Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

The Elephant in the Room at Humanity +

Humanity+ is living up to the mission of raising awareness about the next frontier for information technology:  human biology.  But is the organization ready to take the next step in its own evolution?
This weekend’s Humanity + conference at CalTech was satisfying, especially if you’ve been craving a hefty serving of scientific research combined with imaginative vision, polite debate and open speculation about the future of humanity.
At H+, speakers from a variety of fields share their perspectives with a highly empowered audience that doesn’t hesitate to challenge a point or gently correct an inaccuracy.   During the coffee breaks, the lively dialog continues in the corridor.   So the conference achieves a major goal, which is to stimulate the exchange of ideas and information in a respectful and convivial way.
I gave the opening talk on the subject of Information Transformation, which was Continue Reading

Meetings with Remarkable People: My Conversation with Stef Wertheimer in Tel Aviv

While visiting Israel last week for the Journey Conference, I learned about some inspiring developments in the Middle East.  Israel is rocking!

It was an illuminating experience for me.  In the USA, the mainstream media diet includes a steady supply of sensational stories about the Middle East, featuring suicide bombings, terrorism, rocket attacks and reprisals.
So one might arrive in Tel Aviv expecting fear and chaos.  But the reality is Continue Reading

What’s up at the Humanity+ Summit at Harvard this weekend

I agreed to participate at the Humanity+ summit this weekend at Harvard University despite the fact that it required me to duck out early from my 25th Reunion at Williams College. Why?I am fundamentally convinced that the Humanity+ movement represents the single biggest Continue Reading

CES and Vegas 2010: supersized vulgarity

59243615Carnival culture was on parade this week at CES. We’ve entered the Baroque phase of consumer electronics, wherein utterly unncessary techology is pumped up, supersized and repackaged with gimmicks in a desperate bid to garner consumer interest.

It’s quite appropriate for CES to take place in Las Vegas, the Mecca of vulgarity , vanity and vice. Both the city and the event seem to illustrate the concept of growth for growth’s sake taken to the utmost extreme. For decades, Vegas suburbs have been sprawling ever further into a desert in the name of progress, squandering water and energy on grandiose displays of simulated luxury. More lights! More fountains! More colossal crappy sculptures! Wider hallways! Peppier Muzak! Continue Reading

Something strange afoot at D7: All Things Digital Conference in Carlsbad

Since when have conferences become the arena for gladitorial combat? Back in the day, conference moderators were content to let media moguls bore the audience with canned slogans and marketing points. But not today.

Something strange was afoot today at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad CA. A weird undercurrent of hostility oozed through the proceedings at the Dow Jones confab. Continue Reading

Vectors of Change in Television and New Media — video of speech from 5D

In October 2008, I was invited to give a talk at the 5D conference in Long Beach, CA.    Here’s the clip.

I had a great time at 5D.   I met terrific people, including brilliant speakers, visionary designers, committed event organizers and the director of the excellent contemporary art museum.   I learned a great deal, and saw some brilliant examples of the future of TV.   I’d recommend 5D to anyone who is interested in the future of mass media and digital media.  Check the conference out at :

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Innovation in television? Look to the Web.

Check out this useful comment by Mike Hale in today’s NYT heralding the arrival of original video series on the Web.  For too long, broadcasters have regarded the Web as a dumping ground for uninspired promotional content and lame marketing gimmicks for the regular broadcast schedule.  Recently, however, some TV networks are starting to take the Web seriously as a vehicle for rapid, low cost innovation.

The NY TImes piece highlights the distinction between genuinely new programming concepts and old-school marketing masquerading as original content.   Hale also skewers the dubious quality and relentless product placement as obvious defects in some new programs.  But video is expensive to produce, and after all, somebody has to pay the bills.

Such mainstream TV efforts face stiff competition from web pure plays, who are not beholden to corporate policies and are thereby able to innovate more freely.  I’m still betting on the shock value of sites like to capture viewers with a fresh voice unencumbered with an old school broadcaster’s agenda.

This is a useful meme and one that will certainly be explored in more detail at the 5D conference in Long Beach in early October.

Collaborative Creativity now on Australian TV

My speech at the Cross Media Lab in Melbourne was broadcast last week on ABC 2 in Australia.    The theme of this speech was “Collaborative Creativity”, which refers particularly to my passion for including the audience in the process of creating entertainment.    This is harder than it sounds.  I selected three examples from my personal experience in TV, web and mobile to illustrate some of the principals of collaboration via two-way networks.  Not all of these were successful! Continue Reading

Highlights from XML Melbourne presentations

X Media Lab presented a collection of insightful speakers from around the world.   My brain was nearly overloaded by the end of the first day.

Below is a summary of some highlights.  I did not manage to take notes on all of the speeches, however.   For comprehensive reporting on XML, check out LagrangePoint where Brad Howarth diligently live-blogged the entire conference.

  • Stewart Butterfield‘s presentation included a bunch of Flickr photos from people in the audience at Obama’s speech at the Siegesaule in Berlin.  In every photo, you could see dozens of hands waving tiny digital cameras and camcorders.  His point:  everybody has a digital camera now, and when these cameras are connected to sites like Flickr, they serve as “the eyes of the world.”   It’s a freaky cool idea.   The internet has transformed into a global nervous system and now digital cameras and cameraphones have sprouted like billions of digital eyes.   And so the Web can see! Continue Reading

About the X Media Lab in Melbourne

Wow, what a weekend.  I am seriously jet-lagged.    Just returned from X-Media Lab, which is an intensive three-day workshop held periodically in different cities throughout Asia:  Dubai, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Mumbai.   Last weekend XML took place in Melbourne, Australia.

How XML works:  ten individuals with experience in digital media arrive from all corners of the globe.  16 companies are chosen for the workshop from a competitive field.   On the first day, the experts present their vision and background as it pertains to the subject matter of the lab.  (Our topic was “DIY Media”).   During the next two days, each of the 16 companies has the opportunity to review their project in one-on-one sessions with the experts.   The result is a combination of brainstorming, pitching, debate, challenge, refinement and collaborative creativity.   Very fun.  It’s unlike any other conference.

The XML workshop is the brainchild of Australian impressario Brendan Harkin.   He and his tireless partner Megan Elliott make the whole thing work:  coordinating the travel of 10 speakers, finding and screening the projects, securing the venue and government support. Continue Reading