Wired Sussex: It is people who make our digital cluster

Phil Jones, managing director of Wired Sussex
Phil Jones, managing director of Wired Sussex

The Brighton Digital Festival brings into view what for most of the time is invisible.

One of the great things about Brighton Digital Festival is that it brings into view what for most of the time is invisible.

Most people in the city are now pretty aware that Brighton hosts one of the most impressive clusters of digital media companies in the country and that it is snapping at the heels of tourism in terms of the amount of value it contributes to the city economy. However, unlike the tourism sector, you can’t actually see it most of the time.

The hundreds of companies and freelancers that comprise our digital success story are scattered all over the city hiding in workspaces big and small. Not only can’t you see them, but also it’s also hard to find out what they actually do.

However, chances are that one of the websites you’ve visited recently, or mobile games you’ve played, or apps you’ve used, has - in whole or in part - originated here.

Brands from Toyota to the British Museum, the BBC to British Airways owe key elements of their online presence to Brighton businesses.

For one month, Brighton Digital Festival brings much of that activity and creative expertise out into open. Firstly it brings it onto the streets. There is a whole host of stuff in the festival that uses the city itself as part of the digital action. There was last week’s fabulous festival opener in New Road, Seb Lee-Delisle’s interactive musical extravaganza Laser Light Synths. Then there is RamJam’s Little Bo Beep game, where spotting QR codes around the city can help the aforementioned shepherd find her digital sheep.

Also well worth mentioning is Joseph Young’s digitally sampled manifesto Revolution #10 which, like any decent revolution, takes it to the streets. There are many, many more too numerous to mention and you can find details of all the outdoor festival events on the Brighton Digital Festival website.

The other way that the festival makes the business of digital visible and discoverable is that it also gives you a chance to visit digital companies in their own workplaces. The Open Studios Week, which runs September 22 to 26, has 26 separate companies opening their doors and demonstrating to people what they do and how they do it.

Those participating include digital marketing wunderkinds Propellernet, museum interactivity experts Cogapp, eye- tracking specialists No Pork Pies, top e-learning business Kineo and TV producers Lambent. It’s a great one-off chance to chat to these companies and get to know a bit more about what makes digital in Brighton so great. Full details of the Open Studios Week and all 26 companies are on the Wired Sussex website.

Behind the bits and bytes, it is people who make our digital cluster, and our city, what it is. Hopefully this year’s digital festival gives you a chance to have fun checking some of them out whilst learning a bit about what they do.

Phil Jones is the managing director of Wired Sussex. For full details of Open Studios,visit: www.wiredsussex. com/openstudios2014.