First off, the venue was great. This is Will's picture (hope he doesn't mind), I'll post my own next time. As you can see, we were under a canopy, with a series of french doors at the side. All that natural light really made a difference.
What follows is largely a report, I'll try and keep myself out of it. I'll post some thoughts on the themes later, but for now one strong opinion is that it was very well organised, ran on schedule and the attendees really helped to make it as much as the speakers.
By the way, I'm embarrassed to note that I was sat next to Faris for an hour and didn't even realise until he got up to speak.
I was annoyed to be late, blame GNER, but I caught the end of Timo Veikkola (Nokia) talking about how shifts in society shape design. Interesting stuff on how culturally we're in a pretty optimistic mood - we're worried about the environment and the Middle East, but we think that things will be OK and we're beginning to act. Doing things for yourself and self expression is becoming important. In answering the questions at the end, he talked about '3rd' life. The idea that we'll be combining virtual and physical worlds. I wish I'd caught more - it seemed useful for anyone who works on multi national brands (that's not me though).
Next up was Regine Debatty (we make money, not art). She blogs about the intersection of art and technology - so as a science geek I'm bound to like this. And I do.
She starts with biotechnology. We've always manipulated the body - from corsets to prosthetic limbs, but we're moving to a stage where we can manipulate life how we want. But will this make life perfect?
She talks about the 'Victimless leather jacket' - basically a tiny jacket grown from mice cells. Strangely people who see it are disgusted at the thought of wearing one - more than the skin of a dead animal. This says a lot about what we're ready for and what we're not.
There is the probability that stem cells will allow us to grow bits of bodies on ourselves to then sell to other people. Funny to think about class, how rich people will have their bodies grown by the poor.
Then there's disembodied cuisine - a piece of art where the took live frog cells and grew them into tiny steaks. They served them, they tasted awful, and people reacted strongly against the idea of it too. But in France, in the 70's, they said they'd never buy pre-packed meat......
One final thing was the possibility of creating superhumans. This has profound implications for equality. On one hand we have the idea of the 'natural' humans who sired them being inferior, but on the other we have all humans being equally perfect. Is this good?
I really liked her approach. She argued that what's happening in the labs is mysterious and when we know about it, it's too late (who has the most imagination by the way, scientists or artists?). She was showing how art can expose and discuss this.
I'll have to apologise now for not noting who said what:
Public opinion will be forcing aviation to revise it's approach - aviation is becoming the new 4x4.
It's going mainstream. It's about money, not philanthropy. Business cannot escape it's impact - while we decide what to buy, they decide what the choice is in the first place.
Maybe the opportunity is at the front end - how to help people alter behavior. It's people NEEDING to be at a meeting at the other end of the world that's more the issue that how they get there. How can we address this?
A good point about CSR departments not able to communicate well - and the need for them to work with marketing more.
Are we talking about 'marketing green' or are we talking about sustainable business practice? We need to square selling with sustainability. The way to add value will be letting people look behind a product, at how it was made. That's what will add value.
Good point that we're right at the start of this, like doing websites in 1995. We need to work out what we're doing - but at least we're starting. We made it up as we went along with new media - will this be the same?
A lot of what we need to do is take the pain out of green behavior for people. How can we collaborate with them? Like helping Americans to see that big isn't better? Or car companies sponsoring car sharing, or sharing school runs.
Consumers will give their time and attention in return for wellbeing and purpose. We're not happier having more 'things' anyway, purpose can help instead.
As for agencies, it was suggested that we need a new department, just like when new media took off. We need to avoid thinking of it as special interest, but increasingly the cultural norm. And don't think you're an expert, no one is yet.
So there was a lot to think about. I didn't expect any answers - it's too early. And I didn't get any.
I'll stop there for a bit. I think I'll do this in three chunks. I promise to finish this week.