Oct 1, 2010

PICNIC 2010 @Groningen: To Be or Not To Be … That is the question!

Not a day goes by without a conference somewhere (in Europe) about ‘the social media space’. When I’m just ‘recovering’ from Emerce Eday in Rotterdam last week, I received an invitation from theFactor.e to watch realtime videostreams from PICNIC 2010 keynotes at their office in Groningen (which is about 190 km to the north of Amsterdam). It’s a big nice office but more important, nice people, some of them I know from my past when I co-founded this company. It’s a strange sensation; attending a conference without actually be there! Of course, it saves a lot of time and money, and the keynotes will be available on the internet shortly after. Listening to some excellent keynotes, I was also trying to experience the difference of being not there (note: do not confuse this with ‘not being there!’). I’m not really a conference stalker but there are a few conferences I like to attend; The Next Web and Emerce Eday. But next year I will add PICNIC to this small list. But let’s not get carried away from the point I want to make in this post. What’s making a conference a great conference? Is it about the keynote speakers (the content), about the atmosphere (context)? Or is it about me, you and other people (relationships, links)? I’m starting to get convinced about the idea that keynote speakers on the stage, exhibitions on the floor, good coffee (very important), healthy lunch etc. are just like wallpaper and lightening; creating the right atmosphere making you comfortable and supplying enough anchors to make the connection with other people. Keynote speakers are some kind of anchorman – giving you something to talk and to think about – inspirational! Seven keynote speakers throwing out the anchors and flossing your brains.

The homo ludens Dennis Crowley (Foursquare) explaines the three principles on which Foursquare is build; game dynamics, crowdsourcing and the API. “The world is a game” and Foursquare wants to make cities easier to use. Talking about cities, Mitchell Joachim, a rasta scientist – dressed in a suit- from MIT, showed his vision on how we will move from one place to the other in the future. Some of his ideas are re-inventions like the ‘white bicycle plan’ for cars. But some of his ideas needed more imagination, like ‘meat houses’.  The invention of the elevator has had the greatest impact on how cities are designed. And this kind of ‘vertical’ design is expressed in a lot of his ideas (parking cars on top of each other etc.). Andreas Weigend had a more philosophical keynote about the self constructed identity – each individual is streaming social data; what I’m doing (Facebook), what I’m thinking (Twitter), Where I am (Foursquare), What I’m seeing (Twitpic, Youtube) etc. We’re streaming because we all want to share! I liked his timeline; ’80: building computers, ’90: connecting computers, ’00: connecting pages, ’10: connecting people and next: connecting senses! Having all the data accessible in a comprehensive format: “Why isn’t there a ‘pay-as-you-drive’ car assurance?”

After the break (great muffins!!) “Pain in the ass for newspapers” Jeff Jarvis took advantage of the opportunity, which is given him daily, to promote Google as an example for everyone stuck in his own business paradigm. Best advice ever; “Life is a mess, so the Internet is a mess! Deal with it!” Tommy Pallotta, producer of the animation film ‘A Scanner Darkly’ told us how his ideas evolved from simple animation (mainly based on drawing) into his latest project Collapsus, combining interactivity with animation, fiction and documentary (with support from Dutch television VPRO – that’s why everybody should sign up for a membership!). The keynote from Aza Raskin was impressive and he gave a live demonstration (of the peak-end rule) of how fallible the mind is in a highly predictive way. I will visit his weblog regularly from now on.

Advertising dinosaur Steve Hayden (Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy Worldwide) closing the day with a keynote about the advertising mantra’s through the years. In the early fifties the advertising mantra was ‘irritate – repeat – irritate’. A central advertising theme in the sixties was ‘happiness’ – “everything you do is OK!” (referring to TV serie Mad Men). Has anything changed? I’m Ok! (so was this afternoon @PICNIC 2010 streamed to Groningen).

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a comment