The Thinking Digital conference closed up for the fifth time last week. Codeworks project manager and conference producer Laura Harrison talks about her experience behind the scenes.
I’VE been working in some shape or form with the Thinking Digital conference (TDC) since its creation five years ago, but this has been the first time producing it.
I’ve often wondered what all the fuss was about as I’ve generally been on the outskirts, but now I know.
It’s the most broad spectrum of topics to be discussed at a conference with so many disciplines and so many initiatives but at the heart, it’s mostly about passion; from the speakers, from the (Codeworks) team and, most of all, from the audience.
“How do you begin to work on such an event?” I hear you say. Well, it’s more about being well-organised and breaking everything down.
TDC is a plethora of events all bundled together as one, from the hands-on Gadget DIY workshop through to the varying conference dinners and parties, and pulling them all together to create TDC12 was extremely fulfilling.
Working with so many great people involved with the venues, web and mobile development of the site and the conference app to the speakers themselves made my job a lot easier.
There are undoubtedly moments that are touch and go when producing a conference as big and bold as TDC. The most memorable for me was when a presentation sound clip failed and with 15 minutes to go before she’s due on stage at The Sage Gateshead, the speaker (who shall remain nameless) shouted: “I need it, I’m just going to run back to my hotel!” And run she did, like Usain Bolt. She was back in a flash, simply asking for a napkin to wipe her brow before she headed out into the limelight.
One of the highlights from the actual conference was seeing the hive of creativity build between the speakers and the audience.
Jennifer Gardy deciding to write a book because everyone else had one. In 24 hours, she had created a delicate A-Z of Germs made out of her TDC giveaway notebook. At the after-party, while reading the humorous rhymes and sketches, Tom Scott approaches – “I’d love to animate it” – suddenly eyes light up around the group and we’re all getting excited at the possibility of extending Jennifer’s notebook of germs into short video!
Like crazy teenagers Tom and Jennifer hurry off to find a corner in the bar to record the voiceover and photograph the pages of the A-Z of Germs, picking up Jessica Latshaw for a little rap en route. Two days later it was produced. Simple as that.
The culmination of eight hard months of work last week was certainly a highlight in my career. Seeing some of the brightest minds take to the stage, receive standing ovations and hear them say “it was an honour to be involved” was the buzz (one that I’m still feeling) and an experience I’ll never forget.