When we talk about technology in the UK, London is the name that comes up. But head south towards the Channel, and you will land in a small city called Brighton.
What most people don't know about Brighton (and its close neighbour Hove) is that it is home to a growing hub of talented technology companies, games development studios and digital agencies.
Being part of this small city, we are lucky to be part of a friendly community of skilled individuals who are willing to help and share with those around them.
One of the best outcomes of this hub surely is the Brighton Digital Festival, a month of events and celebrations of all things digital, from industry trends to artistic experiments.
The festival, now in its third year, is organised by a group of passionate volunteers in the digital and arts sectors and coordinated by Wired Sussex, a local network of companies and freelancers around Brighton.
It is funded both publicly and privately, from individuals putting on events, corporations (including American Express and Rap Interiors) to the Arts Council England and Brighton & Hove City Council. This year, more than 40.000 visitors are expected to take part in the festival.
Throughout September, the Digital Festival will host well over 100 events to celebrate digital culture. Most are free, but many are internationally-renowned conferences, with price tags attached and limited availability. Here are some events worth checking out:
- dConstruct 2013: dConstruct is the festival's most popular conference. What started as a meet-up for technologists has evolved to include broader subjects like design, culture and society.
- SheSays Brighton: The SheSays Network defines itself as a global creative network for women. During the Brighton Digital Festival, the local community will host a special event with talks from a member of the BBC, a marketing executive from McDonald's and a senior UX designer from local design agency Clearleft.
- Reasons to be Creative: Reasons to be Creative is "a conference for designers, coders, and anyone with a creative mind." The event brings together the best in art, design, code, and inspiration. This year's edition features inspiring talks from designers from Google, award-winning developers and the founder of design site Abduzeedo.
- Improving Reality: A digital culture conference about how artists, technologists and writers are disrupting our notion of reality. Organised by Lighthouse, this event features talks from Keller Easterling, artist and biologist Daisy Ginsberg, gonzo futurist Justin Pickard, and more.
- Brighton Mini Maker Faire: The Brighton Mini Maker Faire is the biggest Maker Faire in the South of England. Last year, it was one of the Festival's most popular events. It's a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, with exhibitor highlights including a giant knitting robot, laser printed trains, a 3D body scanner, and a social media powered photo booth. This year's event also includes a conference involving debates with high profile artists, inspiring startup founders and amazing makers.
- Open Studios: Throughout the last week of September (23 to 27 September), local Brightonian companies such as Crunch Accounting will open their doors to the public, offering a unique behind the scenes glimpse with interactive activities and seminars. These events are ideal for students looking to gain insight, graduates looking for a career and creatives and freelancers looking to develop their knowledge and contacts.
From bits of fun to learning new skills and gaining some insider knowledge on up and coming trends, there is no reason not to come to Brighton this September if you have an interest in technology and digital creations.
Thibault Lemaitre has lived in Brighton long enough to call it home and works for Realmac Software, a small independent company that prides itself on the apps it builds.