LIft13, Mobile Stories: Geoffrey Dorne [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Mobile Stories.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Geoffrey Dorne

Créativité mobile et évolutions sociales que ça engendre. Technologies de plus en plus intimes (on dort, mange avec son téléphone). Proximité et individualisation. Jeux et applications qui n’existent que dans le téléphone.

“There’s an app for that.” Il y a toujours une application pour répondre à un besoin.

Applications comme signaux faibles, signaux faibles comme applications. Photos dans les musées. Parents qui photographient leurs enfants pendant le concert scolaire. Filmer et enregistrer les concerts auxquels on assiste. Belkin qui a sorti un grip pour tenir son iPhone pendant les concerts. Outlisten (montage d’un concert via tous les enregistrements crowdsourcés).

Retour à l’animisme, au côté sensible et émotionnel. Applications vivantes: calendrier avec animations, magazine complètement interactif (au sens fort du mot). Il est une expérience tactile également. Plutôt qu’un album, Philip Glass fait une application qui permet presque de toucher la musique à travers les visualisations graphiques qui l’accompagnent. OKO, application où il faut manipuler des photos de la NASA mouvantes pour reconstituer le puzzle. Application qui envoie des messages/photos via un son audible que n’importe quel autre téléphone peut capter (avec la même app).

Retour à la matérialité. Au revoir le skeuomorphisme. Boujour tangibilité! On envoi une vraie carte postale à travers une app. steph-note: love what has to do with binding together the online and the offline worlds

Ouvrir les frontières de l’écran, faire glisser quelque chose d’un devise à l’autre. Social mirror: le téléphone comme réceptacle (LiquiData) — on le pose sur une grande table dont il devient un élément.

Popslate. Ecran e-ink derrière son téléphone (coque qui change tout le temps). Objet plutôt que l’écran. Jeu avec de vrais pions qui utilise l’iPad comme plateau de jeu (social).

Dématérialisation du téléphone. Il existe encore, capteurs embarqués, mais on le voit plus. iPad caché sous un plateau de jeu qu’il rend vivant. Un élément de l’ensemble, ce n’est plus “un iPad”. Petit théâtre 3D dans lequel on place son iPhone pour voir un film en 3D. Impression de tous ces objets numériques, retour au support papier.

Jeu de rôle où le téléphone nous dicte l’espace de jeu, on le dessine, et ensuite le téléphone nous fait jouer dedans.

– de plus en plus de proximité entre l’objet téléphone et l’intimité
– on observe dans les apps les signaux faibles des évolutions sociales
– s’oublier et regarder les usages alternatifs et les gens

Demain le téléphone restera dans la poche et on regardera autour de soi.

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Lift13, Gudrun Pétursdóttir: Icelandic Constitution [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Democracy in Distress: Re-engineering Participation.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Gudrun Pétursdóttir

From the Californian dream to the cold reality of the Icelandic quest for a Constitution for the people by the people.

Economic collapse in 2008. Huge amount of public anger. Demanded a cleaner and reformed constitution.

Iceland has been independent since 1944 (before: Denmark). Hasty constitution adopted with great national support (98%). Was to be revised very soon but it never happened in the hands of the Parliament. Maybe they weren’t the right ones to deal with it? Vested interests.

How they did it: put together a national assembly which had only one role, work on the constitution. Random sample, 18-92. Very well-prepared. In one 8-hour day of work, they had drafted out the major points that the constitution should include, and were able to publish it online the very next day.

25 people elected from the general public (anybody could run) form the Constitutional Council. Worked for 4 months solid (leave of absence from their work). Draft proposals posted on the website and open to public comments. 3600 comments. 370 formal suggestions processed by the Council. So we have a bill which took shape in the Council but with open exchange of opinion with the community. General feeling of being able to participate.

After 4 months the Council presented to the president of the parliament a bill for the new constitution — which had to be done in a way that was in line with the old constitution: only the parliament can change the constitution.

A year and a half later the constitutional bill is still under deliberation by the parliament. Heck. Conventional party-political practices: the opposition has to be against, by principle anything the ruling majority supports.

The question remains: will the parliament manage to complete the task that the public has contributed so much to? Dreary and pessimistic last slide. Whatever happens however, Iceland will never accept to go back to the previous ways of having the Parliament only work on the new constitution. They have tasted participation. steph-note: that’s depressing

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Lift13, Micah Daigle: Upgrade Democracy [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Democracy in Distress: Re-engineering Participation.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Micah Daigle

Activist for 8 years.

Story: city with only one clock, owned and controlled by the king. He’d tell people when to wake up, go to work, eat, etc. Revolution, stormed the palace, took the clock, and put a replica in the public square. Good time will be kept, and it will be kept in public. Years and years later, the clock starts wearing out, and it cost so much to maintain it that only a few wealthy people were able to do it: they became the clock-keepers, and controlled it just like the king. People took the clock apart and realized it had inherent flaws. They came up with a better solution, but it was rejected by the people, because the clock in the city centre was the symbol of their freedom. The clock remained. Years later, completely solved by a solution which did not involve taking the clock down.

This is about democracy, not about a clock. How we make decisions together.

Democracy is both an ideal and a system. You can agree with the ideal and not the system.

Micah Daigle at Lift13

We have direct and representative democracy. In CH and California, hybrid system. Direct democracy seems like a good idea until there are too many people making too many decisions. 100-page book in the mail with all the stuff one has to vote on (California). But that was just a small percentage of things the government needed to vote on. They had got on the ballot because of money, etc. Not that good a system.

Representatives do not represent all your opinions on all the issues. People get in there because they care about certain issues, but then need to take a stand on others, start trading favors, slippery slope to corruption. Money buys access to politicians.

Humans have inherent limitations (trust, etc.). What if we could turn them into strengths? “What if we could represent each other on the issues that we know best?” What would that look like? Well, we would vote on issues we knew about or cared about. And delegate our vote to somebody else we trusted for other issues. But what about money, buying votes? If I’m representing my friends, that would be an incentive to not get bought out (would break their trust). But what if? Kick the person out of the system. “Liquid democracy”, “distributed democracy”, “dynamic democracy”… better: networked democracy.

We move from hierarchy to networks. Though old networks turn into pyramids. Everything the internet touches, though, seems to want to turn into a network. Makes sense our democracy would become networked. Makes sense in theory, but how does that work out in practice?

To change something, build something that makes the existing model obsolete.

Back to our town clock: wrist watches.

Lesson here: this isn’t about upgrading democracy, but upgrading collective decision-making.

Where are we now? Started thinking about how to build it. But to build the network, need to raise money, which would in a way trap the network inside a pyramid. Others than him in the same situation. Started company called collective agency. Looks for these projects that might transform the world, but can’t get funded by traditional VCs, and helps them tell their story in a way that allows them to crowd fund them effectively.

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Lift13, Maximilian Stern [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Democracy in Distress: Re-engineering Participation.” Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Maximilian Stern

Think tank on Swiss foreign policy (foraus). Anybody can join and contribute to drafting papers on Swiss foreign policy. Party membership declining.

We face big challenges, however, and need to act — there is a tension here with our desire to include people’s concerns for our political decisions. Protests: Stuttgart 21. Nuclear power plant shutdowns. But you need to install new ways to produce electricity before shutting down power plants. Germany: wind in the north, industry in the south, so you need high voltage power lines to bring electricity from the north to the south.

=> new ways to integrate people into political decision-making.

But what kind of reform?

– direct democracy. Flaw: you can say yes or no, but not make comments. And it takes a long time to implement direct democracy.
– liquid democracy (cf. German Pirate Party). Only works within one party, the big parties are losing members.
– deliberative democracy: public discussion to reach decisions.
– go one step further: collaborative democracy.

Maximilian Stern at Lift13

Developed 6 tools for deliberative democracy:

– analyze
– …
– check the facts
– joint planning
– engage financially (citizen’s wind parks)

Examples: Iceland tried to crowd source its new constitution. Merkel’s dialogue with randomly picked citizens. Shell project connect to build a pipeline under the Rhine. Invited people to their plants and talked to them. Ended up changing their project a bit (different placement), and the project cost a little more, but they avoided all the inevitable protests.

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Lift12 Open Stage: Benjamin Wiederkehr, Ville Vivante [en]

[fr] Je suis à la conférence Lift12 à Genève ces prochains jours. Voici mes notes de sessions.

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of the open stage sessions — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

Great data visualisation following mobile phones in and out of the city of Geneva, from Benjamin Widerkehr.

Ville Vivante Trailer from Interactive Things on Vimeo.

Guy from mayor’s office: un autre regard sur la ville. Desire to allow visitors and inhabitants to see the city differently every day. Wifi benches. 200 free wifi spots. Make it visible in the material world! People want wifi, but have many questions regarding what was going to happen with the data. The Mayor decided, with Ville Vivante, to create a project which would ask questions and bring some answers before people started asking about them.

They started with mobile phones. Set up billboards, and a screen displaying the film.

In Geneva, the best way to know that people are happy about something is that they do not complain.

Geneva is a very congested city. Public transport users blame car users, car users complain about bicycles, etc. With a project like this we have actual data on where and how people are going. This can be precious information to make decisions for example, whether or not to make a zone pedestrian or not, or where/when to send garbage trucks (you don’t want to send a truck on a route where it will hold up traffic for 3 hours!)

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Get Your Lift10 Ticket Half-Price Before Christmas [en]

[fr] Vous savez certainement que Lift, à Genève (5-7 mai 2010) est un des événements incontournables du milieu de la technologie en Europe. Une conférence non-commerciale, qui vous donnera matière à penser pour l'année à venir et ouvrira des portes dans votre tête dont vous ignoriez l'existence jusqu'ici. Trois jours pour 650.- (220.- par jour!) si vous vous inscrivez avant le 26 décembre. (Comparez ça aux tarifs des formations usuelles, et vous avez un prix imbattable pour du contenu inégalable.)

The reasons I gave for attending Lift nearly two years ago are still very much true. In all honesty, if there is one European tech event you should absolutely attend each year, it’s the Lift Conference in Geneva. This year, unlike the previous ones, it will take place in May (5-7th) — much nicer weather than February!

Lift10 conference in Geneva, May 5-7, 2010. In a nutshell, Lift is 3 days of extraordinary speakers you have not heard before a dozen times already, a very diverse gathering of smart and interesting attendees, various presentation formats in addition to keynotes like discussions, workshops, open stage presentations (part of the programme is community-contributed), rich hallway conversations, and a very uncommercial feel to it all.

But don’t stop there, please do read my post from two years ago, then come back. I’ve attended the conference since it started, so you might want to read some of my posts covering it (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) — and all the videos of past talks are available freely online.

Another thing that has changed since last year besides the date is the conference pricing, which has gone up significantly for those who do not register early. Laurent wrote a really great post about the challenges encountered in pricing an event like Lift, which tries to attract attendees with different profiles and very different budgets: be too expensive, and people without an employer behind them to pay for the ticket can’t come — but be too cheap, and you’re not taken seriously (which tends to be the problem Lift has faced over the years).

Actually, anybody who provides services to a client base which is not homogeneous are faced with this dilemma, which is one of the reasons my rates (for example) vary according to which client I’m providing services to — shocking thought it may seem to some (upcoming blog post about that, by the way).

So, the good news is that if you have your ears and eyes open, and know that you’re going to Lift in 2010, you can get in for 650.- CHF (50% of the final ticket price) if you register before December 26th.

Students can apply to get one of the 20 free tickets that are reserved for them (deadline January 15th).

Journalists and bloggers should apply for a media pass.

I really hope to see you at Lift. You won’t regret it.

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TEDx Geneva: Xavier Rosset — 300 days alone on an island [en]

Xavier Rosset — 300 days alone on an island

Alone on an island, with a swiss army knife and a machete. He’s from Verbier. Extreme snowboarding, finished 2nd in 2005. Quit pro snowboarding but wanted to keep traveling. What’s the opposite of me? He likes mountains and is very social => idea of spending 300 days alone on an island.

Back to nature, and survival, and a search for himself.

Took him 14 months of preparation to realize his dream. 2nd September 2008, on a plane to head to his island near Fiji.

Initially, day-to-day survival. First started collecting coco-nuts so that he would be able to drink. First coconut? 40 minutes to open it. In the end, 30 seconds.

Night? sleep, but not under a coconut tree. On the second day, he lost his camp. He didn’t have much initial information about the island before going there. Did take some information about food before leaving. Coconut is a great laxative, he learned very fast. Snails. Crabs. Mangoes. Oranges. Lemons. Was given some fishing line and 20 hooks, and a lighter. They saved his trip.

Built a shelter. Took him three weeks and two tries to get a waterproof shelter.

He also hid his watch, wanted to lose the perception of time.

10 days after his arrival, his motivation completely plummeted. Depressed, what am I doing here? Realized he wasn’t as strong as he thought. Visitors on the island! A few hours with people from Norway on a sailing boat. They were in a hurry, but Xavier didn’t know what that meant anymore. He was ready to give up.

After 75 days, he decided not to do the 300 days. It seemed so long. 150, instead. Missed his family and relatives. He felt much better with the idea of being half-way through. Found a new motivation: sleeping, because he’d dream about his family. Being alone gives you the best freedom of the world, only limits are imagination.

Christmas: called his family on the satellite phone. Very hard. They were all there. His first Christmas without his family.

30 days later, end of January, 150 days. But it wasn’t a real victory. He was used to his lifestyle, managing it better. Wanted to be able to say he had done what he set out to do. So he added 50 more days, 200.

Water: he used 3-5 litres of fresh water a day. In Switzerland, we use 160 litres a day. He washed himself three times with fresh water. Another definition of drinking water.

End March, he really wanted to quit… but two-thirds in… He started becoming more active. Built a bench, explored. Started feeling confident because he could see the end.

Initial end plan: his best friend would come and stay with him for two weeks. He didn’t really know when it would be. Sat on a rock waiting. Very emotional when he arrived. Jumped in his arms, end of his loneliness. Lost 18kg, but did it. Stayed with him a little to socialize him again 😉

First thing Gaël told him: “hey, you missed the world economic crisis!”

Departure: sad to leave the island. It was his home for 10 months. Another adventure was going to start. Going back… arrival in Geneva. Lots of people. They came for him.

All that can get in the way of your dream is the fear of failure.

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TEDx Geneva: Claude Marshall — Sports: Giving refugee youth their lost childhood [en]

Claude Marshall — Sports: Giving refugee youth their lost childhood

Refugees. In a camp, almost all they need to stay alive. 80% of refugees are women and children.

First thing Claude did for UNHCR was see if corporations would support small projects. He was told to get money for sports for kids in camps. There is nothing for kids in camps when they get there.

First project was in Kenya, just south of Sudan, 1000 people in the camp. Context: 3 fighting groups in Sudan who all wanted the same ground.

Traumatized girls sitting around and not talking, whereas the boys get the sports programme and equipment. => sports programme for girls!

What does this programme do for them?

  • they laugh
  • they cooperate
  • it’s healthy
  • they pass the time

Also used team sport to make them go to school, by making school a requirement. Attendance raised by 80%. Importance of education for women.

Uganda has four fifths (?) of the world refugees. 10 camps. In one camp, established a football league. Throwing a ball into a camp is not a sports programme — so got an organisation to help set things up. Initially, very distrustful of themselves, and looking upon the other as an ennemy rather than an opponent. They learnt cooperation, rules, listening to the referee. Structure in their lives. School of life: winning is no big deal, and losing is not the end of the world.

Use sports to get the youth together and seize the occasion to teach them better behaviour (lots of violence etc in camps).

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TEDx Geneva: François-Xavier Tanguy — A world full of Dreams: Phnom Penh-Paris on the Dream Road by motorbike [en]

François-Xavier Tanguy — A world full of Dreams: Phnom Penh-Paris on the Dream Road by motorbike

In 2005, goes to Lhasa. His life was good but something was missing. Found a small motorbike in a shop, 500$ — with his friends, they decided it would be cool to buy the motorbike and ride it back to France. But it was not possible: good job, good money, good life in Paris did not permit it.

One day, sends an e-mail to his friends: let’s do it! Four to start with, but finally two of them were ready to carry it out: François-Xavier and Arnaud Dubois. They didn’t know how, though. Had already backpacked, but Arnaud didn’t want to backpack again. Brainstorm + champagne => if this is their dream, why not take interest in dreams all over the world?

Problems: were neither bikers nor journalists, and didn’t have contacts. They just really wanted to do it.

First target: reach out to children about their dreams and projects. Do children all over the world have the same dreams?

Second target: try to understand the dreams and projects of adults. How did they make them come true, what were the keys to success.

In 2007, started their trip from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thaïland, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ouzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Europe. 7 months with 300 interviews. 25’000 km.


  1. what do you want to do when you grow up?
  2. what is your dream?
  3. what is your dream for your country?
  4. if I were a magician, what would you like?

20 countries, many different answers. In Cambodia, for example, many children want to become doctors and fight poverty. In Ouzbekistan, they want to find water. In Afghanistan or Nepal, they want to live in peace. Boy in Nepal (Saroj) “I want to become the Prime Minister of Nepal.”

Adults: many examples too. People who aren’t afraid to fail or be successful.

Fulfilled their dream (the bike journey) and learnt a lot about the dreams of others. Created a social network around people’s dreams. Entrepreneurs. Their dream now: help people achieve their dreams and projects using new technologies. Dreamshake.

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TEDx Geneva: Guillaume Massard, Michael Doser, Bruno Giussani, Jill Bolte Taylor [en]

Guillaume Massard — Industrial Ecosystems – beta version

*(steph-note: not sure if Guillaume is the person giving the talk, or if he’s the guy being replaced because he went to Copenhagen)*

Industry and biosphere are separate. Let’s bring the inudstrial system down to earth. How could the biosphere inspire the economy?

Nature has created a system where there is no waste. It just doesn’t exist. How about applying that to industrial systems?

Strategy in four goals: circularize, minimize losses, dematerialize, decarbonize.

Re-use things more locally. Not a new idea. E.g. The Symbiosis Institute (1996). Get companies to collaborate in order to save resources. Eco-industrial networks and parks, all over the world!

The rebound effect: when you introduce a new technology, you’re sure it’s more efficient/better/etc. But 10 years later, maybe you realize that you’ve created a huge new impact on the environment. E.g. the computer, everybody thought we would go paperless, but actually computers generate more paper. Is efficient really efficient?

A classical example (UNIL research, Roman Näegeli): Toyota Prius, from 8 to 4.3 litres/100km, so you save fuel and money. But if you didn’t have a car before, you’re not being good for the environment by buying it, because then you travel more, it’s another car on the road, etc. So is this green technology more efficient, if it makes car-less people buy cars? What about the money he’s saving on fuel? Travel, restaurants, more consumption (if he did have a car), raw material consumption increase.

Heretic question: should we favor inefficiency, and prohibit low consumption vehicles? 😉 and therefore encourage other types of energy consumption?

Michael Doser — If apples fall down, do anti-apples fall up?

We don’t live in a symmetric universe. Matter and anti-matter are not created in equal quantities. *(steph-note: did I get that right? can’t hear him very well — mic fail)*

Question mark: is antimatter really just matter with opposite charge and identical properties? In 1996, experiment to try and produce anti-hydrogen atoms. But that’s only the first step, because once you have the atom, you want to study it. That first step took 5-8 years. Step “trap anti-hydrogen” started about 3 years ago. “cool anti-hydrogen” will likely take another 5-8 years. We’re not there yet! *(steph-note: and all this in Comic Sans…)* Measure light emitted by antihydrogen… in 10 years maybe?

A detour might be shorter and more scenic… let’s try again.

How about measuring the fall of antimatter? Bring gravity into the fold of particle physics. So, let’s use the limitations of the previous experiment (the atoms are moving) and form a beam of anti-atoms.

Bruno Giussani — Ideas About Spreading Ideas: Inside TED

With the internet, more and more people are having access to the best teachers in the world, to learn and be inspired. Important phenomenon when it comes to how ideas spread: before this, the reach of these inspiring teachers was much more limited.

TED is a very broad platform devoted to spreading ideas: videos, fellowship, events, all year around.

Some less-known aspects of what TED does.

1. TED Open Translation Project

Talks free to the world… not exactly true if they’re just in English. Now there are many languages in which subtitles are available for TED talks. 59 languages in 7 months. Community. Started out with professionals.

2. TEDPrize

Has to do with past achievements and future potential of people. Express a wish and ask the TED community to help them realize it. 100’000$. Example: XDR-TB awareness campaign (extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis).

Other example: Charter for Compassion.

3. TEDx

Delocalizing. Allow anybody to organize a conference “à la TED”. The license is free, there are just a dozen rules, e.g. not to charge for entry. There have been more than 250 TEDx events to this day, all over the world, from NASA to Kibera, a shanti-town in Africa.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight (video)

I hadn’t seen this video. Do watch it if you haven’t.

Right hemisphere: present moment, sensory collage, connexion to the world as a whole perfect human being (parallel processor)

Left hemisphere: thinks linear and methodically, about the past and the future, details, thinks in language which connects my internal world from my external world, and it says “I am”, separates me from the energy flow around me, and from the others.

When she had her stroke, she lost her left hemisphere, basically. Perceives her body as some weird external thing, walks across the living-room in a very rigid, mechanical way. Loss of distinction between self and outside. Then brain chatter stopped. Felt at one with all the energy around here, blissful Lala-land, no distinction between her and the world. Peacefulness, all stress gone, as well as 37 years of emotional bagage.

At one point she realises she’s having a stroke “OMG! so cool! how many brain scientists get a chance to study their own brain from the inside out?”

Couldn’t recognize if she was looking at her business card or not.

Stroke in waves, moments of clarity, on off, on off… Matches the shapes of the squiggles on the card to those on the phone to dial the number. She didn’t know that she couldn’t speak or understand language until she tried.


Wakes up shocked to be still alive. Feels so huge she can’t imagine fitting back into her body. Nirvana, and still alive. Clot the size of a golf ball. Took her eight years to completely recover. We have two minds, and we have the power to choose who and how we want to be in the world. We can choose to step into the consciousness of our right hemispheres… or the left.

The we inside of me. Which do we chose, and when?

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