Friday, November 20, 2009

Ignite Portland

:: ignite portland 7 ::

These Ignite events occur in Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, Phoenix, likely some others I'm forgetting, besides here in Portland, at The Bagdad. Budapest, other places in Europe.

Phil Earnhardt was our company MVP, 4D Studios his first stop off the 75 bus. He's somewhat the anthropologist of this Ignite phenomenon and had interesting insights regarding recipes for success. Mainly (and I paraphrase): if it doesn't all anchor to one solo individual, then personality conflicts, though sure to happen, won't have as much impact on the final result, which will be more sustainable and magical precisely because it's a Ouija Board (i.e. there's no one in charge).

That being said, though anarchist, this Ignite was tightly choreographed, with speaker wranglers designated to keep the workflow flowing. The Lightning Talk format was strictly held to. Our experiments at Duke's, in varying the segments, adding music tracks, need these more structured events for context and contrast. Phil's words for our Portland brand mix: authentic and eclectic. I would concur.

Presentations: I won't recount them all, except to say none of them fell flat. Some were spiritual journeys: an escape from a cultic gravity well, memories of a long lost friend, realizations from a hospitalization. When another pretty person takes the microphone, you won't guess she's been an anthropologist in Papua New Guinea, has a taste for road kill, wants to share about that doe, in an engaging and completely canderous manner. Phil's talk was on robot motion. He's of the school that musculo-skeletal matters have a "tensegrity" aspect and twitters as @FloatingBones.

Of course "tensegrity" is considered a "fringe word" in many vocabs (namespaces), even though it has clear meaning in the art world, where Kenneth Snelson staked turf. Another domain is architecture, where floating compression is a recognized technology. Micro-architecture, e.g. cellular, is more Ingber's domain, per a past cover of Scientific American. Then you have those focused on the spinal chord, on movement, which gets us more into First Person Physics the way I think of it, or into Carlos Castaneda country by another route. Extrapolating a more graceful kind of robot motion, with tension notched up, isn't too off the wall sounding, is already a hot topic for mathcasts per Gerald de Jong's Darwin @ Home clips (embedded below).

One of the talks, by Marcus, had a lot on expectant waiting, or active waiting, a way of engaging with the world common to many disciplines. He wasn't citing the Quakers specifically, but wasn't unfamiliar with them either (we talked after).

We were encouraged to photograph, shoot video, and to tag our media IP7 (as this was Portland's seventh such event).

What I take away from this is: Show & Tell, a classroom exercise a lot of us got to practice growing up, is as important as ever. Today, show and tell involves slides, projected content. There's a darkened room much of the time. When we're outdoors, in the bright light of day, we have other formats less reliant on projection. LCDs as dashboard control panels (e.g. embedded in cameras, ATVs) still make an appearance. Add a smattering of XOs.

I chauffeured Phil back to his hotel by way of Circadia, corner of 47th and NE Columbia, though we didn't pull over, no Burn Out this evening. Back Stage at The Bagdad had a lot of great conversation during the informal gathering following Ignite. Bram (fonts fanatic), Randal Schwartz (Perl cruiser), Ward Cunningham (wiki guy)... lotsa luminaries, lotsa omnidirectional halos. Some adjourned to the eatery trucks around 12th and Hawthorne.

In the mean time, Tara was out with Elizabeth Braithwaite while mom was patched in to the 2nd world and Lindsey was chompin' on more Chomsky on some studio monitor (many miles of video).