ETech Day 1

As you can probably tell from the recent slew of photos I'm in San Jose for the Emerging Technology Conference. It was snowing on the drive to the Portland airport this morning which makes sunny San Jose seem even sunnier. The conference started tonight with Tim O'Reilly's radar talk about trends and topics he's interested in. My favorite slide was about scenario planning and featured a graph with potential futures including: "The Singularity" on one end and "Economic and Environmental Collapse" on the other. So you can tell his talk was generally upbeat. No, it's tough to have an upbeat talk in this climate. He touched on the themes from his post a few months ago about working on stuff that matters, finding a robust "middle strategy" between extreme futures, and striving to create more value than you capture. His examples of reacting to the present and planning for the future pulled from a few science fiction books including Young Rissa and Doomsday Book (if you're keeping book-score at home). He just spent a week in Washington DC and seemed excited about potential changes in government openness, transparency, and connectivity. He also read a great passage from Rilke about working on small vs. big problems that I'll have to track down.

After Tim's talk there was an Ignite event where the talks seemed surprisingly focused on the past instead of the future. Molly Steenson had a fantastic talk about the history of pneumatic tubes and Victorian messaging. Then there was akrasia, knitting history, photography history, and famous leaders blowing things up as kids.

Leonard has been working on a networked photo booth called Lensley, and it was fun to see that in action. The box takes pictures automatically like a photo booth and sends the results to Flickr and/or Twitter. And combined with the conference RFID tags, knows who is in the photos. I ended up in these photos. Great start, the conference sessions start tomorrow morning.