On the 11th October, I and another Year 12 student were lucky enough to attend Thinking Digital Manchester on behalf of the school, a conference where speakers from all over the technology industry gather to share their projects and views on where the industry is heading.
The first session we attended was focused on networked intelligence. We had talks about how the way we do business may change forever with a new technology called Blockchain. This is basically a shared secure ledger where all financial transactions can take place, eliminating the need for solicitors and lawyers in a lot of transactions we do today, such as mortgaging. Another talk was all about “calm technology”, the idea that tech today and in the future should all help us make our lives more efficient rather than distracting us and being excessive in nature, something we find is happening more and more.
The second session was about shaping the industry for the future. Here, we had talks about making technology easier to use and become familiar with. One of the speakers was on the team that created the packaging and instructions for the Samsung Tocco Lite, which uses a book with a slot in the middle of the pages where the phone can be placed with instructions and directions on the pages surrounding it. It made setting the phone up significantly easier for the less tech-savvy. We also had a talk from a person who’s heading interactive TV projects for the BBC, a technology where people watching the same show could receive slightly different experiences depending on their own tastes and opinions.
Things got a lot more interesting in the third session, a highlight of which was a talk by a senior figure in an ethical hacking company. After bombarding us with scare stories about how our entire lives could be turned upside down by hackers, the speaker turned to the work that her company does in testing systems for resilience so the real bad guys can’t breach security protocols. We also had a short talk and live demonstration of Sonic Pi by its founder. It’s basically a piece of software that introduces people to programming sound and music. We watched as within a few seconds, he turned a blank file into a live electronic music performance.
The final session included talks by the founder of Tweetdeck and Bulletproof Coffee, but the highlight was without doubt a session with James Veitch, someone famous for his Ted talks on how to deal with online scammers. He had us laughing ‘till we were falling out of our seats with hilarious screenshots and anecdotes of his responses to scammers under various guises, providing a wonderful end to the conference.