Something Digital 2019. The wrap report.

ALL digital conversations start and end at the same place. With a human.

The human experience is central to our digital conversations whether we are talking about algorithmic bias, ethics, smart cities, operational efficiencies, customer experiences, digital wellness or automation.

Which is why the theme for Something Digital, Brisbane’s Digital Festival was ‘Power to the People’.

Over 3 days, across 16 activations, almost 1000 individuals from Brisbane’s digital ecosystem came together to celebrate all things digital. We embraced being provoked, having boundaries pushed and our thinking challenged. And we were also inspired, strengthened our digital capabilities and most importantly took in all the many, many digital success stories happening right here in our own back yard.

Day 1: The Something School

We started this year’s festival with The Something School, bringing together 50 high school students for an immersive and inspirational day focussed on all things digital and innovation.

With an opening keynote by Cat Matson, Brisbane’s Chief Digital Officer, we started by defining the difference between digital and tech.

“Whilst much focus is often given to the ‘tech’ the reality is that the tech is often the least of our concerns …. The digital paradigm is often the hardest nut to crack.

Your parents will often think that tech and digital is the same. And they don’t understand why you love playing games, chatting with your friends on text or WhatsApp rather than simply using your phone to message. Because their natural paradigm isn’t digital. It’s analogue.

But for you and your generation, you literally think digitally. The tech – the screens, the hard drives, the cables, the satellites …. That’s all just a matter of investment and experimentation.

It’s the digital paradigm that empowers you to solve problems, design business models and think of new ways to live and collaborate with and within your city.”

And just like that, not even an hour into this year’s festival, the power of digital had been emphatically defined.

The day continued with looking at how digital might improve our cities, and understanding the power of people in the modern workforce and finishing with a spotlight on the future of digital. This included a highlight for many: an address by international keynote Davey Gibian.

Davey took just moments to captivate not only the kids in the room, but also their teachers and the facilitators. And after hanging off every word that he had to say, we then focused on all the really fun questions:

>> What do you need to study to become a hacker? (Turns out a lot)
>> What was your experience at the White House like?
>> What’s it like to serve in an active war zone? and;
>> What’s the biggest company you ever hacked … that you can tell us about?

Before we knew it, the clock struck 3.30pm, school was out and day 1 of Brisbane’s Festival was over.

A huge shout out has to go to Scott Millar and the team from BOP Industries who collaborated, conspired and worked tirelessly with us to bring The Something School to life. Stay tuned for the epic plans we are already conjuring up for 2020.

Day 2: The main event

Day two saw over 500 of Brisbane’s finest digital people descend upon the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre for Something Digital, the flagship conference of the Digital Festival.

We continued to explore how the human experience is central to our digital conversations whether we are talking about algorithmic bias, ethics, smart cities, operational efficiencies, customer experiences, digital wellness or automation.

We also acknowledged that people want to take back control of their digital personas and the impact tech is having on their lives. People want input into the big digital decisions that will shape our future. People also want to hold onto the conveniences that digital has given us.

The day was headlined by 4 international keynote speakers and featured over 30 local and interstate experts spread across two stages, masterclasses, demos, rent-a-guru sessions and an after party.

There were so many highlights from the day, and thanks to the power of digital (and LinkedIn) we have rounded up some of the best summaries from attendees who experienced it first hand …

Kathryn Skopal

Wow Something Digital !!! What an amazing conference yesterday with outstanding speakers from around the world.  Berit Anderson was my absolute favourite bringing up some great points about our responsibility to the future and the technology we’re creating. Christina Lee Storm from  DreamWorks Animation had some wonderful insights into Virtual Reality and the activation for How to Train your Dragon (love that movie). And of course, Kshira Saagar who showed us the amazing impact that live data has on the fashion brand THE ICONIC. We can be so responsive with the tools at our fingertips.

David Howell

Had a great day yesterday at hashtag #somethingdigital in Brissie. Some mind-blowing speakers dropping knowledge on privacy, data, AI (real AI), machine learning, cybersecurity and designing for wellbeing.

I also got to have great quick one-on-one chats with Ben Crothers and Leanne Kemp ★★★ 康灵安

Emelie Dahlskold

How can we use digital tools to unleash our potential? How do we establish and build digital trust? How can we make sure that tech isn’t the vision, but the scaffolding? Can tech and humans thrive together?

These are the types of questions that were presented and discussed at yesterday’s Something Digital conference 🔥I was super impressed by the speaker lineup – especially the calibre of the 30+ local and interstate legends.

Some of my highlights included  Angela Stengel  (ABC) emphasising that it’s all about the content, not the tech;  Ben Crothers  (Atlassian) outlining 5 design principles we should employ for digital wellbeing;  Kshira Saagar  (The Iconic) talking at 150 words/minute and telling us why we should use realtime data;  Christina Lee Storm  (DreamWorks Animation) exploring a future of storytelling utilising immersive content; and  Davey Gibian  (Calypso AI + White House Innovation Fellow) showing us how we can come together and create digital trust.

– – –

Similar to the previous day, the event flew past in the blink of an eye and before we knew it, it was time to head to the after party for a celebratory drink (or three).

A massive, massive (massive) thanks goes out to everyone who made day two possible. The international keynotes who flew across the globe to be here, the speakers, the sponsors, the community partners, our advocates + friends, the volunteers most importantly our team (the Bright Humans) who all came together in the most magical of ways to bring the day to life.

Day 3: Open Studios

And last, but certainly not least, on day 3 we handed over the reigns of the Digital Festival to the businesses of Brisbane and bought Open Studios to life.

From 7.30am to 5pm, nine incredible Brisbane businesses opened their doors to run a range of digital sessions in their own spaces.

From DIY Videos to Humanology and leveraging AI in the future of work … Brisbane was alight with another day of mind-blowing moments.

Perhaps the most special part of Open Studios though was the inclusiveness. You did not need a Something Digital ticket to register for these events and each and every session was free to attend.

So with much gratitude we thank the hosts for embracing our theme giving the Power to the People of Brisbane …. Domo + Kease, KJR, Wrappt, OTM, HopgoodGanim, Glass Engine, Reload, Made in the Now and Blackbook.ai

Annnnnnd that’s a wrap

So there you have it. Three days of world-class, mind-blowing digital goodness. The ink has barely dried on this year’s festival and we are already deep into planning 2020.

So with that, a final thank you (again) to everyone who made Something Digital possible this year, and if you are keen to play in 2020 … drop us a line. We would love to hear your ideas.

Power to the People.

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