5. Con Georgiou, One Million Acts of Innovation – How culture eats strategy for breakfast
  6. Trent Bagnall, Slingshot – How corporate Australia can utilise the tools of the start-up community for disruptive innovation
  7. Workshop: Jordan Kind, Vend – Transforming your retail business with technology
  8. Workshop: Nancy Georges – Customer Service in the Age of “ME”
  9. Workshop: General Assembly – Launch your own website in 90 minutes
  10. Workshop: Kim Chatterjee & May Chan, Optimal Experience / PwC – How to Create a Winning Pitch

See the full program
One and Two Day tickets now available.

Stop Talking at Me, No one is Listening-Slides from the DiG Festival

I have just returned (and recovered) from Newcastle’s DiG Festival. I had expected it to be an Australian SXSW and I was not disappointed.

Newcastle in NSW’s Hunter Region, turned on the weather and the charm, playing host to hundreds of festival participants, local businesses and a swarm of innovators keen to connect. The festival itself was a tightly run, but eclectic mix of topics, speakers, academic research and workshops. Sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank and with backing from the University of Newcastle, PwC and local startup accelerator, Slingshot, the festival brought together the research, business, startup and innovation communities in a unique format over two days.

There were various streams all happening at the same time – with talks in the main hall, workshops close by, networking out by the bar, and an open innovation team challenge upstairs. People were constantly weaving between the spaces – dropping into workshop sessions, popping out to network and share information, heading out for in-depth discussions over coffee or settling in for the meaty topics in the main hall. There was a real buzz and energy that was backed by some serious, high-powered speakers.

The Commonwealth Bank’s Nick Aronson got everyone fired up around the “future of payments” on day 1, and Jeff Julian rounded out the day with a jaw-dropping demonstration of his creative prowess. The day 2 keynote from Pandora’s Jane Huxley had everyone tapping their feet to the music and IBM’s Catherine Caruana-McManus dazzled at day’s end with a vision for a smarter, more sustainable cities. Topping and tailing the festival this way provided a strong focus to an inaugural event and demonstrated the way that businesses and communities are collaborating in innovative new ways.

But it wasn’t just the keynotes that showed the quality of the festival. Many of the attendees could also have presented on-stage – there were thought leaders, business and community leaders and startup entrepreneurs with dozens of ideas and projects well underway.

I presented “Stop Talking at Me. No one is Listening: The New Physics of the Consumerverse” – and had a great time in front of a great audience. I was followed by the powerhouse insight of retail guru, Nancy Georges. I believe all of the presentations were recorded and will be made available online in the near future. Be sure to check out the DiG Festival website for updates.

And in the meantime, pencil DiG Festival into your 2014 schedule. This was just the beginning, and it’s only going to get better from here.

Getting Started with Social Media at #mktgnow

dialupbloggingbook-210x300 I have had a great day speaking at the MarketingNow conference. I have also had the great opportunity to hear Darren Rowse, Laurel Papworth and Simon Young. Later this afternoon, Jim Stewart will talk about video (looking forward to this!).

Tomorrow we will be treated to four hours of David Armano, a workshop from Stephen Johnson and a panel discussion. I think there are STILL tickets! Come on down if you can make it.

After my talk, I was asked about the nuts and bolts of getting started with social media. While I will be posting my slides to slideshare in the next day or so, not everyone wants to read slides or spend time clicking through online decks. For those who would prefer to read a book – you can take a look at my Dialup Guide to Blogging book. It is a short, focused read and could be just what you need!

Ad-Tech Sydney – Rethinking the Conference

Megan and Anna, ready to give digital health checksYou know what it is like. There are faces everywhere. Banners. Stands. Noise. The bustle through the aisles urge you ever forward to where the scalding coffee waits your grasping, pre-keynote fingers. There are people you need to meet, folks you’d like to know better, and friends and colleagues waiting for you at the double doors. Someone, somewhere is in possession of a powerboard and will become your new best friend for the day. You are just three steps and a chance meeting away from your next big gig.

And then it starts.

The sessions fly past you at a rate of knots. There are networking drinks. Dinners. Meetings for coffee. Your brain sags like an overworked sponge and you think, at some point, that the stream of same-same Twitter responses may just make sense. In between workshops, the occasional donut beckons. And then, before you know it, you cocoon yourself in your car and shuttle back to the office. The conference over. Swag secured. Notes to digest and summaries to write. Your boss will be expecting a report first thing Monday.

Yes. You know it’s true. Ad-Tech Sydney is a festival.

But what happens a month on? Three months? Six? After the bold curation of ideas – of jamming social media cheek-by-jowl with electronic direct mail, strategy and ad networks, SEO, virtual worlds and innovation – what happens next?

Every time I attend a conference I always see them as lost opportunities. They can be intense hives of activity, leaving participants with dozens of ideas to work on – to digest and execute. But rarely does a conference event extend beyond its immediate horizon. Rarely does a conference work with the biorhythms of the business world to enthuse, engage and energise its community over the longer term.

But the folks behind Ad-Tech Sydney are taking on such a challenge – and doing admirably well. Not only do they have the Ad-Tech Brain operating as a blog and industry news aggregator, they have now run two free, breakfast briefings that provide us all with an intellectual caffeine hit just before the work day begins. Dr Jeffrey Cole, founder of the World Internet Project, will no doubt continue this new tradition and jolt us awake at next week’s briefing.

I like the way that Lucy James, Ad-Tech Content Director, is taking this opportunity to weave a story around the conference brand. The briefings are run with neat precision – setting a cracking pre-work day pace and leaving us all with a line or two, or an anecdote that we can easily relay back in the office. And the line-up of quality speakers adds to the experience – yes, you can read about Zappos until you fall out of your ergonomic chair, but it’s not the same as hearing Aaron Magness, tell the stories in his own words.

If authenticity is what we crave in social media, it doesn’t get any grittier than an intimate 80 seat room face-to-face discussion with the people who are taking these ideas and transforming them into successful businesses.

Is this the future of conferences? It certainly changes the way that you think of the conference “value exchange”. It’s not just a one-time event. It creates a sense of involvement, connection – and dare I say, “community”. It establishes an intellectual agenda and serves as a constant reminder of our participation in the world of ideas. I have a feeling other brands could learn some lessons here.

Future of Media Summit 2008


Ross Dawson’s Future of Media Summit was held simultaneously in Sydney, Australia and San Francisco, USA.

I live blogged the proceedings using CoverItLive (my first real usage of this service) while also attempting to feed this information into the Twitter stream — which you can view via Summize.

There was much "traditional media" vs "new media" discussion which bogged down the flow. This was particularly evident during the panel discussions which were heavily laced with members of "traditional media", with bare and often no representation from the "new" side of the business. This forced the alternate conversation into the "back channel" — the Twitter stream which was equally one-sided.

It wasn’t until later, during the unconference sessions, where Stephen Collins and Jed White took the lead in introducing the participants to Twitter (and the under-conference that had been happening all day). Unfortunately I had to leave by this time, but was able to roughly follow proceedings via Twitter — with new names popping up every couple of minutes. Perhaps, in this way, the future of media is PARTICIPATION.

But before we can get to participation, there is some work to do on education and on technology. There is some effort required to re-think the business models and the frameworks that we use to value communities, consumers and the space where they intersect with brands and publishers. It seems that ten years on, the vision of the Cluetrain Manifesto is coming into focus.

Congratulations go to Ross Dawson and team responsible for bringing together some of the stakeholders. I will be interested to see the way that this conversation pans out over the next 12 months.

I will have more analysis around this event in the coming days — and keep an eye out for the coverage from Stephen Collins, Stilherrian, Chris Saad, Craig Wilson, Mark Pesce and other attendees.

Pubcamp Sydney in Hindsight

Last week, Jed White from itechne hosted Pubcamp, Sydney – the Web 2.0 media day – bringing the publishing/media world face-to-face with the increasingly vocal and empowered social media/web 2.0 crowd. This week, it was followed up with a Melbourne event.

Broken into a short format presentation style (similar to the approach we took at Interesting South), a variety of speakers provided their take on the current role and the future of media. There was a panel discussion and a debate — all followed by unconference sessions which allowed participants to actively investigate some of the topics raised during the presentations.

In Sydney the room seemed to divide into two camps. One one side were the new media folks, furiously commenting and conversing via the Twitter “backchannel” — and on the other the “traditional media” folks who appeared largely unaware of the un-unconference being carried on through Twitter. There seemed to be no middle ground between the two sides — each holding firm to the belief in their own relevance.

It was, however, during the panel discussion where the Twitter conversation spilled over from the back channel onto the conference room floor. The panel appeared to be populated by people who had spent most of their careers in the publishing industry with no “new media” representative. Stephen Collins summed up the collective Twitter response along the lines of “you don’t know what you are talking about”. From that point onwards, there was no going back — with the conversation becoming stuck around the relative merits of “professional” vs “citizen” journalism.

It wasn’t, however, until I sat in on Matt Moore’s unconference session on value networks that I began to see a way forward. It is not that there is no overlap between the two camps, it is just that there is no shared vocabulary for us to discuss shared areas of interest. And rather than spending our energies debating the relative merits of our own cases, I feel it would be far more productive identifying opportunities where each group could collaborate or experiment together. This, of course, means new ways of identifying and measuring value — it means new approaches to community and to business.

And while there may well be a long way to go before we see such opportunities come to pass, perhaps Pubcamp is the first, tentative step forward. Next time, I hope to see greater web 2.0/social media representation; getting down and dirty with the business model discussion; less plugs for new services/offerings; discussion on the role of communities; involvement from digital strategists/agencies.

For more detailed coverage of the Sydney event, see Renai LeMay (for the AFR), Craig Wilson and Nic Hodges (let me know if I have missed your coverage). Melbourne has been covered by Ben Barren, Michael Specht, Stephen Mayne.