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Your interview: Brighton Digital Festival manager Tom Bailey
3:00pm Saturday 7th September 2013 in News
LARRY BASILDON, WORTHING: What’s the future for digital? Are hover boards just a pipe dream?
TOM BAILEY (TB): Hover boards – oh I’m not sure about that. I think actually it’s not a question of what’s the future for digital but more what’s the future with digital.
We are becoming increasingly digital across all aspects of our lives whether that’s through education, work places or the way our economy, local government and international government works.
I think if anything it is how will digital determine out future?
It will play a huge part in everyone’s lives.
DOMINIC ROBYN-PORTER, BRIGHTON: We’ve had smart phones, smart watches and smart glasses – what do you see coming next for smart technology?
TB: The next big thing it would seem is wearable tech. So we have got Google glasses and Samsung Galaxy watches.
The next big thing in communications technology will be wearable tech.
JESSICA TASKER, HOVE: The Digital Festival receives substantial funding from the Arts Council and BHCC. Isn’t it time it stood on its own feet?
TB: The Digital Festival receives £200,000 over a two-year period from Arts Council England with £10,000 from Brighton and Hove City Council.
The Digital Festival is a celebration of digital technology.
It’s a platform on which all of the organisations can showcase and engage with the fantastic work and performance and play that they do.
Many of the events are accessible and free so it’s a chance for people to showcase all of the exciting things that happen here.
If it were to become a festival that charges it would be such a restrictive force on what the festival is. It returns fantastic value on that money but it would be unrecognisable in its current form.
HARRY WICKES, PORTSLADE: How can you make Brighton Digital Festival accessible and comprehensible to the lay person while pleasing all the early adopters and computer-savvy bods?
TB: This is one of the interesting things that is at the core of the festival.
One of our core objectives was to spend a lot of time thinking very carefully about how we would create the festival and its programme.
The website of the festival is crucial, so that people can search through over 150 events and find what they are interested in.
It’s hard to increase general awareness – it really is an open festival and kids can get involved and have a look around.
But there’s so much on offer for everyone to come and get involved.
We work hard and we have worked hard to communicate with people this year.
JULIE WITHERS, WHITEHAWK: Why should anyone outside the digital economy care about the Digital Festival coming to the city?
TB: The festival doesn’t come to the city – the festival is a reflection of all the stuff happening in the city.
Outside of it the digital economy is actually relevant across so many aspects of our lives.
Definitely the digital economy is much broader and more interesting in areas such as education, health, international relations, art or performance and it’s still relevant to those who aren’t day to day engaged in the digital economy.
BORIS WOOD, HOVE: What benefits does the Digital Festival bring to the city as a whole?
TB: It brings a month-long programme of fantastic and interesting things which all go to more broadly contributing to Brighton’s established reputation of a centre for art and cultural work.
Brighton is increasingly recognised as a centre for this and really celebrates that and builds new networks across the organisations and across the city. It’s such a cool thing as well.
It’s a good thing, it’s a vibrant, interesting month-long celebration and we are proud that it is becoming a fixture in Brighton.
TERRY ADAMS, SEAFORD: Why do so few Brighton digital start-ups then progress into large companies with more than 20 employees?
Are digital firms in Brighton not ambitious enough?
Are they too happy to stay small or should they be trying to expand and be the best in the world?
TB: I think it’s a fair thing to say that Brighton doesn’t need to build huge international businesses.
But that’s partly because we have got such a strong reputation for smaller businesses.
We have a good tolerance for new ideas and what that needs to produce is a city where lots of smaller start-ups are nurtured here.
They are given the space to get off the ground where there could be work to be done to generate some larger players and the Digital Festival contributes to these things.
KATHERINE ANCHORS, HOLLINGBURY: What one thing would you like to see introduced to improve Brighton’s digital economy?
TB: I know the guys at Wired Sussex where I work with the festival have been working really hard with the council to campaign for super fast broadband and I think that’s the next step for the city.
I think it will make a huge difference.
GREGORY PETERSON, WOODINGDEAN: What is the ‘event to look out for’?
TB: It’s impossible to say because it’s my job to try and create the festival as a platform.
Today I would encourage anyone reading this to go to Brighton Mini Maker Faire at the Corn Exchange over the weekend.
It’s a fantastic celebration of DIY technology and a great chance for kids and adults to get their hands dirty while making things.
I guarantee it will be a great day for kids and families.
SOPHIE ETCHINGHAM, ROTTINGDEAN: How do you turn technical digital talk into a language which is accessible for everyone, and an inclusive event?
TB: This is something all our event organisers have to be aware of and ensure that we are communicating effectively.
Allowing involvement means our people are empowered to ask questions and not made to feel silly if they don’t understand.
Some of the stuff which is planned in the programme is very specialist and personally I don’t understand and wouldn’t expect to understand.
SAM EBERNOE, BRIGHTON: Surely everyone can design a website – and it won‘t be long until apps are easy too. Why should I pay to have someone design my site?
TB: That’s true. I think that’s going to be the case for a lot of things we currently have to bring experts in to do and eventually top computers or a piece of glass in front of our face will be able to do the job.
But I think that’s exciting as we see things evolve and the experts in these fields will start applying their skills and energy to new areas – it will be fascinating to see what happens.
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