The 99% Conference (web, twitter, tickets) is one of those that I’d wanted to attend for the last two years but never made it either because of schedule conflict or, this year, because it was Sold Out. Organize by the cool people of Behance, it focuses on the 99% of perspiration (and not the 1% of inspiration) required to make things happen (the original quote is from Thomas Edison). They usually gather top-notch speakers who tell original stories about how they transformed their projects from promising ideas into awesome successes.
The 4th edition will take place at the Times Center in New York City on May 3-4, 2012.
If you’re in NYC, planning a trip or work in the creative field, this is a great event to attend both for content and high-level networking. Hope to meet you there 🙂 (no, I haven’t booked my seat yet… still tinkering with my agenda for next year).
The seventh edition of Frontiers of Interaction (web, twitter, Facebook) took place in Florence, Italy, on June 20-21.
I’ve been a regular to Frontiers since 2009 and during 2010 I was its the conference director (had to leave the job in December 2010 because I no longer had the time to run two full conferences in two countries and happening with just a week of time from each other).
This was the first time of the conference in Florence (after successful editions in Milan, Turin and Rome) and it was hosted at the Otel Variete which usually works as a nightclub. The setup benefited from a non traditional venue for this kind of event. The first day was dedicated to multi-track workshops and the second one was for the talks, both with an impressive lineup of speakers from all over the world (highlights: Luke Williams, Amber Case, Zdenek Kalal and Andrei Herasimchuk)
Follows a slideshow of photos I took during Frontiers.
I‘m always [positively] surprised by the variety of interesting conferences taking all over the place, reinforcing my thesis that even though we’re hyper-connected digitally, there are more physical events taking place than ever (and we need them more than ever too).
My latest find through a tweet in my stream is the Buddhist Geeks Conference (web, twitter, facebook) that will take place next July 29-31 in Los Angeles, USA (not a very zen-ish city IMHO… but it might be just a foolish stereotype of mine).
The Conferencebrings together some of the most exciting teachers, leaders and thinkers from the US and beyond as Buddhist Geeks continues its ongoing mission to discover the emerging face of Buddhism. With a vibrant program of presentations, workshops, performance and participant-led elements and its inclusive non-denominational attitude, #bgeeks11 will be the most innovative, energetic and relevant event in the Buddhist world.
This post, like the previous two, highlights the fact that there are plenty of opportunities to create meaningful conferences, that is meaningful to the right audience. It’s just a matter of understanding what is relevant to whom and make it happen with an honest desire of connecting people.
Boring 2010 is the handiwork of James Ward, 29 years old, who works for a DVD distribution and production company. In his other life, as the envoy of ennui, Mr. Ward edits a blog called “I Like Boring Things.” He is also co-founder of the Stationery Club, whose 45 members meet occasionally to discuss pens, paper clips and Post-it Notes.
Boring 2010 sprang to life when Mr. Ward heard that an event called the Interesting Conference had been canceled, and he sent out a joke tweet about the need to have a Boring Conference instead. He was taken aback when dozens of people responded enthusiastically.
One eagerly awaited talk was about writer Peter Fletcher’s meticulous three-year—and still running—sneeze count. With the help of graphs and charts, Mr. Fletcher disclosed that he had sneezed 2,267 times in the past 1,249 days, thus gaining “a profound understanding of the passing of time.”
“I’ve even sneezed when recording a sneeze,” he said.
To get to the conference, Jo Lee took an hour’s train ride from the seaside town of Brighton. She said it was worth it because her own idea of fun is to take photographs of random marks left on walls and of chewing gum stuck under desks.
“We’re all overstimulated,” said Ms. Lee. “I think it’s important to stop all that for a while and see what several hours of being bored really feels like.”
Continuing with the interesting people I met at Le Web ’10 are Paddy Cosgrave, Daire Hickey and David Kelly, organizers of the Dublin based conference F.ounders. The event brings together about one hundred tech-company founders from the US, Europe and Asia, providing an opportunity for them to “meet and discuss issues” but also to connect with each other in a way that usually does not happen (that is in an intimate and curated space).
The first edition of this by-invitation-only conference took place in October 2010, paired to the Dublin Web Summit in which the Irish trio mentioned above are also involved (and to which most of the F.ounders speakers/attendees had participated too).
In the video Paddy Cosgrave introduces the goal behind F.ounders and insight in how to stimulate better relationships in conferences (hint: it has to do with the size of it).
Who said there are no spaces and ideas for new conferences?
It’s clear that Loic and Geraldine Le Meur have righteously created what’s the “Number 1 Internet Conference in Europe”. If there is one particular characteristic to define Le Web (web, twitter, facebook, youtube) is that it is a huge networking machine, with the 2010 edition attracting around 3,000 attendees from 60 countries (mostly European but with a good dose of Americans and a few Asians and Middle-Easterns).
Le Web is less about what happens on stage–with its ongoing parade of entrepreneurs, managers and web-stars–and more about the networking and deal-making that takes place elsewhere around the venue (this year dislocated in 3 buildings of the Les Docks center).
The 7th edition of This Happened… Utrecht (web, twitter, hashtag: #thutc, videos, photos) took place on October 4 2010 at the Theater Kikker in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The event was organized by Alexander Zeh, Kars Alfrink and Ianus Keller. The Utrecht edition is a satellite of the event founded in 2007 in London by Chris O’Shea, Joel Gethin Lewis and Andreas Müller.
This Happened is made for interaction designers coming from different backgrounds with the goal of defining what interaction design is, not by giving a straightforward answer but by showing the whole field that is out there, showing how did real hands-on projects/products happen(ed).
According to the organizers, at typical events on interaction design, the speakers talk about the end result/product. To make a difference, they work hard to have speakers presenting the dirty details of the “making of” a project and not so much about the final outcome. They try to make the audience aware about the end results before coming to the event so the speakers can concentrate on the process, from initial sketches to the final presult. According to Kars, “it’s kind of a DVD-extra for an interaction design project”.
This happened is a series of events focusing on the stories behind interaction design. Having ideas is easier than making them happen. We delve into projects that exist today, how their concepts and production process can help inform future work”
Interaction design companies are often too closed off to the outside. We want to encourage people to be more open in their methods and ideas. We aim to have a mix of established practitioners, commercial companies and students. We want to encourage the perspectives from the other side of the fence, so will also be inviting curators and commissioners of work to give presentations” (source: thishappened.org).
The format provides each of the four speakers with 10 minutes to present followed by a 10 minute Q&A session with the audience. An interesting tip for conference organizers is that to ensure a good time-keeping, the countdown clock was placed on the stage on a certain way that both the speaker and the audience could see the remaining time (see photo), thus generating social pressure on the presenter to respect his slot. The 10 minute presentations seemed a bit tight, maybe because none of the speakers actually rehearsed enough the delivery of their content in such a time frame.
Alex, Kars and Ianus talk about This Happened, the format, goals and biggest challenge:
I was invited by of one of the organizers and was attracted mainly by the positive word-of-mouth that circulates around the conference, a sort of you-don’t-want-to-miss-this-occasion aura. The experience was very rewarding, with a fresh and enthusiastic feeling and good interaction between those on stage and the rest of the room. The fact that the whole event lasts around two hours and fifteen minutes (with a short intermediate break) makes it a perfect after-work gathering.
On May 5-7 2010 Lift Conference (official hashtag #lift10) took place at the Centre International de Conférences Genève (CICG) in Geneva, Switzerland. Even if there were some ups and downs in the organizational aspects, Lift proved once more that the most relevant factor in a live event are the connections generated between people. As a matter of fact, the tagline for Lift10 was “Connected People” (rephrasing Nokia’s famous claim “connecting people”), emphasizing the human aspect rather than the mere technological one.
Amongst the things that I mostly appreciated at Lift was the big geographical diversity of speakers, whose different provenience was evidenced by the strong inflections of their English accents (tainted with German, Brazilian, South Korean, Swedish, French and Italian).
Frog Design, one of the main partners, carried out an innovative research that aimed to improve future Lift editions by analyzing people’s behavior and proposing a series of action points, some of which were publicly presented at the end of the conference (see below for further details).
This was my first time at a Lift Conference and overall it was a valuable experience. IMHO the program was not well balanced throughout the three days and I found the level and interestingness of the speakers way better in days 2 and 3. Also starting with workshops at the beginning of the day -especially during Day 1- felt kind of awkward, as there was no introductory session by the organizers and for first-comers it was easy to get lost or not sure of what to expect.
As a closing remark, Laurent Haug (blog, twitter) commented that people seem to be more busy than 5 years ago so next year Lift might take place over two days instead of three (I agree that being away for three days during the business week is getting harder, especially when you attend so many events like me).
A new and exciting event has been launched in Rome: Brain Forum. “The idea is to create a sort of Davos of the brain (referring to the World Economic Forum of Davos, Ed.) or the Roma del Cervello in Italian” says Viviana Kasam, founder of Brain Forum and Brain Circle Italia, a non-profit organization that aims promote the activities of the Interdisciplinary Center for Neuronal Computation (ICNC), Hebrew University of Jerusalem, by organizing scientific and academic exchanges, meetings, fund-raising and keeping relations with academic institutions, business community and media. The event is organized with the collaboration of the Rome Chamber of Commerce and the marvelous team of Meet The Media Guru, with whom I had the pleasure to work in the past.
Why Brain Forum
Viviana quotes Prof. Idan Segev that claims that “We approach a brain-revolution, probably greater than the industrial and information revolutions. Society must be ready for this as it will change in the most dramatic manner the way we will live in the near future. It is the duty of brain scientists to communicate this revolution to society.”
These topics are not very well known. Until now it was believed that the brain studies and development was practically in a standstill, that there are a certain number of neurons, that progressively die and after that there’s nothing else that can be done. Well, recent discoveries have shown that the brain is rather plastic. It’s true that neurons die irreversibly but new synapses are continuously made, which means new connections. Research, through new technology, is finding ways to increase this capacity as a means to fight brain illnesses.
Brain studies involve a new kind of scientist very similar to the Renaissance scientist, what Prof. Segev calls a Da Vinci Scientist. According to Dr. Kasam “so far scientific research has been very sectorialized but brain-related research is bringing together physiologists, biologists, molecular biologists, neuroscientists, mathematicians, computer experts and other specialists plus new very complex technology so the scope is to hold all of these capacities if not under the same person at least under one roof. All major universities that deal with brain research are building multi-disciplinary centers to allow the interaction between these experts. A virtual community of brain-experts in continuous contact was born, and it’s allowing an exponential advancement in research projects. New technologies like MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Ed.) allow us to explore certain areas of the brain until now completely unknown”.
Confronted with this reality I decided to promote it because it concerns all of us, especially our children