Digital Economy USRG

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.

Why you should come to the Creative Digifest

Avatar photoSeptember 29, 2012
by Lisa Harris

First published by Lorraine Warren on her blog

There are over 100 bookings so far but we’ve still got a few places left for the Creative Digifest on 11th October. Some people have been asking what it’s all about, so here goes….


An event that brings together university staff, students, business people, inventors and entrepreneurs with an interest in the digital world and its impact on our lives – to inspire research, teaching and learning collaborations. There will be regular follow up meetings, with the next one to be held in London.

The context is creative industries and digital media, which are very much seen as engines for economic growth – but this only occurs if new business models and new markets are built from all the cool new digital stuff that’s out there.

Digifest is in the tradition of self organising  informal events, variously referred to as “barcamps” or “unconferences” that bring together creative and digital folk in an inclusive, open, non hierarchical, IP sensitive manner, to demo new stuff, talk, network — in effect ‘creative sandpits’ , a crucible for new products, services, business models, start-ups. Here’s some Q&A about one run by the BBC at Media City, which got rave reviews and over 200 people.

This is part of a global movement – see also TED and SXSW


As well as a number of interesting talks :

*   see new stuff being demo’d by students, staff and entrepreneurial businesses

*   meet colleagues from FBL, ECS, humanities, arts – interdisciplinary collaborations

*   spot potential ideas for new products, services

*   research into new organisational forms and processes  (the creativity that takes place in these events is amazing)

*   connect with people in industry who are pushing the boundaries

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…..?

Digital Economy lunch on 24th September

September 3, 2012
by Alison Simmance

You are warmly invited to attend the Digital Economy lunch on the 24th September from 12 noon in 85/2207 (Life Sciences Building)

Professor Hugh Davis will talk about recent developments in Technology Enhanced Learning at the University and the role of the new Centre for Innovation in Technologies and Education (CITE) in supporting Faculty initiatives in this area.

Hugh is the University Director of Education responsible for technology enhanced learning (TEL). He chairs the University’s Technology Enhanced Learning and Living Board and is a member of the University’s Education Advisory Committee. Hugh is based in the Web and Internet Science Research Group within the School of Electronics and Computer Science.

The next lunchtime DE events will be held on 29th October and 5th December. We are also planning a *big event* on campus with keynote speaker Andrew Keen all day on 11th October.

More information will be circulated very soon.