TDC kicks off to a 2nd great day

The Thinking Digital Conference kicked off to a great start on it’s second (and last) day.  The comedy of Tom Scott was a fabulous tonic to the rest of the first session which kicked off with an exploration od “Digital Darwin”, climbed considerable heights with data visualisation through an Internet connected presentation by Professor Hans Rosling, had a little dip with a spotlight on segmenting the US population for the recent Presidential elections, and finished with the Tom.  Oh, and I almost forgot that there was a great digital piano solo that started the session by Rob Colling.

I also arrived for the GTi breakfast event at 7.30am which I felt was quite an achievement because I didn’t go to bed until 11.30 the night before which brings me back to the first day of TDC.

Day 1 was very good with only a couple of ‘blooper’ presentations.  The highlights for me were:

Harry Drmec, Former CEO of Red Bull.  A drinks company CEO at a digital event?  Yes, and it worked very well.  The guy leaked of leadership and capability and this is of course reflected in his amazing work at Red Bull.  I particularly liked his story of how he stood up to Tesco and won.

Mike Southon, who did an inspirational talk about entrepreneurship using the Beatles (as in the Group) as a metaphor or simile.  It was great and the use of music and old b/w photos of the Beatles helped hammer his points home.

Dan Lyons (a.k.a. Fake Steve Jobs) who, after a shaky start, pulled off an amusing and informative talk.

But the outstanding session for me on Day 1 was the final session entitled “Stop Making Sense”:

Dr Michael Shermer took us on a tour of skeptism, gullableness, its biological and evolutionary roots and some techniques to combat the category errors that we all make when faced with the unknown.  Essentially, how to ensure that we address the unknown with “we don’t know” rather than attributing it to some supernatural entity or God.  Preaching to the converted for sure, but still a timely and funny reminder of how our biology and sensing systems can trick our brains into believing things that simply aren’t there.

Then, completely unexpectedly, Chandler Burr, a Perfume critic at the New York Times, gave an exhilerating tour of scent culminating in an exploration of the structure (and smells) of a boutique fragrance called “Silver Mark”.  A simply stunning perfume and a delightful speaker who is clearly massively enthusiastic about scents, the sense of smell, and the way in which they can be manipulated to produce emotional responses to, well, scent.  Who Knew, huh?

But the star of the show was an independent toy designer called Caleb Chung.  He designed the Furby which, we were told, sold 50 Billion.  That’s about 7 Furbys for every single person on the planet!  Who was buying those things.  More to the point, who bought my seven and probably your seven?

Mr Chung then went on to demonstrate his new toy which was the Pleo from Ugobe.  An amazing robotic toy which had real lifelike attributes – basically it is a very cute toy which evokes empathy.  Pleo is a learning robot and reacts to how you treat it – and it’s aimed at kids!