Digital 2012

Digital 2012

Digital 2012 860 489 Border Crossing UX

Last week was Scotland’s leading conference for the digital, creative and cultural sectors, organised by Interactive Scotland & AmbITion Scotland. This year’s theme was Monetising Opportunities – something we are always interested in  – so off we went to Glasgow to find out more.

Pre-conference networking drinks

The event started on the Thursday evening with pre-conference drinks so after going to a very interesting meeting about tax relief for R&D at the Hub I got to take a lovely stroll across the Clyde to the SECC to see what was going on.  I arrived to a wide array of drinks and food and also free wifi, always a favourite of mine at a conference!  This did mean however that I found myself a suitable corner to check my email and so may have missed out on some networking opportunities.

The main purpose of the evening was an introduction to the conference by Hannah Rudman of Amb:IT:ion Scotland and 3 case studies of cultural organisations collaborating with digital companies:

  • Stellar Quines, a touring theatre group, partnership with Freakworks and the Institute of Creative Industries at Napier University to produce ANA, a 3D theatre experience.  Stellar Quines had seen a decrease in profits of touring their works around Scotland and so are experimenting with 3D recordings of their performances to be able to continue showing them in remote places in Scotland whilst substantially reducing their costs.  A good idea in my opinion as a lover of both theatre and the potential of 3D.  Whether it works right now or is a work in progress though I can’t say as unfortunately we could not see an example of it in action.
  • Inner Ear’s partnership with Walking Heads the Glasgow music tour app and the Edinburgh music tour app.  This is where you can download an app and it takes you on a walking tour round your favourite comedy or music spots.  There seems to be nothing truly innovative about this idea but it does show how you can provide these tours on demand without having the risk of giving tourists any equipment.  At a RRP of £0.59 it is certainly priced right for both locals and tourists.
  • Timespan’s partnership with Leith’s own Bluemungus on the Museum Without Walls project in Sutherland giving an augmented reality view of the area at the time of the land clearances 200 years ago.  This was my favourite of the case studies not just because of our connections to Bluemungus or for the excellent fall off the stage but because I could really see how the  augmented reality provided by the app would truly enhance the understanding of the area and it’s history.  I could imagine both young and old using this app to be able to see what the land looked like hundreds of years ago and getting inspired to find out more.

After listening to the case studies both tired and inspired I headed back to Edinburgh for the night.

The main event

The next day was more of a traditional conference format with the morning filled with Workshops and the afternoon with speakers.  Francois and I made it through to Glasgow for the first workshop of the day and went our separate ways.

My first workshop was called Partnerships and Collaborations and was delivered by Julie Tait, Director, Culture Sparks; Gillian Easson, Development Manager, NESTA; Rohan Gunatillake, Producer, Sync.  The point of this workshop was to discover how these organisations could either help both cultural and digital companies make connections.  A large focus of this workshop was explaining about a new NESTA fund called:

The Digital R&D Fund for Arts and Culture that is open for applications from Cultural Organisations to apply for to work with Digital companies to either:

  • expand their audience reach and engagement


There are two levels of awards, either <£25k or between £25k and £100k.  It is possible for an cultural organisation to apply before the 25th of April 2012 as long as you are based in Scotland.  You can choose to work with any digital company from anywhere (it does not have to be based in Scotland).  Don’t worry though if you don’t have time to apply now as there will be a second round of applications in the Autumn.

I also found out about how Amb:IT:ion Scotland can help organisations with other funding programmes like Make IT Happen where there are many different levels of funding for content development, support and training and digital development.  If you are a cultural orgnasiation that is thinking of making some changes to your digital world in the near future make sure you check out what is on offer.

My second workshop was Scoping Out the Market Opportunity held by Mairi Robertson of the Interactive Scotland and NMP.  Now we know Mairi and she is in fact our account manager for Interactive Scotland so I was looking forward to this talk.  Mairi gave a completely comprehensive view of how to develop and write a business plan for any service or product – not an easy task in 50 minutes!  In fact it was so comprehensive that I can’t concisely share it with you but Mairi did promise to share the slides so when I get them I will share the link here.

Lunch and a wander around the exhibition was next.  I have to say that I was fairly surprised by the small number of exhibitors and what they were pitching.  We did meet some lovely people though and enjoyed some good banter with the lovely Anis Mourad from Network Enterprise Europe (@stairwaytoseven) who offered FREE  help with making connections between us and European companies for both buying and selling.  We probably would not have stopped by if they hadn’t done some clever connection marketing on Twitter with us.

The afternoon was in the rather large auditorium in the Loch Suite where we were treated to some excellent speakers.

The keynote was delivered by Dave Coplin, Director of Search and Futurologist, Microsoft.   Now whilst I think that is an awesome job title I was truly quite sceptical about the talk especially with a title ‘Futurology for a Creative, Digital & Cultural Society’.  I was mistaken, he was excellent and gave a very inspirational talk about making the most of the opportunities that are presenting themselves.  He had a very interesting take on the use of search and privacy confirming that you only give away as much information as you wish and the reason behind doing so is to improve your user experience.

The other speaker of note was Marc Sands, Director of Audiences and Media for the Tate.  Marc explained the Tate’s attitude to digital media and how they are embracing it to enhance their ‘real-world’ galleries and build a larger audience for their work.  In fact the Tate released a new, revised website over the weekend to help their online audience have a better user experience.  The Tate undertook extensive research and developed a usable website to showcase the collections at their galleries.  It was great for us as a User Experience Design company to hear a cultural organisation talking about organising their content based on user journeys rather than standard categorisations of art.  As a big fan of the Tate I have to say that the new website is a vast improvement on the old one and seems to allow the user to easily complete their chosen tasks.

At the end of the afternoon session Francois and I fell on to a train and collapse tired but inspired.  All in all it was a good day out where we learnt a lot and hopefully identified some opportunities for some collaboration.  We’d like to extend a big thank you to all the organisers and speakers and congratulate them on another successful conference.

See you at Digital 2013!


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