PICNIC06 Review: A Very Biased Report (Pt 2/2)

Following on from Daniel’s opening piece on Picnic06 on Monday, we conclude today.

PICNIC06 Review: A Very Biased ReportI was really looking forward to John Thackara’s talk entitled “Global issues demand creative leadership” but it was skipped and he went pretty much straight into chairing the “The creative business leaders debate”. He did mention that he’s usually the one to ask “why” are we doing all this [technology innovation], asking what will it be used for and is that so good anyway? But then he ignored those questions completely and followed a more boring corporate line.

Overall, there did seem to be a lack of social comment. There was much more focus on ‘business needs to get investment and customers’ rather than benefits to society – call me old fashioned but we need to ask more ‘why’ and ‘what for’ questions.

Yet again there seemed to be an inverse relationship between the size of the company and the content of the presentation. MTV, Google, World Directories failed to inspire beyond a little spark here or there. Too much reliance on videos within a presentation didn’t help. And, of course, they can’t tell us anything new as they’d blow their competitive advantage.

PICNIC06 Review: A Very Biased ReportTo be fair I didn’t see all the keynotes nor attend all the workshops. It was simply not possible. It was a very full programme. I was a bit of a conference butterfly, catching a bit here and there, putting my oar in when I could and, of course, couldn’t pass up that free massage.

The production was slick and impressive. But more could have been done to inspire and challenge us; more focus and discussion on issues and less corporate plugs. Perhaps the real benefit of this event was the networking, which there was plenty of. This was an ambitious event and I’d say that, on the whole, the team at Cross Media Week pulled it off.

Incidentally, I found my accommodation (a room in a shared flat 5 minutes cycle from PICNIC) on craigslist – so it works for something. A bicycle came with the deal. Cycling around Amsterdam is always fun. Everything is so close. And sitting outside, by a canal, having a quality meal, one may ask what else is there to life?


PICNIC06 Review: A Very Biased Report

PICNIC06 Review: A Very Biased ReportSo, there I was at the first ever PICNIC – a cross media conference taking place in Amsterdam last week…

Highlights included John Underkoffler, Minority Report advisor, demonstrating his gestural interface technology. You had to be there to appreciate it…

Craig(slist) Newmark came across as really caring about his users and not wanting to sell out. He answers customer service emails and takes down unwanted content. He’s more interested in making his website run faster than Web 2 point doh!…

Marc Canter told us about OpenID – an open standard that will enable Net users to have one login account for all the websites that use OpenID. Cool! He also vigorously pushed his new, open source, Digital Lifestyle Aggregator software. He’s a performer.

PICNIC06 Review: A Very Biased ReportIn a break, Marc and I talked around my (Kendra like) pet subjects of ‘service clouds’ and ‘user-centric computing’. If you can have an open API for IDs then why not have one for dating or addresses or photos or anything? Hence we see more ‘mashups’ using these open APIs. Doesn’t it seem that many websites will end up being portals to these ‘service clouds’?

The ‘Web 2.0’ travel session promised much but was really a ‘let’s save the posterior of KLM’, the sponsor (ahem). If we add a blog, wiki, forum or whatever Web 2.0 thingy to our site, will you buy more tickets from us? I proposed that people just wanted the best deal and are using price comparison websites to find them and, oh, that brands were dead. I think that last part was the hardest bit for the panel to swallow – the Dutch are very loyal to their national airline.

Tune in for PICNIC06 Review: concluding part on Friday.