Lift13, Innovation Drivers XXX: Heather Kelley [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Innovation Drivers: XXX”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Heather Kelley: Designing the female orgasm

Game designer since 15 years ago. Game challenge in 2006, topic “sex”. What could she come up with for a game on that topic that she could talk about on stage?

Cute little bunny that you can tickle, whisper to, scratch his tail… On the upper screen you would see the bunny fly through the air, up to its “happy place” if you do it enough. (Nintendo DS)

Another challenge. Don’t fall off the top bunk! With Erin Robinson, game called “our first times”. (Wii). Note: these are game designs, weren’t realized.

2010, idea for a real product: OhMiBod.

Vibrator scene in Sex and the City, season 1, episode 9. Until then, great segmentation in the vibrator market: cheap and badly designed, cheesy, loud, low-quality materials, bad controls. Then the feminist sex-positive sex shops showed up. Much nicer environment, good lighting, staff have tried the toys and know what they’re selling, good design, care with materials… On the inside, same technology pretty much: eccentric rotating mass.

24-carat gold-plated vibrator, 12K € with sucky controls (up and down for speed, and the left-right to cycle through patterns that you get lost in — who hasn’t been there?).

Lelo Tiani, design award. Demo. Separate controller with an accelerometer in it. You basically can shake the controller to change the vibration speed.

Another demo. Musical vibe by OhMiBod. iPad required here 😉 Vibrator picking up the music and tuning to it. App as touchscreen controller for the vibrator (you can use that instead of a song). You can use two touch points, save to favorites, etc.

Another one: sonar kind of controller. Don’t have to touch it, just approach it.

All these demos are commercially made and available. Also hacking (the last demo). You can get all the info online and make it at home.


– Arse Elektronika in SF (every year) (plans for the sonar controller) hacker community.

No better reason for more women to get into engineering!

Lift13, Innovation Drivers XXX: Garion Hall [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Innovation Drivers: XXX”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Garion Hall,

Showing us photos of their very normal-looking office. Wholesome and natural approach, successful! Focus on social responsibility (staff and models, risks and benefits, supportive, make sure they know what they’re getting into! also regarding customers, industry, society — easy to unsubscribe).

Enormously profitable 2004-2009. Rise of the YouPorn sites. Always focused on having a community (models, staff, members).

Adult industry:

– platform (case-study, traditional pay-site; packaging; subscription-based; SKU-based)
– content (traditional content still sells; UCG is getting bigger and bigger, and also “fake UCG”; conversions are the key measure of success of a product, but retention is key; strong reliance on affiliates, up to 70% of sales, 50% cut *steph-note: huge!!!*; mini-case-study:, pay per scene)
– traffic (traffic is eyeballs; basic SEO matters; own the traffic, make the money; build networks of pay sites; social networks are ineffective — keep getting their accounts pulled)
– billing (credit card is king; alternate payment methods like EU, BRIC; mobile network billing)

There case studies

1. cams & dating

– women with webcams
– pay per minute
– more for 1:1, less for spying, free for group

– women paid to participate and flirt
– some are bots
– very nichified
– pay to join, and make contact attempts

2. youporn sites

– one company bought up majors
– mishmash of platforms
– “user” generated
– free to visitors
– no real billing but ad revenue

3. mobile (skipping this)

These concepts can be applied elsewhere, business models are driven hard and fast, quickly discarded if unsuccessful. Low-quality code, lack of completeness. Marketplace model rising in popularity: AirBnB.

Future? More personal interactions, less-piratable content (cams/dating), less fragmentation but boutique sites will flourish, micro payments, increase in free content, reduction in creative quality, increase in technical quality, less money for performers and producers.

Members self-identify as 98% male, 2% female (but that is self-identifying).

Why don’t they offer female-oriented content? Big problem in the industry. *steph-note: maybe because women aren’t that visually-oriented when it comes to sex?*

Lift13, Innovation Drivers XXX: Kate Darling [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Innovation Drivers: XXX”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Kate Darling

Was terrified the first time she went to a porn industry conference. Lawyer friend: controlled by the mafia?! Wore her leather jacket to look cool… But the programme of the conf was… Billing 301, Legal 101… fear quickly dissolved into complete and utter boredom.

Porn is a business! No numbers, everyone who claims to have numbers in this industry are full of crap. But even the lowest estimates are in the range of billions of dollars.

1997: 900 adult websites, now millions.

Xvideos: 3x larger than CNN/ESPN
YouPorn: 6x the bandwidth of Hulu

20-30% of all internet traffic is porn.

Fast-paced and flexible industry that we don’t have much research on, though it’s fascinating from the economics perspective. (That’s how Kate ended up studying it.)

Internet has changed a lot, and lot of the content industry and law is struggling with it, because most of law/publishing was designed at the time and for the printing press world.


Piracy. Get a virus from porn. Virus shows more porn. Also, people want immediate access.

2004, the apocalypse: YouTube => PornTubes. Undermining the traditional business model. Copyright laws don’t help, whack-a-mole.

Really to get people to give you settlement money if you threaten to reveal they’ve been downloading gay porn…

Content is a commodity for this industry. Even if they could eradicate piracy for their content, it wouldn’t save their business model. Lots of free porn! Hard to just sell content. OMG the internets killed pr0n!

Some caught one: whee, people sharing our stuff give us free marketing! Started giving away content as a loss leader, even paying for incoming links, and getting people to pay for convenience. Give content to create a brand for yourself. Convenience, services, experience are things people will pay for.

Services in the porn industry: subscription models still work. Convenience of not having to sift through stuff, tailored to your preferences, good quality. Mobile viewing.

An experience can’t be stolen. Interactivity can’t. You can steal the live feed, but not the interactivity. Virtual strip clubs, community building. Kink-based participatory experiences.

Industry in flux, lots of change. Really doesn’t look like a dying industry! Weaker players being weeded out, and strong players surviving.

Take-away? Copyright policy: embrace change rather than fight it. The porn industry has never been able to fight change, no support from policy-makers etc. Adapt or die.

Lift13, The Agile Enterprise: Daniel Freitag [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “The Agile Enterprise: Rethinking what it means to manage”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Daniel Freitag

Won’t talk about trucks and transit graphics today, and all the bag-making stuff.

Agility: not the agility of the early days, you’re always agile in a pioneering phase — natural agility. At some point you need to be more professional, have specialized people, build departments, and end up with an org chart and all the problems it entails.

What we need after that is pods, integration.

Scrum. We’re familiar with scrum, but not much outside IT… Daniel was really excited about Scrum, watched lots of videos on YouTube, got post-its, but he was the only one doing it… spent a lot of time running around the company extolling the virtues of the backlog. It probably helped getting the company into an agile mentality but…

Product owner doesn’t work for them. Products are bags. Review? Death valley.

After his first experience with scrum, another challenge: beautiful factory in ZH, but had to move out. Oerlikon. New building built for them and other companies from the creative industry.

A chance to rethink the way they wanted to work, store things, sit, what tools, waste, collaboration…

You need room in time and room in space, to be creative. Holes in every company wall where you can hang “green boards”, very useful. Architecture has to be seen as embodiment of an agile organization.

Conservative company from a certain point of view: same product and processes for 20 years. Not just about innovative projects, but a lot about the operative process.

Different organization for projects and daily business. Also “beyond budgeting”. Eliminated their budget in January. No financial budget. Counter-productive for agility. In Feb your financial plan is already bust. Not worth it. Agility therefore supported top-down. No “be adaptive, agile, but hey, stick to the plans and the budget, right”.

Shared values. How do you keep your values when you grow? Notebooks: What the F, how and why. Inspirational little booklet, not a heavy manifest.

Don’t plan. Speculate instead. Speculation has failure built in, whereas planning is in denial. Don’t tell me, show me. Drawing pictures. Draw on post-its. Daniel believes it might very well be possible to lead the company with a pen and post-its 🙂

Lift13, The Agile Enterprise: Abhijit Bhaduri [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “The Agile Enterprise: Rethinking what it means to manage”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Abhijit Bhaduri

What makes an organization agile? Most people leave an organization because they are sick of the bureaucracy. With time, the organization grows, and starts looking a lot like the one the employee left before to join this one.

Two elements of agility, built around listening:

– Any place that connects to the customer becomes a listening post — that needs to remain agile.
– Ideas from the inside.

Agility: ability of a system to rapidly respond to change by adapting its initial stable configuration.

Wipro: growing company, lots of turnover, so lots of hiring every year (37K for 140K total). Challenge: keep a combination of youth and experience. Average age 29. 70% of the Wipro leaders started their career at Wipro.

Hire for skills, but mostly make sure they are a good fit for the organization. Hire for competencies.

India: large numbers, but very low quality of education in general *(steph-note: don’t I know it…)*

Wipro trains college professors on how to teach people science. Also younger classes. Moving on to STEM subjects in the US. Next three years: 120 teachers k-12.

Culture of the organization: need to be able to break your rules, those that made you successful.

Wipro started in 1945, small low-tech company. Today, high-tech, one of the worlds biggest outsourced technology companies. Design and test laptops, planes, vending machines… Consulting, infrastructure, solar panels…

Wipro culture: light many fires. 29 average age: restless, constantly benchmarking! Fund the entrepreneurs amongst your employees. Be prepared the fail. If you don’t do that they will take their ideas outside the organization. Failure is an investment!

Whatever the role, try and visit customers to understand what we’re trying to do better.

At the end of the day, agility at the company level is not about processes. It’s about trying out many different ideas, and something will work out. Also, Wipro has created a crucible of experiences to allow the leaders to grow. The novice is precious too, not burdened by the past. Keep the eyes of a beginner. Be constantly on the lookout for making things better and improving them.

Lift13, The Agile Enterprise: Dave Gray [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “The Agile Enterprise: Rethinking what it means to manage”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Dave Gray

Average lifespan of fortune 500 companies is decreasing. Also, as companies grow, average profit per employee decreases (=> less productive).

Shell: The Living Company. 100+ year life span, huge, and oil might run out: major shift, ordered a study on companies in parallel situations.

– decentralization: tolerate different activities on the edges (pods)
– platforms: strong identity, aloes, culture, beliefs (focus on that so the company doesn’t explode)

Evolutionary biology applied to companies: fitness. Fitness landscape: 3D diagram with tradeoffs on x and y and fitness on z.

One example of tradeoff: agility vs. efficiency (hummingbird vs. albatross)

First efforts are often clumsy. First planes were neither 747 of fighter jets.

First few tradeoffs, huge boost of fitness. But as you increase tradeoffs and optimize, the less your fitness increases, until it starts decreasing (you become vulnerable). So peak fitness is somewhere in the middle between perfect chaos and perfect order.

Too hot (chaos): Enron
Too cold (perfect order): Kodak — 1972, invented digital camera, and reaction was “why would I want to watch my photos on my TV?!” Didn’t manage to capitalize on that because the company was too cold.

You want to be in the middle, in the “just right” zone.

How do you build a flexible organization?

Traditional multidivisional organization is hierarchical. Popular organization: is networked, bubbles inside bubbles instead of a tree. Some organizing principles in the middle but semi-autonomous teams inside.

Pods. Morning Star turn tomatoes into tomato paste, that’s all they do. Marketplace of mutual accountability. P2P negotiation of contracts. No hierarchy or managers. Somewhat democratic government for resolving disputes. So every single person is a startup within the organization.

Whole Foods. Pods (teams inside teams inside teams) that are autonomous. Teams that are profitable can make the choice to grow or just keep the money. Team leaders run the store, store leaders run the region, etc. All the pods are relatively small teams.

Semco: every month the numbers are shared for open dialogue and debate. Employees share about 30% (check) of the profits. Book: 7-day week-end.

Platforms: shared services, finance, standards and protocols, culture. Providing some level of consistency across a popular organisation.

IBM: 90s, profit margin below zero. In deep trouble. Lou Gerstner new CEO. Ex-customer with a lot of frustrations as a customer. The very values that made IBM successful for so long are those that are holding the company back as the environment changes.

– excellence in everything we do: became an obsession for perfection
– superior customer service: became administrative, like a passionless marriage
– respect for the individual: became “anybody in the company can do pretty much anything without accountability”

Change the landscape by changing the platform/values. Very painful, but it worked.

Xplane, Dave’s company since 93. Dotcom boom, bust, financial crisis. 2006 major changes to go through. Infographics for change management. Created a culture map.

XPLANE Culture Map

Whenever there was a decision to make they would look at the map. *steph-note: might be an interesting exercise to do for the individual too*

Can we do something like the BMG business model tool for culture?

Not ready for sharing yet… but soon!

Lift13, Resilience and Resistance: Konstantina Zoehrer [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Resilience and Resistance”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Konstantina Zoehrer, check out her speaker notes.

“Since we can’t change reality, let us change the eyes that see reality.” Will try and prove this quote true.

Greece: 20K homeless people, unemployment 25%, below poverty line 28%. 57% (unemployment? steph-note: missed something there.)

Was thinking of leaving the country. Studying. Started working, interest in social media and social networks. Started a community. Blogging. Landed her a job (“dream” job). 2010. But she still wanted to leave. Phone ringing, unknown number. Prime minister’s office. “You asked him on Twitter why you should not leave the country, do you want to ask him in person?” Whee.

She asked her question. He didn’t really give a satisfying answer. “Not leaving, etc. is a personal choice.” Disappointed.

Went back to Vienna. Found a job. steph-note: did something in Athens that I didn’t get. She decided to stay, this time. Tweeted to the Prime Minister: now that I’m staying, you’re leaving (he resigned). Realised that it was indeed a personal choice of hers to stay.

Examples of community-based initiatives. Digitally-organized meetings of people in front of the parliament. Not just demonstrations against austerity measures, but also discussion about solutions.

Fighting against food waste (giving excess to charities). Combating negative stereotypes in the media. Teaching languages in public libraries. Business startup community, entrepreneurship. Changing the insurance model. Symbiosis. Loft2work.

Lift13, Resilience and Resistance: Noah Raford [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Resilience and Resistance”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Noah Raford

Who is sick of the future? Everything is accelerating, etc etc. We’re pretty bad at predicting the future. steph-note: NNT, Black Swan

Should we give up or try and predict even harder?

Example. Friend getting married in beautiful tropical island, but big project due at work the same week. Two schools of thought:

– book in advance, and lose ticket if you don’t finish the project (and risk losing cheap ticket price if you cancel)
– wait and see if you can finish, then book ticket (and risk paying more)

Anticipation (skate to where the puck will be).
Agility approach: doesn’t matter what’s coming your way, be a ninja, you can deal with anything. Joi Ito, “nowist”.

Big investments: usually, anticipation.
Lots of small decisions: agility.

But what goes on in situations where you have big investments and lots of decisions? “Strategic foresight”, what futurists call themselves when they’re embarrassed to be calling themselves futurists.

Speculative exercise. Look around at the present. What is change, what might change, imagine and rehearse your response. => conversations that are actually about today.

Thinking about bird flu, for example. How can we deal with various pandemic flu scenarios? Actually, this thinking by some shipping companies about how we’d deal with airline traffic being shut down helped them when the volcano blew up. They were wrong about the problem (no bird flu pandemic) but had something to deal with the impacts.

Even if our mental models where perfectly in sync with the outside world, over time they would inevitably get completely out of sync with the way the world has evolved — and not know it. Overconfidence.

Foresight: looking for change. What are we not aware of? Predator: seeing the unseen. Reperceiving the present. Talk about the future in order to perceive the present in a different way.

Tactical decision games. Imagine responses to scenarios. Makes one more mentally and socially resilient. Scenarios: containers for disagreement. You can consider things that are potentially dangerous to the present. Better be surprised by simulation than blindsided by reality.

Future of newspapers. Drones.

Lots of what we do (focus groups, etc), serves to reinforce our mental models of the present. Cf. “If I’d asked people what they’d wanted, they’d have asked for a better horse.” (fake Ford quote by the way).

The web is changing the way we think about foresight.

Christensen’s Curve. Futurescaper.

Future of foresight (!!).

1975 John Brunner, The Shockwave Rider: every decision is basically a crowd sourced one (scary).

Lift13, Resilience and Resistance: Venkatesh Rao [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Resilience and Resistance”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Venkatesh Rao

The “blogger” here. Being resilient is getting up again and again after being punched down.

How can you be resilient? The more he thought about it, the more he realized the important question is the “why” of it.

The fox knows many things, the hedgehog knows one big thing. Good and bad in both styles.

Fox gets up for new adventure. Hedgehog gets up for old passion. Turkey gets up out of habit. Different narratives.

Story 1: the stonecutters and the cathedral (stonecutters are fox, turkey, hedgehog). Fox: building a cathedral. Hedgehog: fastest stonecutter. Turkey: earning the paycheck.

Story 2: 3 stonecutters at Chesterton’s Fence. In the countryside. Fox: let’s build a bazar here! Fence on the road. Hedgehog: tear it down and put a stone fence. Turkey: hey hold off, we don’t know why this fence is there, it might serve a purpose, let’s not touch it.

Story 3: 3 stonecutters and the vicious dogs.

Morale: fox or hedgehog ok, but don’t be a turkey. steph-note: story incomplete, hope there is a complete version online somewhere.

Hedgehog resilience in Nature: the panda, knows how to look cute.

Foxy resilience: sea birds at Mira Flores, know “4-hour fishing” by Tim Seagull Ferriss.

Hedgehog resilience for humans: Transition Village, Val David, Quebec. Big organic idea of the world.

Foxy for humans: Jugaad movement in India.

Hedgehog mind: single model, one big idea, eliminate contradictions.

Foxy mind: slightly better at prediction, embrace contradiction, interdependence.

Every resilient hedgehog is alike, but every resilient fox is resilient in its own way. Hedgehogs are more predictable.

You can put people on a two-way chart (values, talents | fox, hedgehog).

Foxes: sacred = adventure, profane = boredom
Hedgehogs: sacred = love, profane = betrayal

steph-note: a few more charts I didn’t manage to capture here, check slides.

Law 1: build on contradictions, not values. Enterprise = adventurous voyage rather than institution, initially! Go boldly where no man has gone before, but don’t mess with pre-warp cultures.

Hedgehog: mint condition stamp (more damage, less value)
Fox: wabi-sabi bowl (more damage, more value)

Law 3: seek motifs, not truths. Globalization = container ships everywhere.

Law 4: pursue adventure, not love. Hojun Song’s devices: Global Orbiting Device (GOD), WMH = Weapon of Mass Happiness.

– build on contradictions, values will emerge
– preserve memories, identity will emerge
– seek motifs, truths will emerge
– pursue adventure, love will emerge

Act like a fox, your inner hedgehog will emerge! (but seriously, don’t be a turkey)

LIft13, Mobile Stories: Christopher Kirkley, Sahel Sounds [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.
Christopher Kirkley: Sahel Sounds

Camera and other functions supersede making calls. How technology has been adopted in a different culture challenges some of our ideas.

Initially thought the cellphone would interfere with his field work and recordings. Started to realize that the cellphones were also a tool (e.g. people recording local music productions).

The cellphone in West Africa is a little different from in the West. Cheap alternative phone market, converging technologies into one device. Memory card as personal storage space of all digital media. Photos reworked and passed from person to person.

People spend a lot of time sitting around and drinking tea, context where file-sharing can happen. So cellphone adapted as a sharing device. Bluetooth for direct file transfers. Browsing each other’s collections. This is how most media is traded. Emergent network: cellphones and people traveling from city to city. steph-note: back to a “slow” network with spatial highways

Metaphor for the internet. Has evolved differently from “our internet”. Most frequently shared data on mobiles is music. Soundscape has been transformed. Tinny cellphone music being played all the time, headphones pretty much inexistent. Home-made creations found only on the bluetooth exchange network. Most interesting music! Music would not be distributed without the cellphones (cheap!) About 15$ to record a song in a cheap studio (don’t need the best microphone…). You can walk out of the studio and immediately start sharing your song. Great method of distribution for music of ethnic minorities.

Shops which are physical versions of iTunes: you go and buy an MP3 song. Of course paying for the service and not the music (which isn’t perceived as having an inherent value). For artists: mp3 trading as a way of free promotion. A lot of artists are actually going to the mp3 vendors with their new songs so they will distribute them, sometimes even paying them to promote them.

Student who publicly shames a director for abusing students in exchange for grades, through a rap song. Song goes viral. Student expelled until he deletes the song, so he deletes it. But it’s already on the network, out of control.

Rise of the cyborg esthetic in Mali.