There’s a post by me today over at Greenbook Blog talking about the Next 2012 conference I went to in Berlin. That focuses on “what researchers can learn”, which means a bunch of ideas and notes didn’t fit in. So here they are:
1. TINKERLAND: Russell Davies’ talk really was excellent. It was playing on themes he’s been talking about for a while – here, for instance http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15018894 . He’s interested in small-scale technology, home-made tech, whimsical and silly tech that might also be brilliant. It’s quite a familiar British/Euro aesthetic in one sense: Lego, Meccano, soldering irons and garden sheds. Hopefully less male, maybe? It’s halfway between Brian Eno and Clive Sinclair – so squarely in line with what might appeal to me, which maybe means I overstate its importance. Genuinely inspiring, though.
2. I CHOOSE SHOE: There were a lot of “THINGS” start-ups on show trading off this idea of separate, personal digital identities for objects. The examples used were guitars, shoes, etc. – objects of some sentimental affection, in other words. This got me thinking a bit about gamification. The system of applying badges, levels and so on to real people is largely bogus. But what about applying them to objects? We have a problem of obsolescence and waste – we buy stuff, we use it, we get tired of it, we discard it, we buy something else, etc etc. If objects were gamified as well as personalised, then emotional attachment increases, waste declines, etc. Things become more valuable through use, not more degraded or worn out. Level up a group of things as if you were training a team of Pokemon! And so on.
3. EXQUISITE APPS: There were a few people talking about collaborative art – paintings done exquisite-corpse style. The very obvious but quite interesting drawback is that if you’re collaborating it’s WAY more polite and socially acceptable to embellish or add than it is to delete. So all the example drawings, “crowd art” etc looked amazingly cluttered. I’d be interested to know how artists adapt to this dynamic – as they obviously must.
4. DISRUPTION’S USEFUL IDIOTS: The only thing I didn’t like about some of the conference was its uncriticality – there were a couple of presentations which were sheer techno-topianism of a kind I was a little surprised by. They masked it as being ‘confrontational’ but the underlying message was “the squares are wrong and you are right, HURRAH”, very conservative and unchallenging really. Alexander Bard’s talk was at least very entertaining but his clash-of-generations rhetoric was tired and out of date, he felt like he was fighting battles from the late 90s. Then a couple of guys from an ad agency who’d written a book called “VELOCITY” treated us to the “seven laws of digital”. It was all about CHANGE. Change is like oxygen to change makers! Hardly anybody manages change well! Except Steve Jobs! And Nike who co-wrote the book! And here’s lots of post-mortems of people who didn’t manage it! Post-rationalisation? What’s that – sounds like some OLD BUSINESS MODEL thinking to me! Essentially it was 100% titanium-plated weapons grade disruptobollocks.
On the whole, though, I really liked it.