The Telegraph Media Group Academy to host 300 Seconds

We’re delighted to hold our next event at The Telegraph, hosted by the Telegraph Media Group Academy, on 4 June 2015 in London. TMG Academy are committed to supporting and encouraging diversity through events, training, apprenticeships and graduate schemes.

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The event will follow the format you’ve come to know and love:

  • 10-12 new and exciting speakers, talking for 300 seconds each about a personal or professional passion
  • An audience of 80 or so people keen to listen and learn something new
  • Networking and socialising afterwards

Want to speak? Submit your idea now!

Tickets for the London event are available via Eventbrite.

Announcing speakers for Talk UX Manchester

I am extremely excited to announce our lightning talk lineup for the Talk UX event:

  • Sandra Sears will be talking about teaching rapid prototyping and usability testing in schools
  • Jody Osborn will be talking about the psychological reasons some people don’t engage with Twitter
  • Rose Rees Jones will be talking about her work as a user researcher
  • Karen Reilly will teach you how to redesign the user experience of your CV to delight and impress
  • Nicola Dunlop will be discussing whether or not the pursuit of happiness fuel UX design
  • Claire Gowler will be explaining how to cater for gender variance in UI and UX design

We have a final speaker yet to be announced, but submissions for talks are now closed. If you missed out this time, don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of 300 Seconds events planned throughout the year.

London JS Conf – 13th Feb 2014


Unfortunately LondonJSConf has been cancelled. If you’d like to speak at a 300 Seconds event, please check our events page.

Fancy talking tech? Always wanted to try out public speaking, but never had the opportunity? If you’re an inexperienced speaker and have a tech-related passion, rant, or specialist interest, then we invite you to speak at London JS Conf.

We are chuffed to have been asked to run a lightening talks session at this years conference. 8 people will have slots of 5 minutes to talk about any tech or web development related subject.

London JS Conf have also kindly offered free tickets to the full event for anyone who gets a speaking slot.

If you’d like to speak at London JS Conf please send us your talk proposal.

Talk UX – 5th March 2015

Are you passionate about UX? Have you had the same accessibility rant 10 times over? Do you have an urgent need to talk about why the hamburger menu is a terrible idea?

If you’re an inexperienced speaker and have a passion, rant, or specialist interest, then we cordially invite you stand up and be heard at Talk UX in Manchester this coming March.

Each speaker will have 5 minutes to speak about any UX, design or digital related topic. As an added bonus, speakers will also receive a free ticket to the full Talk UX event!

If you’d like to speak at Talk UX please send us your talk proposal.

Speakers for 12 November event at ODI

We’re pleased to announce the speaking line up for Wednesday’s event at the Open Data Institute.

Doors open at 6pm for a 6.30pm sharp start.

Amy Wilson, Five things I learnt from setting up an online community
Mariel Norton, Crossing the line: How our online activities impact our offline behaviour
James Cattell, Turns out to be surprising hard to sex a tortoise

Peter Wells, Open Addresses: Working Together to build National Infrastructure
Liz Pizzuti, Disrupting the art world
Emma Cosh, How to use data visualisation to successfully engage businesses
Janet Hughes, UK GOV Verify: what is it and how does it work?

Lucy Knight, Jargonauts Unite!
Andy Parker, Enhance, Enhance
Magda Faizov, Work and collaborate. How to get the most out of working in a team
Eunice Ball, How can we use digital to create a truly global startup ecosystem?


Holly Nicholls: Technology won’t change democracy, but it’s a good start

Bristolian Holly Nicholls works for digital engagement specialists Delib, where she acts as the bridge between tech and the business. She previously worked in e-learning. She used her 300 seconds to explain how technology can transform our democracy.

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Technology, says Holly, is changing the way that we live, in so many areas of our lives. Some have described the internet age as a second age of enlightenment; instead of printing and distributing leaflets, we’re taking to Google and talking about the issues of the day on forums and social media.

Holly talked about My 2050, a project Delib worked on for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). This aimed to get the public involved and engaged with the issue of climate change, looking at ways they can meet their ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions to 20% of 1990 levels.

Delib took an incredibly complex dataset – the ways carbon can be reduced, and the impacts these would have – and created a tool that enables people to explore the consequences of these actions in a more meaningful, understandable way. This made a highly challenging topic accessible, helping people to get involved in the debate, informing the conversation.

Over 10,000 people got involved in the debate thanks to the My 2050 tool. Because it was easy to use, 2050 could facilitate an informed, ‘energy literate’ discourse. The tool is still being used several years later; the Guardian recently used it as part of their Big Energy Debate series.

But, cautioned Holly, technology alone won’t save democracy. The partnership with DECC worked because they were open to the idea of involving the wider public in complex debate. Holly’s role at Delib is to demonstrate the possibilities of technology in facilitating informed public debate and engagement – because it’s that, she argues, that will ultimately save democracy.

Bonny Colville-Hyde: The UX of comics

Bonny Colville-Hyde is a UX architect and a member of Ladies That UX Bristol. For the last eight years she’s worked to make digital services more effective, efficient and satisfying for users. Bonny has previously worked for eBay, the BBC, Samaritans and Volkswagen. The Scandinavia-obsessed traveller and crafter took the the stage at 300 Seconds to talk about the UX of comics. She blogs at

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The comic Peanuts ran from 1950 to 2000, publishing a whopping 17,897 comic strips. That gave its creator, Charles Schulz the accolade of telling the longest story ever told by a human being. For 50 years, characters like Snoopy and Charlie Brown won hearts and minds all over the globe.

It’s astounding, said Bonny, that one story can generate so much interest internationally, influencing several generations. It was able to do that because comics are such a powerful method of communication. Their power comes from the way that humans respond when words and pictures are combined together.

The ancient Egyptians understood the power of words and pictures, and devised a whole communication method around them over 5,000 years ago. Like Charles Schultz, they used these to tell stories – about life, death, commerce, politics, and all the things that touch us day to day.

Humans are addicted to stories. We use them as tools in our relationships; we communicate our abilities through storytelling. We share anecdotes of our successes. It’s a skill we learn as children, and through stories we learn life lessons and develop our sense of morality and social norms. And we understand how to tell stories from the stories that are told to us.

But while socially we all use stories well, where they aren’t used as effectively, argued Bonny, is in business communication. We use spreadsheets or long, dry reports. If you want to engage people, you need to give them something that they’ll really enjoy. And that’s why Bonny uses comics to tell stories and influence stakeholders.


Jake Hobbs: Audience Engagement in Competitive Digital Environments – A creative SME perspective

Jake Hobbs is an interactive developer at award-winning animation, illustration and digital studio Wonky Films, where he develops websites, games and apps. He recently finished a doctoral programme where his research focused on audience engagement and the monetisation of creative work in digital environments. For his 300 seconds, he drew on this doctoral project, specifically the problems with engagement in digital environments , and what that means for creative producers seeking to deliver original content.

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Jake opened with Anderson’s Long Tail vision of digital content as an infinite shop shelf allowing audiences to consume a greater diversity of content, from popular hits to the very niche.

But, he said, research has shown the opposite to be true – independent producers at the end of the ‘long tail’ lose audience share, while the reach of popular hits is amplified by the internet. This is due to the social aspect of consumption in digital environments, which means we consume based on the recommendation of others. So infinite choice can limit rather than expand the range of what we consume.

Jake talked about what he defined in his research as light and deep engagement. Light engagement refers to content which is quick and easy to consume. This type of content is also easier to produce, which means it can be published more frequently. He gave the example of Buzzfeed listicles, which a wide range of people can easily understand and relate to, and which – because they are curated rather created – are also easy to produce.

Deep engagement, he explained, takes more audience effort, takes longer to consume, and requires greater active participation from the consumer. Deep engagement content is also more complex and resource-intensive to produce. Independent films are an example of this; they appeal to a niche audience, and require more effort to decipher narrative and characterisation, and can’t be produced very often.

But, Jake added, the instantaneous nature of digital environments means frequency is key to developing engagement. This means it’s difficult for ‘deep engagement’ producers to build and retain audiences – and therefore to turn that engagement into profit.

Light engagement producers have taken a lead because they can produce this far more frequently. A swathe of Buzzfeed-like sites have sprung up; by curating rather than creating content they can develop reputations and relationships of trust, developing audiences more efficiently.

Such sites, Jake commented, often surface deep engagement content, and can be attractive to the original producers as they offer exposure. But this is of limited value, as the benefits – eg advertising revenue – remain with the curator site rather than being passed on to the original creator.

Unable to maintain reputation, producers of deep engagement need to re-engage audiences every time. This has created the perception that greater value can be gained from curating rather than creating content. This is compounded by consumers’ unwillingness to pay, because there are so many free sources of content.

This, Jake warned, risks entering a vicious cycle – of drawn-out production, and an inability to return revenue to original producers – which makes the production of deep engagement content undesirable.

This could mean creative talent at the disposal of the UK’s culture and economy risks seeing their creative and innovative ideas unfulfilled, limiting future growth.

Photo credit: David Pearson

Rachel Arkle: Appi-ness – can technology make me happy?

Rachel Arkle is a consultant and researcher on wellbeing. Her mission is to share her wellbeing formula to those around her via the MyWellbeingFix project. Our first speaker at our very first Bristol event, she asked how technology can improve happiness. Read more on her blog.

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Rachel spoke from three perspectives – as a consultant, a researcher, and (in her words) as ‘human crash test dummy’, having survived a nasty bicycle crash.

Happiness, she explained, has two aspects – hedonic (instant pleasure) and eudaemonic (the underlying feeling that we have value). So happiness is often summarised as wellbeing, which in turn has seven key elements.

Rachel then looked at each of these seven in turn, asking if technology has a positive or negative impact on that element of wellbeing.

  1. Physical health: researchers at the Institute of Galway found that apps such as MapMyRun make us walk more. However, a larger study in the US found that sites such as MyPlate encourage more negative behaviours, particularly among the vulnerable
  2. Mental and emotional health: Rachel talked about apps that encourage healthy behaviours such as meditation, which she does regularly to help her deal with the after-effects of her crash
  3. Relationships: Technology is no match for real physical contact, which helps us produce ‘happy hormone’ oxytocin
  4. Networks and community: Technology has a great positive impact here. Rachel talked about how the supportive comments she got on Facebook after her accident made her happy. Our online networks open up opportunities for happiness, too; she gave the example of LinkedIn, which helps us to find the jobs that make us happy
  5. Action: Can technology make us more or less able to do the things we want to in our lives? Rachel gave an emphatic yes, giving the example of project management tools that help us to get things done
  6. Financial health: 82% of us use applications such as Lloyds Money Manager help us to get a grip on our personal finances, which helps us to feel more stable
  7. Meaning and purpose: Technology is a big distraction, preventing us from hearing our inner voice

Taken as a whole, Rachel summarised, wellbeing is positively impacted by technology. But to close, she asked the audience to close their eyes and think of the last time they were happy. Then put their hand up if it had anything to do with technology. Just two people put their hands up. It takes more than technology to make us happy.

Picture credit: David Pearson

Ringo Moss: Behavioural economics

Ringo Moss is a digital strategist at Positive Bristol. He has ten years experience in digital experience design and digital content for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Disney, the BBC, Harper’s Bazaar and Telefonica. He loves hip-hop, cycling and good UX. He joined us at our Bristol event to talk about Behavioural Economics, and fun ways to influence users.

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Behavioural economics is the art and science of predicting the irrational in humans – using the irrational senses of humans to make them do what you want. Ringo talked through five examples of this is action.

We can make people do things by making them free. Studies show that changing the price to zero has a hug impact on consumer behaviour – even if given the choice of a better deal. Marketeers regularly take advantage of “the power of free”, offering Buy One Get One Free deals (rather than the less catchy “buy two and get a 50% discount).

Decoy options are regularly used in online checkouts, where poor deals are offered in order to make the preferred one look more attractive. Ringo told how, in a bid to boost sales of combined online and print subscription deals, the Economist introduced a poorer-value print only deal which made the combo package appear comparatively cheaper.

Irrational pricing is the way that pricing affects our perception of quality. This can be shown in taste tests on wine, in which people generally say the most expensive bottle is the best (even if the wine itself is identical). Amazingly, this can even have physiological effects – a study comparing prozac to a placebo found people felt less relaxed if they believed the drug to be cheaper than if it was more expensive.

Decision paralysis is the problems caused by two much choice. Standard economic theory suggests that more choice equals more sales, because it meets a broader set of customer demands. But comparing two stalls at a farmers market, the stall with just six choices of jam outsold that which offered 24, because the greater choice has a much higher cognitive load.

Attribute priming is the technique of influencing choice by asking the consumer about what they’re about to buy – for example, people buying computers could be nudged to buy one model or another by asking them about particular specs such as hard disk place or RAM.

Read more from Ringo on Twitter.

Photo credit: David Pearson