Lift12: Sean Park, Reinventing Finance, One Startup at a Time [en]

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

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Sean Park’s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

Every 70 years or so, big step forward and paradigm shift. Society struggles and just as it settles in some kind of golden age, another one comes. 1971 the age of information.

200 years of industrial economy. Now information economy. Big data, consumerization, gamification… trends.

Finance is arriving… Everything-as-a-service.

[11.03.2012 steph-note] This is where I started flagging and decided to skip the session and take a break. Skipping a session at Lift is always a bad thing 😉 as all speakers are fascinating. It was the case here too.

Watch the video and check out Sean’s article on his blog.

Why do corporations exist? to minimize transaction cost. (steph-note: wow, doesn’t the web do that? is the web liable to replace corporations?)

steph-note: shocked by what Sean says about overdraft charges and practices in the US.

Blogging in the Morning: Lift12, 3615, StartupWeekend [en]

Here we go again. Inspired by one of my good friends who has been working in her studio in the morning and doing paid work in the afternoon, I’m going to have another go at “blog in the morning”.

I have, as always, a ton of things I want to write about. This post will be random.

I spent three days at Lift conference last week. For those of you who have never been to Lift, you must put it on your calendar for next year. Buy the tickets in the summer, so you get the early-early bird price. Lift is a wonderful conference. The talks are fascinating, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, the fondue is awesome.

I live-blogged the conference, like I do each year. I’m never happy with the job I do as a live-blogger (I always think others like Adam or Suw do a way better job than I do), but I’ve come to accept that live-blogging is gift not that many people have, and that I’m good enough at it to do a decent job of it and deserve my pass year after year (until now, at least).

Speaking of Lift, Lift’s founder Laurent Haug has started a podcast/show I haven’t yet had time to catch up with (I’m dying to) called 3615 (reference to old French Minitel codes). It’s in French. I think it’s great that it’s in French. What’s it about? It basically calls itself “3615, the show that wonders if the 21st century is a good idea or not”. Neat.

Lift this year properly lifted me ;-). I feel excited about technology again: 3D printing for example, I’m actually very tempted to order a RepRap kit and build one for eclau. Or robots.

I’ve decided to take part in the next Lausanne StartupWeekend. It’s this coming week-end! There are still a few open spots if you want to sign up, by the way. Julien Dorra is the guilty one: his talk made me realize I’d love to take part in the kind of events he was talking about. Actually, I’ve been inspired more than once to organize hack-dayish events: Website Pro Day, World Wide Paperwork and Administrivia Day, and more recently (still at the idea stage) “important but not urgent” days for eclau. Basically, “let’s get together and do stuff”. I also find Addict Lab fascinating, even though I still (after a lunch with Jan) can’t quite wrap my brain completely around it.

I like playing with ideas and doing a variety of things. Maybe putting myself in the kind of context StartupWeekend offers will also help me understand better what it is that I do. Plus, it’s going to be great fun.

So, anyway, I’m going to StartupWeekend. I even have an idea to pitch (I think). Who else is coming?

While I’m rambling on about Lift, one major take-away for me was the idea that information overload is part of the human condition. Go read my notes of Anaïs Saint-Jude’s talk, and once the video is online, listen to it. Well, listen to the whole Lift conference, actually. That’s what week-ends are for!

There is a whole lot more to say about Lift (3 days, folks!) but I’ll stop here. I feel like reading through my notes again, I have to say. Live-blogging, even if it’s not particularly difficult for me, requires a lot of concentration (it’s tiring) and it does mean I suffer a little from the post-effort brainwash syndrome. You know, like how after an exam you can’t remember a thing you wrote? That.

As for the other stuff I want to write about… let’s keep some for these coming mornings, OK?

Lift12 Extreme Hackers: Mark Suppes and the Open Source Fusion Reactor [en]

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

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Mark Suppes’s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

lift12 1100343.jpg

This guy built a working nuclear fusion reactor.

People think nuclear = fission. (Uranium, etc.)

Fusion takes hydrogen or helium and fuses them. Lighter elements. Much more promising technology!

We’ve succeeded in fusion, but not fusion where we get more energy out than what we put in.

steph-note: don’t know enough about fusion to know when he’s starting to pull our leg… or if

In the 50s, Farnsworth (invented television) invented “fusor”.

Mark has done a lot of web startups. Has learned that there is no such thing as “too ambitious”.

Found this video by a guy released from his gag order after top secret work on fusion. Has a machine which if built big enough, would cross the break even threshold. New tech that would change everything!

Started modelling it on the computer. Started a blog. After some time, people found him.

Tried to make his own 3D printer, but that didn’t work at all 😉

steph-note: another of those hard-to-blog talks, I think my brain is too fried to process this type of talk!

Got funded on Kickstarter.

200 mio $ to build the Bussard reactor. A lot of money to invest.

Lift12 Extreme Hackers: Hojun Song, Open Source Satellite Initiative [en]

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

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Hojun Song’s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

lift12 1100342.jpg

Last talk before launching his satellite. Open Source Satellite Initiative.

  • Tool you hit and it says I love you.
  • Jewellery made of uranium for people who want to commit suicide (you can’t take it off).

Mission: test a 100% commercial-grade nano sized satellite; publish a manual; build an open source platform for the nano satellite. Satellites for Dummies. — 50 already in space. 1kg.

Easy! Build a satellite, rent a rocket, get a something authorization frequency… etc steph-note: list gets worse

Most important thing: has to withstand radiation!

steph-note: great talk but hard to take notes!

Goal: making a database of space qualified components to make them more easily accessible => accessible space programme.

steph-note: basically Hojun Song is walking us through the process of building his own satellite and launching it, and it’s quite funny. Worth watching the video!

Only need to sell 10’000 T-shirts to fund your satellite! (9800 to go!)

steph-note: starting to think the “extreme hackers” in this session are in fact artists 😉

Lift12 Extreme Hackers: etoy.AGENT ZAI [en]

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

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of etoy.AGENT ZAI’s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

lift12 1100341.jpg


The only thing that Etoy sells is stock. You become and investor.

Etoy history represented as a stock chart.

History. First, search engine subversion. (Art-yard.)

Became part of the global transportation network. Containers as nomadic pieces of architecture, icons of globalization.

The outside is standardized.

steph-note: a little lost, maybe that’s the point?

1999 Etoy got stuck in a huge mess. American company with almost the same name, offered a lot of money for the brand, but also sued them for trademark infringement, etc.

steph-note: heck. the toywars actually led to etoys share going down so much that the company filed for bankruptcy.

All about gamification. Let’s do something positive after that! Work with children. Hacking humans. Day-care.

steph-note: I’m not sure I get this “art” thing (not the first time this happens to me)

Understanding people as memory systems. (Elderly people.)

Hacking the end of life. Spheres. Move and sound.

Also doing stuff with ashes (Timothy Leary).

Lift12, New Futures: Lisa Harouni, 3D Printing [en]

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

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Lisa Harouni’s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

lift12 1100340.jpg
3D printing! Lisa became fascinated with 3D printing after meeting a guy who kept fiddling with a little structure that was impossible to create with traditional manufacturing techniques.

Tomorrow we’ll feed our desktop 3D printers with material and they’ll produce objects for us.

How does it work? Create a 3D model and build it layer by layer from the base upwards.

Materials: plastic, aluminium-plastic composite, ceramics, metals, glasses, chocolate… anything that can be melted. Can also create large (2m) structures. Also, tiny (4 microns).

Prototypes. Also final products. steph-note: lovely lamp

Furniture. Structures that cannot be made any other way, so complex. Clothes.

Other end of the spectrum: engine block. Very heavy. Get the weight down? Remove the solid parts from the design. Create a system that builds a structure only when needed to hold the weight. Less material, less weight, better cooling channel. Again, can’t be built in any other way.

More porous implants. If it’s solid metal body tissue moves away. Porous implants mean the tissue can grow in it.

3D-printing has no economy of scale. So each one can be different. Adapting to specific needs. steph-note: wow, blown away by the implications — hadn’t seen it so clearly until now

Website of the future: pick your lamp, the designer has created customization experiences, pick what you want. Then… upload your product, to centres which will build it on demand. Reduce shipping costs, etc.

We’ll be able to download spare parts from the web. Hoover breaks down, you can fix it at home. Good-bye warehouses. But what happens with copyrights? The product industry might be disrupted just like the music industry is being disrupted now.

Bike: dozens of machines needed to create the different parts… in future we can do this with a single machine.

The landscape of manufacturing is going to change.

Price? lamp, 40-50$. Within a week or two but built within an hour.

Watch the video:

Lift 12, New Futures: Julien Dorra [en]

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

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Julien Dorra’s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

lift12 1100337.jpg

Being together in the same space. But let’s first talk about cyberspace! Looking for papers in the office and we wish we had the “search” feature to find them. Cyberspace is fun, engaging, we learn, etc., most of our time spent in cyberspace.

Meetings are boring, brainstormings fail to innovate, and conferences… we can’t bridge the gap when we go back to work.

University: students on computers, and facebook is always more interesting than class.

In 2009, involved in drupal community in France. Dev sprints. Offline, around a table. In an office. Set a bunch of goals and work on it together. A week, three days… depends.

“Sprint” is not a good word, it’s more a way to be out of the day-to-day flow and concentrate on the product. “What, you’re going to Paris for a whole week, not see the Louvre, and look at a computer 12 hours a day?”

Accelerates the project! Meatspace gives you unlimited bandwidth.

Sprints: self-organizing, physical location is irrelevant, workflow is not formatted. Only developers!

A few weeks later, Julien participated in the first startup week-end Paris.

From the outside, looks like a sprint. But…

  • it’s a local event (locality is important)
  • variety of communities represented
  • the format is also designed.

Learning is the key goal here, the output is not that important.

Now, let’s focus on the output: Artgame Week-end. Produce a usable game in 48 hours, with participation of artists.

People are not always open to this kind of event: “I need a developer. Will I be ensured I’ll work on my project?” Exploratory, diversity of participants, focus on the output.

Artgame week-end impacted mainly the online world and didn’t really reach out of Paris.

Reaching beyond innovations: Museomix. Implement ideas of digital integration directly in the museum. Needed to take place in the museum. You have to design for the place. Strict process in terms of output. At first, museum people very skeptic regarding the output. But now, 5 projects the museum is actively seeking funding for. Now there is a community of museumx-ers. 70 participants but many more in the community.

Wide inclusion, tangible output and impact, remix of a museum. Had to move things around in the museum, not simple!

Different approaches to the place, the community, the output in these four types of events.

Back to the 20th century. Strong historic taboo against this type of event.

20th century, factury is optimum organization. Worker-machine. Information flow is maybe top-down, but nobody needed to know what the neighbour was doing.

Now we’re hyperconnected to everybody, we know what others are doing, and that the factory is not the optimum model anymore. The spring principle applies to many different domains (sprint !== rush).

Serial collaborators are people able to contribute to any type of event. Diverse skills and talents give you stronger, richer output.

steph-note: this is making me want to participate in one of these events… maybe the next startup week-end here?

Don’t set up an event and try and build a community. Reach into your existing communities and then build events for them.

Interesting: had people from other museums coming to work for museumx!

Lift12, Near Futures: Ben Bashford [en]

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

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Ben Bashford’s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

lift12 1100336.jpg

Designing machines with empathy. Cable TV box: ask it to do something, doesn’t do it. Ask again, still doesn’t do it. Asks it to do something else, then tries to do all three things at the same time.

Interactions with computers and new media are fundamentally social. Let’s assume for this talk that computers = people. And “has a processor” = computer.

What do you get when you cross an airplane with a computer? A computer! Once you put a processor in something it stops being what it was before and starts being a computer. (Book: The Inmates are Running the Asylum.)

Nest: sets your central heating according to data found online.

Izon camera sits quietly in your house and captures video when it’s disturbed and posts it online.

Wristband that helps you turn your exercise routine into a game. Scales that track your weight by connecting with your iPhone. (Withings.)

Retailers don’t know what to do with these things. Classified in “miscellaneous”.

Computers = people = everywhere. Getting cheaper, they’re soon going to be talking back to us. Conversational UI. Vision is getting cheaper (XBOX 360). They’ll know when we’re looking at them and adjust their behaviour accordingly 😉

Ben doesn’t think “robot” fits for these things, and “bot” kind of stops at software.

It’s not about what they’re doing but how they do it.

Mint floor cleaner. Amazon review: “personality of the bot is OK. not quite as chipper as the other cleaning jobs but gets the job done”. Interpreting behaviour as personality. Interesting!

So… what are you designing? It’s going to be read as personality, shouldn’t be left to engineering.

Who is this? what does it want? How does it feel about it?

Problem: anthropomorphism => uncanny valley.

Canny Basecamp. Minimal viable person. Messenger app icons. Tower Bridge calmly referring to itself in the first person.

Pixar “lamps” — the moment they start moving they have personalities and emotions.

Macbook pulsating light: breathing speed for normal sleeping human.

Computer can’t do real random().


Technology should create calm. What about a computer that keeps asking for your attention? Talk to me, look at me, help me. Cute.

Plants = ambient displays. Robotany?

The more plants you get together, the calmer it gets.

Skeumorphism. Make new stuff in the form of the old to minimise future shock. Book metaphor for iPad books. Has pages that turn.

Some of these things could be interacting with each other as much as they’re interacting with us. Some would need to be used by both humans and machines. Agent centered design. Open communication: telepathy between machines. How will we know what’s going on? Beautiful seams.

Doesn’t think we should be making machines that empathize with us. The empathy should be ours.

Lift12 Stories: Rufus Pollock, Open Data [en]

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

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Rufus Pollock’s session — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

lift12 1100333.jpg

In Sumer, 5K years ago, businessmen had the idea to start mark counts of stuff on the side of boxes. Born of necessity. Writing.

UK census 1801. Desire to count population. US: 1880 it was taking 7 years to process the data from the census. 1890 Hollerith Tabulator.

IBM 1960s. Innovation coming out of government need and the nuclear programme (need for computational power).

Today, in the midst of a revolution. Information complexity (necessity) and info tech (opportunity).

Government is opening up information. 3 years ago, no open data. Today, also companies and communities.

What is Open Data? Anyone (= really anyone!) is free to use, reuse and distribute. At most, requirement to attribute or share alike.

Dream of open data: dropability (?).

In general, open data does not mean personal data. We’re talking about stuff like train times, station locations, spending breakdowns, national laws… transport, geolocation, statistics, electoral-legal.

Why now? Story of medicine gone wrong.

Summer 2002, ex-accountant from Vegas turned Catholic priest. Chest pains. Told he needs immediate heart bypass. Goes home, calls up his best friend (nurse) advising him to get a second opinion. Non-specialist told him there was nothing wrong with his heart. Saw another one. Same thing.

Went to see the CEO of the first place. Something is wrong, what are you going to do about this? Hrm, not very much. Thanks for the feedback.

Contacted the FBI. Hundreds or (of?) thousands of people over a 10-year period had unnecessary serious procedures performed on them (some died, or ended up permanently disabled or in pain).

Don’t get a flat tyre in front of that healthcare place or you’ll end up with a heart bypass!

One of the best post-surgery survival rates (of course if you operate on healthy people!)

Looking at the statistical data, it would have been possible to notice high rates of surgery and very low mortality rate.

To many eyes all anomalies are noticeable. If more people had seen the data maybe the alarm bell would have been sounded.

Apps and services

  • Mapumental (enter criteria to choose where you want to live — price, commute…)
  • Where does my money go? visualise where your tax money goes, with coloured bubbles. Would help us feel better about paying our taxes.

Why open? Goes back to the challenge and the opportunity of the information revolution. Challenge: exploding info complexity.

In 1820s all UK bank clearing was done in a single room once a day. Today, billions of transactions a minute.

Opportunity: computing power. Today, a smartphone has more computing power than the system for the Apollo moon landings.

Open data scales and closed data doesn’t.

Why not open cars and open shoes? Giving a copy of your car is a problem, but a copy of your data isn’t.

Innovation. Best thing to do with your data will be thought by somebody else (vice versa too).

Better engagement, understanding…

Where are we going?

More use of this open data (specially by businesses). Businesses will wake up to the opportunity. They’ll also realise they need to share back. Communities as well.

Quatity changes quality. More data means better data.

Data as platform rather than commodity. You build on it rather than sell it.

Faraday’s baby. Be modest.

Assumption: institutions have this data and it’s well-organized. Is it sometimes a mess? Or not there? Making it public is suddenly making departments/institutions get their data in order.

Lift12 Stories Open Stage: Pierre Spring, Don't Make Me Steal! [en]

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

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

What happened after the don’t make me steal workshop?

lift12 1100331.jpg

Outcome of the workshop was a manifesto that you can sign through a web app. Put it on hacker news and went for drinks. 4500 visitors in the first evening!

Luckily the server didn’t crash. Had nailed a need somewhere. 10’000 people signing within 3-4 days. Translations started coming in.

One story: hadopi. General secretary of hadopi contacted them through Twitter requesting to meet them. “Hrm ok, can we do that in Switzerland please?”

Spent several hours talking. Very positive. Offered to connect them in they started to reach 100’000 signatures. Also contacted by Dach, Pierre spent hours talking to them on Skype.

Nobody from the movie industry. A year later: things haven’t really changed. Movie industry still has people working on stuff like ACTA and SOPA. Sad!

In Switzerland, government decided NOT to change the law, still legal to download as long as you don’t share. Report saying losses are minimal.

MegaUpload got shut down. Pierre thinks it would never have existed if you could download legally.

This discussion will die down. We love movies. Just let us buy them, don’t make us steal them.