The NEXT big thing at Digital Shoreditch

By Tim Caynes @timcaynes

I’ve been lucky enough to speak at a few events recently, but they’ve mostly been in conference rooms or studios with walls and windows and things. They had the occasional projector, power source, microphone. All the kind of things you’d expect.

This week I had the opportunity to speak at Digital Shoreditch. They did things rather differently.

I’ve been in a Big Top before. It was a long time ago, when you could still see men in red jackets pointing chairs at lions, while sinister clown-faced interlopers threw buckets of paper at your children and made them cry.

Fast forward to 2012 and I’m wandering around East London, once again looking for the Big Top that has come to town. I expected it to be in the middle of a field. It was, however, underneath the Overground, behind a fence next to a car park.

The directions said ‘if you get to Tescos, you’ve missed it’, so I figured that since I was actually in Tescos (I was buying a pen), that I must have missed it. Which I had. I thought the A4 poster on the wall pointing me down a passageway, bathed in a strange purple light must have been some kind of embarrassing art installation, not a gateway to the conference.

I needn’t have worried though. Once through the small passageway, it was like Narnia in a Tardis, for I had stumbled into the motherlode – the Digital Shoreditch Big Top.

Part conference venue, part Haçienda, all tent; the interior of the Big Top was impressive. Like a huge cabaret venue where the entertainment is salacious Powerpoint. And I was there to provide some of that Powerpoint action.

Pitching for an audience

I had been asked to talk about mobile wallet design as part of the NEXT day, which is all about future technology trends. But rather than just roll out my 107 slides in 30 minutes, this was a rather a different format. The ten minutes on stage were to pitch for a 30 minute session where you, the presenter, could do pretty much what you liked. Around a small table with eight chairs. I expected seven people to join me.

Notwithstanding the fact that my ten minute pitch was just one slide and no video, there must have been something about mobile wallet design that piqued people’s interest. So when 1pm rolled around, 35 people had massed around that small table, waiting to be entertained.

I did my best, which meant I shouted as loud as I could over the trains, the traffic, the air conditioning and the announcements saying that I was speaking, about my experiences designing a mobile wallet. We then had a lively question and answer session, touching on probable futures for mobile payment systems, NFC implementations, and winners and losers in the mobile payment land-grab.

I overran a bit, and was about to pack up and drag myself to the office, when a few people asked me if I could do it all over again. I would have gladly done so, but we just ran out of time, so we had a quick discussion about what I learned from the whole process, until the elephants came in and a man in a glittery bodysuit jumped off a trapeze into a bucket of prawns. Or that’s what I imagined. I think it was actually someone talking about digital convergence.

So a big thankyou to everybody that crowded around that small table in the purple light to hear my talk/shout about designing the mobile wallet. I hope you found it interesting and useful and a little bit enjoyable – I certainly did. And a big thankyou to Digital Shoreditch for inviting me along and for being so, well, Shoreditch.

Links and related things

My table top session slides (without the motion sickness-inducing transitions):

If you're having trouble viewing the slides, try watching it on Slideshare here: 

Tim Caynes

I’m a Principal Designer at Foolproof which means I’m responsible for the integrity of the design thinking that shapes the work that we do.

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