e t e c h 0 7

[ 18:05 thursday 29 march – gate 7, san diego airport ]

the o’reilly emerging technology conference has just ended. for the past four days i’ve been in the midst of six hundred technologists, designers and thinkers in the gothic preposterousness of san diego’s manchester grand hyatt. it’s been marvelously stimulating. the conference has a striking inter-disciplinary character which appears to be emergent rather than planned. the majority of the people i’ve spoken to drew fluently on ideas and examples from many different disciplines in their conversation. the programme itself reflects this tendency. in addition to sessions on new technologies i’ve attended talks on the role of the jacquard loom in the development of computing, the significance of body modification and the historical relationship between magic and technology. in keeping with this spirit the session i presented with mike on tuesday (“collective intelligence, indeterminacy and the illusion of control”) referred to automobiles, democratic systems and a pod of dolphins that’s started wearing sponges on their noses. the last of these was, i confess, a little gratuitous.

i remember how much pressure i felt last year, how important it seemed to make an impact with my presentation. i started preparing several months in advance and spent much of the conference obsessively tweaking my slides. consequently i hardly went to any other sessions and didn’t really have much fun. this year was completely different. i was wrapped up in the investment process until a week beforehand so i only put my presentation together at the last minute. obviously i hoped people would find it interesting but there wasn’t the same sense of pressure as last year. i went to a lot of the other sessions and spent the rest of the time meeting people and learning about new thinking in all kinds of fields. it was a hoot.

etech is like an intellectual caffeine blast. there’s part of me that hungers to sustain that same level of cerebral intensity all year round but maybe that wouldn’t be wise for one’s sanity.

: c :

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