Is it really a week since our last showcase event, The Knowledge Guild, at The Brewery? The lead up is always a heady mix of planning, meetings, marketing, invites and keeping an eye on the possibility of any tube strike action (which scuppered our last). Then the night itself ensuring the speakers are looked after and the audience get something from the event. After this - and while we get on with the business of running a speaker bureau - that pre-event planning energy dissipates, taking some sense of time with it, until it is called upon again for our next event.
Our host, Kate Russell
As with all our Knowledge Guilds we decide on an overall theme, an overarching discussion to the knit the night together. For our second this year it was on Technology. The methods, processes, goods and services that are now pervasive and integral to our lives.
We brought a wonderful collection of tech illumines together to lighten up the dark with ex Dragon and cloud entrepreneur Piers Linney; web psychologist Nathalie Nahai; news journalist and cyber-crime security expert Misha Glenny with TV tech presenter Kate Russell being our very virtual host for the evening.
Tech Entrepreneur Piers Linney
Kicking us off was Piers Linney who reminded the audience that cloud services are not otherworldly or heavenly but are in fact stored in huge bricks and mortar warehouses tucked away in industrial estates that use, according to online IT mag, The Register, about 10% of the world’s power supply. It was fascinating talk focusing on the changing paradigms of tech development suggesting in future that more information will be stored in DNA ensuring it lasts something close to forever, yet the DNA player – that technology to replay the stored data – is somewhat lagging behind.
Web Psychologist Nathalie Nahai
Next was Nathalie Nahai, a web psychologist and bringer of light to the web’s dark patterns. You are probably wondering what a dark pattern is but chances are you have fallen victim to one. They are, according to Nathalie ‘An experience designed to exploit cognitive biases and covertly influence customer behaviours‘ and trick users to sign up for something they didn’t have the intention to.
Nathalie gave the example of an online national newspaper subscription where users thought they were getting 24 hour access but in fact were signing up to a much more costly 3 months; and travel sites suggesting rooms were selling FAST when a few days later they will very much available. Nathalie highlights this is good for short-term gains but not good for the brand overall as it undermines trust. Instead, online sellers should concentrate less on trickery and focus on ‘assisting customers to achieve their goals’.
Cyber-crime Expert, Misha Glenny
Next was Misha Glenny who, having previously written books on cyber-crime: McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime and Dark Market: How Hackers Became the New Mafia, came to share with us his experiences of working with, and speaking to, the world’s biggest brands and organisations and how they deal with it. Not very well unfortunately. With global stories on hacking, one would think the highest level of management would be savvy, ready even for such an attack on their orgainsation. There is, Misha highlights, a culture of broken communication of not passing concerns up from middle management to board level along with such jaw dropping levels of complacency that stunned him. With nation states dedicating unlimited funds to orgainsations to bring the likes of Sony to their knees, Misha suggests very firmly we should take notice and better still take action to protect ourselves.
The Tech Speakers Assemble
Kate Russell did a brilliant job as host. Her passion and understanding of technology shone through in her being able to move discussions on by asking informed questions around the subject. Kate does this in a lighthearted manner while interjecting with some well-timed moments of humour. Kate finished by inviting all the speakers back on stage to facilitate a discussion on trust and cyber security while taking questions from the audience.
Finishing up and returning downstairs for the excellent food The Brewery is now famed for, speakers, audience members and Speakers Corner staff carried on discussions over drinks making new connections and catching up with existing ones. It was a great night and we are sure it will be no time at all until our next comes around allowing us to build on the exponential success of the Knowledge Guild in conjunction with our valued partner, The Brewery.
Lead picture shows Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner, with Faye Busby who is the Head of Business Development at The Brewery.