Tug Life II – Digital vs Real Life
How is Digital life affecting real life? Samuel Fry reviews Tug Life 2, held at 133 Shoreditch.
An industrial room dressed with raw brickwork, a concrete floor, good coffee and around 60 people all ready to hear about the impacts of the digital age. It had to be Shoreditch, 133 Shoreditch to be precise and more specifically it was the return of Tug Life: an event that asks “How is Digital life affecting real life?”
Tug Life is a series of speaker sessions. The event I attended was themed around “The Future of Work – Surviving vs. Thiving”. Over the course of 2 hours, a number of speakers gave their views on the changing landscape of people’s workplaces and home lives.
The Future of Work Experience
Robert Rankin from Apps for Good talked about The future of work experience. Apps for Good aim to create the next generation of problem solvers and digital makers. Rankin explained that when he Graduated in 2008, he had no work experience and employers did not want to recruit him. With 13.7% of 16-24 year olds currently in unemployment (827,000), compared to a 5.1% average, Rankin feels that there is a wasted opportunity.
To try and combat the unemployment problem, his company encourages young people to become digital makers. They create digital solutions to problems and consider the business model to make them viable. Rankin explained how one young team came up with “Donate It” – a tool which connects charities with people who want to donate items. While a team of 8 year olds invented an app to help kids ask questions to adults about puberty. So far, through their programme, 10,000 apps have been designed worldwide by young children who go through a Lean, Agile development process to solve problems and who learn t0 see failure as a good thing.
Later in the session, Jonathan Linden from We Are Source would discuss the same topic. He was reflecting on “Talent and the Future of Work”. Linden explained that by 2020, there will be 750,000 unfilled digital roles in the UK. This will result in billions of pounds of lost opportunity. Meanwhile, 10 million jobs will disappear in 10 years due to digital automation. Yet, despite this, recruiters are stuck in the cycle where they feel that they must employ graduates.
Linden feels that we are short of talent because employers do not look elsewhere. Then, as a result of the way that employers behave, people feel a degree is a ticket for an interview. Employers start by questioning whether someone has a degree and if it was from a University that they like – if you don’t fit the description then you will not be employed. This means that they are excluding a large number of potential candidates. He argued further that given only 1 in 5 people from a disadvantaged background apply for UCAS, this is a large group to exclude.
Linden’s view is that we miss a huge amount of potential by only looking in one place. We need graduates but we can also look at backgrounds that might not usually be considered. In return we will bridge the skills gap, diversity and unemployment gaps.
Storytelling your Personal Story
Adah Parris told a more personal story. Last year she went to the Burning Man festival and realised that she could be whoever she wanted to be. Although this caused her to wonder “Why wait a year, spend £3K and go to the desert to find out who I am?” Her day job involves helping businesses and individuals understand themselves. Part of this is about storytelling.
In Parris’ view, Storytelling is not linear anymore. Modern storytelling is more like the structure of Game of Thrones, as people are interested in understanding how stories navigate and intersect with each other. She explained that we are like cave painters. She claimed “I’m this person on Facebook, this person on Twitter and this person on LinkedIn” before stating that we have created fragmented versions of ourselves. We need to understand that everything is connected.
Parris finished by arguing for story doing, rather than storytelling. You live your story.
But what about happiness? Well, the CEO of The Happiness Index Tony Latter was there to discuss this. The Happiness Index essentially produce people analytics. Latter gave an example, “When you work somewhere and it feels like it has changed in culture over the last 12 months, how do you measure it?” or “If a company knows it is difficult to deal with, they can use The Happiness Index to find out why.” Mainly, Latter focused on explaining why companies need to move from “I think” this about my employees or my company to “I know”.
I did not get the chance to see the original Tug Life, but this year’s event was full of interesting professionals discussing topics at the very centre of digital and its affect on culture. The event is running until Friday, so why not go for yourself!
Samuel is a Business Consultant at IBM, working in their Interactive Experience team. He is also currently the Director of Create Hub. Samuel has a history of working with creative, innovative and entrepreneurial companies such as the creative-business incubator Cockpit Arts, in the Creative Economy team at Nesta, with entrepreneur network Virgin Media Pioneers and as the Enterprise Consultant at University of Bristol.