Behind the Scenes at ThinkNation 2016

On December 3, ThinkNation hosted The BIG One; an event where young people, creatives and thought leaders shared their opinions in a series of impressive talks. One returning young speaker was Dani Osoba, whose talk on the representation of women in technology was impressive and insightful. 

Here is Dani’s exclusive behind the scenes perspective of ThinkNation 2016…

I must admit; on my way to the Gulbenkian on Saturday 3rd of December, I was excited. And for good reason too – Think Nation is an exciting event as I found from when I went and spoke last year. When young people from different backgrounds gather together and are allowed to share their views on things that’ll impact our future, it’s pretty powerful.

The opening hour, from 9 to 10 was filled with meeting, greeting and Lizzie Hodgson – the creator and director of Think Nation – running round, creating as near to perfection as was manageable. Before long, the room was buzzing with anticipation as the auditorium filled with people of all ages, the questions posed on the event website even attracting families involved and interested in tech and science.

After an awe inspiring opening performance from Mark Murphy, where he showed how he went from an initial idea in his shed to an Olympic or commonwealth stage, our ever energetic returning host Rick Edwards introduced the event and the talk topic of the 5 different sessions.

What followed was just over 5 hours of interesting discussion, debate and opinion of not only futurists and scientists (like Liz Parish and Dr Alan Penny) but also a comedic poet (Dan Simpson), police officer (Superintendent Mat Newton) and even an ex-hacker (Jake Davis). What was interesting was that there were just as many young people speaking on these interesting topics, sometimes with an equal show of knowledge on the subject as some of the professionals. From Hollie-Mai’s speculative talk on extra-terrestrial life to Poet vs MCs vs Comics showing a range of emotion on the PC drone and surveillance through social media, to Billie Sequeria’s factual talk on the future of robotics.

The question times after the talks, where speakers would sit and answer questions from the audience and from the Think Nation pages on social media, was also highly intelligent, both from the audience and the speakers on stage.

What I especially loved was that even during the breaks and at lunch, the conversations continued. People were avidly discussing the topics, putting their own views forward and sharing opinions. I think that part of Think Nation’s original purpose was to inspire such thought about the world that we live in and the world that we will live in, especially from young people.

All in all, I think the event was a huge success, and at the end of the day people went home with a sense of speculation, and in some subject matters resolve. For me, it was exciting that there were like minded young people ready to answer big questions on tech, and I hope that Think Nation events continue to ask questions that aren’t often asked.

Written by Dani Osoba

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