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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Come to LIFT'08 [en]

[fr] Si vous ne pensiez pas aller à LIFT dans deux semaines, j'aimerais vous encourager à vous inscrire pour nous y rejoindre.

J'avoue qu'une des raisons que j'entends souvent de la part de gens qui me disent ne pas y aller, c'est le prix. Un peu plus qu'un iPhone, et moins qu'un vol à destination de San Francisco (à plus forte raison, meilleur marché également que deux grandes conférences technologiques ayant récemment eu lieu en Europe: Web2.0Expo et LeWeb3).

LIFT est un événement extraordinaire. 3 journées dont une de workshops, la fondue, deux événements supplémentaires gratuits (venture night et sustainable dev), ainsi que la fête -- et vous repartirez proprement "liftés". LIFT est une conférence qui change la vie des gens. Elle est au carrefour des questions de société et de la technologie, d'une pertinence incontestable par rapport aux problématiques de notre temps.

J'explique dans cet article plus en détail pourquoi je vous encourage absolument à venir à LIFT (il est encore temps). C'est un investissement qui sera largement récompensé. Quel que soit le domaine dans lequel vous travaillez, prendre 3 jours sur l'année pour s'informer à la source sur les problématiques de notre société liées à la technologie n'est pas un luxe.

The [LIFT Conference]( is taking place in just two weeks from now in Geneva.

If you’re free on those dates and haven’t considered attending, I’d like to encourage you to [register]( and come and join us. It’s really worthwhile. And if [the price tag]( is making you hesitate, think again. Here’s what’s included in your registration fee for this three-day event:

– a full day of [workshops](
– [two days of conference]( (more about that below)
– nice buffet lunches (upgraded since last year!), [fondue]( evening, open bar [party](
– [venture night]( and [sustainable dev]( sessions
– [lots of WiFi](

So, here we are. 850 CHF (that’s $781.50, 530.80€ or £396.30 [as of today]( for three days. Even though it is a sizeable chunk of money for many people (I’m not talking about you lucky ones who get sent to great events like LIFT by their employers), it’s not that expensive, when you think of it (just a little perspective):

– an iPhone: 399€
– the MacBook Air: $1799
– LeWeb3 (Paris): over 1000€
– Web2.0Expo (Berlin): over 1000€
– a cheap flight to San Francisco: $800 (you spend only 2 days on the plane, and it’s way less fun)

Now, as that is out of the way, let’s get to the meat. Why is LIFT worth so much more than what you pay for it? I’d like to add my two cents to [what the organizers already say](

– **new speakers:** the LIFT team goes to great lengths to introduce speakers that you haven’t already heard at all the other conferences you go to. I’m told it’s becoming a habit for other conference organizers to do their “speaker shopping” at LIFT. (Insider scoop, from Laurent himself: Eric Favre, the inventor of Nespresso, is one of the latest confirmed additions to the speaker list.)
– **great talk quality:** heard of [TED Talks]( They gather the best speakers around the world, and last year, started including talks from partner conferences. [LIFT is one of the four events]( they chose to select talks from.
– **at the crossroads of Life and Technology:** this, I think, I the top reason I really love LIFT. It’s about technology, but it’s also about people, society, and the world we live in. It lacks the dryness of the all-tech conference. It’s visionary. It blows your mind and lifts you up. It changed my life, and I’m not the only one.
– **non-commercial:** though I’m not against profit ([Going Solo]( is, after all, a [commercial event]( “A little background.”)), the fact LIFT is a non-profit labour of love does reflect in the overall atmosphere and quality of the event. No pitches or sponsors on stage. It’s about ideas and about us. It’s friendly and welcoming and human.
– **more than the stage:** LIFT is about what happens during breaks, in corridors and doorways. Yes, the most value one gets out of an event is generally in networking. LIFT has however taken this awareness a step further, investing a lot in [LIFT+](, activities and exhibits that populate the “in-between” spaces.

I hope it’s obvious from what I’m describing: LIFT is truly an event beyond all others. It’s well-organized and touches topics which are over-important for understanding the world we live in: technology has taken an increasing place in our society (all societies, actually), and this is a chance for geeks and “humanists” both to take a few steps back and think about the “big picture”.

Still not 100% sure you want to [register](

If you’re used to the conference circuit: LIFT will be a welcome change from what you’re used to.
If you don’t usually go to conferences: if you go to one event this year, it should be LIFT. (Well, you should give Going Solo a go too, but it’s [a rather different kind of conference](

If you are attending, it’s still time to spread a bit of [link love]( for LIFT — have you done it yet?

I’m looking forward to seeing you there. I’m part of the [electronic media crowd](, though, so if you see me [live-blogging]( like mad, don’t be [offended]( if I’m [not very chatty](

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Reading The Black Swan [en]

[fr] Notes de lecture de "The Black Swan", sur l'impact des événements hautement improbables.

One of the things I did yesterday during my time offline was read a sizeable chunk of [The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable]( by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

It’s a fascinating read. (Thanks again to Adam Hill for saying I should read it.) I just find myself a little frustrated that I can’t effortlessly copy-paste quotes from the book into a text file or [my Tumblr]( as I read. (And no, I wouldn’t want to be reading this online. I like books. They just lack a few features. Like searchability, too.)

Anyway, I’ve been [twittering away]( while I read, and here are a few things I noted. These are not exact quotes, but paraphrases. Consider them “reading notes.” (And then a few me-quotes, hehe…).

– oh, [one quote]( I did copy to [Tumblr]( (check it, if you’re lucky, you might find more quotes!)
– Finding Taleb’s concepts of Mediocristan and Extremistan fascinating and insightful.
– Probably in Extremistan: number of contacts, length of relationships? Not sure.
– High-impact, low-probability events (Black Swans) are by nature unpredictable. Now apply that to the predator problem.
– We confuse ‘no evidence of possible Black Swans’ with ‘evidence of no possible Black Swans’ and tend to remember the latter.
– ‘No evidence of disease’ often interpreted as ‘Evidence of no disease’, for example.
– Taleb: in testing for a hypothesis, we tend to look for confirmation and ignore what would invalidate it.
– Interesting: higher dopamine = greater vulnerability to pattern recognition (less suspension of disbelief)
– So… Seems we overestimate probability of black swans when we talk about them. Terrorism, predators, plane crashes… And ignore others.
– Anecdotes sway us more than abstract statistical information. (Taleb)
– That explains why personal recommendations have so much influence on our decisions. Anecdotes, rather than more abstract facts or stats. (That’s from me, not him.)
– Journalists according to Taleb: ‘industrial producers of the distortion’

**Update:** [Anne Zelenka wrote a blog post]( taking the last and, unfortunately, quite incomplete citation as a starting-point. Check [my clarification comment on her blog]( And here’s [the complete quote](

> Remarkably, historians and other scholars in the humanities who need to understand silent evidence the most do not seem to have a name for it (and I looked hard). As for journalists, fuhgedaboutdit! They are industrial producers of the distortion. (p. 102)

**Update 2:** Anne edited her post to take into account my comment and our subsequent discussion. Thanks!

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Alarmapathy [en]

[fr] A force d'avoir des avertissements pour tout et rien (surtout dans les pays Anglo-Saxons), on finit par les ignorer.

[JP is so right!](

> I have lost count of the number of times I’ve sat in a car whose dashboard is littered with various alerts and alarms. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve seen kitchen appliances whose control panels are flashing whatever they flash. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve seen televisions and video recorders and DVD players and radios and computers with bits and bobs flashing away merrily.

> […]

> Apathy sets in when we have too many alarms, too many meaningless alarms. Alarms should be risk sensors that help us make decisions that carry risk. Instead, we may be moving towards a world where nanny-state numbness is moving on to devices, and as a result apathy will increase.

> You know what I mean. You know that we live in a world where a “talking” bag of peanuts is no longer science fiction, where the bag says “Warning: The bag you are opening contains nuts”. Where you can’t take something out of the microwave oven without someone intoning the words “Warning: Contents may be hot”. Where swimming pools will recite the mantra “Warning: contents wet” as you enter.

> We need to be careful. Otherwise our alarms and nanny-state-hood will have appalling consequences, as alarmapathy increases to terminal levels.

JP Rangaswami, Wondering about alarmapathy

Coming from Switzerland, the thing that strikes me the most in London is the number of warnings and safety announcements and “danger signs” (it’s even worse in San Francisco, where I spent my summer).

The first few “security announcements” had me worried — but then I quickly learned to ignore them. Just like I ignore any burglar alarm in the UK, because as we all know, they’re always false alarms…

I also wonder what it does to our perception of the world when we are assailed with so many messages about how dangerous our environment is. I’m sure it can’t be good.

In the SF MUNI, the wall behind the driver is literally covered in signs saying things like “it’s forbidden to assault the driver” — and I think “gosh… people around here spend their time assaulting MUNI drivers? what kind of place is this?”

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You and Technology [en]

[fr] Tout ce qui existait déjà dans le monde avant notre naissance est simplement normal; les innovations techniques faites entre ce moment-là et jusqu'à nos trente ans sont incroyablement excitantes et créatives, et avec un peu de chance on pourra faire carrière avec; tout ce qui est inventé après nos trente ans est contre-nature et sonne le glas de la civilisation telle que nous la connaissons, jusqu'à ce que ça ait été là une dizaine d'années, quand ça devient graduellement OK, en fin de compte. (Paraphrasé d'après Douglas Adams.)

A lot of truth in what [Douglas Adams says]( here:

  1. everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
  2. anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
  3. anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Douglas Adams

How old are you?

Thanks to Kevin for pointing me there.

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