Digital Life Design II (afterthoughts)

I have let a few days, actually a whole week go by, before sitting down to post what has transpired and refluxed from my own handwritten notes. You know, the usual excuses apply, fact is that I am not a journalist, thus to report stuff as it happens is not on my priority list. A technorati search for “dld07” would give anybody a good cut of what people were writing as the event was happening.

What I particularly appreciated about the event was that it was where gloss meets geek, and that is indeed a great interface for advancing media and communication. Gloss being the more traditional media and geek, well being geek and internet. For some odd reason I was surprised at the tenor of the whole event being around sustainability. A sustainability discussion is to me always welcome, however I am not always convinced of the arguments, and more often than not tend to think that I have a much different understanding of what sustainability is. But then, why don’t I write more about it? After all I have worked in the area for several years, written several papers within specific client mandates, and have yet to publish one.

On the third day of DLD I had to confront my own ignorance. I had never heard of John Naisbitt and he was on the program first thing with a catchy “Mind Set” title. Naisbitt had a few good things to say to the questions from the moderator David Kirkpatrick.

What I got was that people are tired of the hype of technology, and that gloom and doom has become a religion of sorts. Although Nasbitt did not chain the two ideas, I would like to do it: It seems sometimes to me that when drowning in gloom and doom, it is rather easy to look for the saviour, and that saviour these days tends to take the form of technology hype, or hype of any sort. There is a lot of hype about innovation in some not so naive or populist circles, and there innovation is looked at as the saviour for whatever ails the system, the economy, or the enterprise. Sometimes it sounds to me like a domestic strife in that “the other” is always in the wrong, and only if “the other” had another personality, another something or other, would work on improving himself/herself, would say – innovate, then all would be well. If you are looking at the surface, then that is the right conclusion, but if you are looking at the surface, you are not seeing.

Naisbitt also made a good point about the problems associated with doing straight line extrapolation. Indeed there are a few classical examples of past future predictions based on straight line extrapolation that when we hear them today seem totally ridiculous and not just naive, but also pretty stupid. One is tempted to ask how people could have been so naive, and we often forget that we have not necessarily evolved all that much when it comes to extrapolation. Not all, but many economic models are based on based on linear coupling mechanics, while the whole of the ecosytem – that includes economics too – is highly nonlinear. In my view, one of the least predictable of the non-linearities has to to with human behaviour, and in particular human creativity and adaptability.

Naisbitt touched on a fair number of very zeitgeist issues including the speed at which events happen and the human expectation of that speed, journalism and old school media, shifting media mix, the move towards a more visual culture, architecture as an important art form, colour coding in communication, even terrorism.

I enjoyed the panel on “Interface and Design” that included Bruce Stirling, Chris Bangle, Tim Brown, and Walter Mossberg. Surely spimes and the iPhone came up in the same sentence. Most of it some of us have all heard it before, but it was good to listen to it all live.

The panel on the “Billion Dollar” bubble failed to thrill me much, but then that is my problem. Still there was something around the idea that the world is flush with cash and short on management. Let’s think about that one. Flush with cash, yes. But what is cash viewed from the perspective of sustainability? Is it management that the world is short of? I would more be looking for where the leadership is. Where are the leaders?

James Murdoch delivered a well polished closing keynote speech and brilliantly highlighted his company’s approach to sustainability. Good stuff, but I still do not have a television, however I have heard of Sky channel.

The “Cimate Change” was thoughtful, and while it brought no news, I do wonder how many people are actually listening or have listened to what is being communicated. Certainly there are whole nations bent on ignoring the whole climate debate. I am however not prepared to go into any detail on this issue. Good to know, but at the end of the day what is it that you are doing in your daily life? I tend to think that people are not concerned with global issues although these offer great excuses for all sorts of mishaps in one’s life, but a concern is not what I often find. So what is it that moves people to act?

The closing note has already been widely broadcast, so I will skip on commentary here. Although I could say that I found it interesting and any effort that raises awareness for nature is a good effort.

All in all, it was great to be in Munich.


Reboot 8.0 – Renaissance

After I was good and overwhelmed with all the interaction going on at reboot, Euan Semple held the last keynote presentation before the closing of reboot 8.0. It was a bit zen. If I remember correctly, and I made no notes, it was something about the internet being about love. Four letters of pure misunderstanding is what love tends to be about in a lot of occasions, but not always. Love I understood in this reboot context to be taking the form of connection which is what the live web does allow us all to do. Renaissance pure it is!

Take it for a fact that right now here I sit at my desk writing on a somewhat complex piece of electromechanical machinery and that within seconds my friends in India and California can be reading my opinions and then commenting on them. Furthermore, if they feel like it, then they can call or skype or email. It is all occurring at the speed of light? No… electrical signals do travel a bit slower. Anyhow, for human perception, we are all connected at the push of a button that takes less than one second to actuate, that is to say, instantaneously or thereabouts within seconds.

We are connected and we are autonomously alone simultaneously. The imperative duality of human nature (more on this later) is finally represented in our physical world, Euan is talking about love, others are talking about how to be a renaissance man and that markets are not just conversations, they are relationships (à la Doc Searls). Whatever…  markets are secondary expressions of human needs. The latter are simple: food, shelter and love. That is humans are social animals that eat and drink and are ill adapted for living on trees or on the hot sands of arabia.

I was born in the late fifties, went to college in the seventies and eighties in California and that puts me in a generation that arrived at the tail end of the hippie culture and Timoty Leary. For me drugs and sex were always there for the taking even if I was not at Berkeley; rock-and-roll was optional. This is the generation that gave us the personal computer, also known that instrument that marked the beginning of the erosion of slow communication and expensive advertising campaigns. In those days communication was specialized, slow and it could be controlled. Today communication is a commodity at the finger tip of any individual able to connect to the internet by whatever device. Although these days I am not willing to pay for what a Nokia N90 costs, it is one pregnant device with the shape of things to come. Make that same mobile device a plug in object into my PowerBook, and then I may not be able to resist. I like plug-and-play and multi-functionality that involves socializing hardware itself, not just humans. Besides that I need something that allows me to write fast enough and that allows me to think. I also do not always feel like voicing my thoughts, thus a recording device that writes may also not cover my needs.

But where am I going with all of this rambling about the seventies, the democratization of communication, the non-existense of markets in an abstract sense, abstraction itself and the renaissance man? Or to phrase it differently, what does sex have to do with software?

Really, I am talking about software, not some dysfunctional being’s fantasies or delirium. In this Renaissance of ours midwifed by the likes of geeks and hackers, software is going to be a commodity, like electricity is a commodity now, while energy may present us all a challenge. Our present wars are about land, water and oil. Technology is incidental and commodity-like. Terrorism is a form or warfare using intelligence as its key resource and not technology. It is perhaps not too surprising that using technology to fight intelligence is failing.

Could we perhaps consider that if we want to give this world another perspective we might want to be looking at what values are being served by the creation of new commodities?

Why do I blog this? These are incomplete thoughts that have been inspired by the multitude of experiences and exchange of ideas at reboot 8. I use blogging for publishing both drafts and lose notes of ideas. To me the web is alive and an ongoing conversation on several planes.

LIFT06: It does

Sex sells. The  video is in Swiss-German, but the mimic… is yours.

Madison Avenue knows this, pimps know this, and a few other people know this: sex sells. Sex is a commodity. Is it?

No. Tacit, intangible, palpable, real it is. Sex is not a commodity. It is the primal paradox from which we originate. Primal not primordial: I like absolutes, this one is one of my favorites. There is something absolute about sex. A fact long forgotten by the so-called western culture is that an orgasm can be a most fundamental spiritual experience.

For the time being, I will suppose that necessity drives sustainability. Our needs are simple: food, shelter, spirituality and connectivity. We are social animals with the power of language. This is who we are on this planet.

It is not just men that think about sex every eight minutes or so, women tend be right there with the same stats. Still I found myself at this conference not even thinking about it, even when Hugh had his blog up on the big screen displaying a matter of much controversy these days: a cartoon. A penis somehow does not get anybody bent out or shape anymore. Why is that that even the presence of such evident symbology, sex was not on my mind?

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