the empty set

LIFT 2008 afterthoughts

The smell of morning

Once again, here I am in a post-conference-blues mood after LIFT 2008 ended yesterday. As Laurent mentionned, in 2006 we had a conference, in 2007 an event, and in 2008 a community.

It felt like that this time. At the risk of repeating myself, LIFT comes over as a breath of fresh air. The array of expertise, competences, views and visions all gathered in the same room broadens your perspectives. I am use to attending more specialised conferences such as @media, focused on web standards for example. Here, you take a step back, of even two or three, and look at society. People. Men and women living on 7 continents, with different cultures, ways of life, and access to the net.

At LIFT you’ll encounter cutting edge technology and wild geeks, but also science fiction writers, philosophers, inventors, teachers, designers. People with a vision, feelings and hope.

This year’s organisation was once again remarkable. There was twice as many registered members as last year, but it all went smoothly. From the talk’s timing to the lunches to the discussions or social event. The press coverage was impressive. The Swiss national television (TSR) did a remarkable job. A complete studio was setup to the left of the conference hall, staff were covering the event with mobile cameras, fixed cameras, webcams, photo cameras, etc. The VOD media went live minutes after a conference ended. There is currently online a large number of interviews, comments, snippets and of course, all of the talks in Flash video format.

This was my first successful attempt at live blogging. I’ve trying a number of times before to live blog my notes, but I never really made it. What was different this time? Well, several factors come into account I suppose.

First the conditions. The conference hall is vast and comfortable. You have access to large desks with leather seats, power points, microphones and simultaneous translations headsets. We were over 600 members and it never felt over crowded. Not in the hall, not at lunch, not during the conference breaks or even in the loo (yes, this can be an issue, believe me).

Being alone. I attended this conference alone, so I could fully concentrate on taking notes with no distractions. Don’t get me wrong. I did miss my conference pals, Enrique or Mathias, but being alone certainly played a role.

Single track conference. I prefer single track conferences. You don’t have to choose which conference to attend, or hopelessly wish you could clone yourself. Get a good seat in the first three rows and stay there. I was frightened I would be tempted to avoid socialising during the breaks in order to clean my notes up, but you meet them as a chance of relaxing from the keyboard. I don’t think I’ll ever clean up the notes (should write a disclaimer I suppose).

What did I take home with me? What was the highlight for me? Difficult to say, I’m still in it I suppose. Clearly, the trends were “social networks” and “mobile computing” in different form and factors. The human being is coming back into the center of the discussion. Proximity. Interactions. Passion. Smiles. Procrastination (check out the Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur). Alternatives. Hope. Are social networks the bedrock of confabulation?

The human being as part of an environment. The environment. Environment becomes core in design. The real and virtual worlds merging into life. Mobile. Mobility. Communication. Synchronicity. The avenement of the Mobile OS. These brave new mobile devices we barely still dare call phones. Rapidely shaping as our online identities, presence. Online and in real life will soon merge to represent the siple fact of being. Permeability.

For Bruce Sterling, showing up is 90% of success.

Asia occupied a significant part of many discussions. From a telco point of view, The Corean example was stunning. Amazing how people are connected there.

The open stagers were excellent. Stephanie Booth announce her Going-Solo conference scheduled for May 16th, and a number of other presented fascinating problematics such as Noel Hidalgo’s “On the luck of seven” project or Henriette Weber Andersen’s “Enjoy the chaos”.

I especially enjoyed Robin Hunicke talk on the new trends in gaming practices. Her unique views and the way she delivered her talk were inspiring. Now is beautiful. Game design is a litteracy. Your actions matter. Embrace it. Make it true. Smile more.

All speakers were excellent, and contributed to the unique diversity and richness of this event. It was fascinating to watch real bloggers in vivo. I don’t know hoe Stephanie Booth or Robert Scoble manage their online presence and real life presence. The produced live blogging and live picture/video coverage. You should have watched Robert Scobles taking pictures at 5 pictures/second with his 5D hooked up to his Vaio, processing and uploading to Flickr minutes after. He produced excellent pictures of the speakers. Next he was streaming live video through his Nokia N95 to the net via Qik. Amazing.

I spent an excellent two days at LIFT this year, and look forward to going back for the 2009 edition. I’ll make it to the workshops next year.

Oh yeah, and the FontText project was cool - thanks for digitalising my handwriting ;)

Sorry for taking over a week to post these thoughts, but I was on leave last week, without my MBP charger (sic)

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