The Intersection of Culture and Technology

Technology has had a dramatic impact on culture, most notably improving access to music, art, film and current affairs in a way that no generation has ever experienced before. At the swipe of a screen or the click of a mouse, there is a ubiquitous encyclopedia of knowledge available to all of us. Culture and technology are now inextricably linked and continue to influence one another, allowing consumers to connect people around the world to their seemingly impossible dreams and aspirations, regardless of status, gender or sexual orientation.

DTS got off to a fantastic start on Wednesday, February 15th,  with the highly anticipated address from Matthew Luhn, a story veteran at Pixar. A company arguably responsible for shaping much of our modern culture with the use of cutting-edge technology. It was there that he began to understand “the art of storytelling” and how can be applied to business as an effective marketing tool because “whoever tells the best story can make an audience feel personally  connected to them and ultimately, the brand.” That is perhaps more relevant now than ever before,  due to the increase of video as the favoured platform for consumption in our culture.

Jimmy Chamberlin, Founder and CEO of Blue J Strategies and Grammy Award-winning Musician, founding member and drummer of The Smashing Pumpkins joined Matt on stage along with Donal Scannell, for a lively panel discussion about tech development in the arts. Matt praised the trailblazing innovation at Pixar for “turning the creative process on its head” by allowing the major decisions to be made by the story team rather than movie executives, moreover changing the culture in that industry. During the panel discussion and throughout his keynote speech, Jimmy spoke candidly about the early days of The Smashing Pumpkins. He went into great detail about how the band learned “the business of music” which would continue to “set a precedent for how they work to this day.” Similar to Matthew and Pixar, the creative control was with the artist, meaning they could “retain as much autonomy” as possible.

The panel addressed the topic of commercial success and its effects. Luhn believes that “too much time and money is a curse” with the two men agreeing that the ideal investor knows that “you must trust creative people to do what they do best.” For Chamberlin, the attraction to tech was cultural; he believes that we must “identify what we can monopolise about ourselves and use that as our strength.” Both artists live by the mantra that it is, “the job of the artist is to make people feel something.” Chamberlin believes that creating a fruitful business, is a lot like writing a hit song, in that “Writing the hit song of technology” requires “rhythm, narrative, harmony, culture and above all; a great hook and that is what keeps people coming back for more.”

The way in which we use technology to consume culture has drastically changed in recent years. Today, people are choosing to download or stream everything from the comfort of their home. Technology now gives us the chance to provide better customer service, improve audience engagement and generate innovative ideas.

Gary Vaynerchuk asserted during his session that social media is “the single most important thing in the world” statement that went down very well with his many fans, all of whom hung on his every word, with the same kind of reverence most people, usually reserve for a Rock Star or famous actor.

After his talk, the CEO of VaynerMedia was joined onstage by the Founder & CEO of Inception Business Solutions, Ross Kingsland, Bruce Daisley, EMEA Vice President of Twitter and Kieran Flanagan, VP of Marketing at HubSpot to talk about “harnessing the power of global conversation.”

Social media and its impact on the world, naturally dominated the day’s agenda, with the entire panel agreeing that Twitter, is perhaps the “only pure social network” because it engages us by giving us immediate and unprecedented access to culture. Be it world news, latest celebrity gossip or just a picture of your cat. The panel went on to describe the micro-blogging site as “the water cooler of our society “ to raucous laughter from the enraptured DTS audience. Daisley reiterated to the crowd that the challenge is to make these platforms work for us by taking “practical steps to create your individual voice.” A fact that can be lost in this tech-driven culture, with everyone looking to create the next Uber or Instagram.

The panel ended on a high note with Gary’s eager fans flocking to the stage to get selfies with their idol with almost the same enthusiasm as a pre-teen at a One Direction concert. Perhaps there can be no finer example of the intersection between technology and culture.

In Gary’s words, “we are living in the greatest era, that any human has ever lived in, so let’s be f@&*king grateful.”


By Hannah Rochford