Dyslexia Superpower: Conferences and the success of the iPod (47/52)

Following on from last week’s Dyslexia Superpower: Reflection, projection and the success of the iPad blog, I wanted to consider complexity and how we can access information in a world overflowing with information.

So, let’s start with the iPod. More specifically, what became known as the iPod Classic (2001-14). I am part of a generation that expected to be able to access music on the move. It was the Sony Walkman cassette player (1979-2010), which achieved this for the masses and remained in production for 3 decades! It was simply a small cassette player with batteries and headphones – but it was also so much more! However, for this blog it was merely a stepping stone to the iPod – a truly mass music mobile device. But, what enabled the iPod to emerge and replace the Walkman in its entirety?

The storage capacity for digital hard drives and rechargeable battery life were both increasing rapidly and together these laid the foundations but did not provide the solution. It was the scroll wheel, and then the click wheel, which made accessing “1,000 songs in your pocket” a reality. A simple interface to masses of content – literally access to 1,000s of songs at the spin of a wheel. In other words, simplicity in a world of complexity. Interestingly, Steve Jobs, the driving force behind Apple during this period, is thought to have been dyslexic – although this hasn’t been conclusively confirmed.

It seems that accessing new information in the digital age couldn’t be easier – just type your query into Google! But one very ‘old school’ way of doing this still seems to survive – if not prosper … conferences!

I attended two conferences this week:

  1. Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) Annual Conference in Birmingham at which I delivered a ‘Using digital technologies to support business engagement’ workshop – the output of which I expressed as a blog, ‘Eight steps to digital heaven for Business Schools?‘ The conference had a professional focus with keynote speakers informing delegates on best practice and current events relevant to the Higher Education sector – such as ‘The role of business schools in enhancing the UK’s productivity, innovation and competitiveness‘.
  2. Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Annual Conference in Belfast at which I was a panel member on the 40th Anniversary Plenary Session. The conference had an academic focus with researchers and practitioners presenting their research, which was selected through a peer-review process of conference papers.
ISBE 2017 40th Anniversary Plenary Session

What struck me about the conferences was not the quality of the content, in both cases this was high, but rather the social interaction – what we could call social networking. The discussions between the presentations, often over refreshments, enable new and old members to interact, quality to be mediated, friendships to be renewed and, of course, job opportunities to be exchanged in whispers!

The ISBE conference also provided a platform to launch a new textbook! Exploring Entrepreneurship 2nd Edition co-authored with Prof Richard Blundel and Prof Catherine Wang and published by SAGE Publications.

Exploring Entrepreneurship Book Launch

All this serves to highlight the need to blend the digital with the physical. Perhaps it has never been more important to understand complexity. Fortunately, the repositioning of dyslexia from a learning difficulty, through a learning difference to a learning advantage or superpower is very timely and will help to unlock the full potential of 1/10th of the population.

Nigel LockettThe Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support