Digital Shoreditch and the future of storytelling

Based in trendy Hackney House, this years’ Digital Shoreditch festival was packed with two weeks’ worth of talks about anything Digital, from companies looking for young talent, to innovation, marketing and gamification.

It wouldn’t really be Shoreditch if they weren’t just a little bit quirky so every participant was invited to write on a board their name and who they would like to meet and had their photo taken. Photos were then hung on the “date wall” for networking. I used a light green marker though so you couldn’t really see anything I’d written in the photo so I was and still remain nameless for the Digital Shoreditch 2012 hip crowd.

Having my attempts at networking failing due to a camera malfunction, I turned my attention to the talks at the “Next Day” which were all about the future and innovation.

Location and Mobility seem to be two key drivers in media technology and they will continue to be in the coming years.

From mobile tags being attached to street furniture (like NFC tags at a bus stop to get information on forthcoming bus arrivals) to Intel’s new Ultrabook that will be able to access different user profiles and different programmes depending on where the device is, location will increasingly be a key factor in determining what information is most relevant for the user.

Judging by the sheer increase in the amount of mobile data being used, mobile and mobile devices really came out as one of the main themes when looking at the future ahead. Ultra personal in their nature, mobile screens are really starting to appeal as a new medium to deliver targeted information and enrich consumers’ media consumption. Thinking of tablets, connected TV’s and apps like Zeebox and Shazam, the phrase “second screen” was mentioned a few times, although at Digital Shoreditch they liked to question which screen is actually the first and which is the second.

A deluge of new devices and technologies will be used to make sense of old problems, like the need for simplicity and the trend for Kinect-style face recognition and gesture control that addresses it.

Greg Williams, editor of Wired, talked about the role of technology and the future of storytelling. According to him, technology is there to fulfil a human need and telling stories is rooted in our very human nature – it’s how we represent reality and make sense of the world.

If data is the new oil, it is only valuable if we can extract meaning from it.

Evolving from the printing press to fiction onto movies and now iPads, storytelling devices are improving our storytelling ability in our quest to find meaning.

Increasingly successful products are the ones rooted in a story that consumers can emotionally connect with.

London was the focus of some case studies on how social media and new devices are improving storytelling, like My London Story, an interesting project bringing London to life  through the stories of its people or The Museum of London Augmented Reality app that shows you how London used to look like decades ago if you hold the phone up in selected locations. You can read a full review of the app here  or watch a video of it in action here  .

Maybe a perfect example of storytelling in the digital age is the partnership between Bing and Jay-Z for his new book Decoded.  The search engine seeded pages from Jay-Z’s book in the real world prior to its release. With pages being everywhere from billboards,  the bottom of swimming pools and even wrapped on a car, fans were invited to find the secret pages and then track their location on Bing, building a real sense of play and building a whole community around the campaign. The campaign was a resounding success with Bing seeing its traffic rise by 11% and Jay-Z getting 1 million more Facebook fans.

For a full review of the Jay-Z Decoded campaign you can visit this blog and watch this video.  

Despite the lack of an appropriate photo on the “date wall”, I left Hackney House with a sense of optimism in the realisation that despite a vision of the future where technology is king, what it all comes down to in the end is people and how technology, marketing and advertising can make their life better , helping them to create great and authentic stories.

This post was originally published on my personal blog

Published by Salvo La Rosa, @salvolarosa

 

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