Since leaving university, I’ve become obsessed with learning new things. Alongside books, articles and podcasts, I’ve recently taken to YouTube as a source of new information, even going so far as making monthly donations to one of my favourite educational channels.
YouTube promptly responded to my new interests, feeding me a steady stream of related content: Ted Talks, Kurzegast, Vsauce – even the odd university lecture. After a few weeks however, I started to notice I was seeing less and less of this content. Despite my earnest intentions of using YouTube as a way to learn, I suddenly found myself absorbed in a myriad of other videos (mostly to do with food, which I’ll admit I’m not entirely unhappy about).
This got me thinking. It’s no secret that companies such as YouTube employ algorithms to keep users glued to their screens for as long as possible. Recent works such as Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari and the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma do a great job of shining a light on this. While algorithms can help us focus on the things we enjoy, they can also leave us in our own separate ‘sound bubbles’, with little exposure to content the algorithms deem are not of immediate interest to us.
As a marketer working in the medical device industry, one of the things I enjoy most about my role is helping my colleagues to share their expertise, be it writing an article or speaking at an event. Like all medical-related organisations, our driving ambition is to improve people’s lives through our innovative ideas and designs. Knowledge sharing is an important way we can all contribute towards achieving this goal.
However, with so many of us increasingly relying on social media for the news and content we read, it can be difficult to break through the noise. On top of this, the increasing prevalence of disinformation and un-verified content online has made many of us sceptical of what we see and hear. This is why industry events are still so important.
Being able to challenge our friends in the industry to take on new ideas and improve their ways of working is one of the main reasons we attend so many events each year. While I of course love the fact I have an entire world of online knowledge at my fingertips, there is still something truly special about going to an event filled with like-minded people dedicated to knowledge sharing and helping each other to improve.
Choosing to sign up to an event, be it in person or online, is our way of taking control of what we see and hear. It’s our chance to create our own algorithms, listening to companies and speakers that have been carefully selected and verified by the industry experts behind these events.
In a world where so much of what we see and hear is dictated to us by machines, events offer a truly human experience to share knowledge and learning. As restrictions begin to ease, I look forward to seeing you at an event soon – hopefully we can both learn something new.