4 Lessons from the PSFK Conference on creativity, business and technology

It took some time to digest the insight given out by speakers at the recent PSFK Conference in New York, but the information imparted was well worth the tech time-out.

1. It is possible to have deeper and longer-lasting ways for people to tell stories about their lives
Even as we hurtle towards this over-load of information that seems to be disposable and created by someone else, Jonathan Harris believes we have an opportunity to create something more tangible.
He’s behind the online community Cowbird, where people upload their stories in often quirky, always engaging ways. It’s designed to be a rich public repository of human wisdom and experience.

“If we don’t capture these things and share them, then no-one else will,” he says. And have a lesson for others, he says. “We need to put forth beautiful and believable visions, because people will start to believe them to be true”. In doing this, Harris believes, we can begin to change the negative news cycle that surrounds us.

2. Capturing online information can be vital for doing good in the world
Robert Kirkpatrick, the Director of the United Nations Global Pulse initiative believes there is great power in big data, and it can be tapped to predict and help in times of crisis. He says social networks like Twitter can be used to predict when people will lose their jobs, populations are at risk of disease or societies are facing hunger.

“Real-time feedback from people in need can be used to adjust actions and programs accordingly, and with Data Philanthropy, companies can help the public sector sustain living standard of their customers.”

3. “Make it beautiful. Make it brilliant”
Simon Collins, the Dean of the innovative School of Design at Parsons has a philosophy that’s displayed in the way the school has positioned itself as being more than simply an academic institution.

It operates from a position of authority, wisely and with conviction, often rejecting opportunities in order to uncover the ones that allow them to do exactly what they envision. Collins has more valuable pieces of advice that work just as well for lie: “Never give into bad design; Be the dumbest person in the room (and so willing to learn); If you’re not helping, get out; and Be nice.”

4. Soon, every surface will become a digital display, and in the future, technology will be more intuitive, invisible and anticipatory
At least that’s according to Microsoft’s Steve Clayton, who envisions a future where Skype-like conversations will be replaced with 3D experiences, where people will be able to “insert” themselves into each other’s worlds across a digital surface. Clayton believes this will help technology become more natural. “An increasing amount of technology has human abilities, they can see, recognize and hear. We can build more natural interfaces as a result of that,” he says.



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