Something Digital: The Importance of Offline Living in an Online World

Erin Payne

Nov 04 . 3 min

In October, we attended Something Digital with our sister agency, Agora. The annual conference is all about digital and how it is integrated into our lives, but this year had a distinct thread that many speakers touched on – the divide between real and digital.

The year of 2020 saw the world change in so many ways and the importance of digital was never more so than when people were stuck at home with only their cats, dogs, and other furry friends for company (the cats hated it, the dogs loved it). But this increasing focus on the home meant we had to adapt. While the digital world has lots to offer and it is changing the way we live and work, it also still has some challenges ahead. Throughout my time at Something Digital, this idea kept popping up.

In fact, the opening session saw the first speaker, Tea Uglow from Google Creative Lab, question this balance immediately.

“What is it that makes being in person different to talking to someone digitally?”

Tea was broadcasting live from Sydney and even this small divide had its limitations. She asked us what makes seeing her on a screen, real time, talking to us, different to her standing there at the conference in the “real world”. Was it a missing sense, or something more?

Tea brought it down to our physical relationship with computers, and how we experience digital. She mentioned that UX is focussed almost exclusively on people holding a small piece of plastic and glass, when it should be about how we bring the real world into that digital one, and vice versa.


"The future is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed."

We have the technology, we just need to work on how we present it, which, in the world of SEO, CRO, and UX, is something we are pushing towards all the time. With COVID-19, many businesses that were solely offline came into the digital space. Finding new, creative ways to make the user experience as real as possible was essential.

One of the things we rely on to do this is data. Data that another speaker, Angela Bassa from iRobot, said can also affect our ability to bridge that digital divide.

“Data are the bones left under debris, sediment, under layers and layers of assumptions and intent.”

According to Angela, data tells us how the system that collects the data works rather than giving a full picture of all the data available, as it can only collect what you define. Therefore, it is always missing points of information.

So how do we rectify this? By bringing a little of ourselves into it – by being a little skeptical! As a data analyst herself, Angela mentioned that gathering data is important, it just needs to be used in the right way to get the right information from it. This in turn can help us make educated decisions on how to create a digital world that feels more real.

“The pandemic dislocated community.”

Now how can we make that data work for us and implement it into our SEO, CRO, and UX work? This is where we have to think about our audiences. Jen Wong from Reddit spoke about how communities became more important in 2020.

But it also brought us together – online. And this sense of community is what is seeing the online and offline world collide and why creating an online world people want to be in is so important.


In the past, SEO and digital marketing in general was all about pleasing search engines but today, more than ever, we need to think about the user. How can we make the user experience more real? How can we deliver the right content, at the right time? How can we help search engines help you? These are questions we ask every day and are part of what makes our field of work so exciting.

As Tea wrapped up:

“It’s an amazing world full of magic, full of doubt, full of accountability and full of potential.”

Something Digital offered lots of great information and learnings but one of the most important things I took away is how to make our digital world fit with our offline world, and how to make the real world more accessible online.

If you need help bridging that gap or just want to learn more about the conference and what we learned, we would love to chat! Gianna from Agora Agency also wrote a great article from the event that you can read right now.

Erin Payne

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