Lift13, From Fiction to Design: Anthony Dunne [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “From Fiction to Design, from Design to Fiction”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Anthony Dunne

The United Micro Kingdoms: a Fiction.

Example: future of money project for Intel. EPSRC/NESTA.

Totally improbable projects: orientable roof-top landing strip for airport, on the skyscrapers. Huge huge plane with 6 stories, planetary resources scheme for asteroid mining…

Realism > idealism. Don’t design for how things are now.

Re-drawing European borders according to energy sources rather than countries.

Luigi Seraphini: Codex Seraphinianus.

Back to reality: Solutions series of books by Sternberg Press. Imaginary countries.

Alternative for the UK: United Micro Kingdoms.

Digitarians: embrace digital technology, dystopian. Self-driving cars. Rooms that carry people around.

*steph-note: lost*

Automating the road system for maximum economic benefit.

Communo-nuclearists. Use nuclear power, unpopular with other groups. Bits of landscape on wheels that transport people => train, 7km long. Plots with houses etc.

Lift13, Reinventing the Crafts: Oliver Reichenstein [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Reinventing the Crafts: the Future of Job Traditions”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Oliver Reichenstein: craftsmanship and mastery in the digital age

Define craftsman. Wise in their craft. Someone who knows what he’s doing.

Digital? Pixels, computer or iPhone involved… Digital initially actually does not mean binary/electronic. Most-used digital technology is the alphabet. Discrete values. Not every letter represents a precise sound.

Old masters: spent many many years with their master/student. Years of being together, seeing each other face to face… Good chemistry. Empathy. Thinking together.

Masters of the Enlightenment: most knew each other only through letters, never met. God knows what would have happened if they had had a chance to talk to each other.

Designer: bring your mind into the world. Designers are creators of things. Designers are measured by what they do. (In numbers, when it comes to the web.)

Switzerland: funny system where not everyone goes to university. Good system! (apprenticeships) In Japan it’s different, very strict university system. Japanese love being different from the rest of the world (the rest of the world now believes it). Interesting to listen to the Japanese trying to define how they are so special. Often, the more different people think they are, the more similar they are. Craftsman learns by doing, not by thinking.

Mastery: like climbing a mountain. Just think about the next step, don’t stress about how far the top is.

Craftsman knows what he does, master can explain it. To become a master, you need to meet your master. Reason to go to conferences, office. Need to meet people in person to make progress. You can’t replace a master with text or a video chat.

*steph-note: can’t say I really agree with this last bit.*

Lift13, Reinventing the Crafts: Massimo Banzi [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Reinventing the Crafts: the Future of Job Traditions”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Massimo Banzi

Making hand-made things that are wired. Arduino.

Make tools for makers, are makers themselves. High-level objective: change the world. But you have to be a little practical about it. Take the world of electronics and digital technology and create tools which will allow ordinary people to make interactive objects. Not just buyers!!

Computer the size of a credit card (Arduino board). Used to power things like 3D printers (has an Arduino board as a brain). Or helicopters. Or in the Large Hadron Collider. Botanicalls (tweeting plants… more water!)

Business is set up open-sourcely: Hardware is CC-BY-SA, Software is GPL, Docs are CC-BY-SA, Brand is ™.

Arduino board is in your face all the time, needs to be nicely designed.

Company distributed worldwide. No HR office, just pick up people from the community.

1.2 bio official Arduinos in the world. Chinese clones? God knows how many.

Links with coworking, fablab… Tour of their spaces/offices, with photos.


*steph-note: exciting for me, like 3D printing! Going to be spending time at FabLab Neuch’ over the next year.*

LIft13, Reinventing the Crafts: Caroline Drucker [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Reinventing the Crafts: the Future of Job Traditions”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Caroline Drucker

Is there space for small businesses?

What is making their life harder?

The web creates as many problems as it solves. But some stuff is easier. Access to knowledge. You can find out about business and accounting without having to go to business school. Easier too: amount and access to capital (coworking spaces, shared services).

Etsy: world’s largest market place for handmade goods. Massive marketplace. Huge growth. They only take 3.5% commission.

Two things that have made Etsy successful:

– completely decentralized
– sellers get a lot of feedback => A/B testing, experimentation

Very bottom-up. What makes Etsy successful is the individuals making things. Woman in Budapest making cool shoes: it’s not about convenience or speed. A lot of transparency that allows sellers to build their personal brand.

Global market, so space for funky stuff. Many home businesses.

Etsy sees them as entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are not all running start-ups and looking for billion-dollar investments. What is success?

Market research tools made available to their sellers (treat them like entrepreneurs).

Teams. Groups of sellers. Get together, work together. Collective buying, collective bargaining (healthcare in the US). Support of course, networking. New (old) kind of entrepreneurs.

Informed customer choice. Caroline buys a lot of stuff on Etsy (hazards of the job). Wrapped well, feels like a present when she gets it. Personal notes, etc. Return of the artisan.

Etsy: people powered business. Trying to make money of course, but trying to create more value. More sustainable, humane economy. While being profitable.

LIft13, Noise and Speed: Sebastian Dieguez [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Noise and Speed: Loose Brakes and Failing Filters”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging.
Sebastian Dieguez

Neuroscience perspective on everything that’s going on here. Bring it on!

Lots of books about the dangers of the internet for your brain. And Newsweek (“iCrazy”). Internet addiction all over the place. All around the press.

List of symptoms we can find in the press:

– loneliness
– narcissism and low self-esteem
– add
– anxiety
– addiction
– narrowed thinking
– loss of reliance on memory
– stupidity

Psychiatric terms…

Sebastian was asked to write something about Twitter and narcissism. Well, there’s not much out there from a scientific point of view. *steph-note: surprise!*

Tried to reverse the issue completely.

The reason we fear all these things is… 1984 (well, all that’s in there: fear of totalitarism, etc — nothing new).

What if, instead, human brains were hacking our technologies? As a biologist/pyschologist, it’s pretty obvious our brains are, based on the last two days of Lift.

Business is using the brain to make money. Like the ice-cream industry, exploiting certain facts about the human brain to make money. Not new, just using what the brain does usually. Tactile interfaces? biologically based.

3 examples of how the brain drives culture and constrains it.

1. connecting, reaching out, meeting people, getting involved with touch, sensory interfaces. Numbness illusion experiment. Feeling numbness for someone else’s finger. Cheap study!!

2. Changizi-Dehaene hypothesis. Written language, reading. Cultural harnessing and recycling. How writing hijacked the brain. Writing system evolved to fit the brain. Letters form in the brain. Tear apart the letters of all the languages, on average a letter is 3 strokes. After that, you can build all the topological configurations using three lines. Then used a huge database of pictures of nature, counting “3 lines” in the pictures. Random? Frequency is almost the same as in cultural languages. Insane! (Doesn’t make the news of course). Alphabet of any language in the world corresponds to what the people see in nature (strokes and angles…).

Conclusion: brain somewhere in the middle between natural selection (what we see) and cultural selection (alphabet morphing to the kind of shapes that the brain likes). Nobody designed the system for that!

Random thoughts: the brain has limitations but we can exploit them. *steph-note: hey, cinema anybody?*

Experiment: tell people to be as free as possible, act randomly (experimental psychologist, yay). Ex give numbers from 1-6 randomly, he writes them down, and analyzes the data. People hate doing that.

LIft13, Noise and Speed: Justin Pickard [en]

Here are my live notes of the Lift Conference session “Noise and Speed: Loose Brakes and Failing Filters”. Keep an eye open for mistakes, inaccuracies, and other flakiness due to live-blogging. A bit disjointed, courtesy of my head cold.
Justin Pickard

Dionysus’s plastic hat (fox talk).

3D printing. Woodblock printing. Desktop publishing changed the world. Food replicator.

A revolution in the making (!). Third industrial revolution? Luring back high-value manufacturing jobs from China (Obama administration).

Early attempts at 3D-printing as service.

Consumer markets. Makerbot. Technology substitution. What happens when these things arrive in our homes? Innovators and early adopters so far.

The best is yet to come.

Different take: “celebrate the 3D printer for the imagination it already fosters, not the disruption it could someday bring.” (The Atlantic)

3D prints of foetuses. Rematerialization of ultrasound pictures. But how do these objects make you feel? Something like the death mask going on here, maybe?

Gun casings. Disruptive lego piece angles.

Gold rush to 3D printing. Lots of bad stuff, crapjects “unwanted waste created by unskilled designers and fabricated using inferior materials with poor surface resolution”.

Printing your own head: doesn’t serve much purpose, but once you’ve gone through the trouble of doing it, you’re probably not going to throw it away.

Post-war USA, keeping up with the Joneses: people didn’t necessarily know good design when they saw it, so main criteria was if somebody else had it.

What would have Marx have made of the MakerBot?

Opportunities for trial and error, learning by doing. At the end of the day, friends don’t give other friends badly-designed furniture, leaking stuff, etc.

Are we getting design by committee? Who is liable when stuff fails?

Filabot. Filament maker, recycling your stuff for your 3D printer.

Crayon creatures: turning children’s drawings into sandstone creatures (via 3D printing).

Loom: similar skill set, cheaper!

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 🙂