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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Friday, October 22, 2004

Pop!Tech - first thoughts

I'm having a great time at Pop!Tech. 

Random thoughts during the break on Day Two. 

Will blog more details on content of the sessions and my views on them from my notes later. For quick notes on the sessions, and pictures of the blogger dinner last night, check out David Weinberger's blog - he's doing a fine job ! 

  • An amazing setting at the Camden Opera House - a little cramped in terms of seating but such a stunning little town.  Am spending most of my breaks outside soaking in the atmosphere.
  • Lots of really interesting people i have met - its an eclectic group - a group that seems to believe they can change the world, a group that is optimistic about acknowleding that there is a world outside the geographic boundaries of America.  A group of liberals - Bob Metcalfe who is doing a fine job of moderating the sessions every so often does a handcount of supporters of Bush (green card) vs Kerry (yellow card)  - and i love the fact that its overwhelmingly yelllow !    
  • Several amazing presenters - lots of stories, improvizations, some really slick presentations using multimedia - the incredibly witty Ze Frank, some like Thomas Barnett who made very interesting points with astonishing dry wit, some like Malcolm Gladwell who raise interesting questions on perception and preference, and the most amazing primatologist Dr. Franz de Waal who raised some issues on cooperation and and insight into power among chimpanzees (we're not that far away from them).
  • Am amazed that there are people who have been here as many as 7-8 times - wow !  I can understand that - if i got the chance again i will definitely be back too.   
  • And i feel comfortable here among a lot of blog buddies - its a feeling of community and family

Some thoughts as an Indian in an audience that is primarily American - The theme of the conference is The Next Rennaissance and a lot of the presenters yesterday and this morning talked about developing countries and how the world order is changing - India is one of them. Naturally, from an American or first world perspective given the location of the conference and the composition of speakers and audience. 

What bothers me a little is that presentations like the one on Bhutan earlier today only reinforce ''exotica'' - they in no way are telling us why and how these nations must be embraced as one world, how these nations have real people, real development, real innovations that might often surprise the first world.  And that the first world could learn a lot by sharing.  Alex Steffen touched upon some of these - but i havent seen enough of it yet, or any depth.  And what about commitment ? 

The sense i get from many of the speakers so far is the attempt to tell or 'warn'  America to wake up to the potential and growth happening in these parts of the world.  I just wish they had speakers from these nations who are actually affecting and changing the future in those parts of the world, through work they are doing. 

I feel the audience here would benefit from hearing their stories, diving deeper into projects that are on, and then moving the conversations to how the first and third worlds can come together as one community to chart the course for the development of our world, which is indeed one world. 

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