Monday, 29 July 2013

Digital Shoreditch and the great tech swizzle

I'm beginning to think it's something about Digital. Perhaps the nature of an emerging industry, or the monopoly of skill currently held by the few. But that doesn't make it right.

Im talking about the way companies think its fair game to ask tech professionals (or graduates) for their 'game-changing' digital concepts, without fair acknowledgement.

The first time this happened I was at an interview for a start-up website, which helped people locate a restaurant which catered for dietary requirements. Ethical company, you might think. But when they asked me to sit down for half an hour and "think of as many good ideas as I could" for the website, my heart sank.

Eventually I was told I didnt get the job because "I wasn't close enough to the cause" (don't get me started on the ethics of not hiring someone because they aren't a vegetarian) but I later noticed some of my ideas appearing around the site. 

Perhaps that's just the nature of the recruitment process, especially in digital where 'ideas' are key and it's assumed anyone can come up with them. But I'd be highly surprised if a designer was asked to design a poster in an interview and that poster was then used in a campaign without thier permission...

Anyway, on to Digital Shoreditch.

It was my first year there this year and I did enjoy the event overall. We went to the 'make and do' session as it was the only one which wouldn't mean a day off work. At the beginning, after the (amazing) selection of pastries and coffee had been consumed  various companies asked for our thoughts/ideas/help on the digital problems they were having and then we would think about solutions throughout the day, whilst going to workshops and presenations etc.

Fair play to the companies - this is exactly the right sort of event for asking that question. A lot of curious, innovative digital minds are bound to come up with something. True enough there was collaboration, coding, brainstorming, the works. It was great. Some organisations were more structured than others in how they wanted the ideas presented at the end and the household name TV company that I had opted to helpjust requested I dropped them an email.

So I did my thing, came up with a pretty decent strategy, wrote it up as a powerpoint presentation and emailed it to them that day. Then nothing. This is the last I heard from them:

And that was ok...except that they didn't.

I know that we were all there out of personal interest and a willingness to help, I get that, and I'm not expecting payment or anything. But I did hope for at least an acknowledgement of the trouble I'd gone to, and if they do use any of the ideas I'd quite like to be involved.

Is that too much to ask? With the world becoming seemingly more social and collaborative, I felt like this was an opportunity, but instead I'm left feeling a little cheated by the whole experience. Is this justified, or should I have just kept my ideas to myself and attended one of the weekday sessions instead? Thoughts are welcome...

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