Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Interviewing the Interviewers: Paul Armstrong

One of the privileges and joys of journalism is meeting and interviewing truly inspirational people.  The new digital age has meant this privilege has now opened up beyond professional journalists, with some of the most thought-provoking interviews now conducted by numerous industry thought leaders in addition to our most respected journalists.

In NDA’s Interviewing the Interviewers series, we caught up with some of the best interviewers in our industry, from journalists to independent content creators, turning the tables to find out what makes them tick.

Paul Armstrong is an author and speaker on the future of technology. He runs consultancy HERE/FORTH and writes for publications including Forbes and Reuters.

and speaker on the future of technology. He runs consultancy HERE/FORTH and writes for publications including Forbes and Reuters.

What is your biggest hope and your biggest fear for the digital industry in 2019?

Biggest hope, Facebook grows a conscience and not just adopts one because it’s forced to.

Biggest fear, we show we’ve learned nothing.

What was your biggest personal industry highlight of 2018?

Creating the TBD Conference. “It’s like TED without the bullshit” the feedback forms said.

We did something really different and managed to push through 26 amazing speakers on one stage. From Uber to MI5, the new Tortoise Media to DAZN or the non-stage elements like nootropics, state-dependent learning, desk zen-gardens, knowledge annual or the bespoke WhatsApp group – TBD was different and the +250 attendees loved it.

We’ll be doing it again in December and have a Meetup at Fora’s newest location in Borough on February 21st with some excellent speakers and surprises. I think that’s enough of a plug…

Who was the most inspirational person you interviewed in 2018 and why?

Without the date it would have been RuPaul but last year it was Katie Marrache from JamJar Investments at The New Normal meetup. She’s honest, forthright and cares about what she does.

She just happens to be amazing at it too. Katie and the team at JamJar have a real nose for brands and quality that people use and want to be associated with.

You can’t ask for more from a person but to pass on their knowledge with passion.

What one technology are you most excited about this year and why?

I am torn between voice and AI, despite both being young they are the most fascinating technologies  and genuinely useful to the future of humanity (in differing ways) — although I suspect brands may ruin the former before the latter.

What was your favourite ad or digital experience of 2018?

I am torn between ‘Ocean of Air’ by Marshmallow LaserFeast (extremely well done/immersive/challenging, as was the recent Waltham Forest installation) and HYPERVSN’s hologram work which continues to impress me. Whether it’s a single unit or the wall – what the company produces never fails to grab attention and drive footfall.

What is the buzzword or phrase you’d like to ban forever?

Buzzword if anything. Perhaps it’s just me but we need to lose the feeling of superiority and never-ending eye-rolls and just take it all for what it is. That was a big lesson for me last year, I’m still terrible at it myself but it’s something to strive for.

If the speaker is bad, that’s a different kettle of fish but let’s not ban words, terms and phrases. All have a place, it’s about proper usage.

Who’s the one industry figure you’d most like to interview you yet haven’t?

Son Masayoshi or Zuck and/or Sandberg.

How could someone persuade you to interview them and what would put you off completely?

I’ll happily talk to anyone about anything but lie to me or over-egg the pudding too much and you’ll set off my bullshitometer and that means a firm walkaway.