By mehera o'brien on July 13, 2010
A month after the UnConference, I was again afforded an opportunity to leave the office for a day for additional brain food. As someone that never gets to go to these types of events (and admittedly, many of them aren't great), it was nice to spend a day with a few colleagues and fellow digital geeks looking at new technologies.
The CaT Conference was interesting, but not quite as inspiring as the UnConference proved to be. With a traditional conference format – a speaker or panel of speakers preaching to a large audience of onlookers – I missed the interactivity of my previous month's experience. The room was freezing cold and there were so many speakers that there was little time for networking, chat and general absorption of information. But, it's only the second year of this conference as well, and the subject matter was well-intentioned.
My main criticism of the conference was that, in its name, I thought the subject matter would be really, really edgy. And some of it was. There was a nice Adobe demonstration. And a Microsoft talk about the power of Photosynth, which was really nice. But as someone that's worked in digital for a long time, I found it to be a little remedial. For those looking to get more insight into digital, the conference had the who's who list of speakers and covered a nice, broad range of topics and relevant trends. Ultimately, I told my colleague Kaare (who heads our Creative Research & Development team) that he should have been on stage. He's brilliant. And engaging. And charming. And if anyone wants to know what a 'Creative Technologist' is, ask anyone on his team. And if you want to debate whether or not they're really 'creative,' be prepared for a fight.
Yet, I have to give a shout out to two speakers that really inspired me. Kevin Slavin and Theo Watson (next post).
Kevin stole the show (as evidenced by the number of mentions of his name on twitter that day) with a talk about how we are socially connected and that the power of the crowd is what's needed to release the magic of storytelling. I managed to snag him for five minutes as he was leaving that night and told him about my own crowd-sourced t.v. watching experience. It was a Sunday night and I was taking care of admin – paying bills, reading mail, answering old emails. The Grammy Awards were on and I was watching, or rather listening, while sorting through my business. I started to notice friends of mine on twitter were commenting on the show. And one friend/former colleague/fellow experience designer was actually AT the show in LA. His office had done a site for the Grammy's and, as a gift, a few of his team got to attend. He was tweeting from the show that the rest of us were watching. And I was responding to him, and other friends, while sitting at home on my sofa with my laptop. Kevin liked this story and said it was exactly was he was talking about. The power of digital technology to connect us, to rally us, around something that in its design, the television, is a one-way communication vehicle. Food for thought, surely.
As a sidenote, I mentioned Kevin's talk to my colleague Greg the next day, who graduated from Tisch's ITP Master's program. And he said Kevin was one of his professors and that people clamored for this classes. He's just _that_ engaging and smart. Definitely look him up. Or check out his site: http://areacodeinc.com/