Dept Festival 2017 - Our Round Up

The hotly-anticipated Dept Festival 2017 has been and gone. It was the first time for many of us in Webfactory to meet our new Dept colleagues from across Europe and the US. They didn't disappoint. We're looking forward to working with all of you in the coming months and years!

Day 1 was a business day of sorts, conducted in the hip surrounds of Thuishaven, Holland. With two speaker tents on the go (a circus big top and a disused aircraft hangar), we had a busy schedule to choose from. On offer were a great variety of speakers, as well as a cohort of Deptsters who acquitted themselves brilliantly on the stage.

So what did we take away from it all, other than that the Dutch lived up to their reputation for being fiercely organised and knowing how to throw a party?

Use what's around you

One theme identified early on was to use what's around you. From the depths of the jungle Topher White dropped in to tell us about Dept's favourite NGO - Rainforest Connection. Topher explained how he designs, builds and deploys simple devices made from discarded cell phones and solar panels in the tree tops of the rainforest in Sumatra. These devices detect and send alerts when they pick up the sound of chainsaws in protected rainforests, allowing for real-time intervention. It's a fascinating story about indigenous peoples, environment, and scalable tech coming together to help protect rainforests.

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The Dept talent pool

In the packed hangar SEO Jason Van Alphen from Expand Online urged us to start talking to machines. He brought the implications of the growth in voice search to life on stage.

Mustafa Himdi & Job Deibel, again of Expand Online, knocked the ball out of the park with a talk aimed at stopping buzzwords in their tracks. A humorous plea to be more meaningful and avoid the low hanging fruit.

Designer Nicole Grentzer from Trust Agents explored AI's potential role in art and creativity. She concluded that Artificial Intelligence will be used to provide inspiration, and provoke ideas, rather than make the role of designer redundant.

Lucas Nutbey from TamTam tapped into a problem many of us have - our addiction to screens. He spoke about how he is almost never without some type of device, quite the familiar concept for an audience of people working in digital.

UX Designer Xjanna Reinders from TamTam gave an interesting perspective on the "what do you do?" question. She proposed that we should all be asking "what don't you do?" instead, as the answer may lead to your new skill or passion. The idea that we can't be narrowed down to one thing definitely left us with some food for thought.

Dept looks at things in new ways

From designer Stefan Sagmeister to master of deadpan artistic abuse, Mr Bingo, Dept revealed a deep appreciation for fresh points of view. Even ageing was given a revolutionary spin by Aubrey de Grey @aubreydegrey. His take on ageing, and how it can be tackled like a disease, was certainly intriguing. The bad news is that it looks like his research will be too late for most of us!

Hungry & Happy

The event was a kaleidoscope of colour and ideas. It left us all at Webfactory hungry and happy, and ready to do more work!

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Sinead Clandillon

Head of Content

The author

Sinead is Webfactory’s content strategist and she also manages the online visibility team, comprising search, analytics and social.

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