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Tag Archives | digital

Digital Skills Day

Bath Digital Festival hosted an incredible Digital Skills Day to help promote the variety of digital career choices on offer in Bath. Although not known for its techy achievements, Bath has a wide range of opportunities for students interested in a career in digital and those in work seeking to move forward in such a fast-paced and ever-expanding sector.

Without a doubt, the future will be a digital one – with the digital sector rapidly growing and digital communication skills becoming an essential tool in all industries. With youth unemployment figures showing scarily high numbers, it makes sense that digital is the way forward. The youth of today have grown up with technology – from tweaking their Myspace layouts, to engaging with developers for new game mods – and so many have digital skills without realising.

Of course, saying you have ‘digital communication skills’ might sound interesting on your CV, but what is it? Digital communication skills can range from front-end development to data analysing, search engine optimisation to marketing – the list is seemingly endless. You don’t need to be a coder to work with digital, you just need to know what your skills are, and how you can apply them in a work environment.

Bath is thriving with digital opportunities. It’s home to leading digital business The Agency, and has its own creative Co-working Hub in The Guild as well as tech recruiters Ad-Lib. If you’re worried about dipping your toes in the water, you can find a whole host of digital apprenticeships across the south west, as well as plenty of internships and work placements available. These can be really rewarding experiences, as you gain skills on the job and more often than not, you get paid! Internships and apprenticeships are a good way to have your foot in the door, and successful applicants often leave with a full-time job by the end of duration.

Naturally, the lunch break couldn’t be without its own digital flair, and a speed-dating style event was offered instead. Designers and developers from blubolt, The Agency and Storm were on hand to talk about the realities of their jobs. Roles included project managers, account executives, creative directors and a whole range of developers, all of which covered a wide range of the jobs available in the digital sector.

As well as informing on the scope of jobs available, the Digital Skills day also helped attendees perfect their portfolios and gave advice on how to stand out at interviews for all the right reasons. The tech team from ADLIB came and explained why working in a digital agency is great, and what the future might hold for various career paths. Industry leaders gave inspirational talks on how they ‘made it’ and how they ended up working and achieving in digital. Offering advice on how to enter the industry and areas they expect to explode with opportunity, the Career Path Panel were considered invaluable to many attending and made a fantastic addition to an already remarkable Digital Skills Day.

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Digital for Bad day

The 2014 Bath Digital Festival carried the theme of Good vs Evil. With ‘good’ days highlighting how to improve your digital skills, and celebrating the best in tech in the west with the SPARKies Awards, Halloween became host to the festival’s ‘bad’ day – a day informing and educating on how to keep your websites safe from brute-force attacks, as well as industry experts coming in to talk about cyber security. 

Oli Ward, from The Agency, started off the session by discussing security measures for WordPress – one of the most popular website platforms used today. With over eight years of experience working on website development, Ward was knowledgeable and had plenty of fun facts to lighten the somewhat serious talk. For example, he told the crowd how over 95% of websites who had complained of brute-force attacks – all had ‘admin’ as their WordPress login. If you want to keep hackers out of your website, having a less obvious login is a good place to start. Ward’s biggest tip for security is ensuring your have some WordPress-approved security plugins. These can monitor and block brute-force attacks, as well as scan any additional scripts for malware or broken files. His last tip for maximum security is to audit and review code as often as possible. If your plugin has a new security announcement, check it out and make sure you’re not at risk. Keeping up to date with security enhancements are always going to benefit your site and keep you safe from the latest attacker.

After a hugely successful talk at last year’s festival, Professor James Davenport from University of Bath returned to talk about cryptography and it’s role in everyday life. Arguably, the most well known cryptography system is the Enigma machine – which was cracked during World War II by cryptanalyst Alan Turing. These days, cryptography systems are virtually impossible to break. This is good news for anyone using the internet as electronic security is becoming increasingly important. Cryptography is used to protect credit card information, email messages and even corporate data. Confidentiality is created by encrypting messages to be transmitted or data files to be stored using an encryption algorithm such the Triple Data Encryption Algorithm, which applies the Data Encryption Standard (also known as DES) cipher algorithm three times to each data bloc.

When sending such personal information online, as well as security, you need privacy. Dr Steven Murdoch from University College London come to explain the need for anonymous communications. Dr Murdoch explained that he was a part of a user privacy project – Tor project – which is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. Tor is used by a whole range of people, from military personnel to bloggers, whistleblowers and activists to ordinary people. It can be used to source military intelligence, to maintain civil liberties for activist groups, and for socially sensitive communications – such as forums for rape victims, or people with illnesses. However, like most anonymous platforms, Dr Murdoch explained how Tor was also subject to user abuse. People take the anonymity and use it as an excuse to send threats and abuse to strangers on the internet. The most recent cases being the twitter trolls who abused MP Stella Creasy and sent rape threats, which resulted in their arrest.

The Digital for Bad day gave a great insight to the ever-changing internet, and how digital can affect so much more than meets the eye. Technology is a powerful tool, but as the day showed – it all depends on who’s hands it falls into.

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Digital after death

If you’re an organised adult with a fair amount of assets you’ll most likely have thought about, or even put into action, a plan for after your death. Whether that’s creating a will, putting yourself on the donor list or talking to your loved ones about your wishes post mortem. Not many people think about what should happen to their digital assets after they die.

PayPal, Betfred, Ebay and Etsy are all companies that deal in monetary transfers. Once an account holder dies the bereaved family members can often have a difficult time shutting down loved one’s online accounts and gaining access to their digital assets. Andrea Pierce who handles digital assets in estate administration for Kings Court Trust says that a lot of companies, such as Facebook, ‘won’t give executors access to accounts as it’s a breach of privacy and they’re very strict about personal data’.

So what are our options regarding death and digital assets? Some social media accounts such as LinkedIn and Twitter have procedures in place to shut down an account on behalf of someone else but they also have requirements needed beforehand such as a death certificate. Gmail have a relatively good service in place called ‘Inactive Account Manager’; if you don’t use your account for a certain amount of time your designated person will be notified and given access to delete the account and shut down subscriptions. However these are only a few of the many companies that people have online accounts with, and the majority are wholly unprepared when it comes to estate legislation.

As well as social media there are thousands of unused blogs and untouched domain names left abandoned in the dusty corners of the internet. People make arrangements for their businesses and liquid assets for after they die, so why leave a successful website to sputter into anonymity? There are cases where family or friends take over their loved one’s websites or blogs, such as Eva Markvoort, whose family continue to update her website 65 Red Roses and dedicate it to raising awareness of Cystic Fibrosis as she did. There is also the question of platform life expectancy; if a blogging platform gets shut down, what happens to blogs when their creators aren’t capable of moving their work over to a new platform?

Due to the lack of planning procedure with most social media companies, there are some sites and applications that have been created specifically for people who want to plan ahead. Dead Social is a service that allows you to set up messages, emails and statuses for after your death – think PS I Love You in the digital age. There’s also Planned Departure – a digital will website that holds all of your passwords and usernames that on notification of your death will pass all the information on to a designated benefactor.

Regardless of the few companies that help a well organised individual plan ahead, the difficulties that the bereaved face are still numerous. The problem is a lack of consistency in legal procedures and this can be solved with proper legislation and a wider awareness. If the government worked on breaking down the barriers between big companies and individuals, and started treating digital assets the same as physical ones the future of our digital lives after death would be a lot easier.

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Ignite the Good – Lightning Talks

The events at the Bath Digital Festival varied from educational lectures and seminars to more social occasions such as competitions and awards shows. However there was one evening that combined the two; Digital for Good: Ignite was an original talk event that hosted twelve different speakers, all given a five minute limitation to their presentations that helped to ignite discussions and inspire the crowd.

Two talks tackled the subject of the future of technology, the first was Stuart Thompson, who came to talk about how Tint – a new social media platform – helped the New York Climate March reach one billion impressions in September, displaying that social media can help produce global change. The second was Chris McKirgin, who questioned the benefits of wearable technology, stating that although leaps in tech have been positive so far with mobile phones becoming personal computers, wearable tech poses some risks to society and personal security.

Dave Martin gave a stylish and passionate talk on the history of political clothing, citing examples of wearable agendas as far back as 1930. He marks fashion designer Vivien Westwood as one of the pioneers of mainstreaming social signpost T-shirts from her designs in the 1970s. His company Call of the Brave have followed on from these examples; continuing the tradition of ‘wearing the change you want to see in the world’, they have a range of t-shirts available or, alternatively, you can design your own and know that they use the proceeds to help people in need.

Another person attempting to support people in need was Chris Bennett who, after highlighting some shocking statistics on the UK’s exercise habits, provided us with an alternative; bringing together community projects with exercise. Good Gym’s combine giving something back, such as garden projects or befriending an older person in your neighbourhood with keeping fit.

Open Data is information that is available for anyone to use, for any purpose, at no cost. It isn’t utilized as well as it should be, in fact it’s rather unknown to most but when connected with other sources it can be a very handy commodity. Leigh Dodds from the Open Data Initiative explained that Open Data is not your personal data such as your phone number and online accounts but information on schools, businesses and the community. The Bath Hacked event took part in raising awareness of the value of Open Data creating easy to use websites and apps that provide Bath’s community with information they might need. An additional advocate for open data was Andrew Nesbitt whose website 24 Pull Requests has grown from 843 contributing members to 1576 in one year. 24 Pull Requests is an open source community project that was started to encourage developers to contribute software that they’ve used, promoting sharing and open data amongst thousands of people.

The local government budget issues were raised as a revolutionary talk was given by Dan Hilton about the need for change in local government. To keep up with the fast adapting digital procedure of the public sector the local government needs to make the total change to digital, but it doesn’t have the funds to hire new people, underlining the need for new training schemes. In a separate talk Nick Davies revealed that some of the local government budget problems have been solved by involving large companies. He revealed the good in big businesses through the use of Neighbourly Ltd, who connect community projects with companies such as Marks and Spencer, Starbucks and Mazars that want to help make a difference.

If you asked anyone out of Bath about the city they would most likely mention the history, the shopping and the restaurants, but there’s a lot more to this city than tourism. Bristol and Bath have the highest concentration of technological businesses outside of London and Craneworks are planning to expand that. Rhodri Samuel inspired the crown with a plan to build a new technological community in Bath; providing skills and jobs for young people. Proposing to take over the old Stothert and Pitt warehouse on Lower Bristol Road, Craneworks is to be a high tech digital media space.

Danielle Emma Vass from Teach Programming revealed the gender inequality in the computing business. She highlighted some shocking facts such as at Plymouth University there are more people named Michael on the computing course than there are girls, that 75 percent of art students in the UK are female whereas they only take up seven percent of computing students and that by 2015 there will be 900,000 unfilled jobs in technology in Europe. Teach Programming targets primary and secondary students and makes technology more accessible through art. They aim to find out why these inequalities exist and to bridge the gap between art and science. Another push for a more accessible science program in the English education came from Sarah Snell Pym who applies Cuddly Science to help promote science and technology to primary school students using hand-knitted puppets of famous scientists.

Are you aware of how much information you give away online? Even unintentionally? Lia Emmanuel from Bath University gave a disturbing talk on the SuperIdentity Project; a program that works in a similar way to criminal profiling, taking just your username it can predict hundreds of facts about you. Location, employer, personality and age are all factors that can be deciphered from your online presence.  The project helps raise awareness of identity management as well as helping to close the divide between the digital world and the real one.

The evening brought together some fantastic people and revealed issues to be aware of and causes to take part in from the future of local government to the pros and cons of new technology as well as some uplifting facts about local projects such as Neighbourly and GoodGym. The event highlighted the sheer extent of technological business in Bath as well as igniting conversation, inspiration and community spirit.

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