Today was interesting. It was Interesting 2008, the Russell Davies ‘unconference’; in its second year and continuing rude health. The underlying thought appears to be the same: the first step in being interesting is being interested. Accordingly a very large bunch (maybe 400) cogniscati gathered in an incredible (and extremely well buntinged) hall – Conway Hall in Red Lion Square – to hear some of the best presenters in the UK talk about their pet subjects.
If you were being satirical, you would say it was the world’s best people on branding, advertising, etc talking about their favourite colours, shoes, fashions, music or whatever. Of course, what it was actually about was people talking about things that were close to their own hearts, they thought would be interesting for 10 minutes (i.e. not their jobs) and where they’d found some interesting material.
We had Winston Churchill, Why horses are afraid of crisp packets, the extent to which we can really understand the second world war with only 60 years’ perspective, the relative density of World of Warcraft, the rise and fall of Patagonia, and why a lego fetish is a good thing.
I honestly don’t think there was a bad presenter all day. Although, this last bit – the selection of speakers – is really where Russell Davies showed his hand (despite very amusing and scene-setting opening- and closing- remarks).
Was it middle-class -bourgeoisie guardian-reading nonsense? Absolutely. At one point half the speakers joined together for a Guardaian sponsored recorder playing session.
Was it brilliant? Absolutely. A room in London was filled with some of the cleverest and most critical people of their generation, who allowed and understood their peers to do the most difficult presentation of their lives. We were a good audience – of course – but only for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, intense acts of bravery were conducted on stage as people with a lot to lose tried to be interesting to this dragons’ den.
Hats off to Russell, hats off to the speakers, and here’s to Interesting 2009. I’ll definitely try to be there. I’ve been racking my brain all day about what I’d talk about and I’m coming up blank. The best I’ve got is:
- Untranslatable words / words that have never existed
- Object orientated programming and what it can teach you about knowledge and YOUR life
- How education works in other countries
- How the WestWing (the TV show) changed the world
- The Toyato Production Sytem, who nicked it and how it’s changed the world
Hopefully ee you there. And a pleasure to meet a whole bunch of you today, It’s been one of those days that makes it clear the new world isn’t a temporary one.