Michel Bauwens at Lift Austria | Enable

I am in Vienna attending a Lift@home event organized by a local team of entrepreneurs and academics. Second talk of the day is Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives founder Michel Bauwens. John Thakara pointed in advance to this talk, he was right. Michel put some words on things “you don’t need a PHD to notice” but that, brought together in such a comprehensive way, connect into something powerful: a name for this movement most early adopters are feeling without being able to explain it further.

2 fundamentally wrong assumptions in our society:

– We think earth resources are infinite. But an infinite thinking within a finite system is wrong.
– We think we have to make cooperation difficult to make collaboration happen.

There is now a conscience that these assumptions need to change, and collaboration and openness are a key answer. Steps to make this happen:

1. identifying key aspects of openess (participation, transparency, “shareability”, access)

2. finding enablers of openness (a common language, assets, etc): definitions, code, licences, standards

3. infrastructures of openness: open meeting spaces, open territories (Regiowiki), open hardware (Arduino), open objects (eCars – Now), etc.

4. Practices of openness: open software (Linux), open designs (Honeybee Network), open knowledge

5. Domains of openness: education, science, business, government, spirituality (interesting to imaginea user generated religion…)

6. Products of openness: Open course ware, open books, open journals

7. Open movements: OpenMaterials, OpenCoalition

8. Open consciousness…

You can see Michel’s talk as a mind map here.

Lift10’s startup operation

We are getting better each year at bringing startups to Lift. In 2010 we are creating an integrated offer, with tickets + space to demo products and services to the audience + a chance to hit the big stage alongside Neil Rimer of Index Ventures fame, all this for 1’250chf.


I hope those of you who have startups in the region will enjoy this offer. For international entrepreneurs, get in touch with the team we will try to find a solution to give you some advantages too.

Three trends for conferences

Gianfranco Chicco interviewed me last week about my vision of the future of conferences. Three main trends are appearing in my opinion:

Conferences need to be more porous

Lift takes place in Geneva, Marseille and Korea (Jeju) and there is no way that you should be penalized because you cannot follow us in one of the countries. It’s not that because you cannot afford to go to Korea that you should be cut from this conference … So now we are working on how we can, in a smart way, embed people from the outside inside a conference […] where you are doesn’t really matter. […] How do you handle that from a business perspective? How do they pay (or should they pay or not)?

Come back to the moment

There is a need to make the moment more unique, to make it more special and catch people’s attention because now everybody has their phones, and emails, etc. We need to go more to being like a theater, towards something that cannot really be captured with technologies (e.g. video registering a conference)… and if you’re not here, you really miss something!


Many conferences are growing into different areas (TEDx, Lift@Home, PICNIC Salon) […] Instead of considering yourself a conference you consider yourself a community. And the conference is actually a community that happens to meet together two, three days a year at a specific location. […] How do you allow your community to meet without you? How do you allow your community to extend itself and reach new people through the people that are already members? How do you control what’s happening outside and how much do you want to control it? […] It’s like a Tupperware development of conferences where your conference is actually a recipe, it’s a set of values, it’s some processes,  it’s a way to approach things, it’s a community. How do you allow that to have it’s own existence and develop itself? As a conference organizer you cannot grow your model eternally. Lift works because we have 1,000 people but it would not work with 10,000 people. So how do you grow and how do you sustain with all of these constraints? I think one of the ways is to decentralize, lose control and let your community flow with your ideas and carry these ideas and values further.

Link (with video interview)

Reduce to the max

360controller.jpgI got an Xbox controller in my hand a few days ago, and was puzzled by the unlikely design. It is too big, some buttons are really hard to reach, they can not be pushed as quickly as they should, etc.

Part of what motivated Microsoft to design this was probably a will to differentiate their hardware from the previously released Playstation’s controller. Bad idea. Sometimes you should recognize that something can not be improved – or at least not with the ideas you have right now.

prototype-rumble-enabled-sixaxis-for-the-ps3-in-hands-of-developers.jpgI was surprised when Sony kept the same design across versions of their Playstation controllers: the PS2 one had the same shape than the PS1, and the PS3 is basically the PS2 but wireless. With a new product automatically comes a new design? Not the controllers which remained the same, probably the most ergonomic gamepads ever design (not considering the Wii which is something different). Sony was smart to acknowledge they couldn’t do better, and therefore should not change for the sake of changing.

swiss-airlines-logo.gifThis reminds me of an old story when a few years ago Swissair collapsed. The national company was taken over by a small and local carrier that hired Tyler Brulé to design a new brand. Swiss was born with a logo made of a white cross inside a red square. Critics started to pile up: how can you pay that much money to come up with such an obvious brand?

Brulé’s thinking was right. Designing for the sake of it is wrong. Swiss best asset were its swissness, an image of quality, reliability, ponctuality. The Swiss flag is one of the most recognized symbol in the world. Going with something else than this would have been wrong.

That is where design is different from other domains. Sometimes doing less means doing better. See the minimalist packaging trend that has been spotted in Japan. Less can be more, or as the world’s best slogan put it back in 1997: “Reduce to the max“.