Seven-and-a-half hours, over twenty speakers, 3 facilitators, 42 photos, and eight pages of Moleskine later, I barely know where to start writing up my experience of Russell Davies‘ superb conference, interesting2007. There’s just far too much to say about it really.
To give you a flavour of it, here is a list of thirty interesting things that happened:
- Adrian Gunn Wilson shared ‘how to split a (big) log’ (“branches are bad”) [video]
- Rob Mortimer asked ‘Can video games be art?’
- Eugenie Harvey on changing the world for a fiver (“buy it from the website“)
- Richard Wilson on making TV programmes (and the idea that user generated content for TV is being reversed by TV producers making lots of pilots and taster tapes which end up on YouTube)
- Jennifer Bell’s ‘nine tips for making a better erotic film’ included “be reasonably flexible”, but it’s not what you think.
- Jack Schulze on his love of comics (hyper-time, The Filth, and more) [slides]
- Ann Ward asked, ‘Is it just me, or is everything nice?’ while sitting down and showing us a wide array of very nice things and getting us excited about the ‘nothing to see here‘ project. (“people on Flickr have good manners”) [slides]
- Tom Lewis-Reynier proved that he doesn’t really know anything about the History Of Knots, but can make up some really very funny stuff. [video]
- Sponsor plug: Folksy (who were doing cool things in the lobby, including an ambient orb from an Argos lamp for a tenner)
- Rhodri Marsden gave us a rendition of Wichita Lineman on a saw
- Lunch break (the cafe in Red Lion Square opened specially for the event)
- Lloyd Davis led us in a relaxing group meditation/breathing thingy (“om…”) [words]
- Chris Heathcote hilariously deconstructed egg, bacon, chips and beans using maltodextin to powderise the bacon fat, and calcium gluconate, calcium lactate and xanthan gum mixed with baked bean slurry and a bath of water, sodium alginate and sodium citrate to perform ‘inverse spherification’, and nitrous oxide to foam the potato. [slides, video]
- ‘I like printing’ by Tim Milne (the use of printing is being changed by digital media in the same way the purpose of painting was changed by the introduction of photography)
- Rebecca ‘Beeker‘ Northam on ‘What I have learned from Ibsen and the Muppets’ (8 things, including “be objectionable”) [video]
- ‘A series of tubes’ by Tom Armitage (on Ted Stephens: “thank you for using a metaphor that didn’t totally suck”) [slides, video]
- Seb Palmer on Skateboarding and Moving Units
- Matthew d’Ancona on ‘Orson Welles and YouTube’ (the editor of the Spectator does a great Al Pacino impression) [video]
- The discovery of Finity by Tommi Brem [video]
- Deb Kahn invited us to draw each other without looking at the paper, then draw things about our lives and tell someone about it, then remember what they told us (and consider we remembered fell into being either challenge, delivery, image, unexpected, empathy, or humour) [presentation]
- Tea and scones!
- The Electroplankton Quartet played
- Sponsor plug: King of Shaves (“while you lot were learning HTML, diddling with websites and learning to Twitter, shaving was changing…”)
- Grant McCracken‘s hilarious appendicitis/Oprah anecdote [video]
- Fiona Romeo on the Science of Spying exhibition at Science Museum (lots more behind the scenes pics on Flickr)
- Phil Gyford on acting
- Sophie Dollar on Cezanne’s fear of touching and being touched [video]
- Andrew Hovells on swimming / doing something well (he claims not to be good at anything but swimming, yet he presents charmingly) [video, presentation]
- Dave ‘funkypancake’ showed us some amusing and beautiful photos (the prog-rock sounding “Pedestrian Casualty Reduction Signal Timing Experiment” sign was a personal favourite) [video, slides]
- The Vernacular of the Spectacular (Matt ‘blackbelt‘ Jones) including the importance of play [slides, reading list, video]
I wanted to make something shorter, but that’s just the bare minimum. In addition to the scones and Yorkshire Tea and biscuits, there were also lots of Innocent smoothies and apples provided. The format, with lots of short presentations, worked brilliantly. The low ticket price of £20 had some interesting side effects; there was no sense of entitlement. People willingly volunteered to help set up and clear up afterwards. No lunch provided? Who is going to complain, especially when the cafe in the square has opened especially for us. No wifi (and I usually complain bitterly about this)? Bah, who needs it, when Matt Jones has carefully designed a slowscanningsketchbloggingsysteme, with actual in-trays and actual paper. (The scanned paper-blogged posts are already online).
In short, there was a really relaxed atmosphere, and everyone seemed equally as thrilled as I was to have been there.
This was by far the nicest and most interesting conference I’ve been to all year, and I do really hope Russell does it again.