The Geek Season

Nearly through a rash of conferences, amidst a rash of toddler birthday parties. This has meant that around 50% of my diet in the last 2 months has been either danish pastries or fairy cakes. I’ll leave you to work which is responsible for which.

Working backwards, Mashed08 was at the weekend. Just like last year, it seems there’s something magical about getting a few hundred geeks together to hack over a weekend. And just like last year, Alexandra Palace’s roof opened, although this time it was the (planned) pyrotechnics inside the venue, rather than the (unplanned) lightning outside that was responsible. Or rather, Ewan Spence’s socialflightsim crashing on to the stage.

BTween transplanted itself from Yorkshire across the Pennines to Manchester, and the Museum of Science and Industry. The event expanded to fill the space, and was much better to boot. Highlights for me were Kaiser Kuo puncturing some Western assumptions about China, the Chinese and their Internet use; and Bill Tidy’s live-drawn insights into the lives of the over-60’s. More stand-up cartooning at tech conferences, please!

Bill Tidy’s session would have fitted in nicely at Interesting08, which I missed for the second year running, as I did MediaFutures. What is it about geeks that, as soon as the sun starts to make an appearance, we organise loads of indoor conferences? Can we co-ordinate ourselves to make them *not* clash next year? Or perhaps hold one outdoors?

Before all of these, I was at Thinking Digital in Newcastle, which had an eclectic lineup including Greg Dyke, Ray Kurzweil, Tara Hunt, Aubrey DeGrey and Fake Steve Jobs. Unfortunately, due to another clash with the Big Chip Awards dinner, I had to leave after the first morning, so didn’t get to see much of the conference. But I did get to attend the fantastic Speakers Slow Dinner at Secco in Newcastle, with a very inspiring talk on all things Slow from Carl Honore. Although he broke his own Slow philosophy by herding a group of us into a cab to the Baltic for the second half of the Champions League final before they’d even served dessert.

Next up is the Hide and Seek Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, and then next week the last of this burst of events – 2Gether08 – which will try and round up lots of the other events into one geeky social innovation bundle.

The Geek Season is well and truly established. We just need a bit of co-ordination, and a good drinks sponsor for the whole damn shooting match…

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