Hole in the wall

Lift has many side effects, most of them unknown to the people who organize the event as they happen after the conference. Companies have been launched,  people have been found a new job – or enough energy to launch their own project, couples have met, a Chinese artist even raised funds for his Beijing media festival. There are many stories typical of a large scale gathering of dynamic, creative, and interesting people. Sometimes one of these stories reaches me by chance, and tonight I got a mail from Philippe Tarbouriech, Lifter since 2007 who describes himself as a “photographer with a technology bias, or a technologist with a passion for photography”.

Philippe was so impressed by Sugata Mitra’s presentation of his hole in the wall project (which received more than 25’000 views on liftconference.com and ended up being published on TED talks) that he flew to India to shoot street kids experimenting with self-education. See the album here, and more (amazing) shots from Philippe on his Flickr account.

Robots don’t have to look like robots

FrĂ©dĂ©ric Kaplan gave one of the best talks of Lift Asia, and shared a nice idea: you don’t have to look like a robot to be a robot.

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FrĂ©dĂ©ric’s latest project (an update on his previous project, the wizkid) will be displayed at Lift09, I am really looking forward to that 🙂

Letters of non-motivation

On the day a Pizza has been used as a weapon for the first time, I found a link to Julien PrĂ©vieux‘s fabulous “letters of non-motivation“. In a very French spirit, he answers job offers with negative letters, finding reasons why he should not accept the job. Here is the project’s description from his portfolio, and a couple of examples. All letters have been compiled in a book available online here.

With this undertaking, which has been unrelentingly conducted for several years, the artist responds in the negative to job offers gathered from the press. The lack of “motivation”, reasserted on a daily basis, thus becomes a full-time job. Each missive is the pretext for a different stylistic exercise which, by its often tragi-comic dimension, stigmatises the kafkaian absurdity inherent in this type of ritual. From Bartleby to the elderly, from the paranoid applicant to the overbooked, the author plays a host of roles in order to vehemently increase the number of arguments for his refusal. The answers sent by companies are all evidence of an impossible communication whereby the entire hiring system is seen to be faulty.



NYT Magazine Year in ideas 2008

Amazing collection of ideas and innovations over at the NYT Magazine. My picks:

Less Privacy Means Less Discrimination

Take laws that prevent employers from learning about applicants’ criminal records. Because African-Americans are disproportionately imprisoned, such laws are often viewed as blows against discrimination. But Strahilevitz cited research that found that, in the absence of such laws, companies that did background checks on applicants hired 8 percent more African-Americans than those that didn’t do the checks. The latter employers seemed to be discriminating “statistically” — lacking hard data about penal histories, they made more decisions based on skin color.

Cloth Car

The GINA Light Visionary Model is a two-seat roadster with a body made from cloth, developed by BMW. The fabric is a special polyurethane-coated Lycra that’s exceptionally strong, durable and waterproof. But it’s also flexible enough to stretch when fitted over the car’s aluminum frame, whose shape can be altered using electric and electro-hydraulic controls to suit different driving conditions.

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Goalkeeper Science

What’s the best way to stop a penalty kick? Do nothing: just stand in the center of the goal and don’t move. […] why do goalies almost always dive off to one side? Because, the academics theorized, the goalies are afraid of looking as if they’re doing nothing — and then missing the ball. Diving to one side, even if it decreases the chance of them catching the ball, makes them appear decisive. “They want to show that they’re doing something,”

Drone-Pilot Burnout

On its face, it seems like the less stressful assignment. Instead of being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, some pilots and other crew members of the U.S. military’s unmanned Predator drones live at home in suburban Las Vegas and commute to a nearby Air Force base to serve for part of the day.

There was “a pervasive problem with chronic fatigue,” Why is this? Part of the problem lies in what Tvaryanas calls the “sensory isolation” of pilots in Nevada flying drones 7,500 miles away. Although there are cameras mounted on the planes, remote pilots do not receive the kind of cues from their sense of touch and place that pilots who are actually in their planes get automatically. That makes flying drones physically confusing and mentally exhausting.

The One-Room School Bus

an experimental program transforms the school bus into a mobile classroom […] two of the three buses that serve Grapevine are now wired for Internet connectivity. High-achieving students who are accepted into the program are issued laptop computers and enrolled in online math and science courses, including algebra and advanced-placement biology. On the way to and from school, they complete assignments, do research and communicate with instructors by e-mail.


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Protect skin from Artificial Electromagnetic Waves

I missed a news that has probably widely been discussed in the blogosphere long time ago. But Clarins – famous cosmetic company – created a product that uses a “Magnetic Defence Complex” that “protects skin from the ageing effects of Artificial Electromagnetic Waves”.

It is interesting to see this industry react to innovation, and propose products surfing the fears/uncertainties of the people, knowing that it will necessarily trigger a cascade of negative reactions.

The lawyers went to work, came up with the fact that one needs “robust scientific evidence” proving that waves have a negative impact on the skin, the FDA changed the classification from cosmetic to drug, and after all that noise you can still order a bottle for a little bit less than 45 Swiss Francs.

TechnoArk 2009

Want to attend this event? Leave a comment below or email me and I will send you one of the 10 Lift invites!

Aside from Lift, we are helping an increasing number of conferences to build their program and event, by advising them on the format, finding relevant speakers, and moderating the discussions. For the second year Lift is involved in the Transformeurs event, a one day conference on the internet of things.

This year Jean-Louis Fréchin (ENSCI), David Orban (Open Spime) and Daniel Kaplan (FING) are among the speakers, with great workshops and start ups presentations also scheduled.

Jean-Louis FrĂ©chin’s latest project: Wablog

The event is free for last year’s attendees and students, and costs 150chf otherwise. More info on technoark.ch

On my was to LeWeb’08

I stopped by the Fête des Lumières in Lyon, a nice set of urban installations. Three million visitors show up in three days, and I again felt like European cities are way too small for the number of people who want to live or visit them.

Cathédrale Saint Jean

HĂ´tel de Ville

Place du Change

La Préfecture

EIBTM 2008

I flew to Barcelona to participate in a debate with Corbin Ball around the topic of Social networking sites and virtual worlds in the meetings and events industry – should you be using them? at the EIBTM conference.

My points:

  • Social technologies can help before and after the event, much less during it
  • Avoid the hype (web 2.0, second life, iPhone), timing is important for these technologies but they don’t always do what you are told they do
  • Social tools are not magical and create new issues (content republication, de-localization of content, attention crisis, etc)
  • Openness is very hard to scale

I was also a judge for the WorldWide Technology Watch which allowed me to see the latest developments in an industry not necessarily used to innovate at a frantic pace. MeetingMetrics won the award for 2008, following Swiss startup SpotMe who took the crown in 2007 (before I was on the judging panel).

From the taxi Barcelona looked like a reborn city, with most of the constructions now almost finished, and cool buildings that prove Mieke Gerritzen’s point heard at Lift08 (that architecture tends to copy nature at a time where we package nature in tubes). Seems like a good time to move to Barcelona and start a new project.