Digital Economy USRG

SxSC2 Bio

Creative Digifest #SXSC2 Speaker Profiles: Hugh Glaser

Avatar photoOctober 3, 2012
by Lisa Harris

Hugh Glaser is Chief Architect at Seme4 Ltd., a company that specialises in Linked Data (Semantic Web/Web of Data). As such, he is a technology provider for a wide variety of industries – in fact it is hard to thing of any sector that has not shown an interest in finding out what Linked Data can do for it.

In addition to general work and consultancy he is responsible for a number of significant practical activities in Linked Data:
a), which helps to establish linkage between datasets;
b), which is a Linked Data application that gives a unified view of some fixed datasets plus data from the Linked Data cloud;
c) See UK, which allows users to explore a number of Open Data resources against a geographical background.

Prior to joining Seme4 in 2009 he was a Reader in the School of Electronics & Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK, and is now a Visitor in the Faculty.

How are digital technologies transforming our lives?

Not as much as we think. In particular, humans are communicative animals, and we will use whatever works to communicate. It takes years before people work out exactly what a particular technology does, and how it fits into the lives they want. And I think that when they do work it out, it is often not as revolutionary as it seemed at the time, or revolutionary in comparison with the past. Take email as an example. It is very exciting when it first becomes available, and most of us who have used it for a while will have been irritated at some time with the flood of messages from people who have just discovered it for the first time. But slowly the users of the new technology work out what is good for them (and acceptable to others). And in the end it is often not so very different from what went before, just a little more convenient. For many people who have used email for a while, the vast majority of emails they send an receive will be messages that would have gone via another medium (letter, memo, telephone call, water cooler comment) in a pre-digital age.

When I first got an iPod all those years ago, I spent ages getting my music all organised and I needed one with a big disk because I had a lot of music. Now I have worked out that what I want the iPod for is to do time-shift on Radio 4 comedy programmes and a select few spoken podcasts, so that I can listen to them when I am driving. I used to do something similar with CDs and before that cassettes, only now it is just more convenient.

In the creative sphere, artists have always embraced new technologies for rendering their ideas. Hockney’s iPad art is a natural activity, but is not a significant abstract difference to his previous use of Fax. And it is less controversial in its time than the challenging idea that photography might be a branch of the creative arts.

I believe that Blogs and Twitter have close parallels with the various styles of pamphlets in the 18th and later centuries. Perhaps Charles Dickens and Thomas Paine would have naturally moved their pamphleteering to WordPress and Twitter.

I recently came across this enjoyable list of questions,, which give some interesting perspectives on the historical developments of social networks.

I often think that Facebook moves us back to the villages that we lost with population movements. Many people will feel that they are now closer to the extended families that now live around the world, where these people would have lived nearby in past times. The incidental knowledge from the snippets on such sites is very similar to the comment you make as you pass a relative or friend on the High Street each day, giving background awareness of your circle of acquaintance.

I was (“lucky enough”?) to be in Prague during the revolutionary times of 1968, when the Warsaw Pact invaded. It was astonishing to see the velocity of information around the city. Newspapers and pamphlets were coming out hourly, there were amateur radio stations filling the radio spectrum, and in fact you could meet a radio station on the top of a car as you walked around (they would move to avoid triangulation from the KGB). When people celebrate Twitter as being a necessity for the Arab Spring to happen, I always have some concerns that such people have not experienced or even studied what could really happen without it. Revolutions did happen before the internet.

Of course, scale and accessibility do change, but it is arguable that the fact that people can access more sources of information is as much a political change as one brought about by technology. Printing was a tightly controlled activity in many countries in the 18th century, and the wider access came from relaxation of the controls. Interestingly we see similar tensions online at the present, where almost all countries control access to some extent.

The fact that communication across distance is undoubtedly easier, to the benefit of all, is tempered by the fact that distant communication becomes more necessary as people move apart in the knowledge that they have such communication.

What can the latest technologies do for you?

Ideally they make us more efficient, clearing space and time for activities that we find more self-fulfilling than some of the drudgery. In this sense, the digital technologies are little different from the hardware that emerged in the home throughout the early and middle 20th century. And it comes with the same contradictions: people could find themselves spending more time maintaing their vacuum cleaners, washing machines and especially unreliable cars than the time saved – time spent maintaining the new digital technologies can be very challenging. Again, the road to understanding what the technologies can do for each individual, what role they play and whether they are appropriate is a rocky one.

If you’re not online, are you out of the game?

No. It may seem like it, but things settle down in social circles, so that eventually people find a comfortable milieu. We should, however, have serious concerns about the claims that new technologies make about celebrating the heterogeneity of human interaction and activities. Many of the digital technologies were claimed to be liberating in this respect, the “long tail” idea that on the web there is a good market for minority interests that can therefore support suppliers. As this theory of the long tail has become questioned and even debunked, the interests of the users of digital technologies have become more restricted again, tending back to a more homogeneous world. Of course the majority “centre” shifts, but the minority at the edges is not necessarily being served as well as was promised in the brave new days of the web in the 1990s.

All in all, I’m not suggesting it’s not fun, and not enriching, but perhaps people with grey beards have a responsibility to try and help us all get it in perspective, while still experiencing the huge excitement.

Creative Digifest #SXSC2 Speaker Profiles: Alan Rae

Avatar photoOctober 2, 2012
by Lisa Harris

This is the latest in our series of speaker and panelist profiles for the Creative Digifest. Dr Alan Rae, in his own words:

“Research – Structure – Present – Set to Music”

I guess I have been a digital pioneer since we set up our first IT company in 1981. I’ve lived through the change from an analogue to a digital world (when I went to University we used mechanical calculators in the labs!) through word processing, computer aided design, e-commerce and social media and mobile working. My career started as a market researcher and marketing manager for a heavy engineering company. I set up my first IT business in 1981 and have been helping businesses large and small implement IT related change ever since as a supplier, trainer, presenter and author. From 1996-2004 I ran the Executive Studio in West London which was a pioneering demonstration and training centre for the use of IT In e-commerce and mobile and flexible working. Since then I’ve been applying what we know about digital commerce to a family horticultural business (the DPhil IS in plant science after all) and to researching how small companies can use the internet in practice to make their businesses work better. Much of this work has been carried out with Lisa Harris and you can check out our findings here

I’m currently a guest blogger for Brandwatch and the National Farmers Union, run a How to do Business group on Facebook and I’ve created various training programmes for small business including 1 Man Brand and Punch Above Your Weight, and written books like “Growing Jobs” and “Social Media for Real Businesses”

In what ways are digital technologies transforming our lives?

Digital in the 80s was for large organisations and geeks. Now it’s for everyone. The single fact that you can create an object – a photograph, a video, a piece of text and publish it in many different media to a large number of people or share it for a specific business purpose instantly, completely changes the way we can do business or enjoy our lives.
The tools available to the small company marketer continue to astonish me – tools to assemble and publish information, tools for holding conversations, tools for promoting business or leisure activities, tools for collaboration.

What can the latest technologies do for you?

The I-Pad is a real game changer – supporting both wifi and 3G technologies it means that most of the time you have instant access to the whole body of human knowledge as well as your own stuff in a portable package that you can carry around in a handbag. You can take photographs and share them – the day before I wrote this I was in Bodrum looking for tiles for my daughter’s new kitchen. We can photograph what they have in the shop and she can have the info in Sussex at once. She can tell us what she wants to do when we’ve got the details for price and delivery. When we were at the Olympics we could use the BBC feed for online updating of the positions of the competitors throughout the race on a course that we could only see via binoculars. In a windsurfing race where it’s quite hard to follow what’s going on this gave a great boost to our enjoyment of the day. You can create short videos, annotate them and post them into an environment where they can be shared. For a creator or performer it transforms the dialogue with the audience. And you can access the terrain maps to help you visit ancient sites if that’s what interests you. This is pretty handy in a country like Turkey where the map maker’s art is not well developed.

If you’re not online, are you out of the game?

That depends on the business – if most of what you sell goes locally and is sold in a traditional way face to face then no. Our organic veg business does not actually need the blog and web site to survive although it has its uses. If you are selling anything with knowledge embedded in it, or you need to build a national or international presence then you can use social media and digital creation tools to build and develop a substantial presence in your own field of expertise. However, you need to be selective – do some automation and some individual activity. Be clear about what you want to say and how to do business with you and work smart and be selective in how you use your time. It’s like Desktop Publishing – just because you can use hundreds of fonts in one document doesn’t mean that you should!

Creative Digifest #SXSC2 Speaker Profiles: Alan Patrick

Avatar photoOctober 1, 2012
by Lisa Harris

This is the latest in ourseries of posts profiling the speakers and panelists at the Creative Digifest.

Alan Patrick is the co-founder of Broadsight, which focuses on market intelligence, strategy and systems development across the multi-media ecosystem. Broadsight has consulted to many of the major digital-media players in Europe and has helped start or turn around a number of startups. They have also developed innovative technology for a number of clients. Alan also writes the well regarded Broadstuff blog on technology development. He has also developed the ‘Broadstuff Bubble-o-Meter’ tracking the current Social Media bubble’s evolution, which has been picked up by other technology blogs and the Guardian.

Alan Patrick with Student Digital Champion Ivan Melendez at the first SXSC Digifest

How are digital technologies transforming our lives?

1982 – Just seen the new IBM PC with a 10Mb Hard Disk!! Am 2 years away from starting to write MSc thesis on interconnecting these new fangled Microcomputers on even newer fangled idea of local and wide area “integrated networks”. Thesis will be mainly typed on a typewriter, with lots of photocopying, cutting, and pasting.

1992 – whinging on new fangled in-company email system, on my luggable PC, about sitting by the fax machine late on a Friday night trying to send a large report to a client. Later that year got my first modem and Demon internet connection. Became au fait with Archie, Veronica, Gopher et al. Report was written on a Word Processor, but has to be printed out, graphics added via a DTP standalone system, then faxed to client.

2002 – Setting up my first new fangled 0.5Mb broadband connection from my new Home Office, writing major report on my laptop and cutting and pasting data from the Web, shortly to email it via my Broadband (so no anxious waiting over the dialup modem). My report is typed on a word processor, and I cut and paste it digitally via an integrated DTP software suite. I am on Skype for a conference call with colleagues as I write, co-ordinating our views. After that is done, I am considering whether Google is finally better at search than Yahoo and whether to buy a book I want via eBay or Amazon. Am very proud of my new mobile, which (in theory) has internet access,  though it is a pain to use. Still, I can download my emails on it. Hooray!!!

2012 – Writing this while cursing that my 8Mb broadband connection in my home office is running at 1/4 speed, and the kids are sucking up all the bandwidth that it is a pain to synch my iPad, IPhone, laptop and home desktop email quickly. I have run a small company from my Home Office for 5 years now. I will shortly be going into London for a meeting, so I load the address into my iPhone and it gives me a map and directions. As I walk to the station I send a Twitter message to the people I hope to see there, telling everyone I am on my way.

2022 – My iPhone is a tieclip (ties are back in), running on bandwidth of several 100 Mb, and I wear my piezoelectric charging charging laptop on my head and plug it into my cortex. My UI is thought powered, and direct-to-brain display. My car is electric, as are my friends, because geeks still don’t get laid despite the plethora of Big Datamining online dating agencies…..

What can the latest technologies do for you?

  • save time and cost all the way across my workflow
  • replace physical commute and location limitations with online comms
  • rapid access to the relevant information
  • visibility of others’ activities
  • integrate disparate systems

If you’re not online, are you out of the game?

No, but you may not see all the plays, or see them as quickly as others do.

Creative Digifest #SXSC2 Speaker Profiles: Tom Barnett

Avatar photoSeptember 29, 2012
by Lisa Harris

This is the latest in our series of posts profiling the panelists and speakers at the Creative Digifest:

Tom Barnett is a co-Founder and Managing Director of Switch Concepts – a fast growing online decision engine that specialises in the delivery of online adverts.

In what ways are digital technologies transforming our lives?

I think that right now digital technology is verging on all pervasive – even if you don’t own a smartphone, pad, connected tv, computer or raspberry pi.  Behind the scenes the digital cogs are whirring 24/7 working out what to do with and for you.

In many ways technology has improved our lives.  Communication has generally taken on an entirely new meaning in the last decade or two.  On the other hand I worry that things have moved so quickly – Google is only 14 years old, Facebook only 8.  Have humans really kept up sociologically with the pace of change?  Bruce Willis suing Apple over the right to leave music he purchased from them to people in a will summed it up for me.  We all tick ‘accept’ without running the agreement by a lawyer (or counsellor) on £500 an hour.

I’m excited about web 3.0.  To me it represents a redress of the balance.

What can the latest technologies do for you?

Most practically the Samsung Galaxy S3 has meant I do not need to lug my laptop around with me as religiously as I have done for years.  The raspberry pi is going to give my children the same sort of chance I had with a Spectrum and BBC micro. I am keen to see VRM (vendor relationship management) tools emerge.

If you are not online, are you out of the game?

Frankly, yes.

Creative Digifest #SXSC2 Speaker Profiles: Mike Lister

Avatar photoSeptember 29, 2012
by Lisa Harris

This is the latest in our series of posts which profile the panelists and speakers at the Creative Digifest on 11th October.

Mike Lister obtained a degree in graphic design and did everything from shooting advertisements and making radio commercials to the design and layout of the Observer Colour Magazine. By 23 he was Head of Design at PA Advertising, a division of PA Management Consultants. At 28 he was Creative Head of David Baker Associates, a below-the-line advertising agency, and managing a team of 23 designers.

Meanwhile, in his spare time, Mike invented a very profitable system of photographic lettering and set up a company, Safelight, to commercialise it. For the next 25 years he ran Safelight as a highly successful Marketing Communications, Multimedia Design and Events Company. Work involved TV titles and film animation, video and CD-ROM production and print design as well as staging conferences and events for up to 3000 people. Safelight pioneered computer graphic systems in Europe and Mike funded and helped design and test graphic software packages for USA companies like AVL (Audio Video Laboratories) and Artronics. In 1980 he founded Dimension Technology to create Calypso software using his proprietary windows interface. Eighteen months before the launch of Microsoft’s Windows, Calypso was hailed as a brilliant success by the UK computer press, but being early to market made funding difficult. Calypso was developed at the European beta test site for Stepstone’s Objective C, the programming language later acquired by Next Computer which became the basis for Apple software as well as the first browser WorldWideWeb.

In 2000 Mike founded Netusability Ltd to improve his web-tracking and video streaming software. He held four USA patents pending and was funded by $6m from eVerger (owned by Aegis plc and Warburg Pincus). As CTO he ran development teams in the USA and UK but eVerger pulled out in the dot-com crash. Mike bought back his software and became Director of Customer Experience for the strategy division of i-level, Europe’s largest Internet advertising agency. It provided access at senior level to major corporations and the opportunity to experiment using his software to analyse internet behaviour. Clients included Teletext, the COI, Orange, Sony, Yell, News International, RAC and Cosmos. These results were gained by using qualitative techniques: since 1998 Mike has spent more than 4,000 hours interviewing over 2,000 people purchasing from websites, and also quantitative techniques: 30,000+ hours analysing on and offline purchasing behaviour and trawling through web analytics, CRM and call centre data. For more information about Mike’s latest research please visit his website

In what ways are digital technologies transforming our lives?

It seems to me that so far the major effect of digital technology has been to increase the velocity of communication, the quantity of information and the entertainment options available.  To simplify Herbert Simon’s quote – all this “stuff” consumes our attention and “eats” our time.  People are spending more of their time in the virtual world at the expense of the physical world.  We had a similar effect with the introduction of Radio in the 1920s to 1930s and later on TV in the 1950s.  In the past people have gradually adjusted from over-consumption of any new media to a more balanced media diet, although the feedback processes using digital technology may have changed this.

What can the latest technologies do for you?

I’m impressed with the “state of the art” cloud services I’m receiving via my Google Nexus 7 tablet.  This can become a newspaper; a magazine; a book; a Filofax with calendar and email available; a note making device; a map; a music or podcast player; a bus or train timetable; or a screen on which to watch movies or TV whilst on the move and a payment mechanism.  Of course all these services were available from a laptop that needed charging every three hours or so that also has a long boot-up time.  The tablet is very lightweight (345 grams), low cost device that is instantly available and will run all day without needing a battery charge.

 If you’re not online, are you out of the game?

It depends on what game you are playing and the time period involved.  For example; if you mean shopping, in the UK according to the latest ONS figures online sales are only 11% of the total of all retail sales in a typical month.  Of course many people research online before making a store purchase but the majority still purchase shopping offline.  Selling the right product from a good position on a High Street it is still possible to be a success but being online would increase your sales.  My local baker sells bread and cakes from his shop but his website provides a broader reach for his event catering business.

Creative Digifest #SXSC2 Speaker Profile: Tom Chapman

Avatar photoSeptember 27, 2012
by Lisa Harris

This is the third in our series of posts profiling speakers and panelists for the Creative Digifest:

Tom works across Lawton Communication Group’s agencies; integrated agency Five by Five, social agency Headstream and employee communications agency Five by Five People. He is responsible for developing strategic frameworks, new service propositions and working with teams to continually evolve with emerging trends.   Tom has worked for LCG for the past 4 years, starting out as a Planner and Account Director at Headstream, and more recently as Head of Social for Five by Five, working with brands including GAP, Activision, McLaren Automotive and UKTV. He started out in the New Media team for OTC (now He also founded ClickExpo, an online trade show, and co-founded SpydaRadio, an Internet radio station and LOGO, a free music magazine.

In what ways are digital technologies transforming our lives?

When words such as ‘lolz’, ‘ridic’. ‘tweeps’ and ‘mwahahaha’ become the latest inclusions in the Oxford English Dictionary it is a clear reminder that ‘digital’ has had a profound effect on our lives.  For kids today they do not think about ‘digital’ or ‘traditional’, it’s all the same to them, digital is pervasive.  Digital technologies are rapidly transforming my city to the point where via mobile GPS I can track the bus I’m waiting for in relation to my location.  I can appear to be present in my house by controlling the lighting, heating and security remotely via mobile apps.  My personal relationships have completely changed – with my virtual self I now can find a partner by matching my personal data to others and I’m able to manage relationships across different geographies from a fixed location.  Soon I will have the option not to drive to work as my automated vehicle will communicate with the smart roads and other smart vehicles.  My health can be accurately measured in real-time via smart clothing informing me precisely when my body will need water and nutrients.  Entertainment is personalised to my exact interests linked directly to my virtual self and my behaviours.  I do not need to be of legal age to influence politics and local government as I can start a movement via social networks using just a mobile.  I can disrupt any industry from the comfort of my own bedroom.  And if I’m fed up with the physical world I can augment a virtual world and escape for a few hours.

What can the latest technologies do for you?

Right this very minute I’m looking at pictures on Twitter showing a flood happening in real-time, I’m going to check into my local coffee shop at 11am to receive a discount off my coffee, I’ve just been alerted to pictures on Facebook of my best friend’s baby born 30 seconds ago and can send my regards along with a personalised card that will be delivered tomorrow, I’m looking forward to watching my favourite TV programme on demand this evening whilst downloading exclusive content via tablet running alongside the show.

If you are not online, are you out of the game?

You only need to look at third world countries recently connecting to the grid to see what impact data and information is having on those countries, it provides an opportunity to transform economies, health and education creating a better quality of life.



Creative Digifest #SXSC2 Speaker Profile: Toby Beresford

Avatar photoSeptember 24, 2012
by Lisa Harris

  This is the second in a series of posts over the next few weeks to highlight the various speakers and panelists at the Creative Digifest.

Toby Beresford is an excitable social media guru with a digital vision. He won a Mark Zuckerberg hackathon, gave the keynote at a social media world   forum, and still finds time to provide incisive commentary on social media for Sky News.  His latest startup turns the humble  high-score-table into a verb, by letting companies create their own social data leaderboard of staff, customers, influencers or even event delegates….  Watch out or you might be the one to get leaderboarded soon…

In what ways are digital technologies transforming our lives?

I think the key transformation is that our digital selves are no longer anonymised ‘handles’ such as an email address or a computer number which we  can disown at the flick of a switch. Nowadays our digital lives are extensions of ourselves – much like a prosthetic limb or the clothes we wear. That’s why teenagers now fear ‘frape’ – the act of hacking into someone’s Facebook account and posting embarrasing messages on their behalf, more than their bank account being hacked.

What can the latest technologies do for you?

Technology can break down barriers – the most important of which is geographic – I can order a sweater from Arran without visiting the island, I can chat to my relatives via free video conferencing, I can get the latest harbour prices for my fish despite being still at sea.

If you’re not online, are you out of the game?

Yes. Access to the internet is a universal human right, marginalised and low-income families throughout the world often have the most to gain from access to accurate and up to date information.



Creative Digifest #SXSC2 Speaker Profile: Abigail Harrison

Avatar photoSeptember 23, 2012
by Lisa Harris

This is the first in a series of posts over the next few weeks to highlight the various speakers and panelists at the Creative Digifest.

Abigail Harrison, Founder of DigitalSurrey, PR and social media consultant

Founder of one of the largest B2B social media networks #DigitalSurrey, Abigail Harrison has worked in PR and social media for almost 20 years. Delivering award-winning results for leading global brands, she thrives on delighting clients with creative, impactful strategies. As one of the key players in the digital and social media sector, Abigail founded DigitalSurrey in 2009 which regularly draws stand-out sector speakers such as Google, IBM and the BBC. Abigail has been involved in the organisation of major social media events such as Twestival and was responsible for bringing back TweetCamp to London in 2011 which attracted some of the leading movers and shakers in the global social media sector.

In what ways are digital technologies transforming our lives?

Technology enables ‘I’ to harness the power of ‘we’ – the power (positive and negative) of crowds online has the ability to change outcomes faster. Yes the French Revolution happened over 200 years ago, however digital technologies enable information to spread / propogate with lightning speeds which challenge Governments and brands alike to maintain a degree of dignified control. In addition, the technologies have the potential to provide a mouthpiece for the ‘I’ – cutting through automated customer response, demanding up-to-the-minute information, in a decade where transparency and honesty have taken a hammering – and consumer trust hit all-time rock-bottom levels.

What can the latest technologies do for you?

Cut through red-tape; deliver information faster; demand transparency / honesty / respect; build communities based on commonality – and provide the ultimate filter mechanism to ensure relevance (the delete button is ever present!); provide a fast-action response resulting in increased engagement, profitability, efficiency; restores the consumer (customer) to his / her position of king.

If you’re not online, are you out of the game?

You are out of ‘a game’ but not ‘the game’. However, online is facing a real challenge posed by gamers and trolls – plus the challenge of Governments / lawyers who are trying to impose national rules & regulations on a global unregulated channel. Perhaps one to discuss further at the event…..?